Five Reasons for Bible-Filled Worship
If you visit Good Shepherd, you will notice our worship services are not only Bible-based; they are Bible-filled. By that, I mean the Bible both determines what we do in our worship services and provides the primary content for our worship services.
Our call to worship is a Bible passage. Our assurance of pardon is a Bible passage. Our benediction is a Bible passage. We read long sections of the Bible in addition to our sermon text. Our prayers of adoration, confession, intercession, and thanksgiving are shaped by the Bible. The songs we sing are soaked in biblical truth. And the longest portion of our worship service is dedicated to the preaching of the Bible, book by book, chapter by chapter, verse by verse.
Why? Here are five reasons.
1. The Bible Is God’s Word.
The Bible is not a fun fable or self-help book; it does not merely provide some good advice or moral instruction. For the Bible is not a man-made book full of man-made wisdom; it is the authoritative, necessary, sufficient, Spirit-inspired, inerrant word of God. This is how the Bible describes itself.
Paul thanks God that when the Thessalonians received the word they heard from Paul and others, they “accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers” (1 Thess. 2:13).
Paul reminds Timothy, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16).
Peter likewise tells his readers, “no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was never produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:20–21).
Therefore, the nature of the Bible should inform the place of the Bible in our worship.
2. You Need God’s Wisdom, Not Man’s.
We all often think we know what we need and what is best. The problem is we don’t. We need God to tell us what we need and what is best. To let the Bible determine and fill our worship services is to humbly recognize that God is the Creator, and we are mere creatures; He’s our maker, our wisdom, our Lord, and our savior. We need to hear from him. So, if God’s word is the word you need to hear, and the Bible is God’s word, then you need to hear the Bible.
And this is why we spend most of our time listening to preaching through the Bible, verse by verse. Preaching is not primary because we need to hear from pastors. Preaching is primary because we need to hear from God, and that only happens when churches preach through the Bible. When you preach through the Bible verse by verse, God—not the pastor, not your felt needs, not the ever-shifting winds of the culture—dictates what you hear. And thankfully, God knows better than you what is best.
3. The Holy Spirit Is the Spirit of Truth.
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth, and the truth is God’s word. If you desire Spirit-filled worship, to have the Holy Spirit guard and guide you through the service, then you ought to desire Bible-filled worship.
This is because the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth, as Jesus calls him in John 16:13. Jesus comforted his disciples as he prepared them for his departure by promising to send them the Holy Spirit. And one of the ways the Spirit would serve them was to lead them into all truth. And what is the truth? Jesus says he’s the truth (John 14:6), but he also says God’s word is truth: “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). These are not at odds because the Bible is about Jesus and is Jesus’ word.
The Spirit, therefore, leads into all truth by leading you to the truth of Christ in the word of Christ. In other words, the Spirit primarily works his power through the power of the word he breathed out. Therefore, to follow the leading of the Spirit is to follow his word.
4. The Mission of the Church Is to Make Disciples.
The mission of the Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ, which is done through the power of the Spirit working through the power of his word. The Church’s mission is found in the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). But how is this accomplished?
Paul reasons, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Rom. 10:14). He later concludes, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17).
The Church’s power to complete her mission isn’t in her strategies or abilities; it’s in the Spirit and gospel she has been given. You may have noticed in Acts how Luke often describes the growth and spread of the Church as the multiplication of the word. For example, “But the word of God increased and multiplied” (Acts 12:24).
God has given his people his Spirit and his word to accomplish his mission to make disciples of Christ. His word is living and active (Heb. 4:12), and his word never returns empty (Is. 55:11). God’s word is the power for disciple-making, so God’s word must fill our worship services.
5. Christ is to be preeminent in all things.
This is what Paul says in Colossians 1:18. Just as I would say Bible-filled worship is Spirit-filled worship, I would say Bible-centered worship is Christ-centered worship. This is because the Bible is Christ’s word.
Remember Paul refers to the gospel as the word of Christ (Rom. 10:17). This is because the gospel (and the whole Bible) is about Christ (John 5:39, 46). Jesus is the Eternal Word who took on human flesh (John 1:1, 14), and if you want to know the Word, you must know his word. The Church does not preach or exalt Christ if she does not preach the Bible. You do not believe in Christ if you do not believe his word. If Christ is to be first in your worship, the Bible must be foremost in your worship.
Reverend Neil Quinn is the Senior Pastor (and Church Planter) of Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church in Kalamazoo, MI. He is married to Leandra and has three children – Brielle, Corin, and Talitha. Neil received his M.Div from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.