Worship In The Church
This begins a series of blog posts on the topic of worship. I pray the Lord would bless you as you read, just as He is blessing me as I write.
– Ethan Fordham –
It’s Friday night, and you know it’s coming. Anticipation is on the rise; it’s Saturday morning. You know tomorrow is the big day. You know the day, you know the time, and you know just what to expect. It’s Sunday Night Football! This is a time mixed with friends, family, food, and football. This is a time when the world can stop, and the joy and excitement of the moment are taken hold of. There is something good about this. But, what about another event that takes place on Sunday? The world certainly knows what to expect on Sunday night. As Christians, however, we have a very specific time during the week where we ought to know what to expect. This event also takes place on Sunday. This event is Sunday morning worship. So, do you know what to expect when it comes to worship? This might seem like a no-brainer. You might have grown up in the church, or you might be new to Christianity. In either case, let’s consider some brief points that will either be a refreshing reminder, a new thought, or a surprising idea that never occurred to you. What are some things to expect from morning worship on the Lord’s Day (Sunday)?
In order to have proper expectations, we must first begin with some definitions. In doing so, we first recognize that worship at church, for it to be true worship, must be Christian. This might sound simple, but it is not. In a world full of self-defined “truth,” coming from both inside and outside the church, we need to wrestle with the idea that not all worship is true worship. As Christians, our worship is not something that we determine. We do not get up on that stage and do whatever novel idea comes to mind. Christian worship is ultimately defined by God in His Word, the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Christian worship practices are not invented, they are received. This is no small thing, it is an ultimate thing. Worshipping God according to His revealed will is what separates us from not only other religions but also many that bear the Christian name. Without the Bible wherein God reveals His expectations for worship, we are guilty of what those in the past called will-worship; which is “[worship] not warranted by the Word of God” (William Perkins). For worship to be Christian, it must find its ultimate grounding in God’s revealed word. This definition of worship should set our expectations. Expect worship to be filled with the Bible. We read, pray, sing, and see the Bible in Christian worship (Duncan).
Additionally, we come before a Triune God in worship. Christians worship is directed toward, is in the name of, and is according to the power of the one God who has revealed Himself as the three persons of the Trinity. We worship the Father, in the name of the Son, by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. This is who God has revealed Himself to be, and we worship Him according to that revelation.
We read in Ephesians 2:18: “For through him (Christ) we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.”
Allen Vander Pol wonderfully put it this way: “The reason true worship is Trinitarian is that God’s revelation of Himself to us, especially His saving revelation, is Trinitarian. When the Father sent the Son, the Son came in the power of the Spirit. Since the Father saved us through the Son by the power of the Spirit, we approach Him using the same pathway: through Christ we all have access in one Spirit to the Father. It becomes clear that our worship is our response to the Gospel of Christ. Our way of approaching God reflects the way He has approached us.”
For worship to be Christian, it must be Trinitarian. This is the God who has saved His people from their sins. This is the God who meets us in worship, and the God we come to worship. Therefore, expect to meet with the Triune God in worship. To hear from the Father, the Son, and the Spirit in the Word. To sing the praises of the Trinity for their acts in creation and redemption. Expect worship to be a communion with the Triune God that is.
For worship to be Christian worship, it must have these two elements; it must be Biblical and Trinitarian. As Christians, we worship the Triune God in the ways He desires. Christian worship has an audience. But, it is not us; it is God. It ought to be our aim to please the Lord in worship. You can bank on these things. You can expect this during Lord’s Day worship on Sunday morning. So, when it’s Friday night, you can know it’s coming.