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Page 414

Several newer church-building plans place the pulpit to one side to accommodate a larger section of choir seating in the front. How does this change reflect a departure from a more simple, Word-centered worship service?

How can the introduction of bands, films, and group presentations into the church worship be compared to "bringing strange fire before the Lord," and "placing the ark upon a cart" as the world does?

How can Revelation 22: 18 and 19 apply to the church worship service?

For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this Book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this Book:

And if any man shall take away from the words of the Book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the Book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things, which are written in this Book.

- Revelation 22:18-19

Martin Luther and John Calvin, operated from opposite ends of this truth. Luther declared that whatever was not expressly forbidden by Scripture may be profitably used in church worship. Calvin, however, taught that whatever is not commanded in Scripture is to be forbidden in the worship service. Therefore, Luther permitted such things as pictures, stained-glass windows, murals and statues of Bible saints (for purposes of instruction and decoration, but not worship), crosses, candles, and special clothing for ministers. Following Luther's point of view, church choirs, soloists, and hymn singing are permissible in church worship services, for they are not specifically forbidden in Scripture.

Calvin, however, forbade all the previous decorative and musical items in church worship services as being man-made additions to Scripture. Calvin did not oppose choirs, soloists, or hymns as such, but he opposed their use in church worship service. He desired to strictly adhere to the biblical teachings and practices regarding worship services. Many wonderful hymns exist which may be sung at other times, but in the church worship services, only the inspired, infallible Words of God (the Psalms) should be sung by the entire congregation - not the uninspired, fallible words of men, no matter how beautiful or true. Calvin instructed the church to maintain a simple, Word-centered worship service.

The Reformed churches have historically followed Calvin's teaching regarding this matter by not permitting any additions to the church worship service that are not found in biblical command or example. That which God has commanded regarding church worship is sufficient; therefore, all that He does not command is forbidden. All attempts to worship God through means other than He has provided reflect man-made rejections of the simple, spiritual, Word-centered approach God ordained.

    Both of the following church members are mistaken in their thinking about their Reformed-style church worship service. Can you relate why?

    Cindy feels a bit ashamed about inviting a friend from college to one of her church's worship services. "She's used to a large choir, an impressive organ, a variety of hymns, and a fancy building," Cindy reasons. "Our worship service is so plain, I think she'll be bored." Why

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