In Part Two of this series I looked at the individual aspects of a service. Today, my hope is to point to the scripture that informs our practices.
The Gospel – A few years back my friend, Ken Lippold, prepared this systematic retelling of the Gospel using scripture only. I have not edited it in content or form and I’ve not asked Ken’s permission to share it in this manner although he’s allowed me to share it in others. I’ll ask Ken’s forgiveness later. Ken Lippold is the one who curated this list, not me:
“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” [Revelation 4.11] But all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God… [Romans 3.23] and the wages of sin is death. [Romans 6.23] But you see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. [Romans 5.8] For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. [John 3.16-17] It was the third hour when they crucified him…At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”…With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” [Mark 15.25, 33-34, 37-39]
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. [2 Cor 5.21] He raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. [Ephesians 1.20-21] If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. [1 John 1.9] Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. [Romans 8.1, 37-39]
Therefore, I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. [Galatians 2.20]
Singing the Gospel – There’s limited instruction of a church service in the new testament. But, the apostle Paul instructs the church twice to sing. They parallel each other closely the verses are Ephesians 5.19 and Colossians 3.16 (emphasis mine):
Let the message of Christ [The Gospel] dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
Also we see the song the angels sing in Heaven also presenting the gospel:
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!” Revelation 5.12b
Opening Song/Call to Worship
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his[a];
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100
Welcome and Greeting
At least we’re not kissing each othe. But, here’s some other proofs:
“‘When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself,for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 19.33-34
Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13.2
Sermon – The opening and studying of God’s word is of the utmost importance. It is in the scriptures – not our indivivdual, subjective experience of God; nor, in what the Holy Spirit may be communicating during the music – that Christ is foremost revealed by the Holy Spirit.
Jesus says this about himself in the book of John:
You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me,… John 5.39 (Emphasis mine)
And after his resurrection this is how the disciples know who he is:
And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. Luke 24.27 (Emphasis mine)
Jesus spoke more about money than about heaven or hell. Eleven of thirty-nine parables are about money, and his teaching on money always conects it to the heart. The gospel that saves us motivates us, and should move us away from money idols and toward generosity,… The offering during our weekly service is an opportunity to descontruct one of the human heart’s greatest idols. Every week we can point to how Jesus shows us how to give and the gospel invites us to give.
Closing Song/Dismissal/Bendiction – Cosper later in his book writes:
The benediction has a centrifugal force to it* – spinning us out from the gathering to our scattered lives where worship continues as before, but in our varied corners.
God instructs Moses and Aarong to bless the Israelites in this famous and beautiful benediction:
The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace. Numbers 6.24-26
* Cosper got the idea of a benediction as a centrifigul forrce from David L. Stubb’s discussion of blessing in “Ending of Worship = Ethichs” in Leanne Van Dyk’s, A More Profound Alleluia.
In the final part of this series I write what I think is the most important thought about all of this worship planning information.