Practice of Worship at Heritage
What is Worship in Truth and Spirit?
“God is Spirit, and those who worship Him
must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:24
The Worship Debate: Today churches sometimes advertise their approach to worship: traditional, contemporary, seeker-friendly, emergent, etc., among other terms. Obviously, some are attempting to appeal to members or attendees that fit a certain demographic profile. We believe that these are often man-centered approaches that miss the reason the Lord Jesus commanded us to worship the Father in heaven. While this opens an opportunity to claim “higher ground” in the debate, our intent is not to enter the fray as much as explain or give an apologetic for our approach to worship.
Worship in Truth means worshipping the triune God under the authority of His written Revelation. Corporate worship is the time His people gather together especially to submit to Him under the preaching of His Word. Christ came to assure and accomplish this among all nations; His Cross-work saves us and moves us to worship the Father as He taught. This means that every aspect or element of Public or Corporate Worship must derive from, conform to, and clearly proclaim the Scriptures. We must read God's Word out loud. We must pray with Sound Doctrine. We must play our music and sing good hymns in such a way that Truth is “preached” clearly. We must see that qualified men preach the Scriptures, expounding God's Revelation to God’s People. The preaching of His Word is central and primary to all that is involved in worship.
Worship in spirit means that we approach God submissively, obediently, and lovingly with our fellow believers to hear His Word preached. In soul and spirit, the believer engages in worship and praise, devoting his whole person to the LORD. It begins in the inner man of the one regenerated by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit awakens his soul to know, trust, and submit to the LORD. He unites the believer to Christ and to other believers; the believer then unites with a group of believers who make up a local church where the triune God dwells. In that context, the believer worships God in his inward man as the Word is preached; he responds to it with inward, sincere submission, confession, repentance, praise and resolve to obey his Master. Such worship may not have much outward display because it is an inward reality that makes changes that work themselves out in his life.
If the worshiper understands God's Word and responds to it as it is preached with praise, repentance, and resolve to obey, he has worshiped the triune God in truth and spirit.
How we attempt this at HBC: We labor to have elders who are biblically qualified to preach the Word of God every Sunday. These elders are the superintendents of all the teaching that takes place under the auspices of HBC. This is the most important aspect of their duties and the most important endeavor of our church. Our Lord expressly promised, “…the truth shall make you free." It is only the Truth that will set men free from their slavery to sin – no other means is given us to assure that this is accomplished. The Apostle Paul declared that the local church is, “the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” Nothing is allowed to interfere with this function: guarding, keeping, and proclaiming the Truth. Furthermore, Paul commanded Timothy, “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.” (1 Timothy 4:16). We believe and take these promises seriously.
To accomplish this, we give most of our corporate worship time to the preaching of the Word of God. We very carefully pick hymns – traditional, contemporary, choruses – that faithfully proclaim the same doctrine that we preach. We include public reading of the Scriptures and are careful that our prayers conform to the doctrine and commands of the Scriptures. We are conscious in every aspect of our worship time to honor the One who has had mercy on us and adopted us into His own family, undeserving as we are. How someone may feel about this or how he may assess us based on his observations are secondary.
“Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture,
to exhortation, to teaching.” 1 Timothy 4:13 (ESV)
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“But the acceptable way of Worshipping the true God, is instituted by himself; and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be Worshipped according to the imaginations, and devices of Men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representations, or any other way, not prescribed in the Holy Scriptures.” 2nd London Confession 22:1.
“The reading of the Scriptures, Preaching, and hearing the word of God, teaching and admonishing one another in Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual songs, singing with grace in our Hearts to the Lord; as also the Administration of Baptism, and the Lords Supper are all parts of Religious worship of God, to be performed in obedience to him, with understanding, faith, reverence, and godly fear; moreover solemn humiliation...” 2nd London Confession 22:5.
-Pastor Larry Vincent 6/08