God Loves the Gates of Zion More: Everlasting Gates (part 4)

Procession of Apostles around the dome; Arian ...

Article III of the Belgic Confession concerns The Written Word of God,

We confess that this Word of God was not sent nor delivered by the will of man, but that men spoke from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit, as the apostle Peter says; and that afterwards God, from a special care which He has for us and our salvation, commanded His servants, the prophets and apostles, to commit His revealed word to writing; and He Himself wrote with His own finger the two tables of the law.  Therefore we call such writings holy and divine Scriptures.

In this article, we see the attribute Apostolicity.  Apostolicity means the church is Apostolic not because we have Apostles in our churches, but because we have their teaching.  The church contains the succession of doctrine that is sola scriptura from the Apostles’ hands.  We go to Scripture alone because it alone is the Apostles’ teaching.  The principle cause of the Reformation (sola scriptura) is integrally connected to the material principle (solo Christos, sola gratia, sola fide) and to the end of salvation (soli Deo gloria).[1]  The glory of God in public worship promotes this succession of doctrine, which would otherwise be lost (2 Tim. 4:1–5).  However, the second to last attribute, indefectibility prevents this loss, for Jesus guarantees there will always be a gathering of believers on earth to glorify him.  No matter how inglorious the size, the gathering of true believers bears witness in praise to Christ their King.  In so doing passes down the Word and doctrine, which is contained in our confessions.  Without public worship it would be lost.

 

This leads to the final attribute, the holiness of the church, which rests in the communion of saints.  Hebrews 10 states that the church is holy because of “the blood of Jesus” (v. 19) so the church with hearts “sprinkled clean” (v. 22) should not neglect “to meet together” (v. 25).  It is the church, blessed with the imputed righteousness of Christ and born again of water and Spirit in the inner self, who glorifies God in public worship (John 17:19; Eph. 5:25–27; 1 Thess. 4:3; Titus 2:14; Heb. 12:14; 1 Pet. 2:9).  The church gathers as God blesses his people, declares their sins forgiven (John 20:23), and passes down sound doctrine.  Private devotion pales in comparison to the glory God receives in the gathered communion of saints.  The Lord complains, therefore, as if he received no glory from his people, when His public worship is despised and neglected in Malachi 1:6.  All the attributes that I have discussed in this post and the preceding posts, allow the church to come together to glorify the Lord more publicly in worship than in private devotion.  So, pray that the Lord would plant this old Reformed church (circa 451) that God’s Word and teaching would continue to be preserved as God’s glory is lifted up in truth, and not resting on the opinions of man and their commandments.


[1] Michael Horton, People and Place: A Covenant Ecclesiology (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2008), 47.

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