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Private Worship

The W's and H of Worship  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  37:02
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Notes & Transcripts
Our Scripture text today is just one verse, 1 Corinthians 10:31. As you are turning to that verse in your Bibles, I want to briefly review where we left off last week. Last week’s investigative question was, “How do we get the maximum benefit from the Ordinary Means of Grace.” We concluded that the way to Maximize the Means was to seek the blessing of the Holy Spirit. Scripture and the Westminister Standards are clear on this point, it is the Holy Spirit alone that makes the means of grace effectual. Consequently we need to obey Christ in persistently seeking, knocking and asking for the blessing of the Holy Spirit upon our Lord’s Day worship. This labor of seeking, knocking and asking primarily takes place on other six days of the week—Monday through Saturday. This labor of seeking, knocking and asking takes place not in corporate assembly of the whole congregation, but by individuals, families and small groups. This is Private Worship as opposed to corporate worship. Private Worship is both the topic and the title of this week’s sermon.
Now let us hear God’s Word:
1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV
31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
This is an amazing little verse, well worth your effort to memorize. Within the context of First Corinthians, the verse is the conclusion to Paul’s teaching on eating and drinking food and wine offered to idols. Paul teaches that while all food and drink can be consumed with thanksgiving, it might be necessary for the sake of other Christians to abstain from certain foods or drinks so that someone else is not tempted to sin against their conscience. Ultimately, all we do, not just eating and drinking, should be done for the glory of God.
The Westminister Shorter Catechism uses this as one of the proof texts that our “chief end is to glorify God.” From this we can see that...
If everything is to be done for the glory of God, everything we do is a form of worship. Working in a coal mine or playing baseball is much different that Lord’s Day corporate worship, but never the less it should be done in a spirit of worship of God. In all that we do our hearts should be filled with a spirit of thanksgiving to God and a desire to please and glorify Him.
When I think about this truth, my mind always goes back to the scene in the movie Chariots of Fire where Eric Liddell explains why he is delaying his missionary work in China in order to run in the upcoming Olympics.
“You have to understand,” Eric Liddell says, “I believe God made me for a purpose—for China, but He also made me fast and when I run I feel His pleasure.”
In everything we do, it should be done in a way that we feel God’s pleasure.
The Heidelberg Catechism in its answer to what obeying the Fourth Commandment means for the Christians adds this after talking about Lord’s Day worship.
“Secondly, that all the days of my life I cease from my evil works, and yield myself to the Lord, to work by His Holy Spirit in me; and thus begin in this life the eternal Sabbath.”
This life of living for God’s glory does not only prepare us for the eternal Sabbath, but also for the Sabbath of the Lord’s Day. Thus...
The way we live our lives Monday through Saturday has a profound impact on our Corporate Worship on Sunday. Last week I challenged you by saying that receiving a blessing from our worship service is more dependent upon what occurs Monday through Saturday than what happens on Sunday. If all of us are not seeking, knocking and asking for God’s blessing through the Holy Spirit, we should not be surprised that we depart from a Christian worship service unfed and unblessed. Now God, in His faithfulness to us, will frequently bless us despite our unfaithfulness, but it is sinful for us to presume upon His mercy and faithfulness.
So what does it look like for us to prepare ourselves of Corporate Worship in our daily Private Worship? Our Westminister Catechisms are very helpful in providing us with guidance in this. Because I do not have the time to speak on every detail I have provide you with copies of four on the Questions and Answers dealing with Maximizing the Means of Grace found in the Word, the Lord’s Supper, Baptism and Prayer. Please take home a copy of these four Q&A’s for you study at home. I will, however, provide a summery of...
To help you in remembering this Pattern I have organized 5 points under the acrostic M.E.A.N.S.
Meditate on the Meaning of the Means of Grace
Examine Yourselves by the Means of Grace
Apply the Means of Grace to Your Life
Negate the Power of Sin and the Devil by the Means of Grace
Sing Praise from Your Heart for the Means of Grace
Let us begin with the first:
Biblical Meditation is much different from eastern meditation. The goal of eastern meditation is to empty our minds, the goal of Biblical Mediation is to fill our minds with God’s Word.
