Public Worship
Biblical & Confessional

A Synopsis Of The Larger Study Paper On Worship 


The Holy Scriptures are the only infallible rule of faith and practice, and as such, the principles of public worship must be derived from the Bible, and from no other source.  We must not take on worship practices that have originated from cultural influences. 

Principles and Components.  It is God who determines how it is that His people worship Him.  We are not to deviate from the Scriptural commands concerning the principles and components of His worship. In any worship liturgy, we are not to introduce new and different components of worship not commanded by God. This is commonly called the Regulative Principle of Worship.

“See that you do all I command you; do not add to it or take away from it.” (Deuteronomy 12:32 NIV) 

However, we must distinguish between God’s commands in the components of worship, and that of the ways and means by which we accomplish them.  We must not take on worship principles or components that have not originated from Scripture.  We must seek to employ biblical worship principles within our respective cultures.  The style of worship of God may differ from culture to culture and from congregation to congregation in terms of expression and creativity, and yet still comprise the same God ordained components of worship.

Application In Our Culture.  The Lord Jesus Christ has prescribed no fixed forms for public worship but, in the interest of life and power in worship, He has given His Church a large measure of liberty in this matter.  However, we must not forget that there is true liberty only where the Spirit of the Lord is and the rules of God's Word are observed and obeyed.  We are reminded that all things must be done decently and in order and that God's people should serve Him with holy reverence.  From its beginning to its end a service of public worship should be characterized by that simplicity which is an evidence of sincerity and by that beauty and dignity which are a manifestation of holiness.  Orders of worship should be carefully planned and thought through in their preparation and participants trained and practiced in presentation of the orderly worship of God.

For example, one congregation may choose to use an organ to accompany congregational singing, while another might choose to use a contemporary band.  The former may choose to use a hymnbook, the latter using contemporary music displayed through projection devices.  Some churches may use choirs to lead the singing, while others may use song leaders.  One might have the choir sing a Scriptural call to worship, while others might just read a passage from Scripture.  A church may choose to use a responsive reading for their confession of sin, while another church has a time of silence before the minister leads the congregation in corporate prayer.  All of these ways of expression are appropriate before the Lord when done with genuine service and worship of the heart, be it a cathedral or school hall…but the components of worship never change and are always included in some way. 

The Lord’s Supper and baptisms are components that are occasional by nature.

Guidelines For Corporate Worship.  The Bible teaches that the following are proper components of a worship service:

  1. Call of God to come and worship (Psalms 100:1–5; John 4:23-24) Link
  2. Confession of sin (Psalm 51; Luke 18:13) Link
  3. Assurance of faith and forgiveness (Hebrews 10:19–22) Link
  4. Reading of Holy Scripture (1 Timothy 4:13; Revelation 1:3) Link
  5. Singing of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs (Colossians 3:16) Link
  6. The offering of prayer (1 Timothy 2:1–2) Link
  7. The preaching of the Word (2 Timothy 4:2) Link
  8. The presentation of tithes and offerings (1 Chronicles 16:29; Mark 12:41-44) Link
  9. Confessing the faith (Romans 10:9–10 NIV) Link
  10. Observing the Sacraments (Acts 2:38–39; Matthew 28:19-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23–26) Link Baptism Link Sealing Link Lord's Supper
  11. On special occasions taking oaths and vows (Numbers 30:2; Matthew 5:33-37) Link
  12. The charge to the congregation (Joshua 24:14–15; 1 Timothy 5:21; Hebrews 10:24-25) Link
  13. God’s blessing on His people (Number 6:24-26; 2 Corinthians 13:14) Link
  14. Worshipping God in communal fellowship (Nehemiah 8:12; Acts 2:42–47) Link