Why public worship is better than private worship

by David Murray

If you had the choice between private Bible reading and prayer, or going to church, which would you choose?

The Puritans would choose church.

Surprising isn’t it. We all know the Puritans’ welcome emphasis on private devotion and personal godliness. But they actually rated public worship even higher. For example, David Clarkson, colleague and successor to John Owen, preached a sermon on Psalm 87v2 entitled Public worship to be preferred before private, and gave 12 reasons why:

1. The Lord is more glorified by public worship than private.
God is glorified by us when we acknowledge that He is glorious, and He is most glorified when this acknowledgement is most public.

2. There is more of the Lord’s presence in public worship than in private.
He is present with his people in the use of public worship in a special way: more effectually, constantly, and intimately.

3. God manifests himself more clearly in public worship than in private.
For example, in Revelation, Christ is manifested “in the midst of the churches.”

4. There is more spiritual advantage in the use of public worship.
Whatever spiritual benefit is to be found in private duties, that, and much more may be expected from public worship when rightly used.

5. Public worship is more edifying than private.
In private you provide for your own good, but in public you do good both to yourselves and others.

6. Public worship is a better security against apostasy than private.
He who lacks or reject public worship, whatever private means he enjoy, is in danger of apostasy.

7. The Lord works his greatest works in public worship.
Conversion, regeneration, etc., are usually accomplished through public means.

8. Public worship is the nearest resemblance of heaven.
In the Bible’s depictions of heaven, there is nothing done in private, nothing in secret; all the worship of that glorious company is public.

9. The most renowned servants of God have preferred public worship before private.
The Lord did not withdraw from public ordinances, though they were corrupt. Public worship was more precious to the apostles than their safety, liberty, and lives

10. Public worship is the best means for procuring the greatest mercies, and preventing and removing the greatest judgments.

11. The precious blood of Christ is most interested in public worship.
Private worship was required of, and performed by Adam and his posterity, even in a sinless state, but the public preaching of the Gospel and the administration of the sacraments have a necessary dependence on the death of Christ.

12. The promises of God are given more to public worship than to private.
There are more promises to public than to private worship, and even the promises that seem to be made to private duties are applicable and more powerful for public worship.

You might want to print this out and put it beside your alarm clock for next Sunday morning.

