Why We Worship the Way We Do

A Brief Guide to Presbyterian Worship
or

Why We Worship The Way We Do
By Pastor Andy Webb

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Contents:
1. Introduction
2. Prayer
3. The Reading of Scriptures
4. The Sound Preaching of the Word
5. The Attentive Hearing of the Word
6. The Singing of Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs with Grace in the Heart – Part 1
7. The Singing of Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs with Grace in the Heart – Part 2
8. The Public Confession of Our Faith
9. The Collection
10. The Due Administration and Right Receiving of the Sacraments Instituted by Christ – Part 1
11. The Due Administration and Right Receiving of the Sacraments Instituted by Christ – Part 2
12. Occasional Elements of Worship: Religious Oaths, Vows, Solemn Fastings, and Thanksgivings Upon Special Occasions
13. Appendix – Vestments

1. Introduction

We believe that God, who has lordship and sovereignty over all, is good, and does good unto all, and is therefore to be worshipped, feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served, with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our might. The Lord our God, who alone is to be worshipped, teaches us the way in which we are to worship Him in His Word.

The Bible, which is the Word of God, is entirely sufficient for everything in our faith, life, and practice and we do not need to add anything of our own, nor should we. Therefore our worship is to be ordered according to God’s instructions, and not according to our imaginations or traditions or in any way God has not prescribed for us.

The ordinary elements of worship given to us in the Bible are: prayer; the reading of the scriptures; the sound preaching and attentive hearing of the Word, in obedience to God, with understanding, faith, and reverence; the singing of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with grace in the heart; public confession of our faith; the collection; the due administration and right receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ. There are also occasional elements of worship given to us in the Bible, which should occur in our worship at appropriate times and special occasions (such as the ordination of an officer or after a national or local disaster or blessing), these are: religious oaths and vows, solemn fasting, and thanksgiving to God for his providential blessings.

It is our hope that our worship would always consist of these elements alone, and that they would be offered up to God with love, adoration, and reverence. In the next installment in this series we will begin to examine and explain each of these elements in greater detail.

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2. Prayer

“Offering prayer in public is an aspect of leading in worship that deserves focused attention. Because the Lord’s Day worship service is a public service, the prayers in these services are of necessity public… this means that public prayer will differ from private prayer in both its subject matter and its aim. Namely, public prayer must edify the public. Prayers offered in public are audible not silent, and must be intelligible because they aim at not personal but public edification. Their purpose is to bless both God and the congregation. There are two audiences, one on earth and one in heaven. This is precisely the apostle Paul’s point in 1 Cor. 14:14-19. … Public prayer, while addressed to God, is for public edification and instruction. It is another kind of pulpit speech, closely related to preaching.” – Terry Johnson

Next to preaching, prayer is the most important aspect of our worship unto God. The book of Acts bears eloquent testimony to the central role of prayer in the early church. We read in Acts 1:14 that the first thing the early church did after the ascension of Christ was to be joined together constantly in prayer. A little later on we read the following list of things that the Apostolic church was devoted to doing; preaching, teaching, fellowship, prayer and communion (Acts 3:1). We are even told that the primary duties of the Elders of the church are “prayer and the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4).

This central importance of Prayer in the Apostolic church was reflected in the worship of the Puritans, our forefathers in the faith, who would sometimes pray for an hour or more in the public worship of God. What may amaze us is that their congregations experienced this aspect of their ministry as a great blessing, rather than a cause for weariness or boredom. By contrast, the public prayer of the evangelical church today has dwindled away to almost nothing, with some churches cutting them from their services entirely. If we desire to experience all the abundant blessings and grace of God, then nothing is more needful than a revival of our public and private prayers.

3. The Reading of Scriptures

The public reading of the Bible has been always been a vital element in the public worship of the church. Paul instructs Timothy that it is his duty as an elder of the church to devote himself to “the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.” (1 Tim. 4:13). Throughout the Old Testament we see the Law being read to the people in their assembly and we learn that the reading of the Law and the Prophets (the Old Testament) was an integral part of the Synagogue worship of Israel. It is our desire that we would read all the parts of the Bible so that we would be familiar as a congregation with the whole counsel of God.

