The second to last proof for the RPW states that the positive commands of Scripture forbid negative worship practices. The positive commands are simply God’s commands, his revealed will, like the Ten Commandments. Negative practices are those not found in Scripture or worse, evil exercises contrary to God’s revealed will. Heidelberg Catechism Q. 91 asks, “What are good works?” The answer,
“those only which proceed from true faith, and are done according to the Law of God, unto His glory; and not such as rest on our own opinion or the commandments of men.”
Jeremiah 19:5-6 gives a clear example of a bad (negative) practice. God condemns Israel for building high places to burn their sons as offerings to Baal, a form of worship that God, “did not command or decree, nor did it come into my mind.” This practice came from man’s opinion and not according to God’s Word.
Well of course, murder in the name of worship is terrible, but what about worship that looks normal, only has a little sprinkling of man’s ideas. That is, do we have freedom to worship in any way we see fit as long as it does not violate God’s commands? May we worship in a way not explicitly or implicitly implied by God’s Word? May we worship in anyway as long as it does not actually violate commandments? We do not want to go nuts, but we want to add some flair, look to culture and imitate it a little, you know to be relevant? In Leviticus 10:1, Nadab and Abihu answered these questions, yes. What happened to them? God consumed Nadab and Abihu by fire in judgment because they “offered unauthorized fire” in worship. God commanded the offering of fire, so what was the problem? The sin was that the brothers offered fire God, “had not commanded.” They were worshipping God, but not the exact way he arranged. This event shows us that God forbids forms of worship he has not commanded. There practice was of their own opinion and was not done according to God’s Word. So do you want to ask in worship, what may we do or what must we do. As Israel had to follow God’s commands for corporate worship, how much more should the church with fuller revelation follow God’s commands in corporate worship? The church cannot do those things God “did not command or decree” (Jeremiah 19:5–6).
The Second Commandment prohibits idols. The Heidelberg Catechism asks in Q. 96, “What does God require in the Second commandment?” The answer, “That we in no way make any image of God, nor worship Him in any other way than He has commanded in His Word.” This answer reveals that every form of Worship contrary to or diverse from the prescript of God’s Word is forbidden. Colossians 2:23 calls this “self-made religion,” worship man had willed but not God.
What keeps foreign ideas out of our Divine services? Suppose a mother and daughter love spiking volleyballs in their backyard. What if they come to our church and want to glorify the Lord in corporate worship with their fine skills? What would be our response? God has not commanded the spiking of volleyballs in His church. Suppose someone wants to share a video, perform some dance piece or a song, share a testimony, put on a skit, say the pledge of allegiance to the flag, stump for office, or whatever is going on in churches in America these days? Did God command these? If God has commanded it, we will do it. On the other hand, are these our opinions and the commandments of men? A Reformed church in Missoula will only do those things which God’s Word commands, not what we may do, but what we must do.