Advertisements

Principles For Living God’s Glory

by John MacArthur

1.  The Edification Principle: Will this activity produce spiritual benefits?
In 1 Corinthians 10:23, Paul explained that “all things are lawful, but not all things are profitable.  All things are lawful, but not all things edify.”… So based on this verse, believers should ask themselves, “Will doing this activity enhance my spiritual life and the spiritual lives of others?  Will it cultivate godliness in me and in them?  WIll it build us up spiritually?”  If not, then is it really a wise choice?
2.  The Enslavement Principle:  Will this activity lead to spiritual bondage?
…Don’t allow yourself to become addicted or enslaved to that which is sinful or even just potentially destructive.  If what you are considering can be habit-forming, why pursue it?  Don’t allow yourself to be in bondage to anything or anyone.  You are a slave of the Lord Jesus Christ, and Him alone.
3.  The Exposure Principle:  Will this activity expose my mind or body to defilement?
Speaking specifically of sexual immorality, Paul commanded the Corinthians to avoid anything that might defile them.  “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).  Elsewhere, he told the Ephesians to reprove and avoid the sensual deeds that characterize the wicked, “for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret” (Ephesians 5:12).  Instead, believers are to dwell on those things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, excellent, praiseworthy, and of good repute (Philippians 4:8).  So ask yourself if the decision you are about to make will expose you to the sinful, lewd, and debauched elements of fallen society.  If it will, then stay away from it. … Thus, anything that defiles your body or pollutes your mind ought to be avoided.
4.  The Esteem Principle:  Will this activity benefit others, or cause them to stumble?
[1 Corinthians 8:8-9, 12-13; Philippians 2:1-5]
… If you know that your choice – what you consider “in bounds” and approved by God – will cause another Christian to stumble and sin, love that brother or sister enough to restrict your own freedom.  That is not very popular in our self-absorbed society, but it is biblical.
5.  The Evangelism Principle:  Will this activity further the cause of the gospel?
… Christians should always consider how their actions will affect their witness to a watching world. … Whether or not you are aware of it, what you allow or disallow in your behavior affects your witness for Christ.  It is an issue of testimony – what your life says about God – to the friends, relatives, coworkers, neighbors, or even strangers who might be watching you.  Your testimony either tells the truth about God, or it tells a lie.  The choices you make in the gray areas should reflect your concern not to bring offense to God’s reputation but to bring Him praise instead.
6.  The Ethics Principle:  Will this activity violate my conscience?
… “He who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).  We sin if we act in any way that goes contrary to the convictions of our own faith and good conscience. … Never train yourself to violate your conscience.  If your conscience is troubled by what you are thinking about doing, don’t do it.  If you are not sure about it, don’t do it.  It is hard to overstate the value of a clear conscience, and it is definitely worth keeping your conscience clear so that your relationship with God will not be hindered. (cf. Psalm 66:18).
7.  The Exaltation Principle: Will this activity bring glory to God?
The summary and goal of the aforementioned six principles is found in this one.  Paul declared, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). … Our heart’s cry is to glorify our Lord and Savior with our lives.  So when it comes to the gray areas, think about your decision.  Will God be glorified, praised, and exalted?  We genuinely honor Him when we make choices that are consistent with the principles found in His Word.  On the flip side, when we make foolish and sinful choices, our actions dishonor Him.  If an activity will glorify God, then do it.  It if won’t, or if it is questionable, then do something else.
A Few More Thoughts About the World of Entertainment.
The Seven principles we’ve examined can apply to every gray area in life, including those related to entertainment, amusement, and leisure.  At the same time, however, there are some additional principles that are specifically helpful in considering how we choose to be entertained.  …
The Lordship of Christ Demands Good Stewardship
…[A]sk yourself how much real benefit you receive by watching television and movies or playing video games, and how that compares to the time you spend in spiritual pursuits.  How much money do you spend on temporal amusements, and how does that relate to your eternal investments?  How hard do you labor not to advance your own agenda but to further the work of Christ’s kingdom?  These are heart questions every believer needs to ask.  As stewards of the King (Matthew 25:14-30), we have been called to so much more than our own entertainment.
The Lordship of Christ Denounces Impurity and Worldliness
Ephesians 5:3-4 has excellent words in this regard: “Immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.”  Those two verses alone rule out much of what passes as entertainment in our world today – sexual immorality and impurity, dirty jokes and silly talk, and anything that promotes greed or undermines the giving of thanks.  That list is a pretty good summary of what is wrong with much of contemporary American media.
Movies, for example, are usually rated according to language, violence, sexual content, and thematic elements.  Many of them are not just non-Christian, they are anti-Christian. I don’t mean that they openly attack the Christian faith [often they do, though].  But at least in some cases they might as well.  They employ filthy language and lewd humor…; they glorify violence rather than peace…; they glamorize lust and immorality rather than holiness…; they instill feelings of discontentment and desire rather than thankfulness…; and they promote worldviews that are antithetical to biblical Christianity….  Does this mean a Christian should never watch movies?  Not necessarily.  But we must be discriminating about the things we allow in our minds.  We are called to renew our minds…. When we continually fill our minds with the filth of this world, we do ourselves a great spiritual disservice.
The Lordship of Christ Determines Right Priorities
Our media-driven culture has redefined the pursuit of happiness.  The American Dream – which used to consist of a loving family, a nice house, a white picket fence – now includes instant fame, endless riches, easy romance, and the blank-check promise that anyone can achieve his or her dreams.  Reality television and the rise of the Internet are perhaps somewhat to blame for this phenomenon.  But ultimately the problem lies in the human heart.
We were created to long for satisfaction, fulfillment, and joy, and those desires are good in and of themselves.  But our fallen world tries to meet those desires with money, romance, fame, and other earthly pleasures.  Yet temporal things can never bring lasting satisfaction to a heart that was created to find its ultimate joy in God. …
Christians should not allow entertainment to define their understanding of happiness, romance, modesty, masculinity, success, fulfillment, justice, or anything else.  The Word and the Spirit should shape our worldview, not Hollywood.  Sadly, however, many Christians today are more affected by the movies they watch than the sermons they hear.  They show more enthusiasm for video games or television sporting events than they do for pursuing Christlikeness.  They fill their minds with the sounds of talk radio or perhaps the latest hit albums rather than letting the Word of Christ richly dwell within them.  Deep down, they enjoy exploring the pleasures of the world – even if only vicariously – as they watch actors play out scenes in which sinful pursuits are seemingly rewarded with happiness.  The irony, of course, is than in real life those same actors are just as miserable as everyone else, a sobering reality that keeps supermarket tabloids in business.
Our priorities, passions, plans, and pursuits must be grounded in our love for Jesus Christ.  Only in Him can we find true satisfaction….
The Lordship of Christ Defines a Proper Perspective
Right priorities and godly passions stem out of a proper perspective – a heavenly mind-set that understands eternal realities and interprets this life accordingly.  If this world were all there was, we would be wise to amass treasure and search for happiness in the here and now.  But that is not reality.  This world is not all there is.
Reality, as revealed by the truth of Scripture, encompasses much more than the temporal pleasures, priorities, and pursuits of this world.  God is real; His Word is real; heaven and hell are real; the gospel is real; Jesus is real; His death, resurrection, and ascension are all real, as is the fact that He will soon be coming back.  The brevity of this life is real; the certainty of death is real; the promise of future reward is real; and the threat of eternal destruction is also real.  In contrast, the world of entertainment is not real.  In fact, most entertainment is about escaping from reality, not portraying it accurately.
As Christians, our worldview must be grounded in reality, not in the imaginary worlds of Hollywood.  People can deny reality, and the can distract themselves with fantasy, but they cannot change the fact that one day they will stand before God (Hebrews 9:27).  At that moment, the riches, pleasures, and accomplishments of this world will be of no use to them.
Right Thinking In A World Gone Wrong, pp. 18-27

Agape love is decisive and determined action

From The Truth Project

Agape love is decisive and determined action. It’s not enough to cultivate feelings of compassion for the needy. Instead, we must have the humility and courage to reach out. Only in this way can we become faithful imitators of our Lord and Master.”

