Is Worship a Special and Peculiar and Primary Activity in the NT Church?

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Puritan Board Freshman
Summary: This may sound crazy -- given all that I hear about the importance of worship in the Sunday gathering in reformed circles -- but in my circles (which are not reformed) “worship” is not considered something that we do at church especially. Not really, other than the fact that we worship in all of life (Rom. 12:1) and so since we’re still alive at church we are worshipping in that respect. Our view of worship is shaped like the following (someone’s summary of the view espoused):
“Looking at worship from a biblical theology perspective they rightly show that Old Testament (OT) worship revolves around the tabernacle and later the temple whereas the New Testament (NT) shows that Jesus Christ fulfils the temple worship. They consider carefully the 'worship' group of words in the NT and conclude that worship is for all the people of God at all times and places, and it is bound up with how we live on a daily basis. This then leads them to think that worship is not what Christians specifically do when they come together on a Sunday. Rather, when Christians, who are worshipping all the time, corporately gather on the Lord's Day, the distinctive element of their meeting together is not worship but edification.” - Philip H.Eveson, "'Moore Theology': A Friendly Critique"
So singing songs has less to do with praising God and more to do with teaching others (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16), and is more about mission and evangelism. This quote aptly characterises the view:
"The call to give thanks and sing in Is.12 is not a call to gather in the temple but a call to mission. 'The greatest worship we can offer God is to gather more worshippers' and 'The job of the person leading the meeting is to provide a framework in which we can exhort one another to serve God and proclaim his glory to the nations.'" - Philip H.Eveson, "'Moore Theology': A Friendly Critique"

The Provided Justification: This view of worship in the church is bolstered in an interview of D.A. Carson by Tony Payne. Note, Carson is not willing to go far as Payne is. The justification for some of this view includes:
  • Focus of worship in OT changing from cultic to offering all of our lives to God in NT; we're always in the presence of God (Heb. 12). Also Paul's priestly ministry in Romans 15 is shown in evangelism.
  • It's impossible to imagine Paul saying Romans 14:5 (regardless of the view of Sabbath) under the old covenant.
  • The categories that dominate the NT teaching on church isn't worship but love and edification (1 Cor 3, 12-14; Eph 4; Heb 10 etc.)
In the included email correspondence Payne goes onto say:
The root of the 'worship' terminology in the Bible is the idea of 'bowing down' (behind the Hebrew and Greek words, I mean); and it seems to me that all the language and categories of worship stem from this idea of being in the presence of a Great One before whom you bow. You bow down, you show fear, respect and submission, and you accordingly pay homage, and do service. It is all essentially a down-on-your-face response to a Great One, whoever he may be.
If this is the case, it may help explain the different modes or emphases of 'worship' in the unfolding story of the Bible. Where God is present in the temple-right there, in a particular place-what are you going to do? You're going to literally fall on your face in that spot, you're going to sacrifice animals, etc. And when we're in heaven, and we're right there before the throne, then we'll cast our crowns before him, and fall on our faces, etc. But now, we're between those two moments, as it were. We have Christ continually dwelling within us by his Spirit; but we are still in the groaning creation, even though we are already in heaven by faith. All this conditions how we 'bow before him', how we submit and 'worship' here and now. It's why worship is expanded to an all-of-life continual submission to God, for he now dwells with all his people all the time. I think this is the problem with charismatic 'worship'-it's the same eschatological mistake they make with regard to healing and other things. They try to worship as if they're either in the Old Testament temple, or already in heaven. It's all by sight, rather than by faith.
More on this view can be found at "Worship III: The gathering-thinking afresh about church" and it is mentioned that Goldsworthy may have similar views.

My Question: The above view seems to be contrary to the importance and stress of worship that I hear about the Sunday gathering in reformed circles. Its implications would be quite large if it were to be true and so this question seems like a very important one. My question, as stated in the title: is worship a special and peculiar and primary activity in the NT church? Is it the dominant activity or does edification have greater priority or greater prominence? If answering in the affirmative, what is your biblical and theological justification?

