Expect to Meet with God
We believe that only those who have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit and who trust, by God’s grace, in the person and finished work of Jesus Christ alone, can worship God in a manner that is acceptable to God. No one can approach God except through the mediatorial work of Christ, and him alone.
Worship is first and foremost a meeting of God with his people. Worshippers draw near to God, and God draws near to his people, through the work of the Holy Spirit. Worship is a dialogue between God and his redeemed people. God speaks to his people by his Spirit through the minister in the call to worship, the read and preached Word, the sacraments and the benediction. God’s covenant people respond, as enabled by the Holy Spirit, in song, in prayer, in confession of sin, in the giving of offerings, and in hearing and receiving the Word read, preached and displayed in the sacraments. Regular worship services at Geneva will contain the following:
- a call to worship;
- public prayers, which include (a) the invocation, (b) the corporate confession of sin, (c) the pastoral prayer of intercession, and (d) a prayer for illumination prior to the preaching of the sermon;
- congregational singing;
- congregational confession of faith;
- giving of offerings;
Obedient to God’s Word
Not only do we affirm that only a believer can truly enter in to worship of the one true God, we also affirm that God has revealed in Scripture, either by explicit or implicit command, the way in which he is to be worshipped by his people. It is God who regulates the manner in which he is to be worshipped. Historically, Reformed churches have practiced what is known as the Regulative Principle of Worship (or RPW) to govern the manner in which the gathered church worships. Not only does the RPW provide guidance for the church in what it should and should not do in the corporate worship service, it also protects the worshipper’s liberty of conscience from the whims of man’s imaginations about how God should be worshipped.
We believe that baptism is to be administered to the children of communicant members and to those professing faith in Christ who have never been baptized. The Lord’s Supper is offered both to communicant members in good standing of Geneva OPC and to visitors who are communicant members in good standing of another gospel-preaching congregation. Concerning congregational song, we believe that the Psalms should be sung regularly and often, though not exclusively. Hymns that are sung must be based on Scripture passages or contain content that is consistent with what is in Scripture.
We believe that public worship must be saturated with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. All aspects of the worship service are to point to unregenerate man’s hopeless state before a holy God, God’s holy and perfect standard of righteousness which man cannot meet, God’s initiative in redeeming his people, the perfection, completeness and finality of Christ’s work on behalf of his people, and the Christian’s ongoing reliance on Christ, from whom the Christian draws his spiritual sustenance in union with Christ and the through the ongoing work in his life by the Holy Spirit.
We believe that Christ must be preached from all of the Scriptures. Christ told his disciples that all of the Scriptures of the Old Testament speak of him (Luke 24). Worship is comprised of the “means of grace,” i.e., the Word (read and preached) prayer and the sacraments. It is by these “ordinary” means, which are made effectual to the elect for their salvation that God continues to sanctify his people, conforming them more and more to the image of Christ (per the Westminster Larger Catechism, Q. 154) We believe that though worship is not primarily evangelistic, we also affirm that whenever Scripture is faithfully preached, whenever the person and work of Christ is faithfully proclaimed, whenever the Gospel and forgiveness of sins in Christ is truly offered, evangelism of the lost will take place. The preaching of the Gospel is not merely for the unbeliever, that he may come to saving faith in Christ. Rather, the good news of the Gospel is for the Christian as well.