Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Defense of the Regulative Principle of Worship: Part 3

(posts in this series: part 1, part 2, part 3)

The regulative principle is given in Deuteronomy 4:2:
You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you.”
And again in Deuteronomy 12:32
Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it.” 
On these verses, Joe Morecraft writes, "Deuteronomy 4:2 is broader in its scope than Deuteronomy 12:32 because the purpose of 4:2 is to establish the all-sufficient and all-embracing Law of God, while 12:32 is concerned with the sufficiency of God's Laws regarding worship."  Joe Morecraft, III, How God Wants Us to Worship Him: A Defense of the Bible as the Only Standard for Modern Worship (San Antonio, TX: The Vision Forum, Inc., 2004), 55.

Thus, within the context of Deuteronomy 12 we find such statements as "You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way" (Deut. 12:4), and, right before 12:32, "You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the LORD hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods" (Deut. 12:31).

Morecraft writes on Deuteronomy 12:
"The principle of Sola Scriptura is here applied to the worship of God.  The statutes of this chapter regulate Israel's worship of God.  In 12:1-3, the command is given to destroy all temples and monuments of idolatry throughout the whole land of Canaan.  Verses 4-19 contain the command to Israel to worship Jehovah at the place He chooses to reveal His name, i.e., the tabernacle.  When the people gather there, they must worship God just as He has commanded them.  In verse 8, we are told that no one may worship God when, where, and how he will, doing whatever is right in his own eyes.  In verses 20-21, the Word of God regulates worship in the families of the land.  And in verses 29-32, we see that as Israel conquers and possesses the whole land of Canaan, they are not to allow themselves to be influenced by the way the Canaanites worship and serve their gods.  Rather they are to be faithful to the Word of God as the one and only regulative principle of worship.  Therefore the chapter concludes with verse 32, where the Lord says: 'Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it.'" Morecraft, How God Wants Us to Worship Him, 55.
Adhering to the regulative principle of worship is so serious that God struck Nadab and Abihu down for violating it:
"Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, which he had not commanded them. And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. Then Moses said to Aaron, 'This is what the LORD has said, "Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified."' And Aaron held his peace." (Leviticus 10:1-3)
On this Morecraft writes,
"The sin of Nadab and Abihu was this: motivated by religious excitement, they tried to express their worship of God in a way not commanded by God, and God killed them for it.  They did not contradict a specific statute, but they added something to their services that God had not commanded.  They did not do exactly what God had ordered for His worship."  Morecraft, How God Wants Us to Worship Him, 13.
Thus, modern worship leaders need to wake up, or risk being struck down:  God will not be trifled with.  How we worship God is a very serious thing.  "Seeker-sensitive" services and entertainment in the name of worship are major offenses against God.  
Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.  Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.” (Proverbs 30:5-6) 

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