Reformed Baptist Fellowship

12 Reasons Why Public Worship is Better Than Private Worship

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on September 10, 2012 at 9:58 am

If you had the choice between private Bible reading and prayer, or going to church, which would you choose?

The Puritans would choose church.

Surprising isn’t it. We all know the Puritans’ welcome emphasis on private devotion and personal godliness. But they actually rated public worship even higher. For example, David Clarkson, colleague and successor to John Owen, preached a sermon on Psalm 87v2 entitled Public worship to be preferred before private, and gave 12 reasons why:

1. The Lord is more glorified by public worship than private.
God is glorified by us when we acknowledge that He is glorious, and He is most glorified when this acknowledgement is most public.

2. There is more of the Lord’s presence in public worship than in private.
He is present with his people in the use of public worship in a special way: more effectually, constantly, and intimately.

3. God manifests himself more clearly in public worship than in private.
For example, in Revelation, Christ is manifested “in the midst of the churches.”

4. There is more spiritual advantage in the use of public worship.
Whatever spiritual benefit is to be found in private duties, that, and much more may be expected from public worship when rightly used.

5. Public worship is more edifying than private.
In private you provide for your own good, but in public you do good both to yourselves and others.

6. Public worship is a better security against apostasy than private.
He who lacks or reject public worship, whatever private means he enjoy, is in danger of apostasy.

7. The Lord works his greatest works in public worship.
Conversion, regeneration, etc., are usually accomplished through public means.

8. Public worship is the nearest resemblance of heaven.
In the Bible’s depictions of heaven, there is nothing done in private, nothing in secret; all the worship of that glorious company is public.

9. The most renowned servants of God have preferred public worship before private.
The Lord did not withdraw from public ordinances, though they were corrupt. Public worship was more precious to the apostles than their safety, liberty, and lives

10. Public worship is the best means for procuring the greatest mercies, and preventing and removing the greatest judgments.

11. The precious blood of Christ is most interested in public worship.
Private worship was required of, and performed by Adam and his posterity, even in a sinless state, but the public preaching of the Gospel and the administration of the sacraments have a necessary dependence on the death of Christ.

12. The promises of God are given more to public worship than to private.
There are more promises to public than to private worship, and even the promises that seem to be made to private duties are applicable and more powerful for public worship.

You might want to print this out and put it beside your alarm clock for next Sunday morning.

Originally posted on the Head, Heart, Hand Blog by David Murray

  1. This was a good reminder to everyone concerning the importance of corporate worship. I forwarded it to three ministry associates for them to share with their churches. Thank you for sharing this!

  2. i have a question ,coming from a presbyterian background, i now attend a reformed baptist, my question is ,why arent baptist singing psalms?while many of the hymns are scriptural and beautiful they are not inspired.i see the reformed church becoming more contemporary , not the one we attend, at least not yet.our pastor seems to be a man of GOD who preaches the word and depends on the HOLY SPIRIT for application.my earlier comments regarding a more accurate translation of scripture is a subject i feel i should keep to myself. regarding the regulated principle of worship i believe the psalms to be in alignment with that.

  3. I just went to the link on this and discovered The Open Library!! What a gold mine! I put it in my favorites list. Thanks!

  4. While I heartily “Amen” the value of corporate worship, where does scripture support these 12 statements? They sound spiritual and of a higher thought, but is this what we’re taught in Scripture?

  5. Curt, I must admit that the same thought entered my mind as well! Later (hopefully today), I am going to look into the scriptures about this and see what I discover. If you have time, why don’t you do the same? Then you can tell me what you found and I will tell what I found, and both of us will profit from what we learn.

