Worship, Sabbath, and the Regulative Principle (Discipleship Training)
Worship, the Sabbath Day, and the Regulative Principle: The light of nature can teach us that there is a God who has created all things, and that he deserves our worship. The light of nature, however, cannot teach us who this God is, or how we should worship him.
Instead, we must turn to the Scriptures to teach us how to worship God. In the Scriptures, we find that God desires to regulate his worship. He is not pleased with “strange” worship that we offer from our own imaginations (cf. Lev. 10:1–3). Instead, he is glorified when we worship him in accordance with his word. This idea that we should worship God only as he has commanded, and not in any way that he has not commanded, is called the regulative principle of worship.
In particular, the Lord created the Sabbath day as a day to rest from our common labors, in order to give the entire day to worship (aside from works of mercy and works of necessity). While the original Sabbath Day was the seventh day of the week, in honor of God’s work at the first creation, the new covenant Sabbath Day is the first day of the week, in honor of Christ’s resurrection at the beginning of the new creation.
To understand how the Lord has commanded that we should worship him.
Read and discuss:
- Psalm 19:1–6: Natural revelation gives us some information about why we should worship God.
- Romans 1:18–23: To reject the Creator is not intellectual honesty, but it is a suppression of the truth in unrighteousness.
- Exodus 20:1–3: We should worship no one apart from the true and living God
- John 14:6: We can only worship God through Jesus Christ
- 1 Corinthians 2:10–13: We can only worship God in the power of the Holy Spirit
- 1 Timothy 2:1–2: The Scriptures command us to pray in worship
- 1 Timothy 4:13: The Scriptures command us to publicly read, teach, and exhort (i.e., preach) the Scriptures
- Matthew 28:18–20: The Scriptures command the sacrament of baptism
- 1 Corinthians 11:23–26: The Scriptures command the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper
- Hebrews 10:24–25: We must gather together for corporate worship
- Isaiah 58:13–14: The Sabbath is given to us for our delight
- Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2; Revelation 1:10: Christians gathered for worship on the new covenant Sabbath, the first day of the week, the Lord’s Day
Read and discuss:
- What is the regulative principle of worship? Why should we not worship in any way that we wish?
- What elements of worship does the Bible command us to use in our worship of God?
- Why does the Bible command that we gather together? Is this optional?
- Why is the Sabbath so important? Is Sabbath optional?
- How does the Bible encourage us to “delight” in the Sabbath day?
- Consider whether you delight in worship. If not, why not?
- Consider whether you delight in keeping the Sabbath day holy to the Lord by setting apart the whole day for the worship of the Lord. If not, why not?
- Consider your corporate worship services. Can you find the biblical commands for everything you encounter in worship? Ask your pastors to help you understand the biblical rationale for why your church worships as you do.
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