“Give unto the Lord, O you mighty ones, give unto the Lord glory and strength. Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name; Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” Psalm 29:1-2
Doing all things to the glory of God should be in the mind and focus of every Christian. For indeed, glorifying God and enjoying Him forever is our chief end. (Westminster Shorter Catechism QA 1, Rev. 5:8-14) In fact, nothing should delight our hearts and minds more than the glory of God. The Apostle Paul exhorted Corinth, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor. 10:31) The glory of God should be the mind and focus of every congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, as faithful congregations worship God, such a focus must also be evident and active.
As we continue in our series, “What is the Church?”, it’s important to consider the church as the body of believers that gives all glory to the living and triune God in our worship of Him. In fact, nothing is more central than this in Reformed worship. Our Directory for the Public Worship of God (DPW) states, “The end of public worship is the glory of the triune God. To that end, Christ builds his church by perfecting the saints and adding to its membership such as are being saved—all to the glory of God.” (DPW 1.B.7)
David rightly gives a call to worship in Psalm 29. In these verses, notice how David connects the holiness and glory of God to the idea of beauty and splendor. God’s people are called to come into God’s presence and worship what is beautiful about Him, namely His glory and holiness. Now, in calling God’s people to give glory to God we need to understand that David calls us to ascribe glory to God in worship. We ascribe glory to God, but we don’t add glory to Him. Further, God is omnipotent (all powerful). Considering God’s aseity, His glory is independent. He is fully complete and lacks nothing in Himself. Therefore, we aren’t giving God glory or strength He doesn’t already have. We humbly and thankfully acknowledge His glory and power. We give God the honor that His holy name deserves.
Since worshiping God rightly is so important, how should worship be done biblically? Proper, biblical worship is simple, reverent, and joyful as we worship God according to how He tells us He wants to be worshiped in Scripture. Our worship must be God centered and not man centered. God is the object of our worship. Therefore, this guides how we should worship. Rev. William Shishko, in the preface of the OPC’s “Helps for Worship” booklet, shares four important truths about biblical worship:
• Worship is, first of all, theological. It is focused on the true and living God and regulated by His Word (Deut. 12:32; Matt. 15:9).
• Worship is Christological. It is given, received, and at every point conditioned by Jesus Christ as our Prophet, Priest, and King (1 Tim. 2:5).
• Worship is spiritual. It flows from hearts filled with the Holy Spirit in a setting in which the Holy Spirit is at work using the elements of worship to transform lives (John 4:24; 2 Cor. 3:18).
• But worship is also pedagogical. Each element of worship teaches something, and all elements of worship are to be used with an understanding of what is being done in worship and why. We are to worship with understanding (Heb. 11:6; 1 Cor. 14:15).
What are the elements of such worship? (see DPW, Chapter II).
• Call to Worship – God summons His people to assemble in His presence to worship Him on the Lord’s Day
• Public Reading of God’s Word – The hearing of God’s Word is a means of grace, therefore, the public reading of the Holy Scriptures is an essential element of public worship.
• Public Prayer – Prayer is an essential element of public worship. In order to be accepted by God, prayer is to be by faith, in the name of the Son of God, by the help of His Spirit, and according to God’s will.
• Congregational Singing – Let every member of the church take part in this act of worship. God’s people should sing, not merely with the lips, but with understanding and with grace in their hearts, making melody to the Lord.
• Preaching of God’s Word – The preaching of the Word, the power of God unto salvation, is indispensable in the public worship of God.
• The Sacraments – The sacraments, baptism and the Lord’s Supper, as visible signs and seals of the Word of the covenant, are important elements of public worship. They represent Christ and his benefits, confirm His people’s participation in Him, visibly mark off from the world those who belong to His church, and solemnly bind them to covenant faith and loyalty.
• Blessings from God to His people (Salutation and Benediction) – A salutation is the greeting from God to His people who have gathered to worship Him. A benediction is the pronouncement of God’s blessing upon His people at the conclusion of the worship service.
• Public Confession of Faith – It is also fitting that the congregation as one body confess its common faith, using creeds that are true to the Word of God, such as the Apostles’ Creed or the Nicene Creed.
• Bringing of Offerings – The bringing of offerings in the public assembly of God’s people on the Lord’s Day is a solemn act of worship to almighty God. The people of God are to set aside to Him the firstfruits of their labors; in so doing, they should present themselves with thanksgiving as a living sacrifice to God.
Though this list of elements isn’t put in the typical order found in many Reformed worship services, all of these elements are included in them. The way a service is ordered according to the Dialogical Principle of Worship will be discussed more in a future devotion.
Beloved, our great and gracious God created us, redeemed us, and calls us to worship Him out of zeal for His own glory. He is so awesome, wonderful, majestic, and magnificent! He is solely and completely worthy of all our praise and adoration. Come and worship. Let’s joyfully be focused and committed to ascribing all glory and honor to Him each and every Lord’s Day together!