Features of Reformed Worship
Worship is the expression of praise, glory, thanks, honor, submission and devotion and is to be given to God alone. All else is idolatry. Therefore, Reformed worship is intentionally God-ward, celebrating all that He is and all that He has done in creation and redemption. Worship is not about our feelings or ‘worship experience’ and therefore is not devised according to what will attract or satisfy the sinner. God alone is our target audience in worship. It is for God, about God, and focused solely upon God. We recognize that if God is pleased it does not matter who is displeased, and if He is displeased, it does not matter who is pleased.
Triune in Orientation
God has revealed Himself in creation and especially in the Bible. Biblical worship recognizes we worship the one true God who is eternally existent in three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. All of our worship is shaped by this revelation.
Biblical worship is based upon a covenant relationship. Not everyone can legitimately call Him ‘Father’ but only those in covenant relationship with Him. We also recognize that this relationship is made possible only by the sin bearing, atoning cross-work of the Lord Jesus Christ in His death for us, and the perfect obedience and righteousness He achieved for us in His life. Based on the sure foundation of Scripture alone, justification is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone.
Regulated by Scripture
God determines how He will be worshiped and He has not left us to guess what that involves. The Regulative Principle of Worship acknowledges that we are to do only those things in worship which God has commanded in His Word. We are not free to innovate, revise, or supplement the elements of worship commanded by God in Scripture. We are to be careful to do according to the mandates laid out for us.
Sober, Yet Joyful
The Bible makes it clear that worshiping God is a highly serious matter and yet Christians ought to do so with reverent and overflowing joy. Worship is not a concert for man’s enjoyment. Preaching is not a public speech to dispense information or to entertain. Preaching is a central component of our worship. God addresses His people through the reading and proclamation of His word, and His people respond in faith, thanksgiving, and praise.
A Holy Dialogue
Worship in the Bible was a dialogue between God and His covenant people, and so should it be in churches today. Our service begins with God addressing His gathered people in His solemn call to worship. Hearing His call, we respond with joy. God reveals His holy Law and we recognize our guilt and confess our sins. God pronounces His word, and we believe and renew our commitment to Him. He serves His people a family, covenant meal at His Table and we believe His gospel promise and feast on Him. As we turn from sin and trust the finished and perfect work of the perfect Savior alone, He assures us of His full pardon. We respond with thanksgiving and praise. Our worship ends with God addressing His children with words of benediction. This dialogue between God and His assembled covenant people is the rhythm of worship in Scripture, and it shapes the structure of our liturgy every Lord’s Day.