As we read the word, God speaks to us, and we worship him by hearing with reverence, diligent attention, self–application, and obedience. Our desire as we hear the Scriptures read should be that we would firmly believe them to be what both Christ and the scriptures themselves tell us they are – the infallible and inerrant word of God. As Christians we should have a passionate desire to know, believe, and obey the will of God revealed to us in His Word. As we hear the Scriptures read let us always remember that these are not merely words from a book, but God’s inspired word to us, here and now. They were intended for each and every one of us just as much as they were intended for their original audience.

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16-17)

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4. The Sound Preaching of the Word

“Wherefore when this Word of God is now preached in the church by preachers lawfully called, we believe that the very Word of God is proclaimed, and received by the faithful; and that neither any other Word of God is to be invented nor is to be expected from heaven: and that now the Word itself which is preached is to be regarded, not the minister that preaches; for even if he be evil and a sinner, nevertheless the Word of God remains still true and good.” – The Second Helvetic Confession, Chapter 1

The preaching of the word of God is without a doubt the most important part of our Worship. This is the means that God has ordained for His Church to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ in every age (Mark 16:15, Acts 10:42, 2 Timothy 4:2). In Preaching, God’s whole counsel unto mankind is proclaimed, and the way of salvation in Jesus Christ is made clear. The purpose of preaching is that God might be glorified, the lost might be converted, and the people of God might be edified and built up in the faith. Therefore, it is necessary that regardless of what part of Scripture we are preaching from, that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is clearly proclaimed and that faith in him is solicited. This is because all of Scripture speaks of Jesus either as the coming Messiah, or the risen Redeemer, as he Himself told us (Luke 24:27).

Our desire in keeping with God’s commands is that the preaching of our church would be biblically sound (Titus 2:1), diligent (Acts 18:25), faithful (1 Cor. 4:2), complete (Acts 20:27), powerful (1 Cor. 2:4), clear and easy to understand (1 Cor. 3:2) and above all filled with fervent love towards Christ.

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5. The Attentive Hearing of the Word

“Q. 160: What is required of those that hear the word preached?

A. 160: It is required of those that hear the word preached, that they attend upon it with diligence, preparation, and prayer; examine: What they hear by the scriptures; receive the truth with faith, love, meekness, and readiness of mind, as the word of God; meditate, and confer of it; hide it in their hearts, and bring forth the fruit of it in their lives.” – The Westminster Larger Catechism Q & A 160.

The Worship of God is not something that the Pastor does on behalf of the congregation; rather it is the responsibility of all God’s people to worship the Lord in Spirit and in truth. A critical part of our right worship of the Lord is the attentive hearing of His Word preached. Not only are we to hear that word preached, but it is our duty to receive the sermon with joy in our hearts and then strive to diligently apply what we hear to our lives. If the Word of God does not touch us, if it merely “goes in one ear and out the other,” as the saying goes, then we have strong evidence that our faith is an empty profession. This is what the Apostle James meant when he wrote: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22)

God’s people not only have a duty to attentively hear the word on Sunday morning; they should also be preparing themselves to hear that word through personal prayer and the study of the Scriptures. Often when we say, “I didn’t get much out of that sermon”, the real reason for that is that we didn’t put much into that sermon. Should we really expect to be captivated by something that, through our lack of preparation, we are totally unprepared to receive? Our own preparation to hear the Word can make even the plainest sermon into a veritable feast as we gain new insight into God’s Word. By contrast, if we are unprepared, even the greatest sermonic banquet can leave us empty and unsatisfied. We should also remember to “digest” what we have received by further prayer and meditation afterwards.

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6. The Singing of Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs with Grace in the Heart – Part 1

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” (Col. 3:16)

The singing of praise unto the Lord is a vitally important element in the scriptural worship of God. Throughout the Bible we read that the people of God throughout the ages have responded to his self-revelation and mighty acts of redemption on their behalf with an outpouring of songs of praise. For instance, after the parting of the Red Sea when the people of God where miraculously delivered from danger and the armies of Pharaoh destroyed, we read that Moses and the sons of Israel sang a song of praise to the Lord celebrating his mercy and their deliverance (Exodus 15:1).

