WCF 21 – For God As Well As For God’s Created Beings
Of Religious Worship,
and the Sabbath Day
21:1 The light of nature showeth that there is a God, who hath lordship and sovereignty over all, is good, and doth good unto all, and is therefore to be feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served, with all the heart, and with all the soul, and with all the might (Jos_24:14; Psa_18:3; Psa_31:23; Psa_62:8; Psa_119:68; Jer_10:7; Mar_12:33; Act_17:24; Rom_1:20; Rom_10:12). But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by Himself, and so limited to His own revealed will, that He may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representations, or any other way not prescribed in the holy Scripture (Exo_20:4-6; Deu_4:15-20; Deu_12:32; Mat_4:9, Mat_4:10; Mat_15:9; Act_17:25; Col_2:23).
21:2 Religious worship is to be given to God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and to Him alone (Mat_4:10 with Joh_5:23 and 2Co_13:14; not to angels, saints, or any other creature (Rom_1:25; Col_2:18; Rev_19:10): and, since the fall, not without a Mediator; nor in the mediation of any other but of Christ alone (Joh_14:6; Eph_2:18; Col_3:17; 1Ti_2:5).
21:3 Prayer, with thanksgiving, being one special part of religious worship (Phi_4:6), is by God required of all men(Psa_65:2): and that it may be accepted, it is to be made in the name of the Son (Joh_14:13, Joh_14:14; 1Pe_2:5), by the help of His Spirit (Rom_8:26), according to His will (1Jo_5:14), with understanding, reverence, humility, fervency, faith, love, and perseverance (Gen_18:27; Psa_47:7; Ecc_5:1, Ecc_5:2; Mat_6:12, Mat_6:14, Mat_6:15; Mar_11:24; Eph_6:18; Col_4:2; Heb_12:28; Jam_1:6, Jam_1:7; Jam_5:16); and, if vocal, in a known tongue (1Co_14:14).
21:4 Prayer is to be made for things lawful (1Jo_5:14), and for all sorts of men living, or that shall live hereafter (Rth_4:12; 2Sa_7:29; Joh_17:20; 1Ti_2:1, 1Ti_2:2): but not for the dead (2Sa_12:21-23 with Luk_16:25, Luk_16:26; Rev_14:13), nor for those of whom it may be known that they have sinned the sin unto death (1Jo_5:16).
21:5 The reading of the Scriptures with godly fear (Act_15:21; Rev 1;3); the sound preaching (2Ti_4:2) and conscionable hearing of the Word, in obedience unto God, with understanding, faith, and reverence (Isa_66:2; Mat_13:19; Act_10:33; Heb_4:2; Jam_1:22); singing of psalms with grace in the heart (Eph_5:19; Col_3:16; Jam_5:13); as also, the due administration and worthy receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ; are all parts of the ordinary religious worship of God (Mat_28:19; Act_2:42; 1Co_11:23-29): besides religious oaths (Deu_6:13 with Neh_10:29), vows Isa_19:21 with Eccl 5;4, 5), solemn fastings (Est_4:16; Joe_2:12; Mat_9:15; 1Co_7:5), and thanksgivings, upon several occasions (Est_9:22; Psalm 107:1-43), which are, in their several times and seasons, to be used in a holy and religious manner (Heb_12:28).
21:6 Neither prayer, nor any other part of religious worship, is, now under the Gospel either tied unto, or made more acceptable by any place in which it is performed, or towards which it is directed (Joh_4:21): but God is to be worshipped everywhere (Mal_1:11; 1Ti_2:8), in spirit and truth (Joh_4:23, Joh_4:24); as in private families (Deu_6:6, Deu_6:7; 2Sa_6:18, 2Sa_6:20; Job_1:5; Jer_10:25; Act_10:2; 1Pe_3:7) daily (Mat_6:11), and in secret each one by himself (Mat_6:6; Eph_6:18); so, more solemnly, in the public assemblies, which are not carelessly or willfully to be neglected, or forsaken, when God, by His Word or providence, calleth thereunto (Isa_56:7; Pro_1:20, Pro_1:21, Pro_1:24; Pro_8:34; Luk_4:16; Act_2:42; Act_13:42; Heb_10:25).
21:7 As it is the law of nature, that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God; so, in His Word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment, binding all men, in all ages, He hath particularly appointed one day in seven, for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto Him (Exo_20:8, Exo_20:10, Exo_20:11; Isa_56:2, Isa_56:4, Isa_56:6, Isa_56:7): which, from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week; and, from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week (Gen_2:2, Gen_2:3; Act_20:7; 1Co_16:1, 1Co_16:2), which, in Scripture, is called the Lord’s Day (Rev_1:10), and is to be continued to the end of the world, as the Christian Sabbath (Exo_20:8, Exo_20:10, with Mat_5:17, Mat_5:18).
21:8 This Sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering of their common affairs beforehand, do not only observe an holy rest, all the day, from their own works, words, and thoughts about their worldly employments, and recreations (Exo_20:8; Exo_16:23, Exo_16:25, Exo_16:26, Exo_16:29, Exo_16:30; Exo_31:15-17; Neh_13:15-22; Isa_58:13), but also are taken up the whole time in the public and private exercises of His worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy (Isa_58:13; Mat_12:1-13).
Summary statements we are taught:
A. Natural Revenbation Is Sufficient To Inform Men That They Are Obligated To Worship God (WCF 21.1)
B. Natual Revelation Does Not Tell Me How To Worship (WCF 21.1)
C. The Acceptable Way Of Worshipping God Is Instituted By God Himself And Is Limited By His Revealed Will In The Word. (WCF 21.1)
D. God Cannot Be Worshipped By The Imaginations Or Devises Of Men (WCF 21.1)
E. The Way To Worship God Is Prescribed In Scripture (WCF 21.1)
F. God Is The Proper Object Of True Worship (WCF 2.2)
G. God Can Only Be Worshipped Through The Mediation Of Christ (WCF 21.2)
H. Prayer And Thanksgiving Are Prescribed As Part Of True Worship (WCF 21.3)
I. Prayer And Thanksgiving Are To Be Made Through The Mediator Jesus Christ (WCF 21.3)
J. Worship Is Accomplished Through The Help Of The Holy Spirit And The Rule Of Holy Scripture (WCF 21.3)
K. Worship Is To Be Made In A Common Language (WCF 21.4)
L. Other Divinely Prescribed Components (Elements) Of Worship Are:
Ordinary (WCF 21.5)
1. Preaching Of The Word
2. Singing Of Psalms And Songs
3. Administration Of The Sacraments
Occasional (WCF 21.5)
3. Thanksgiving Times
M. True Worship Is Not Attached To Any Special Place (WCF 21.6)
N. Truth Is The Essence Of True Worship (WCF 21.6)
O. Worship Is Not To Be Neglected Nor Forsaken And Is To Be Carried Out (WCF 21.6):
P. God Has Bound All Men To Observe The Sabbath (WCF 21.7)
Q. The Weekly Sabbath Was The Seventh Day From Creation To The Resurrection Of Christ (WCF 21.7)
R. The Weekly Sabbath Is Not The First Day Of The Week Since The Resurrection Of Christ (WCF 21.7)
S. The Sabbath Is To Be Kept Holy By (WCF 21.8):
1. A Preparation For It
2. By Resting From Worldly Employment And Recreations
3. By Private And Public Exercising Of Worship
4. By Performing Works Of True Religion, Mercy And Necessity