Why We Must Let Go and Let God in the Day of His Praise
The next two weeks will be taken up with the consideration of the Second Commandment. There is certainly more going on in this statute than the question surrounding images: printed, injection-molded, thought of, etc… however they are made. Granted that these are the positive statements about the matter we will not take up so much how we break the law here given, but the blessings we see in our obedience to it. With no further ado here are our Q/A’s for this week:
Q. 107. Which is the second commandment?
A. The second commandment is, Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
Q. 108. What are the duties required in the second commandment?
A. The duties required in the second commandment are, the receiving, observing, and keeping pure and entire, all such religious worship and ordinances as God hath instituted in his word; particularly prayer and thanksgiving in the name of Christ; the reading, preaching, and hearing of the word; the administration and receiving of the sacraments; church government and discipline; the ministry and maintenance thereof; religious fasting; swearing by the name of God, and vowing unto him: as also the disapproving, detesting, opposing, all false worship; and, according to each one’s place and calling, removing it, and all monuments of idolatry.
It is somewhat inceptionesque to seek to explain a catechism with a catechism, but here we are.
In Fisher’s Catechism we read this:
Q. 3. In what then does the Second Commandment differ from the first?
A. The First Commandment respects the object, and requires that we worship the true God for our God, and no other: the second respects the means of worship, and requires that the true God be worshipped in such a way only, and by such ordinances as he has appointed in his word, in opposition to all human inventions.
The last clause in Fisher’s Catechism is a helpful summary to move us to consider really what is the crux of the matter. Who defines, decides, and declares worship? Without any doubt it is the one whom we worship. It would be like inviting folks to your birthday party and them bringing their own cake and ice cream, that kind of goes against the idea of the celebration. These things are provided for those who come. Similarly if we know our neighbor is lactose intolerant and we in seeking to do something nice for them we go to Dairy Queen, buy them an ice cream cake, and then can’t understand why they don’t want to eat it we can’t exactly be surprised. God in His grace has provided the Second Commandment so that we can know what the Lord desires in His worship and so that we can benefit from His worship.
It is both arrogant and selfish to think we can order devotional exercises according to our own wants and asks.
That is why we read in the above that we are to keep His worship both pure and entire. There is no sense in which we can improve on what He has provided and given unto us in His word. What that means is that whenever we are designing the order, means, and content of our services, whether they be private, family, or public that we entreat judgment and folly if we do not consult the plain teaching of the Scriptures and/or the good and necessary consequence found therein. While the term has become synonymous with Reformed worship the Regulative Principle is just the straightforward teaching of the Second Commandment. We know this because of the examples we have in both the Old and New Testaments. In the days of the return to the exile how did Israel re-establish the worship of God in the Temple? By consulting the Law of Moses which was written in the Book. They turned neither to synergize what they had learned in Babylon nor did they just come up with a pragmatic “whatever works” philosophy. They prayed, sought God’s council in His word, and then did likewise. The concept is not complicated, however, our lack of obedience often is. There is much desire in the heart of men to pull a Peter at the Mount of Transfiguration where instead of worshipping he goes and attempts to build tabernacles when Jesus Christ had commanded no such thing. He missed what he was supposed to see focusing on what he though he could do for God, rather than just resting in what the Lord was doing for Him in that momentous day.
Here is the key reminder for our keeping this command. We receive such as we seek. Let’s go back to Fisher’s Catechism for a second:
Q. 4. What is meant by religious worship?
A. That homage and respect we owe to a gracious God, as a God of infinite perfection; by which we profess subjection to, and confidence in him, as our God in Christ, for the supply of all our wants; and ascribe the praise and glory that is due to him, as our chief good, and only happiness. (Ps. 95:6-7).
As you see there the more we understand the first commandment’s call to love God as He is in Himself the more we will seek in our worship to not only obey what He has provided, but we will less and less have the conception in our mind that in our worship we are doing something for God. Worship is all about what the Lord is doing for us. As He supplies our wants and provides much needed grace we can’t but rejoice and be thankful in praise of His holy name.
A last word:
Blessings in Christ,
Rev. Benjamin Glaser
Pastor, Bethany ARP Church