The Book of Psalms, which contains songs, meditations, and prayers, is a wonderful source of divinely inspired hymns of praise. It has provided the church in all the ages with a rich compendium of theologically impeccable and spiritually edifying songs for use in its worship.

During the Reformation, the importance of the singing of Psalms (1 Chron. 16:9) was rediscovered by the church, and in the 17th century the singing of Psalms exclusively rather than uninspired hymns or spiritual songs, became the practice of Presbyterians. The belief that the church may only sing Psalms in worship is reflected in the Westminster Standards, which only acknowledge Psalms and not uninspired hymns as a legitimate element of Christian worship. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries this practice began to change, and today most Presbyterians also sing hymns and spiritual songs. It is my belief that the church is commanded in scripture to sing both Psalms and uninspired hymns and spiritual songs in our worship (Eph. 5:19, Col. 3:16).

Unfortunately, as many other Presbyterian Pastors have noted, the modern church seems to have gone from exclusively singing Psalms, to exclusively singing Hymns. It is my conviction that scripture teaches us that the New Testament church should be singing both and that to neglect the Psalms is to impoverish the people of God.

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7. The Singing of Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs with Grace in the Heart – Part 2

“IT is the duty of Christians to praise God publickly, by singing of psalms together in the congregation, and also privately in the family. In singing of psalms, the voice is to be tunably and gravely ordered; but the chief care must be to sing with understanding, and with grace in the heart, making melody unto the Lord.” – The Directory for the Publick Worship of God

Previously we discussed why it is our scriptural duty and privilege to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs in the public worship of God. This week we will discuss how we should go about singing them.

The Apostle Paul did not merely instruct the church to sing in our worship, he instructed us to sing with “grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Col. 3:16). This means that we are not obeying his command if we merely stand up and sing without thought or feeling. Rather, as we sing, our hearts should be filled with love unto the Lord and with a real desire to praise Him for his majesty and mercy. When we sing of his mighty acts of redemption, we should do so with genuine thankfulness in our hearts as we acknowledge His saving work in our lives. We should also be meditating upon the words that we are singing, and for this reason our songs should always be biblically based and theologically sound. The sung praise of the church should always be in sweet agreement with her confession of faith, and we should never contradict the doctrines we preach with the doctrines we sing.

The worship of the New Testament church calls for the participation of the entire congregation. Our worship is not a form of entertainment, and the Scriptures nowhere recognize the service of song as something to be performed by the few on behalf of the many. Therefore congregational singing should be something we all joyfully do together. If our worship is to be founded entirely on the precepts of scripture, then it will not include choirs or soloists.

The function of music in our worship, is to assist the congregation in their singing of praise. It is the singing of hymns, psalms and spiritual songs that is an element in our worship. Music, on the other hand, is a circumstance of our worship. Just as the sound system helps us to hear the word preached in a large church, music helps us to sing together by keeping us harmonized and in tune. Whether we use a piano an organ or a guitar to assist us in our singing is incidental, the important thing is that our music be reverent, decent, and orderly and that it support our singing rather than overpowering or undermining it.

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8. The Public Confession of Our Faith

“The first part of 1 Timothy 3:16 runs: “Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of our religion’ (R.S.V). The Apostle then proceeds to quote the hymn in which the mystery of the Gospel is enshrined – a wonderful truth about the Person and place of Jesus Christ, formerly kept secret but now fully revealed by God – and, in this way, to trace the career of the Church’s Lord from His pre-existence, through His incarnate life upon earth, His resurrection and ascension, to His final glory in the Father’s presence.

