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An explanation of the common service

by General Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America


2. Distinguish between the true and the false worship of God.

True worship of God is only such as conforms in spirit and expression with God's revelation of Himself. Read John 4:24.

All worship is false which seeks communion with God in ways other than those which He has appointed. False worship is either

(a) The paying of divine honors to false gods, such as idolatry (the Hindoos), nature-worship (the Greeks), ancestorworship (the Chinese), or

(b) The false worship of the true God. Such is the worship of the hypocrite. Read Matt. 15:7-9; Matt. 7:21-23. Such has become all Jewish worship which was abrogated by the Advent of our Lord.

3. Distinguish between the true worship of God before and after Christ.

Before Christ, the true worship was that of the Jews, temporary, typical, a shadow of good things to come. Since Christ, the true worship is that of the Christians, final, perfect, and the very substance of those things. Read Heb. 1:1,2; John 1:17 with Heb. 7:18, 19. Also Luke 16:16; Heb. 9:11, 12, 23-26, and Heb. 10:9.

4. What is Christian Worship?

It is the outward expression, by the power of the Holy Ghost, of the communion of man with God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

5. Of what elements does Christian Worship consist?

Christian Worship consists of two elements—the sacramental and the sacrificial.

In the sacramental acts of worship, God speaks to us. In the sacrificial acts, we speak to God. In the sacramental acts, God's grace is exhibited, offered and conveyed. In the sacrificial, man offers to God the service which is due Him.

6. Which are the chief sacramental acts in The Service?

The Declaration of Grace.
The Lessons.
The Sermon.

The Distribution of the Holy Supper.
The Benedictions (The Votum, The Pax, "The body of our
Lord," etc., "The Lord bless thee," etc.).

7. Which are the sacrificial acts?

The Confession.
The Prayers.

The Hymns and Canticles.
The Creed.
The Offerings.

Note.—The Introit is both sacramental and sacrificial. The Words of Institution are regarded by some as sacramental, by others as sacrificial.

8. In view of the above, what is the proper attitude of the Minister when

he conducts the various parts of the worship?

While conducting the sacramental parts of worship, the Minister should face the people, because at such times he stands as the Lord's ambassador and addresses them in His Name. Read II Cor. 5:20 (Revised Version).

While conducting the sacrificial parts, the Minister should face the altar, as do the people, since he now addresses the Lord on their behalf and as their leader.

9. Distinguish between private and public worship.

Private worship is the communion of the individual soul with God. Public worship is the common and united worship of believers in the unity of the Body of Christ, as they are assembled in the church.

10. Is this distinction important?

Yes, for there are indispensable elements of true worship in which no one can engage except in common with others. Public worship is, moreover, an Apostolic rule, a permanent institution, and accords with the universal practice of the Church. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews most beautifully exhorts to common worship in chapter 10, verses 19 to 25.

11. How did Christian worship become corrupted?

As the teaching of the Church became corrupted, the worship of the Church naturally shared that corruption. Men were taught that their works and prayers, their pilgrimages and fasts atoned for their sins. Christ's work of atonement, and faith in Him were lost to sight. This inevitably led to the perversion of the sacramental element of worship, and the undue exaltation of the priesthood; and the whole service, even the Lord's Supper, came to be regarded as a sacrifice offered to God by the priest on behalf of the people. This was the fundamental error of the Romish Church of the Middle Ages.

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