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Why Do We Do What We Do In Worship? #6 - The Public Reading of Scripture

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable
for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.

2 Timothy 3:16

Just as the gospel shapes the individual life of a Christian, it should also fashion the corporate life of the church and in particular the corporate worship of the church. And because we are prone to forget the good news of the gospel, corporate worship should remind us of the gospel every week

Because faith comes from hearing the word of Christ (Romans 10:17) and because Christians are to live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4), the reading of Scripture is an essential and non-negotiable element of public worship.

In the public reading of Scripture God Himself addresses us in our own language. It is no wonder then that the apostle Paul exhorts his disciple Timothy (and all ministers thereafter) to give attention to or devote himself to the public reading of Scripture (1 Timothy 4:13). Jesus himself demonstrates the significance of the Word of God in worship when the first act of his public ministry was to read Scripture (Luke 4:16ff).

The Word of God is a means of grace through which we are built up and strengthened in our faith. Each week we read a passage from both the Old Testament and the New Testament, which are chosen to support the text of the sermon as well as to remind us that the Bible is one book, a unified whole, consisting of both the Old and New Testaments.

Throughout the Bible, there is an undeniable priority of hearing over sight. God’s Word, which has the power to save and transform, will remain and endure when everything else passes away (Isaiah 40:7-8; 1 Peter 1:24-25). The church neglects the public reading of Scripture to its own peril and impoverishment.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism Q & A # 89 and 90

Q: How is the Word made effectual to salvation?

The Spirit of God makes the reading, but especially the preaching, of the Word, an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners, and of building them up in holiness and comfort, through faith, unto salvation.

Q: How is the Word to be read and heard, that it may become effectual to salvation?

A: That the Word may become effectual to salvation, we must attend thereunto with diligence, preparation and prayer; receive it with faith and love, lay it up in our hearts, and practice it in our lives.