The Elements of Public Worship
Part II – The Reading of the Scriptures
“READING of the word in the congregation, being part of the public worship of God, (wherein we acknowledge our dependence upon him, and subjection to him) and one mean sanctified by him for the edifying of his people, is to be performed by the pastors and teachers. … All the canonical books of the Old and New Testament (but none of those which are commonly called Apocrypha) shall be publicly read in the vulgar tongue, out of the best allowed translation, distinctly, that all may hear and understand. How large a portion shall be read at once, is left to the wisdom of the minister; but it is convenient, that ordinarily one chapter of each Testament be read at every meeting; and sometimes more, where the chapters be short, or the coherence of matter requireth it. … When the minister who readeth shall judge it necessary to expound any part of what is read, let it not be done until the whole chapter or psalm be ended; and regard is always to be had unto the time, that neither preaching, nor other ordinances be straitened, or rendered tedious. Which rule is to be observed in all other publick performances.” – The Directory for the Publick Worship of God
The public reading of the Bible has been always been a vital element in the public worship of the church. Paul instructs Timothy that it is his duty as an elder of the church to devote himself to “the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.” (1 Tim. 4:13). Throughout the Old Testament we see the Law being read to the people in their assembly and we learn that the reading of the Law and the Prophets (the Old Testament) was an integral part of the Synagogue worship of Israel. It should be the desire of every congregation that they would publicly and privately read all the parts of the Bible so that might become familiar with the whole counsel of God.
As we read the word, God speaks to us, and we worship him by hearing with reverence, diligent attention, self–application, and obedience. Our desire as we hear the Scriptures read should be that we would firmly believe them to be what both Christ and the scriptures themselves tell us they are – the infallible and inerrant word of God. As Christians we should have a passionate desire to know, believe, and obey the will of God revealed to us in His Word. As we hear the Scriptures read let us always remember that these are not merely words from a book, but God’s inspired word to us, here and now. They were intended for each and every one of us just as much as they were intended for their original audience.
“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16-17)