In our general overview of worship, we’ve so far seen that worship was indeed regulated by God’s Word in the Old Testament, or better under the Old Covenant. We made mention of the importance of the first four of the Ten Commandments, as they pertain to worship. We looked at several instances of worship, culminating in the Levitical Priesthood, sacrifices, and tabernacle/temple as well as instances of improper worship, which we saw resulted in dire consequences, including the ultimate exile of Israel from the land. We need to now concern ourselves with the transition from Old Covenant worship to New Covenant worship. This transition is the focus of Worship Wars – Part 3, linked below
Is God concerned with how he is worshiped? Does he leave His worship up to man to decide or has He prescribed the manner and means by which we are to approach Him? Perhaps this is easy enough to answer in the Old Testament, but what about the New? Before we jump ahead, the post below is a brief survey of God-prescribed worship in the Old Testament, with a mention of the very grave consequences for violating it.
Recently, I’ve been thinking alot about the Regulative Principle of Worship (RPW) and this has spilled over considerably into the blogs that I’ve been writing and thinking of writing. My journey towards this crucial doctrine began around 2012, when I learned of the relationship between Martin Luther and John Calvin, as it related to their views on worship. It was further refined through some group bible studies around the same time, but did not begin to permeate my own thoughts on worship until 2014. Since then it has become evident that to assume to be “reformed” in any way, other than by name only, necessitates understanding and applying the Regulative Principle of Worship.
In the video below, Ligon Duncan provides an overview of what this doctrine means. It’s a good introduction, but my question for him would be how he applies the definition that he gives. Duncan is pastor as First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, Miss. While I haven’t attended his church, I’m certain that they follow a fairly consistent order of Protestant liturgy, as so many other churches do. (see FPC here) I have no doubt that he desires to honor the Lord in how his congregation worships God, but the problem is that a set order of liturgy altogether is in itself a violation of the Regulative Principle, simply because God has not commanded it, nor has God commanded “worship services”. There is not one single passage in Scripture that provides it either as an example or a command.
Nevertheless, the brief video is a valuable tool for further understanding RPW. Below the video, I’ve included links to some posts where I discuss and apply the RPW.