To be clear, these are not my views. But I'm seeking to understand why the Reformed do not hold them and what is the fault in the above position.
A few thoughts:

The second and fourth commandments are still in force. These regulate worship and require us to give over a specific portion of time to worshipping God, in a specific way, distinct from an "all of life is worship" view. Christ said the Sabbath was made for Man. Man is wearied by his labours throughout the week but the Lord has mercifully provided a day in which Man can lay these aside and come before Him in an especial manner. I would imagine the people who hold to the views expressed above would also say the Sabbath is no longer binding. That is a bigger problem with their hermeneutics and their faulty view of worship is just one consequence of that.

If "all of life is worship" then instead of giving extra honour to God, we actually rob Him of the particular honour given to Him in the public assembly. We come together as the covenant community to praise Him and hear Him speak to us through the preaching of His Word, which is something He desires, commands and blesses. Psalm 95:6; Hebrews 12:18-24; Psalm 87 (summarised in verse 2); Psalm 85:8; Rev. 1:10

The Lord has promised a blessing specifically to the physically gathered worship and this physically gathering to worship continues in the NT church. The change in worship was not the requirement to physically gather, but where it was necessary to physically gather. We no longer need to go to a specific building or place but can come together anywhere to worship God. John 4:21-24; Matthew 18:20; Acts 1:13, 2:42,46; 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:20; 16:2

Israelites under the old covenant, though required to go to the Temple to offer certain, specific acts of worship, still worshipped God in their own dwellings just as the Patriarchs did before them. The Psalms are full of distinctions between public and private acts of worship. Genesis 3:21 (the first time an animal was sacrificed); Genesis 4 (Cain and Abel were offering sacrificial worship to God: one form was acceptable (Abel's) and one form wasn't) and especially verse 26; Genesis 12:7-8; 28:18-19; Job 1:5; 42:8; Deut. 11:18-20; Psalm 87:2.

God is jealous for the worship of His people. He destroyed those who offered strange fire to Him, or even laid their hand upon the Ark. Of course we can do many things in a worshipful spirit, and can come before God anywhere and at any time without going through a formal order of elements. But if Scripture teaches us anything about how God views worship surely it teaches us that He commands specific, unmixed, unadulterated acts of worship which He has regulated Himself. Exodus 34:14. It might be stretching it a bit far but I think we can apply Isaiah 44:14-19 here as a warning against making our own actions an offering to God as if we can produce better acts of worship than He has set down in Scripture. Worship throughout Scripture has always emphasised Man's inability to please God and make himself righteous by his own actions. And especially in the NT worship is so simplified that it really holds no attraction whatsoever to the natural man because it is all spiritual. Without faith it accomplishes nothing but our own hardening and condemnation. The desire to make all one's life the main form of worship is a desire to substitute our own desires, preferences, natural strengths for the simple, spiritual worship God requires of us. It is the natural man raising his head again. We must suppress that impulse and humble ourselves before God.

For the believer, since the time of Adam until today, worship has always involved the public and the private sphere. We are to do all to the glory of God but we are also to worship Him. We rob God of His honour when we try to turn our own actions and endeavours (evangelism, reading Christian books &c.) into worship at the expense of the solemn coming together to sing His praises, pray to Him, read His Word, hear it preached and receive the sacraments. The theology of the sacraments clearly presupposes a theology of corporate worship. We are indeed exhorted and encouraged by public worship but the reason we are gathered together is primarily to worship God and offer praise and thanksgiving for what He was done for us. This is all encompassed in the passage of Hebrews 10:19-25.
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My question, as stated in the title: is worship a special and peculiar and primary activity in the NT church? Is it the dominant activity or does edification have greater priority or greater prominence? If answering in the affirmative, what is your biblical and theological justification?
You beat me, Alexander, but I'm still going to post my thoughts.


