The Regular Principle in Worship
There are various aspects of worship in the life of men, and when men worship God in strange ways is certainly an indication of the fruit which a man has as a tree in God’s sight.
In the life of a believer whose heart is established in Grace, that man’s life must be a life of worship, not just a set apart time of the week when men worship in a particular way together, yet in the life of worship we do see times of joint worship with others in a ministerial way.
All of these aspects of worship we will take some time to look at and isolate the one principle they all regularly contain, from the formality of joint worship unto the spiritual conscienceless of worship shared only with God by faith.
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Delivered on 8-8-2022 / grego. 12-1-2022
Compiled by JS LOWTHER
The Regular Principle in Worship
Lev 10:1 And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not.
Lev 10:2 And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.
Lev 10:3 Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.
Today we are going to study a biblical doctrine known as the Regulative principle of worship, and the reason for that is because this text of holy scripture leads us directly to its consideration.
The regulative principle speaks of the regular and thus regulating way in which we by a principles worship God:
consider Webster’s 1828 definition of REG’ULAR before this literal discussion we are about to have in study:
REG’ULAR, a. [L. regularis, from regula, a rule, from rego, to rule.]
1. Conformed to a rule; agreeable to an established rule, law or principle, to a prescribed mode or to established customary forms…
The simplicity of the doctrine is stated in the saying
“That which is not commanded is prohibited in ministerial worship.”
An example is this is in what we read above, God made a regular principle of incents in his lawful worship in the sanctuary, and an infringement or violation of lawful worship led to the death of Nedab and Abihu.
And this tell us, that when it comes to God’s worship, especially publicly preformed God has a special jealousy or desire to be worshiped as he commands.
Exo_30:34 And the LORD said unto Moses, Take unto thee sweet spices, stacte, and onycha, and galbanum; these sweet spices with pure frankincense: of each shall there be a like weight:
Exo 30:35 And thou shalt make it a perfume, a confection after the art of the apothecary, tempered together, pure and holy:
Exo 30:36 And thou shalt beat some of it very small, and put of it before the testimony in the tabernacle of the congregation, where I will meet with thee: it shall be unto you most holy.
Exo 30:37 And as for the perfume which thou shalt make, ye shall not make to yourselves according to the composition thereof: it shall be unto thee holy for the LORD.
Exo 30:38 Whosoever shall make like unto that, to smell thereto, shall even be cut off from his people.
Exo_37:29 And he made the holy anointing oil, and the pure incense of sweet spices, according to the work of the apothecary.
So, in the case of Nadab and Abihu we cannot be sure of how they made God’s Holy fire un-holy or strange exactly, but what we know is that they did was create a mixture of incents foreign to that which is commanded, and they did so willfully in disregard of the LORD’s WORD and Commands.
The infraction was specifically a disregard for God’s Holiness and God Glory, as all violations of God’s Law willfully are:
YHWH- the LORD said, “I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified.
and He also said ” …it shall be unto thee holy for the LORD. “
Now the New Testament scriptures tell us something very similar to this in applying it to our Kingdom which we seek after and thus as we consider this concept we begin to see how this fruit which we have in worshiping God is an attribute of life and government in all respects:
Heb_12:28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:
Heb 12:29 For our God is a consuming fire.
The principle given to us by Nedab and Abihu is a powerful illustration of God’s care for desire to he and his law to be sanctified, made holy in the sight of His people, especially in joint worship in holy convocation, when we come together and worship God.
But worship in the Christian religion is much more broad than joint worship, as we remember often,
that our life is a living sacrifice, remember?
Rom_12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
Rom 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Thus, worship is not simply what we do together at a particular time when we meet and in a particular way, though all of that is important and included. Meeting, worshiping together and fellowshipping as commanded by God, is all part of Christian worship, the truth is our life as one of sacrifice is a life of worship and it is one to be so totally; And when our living worship begins to be directed by traditions not instructed and commanded by God there is grave error and vanity that will wax gross and corrupt the life of worship entirely.
Jesus teaches us of this by use of the words of Isaiah:
Mat_15:1 Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying,
Mat 15:2 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.
Mat 15:3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
Mat 15:4 For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.
Mat 15:5 But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me;
Mat_15:6 And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.
Mat 15:7 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,
Mat 15:8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
Mat 15:9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
Mat 15:10 And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand:
Mat 15:11 Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.
In this scripture we have another example of the regulative principle, here Christ is using it to teach about living worship, and how the life of a disciple of Jesus is a life of worship, and that that is found in the commandments of scripture, and not in the traditions of men, and thus Jesus disciples are opposed to hypocrisy by this very principle.
Here we see an opposing view of the regulative principle worship raised by the Pharisees in the form of ‘hyper regulation’, not regulations or rules of God’s Law, but of one’s men made to regulate living worship that has become a tradition followed as if it were God’s law-though it is not.
It is important to note that rules not biblical quickly become kin to idolatry, that is that man kneels and worships the principle or the regulation not of God but of man.
The Pharisees had all forms of tradition handed down to them which they imposed upon others as if it were the commandment, and some of it may have been ideally like the commandment or an extension of it.
[Look back at it]
Here the issue is of Jesus and his disciples eating bread with unwashed hands- a rule not mentioned in scripture, not in the law. The closest we could get is a law that tells the priests to wash their handsafter touching a leper. Which is an highly good practice. But that is not the case here. Here we have an extra level of rules to be followed with out biblical backing.
And Jesus then shows how out of control these rules get when eventually the concept of giving gifts to the temple or to God, as it were, can be put in place of literal provision and honor of prerents.
That is honor is turned into a value, a sum and in the name of the parent given to the temple but not to them.
Jesus says this is a curse and worth of death as the law says, jesus agreeing with the Word of God.
Mat 15:9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
This is the sum of the context for why we are reading it. Living worship is to be regulated by the principles of God’s word and not by traditions of men, not even traditions that seem godly.
My father and mother are poor and needy, but because of tradition I give 10% to my local ministry, and I believe that though I have nothing left for father and mother my money and prayers will make up for the real food or money I could have given them, but rather did not.
Another example is the use of indulgences by the RC church, the ability to pay money for sin, and even sins yet committed. the Commandment of God becomes of “None affect” on account of the money or gift to the temple that can absolve such sins and render one not guilty though the one indulging in such is in fact a sinner and willfully so by his tradition.
Now let me take this subject and roll it outside of the living worship realm and public worship realm and take into spiritual worship:
Heb 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
Heb 13:9 Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines.
For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.
Heb 13:10 We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.
1Pe 1:18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;
1Pe 1:19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
1Pe 1:20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,
1Pe 1:21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.
In the end, the total thrust of the regular principle in all of these forms of worship is one.
Out disposition as a fruit of the Spirit as we respond to the Word of God in our faith.
And the Word of God is a clear life captivating regulating principle that every Child of God is devoted to, the 2 manifestations of the Word are the focal points of all 3 aspects of Worship:
- Spiritual worship: Grace & Faith
- Living worship: of doctrine lived out in every day life
- Formal worship: Holy convocation and devoted works in worship of God
And I believe that a deep meditation of this text will show that important as a whole in one solid statement:
Joh 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Joh 1:2 The same was in the beginning with God.
Joh 1:3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
Joh 1:4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.