Is the church failing us?

by G.S. West

It bothers me when Christians say, ‘The church has failed us’, as if it is the board of directors at the Southern Baptist Convention, the Vatican—or whomever—is responsible for failing to make the church into what the church ought to be. ‘’Church’ might be a denomination, a building, or an organized group of believers, but THE Church consists of followers of Jesus Christ who have been saved by grace through faith in him—the ‘body of Christ’. Instead of pointing fingers and saying the ‘church’ has failed at this or that, we might want to pause and take a hard look at ourselves first. Is the church failing us or are we failing the church? 

“You never let go”

Adapted from West Main Baptist Church’s blog by Ben

 

Have you considered Colossians 1:15-17 lately?  It says:

  • He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

Friend, if you are in Christ, that is the Lord and Savior who has you firmly in His benevolent grasp.  Since He holds all things together, you’d better believe that He upholds you.  Today’s Wednesday worship offering reminds us of this truth.

“You Never Let Go” was written in 2005 by Matt and Beth Redman and published through Thankyou Music.  It was first released in Redman’s 2006 album “Beautiful News” (listen to Redman’s version here) and has been covered by Christian artists such as Rebecca St. James, Stellar Kart, and Jeremy Camp.

I’ve really enjoyed worshiping the Lord with this song because it puts hope under my feet that God will not let my foot slip, even in the treacherous places (Ps 66:9).  What a firm and loving grip He has on me!!

Worship the Lord today along with Stellar Kart as they lead us in their version of “You Never Let Go.”

 

VERSE 1
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
Your perfect love is casting out fear
And even when I’m caught in the middle of the storms of this life
I won’t turn back
I know you are near

PRE-CHORUS
And I will fear no evil
For my God is with me
And if my God is with me
Whom then shall I fear?
Whom then shall I fear?

CHORUS
Oh no, You never let go
Through the calm and through the storm
Oh no, You never let go
In every high and every low
Oh no, You never let go
Lord, You never let go of me

VERSE 2
I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on
A glorious light beyond all compare
And there will be an end to these troubles
But until that day comes
We’ll live to know You here on the earth

BRIDGE
I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on
And there will be an end to these troubles
But until that day comes
Still I will praise You, still I will praise You

____________________

Verse 1 starts out with an allusion to the beautiful, faith-building 23rd Psalm and reminds us that God is always with us, which should erase fear.

The pre-chorus asks the same question that the 27th Psalm asks:  whom shall I fear?  The answer to the rhetorical question is “Nobody, if God is on your side.”

Verse 2 reminds us of the truth told in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. 17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”  The verse and bridge go on to encourage us to continue in faithful following until our Deliverer returns.  Praise Him ever the more strongly until that day!

The chorus breaks in celebrating that God has ahold of us at every moment of life.  We often do not think much about His sovereign grasp in the calm and in the highs and often wonder where He is in the storm and in the lows, but in both He’s there, never leaving us or forsaking us.  What a blessing He is to us!

May this song encourage you and lead you to consider all the ways God has blessed you through good and tumultuous times.  He’ll never let you go!!

God is not lonely, bored, or selfish

by Fred Sanders

Just think of the many unworthy ideas and attitudes about God that the doctrine of the Trinity can help us name, reject, and even deride. The doctrine of the Trinity expels unworthy ideas about the perfection of God’s life. It is unworthy to think that God without us is lonely or bored. God is not looking something to do in the happy land of the Trinity. God did not create the world in order to fill the drafty mansion of heaven with the pitter-patter of little feet. God is not pining away for companionship in a lonesome heaven.

Good theological reflection, taking its lead from the Bible, would always reject the idea of divine loneliness or boredom. But as soon as you entertain the truth of the doctrine of the ontological Trinity, the unworthiness of the idea of a lonely or bored God becomes patently obvious. The triune God is one, but not solitary. Nothing that God does in creation or redemption is done because God lacked employment and occupation. The incarnation of the Son of God was not undertaken as an excellent adventure to provide diversion from the dullness of being the eternal Son. All these ideas are unworthy of God, as the doctrine of the Trinity makes obvious.

….God is not lonely, bored, or selfish. But if we turned it around and said it in a positive way, we would simply say that God is lvoe. Not by conincidence, this is also how the Bible puts it. This is what the Bible helps us learn with greater precision: that God is love. The triune God is a love that is infinitely high above you, eternally preceding you, and welcoming you in.

The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything, pp. 95-96

Our greatest need is not better community

by Larry Crabb

Let’s be clear. Our greatest need is not better community in our small groups or better preaching from our pulpits. Our greatest challenge is not to Christianize secular culture into accepting family values and biblical morals.

Our greatest need is for a fresh encounter with God that exposes sin as repulsive and reveals as repulsive sin our determination to make this life work, no matter how spiritually we may go about it.

The Pressure’s Off, P 51