I assume everyone here is cool with John Murray. I mean, he’s not the type anyone could accuse of sentimentalism, liturgical carelessness, lack of sound doctrine, or taking every possible chance to emote.
So here’s what he says about doctrine, piety, and worship.
“…there is a direct connection between the most sacred truths of our faith and the most elementary duties of our Christian calling. The great truth of the atonement, than which nothing is more central, is the incentive to humble, devoted, self-sacrificing service in the kingdom of God. These texts [Mark 10, 2 Cor 8, Phil 2, 1 Pet 2] are sufficient to show that doctrine and practice are integrally related, and that practice exemplifying our faith is drawn from the spring of doctrine. … there is a straight line of connection between the death of Christ and elementary virtues of the Christian life. … The recognition of that truth, of that relationship to the death of Christ, is necessary to the proper effect in our lives.”
“We must now pass on to other aspects of doctrine. The Christian life is one of godliness; it is a living godly in Christ Jesus. It is a life conducted in the fear of God, and fear understood in the sense of reverential awe. What is the practical effect? It is the sense of God’s all-pervasive presence and of our dependence on him.”
(Collected Writings, Vol I, chapter 23, p170-171)
“What is piety? It is godliness. Godliness is God-consciousness, an all-pervasive sense of God’s presence. It will mean that never do we think, or speak, or act, without the undergirding sense of God’s presence, of his judgment, of our relation to him and his relation to us, of our responsibility to him and dependence upon him. This God-consciousness is spoken of as the fear of God, the profound reverence for his majesty and the dread of his judgments. The fear of God is not something abstract – it is filial reverence springing from a relation that has been constituted by redemption in Christ, justification and forgiveness by his grace, adoption in his love. There is faith, love, gratitude, confidence. In a word, this God-consciousness is conditioned by all the provisions of saving grace as brought to bear upon us in Christ Jesus, and by the distinct relations that we sustain by God’s grace to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
(Collected Writings, Vol I, chapter 25, p183)
“God alone is to be worshipped. … When we come together it is to worship God. Everything else really rests upon this. Whatever we may do, in worship, if it is not directed to the worship of God, no matter how decorous and embellished our exercises may be, then it is not worship. If we go to the house of God simply because it is custom or to fill up a quota of exercises, then we are not worshipping God. There are numberless ways in which in the exercise of instituted worship we may desecrate worship. All exercises must be directed by, and contribute to, the worship of God.”
(Collected Writings, Vol I, chapter 22, p166)
1) When doctrine is assimilated, it has effects – internal as well as external – and the connection between doctrine believed and internal effects is so strong that you can’t really call it belief unless these effects attend it. The best doctrinalists are simultaneously the deepest experientialists.
2) Although godliness has external implications, it is itself something internal. In fact, it’s internal and it absorbs the whole soul in dedication and devotion to the Saviour. Godliness is not synonymous with using the means of grace. A godly person uses the means of grace, but nobody can use the means rightly until they are godly, and their use of the means of grace is only as good as their godliness.
3) Being committed to having and using the right forms of worship includes the concern that we have more than the forms (just as being committed to true doctrine includes a concern that faith involves personal trust as well as mental assent). A worshipping heart is under obligation to express its worship in the right forms, but using the right forms is no guarantee of, and no substitute for, a worshipping heart. The best liturgicalists are simultaneously the deepest experientialists.
4) Even if you avoid unseemly displays of personal experience, there is still plenty to be said, consistent with scripture and the confessions, on the matter of piety, godliness, practical religion, and heart worship.
Aye, John Murray. Our loss was WTS’s gain.