If you are wondering why nobody has answered your post yet, I can tell you why I have been slow to do so. (I am running late for work, so please pardon typos and grammar errors, but I did not have time to correct anything.)

The theme of worship permeates the Bible on every hand; answering this in a detailed way is a big job. Here are a few things that come to mind. As I finished the last point, I realized I didn't say much about the Church except the Church in the wilderness, Israel. I think I'll let somebody else fill in that blank. But I believe I have already proved it below without a proof text.

1. If we look at Moses' reason that he desired the children of Israel to be from Egypt, it is that they could go to the wilderness and worship. It seems as though this was their purpose.

Exodus 3:10,12
Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt." And He said, "Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain."

2. If we look at the Ten Commandments, what is given as proof that someone has chosen another God?

Exodus 20:4-5
"You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,"

3. For Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well, we see them both using the term 'worship' as a summary, a nickname, for our whole duty to God.

John 4:20-24
Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship." Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth."

4. The Apostle Paul, while instructing the Corinthians on the proper way to worship God, uses falling face down on the ground and worshipping God, as proof positive of conversion. Here again, worship is a summary of the whole duty of the Christian. Thus the primary duty of all Christians.

1 Corinthians 14:24-25
But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.

5. If we look to Satan himself, what did desire from Jesus but worship? We know if nothing else.

Matthew 4:8-10
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me." Then Jesus said to him, "Be gone, Satan! For it is written, "'You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'"

6. If we look to heaven to the throne room of God. We see beings that were created for nothing else but to worship God, and that continually, or, as we say, 24/7 365. This seems to be all that they did.

Isaiah 6:1‭-‬3
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!"

Revelation 4:1-11
After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this." At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal. And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!" And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, "Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will, they existed and were created."

I could go on and on for hours, but I think the above shows that worship is the primary purpose of man, of angelic beings, of Satan, and therefore surely that church also.

In John Calvin's massive work, The Institutes of the Christian Church, it has been said that the bulk of his writing is about the proper worship of God.
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One of the primary differences between OT worship and NT worship is mediation. The priests were the only ones permitted to go into God's presence whereas all of God's church gathers to worship. That's one of the things that makes the Roman practice so egregious -- the resumption of a priesthhod and meditated worship.
As a practical matter when you're trying to convince the typical American believer of these things, you might want to think of themes and terms beyond the word worship. Many believers have been taught repeatedly that all of life is worship in a sense (ala Romans 12:1-2). Or they've come to see the singing element of a worship service as the only part that's "worship." And once word usage gets engrained that way, sometimes it helps to just start with a different word.

I like to engage people in conversations about the assembly. It's pretty easy to see that the assembly of God's people is an important theme throughout the Bible even when it doesn't happen as a part of temple worship (Exodus 19, Nehemiah 8, and many other references). The heavenly life is an assembly too (Revelation 4 and 7). And the assembly clearly is a highlight of the Christian life in the New Testament era as well. Acts and the Epistles have multiple mentions of the believers coming together, and Hebrews 2:12 and 12:18-29 flesh out the meaning of the assembly for us today and its connections to the assemblies of eras past and yet to come. When you add in the fact that church means "assembly" (which many believers don't realize), and is a term drawn from the assembly begun in Old Testament times, it becomes hard to deny the importance and the honor of attending public worship. Our worship in assembly is a specific sort of worship that expresses the core of what it means to be the church.

Many people have received a lifetime of teaching about how you can worship anywhere, in anything you do. That isn't wrong in the broader sense of the word, but it can lead to the conclusion that assembling must have some other purpose. Those same people may also have been exposed to "worship wars" that are all about personal stylistic differences, suggesting that how it makes you feel is the main thing that matters in worship. It can help to realize this and start the conversation in a way that doesn't let their minds jump immediately to those ideas.
You've accurately described the Sydney Anglican (Moore College) view of worship, as essentially edification rather than exaltation. In addition to the names mentioned, you could add David Peterson, in his books. This highlights what I have said elsewhere, that the Regulative Principle of Worship is important but insufficient to determine how we worship. These brothers (mostly) agree with us that the Bible is to be the sole guide as to how we worship; they disagree on how to interpret the Scriptures on this point. (It's also worth remembering that this emphasis comes out of an Anglican background, so they will be distinguishing themselves from Liberals and Anglo-catholics, as well as other evangelicals).