Psalm 119:9–16 ESV
9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. 10 With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! 11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. 12 Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statutes! 13 With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth. 14 In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. 15 I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. 16 I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.
Meditation simply means thinking deeply about the meaning of God’s Word. Of course to think deeply about God’s Word means to read it, study it, memorize it, pray for God’s help in understanding it and delighting in it. We see all these things in these eight verses from Psalm 119.
Psalm 119:9–16 ESV
9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. 10 With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! 11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. 12 Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statutes! 13 With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth. 14 In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. 15 I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. 16 I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.
Because it is only in God’s Word that God teaches us the meaning of the Sacraments and Prayer, to meditate on them is to meditate on God’s Word.
As we are mediating on the Meaning of the Means of Grace in God’s Word, we should also examine ourselves by that Word.
The most clear example of Examining Ourselves by the Means of Grace is Paul’s teaching on the Lord’s Supper found in 1 Corinthians 11.
1 Corinthians 11:28–29 ESV
28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.
However, our next point, Application, depends on godly self-examination according to the standards of God’s Word. It is impossible to plot a plan of Application until we determine where we are at spiritually.
If you have ever used Google Maps you know what I mean. Let’s say you want directions to Yellow Stone National Park. It is not enough to simply type in “Yellow Stone.” To get direction you also have to type in a starting location.
This is the purpose of Self-examination—it provides us with our starting point. The Holy Spirit takes the truths about the Means of Grace and convicts us of how we fall short. This is exactly what Paul does with Baptism in Romans 6.
Romans 6:1–4 ESV
1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
This leads us to the third Pattern of Private Worship:
In that passage I just read from in Romans 6, Paul is clearly applying the meaning of Baptism to himself and his readers lives—because they have been Baptized they should daily be about the business of putting sin to death and walking in the newness of life.
I appreciate WLC Q&A 167 so much. Whether you were baptized as an infant or as a confessing believer, I think we all have a tendency to view Baptism as something “over and done with.” But as the proof texts found in WLC Q&A 167 remind us, baptism is to have an on-going application to our lives.
Of course, Application is the key to getting the most out of all the Means of Grace. James reminds us of this when he writes:
James 1:22–25 ESV
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
As our closing song reminds us, “Trust and obey, for there is no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”
One of the most powerful ways we can apply the Means of Grace, is by using them to Negate the Power of Sin and the Devil.
Continuing the example of Baptism found in Romans 6, notice how Paul pulls the rug out from under sin and the Devil.
Romans 6:5–6 ESV
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.
As we celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation this Fall, undoubtedly the story of Luther throwing an inkwell at the Devil we be retold many times. It is say you can still see the ink stains on the castle wall! As dramatic as that story is, throwing an inkwell at the Devil is totalling ineffective for warding off the Devil. What he did find was effective was remembering that he was baptized!
I believe that the greatest weakness of the Baptist view on baptism is the fact that they make it a sign and seal of what we have done and what we have promised to God, rather than a sign and seal of what God has done and what God has promised. Earlier we sang “Standing on the Promises.” These promises include the promises sealed in Baptism and the Lord’s Supper!
As we stand on these promises, our hearts cannot help but be be filled with love, thanksgiving and praise to God. This is the last pattern of weekly Private Worship we should be cultivating in our lives.
The Psalms are filled with the call to delight in the Law or Word of God. We heard this earlier as I read from Psalm 119. However, praise and thanksgiving is the only appropriate response to all the Means of Grace—including Prayer.
Philippians 4:4–6 ESV
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
According to the Catechism the template for our prayers should be the Lord’s Prayer. Isn’t it interesting that it ends in a doxology of praise: “For thine is the Kingdom, and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”
Let us close by putting into practice what we have learned this morning by Meditating on Meaning of Prayer. Examine yourself according to this rule of prayer we just heard from Jesus. Do your prayers end in a note of praise and thanksgiving? Now let us Apply this to our lives to be more intentional in including praise and thanksgiving into our prayers. Negate the power of sin and the Devil by making the “joy of the Lord our strength.” Finally Sing God’s Praise with all your might for all the Means of Grace!
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