by Dennis Michelson
Introduction: At an ordination council many years ago a young ministerial aspirant was asked "what is the primary purpose of the church?" The neophyte preacher offered several possibilities but the old dean of the seminary would not accept them as "the answer."
When the young pastoral candidate said "I don't know", the older preacher said "it is worship - everything else in the church must arise from worship - anything we do in the church that does not emanate from worship is simply self-will operating in its own strength."
The Regulative Principle states the following - We may not adopt any device in our worship which seems to fit ourselves, but look to the injunctions of Him who alone is entitled to prescribe.
Therefore, if we would have Him approve our worship, this rule, which He everywhere enforces with the utmost strictness, must be carefully observed. God dissaproves of all modes of worship not expressly sanctioned by His Word."
Historically, the Church moved away from the Regulative Principle to what is commonly known as the Normative Principle. This means that the Church is free to worship in any manner not expressly prohibited by Scripture.
We have now moved to the Pleasure Principle in worship. Simply stated "if it feels good to me - do it." In light of all of this, please consider the following four principles of worship.
1. Worship Defined (entire book of Psalms)
Worship is the obedient response of the human heart to God's revelation. The heart response implies the spirit aspect of worship and the revelation piece ensures the Truth.
2. Worship Distorted (John 4:23-24)
Praise in modern terms tends to lead to a preoccupation with God's blessing.
Worship is a preoccupation with God.
Worship should predominate the life of the Church. Praise is a necessary, but subordinate part. Various mixtures of these two vital elements will lead to three types of churches we see today -
Psychology Church - I look inward to see how I feel.
Prosperity Church - I look outward to see what I received.
Theology Church - I look upward to know who God is.
3. Worship Demonstrated (Psalm 84)
a. The approach to worship is fervent (1-4)
b. The attendance at worship is faithful (5-8)
c. The aim of worship is faith (obedience) (9-12)
4. Worship Delights God (Psalm 87:2)
We can rest assured that we delight the Lord when we -
a. Preach the Word (II Timothy 4:2)
b. Edify the Flock (Ephesians 4:12)
c. Honor the Lord (Hebrews 12:28)
d. Put No Confidence in the Flesh (Philippians 3:3)
As the Church we need to focus a bit more on REVERENCE and less on RELEVANCE.