The early church theologian, Augustine, said, “O Lord, our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”
At Apple Valley Church we find our rest in our Triune God, who has saved us from our sins and graciously called us into
His presence. Thus our worship reflects the joy and the reverence of redeemed sinners in the presence of Almighty God, our
Foundational to our approach to worship is letting Scripture alone reveal the
type of worship that pleases God. Instead of filling our service with things that interest us, we let God’s interests
fill our worship. By the guidance of the Holy Spirit we seek to plan and offer up to God worship regulated by what the Spirit
of Christ has revealed in His Holy Word. The result of this biblical governance of worship is a gospel-shaped liturgy (or
“order of service”).
A gospel-shaped liturgy…
As God speaks first in our salvation—gathering us by grace, calling us to Christ—He also speaks first
in our worship. We begin with a “call to worship,” usually from a Psalm. Having been called by God into His presence
we joyfully respond with a “hymn of adoration.”
We then make our corporate “confession
of sin,” acknowledging afresh our need for the gospel. This confession in no way wins God’s favor or forces His
pity. Rather, because God’s favor has already been secured through Christ crucified, we are now free to bring our sin
to light. Confession renews us in the riches of the Savior’s love, the only basis of true heart-felt obedience.
Immediately following confession we hear the “assurance of pardon,” a scriptural declaration of God’s
forgiving grace in Christ. Our response to this good news comes through hymns of assurance and songs of thanksgiving.
Because the gospel is also for our children (Acts 2:38-39), we regularly give special instruction to children
in the worship service. And they too are taught to respond to God’s word at an early age with, “Praise be to God!”
Our service continues with the responsive reading of a Psalm or a “confession of faith” using the
Apostle’s Creed or the Nicene Creed. We may also use one of the great catechisms of the Reformation as our confession
of faith for they have proven to be biblically faithful interpretations.
After the deacons
collect our offerings, we prepare to hear God’s word preached. As God’s word is read and preached His Spirit ministers
to us, leaving us helpless to save ourselves so we will be raised up and seated with Christ by faith in the promise of the
gospel. Our pastor usually follows a lectio continua pattern of preaching, that is continuing through a book of the
Bible over the course of several weeks.
Every month we receive the sacrament of the Lord’s
Supper. From the Lord’s table we are fed by God with the crucified, resurrected, exalted Christ. God does this by His
Holy Spirit and through faith. Thus the sacrament signifies and seals the forgiveness of our sin and our nourishment and growth
The service closes with a sung response to what we heard from the Spirit in the
Word. We depart with God’s blessing upon us in the words of benediction (Numbers 6:22-27).
When the Bible regulates our worship not only do we discover
a pattern like that above, but we also discover the attitude of heart God requires in worship. God requires sincerity (Joshua
24:14), reverence and awe (Hebrews 12:28). So preparation for worship begins long before the Lord’s Day. Let us not
despair, however, for the sovereign Lord grants what He requires when we humble ask for it in Jesus’ name.