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New Horizons

April, 2002: Drawing Near to God

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Christ Himself in the Assemblies of His People

"For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." —Matthew 18:20

There are people who think that they are bestowing a great favor upon the church of God when they grace it with their presence, and the implication seems to be that they bestow a great favor on the Almighty. How reprehensible is their own self-esteem! How far removed is their thought from the humility and contrition that reflects the inestimable mercy God bestows on us in the institutions of his church. Read more

For Whom Is Worship?

For whom is worship? "For God, of course," comes the answer. "Worship is our response to God's grace. In worship, we give God the praise and honor he deserves. True, we may receive something in worship, we may be edified, but that is a very minor and secondary part of worship. Worship is theocentric."

"Truly Reformed" Worship?

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Worship Is More Than a List

Traditionally, Presbyterians have tended to conceptualize worship abstractly as a list of activities. That conception is then applied to various concrete settings, namely, secret, family, and public worship. This is the pattern of the Westminster Confession, Chapter XXI. For Westminster, most of the activities of the public assembly can also take place in the family assembly and in secret. Of the parts of "ordinary religious worship," only the administration of the sacraments is limited to the public assembly.

All the rest, at least in some form, find a place in family and secret worship. Even preaching, understood in its essential nature, namely, as the setting forth of the gospel by the exposition of Scripture, takes place both in secret and in family worship. In secret worship, it takes the form of the individual's study of the Scriptures. In the family setting, it takes the form of the father's catechetical instructions to his family. Read more

The Beauty of Reformed Worship

That we call our worship "Reformed" means that it has a specific character (and beauty) in distinction from other forms of worship. Our form of worship finds itself between two "extremes" in a specific respect.

On the one hand, there is Romanist worship, in which not only is the "accursed idolatry" of the Mass (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 30) central, but for all practical purposes the congregation or laity is passive. It is not even necessary that there be a congregation present! Where the bishop or priest is, busy at the altar, there is the church—even if he is all by himself. Read more

Worship: Evangelical or Reformed?

One of the challenges of being Reformed in America is to figure out the relationship between what is evangelical and what is Reformed. Protestantism in America is dominated by the mainline Protestants, the evangelicals, and the charismatics. After these dominant groups, other major players would include the confessional Lutherans. But where do the Reformed fit in, particularly in relation to the evangelicals, with whom historically we have been most closely linked?

Some observers argue that the confessional Reformed are a subgroup in the broader evangelical movement. Certainly over the centuries in America, the Reformed have often allied themselves with the evangelicals, have shared much in common with the evangelicals, and have often tried to refrain from criticizing the evangelical movement. But are we Reformed really evangelical? Read more

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