Jun 26

The Praise of God, the Regulative Principle, and Self-Love

2012 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Sermon Follow-Up

In Sunday’s sermon, “A Both/And Kind of Praise,” Ryan began a four-part mini-series on the subject of praise in the book of Psalms.

In his second point, Ryan said that praise is “Bible-formed and Bible-filled.” That is, as it concerns our corporate gatherings, the Bible directs the shape and the substance of our time together. Ryan referenced a theological term that has been used to express this principle since the time of the Reformation, called, “the regulative principle.” In short, the regulative principle says that in our corporate worship gatherings, we will only do what God has explicitly told us to do.

Here’s how the Westminster Confession of Faith puts it:

“The acceptable way of worshiping the true God is instituted by himself, and is limited by his own revealed will, [thus,] he may not be worshiped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, [with] any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the holy Scripture.”

And so, when we gather at DSC, we do what Scripture commands. We read the Word together (1 Timothy 4:13), we hear the Word preached together (2 Timothy 4:2), we sing the Word together (Colossians 3:16), and we pray the Word together.

To the person off the street, this should sound quite boring. That’s understandable. We live in a culture characterized by narcissism. It’s the air we breathe. And that’s why we tether ourselves to Scripture, trusting God’s wisdom and the sufficiency of his Word to tell us what we need when we come together. And as we gather to do just these things each week, we find satisfaction in God and demonstrate to the world where the real wisdom and power and joy in life is – in God, his Gospel, and his Word.

But, of course, we don’t always get it right. In fact, sometimes God’s people get it quite wrong. In a recent broadcast of The White Horse Inn, “The Narcissism Epidemic,” Michael Horton explores how a self-love culture can and has infected our understanding of the nature of the Christian life and the church. Horton also includes a number of helpful links to articles and other related resources.