Today I’m thinking what a soul-refreshing blessing it is to go up to the house of God, to worship the Lord with His people on the Lord’s Day.
What are the specific aspects of the public worship of the Lord for which I am thankful? Well, I find an excellent list of the parts of public worship in The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter XXI – Of Religious Worship, and the Sabbath-day, paragraph 5:
The reading of the Scriptures with godly fear;
the sound preaching, and conscionable hearing of the word, in obedience unto God, with understanding, faith, and reverence;
singing of psalms with grace in the heart;
as also the due administration and worthy receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ; are all parts of the ordinary religious worship of God:
besides religious oaths and vows, solemn fastings, and thanksgivings upon special occasions, which are, in their several times and seasons, to be used in a holy and religious manner. (Emphasis added.)
Yes, today I was especially blessed by the pastor’s sermon taken from the text Philippians 4:6,7:
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
At this point I’ll not give a summary of his uplifting exegesis of God’s Word, nor of the applications he made to our lives as Christians. Rather, I wish to consider the simple fact that the Lord brings blessing and growth in grace to His people in the group He has appointed, and through the means He has appointed. I read in I Corinthians 12:28:
And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. (Emphasis added.)
The Lord Jesus Christ, in Matthew 16:18, tells us that He is the One building His church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. The church of the Lord, then, is the group He has promised to build, and through which He blesses His people. The Lord has not promised to bless:
- Individuals who stay at home reading their Bibles and praying instead of joining with the public worship of God in the church.
- Families who stay away from the church, choosing rather to “home church”.
- Groups of families who stay away from church, meeting in religious societies, rather than joining with a local church where the doctrine of the gospel is taught and embraced, ordinances administered, and public worship performed more or less purely in them (Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter XXV – Of the Church, paragraph 4).
Within the church which He is building, the Lord places particular emphasis upon the preaching of His Word as a means of grace to His people. We see this truth expressed in such verses as Romans 10:13-17:
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?
And how shall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Emphasis added.)
We must do things God’s way if we hope for God’s blessings. In John 14:15,21, Christ said,
If ye love me, keep my commandments.
He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
And in Luke 6:46 He asked, And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
When Christians join with other believers in God’s church, and attend upon the preaching of His Word there, only then do they have biblical reason to believe that the Lord will bless them with growth in grace. The Lord says to attend upon faithful preaching of His Word, in His church. It reveals our love to God when we take Him at His Word, and obey Him in this matter. This is what He has ordained to bless,
- Reading and studying the Bible at home, instead of going to church, to attend upon the public preaching of God’s Word.
- Listening to recorded sermons at home instead of meeting with God’s people in a local church to attend upon the preaching of God’s Word.
- Reading printed sermons of godly men from days gone by instead of attending a local church and hearing God’s Word preached there.
Psalm 122, Scottish Metrical version
I joy’d when to the house of God go up, they said to me.
Jerusalem, within thy gates our feet shall standing be.
Jerus’lem, as a city, is compactly built together:
Unto that place the tribes go up, the tribes of God go thither:
To Isr’el’s testimony, there to God’s name thanks to pay.
For thrones of judgment, ev’n the thrones of David’s house, there stay.
Pray that Jerusalem may have peace and felicity:
Let them that love thee and thy peace have still prosperity.
Therefore I wish that peace may still within thy walls remain,
And ever may thy palaces prosperity retain.
Now, for my friends’ and brethren’s sakes, peace be in thee, I’ll say.
And for the house of God our Lord, I’ll seek thy good always.