But his Specimen of Christian hymnody is much more than a canticle, composed to fill a place in services of worship: the hymn of 1 Timothy 3:16 is a clear instance of an early confession of faith by which the Church gave expression to the fundamental facts and truths of the Gospel. The first words, which are quoted above, tell us explicitly: ‘Great indeed, we confess…’ At this point hymns and creeds meet and overlap.” – Ralph P. Martin, Worship in the Early Church

The members of the Apostolic church freely confessed their faith at several points in their worship using creeds. The word creed comes to us from the Latin word credo, meaning “I believe”. Creeds are summaries of Christian doctrine that may be long and complex Confessional documents, or the simple confession that “Jesus is Lord” that Paul reminds Timothy of in His exhortation in 1 Timothy 6:11-12: “But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

 

Timothy would necessarily have made his “good confession” at his baptism. But it is the duty of Christians not only to confess their faith on their entering the visible Church, but to continue to freely confess and “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3) throughout their entire lives.

 

In keeping the Apostolic practice, we confess our faith publicly in our worship, declaring to all the world what we sincerely believe the word of God teaches. In that moment we are professing our faith before God and man and solemnly stating that this is the saving truth that we believe, that we are eager to share with world, and that we would be willing to die for.

 

For this reason, in our public confession we only use statements from scripture and summaries, such as the Westminster Standards, that the PCA confesses to be the doctrine contained in scripture.

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9. The Collection

What Ought To Be Done in Meetings for Worship. Although it is permitted all men to read the Holy Scriptures privately at home, and by instruction to edify one another in the true religion, yet in order that the Word of God may be properly preached to the people, and prayers and supplication publicly made, also that the sacraments may be rightly administered, and that collections may be made for the poor and to pay the cost of all the Church’s expenses, and in order to maintain social intercourse, it is most necessary that religious or Church gatherings be held. For it is certain that in the apostolic and primitive Church, there were such assemblies frequented by all the godly.” – The Second Helvetic Confession – Chapter XXII, Of Religious and Ecclesiastical Meetings

In his letter to the Corinthian church, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.” (1 Cor. 16:1-2)

Here Paul is instructing the members of the church that it is their duty to give as the Lord has prospered them for the relief of needy members of the church. He instructs that this collection should be held on the first day of the week (i.e. Sunday) and presumably this took place at the time when the members of the church gathered together to worship the Lord. We learn from this that an acceptable part of our Sabbath day worship is the collection wherein Christians set aside a portion of the riches that God has given for the relief of the poor, the furtherance of the Gospel, and the “cost of all the Church’s expenses.”

Throughout the Old Testament the giving of tithes and offerings was an essential part of the worship of God’s people, it was a visible sign of their heartfelt devotion to the Lord. “But you shall seek the LORD at the place which the LORD your God will choose from all your tribes, to establish His name there for His dwelling, and there you shall come. There you shall bring your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the contribution of your hand, your votive offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herd and of your flock.” (Deut 12:5-6) To withhold a portion of their tithes or worse, to not tithe at all, was considered robbing God: “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings.” (Mal. 3:8)

God has promised His people that His blessings will always exceed their giving: “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,” Says the LORD of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it.” (Mal. 3:10) Therefore as Christians we are to give joyfully as an act of worship, knowing that we are only stewards of all that we have, that God who is merciful will see to our needs, and that the ultimate purpose of the collection is to help spread of the Good News of Jesus Christ throughout the world.

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10. The Due Administration and Right Receiving of the Sacraments Instituted by Christ – Part 1

Q92: What is a sacrament?

A92: A sacrament is an holy ordinance instituted by Christ, wherein, by sensible signs, Christ, and the benefits of the new covenant, are represented, sealed, and applied to believers.”  – The Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 92

“For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you…” (1 Cor. 11:23)

During His earthly ministry The Lord Jesus Christ, instituted two Sacraments to be perpetually observed in the worship of the church until his return. These sacraments are Baptism (Matthew 28:19) and the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:23). Each of these sacraments plays a vital role in the life and worship of the church.

Sacraments have two parts, the outward signs which we can see and touch, which are administered in our worship according to Christ’s instructions, and an inward spiritual grace which they point to. Like the preaching and the reading of the Word and prayer, the Sacraments are a means by which grace is conferred to those who receive them worthily. The grace thus received is not conveyed by any power in the elements themselves (the physical water, bread, and wine), but is the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer who receives them in faith. The Sacraments are not merely memorials of the completed work of Christ, but rather a precious and powerful gift that God has given to strengthen and increase the faith of believers.

