CORPORATE WORSHIP AND THE MEANS OF GRACE
Worship lies at the very heart of all we do and endeavor to accomplish, worship of the Triune God in Spirt and Truth. Worship is the means which God has established and ordained to meet with men both in calling them to worship and renewing His people unto holiness, converting repentance and renewed devotion in glorifying and enjoying God. Worship is a corporate exercise wherein we give our attention to the voice of God as He speaks in His Word and we raise our voices in a sacred dialogue. God speaks by His Word through the Holy Spirit and we speak to the Triune God through the mediatorial work of that same Holy Spirit, according to Christ’s work as our Great High Priest.
Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength! Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts! Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!
- Psalm 96.7-9
AVAILING OURSELVES OF THE MEANS OF GRACE
THE READING & PREACHING OF GOD’S WORD
The high water mark of Christian worship is when God speaks to men by the Holy Spirit through the reading and preaching of His Word. By it we are nourished and strengthened in righteousness and faithfulness. Through the preaching of the Word of God we are evangelized and discipled in the grace of Christ our Lord. It is that part in the “dialogical” exercise of worship wherein God’s speaks through His living and active Word unto the calling of sinners unto Christ in conversion and nourishing the Believer in holiness unto sanctification.
THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE SACRAMENTS
Though not always administered week to week at Reformation OPC, the sacraments are two: the Lord’s Supper and Baptism, and are those means of grace where in God consecrates His people unto holy service. In the Lord’s Supper we feast by faith upon the Risen and Reigning Lord, and are nourished to pursue righteousness and the Kingdom of Christ. In Covenant Baptism, the promise of God unto salvation and grace are offered and held forth to those who receive by faith the grace testified to in the washing of Spirit.
THE OFFERING UP OF OUR DESIRES
A means of grace, wherein we offer up our desires unto God, for those things according to His will, in the name of Christ that includes our confession of sins, thankfulness for God’s sovereign work in the lives of men and His mercies culminating in the giving of Christ.
The Elements Found in Our Worship Services
The Call to Worship - God opens by inviting us, through His Word, unto a sacred dialogue, where we are called by Him into His presence and are reminded of why we are present – to worship the One who is worthy, to be renewed as saints, and called unto life as sinners.
Congregational Singing - God instructs us how are to approach him for all that He has done: SING! Through the singing of psalms and hymns we reinforce most effectually the central message of Scripture - great is The Lord and greatly to be praised. Music focuses the whole man - mind, heart, and soul upon the presence of the Almighty as we recount His faithful work in creation and redemption.
Confession of Sin and Pardon - In view of God’s holiness and matchless glory, and by right of His presence with His people, it is right that we confess our love of the world and the things of the world, saint and sinner alike. Apart from Christ no man can see the father, for all are unworthy, defiled by sin and under the weight of the curse. We confess that we might be renewed in our pursuit of becoming the like One we worship, all the while we admitting that it is solely by Divine pardon, through the blood and righteousness of Christ applied to us, that we are made worthy to enter and be heard by the Triune Lord.
Confession of Faith - As a corporate body we confess regularly what we believe in order that we might not only learn and be reminded of the doctrines of Scripture, but exercise a historical connection to the church of Christ throughout previous generations.
Prayer - A means of grace, wherein we offer up our desires unto God, for those things according to His will, in the name of Christ that includes our confession of sins, thankfulness for God’s sovereign work in the lives of men and His mercies culminating in the giving of Christ.
Tithes and Offerings - The giving of our tithes and offerings is an exercise of public allegiance and acknowledgment that Christ is King and Head of the Church. We give in order to support the work of the church, both here and abroad, unto the ministry of word and deed.
Scripture Reading - The Word of God as it is read is itself a means of grace and is used by God to nurture His Church, save the lost, and proclaim that truth that is eternal and imperishable, the revealed Word of God.
The Preaching of God’s Word - The high water mark of any Christian worship service is God speaking to men by the Holy Spirit through preaching of His Word. By it we are called to faith, and by it we are nourished and strengthened in that faith, in righteousness and holiness. Through the preaching of the Word of God we are evangelized and discipled in the grace of Christ our Lord.
Sacrament - There are two sacraments: the Lord’s Supper and Baptism. They are a means of grace wherein God calls and consecrates His people unto holy service. In the Lord’s Supper we feast upon Christ by faith and are nourished to pursue righteousness and the Kingdom of Christ. In Covenant Baptism, the promise of God unto salvation and grace are offered and held forth to those who receive by faith the grace testified to in the washing of Spirit, signed and sealed in Baptism.
Benediction - As God had the first word, He also has the last.The Lord sends us with his blessing, as our Sovereign King and Great High Priest, to live in His power for His glory and our continued delight in Him.
For more concerning our doctrine of worship you might research the Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapters 21, 27, 28, and 29. There are many others resources that lie outside our own denominational standards that express the regulatory, historical, and confessional nature of our corporate worship. To list but a few: Reformed Worship by Terry Johnson; Worship, Reformed According to Scripture by Hughes Oliphant Old; In the Splendor of Holiness by Jon Payne. There are dozens of other worthy volumes, but these are a good place to start.