Worship Matters: Worship and the Word, Part 2
- 2003 25 Mar
Last week we began a guest series by my friend, Craig Cabaniss, a pastor from San Diego, based on an outstanding message he gave at the recent Sovereign Grace Ministries worship conference. - Bob Kauflin
Last time, we began exploring the important relationship between worship and the Word of God. I offered a simple, working definition of worship as man's response to God's revelation.
King David's Psalm 19 is itself a wonderful expression of worship, and what it primarily celebrates is the revelation of God through His written word. We looked at the first six verses last time. In verse 7, David begins a list of declarations in praise of God's Word: "The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul."
David is using the word "law" here in its broad sense. In this psalm, it is used synonymously with words such as "precepts" and "commandments." James Boyce in his commentary on Psalms clarifies, "Law of the Lord," here literally "Torah," is not limited to a specific legal command as our word "law" is. The root meaning of "Torah" is "instruction." It has to do with everything God has revealed or everything that God says. Our best equivalent would be "Scripture" or "Word of God."
The first thing David declares about Scripture is its perfection. "The law of the Lord is perfect." He immediately places the Word in a transcendent category that distinguishes it from everything else-including you and me. There is nothing about my life or your life that could accurately be described as "perfect." Our best efforts fall short. But inspired by God Himself, David proclaims Scripture to be perfect.
There is an infinite gap that separates the works and words of man from the Word of God. God's Word is blameless, flawless, and error-free. Not a single defect. It is perfectly true and perfectly sufficient. It lacks nothing. God's Word doesn't need editorial assistance or supplemental appendices. The Word stands alone in its perfection.
Consider this when you gather for worship on the Lords' day and Scripture is read, sung, or prayed. What you are hearing is the flawless revelation of God to His people. And in the Word, God not only reveals Himself, but He reveals us too. We are evaluated by the Word. Our souls are searched, and our hearts are measured by the perfect plumb line of Scripture.
Now, I'm not suggesting that Sunday services should exclude everything but the reading of the Word-that we sing only songs directly from Scripture, pray only the prayers found in the Word, or that we replace sermons with verbatim Bible readings. I'm not suggesting these things because the Bible itself doesn't suggest these things. It instructs us to sing hymns and spiritual songs. It encourages gifted men to preach and teach.
What I am suggesting is that we recognize the uniqueness and perfection of the Word of God, and that we grow in respect for and appreciation of God's flawless revelation. Whenever we read or hear the Word, we should do so carefully, reverently, and fearfully.
When we do this, we experience to an even greater degree the effect of the perfect law of the LORD: it revives the soul. God's Word renews and refreshes the heart. It communicates life. When we faithfully submit ourselves to Holy Scripture, it will do its work. It is the Word that awakens dead and slumbering souls. When we gather to hear, when we read, when we sing, when we pray, and when we preach the Word, we can be confident that God will renew the hearts of his people.
In the next Worship Matters, we will continue exploring Psalm 19 and the utter dependence of Christian worship on the Word of God.
This article is based on a message Craig gave at Sovereign Grace's A Passion for the Glory of God worship conference. You can order the audio product from the Sovereign Grace Store. The outlines for many of these conference messages are on the Sovereign Grace website.
Are you interested in another tool for Scripture memory? Try Mark Altrogge's Hide the Word series of Scriptures set to mini-songs. You can order these from the Sovereign Grace Store.