Dead Liturgies

Each week we confess the faith together and we confess our sins to the Lord and ask his forgiveness. Each week we hear the Word of God preached and we regularly eat at the Lord’s Table. All of that is well and good because God commands us to do all these in our gathered worship.

But in any church which observes a Biblically rich liturgy, there’s a beguiling temptation to believe that having said the words of the Creed, you actually believe them, or having heard a prayer of confession, that you’ve actually confessed your sins, or that having eaten the bread and drank the cup that you are in fellowship with Christ.

While it is true that you cannot be in close fellowship with the Lord apart from these practices, it is also true that perfunctory observance of a ritual is worthless. Unless you have done all these things by faith you haven’t actually done any of them. Without faith, our liturgy is a list of dead works.

And, it must be said, your faith must not be in the saying of the Creed—it must be in the Christ of the Creed. Your faith must not be in the praying of the confession—but in the Christ who hears your prayer and who alone has the power to forgive sins. At the Lord’s Table, we feast on Christ not by our mouths and stomachs, but by faith; trusting that his body was broken and his blood was shed as the punishment for our evil doing.

Church, do not look to these things: a pulpit, a Creed, or a Table. Look through them and see the Lamb of God slain, buried, and risen in power. Believe in him, there is salvation in nothing else.

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