Baptism is the sign by which the person being baptized is solemnly admitted into the visiblechurch. In that sense Baptism fulfills the role under the New Covenant that circumcision fulfilled under the Old, and consequently we see the Apostle Paul comparing baptism to circumcision in Colossians 2:11.

In our Baptism we have a visible sign that tells all the world that we have been admitted into the Covenant community. It is also a visible, or outward sign and seal of the inward spiritual changes that occur in believers; their union with Christ, their regeneration, their remission of sins, and their being given up to God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in newness of life.

We are to Baptize not only adult believers on their profession of faith, but also the children of believers in keeping with the promises of God regarding their salvation (Acts 2:38-39) and the practice of the Apostolic church. While Baptism is a means of grace, the power of Baptism is not necessarily tied to the moment in which it is administered, but rather the Holy Spirit will confer that grace at the time appointed by God. This means that while the children of believers thus Baptized may not be regenerate at the moment they are baptized, the grace that was exhibited in their baptism will certainly be conferred by the Holy Spirit when they come to faith.

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11. The Due Administration and Right Receiving of the Sacraments Instituted by Christ – Part 2

Q 169: How hath Christ appointed bread and wine to be given and received in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper?

A 169: Christ hath appointed the ministers of His Word, in the administration of this sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, to set apart the bread and wine from common use, by the word of institution, thanksgiving, and prayer; to take and break the bread, and to give both the bread and the wine to the communicants: who are, by the same appointment, to take and eat the bread, and to drink the wine, in thankful remembrance that the body of Christ was broken and given, and His blood shed, for them.” – The Westminster Larger Catechism Q&A 169

Previously we discussed what a sacrament is, and, in particular, we looked at the Sacrament of Baptism. Today we will be looking at the other Sacrament that Christ gave to the Church: the Lord’s Supper.

The first recorded celebration of the Lord’s Supper was when Christ first instituted it in the upper room (Mat. 26:26, Mark 14:22, Luke 22:19). In this act of Christ’s we have a visible reminder of His incredible love for His sheep, for we must remember that even as He was contemplating the incredible sacrifice He was to make on the Cross, He was appointing this sacrament to be perpetually observed in His Church, until His return, as a means of grace by which His people might have their faith strengthened and grown.

The purposes of the Lord’s Supper are fourfold. Firstly, by its observance we remember the awesome sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ on our behalf, willingly laying down His life to make atonement for our sins and establish our righteousness. Secondly, it is a seal of the Covenant of Grace, whereby Christ obliges Himself to fulfill the promise of the covenant to true believers and that by their receiving this seal, they oblige themselves to be the Lord’s, and to be true and faithful unto Him. Thirdly, as we have mentioned, it is a means of grace so that just as bread and wine physically nourish our body, so the Lord’s Supper has been appointed as a means of spiritual nourishment and growth in Christ to those who partake of it in faith. Fourthly, it is bond and pledge of the believers’ communion with Jesus, and with each other, as members of His mystical body.

The elements of the Bread and Wine do not physically become the body and blood of Jesus Christ when they are set apart by a minister in the Lord’s Supper, and yet, we have the assurance of Christ that He is spiritually present to the faith of believers in the Supper, so that when they outwardly partake of the bread and the wine they also inwardly, by faith, spiritually receive and feed upon Christ crucified, and all of the benefits of His death upon their behalf.

The Supper is only rightly observed when it is celebrated before the congregation and is thus properly described as the communion of the church. It is not rightly observed when the elements are carried to someone who did not participate in the service, or when it is celebrated privately.

This Sacrament is always a blessing to those true believers who receive it in faith, but for those who are outside the body of the Lord, who unworthily come to the table, it is a curse (1 Cor. 11:29). For this reason it is required that those wishing to partake first enter into the visible church of Jesus Christ and be examined and approved by the elders, whose concern is for their spiritual welfare.

