Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Call to Worship

God having summoned his people to assemble in his presence to worship him on the Lord’s Day, there ought to be a call to the congregation, in God’s own words, to worship him.  
Directory for the Public Worship of God II, A, 1 (OPC)
Controversy surrounds church liturgy.  Some argue that the church should not even use a liturgy.  This argument ignores the reality that any time you conduct a worship service, you create a liturgy.  You might even say, a non-liturgy liturgy is a liturgy.  Since liturgy is unavoidable, we must think about it biblically.

Everything we do in worship constitutes a directive.  We tell people what to do.  Someone is in change to give directions to the congregation and lead the service.  If we give directions, we are binding the conscience of people.   We are telling them what to do.  We have no authority to do this except so far as it has been given to us by God.  "God alone is Lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are, in anything, contrary to his Word; or beside it, if matters of faith, or worship." (WCF 20:2)  The church can only require of the people that which the Bible clearly commands.  We may only direct with the Bible.  As one person said of worship, we must read the Bible, pray the Bible, sing the Bible, preach the Bible, say the Bible, and hear the Bible.

We place the call to the worship of God at the beginning of worship.  Since it is the God's call, it must come directly from the Bible and not invented as the word of man.  As the Directory for the Public Worship of God states, God has called us to His worship, and He does this through His word.  Just look at Psalm 100.
Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.  Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.  Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.  Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.  For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations. 
The initiation of the nation of Israel began with a call to worship. "Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness." (Exodus 5:1)

Now, the call to worship is not like your parents calling you in to do your chores.  We often view worship as a burden that we owe God for creating us and not destroying us on the spot.  Instead, as Psalm 100 points out, it is the call to celebrate.  In worship, we celebrate the greatness of our God for all that He has done for us.  He created us.  He redeemed us by the blood of His Son.  He blesses us richly in life.  He is our great reward in death.  Only an attitude of supreme ingratitude would murmur at the privilege of worship.  It is like being invited to the greatest party in the world and grumbling that it will cause you to miss a rerun of a show you don't even like.

As we begin worship, we remind ourselves of what it is we have come to do.  Remember, it is something that WE DO.  It is not something that we watch.  We stand for the call because we worship TOGETHER.  We are like the choir when it stands to sing, the team standing together during any event, and the army standing in line of battle.  We come to sing together to praise the One who give our hearts joy overflowing in song.  We come to practice and work together on our skill in living through the training of the Word of God.  We come to to battle with the sin within ourselves and learn how to expand the kingdom of God in His world.

The call to worship reminds us of three things.  (1) God has called us together to the privilege of worship.  (2) We are participants in this activity and not the audience.  (3) We worship together, not purely individually.  Are you looking forward to the celebration of worship on the Lord's Day?

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