Grace Meditation # 4
Gospel Centered Worship
7 But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house.
I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you.
8 Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight
At NPPC, we design our worship services according to a traditional reformed worship order that is a gospel conversation (very similar to the worship order Calvin used in Geneva). God reveals Himself to us through His word, and we respond with the full and authentic responses of our hearts with prayers, confessions, praise, and worship, including music in both contemporary and traditional musical styles. God reveals to us His holiness and awesomeness-His totally ‘otherness’- and we respond with confession of sin and cries for mercy. We are assured of His pardon, and we respond to His grace with singing. We hear His word preached, and we respond to that word. Gospel centered worship is a give and take, a call and response as we come together in the presence of God and His people solely by grace.
The verses above from Psalm 5 are helpful in laying out the foundation of grace that underlies our approach towards worship. How and why do we enter His presence? “Through the abundance of Your (His) steadfast love-His ‘hessed grace towards His people. His Holiness and grace are the reason we “bow down in the fear of You (Him.)” And our prayer entering His presence is that He would “lead us in Your (His) righteousness.
The worship of the Living God must be first and foremost “theocentric” or God-centered. Secondly it must be Christ-centered, cross-centered, enabled and empowered by grace. We choose contemporary and traditional songs that are excellent, rich in doctrinal truths, using language that is either familiar to a contemporary audience or explained to bridge the communication gap for a contemporary audience. We desire that our worship be led by the Spirit according to the truth of God’s word with Jesus Himself being the chief worship leader taking our prayer and praises before the throne of grace. Jesus and the Holy Spirit are both mediators of our worship as they translate our earthly expressions and language into heavenly.
Ever present are the themes of Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Consummation. We worship God as our Creator-the King of the Universe. We acknowledge our fallen state and desperate need of His grace. We worship Him as our Redeemer who is not only Redeeming our story but indeed, He is redeeming and renewing the story of all of Creation. And we get to participate in His renewal of all things, part of which is out worship, until Jesus returns, and we will live forever in His presence in the renewed universe worshipping with the great multitude-the pan-national-pan language-pan historical people that He is calling to Himself.
We believe that gospel-centered worship uses the whole Bible as our model. All the richness of the worship music of the Temple, to the richness of the worship of our reformed heritage, to the “New Song” that is being composed today, to the glimpses of the worship of eternity that we have in Scriptures, all this wide range of historical and contemporary styles are fair game to accompany our musical worship. “Psalms,” instrumentally accompanied singing, “hymns,” traditional worship songs including the Biblical Psalms, and “spiritual songs,” the best of contemporary expressions of worship.
We aim for our worship teams to be “lead worshippers” and not just “worship leaders.” Talented vocalists and instrumentalists who are deeply aware of their own sin and desperate need of grace, and from whom a response to grace simply overflows out of their identity in Christ. We try to teach a proper understanding of worship to our worship team and our congregation. All of us are to be leading and encouraging each other in our worship-the horizontal element to our worship. Yes our worship must be God-centered but there is a communal aspect to our worship as we encourage one another to live lives of adoration of the beauty of our Savior and our salvation.
We hope every Sunday when we gather is just a little glimpse of eternity-“Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb! …Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” Revelation 7:10-12