Call To Worship:
In the call to worship we are seeking to remind one another that we gather together because God has called us to worship. God is the starting place of our worship. As Mike Cosper has said, “We don’t gather because we’re clever. We don’t meet because we’ve figured something out that the rest of the world has missed out on. We come because God is the great initiator. He made the world, he made us, and he is remaking us in Jesus. Our gathering, our songs, our sermons, our fellowship around the table — all of it is a response to his initiation and invitation.” (Rhythms of Grace, 125)
The call to worship is a response to God’s revelation of himself through his Word. The call to worship is not about us inviting God into our worship services, rather it is our acknowledgment that worship starts with him.
Praise and Adoration:
After being reminded that our gathering to worship starts with God, we want to focus our thoughts and affections around the person and work of God. We want to praise and adore God for who He is and how He has revealed himself to us through His Word. A shallow understanding of who God is leads to shallow praise and adoration. In this element of our liturgy, we want to read passages of scripture and sing songs that teach us concrete truths about our God.
Reading of the Law
Having sung, read and thought about the character of God, it is important to consider the perfect law that he gives. Christians need to hear God’s law because it expresses his will for our lives. We need to hear the law and commands of scripture because they are good. The commands of scripture confront us, showing us how we have sinned against God. Finally, we need to hear the law because it shows us our need for Christ and our need for the help of the Spirit to live in obedience.
Confession of Sin:
After being confronted with the reality of who God is and his perfect law, we should be completely and utterly humbled. We should see our sin as great and offense against God. Like Isaiah, we should cry out, “Woe is me! I am undone! I am a man of unclean lips.” Each week, as we confess our sin to God, we are agreeing with God that we have sinned. We have broken his law. We are not as good and perfect as we think we are. We do not confess our sin because we believe we have some atoning work to yet complete. Rather we confess our sin because the kindness of God leads us to repentance (Rom. 2:4). Pastor Bryan Chapell has said, “We should question whether the gospel itself is present, if there has been no acknowledgment of sin. The grace of God has no present glory if the sin it overcomes is not a present reality, and the ministry of Christ has no significance if the sin he came to defeat will not even be faced. In our confession we experience God’s love because we confront our sin with greatness of mercy that is already ours through faith in Christ, but we do not earn, gain or force God’s pity by the words or weight of our confession…we do not confess our wretchedness to wallow in self-pity or merit divine mercy; we confess our destitution so that our hearts will be enraptured anew and motivated afresh by the riches of our Savior’s love.” (Christ Centered Worship, 183)
Assurance of Pardon:
A proper understanding of who God is and who we are means we will find nothing in ourselves to merit God’s favor, therefore we have to look outside of ourselves to see God’s wrath against us satisfied. We look to Jesus Christ. In our liturgy each week, we want to be reminded of the pardon from our sins that Jesus Christ purchased. The church is the people that Jesus Christ purchased with his own blood, but reality of living in a fallen sinful world, the reality of indwelling sin may cause us to doubt the pardon we have received. In this element of the liturgy, we want to be reminded of the work of Christ, what has he done for us and how can we be assured of it. The hymn writer, Augustus Toplady wrote, “From whence this fear and unbelief, if God my God, hath put to grief, His spotless Son for me? Can He, the righteous Judge of men, condemn me for that debt of sin, Which Lord was charged on Thee?”
The good news that God saves sinners demands a response. First and foremost, there is to be a response of faith. We confess that we are sinners, and throw ourselves wholly on the mercy of God. We are dependent upon his grace to be saved from our sin. We also respond to the gospel by seeing that the gospel transforms the way we live and the way we see the world around us. The gospel gives us hope in the midst of suffering. The gospel compels us to go and proclaim this good news to the ends of the earth. The gospel gives us hope of a better day coming, a day when Jesus is the ruling and reigning King on earth. The gospel changes the way we live and calls us to lives of holiness.
The benediction serves to send the worshippers on their way with a parting word of God’s grace and blessing. In our benediction we are reminding the worshippers that they are being commended to God and His grace. The benediction is not a command, but another reminder of the blessing that we have received from God. Indwelt by the Spirit of God, we are empowered to go forth into the world as heralds of the good news.