“Come, let us worship and bow down,
Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.“
“When we come to the Word preached, we come to a matter of the highest
importance; therefore we should stir ourselves up and hear with
the greatest devotion.” Thomas Watson
As the believer approaches the glorious blessing of worshiping the Lord our God, there should be no argument about the preeminence of the Word of God in that worship. Indeed, there can be no genuine worship apart from His Word. As our Lord explained to the woman at the well (John 4), the Father is seeking those who will worship Him “in spirit and in truth.” By virtue of the sublime salvation we have received in Christ, the born again alone may offer that genuine spiritual worship, and, by virtue of God's providential deliverance of His eternal Word to us, we may properly worship informed by His Truth.
John Calvin astutely stated the superiority of the Word of God for the Christian:
“Since no daily responses are given from heaven, and the Scriptures are the only record in which God has been pleased to consign His truth to perpetual remembrance, the full authority which they ought to possess with the faithful is not recognized unless they are believed to have come from heaven as directly as if God had been heard giving utterance to them.”
The faithful should read the Scripture, pray the Scripture, and hear the Scripture from the humble position of utter submission to it as if it has “come from heaven as directly as if God had been heard giving utterance to them.” In our daily reading of Scripture, believers are to have the mindset that we are approaching our thrice holy God to hear and heed the unvarnished thundering of His eternal holy Truth. In our prayers to God, we ought fill them with thanks, praise, and supplications borne of the promises and precepts revealed by God in His holy Book.
In his recent book, Final Word, John MacArthur explains the essence of Word-driven worship. 1
“If we desire a meditation that pleases God, we must meditate on Scripture. If we want to speak words that please Him, we must speak the Words of Scripture. The words of our mouths should be the words of God, and the meditations of our hearts should be divine truth. That's the only appropriate response to the authority of God's Word. That is the essence of worship.”
The prince of preachers, Charles Spurgeon, can be heard from an 1864 sermon bellowing a hearty amen. As Spurgeon preached, “Thus saith the Lord' is the only authority in God's church.” 2 In hearing the Scriptures read and preached, then too we ought, as the Puritan Thomas Watson exhorts, “hear with the greatest devotion.” Indeed, when God speaks in His Word, there simply is no matter of greater importance.
The preeminence of the Word in our Lord's Day worship, and our daily worship, is unquestioned. MacArthur has taught what each believer innately knows: “Everything about the Christian life starts with true worship of God,” and that “The ministry of the Word is the platform on which all genuine worship is built.”
As we approach worship this Lord's Day, let us engage the Word with mindful reverence and thankful remembrance of the glory of divine Truth that the Incarnate Word has given to us, by His Spirit, in the inscripturated Word.
It was by God's omnipotent Word that all things were created
- “In the beginning, God …” Genesis 1:1
- “Then God said …” Genesis 1:4, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26
It is from the unfolding revelation of His Word that God reveals Himself as sovereign.
- “But our God is in the heavens; he does whatever he pleases.” Psalm 115:3
It is through His Word of grace, the Gospel, by which God saves rebellious man.
- “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation …” Romans 1:16
- ” … for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.” 1 Peter 1:23
It is by His eternal Word, the Truth, through which He sanctifies His people.
- “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” John 17:17
It is by His covenant Word that He will bring His redeemed and chosen people, conformed to the image of His Son, to abide eternally with Him.
- “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us.” Ephesians 1:7-8A
- “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son …” Romans 8:29
- ” … He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.” Hebrews 8:6
- “And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them,” Revelation 21:3
The “full authority,” as Calvin points out, of God's Word has always been known by God's people and ought be shown deferential reverence by them. Truly Israel honored the Word as if they heard God “giving utterance” when Ezra opens the book to read it to the people. These worshiping hearers surely understood, as Watson instructs us, that the reading of the Word was of the “highest importance.”
“Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. Then Ezra blessed the Lord the great God. And all the people answered, ‘Amen, Amen!' while lifting up their hands; then they bowed low and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.” Nehemiah 8:5-6
Likewise, may our daily worship, and our Lord's Day worship, be driven by honor and attentiveness to His Holy Word. May our posture of worship be with the due reverence that the Word of “the Lord the great God” rightly commands of us. With David, let us “delight in Your statutes” and “not forget Your Word” (Psalm 119:16) for the Word of the Lord is life (Psalm 119:25, John 6:63). May we show ourselves truly His disciples as we “continue in My Word,” because by it we “know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:32). May our worshipful minds be confident of, and committed to, Christlike renewal by His transforming Word (Romans 12:2).
Indeed, let us worship on the sure foundation of “Thus saith the Lord,” remembering the words of the Lord through Joshua:
“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.” Joshua 1:8
May our Lord's Day worship bless the Lord, “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:36)
- John MacArthur, Final Word, (Sanford, Florida: Reformation Trust, 2019)
- Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Sermon #591, The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, vol. 10, cited by Final Word, MacArthur