What the Bible teaches about worship cannot be separated from what it teaches about the church. The worship of the New Testament church, like the worship of Israel (the Old Testament church), is a covenant renewal ceremony where God’s law and gospel are proclaimed, covenant rites are practiced (baptism and Lord’s Supper), prayers are offered, and praise is voiced. God is no less holy than he ever has been. Therefore, it makes sense that he still cares about the manner in which he is to be worshiped. God’s people should not attempt to worship him in the ways in which the world serves its detestable idols. Aping of the world’s forms of worship was a constant threat to the faithfulness of Israel.
The founding of the New Testament church was not, as J.I. Packer writes, “in any sense a breakaway from the past. On the contrary, Christ’s church was to be, and now is, nothing more nor less than the Old Testament covenant community itself, in a new and fulfilled form that God had planned for it from the start. It is Israel internationalized and globally extended in, through, and under the unifying dominion of Jesus, the divine Savior who is its King…In a word, the church is the community that lives in and by covenant communion between the triune God and itself” (A Passion for Faithfulness, xvi).
Surprisingly little about the structure of worship is changed by the New Testament. Certainly, the blood of sacrifices is no longer shed since Jesus, the Lamb of God shed his own blood for the forgiveness of God’s people once and for all. The Old Testament priesthood has been fulfilled by our eternal and abiding Great High Priest who intercedes for us at the right hand of Majesty. Therefore, instead of priests serving as mediators between God and his people, pastors serve the church by proclaiming God’s law and gospel. But in terms of the structure and elements of worship, the New Testament retains the importance of the corporate gathering, reading and preaching of God’s Word, covenant renewal rites, prayer, and praise. These have not changed and continue to make up the core of the church’s gatherings.