Call to Worship October 27, 2019
Seeking a Reformation of Worship BY R.C. SPROUL
“When Israel’s prophets denounced the corruption of Israelite worship, they sought reform, not revolution. Though they vehemently criticized liturgicalism, they never attacked the liturgy. Though they railed against externalism and formalism, they never sought to remove the externals and forms God had instituted.
For the forms of worship to communicate the content they are designed to convey, there must be constant instruction so that people understand their meaning. The sacraments are not naked symbols. They must be clothed with the Word. Word and sacrament must go together. Sacrament without Word inevitably yields formalism. Word without sacrament inevitably yields a sterility of worship.
We need a reformation of worship, a new discovery of the meaning of classical forms. I cannot be casual about worshiping God. God stripped of transcendence is no God at all. There is such a thing as the Holy. The Holy is sacred. It is uncommon. It is other. It is transcendent. It is not always user-friendly. But it is relevant. It provokes adoration, which is the essence of godly worship.
Coram Deo: Think about the sacraments and liturgy of the church you attend. Are they truly meaningful to you or have they become mere forms of ritual?
Psalm 119:171: ‘My lips shall utter praise, for You teach me Your statutes.’
Psalm 108:1: ‘O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise, even with my glory.’
Revelation 4:11: ’You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for you created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.’”
While we may not agree with Dr. Sproul on the complete details of the sacraments, especially baptism, we do agree on the importance and emphasis of his meaning in this article. The Reformation is the essence of what it means to be Protestant. Those acts which we partake in during the worship of God are expressly commanded in scripture. So, the emphasis on the word of God in worship is not one way of worshipping God; it is the only way He prescribed for worship to be given unto Himself. If we do not obey the way God desires to be worshipped according to His word then we will completely be out of His will in worship and miss the benefits He intends for His people.
The Reformation and Post-Reformation restored for us not mere formalism, but biblically prescribed worship practices. God’s word was to be read, sung, preached and prayed for His glory alone. This was to be accomplished in a known language that all the people could basically understand, especially upon plain explanation of the word. Furthermore, this gave understanding to the pictures of baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and the singing of psalms and hymns that encouraged the gathered local body in worshipping with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. May it be our prayer not to worship in mere formalism for that not only goes against the spirit of the reformation, but the very essence of biblical worship.