Chapter 1. The Nature of Worship

1. God made man in His image to glorify and enjoy Him. In the public worship of the church, the people of God, redeemed by Christ, glorify and enjoy the triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as He reveals Himself in His Word.

2. The main purpose of worship is to bring glory to the triune God, particularly for His work of redemption through Jesus Christ. However, God, in His benevolence, also invites and commands His people to draw near to Him to experience all the benefits of their redemption, to declare their dependence on Him, to enjoy His appointed means of grace, to encourage one another, to celebrate their union with Jesus Christ and to be transformed, more and more, into His image.

3. In the corporate worship of the church the triune God meets with His people in accordance with the terms of the Covenant of Grace. In worship the church remembers God’s covenant of grace and renews her commitment to her Lord. Worship involves intimate communion between God and His redeemed people. In worship God initiates a covenantal dialogue with His people in which He calls them to worship, declares to them His great acts of creation and redemption, assures them of the efficacy of His promises, and seals His promises to them by means of sacraments. In response to God’s initiative, the people of God offer prayers of confession, petition, and thanksgiving, sing Psalms with grace in their hearts, receive God’s word as it is both read and preached, make offerings to Him and seal their personal and corporate commitment to Him through the sacraments.

4. Because worship involves drawing near to the living and holy God, God’s people should enter public worship prepared for communion with Him. In addition, pastors and elders should lead the congregation in public worship in a manner commensurate with the joy, dignity, solemnity and glory of such a holy occasion. All of God’s people should enter His presence with both reverence and awe.

5. Jesus Christ is the sole mediator of the Covenant of Grace and the only mediator between God and man. Therefore, the worship of God’s people is acceptable to God only as it is offered in Christ’s name and through humble reliance on His High Priestly intercession and service.

6. Jesus Christ, as our Prophet, Priest and King, has revealed to His people how to worship Him in a pleasing manner. Therefore, “the acceptable way of worshiping the true God is instituted by Himself and so limited by His own revealed will, that He may not be worshiped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scriptures” (WCF 21:1).

7. In His Word, God has specially appointed one day in seven, the Sabbath day, for His people to assemble for the purpose of public corporate worship. Since the resurrection of our Lord, the first day of the week, the Lord’s Day, has been set aside as the Christian Sabbath, to be kept holy as the dayfor the church’s worship and for rest from regular work.

8. Given the high calling and privilege of public worship, the people of God should prepare their hearts and come to worship with a joyous willing- ness, not absenting themselves through indifference or because of family activities or other Christian meetings. In normal circumstances, neither personal devotions nor family worship are to be regarded as proper substitutes for public worship. In addition to attending the scheduled services of public worship, the Lord’s Day may be fruitfully observed through activities such as: personal Bible reading and study, meditation and prayer, discussion of the sermon, the enjoyment of physical rest, acts of mercy, spiritual fellowship, hospitality, instructing and catechizing the children and visiting the sick.