  6. From the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith, chapter 22, beginning with paragraph 5: “The reading of the Scriptures, preaching, and hearing the Word of God, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in our hearts to the Lord; as also the administration of baptism, and the Lord’s Supper, are all parts of the religious worship of God, to be performed in obedience to Him, with understanding, faith, reverence, and godly fear…” (I Tim. 4:13;2 Tim. 4:2; Luke 8:18; Col. 3:16; Eph. 5:19; Mt. 28:19-20; I Cor. 11:26). Most of these things listed cannot be accomplished by oneself. Corporate worship must be employed. Concerning it being more important, I think one reason would be the strength we receive from one another ( Eccl. 4:12). Also, as our Lord stated, where two or three are gathered in His name, there He is in the midst of us.
    Paragraph 6 goes on to say: “Neither prayer nor any other part of religious worship, is now under the Gospel, tied unto, or made more acceptable by any place in which it is performed, or towards which it is directed; but God is to be worshipped everywhere in spirit and in truth; as in private families daily, and in secret each one by himself; so more solemnly in the public assemblies, which are not carelessly nor willfully to be neglected or forsaken, when God by His Word or providence calls thereunto” (Jn. 4:21; Mal. 1:11; I Tim. 2:8; Acts 10:2; Mt. 6:11; Ps. 55:17; Mt. 6:6; Heb. 10:25; Acts 2:42).
    Curt, I must admit, I see no scriptural proclamation stating that corporate worship is more important than private worship, but scripture does make it obvious that we are commanded to worship corporately, and it is where we receive instruction from the Word and are strengthened in our common faith by the preaching/teaching of His Word and the observance of the ordinances, as well as the encouragement we receive from one another. God inhabits the praises of His people.
    I always tell people that my favorite day of the week is the Lord’s Day when we gather together to worship Him and encourage one another in our most holy faith. That makes it ultra important to all of us.

  7. Rick, I have often wondered the same thing, although I see nothing wrong with our scriptural hymns, for the Psalms themselves exhort us to sing unto the Lord a new song (Ps. 33:3). I remember a day when we sang lots of scripture songs (“His banner over me is love,” “Beloved, let us love one another,” etc.), and they were wonderful. I would love to see the Church go back to some of that, as well as sing songs from the first hymnal ever written, the inspired Psalms. But, I also love the scriptural hymns of our most holy faith, such as “Holy,Holy, Holy” (my personal favorite), “A Mighty Fortress is our God,” and many others I could list here.
    I don’t think the regulative principle is violated when we are “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Eph. 5:19), but I, too, would like to hear more of the first in this list!

  8. Tom and Curt,

    If you read David Clarkson’s entire sermon, from which the above post is taken from, you will find how Scriptural his conclusions are. For example, simply consider His text, Psalm 87:2, “The LORD loves the gates of Zion More than all the dwellings of Jacob.”

    “The Lord had worship, not only in the gates of Zion, in the temple, but also in the dwellings of Jacob…Since therefore, the worship of god was to be found in both, how can this worship be the reason why one should be preferred before the other? Sure upon no other account bu this, the worship of God in the gates of Zion was public, his worship in the dwellings of Jacob was private. So that, in fine, the Lord may be said to love the gates of Zion before all the dwellings of Jacob, because he prefers public worship before private. He loved all the dwellings of Jacob, wherein he was worshiped privately; but the gates of Zion he loved more than all the dwellings of Jacob, for there he was publicly worshiped.”

  9. Thank you, Mike! That makes it much more clear. I did go to Clarkson’s sermon on Open Library, but I could not read it (the type was too small). Now I understand where he was coming from, thanks to you! Do you have a copy of the book, or is there a better site to go to in order to read that sermon? I would love to read the whole thing.

  10. “Ask and ye shall receive!” Thank you, Jim!! I went to the site you gave, and that is much better! Now I can read the sermon. Thanks again, brother!

  11. During my personal devotions each morning, I am trying to make it a habit to read a sermon or listen to an audio. Today, thanks to the help of Jim Butler, I read the entire sermon by Clarkson. It was marvelous, and I highly recommend it to all! I especially enjoyed something he mentioned that our senior pastor says quite often: “Live coals, if ye separate them, and lay them asunder, will quickly die; but while they are continued together, they serve to continue heat in one another.” I emailed my pastor about this, and he had no idea he was quoting Clarkson!
    Clarkson makes a really good point also when he says, “The saving of souls should be preferred before our comforts, and that advantage most valued which is most extensive and universal. Such is the advantage of public ordinances, and therefore they are as far to be preferred before private, as the public good before a man’s private interest.”
    I would strongly urge all to read this wonderful sermon. It is rather long, as most puritan writings are, but well worth the time.

  12. What, not one of those 12 had anything to do with snacks and refreshments!

  13. I guess that was not considered crucial to “worship” in those days! Neo, I needed a laugh today. Thanks for providing it!

  14. Tom. Thanks for the Clarkson quotation. Good stuff!

  15. Neo, you actually reminded me of something that really should be on that list- the Lord’s Supper!

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