When worship is arranged by a biblical model of covenant renewal, these individual pieces are placed in the larger context of the Church’s experience of grace in the presence of God. No longer does the service seem to depend on the man up front or the congregation’s participation. “How was church today?” God met with us, forgave us, assured us of his love, encouraged us in our faith, and reminded us that he remembers his promise to save us.
By the grace of God I am what I am… (1st Corinthians 15:10)
Liturgy on the Lord’s Day, if biblically formed and properly ordered, is an experiential participation in the gospel. I have been in many worship services where every element of worship was biblical and appropriate but the arrangement of the whole was like a box of Legos, disconnected and subject to arrangement into whatever shape the pastor may have desired. This is not the way worship was structured in the Bible.
When an Israelite brought his sacrifice to the Tabernacle or Temple, there was a gospel-logic to the sequence of events. First he laid his hands on the animal, confessing his sins and identifying with his sacrifice who would die in his place. The sin offering would be followed by an ascension offering, often translated as the burnt offering because the entire animal was consumed in the fire. Here the worshiper’s consecration to God was visibly enacted. The sacrifice stood in the man of Israel’s place on that altar. It was not only the bull that was being given to God but the believer who brought him. Present your bodies as living sacrifices, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable worship. Finally a peace offering would be presented. In this sacrifice, a token portion of the animal was placed on the altar, but the greater part was given to the worshiper and his family to be eaten in the presence of the Lord. The worshiper, having been cleansed and consecrated, now enjoyed communion with the God who had made peace with him.