As I have said before, the Scriptural teaching about worship is broadly "law," and therefore we should expect people to misunderstand worship in all the ways people misunderstand the rest of OT law. There are liturgical theonomists, who have too much continuity with OT worship (Catholics for example) and liturgical dispensationalists, who put a big red X through almost any OT practice (see some Reformed arguments against musical instruments). The Sydney Anglicans are probably hermeneutically closest to liturgical New Covenant Theology, dismissing most OT worship practices unless reiterated in the NT. It's not coincidental that the same group will tend to have reservations about the traditional Puritan view of the Sabbath, and indeed the division of the law into moral, civil and ceremonial aspects. A proper response requires a robust understanding of these categories and a thoughtful hermeneutic that explains what aspects of OT worship are of universal import, what aspects are completely fulfilled in Christ, and what aspects are temporary demonstrations of God's wisdom in the context of OT Israel that have general equity significance for us today.
Thank you so much all!

I would imagine the people who hold to the views expressed above would also say the Sabbath is no longer binding. That is a bigger problem with their hermeneutics and their faulty view of worship is just one consequence of that.
It's not coincidental that the same group will tend to have reservations about the traditional Puritan view of the Sabbath, and indeed the division of the law into moral, civil and ceremonial aspects. A proper response requires a robust understanding of these categories and a thoughtful hermeneutic ...
It does seem this is an issue much much bigger than a matter of proof texting but of a particular hermeneutic and view of the law and covenants etc.. It reminds me of debates on paedobaptism and proof texts talking past each other. How can I learn a hermeneutic that aligns more closely with the WCF and so allows me to see this matter within that paradigm? I'm finding learning such a hermeneutic very difficult especially as I know no one who holds to WCF and could help me where I am located. Are there online resources that do this?
Thank you so much all!

It does seem this is an issue much much bigger than a matter of proof texting but of a particular hermeneutic and view of the law and covenants etc.. It reminds me of debates on paedobaptism and proof texts talking past each other. How can I learn a hermeneutic that aligns more closely with the WCF and so allows me to see this matter within that paradigm? I'm finding learning such a hermeneutic very difficult especially as I know no one who holds to WCF and could help me where I am located. Are there online resources that do this?

Well I don't know if it's exactly what you're looking for but a very valuable resource is Fisher's Catechism which can be found here:

It is a commentary in question and answer form on the Shorter Catechism and will certainly give you a grounding in Reformed doctrine. For example you will get an excellent introduction to the Biblical teaching on the Sabbath from its treatment of the Fourth Commandment. Written by some of the very best divines Scotland ever produced, you won't go wrong with this volume.
That's definitely helpful!

I think I need (positively) scriptural and theological justification for Reformed doctrine and practice, and (negatively) a resource that refutes the hermeneutic, which from Ian's comments seems to be closest to new covenant theology.
Well I don't know if it's exactly what you're looking for but a very valuable resource is Fisher's Catechism which can be found here:
EDIT: I highlighted all the instances of the word 'worship' in red to help you find them.

I could have posted many other sections of Fisher's Catechism, but I had to start (and stop) somewhere.
Here's the first part of the Second Commandment.

Fisher’s Catechism
Copyright, 2015
By Dovetale Books
East Stroudsburg, PA 18301

Question 49. Which is the Second Commandment?

Answer: The Second Commandment is, Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything 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 showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.

Question 50. What is required in the Second Commandment?

Answer: The Second Commandment requireth the receiving, observing, and keeping pure and entire, all such religious worship and ordinances as God hath appointed in his word.