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12. Occasional Elements of Worship: Religious Oaths, Vows, Solemn Fastings, and Thanksgivings Upon Special Occasions

Stated festival-days, commonly called holy-days, have no warrant in the Word of God; but a day may be set apart, by competent authority, for fasting or thanksgiving, when extraordinary dispensations of Providence administer cause for them. When judgments are threatened or inflicted, or when some special blessing is to be sought and obtained, fasting is eminently seasonable. When some remarkable mercy or deliverance has been received, there is a special call to thanksgiving.” – Robert Shaw, The Reformed Faith

As we have been examining ‘why we worship the way we do,’ our attention in previous installments has been focused on the ordinary elements of worship. That is, those elements that we are taught in the Bible to regularly observe in Lord’s Day services, regardless of what is going on in the world around us. Now, we turn our attention to those elements in our worship that areoccasional. These are elements warranted in the Word of God, but which are only observed on special occasions dictated by God’s providence.

An example of just such a special occasion were the terrible attacks which took place on September 11, 2001. In light of the great suffering and turmoil America was plunged into, it was entirely appropriate for churches throughout that nation to call for special services dedicated to prayer and fasting. If the nation were mercifully delivered from some terrible calamity (as would be the case if, for instance, a Nuclear Weapon planted by a terrorist were found and defused prior to going off), then it would be appropriate for the churches to give thanks to God for His mercy with a special service of Thanksgiving to God.

We find these spontaneous days of fasting or thanksgiving in response to God’s providence throughout the Bible, for instance, when the tribes of Israel were defeated by Benjamin, they fasted and mourned all day (Judges 20:26); and that when the rebuilding of the Temple of the Lord was completed, they had services of thanksgiving (Ezra 6:16).

We also find that throughout the Bible, the people of the Lord had the taking of religious oaths and vows as part of their worship. Examples include the oath sworn by the people of Israel to only serve and worship the Lord and to have nothing to do with false gods (Joshua 24) and the admonition to pay our vows to the Lord (Eccl. 5:4). A common example of vows taking place in a service of worship would be the ordination vows that Elders make.

We must note, as Shaw does above, that these occasional days of thanksgiving and fasting which are warranted in the Bible are not to be confused with the Holy Days or “Church Year” invented by men which we are nowhere commanded in scripture to observe. While it has become traditional to holy days like Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost in Church, we remember that these man-made celebrations were not part of the worship of the Apostolic church and are not found in the Bible. As the Westminster Directory for Publick Worship states: “There is no day commanded in scripture to be kept holy under the gospel but the Lord’s Day, which is the Christian Sabbath. Festival days, vulgarly called Holy-days, having no warrant in the word of God, are not to be continued.

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13. Appendix – Vestments

Under the apostles there was great simplicity in administering the Lord’s Supper. Their immediate successors made some additions to the dignity of the ordinance, which are not to be disapproved. Afterwards came foolish imitators, who, by ever and anon patching various fragments together, have left us those sacerdotal vestments which we see in the mass, those altar ornaments, those gesticulations, and whole farrago of useless observances.” – John Calvin

Christ and His Apostles did not wear any sort of special garments in the discharge of their ministerial duties, neither did the Elders and Deacons of the early church. For a long time after the church began the shift towards Episcopacy, all evidence indicates that the Christian clergy simply wore the normal attire of the populace. As even the Catholic Encyclopedia acknowledges: “In that period the priestly dress did not yet differ from the secular costume in form and ornament. The dress of daily life was worn at the offices of the Church”. The period when this began to change was around the time of Constantine (324 AD). At that time, for a number of reasons distinctive liturgical garments began to be adopted.

There is no biblical precept for a minister to wear special garments in the discharge of his office. The Reformers in clearing away non-biblical accretions in the worship of God also eliminated the wearing of special vestments from worship.

The only rule that governed their and our attire was later encapsulated in WCF 1.6 “there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.” In other words, if you are to conduct the worship of the church let all things be done decently and in order, and this includes the attire of the ministers. Therefore, we believe that Ministers of the Gospel should dress in good and decent, but ordinary attire, for that was the practice of the Apostolic church, and should be ours as well.