"Our need of Christ does not cease with our believing; nor does the nature of our relation to Him or to God through Him ever alter, no matter what our attainments in Christian graces or our achievements in Christian behavior may be. It is always on His ‘blood and righteousness’ alone that we can rest. There is never anything that we are or have or do that can take His place, or that can take a place along with Him." — #BBWarfield, the great Princeton theologian who died this day in 1921.
In Christ, the weakness and godlessness and sin and enmity of the world are shown to be a lie and objectively removed once and for all. And… in Christ, the peace of the world with God, the turning of man to Him, his friendship with Him, is shown to be the truth and objectively confirmed once and for all.
The verbal witness [of evangelism] remains indispensable, not least because our deeds and our conduct are ambiguous; they need elucidation. The best we can hope for is that people will deduce from our behavior and our actions that we have ‘a hope within’ us. Our lives are not sufficiently transparent for people to be able to ascertain whence our hope comes. So we must name the Name of him who we believe (1 Peter 3:15).
Why is corporate worship important? Why should we gathering as an assembly of believers to worship God? Why do we sing hymns and songs of praise as a congregation? Why do we listen to the preached Word? What’s the significance?
As I have spoken with many emerging adults about worship, I am convinced that my generation struggles with answering these questions. We suffer from a sort of worship confusion. Maybe we can explain worship in a broad sense: that worship is about adoring God and glorifying him. Of course, that is absolutely true. Worship is an attitude of the heart, and everything that a Christian does should be done as an act of worship—that is, to glorify God. But what about corporate worship? Is it even important anymore?
Today, Donald Miller posted a blog entry entitled “I Don’t Worship God by Singing. I Connect With Him Elsewhere.” In this personal reflection on worship, Miller writes, “I don’t experience that intimacy in a traditional worship service. In fact, I can count on one hand the number of sermons I actually remember. So to be brutally honest, I don’t learn much about God hearing a sermon and I don’t connect with him by singing songs to him.”
I’m sure this isn’t the first time you’ve heard something like this. Maybe you feel the same as Miller. Many people today identify as Christians but don’t see the benefit in attending a corporate worship service. Some take it as far as defining themselves as “spiritual but not religious”—that is, they are a worshiper (however they define it) but do not see a point in belonging to a particular church.
Miller admits that he doesn’t attend church very often, and that’s okay, he says, because he doesn’t learn by hearing. Instead, he learns by doing. How could anyone argue with him? This is his personal experience, and he’s “studied psychology and education reform long enough to know a traditional lecture isn’t for everybody.”
There are, however, some deeper questions we should be asking here. What is really going on when the saints gather in worship? What is really taking place when the Word is being preached? Is it just a lecture? Are we church-going Christians just sitting in a classroom? Historic Christianity says no.
Today, sadly, many evangelical churches try their best to steer clear of even using the word “sermon” to describe the preaching of God’s Word. Instead, it has become a “talk,” you know, like the ones that Ted guy is always giving.
In The Marrow of Theology, William Ames says, “Preaching is the ordinance of God, sanctified for the begetting of faith, for the opening of the understanding, for the drawing of the will and affections to Christ.” That doesn’t sound like just a talk, does it?
What Miller and others are saying is they don’t really like traditional worship services. Why? Because corporate worship isn’t really pleasing to their learning styles. But is that a good question to begin with? Shouldn’t we be asking what God finds pleasing?
Ultimately, this is a subjective argument. “I don’t really like this, so I don’t see the point in doing it.” This leads to the kind of individualistic, “Jesus and me” Christianity for which Americans are so well known. This is more of a shallow spiritualism with Jesus’ name crudely pasted on it than it is biblical or historic Christianity. I don’t think this is Miller’s intention, but it is what we are left with when we remove corporate worship from the Christian life.
Miller rightly argues that the Church is not confined to a single tribe. Of course it isn’t. But it doesn’t follow that we should stop attending corporate worship just because we are around other Christians throughout the week or we suffer from a mild case of ADD.
Listening doesn’t come easy for all Christians. But this doesn’t mean we should stop listening to the proclaimed Word of God in a corporate context. No, let’s practice the art of listening, even in the midst of a culture that doesn’t know how to listen. Likewise, singing isn’t always fun for the church-going Christian. But it is still a vital part of the Christian experience.
This post is not meant to be an attack on Don Miller. I agree that we should worship in our daily vocations, and so would Christians throughout the centuries (see especially Martin Luther). But the Christian duty of worshiping God in our vocation should not take the place of corporate worship.
And how could i not love it?
- The faith that we are defending must begin with and necessarily include, the Triune God — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — who, as God, condescends to create and redeem.
- God’s covenantal revelation is authoritative by virtue of what it is, and any Covenantal, Christian apologetic will necessarily…
The Old Testament is the story of God, who progressively reestablishes his new-creational kingdom out of chaos over a sinful people by his word and Spirit through promise, covenant, and redemption, resulting in worldwide commission to the faithful to advance this kingdom and judgment (defeat or exile) for the unfaithful, unto his glory.
25 Years in Manhattan: A Documentary on Tim Keller and Redeemer Presbyterian Church
A Dutch documentary (with subtitles)
The only way you can become a Christian is not by pointing to your qualifications, but by admitting you have no qualifications, which is the only qualification. Until you admit you have no qualifications, you’re not qualified.