Q. 1. What is the opinion of the Papists respecting this commandment?
A. They allege that it is not a distinct precept from the first, but only an appendix, or supplement to it, by way of illustration.

Q. 2. What is their practice, in consequence of this opinion?
A. They constantly leave it out in their mass books and other liturgies of their church, lest the people should observe the manifest contrariety of their image worship, to what is here so expressly forbidden.

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.

Q. 4. What is meant by religious worship?
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, Psalm 95:6, 7.

Q. 5. What are these religious ordinances, which God has appointed in his word?
A. They are “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 to him.”

Q. 6. Is prayer a moral duty founded in the law of nature?
A. It certainly is; the necessary dependence of the rational creature upon its Creator, plainly proves it to be so. Hence we find the very Heathens practicing it, when reduced to straits, Jonah 1:14.

Q. 7. How does it appear to be an instituted means of worship?
A. From a variety of scripture texts enjoining the practice of it, in all cases and circumstances, Psalm 50:15; Phil. 4:6; 1 Thess. 5:17.

Q. 8. What is acceptable prayer?
A. It is an asking in Christ’s name, what God has promised to give, John 14:13; with a full persuasion that he hears, and will answer, Mark 11:24; James 1:6.

Q. 9. How manifold is religious thanksgiving?
A. Twofold; stated and occasional.

Q. 10. What is stated thanksgiving?
A. It is not only the thankful acknowledgment of mercies daily received, which is a branch of prayer; but likewise the singing the praises of God with the voice, which is a stated act of worship, distinct from prayer, though ejaculatory prayer ought always to be joined with it, Psalm 57:7.

Q. 11. How do you prove that singing with the voice is a stated act of worship appointed under the New Testament?
A. From the example of Christ and his apostles, who, after the first supper, sang a hymn, (or psalm, as on the margin,) Matt. 26:30; and from the injunction laid upon all Christians to be employed in this exercise, as a stated duty, Eph. 5:18, 19; James 5:13.

Q. 12. What should be the subject matter of our praises to God?
A. The psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, which are dictated by the Spirit of God in scripture; and not any human composure whatever, Eph. 5:19.

Q. 13. In what manner should these be sung?
A. “With grace in our hearts to the Lord,” Col. 3:16.

Q. 14. What is it to sing with grace in our hearts to the Lord?
A. It is to have our hearts going along with our voice, in suitable acts of faith, and elevated affections, Psalm 57:7.

Q. 15. Are not the Psalms of David, as we sing them in our language, of human composure?
A. The translation in metre is human, but the sense and meaning are the same as the original.

Q. 16. What is occasional thanksgiving?
A. It is the setting some time apart for giving thanks to God, on account of some remarkable mercy and deliverance, respecting either churches and nations in general, Neh. 12:27; or ourselves and families in particular, Eph. 5:20.

Q. 17. How ought we to engage in this duty?
A. With an humble sense of our utter unworthiness of the least of all God’s favours, 2 Sam. 7:18.

Q. 18. Are reading, hearing, and preaching of the word, acts of worship?
A. Although they are not acts of such immediate worship as prayer and praise, in which God is immediately addressed; yet being the instituted and ordinary means of salvation, they ought to be practised and attended with that reverence and regard which is due to the great God our Saviour, who is present in them, Matt. 28:20; Acts 10:33.

Q. 19. How are the administration and receiving of the sacraments acts of worship?
A. As in them, by the sensible signs of divine appointment, Christ, and his benefits, are represented, sealed, and applied to believers, Gal. 3:26; 1 Cor. 11:26.

Q. 20. In what sense are church government and discipline to be ranked among the ordinances of divine worship?
A. In as far as they are exercised in the name of the Lord Jesus, the alone head of the church, according to the rule of his word, by church judicatories lawfully constituted, Matt. 18:20.

