With Reverence and Awe, Chapter 3

(A review of the book, “With Reverence and Awe, Returning to the Basics of Reformed Worship” by D. G. Hart and John R. Muether.  Remember that in conjunction with our Wednesday night study, I am using this book and the principles taught in it to aid us in a study of worship.)

Chapter 3: A Worshiping Community

“Unto this catholic visible church Christ hath given the ministry, oracles, and ordinances of God, for the gathering and perfecting of the saints, in this life, to the end of the world: and doth, by his own presence and Spirit, according to his promise, make them effectual thereunto.”            (Westminster Confession of Faith 25.3)

“…we may also say that without a proper regard for worship we will have a flawed conception of the church.  This is because worship constitutes the church.  Another way of putting this is to say that the things that believers say and do in worship are essential to being a part of the church of God, the household of faith.   It is not an overstatement to assert that the function of church membership is to worship God.  As the Shorter Catechism eloquently states in answer 1, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.”  The fall, obviously, made that end impossible without a savior.  Redemption restores man to his original purpose, even though this side of glory human worship will always be tainted with sin.  And worship, put simply, is nothing more and nothing less than glorifying and enjoying God.”  (Hart and Meuther)

Is there anything that is keeping you from the worship of God?  Put aside what Scripture says about the Lord’s Day and us setting aside, “all the day, from their own works, words, and thoughts about their worldly employments and recreations, but also are taken up, the whole time, in the public and private exercises of his worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.”  (WCF 22.8)  We spent a lot of time going through the study of the fourth commandment and the Sabbath/Lord’s Day.  Despite those other considerations, let me ask you one simple question:

Is there anything in the entire world that you could be doing at 11am or 6pm on Sunday that is more important than worshiping with God’s people?  

Please do not read that with any implied method of trying to guilt anyone into worship.  If you attend worship out of a feeling of guilt, you are not really worshiping.  As you read that question above consider the following two answers: 1) I desire to worship with God’s people on Sunday but I cannot make it for a legitimate reason.  2) I simply don’t desire to be there.  If your answer is the second one, I sincerely challenge you to examine why you have no desire to worship.

The Belgic Confession defines the marks of a church:

“The marks by which the true Church is known are these: if the pure doctrine of the gospel is preached therein; if she maintains the pure administration of the sacraments as instituted by Christ; if church discipline is exercised in chastening of sin; in short, if all things are managed according to the pure Word of God, all things contrary thereto rejected, and Jesus Christ acknowledged as the only Head of the Church.  Hereby the true Church may certainly be known, from which no man has a right to separate himself.” (art 29)

“The marks of the church indicate where the true church may be found.  Wherever we see and hear preaching, the sacraments, and church discipline truly performed, we know we are in the presence of the church… It is important to notice that the marks of the church are bound up with corporate worship.  One might even summarize the doctrine of the marks of the church by saying that the true church can only be found when she is at worship.”  (Hart and Meuther)

In the great commission in Matthew 28:18-20, we learn that discipleship is not a one-time action but a constant and gradual process.  It is something that happens over time.  Worship is regular as we gather weekly for the ministry of the Word through preaching and the sacraments.  It is through worship that we are discipled and the Church disciples the nations.  May we not neglect the gift of worship.