PMT 2014-001b Jeffrey K. Boer
Note: This is our third installment on how to find a biblical church. We will pick up where we left off in our second article. Please consult the previous articles for the preceding points.
8. Biblical Music
Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
We believe that music in worship is not designed for entertainment, but for edification and for adoration. All God’s people should participate in the worship of song rather than sit back and be entertained by a soloist or a choir. If a church has a choir, the choir should lead the congregational singing, not sing to the congregation. Hymnals should be carefully chosen to emphasize the Psalms of Scripture and other Christ-glorifying scriptural teaching, in contrast to the sappy sentimentalism and trite fluff of our day. Some churches sing the Psalms exclusively, sometimes without instruments as well. We do not believe the Scriptures command exclusive use of the Psalms, although we highly recommend the Psalms for worship. We recommend that churches have at least one hymnal that contains all the Psalms in it in some form for singing. But we believe there are other hymnals that are appropriate for worship as well.
Psalm 98:4-6, the Psalm on which “Joy to the World” was based, says, “Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music; make music to the LORD with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing, with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn—shout for joy to the LORD, the King.”
From this and similar texts, the OPC, as a denomination, has concluded that it is proper and allowable to use various kinds of musical instruments in worship.
In addition, Revelation 5:8 (a vision of a heavenly worship service) says, “…the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp….”
Earthly worship is to be patterned after heavenly worship, so if this heavenly worship service can have instruments, then we believe that we can as well. We would still recommend as very fine churches, however, many churches that sing Psalms exclusively, or that use no instruments in their worship.
We not only may sing the Psalms and hymns during worship, we also may read the Psalms of Scripture together in responsive readings. It’s appropriate, in addition (though not required), that some churches have times of informal singing prior to their worship services or have various hymn sings and special programs. Such informal services are not bound by the same regulative principle which governs the official worship of God. Yet, all of the music that is sung to God, whether in formal worship or informal worship, should be biblical in content and God-honoring in presentation.
Exclusive Psalmody (4 CDs by Ken Gentry)
One sermon defends reverent, biblical hymnody. Three sermon series critiquing the Exclusive Psalmody position. Defends reverent hymnody while affirming the glory of Psalm singing.
9. Biblical Readings
Psalm 119:97, 113-115 says, “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long…. I hate double-minded men, but I love your law. You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word. Away from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commands of my God!”
A faithful church will not only preach and teach the Scriptures and sing scriptural music, it may also retain the Westminster Assembly’s required practice of reading through the whole Bible, briefly explaining both an Old Testament and a New Testament passage in each worship service. In this way, such churches may receive the “whole counsel of God,” not just bits and pieces. And Revelation 1:3 promises: “Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it….”
10. Biblical Giving
Malachi 3:8-10 says, “‘Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, “How do we rob you?” In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the LORD Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.’”
Fund raising at a faithful church should not be accomplished by worldly “gimmicks,” such as carnivals, raffles, and bazaars, to attract the funds of outsiders. We believe that the biblical means of financing the Kingdom of God is the faithful tithes and offerings of God’s people. We believe that the principle of tithing is reaffirmed in Hebrews 7:8 which says, “In the one case [referring to the tithe collected by the Levites of the Old Testament], the tenth is collected by men who die; but in the other case [referring to the tithe collected by Melkizedek in the Old Testament], by him who is declared to be living.”
Jesus Christ still collects the tithe in the New Testament, because Hebrews 7:17 declares of Him, “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek” (quoting Psalm 110:4). So you should hear no tear-jerking pleas for money during the worship of God at a faithful church, but you will have opportunity to bring your tithes and offerings to God at each service.
11. Biblical Prayer
Colossians 4:2-4 says, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly as I should.” Every member of a biblical church is encouraged to pray daily, as well as during the worship services and prayer meetings, for the spread of the Gospel through biblical means and for the working of God in one another’s lives.
James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” In a faithful church, we should learn to pray regularly, according to the will of God, for one another, for the growth of His kingdom, and for His glory.
12. Biblical Sacraments
Baptism: When the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the church at Pentecost, the Jews found out that they had crucified their own Messiah. They finally realized that they were under the wrath of God and deserved His condemnation. In fear and desperation, they cried out to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Acts 2:38-42 says, “Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.’ With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’ Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
We should keep in mind the fact that the apostle Peter was speaking, here, to Jewish people, familiar with the Old Testament sign and seal of entrance into the covenant of grace. According to Old Testament law, their infant children, eight days old, were all to be circumcised as members of the covenant of grace.
Peter did not say that the children of believing parents are no longer to be included in the covenant in the New Testament. Rather, Peter says that the covenant promise is now not only for you and your children (the same as it was in the Old Testament), but now it is even for those Gentiles whom God will call. Just as children of believing parents in the Old Testament were required to be circumcised, so children of believing parents in the New Testament must be baptized. At a faithful church, therefore, we believe that these Scriptures teach us, not only the necessity of being baptized into church membership, but also that this applies to both believing parents and their children. If our children are kept from receiving the sign and seal of God’s covenant, we need to find another church.
The Lord’s Supper: We believe that the early church celebrated the Lord’s Supper (“the breaking of bread”) on every Lord’s Day, not just once or a few times a year.
Acts 20:7 says, “On the first day of the week we came together to break bread.” It’s entirely appropriate, therefore, for a faithful church to celebrate the Lord’s Supper every Lord’s Day.
I Corinthians 11:23-29 gives the regulations for the celebration of the Lord’s Supper: “The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread [by the way, nowhere do the Scriptures say that this was unleavened bread; it’s called “bread”], and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after supper he took the cup [this was fermented wine, not grape juice, but many churches that serve grape juice, for whatever reasons, are still God-honoring churches], saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself.”
While there are many churches today that teach that infants and small children may partake of the Lord’s Supper, we believe that these verses require that those who partake must have the maturity to be able to examine themselves in order that they may consciously “remember” the Lord and partake in faith. We also believe that professing our faith in Jesus Christ, confessing Him before men when we enter covenant with Him by joining with His body, the church, involves us in making vows of faithfulness to Him. We do not see any examples of small children making vows in the Scriptures, since vows are very weighty matters.
Theological Debates Today (5 CDs)
Conference lectures on contemporary theological issues:
1. The Great Tribulation; 2. The Book of Revelation; 3. Hyperpreterism; 4. Paedocommunion;
5. God’s Law
Tagged: Bible reading, music, prayer, sacraments, tithing
It seems you’re being unfair when you treat “the cup” as definitely “wine” and the “bread” as not necessarily “unleavened bread.” Based on the night He was betrayed being Passover, preceding the feast of Unleavened Bread, it seems like we can know that both “the cup” was most definitely wine, and “the bread” was most definitely unleavened, since those two were the God-prescribed elements of the Jewish exodus, which of course is a type of our salvation.
If I’m missing something, please let me know! Thanks for these messages.