Q. 21. Why are the ministry and the maintenance of it placed among religious ordinances?
A. Because, as a standing ministry in the church, till the end of time, is of express divine institution, Eph. 4:11-13; so the suitable and comfortable maintenance of it, is as expressly appointed, not only in the Old Testament, Num. 18:21, 24; but likewise in the New, 1 Cor. 9:13, 14 — “Do ye not know, that they which minister about holy things, live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar, are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained, that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.”

Q. 22. What is religious fasting?
A. “A religious fast requires total abstinence, not only from all food, (unless bodily weakness do manifestly disable from holding out, till the fast be ended,) but also from all worldly labour, discourses, and thoughts, and from all bodily delights.” Josh. 7:6; Judges 20:26.

Q. 23. Is bodily fasting, or bare abstinence from food, any part of religious worship?
A. Not properly in itself; but as it is a mean of divine appointment, for fitting and disposing us for more spiritual and solemn exercises.

Q. 24. How does fasting appear to be a mean of divine appointment?
A. From the practice of the saints under the Old Testament, Esth. 4:16; Dan. 10:2, 3; from the testimony of Christ, Matt. 6:17, 18, and 17:21; and the example of his apostles under the New, Acts 13:3; and 14:23.

Q. 25. What are those spiritual and solemn exercises for which fasting is designed to dispose us?
A. Deep humiliation of soul before the Lord on account of sin, Ezra 9:6; free confession of it, Dan. 9:20, and turning from it, Joel 2:12, as the genuine fruits of our taking hold of God’s covenant, Jer. 50:4, 5; together with an importunate requesting of our gracious God, for that which is the particular occasion of the fast, Psalm 35:13.

Q. 26. Is religious fasting an occasional or a stated duty?
A. It is merely occasional and extraordinary, to be observed as the call of Providence may require and direct.

Q. 27. What are the occurrences in providence, which are a call to this extraordinary duty?
A. “When some great and notable judgments are either inflicted upon a people,” Dan. 9:3, 12-14, “or apparently imminent,” 2 Chron. 20:2-4; “or, by some extraordinary provocations notoriously deserved,” 1 Sam. 7:3, 6; “as also when some special blessing is to be sought and obtained,” ver. 5, 8, 10.

Q. 28. Is swearing by the name of God an act of immediate and instituted worship?
A. It is undoubtedly: and that either when we devote ourselves to God in a covenant of duties, Deut. 6:13, or declare the truth upon oath, when called thereto: because, in both cases, the name of God is solemnly interposed and invoked, Jer. 4:2.

Q. 29. To whom are vows to be made?
A. To God alone, as the only party and witness in the making and performing of them, Psalm 76:11 — “Vow and pay unto the Lord your God.”

Q. 30. What should be the subject matter of our vows to God?
A. Nothing except what may tend either to promote the practice of commanded duty, Psalm 119:57, or prevent the commission of any sin to which we are more ordinarily inclined and addicted, verse 106.

Q. 31. What does this commandment require, with respect to all those ordinances, and parts of worship, which God has appointed in his word?
A. The receiving and observing them; and keeping them pure and entire.

Q. 32. What is it to receive God’s ordinances?
A. It is to approve of, and embrace them, as bearing the stamp of his authority upon them, Psalm 84:1, 2.

Q. 33. What is it to observe them?
A. It is to set about the practice of them, or to be actually employed in them, Psalm 55:17, and 119:164; Luke 2:37.

Q. 34. What is it to keep the ordinances of God pure?
It is to contribute our utmost endeavor to preserve them from all mixture of human invention, Deut. 12:32.

Q. 35. What is it to keep them entire?
It is, in the exercise of faith, to attend upon each of them in its proper season, so as that one duty may not jostle out another, Luke 1:6.

Q. 36. What does God require of us in this command, with reference to all false worship?
A. He requires “the disapproving, detesting, opposing all false worship, Psalm 16:4; and according to each one’s place and calling, removing it, and all monuments of idolatry, Deut. 7:5.
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