What’s new in our age?
In our day, not similar to the church of the Reformation, or of the Puritans, we have music ministers, choirs, musical instruments, bands, solos, etc. We even find that national holidays have become part of the worship service. We see bands, concerts, special music, interpretive dance, skits and plays flooding the sanctuary. In the extreme, we find healing hours, prophetic ministries, prophesying rooms, barking in the Spirit, laughing in the Spirit, and the anti-Scriptural list goes on and on. In contrast to all this, from the time of the early church, to the recovery of the Gospel under the Reformation, to the second Reformation and the Puritan divines, even through to times surrounding Jonathan Edwards or the Princeton Theologians, there has been a general adherence to what the Bible taught concerning acceptable worship under the Regulative Principle (i.e. God alone determines the manner in which sinners are to approach Him). But what did they believe?
There is a growing need to study the doctrine of the church and the doctrine of worship. Ignorance on this subject is not bliss since God commands the gathering together of His people for the express purpose of worship (Heb. 10:25) according to His will. The Puritans knew the bible’s position on worship very well. Much of their writings were directed to this end. Worship should be reflected in the entire life of the believer as his manner of glorifying God. Without worship, men lose a sense of “Christian self.” That is why the unbeliever continues to to fill the void of his unregenerate heart with various worldly pursuits, activities, and bosom sins, because only true worship to the Creator of the Universe is meant to fill that void. They have a gnawing sense of emptiness when they neglect true worship, something God commands and requires they give, for God is the Sustainer of their being; every one of their sinful breathes testifies to God’s power in keeping them alive. Worship and the church, then, even on that base level alone, is one of the most important, if not the most important doctrine one could study.
The church is also having an identity crisis. Since they do not know their Bibles, they have lost a sense of who they are before God. See my good brother’s article on the Regulative Principle: Worship, Psalm Singing and Grape Juice here. Hopefully some, if not all of these articles, will help the church find her identity again, remembering the old paths that the church has always walked upon. Here, the people of God will remember again how to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
C. Matthew McMahon, Ph.D., Th.D.
March, 2002