If, as we would have others believe, we are indeed Christians, we ought to be very familiar with what it means to be justified by faith. Yet, how few of those who claim to love the gospel understand the justification spoken of so frequently in the Scriptures! This being the case, it is very important that we ourselves should know this doctrine, for without it we can have no assurance of salvation.
You should know justification well after hearing our sermon series on Galatians. Want to hear then click here.
The second reason public worship takes priority over private devotion is that there is more of the Lord’s presence in the use of ordinances. “An altar of earth you shall make for me and sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen. In every place where I cause my name to be remembered I will come to you and bless you” (Exod. 20:24). The Lord calls his people to construct an altar that he might sanctify it with his name for his purpose, to bless his people. In the Old Testament, the temple was pars cultus, a part of the ceremonial worship under the law. The temple was also the medium cultus, a means of grace and worship. God met with his people here, where he typified Christ’s natures, offices, and benefits (John 2:19). This was the place of God’s ceremonial will, and the place of his moral will, where worship was accepted and available. This acceptance was based on Christ received in types and shadows. Now under the gospel, the shadows have passed and Christians have no such place of worship. The ceremonial law, along with the place, has vanished in the New Covenant. The moral will of God, nevertheless remains. The types have disappeared and the circumstances have changed; yet, God desires his people to meet in public worship to receive his means of grace. When they do, he is in their midst to bless them through the ordinances, as he promised. Continue reading →
The catechism was composed in 1563 at the request of Elector Frederick III for the purpose of instructing the youth of the day, and guiding pastors and teachers in their teaching duties. Of the Heidelberg Catechism, Schaff writes, “The Catechism is a work of religious enthusiasm, based on solid theological learning, and directed by excellent judgment.… It is the product of the heart as well as the head, full of faith and unction from above. It is fresh, lively, glowing, yet clear, sober, self-sustained. The ideas are Biblical and orthodox, and well fortified by apt Scripture proofs. The language is dignified, terse, nervous, popular, and often truly eloquent. It is the language of devotion as well as instruction. Altogether the Heidelberg Catechism is more than a book, it is an institution, and will live as long as the Reformed Church.”
If you been a Christian for some time, you have heard the calls to “live the gospel’ or to “transform society.” I think Christians mean well with these statements. These assertions, however, are neither helpful nor Biblical. I think they owe more to sentimentalism than to thoughtful exegesis. For instance, how can we live the gospel, when it calls for perfect obedience by the incarnated Son of God? We fail to live the gospel at our birth (Ps 51:5). Nor does the Bible say anything about “redeeming” or “transforming” society. Rather, it talks about renewing our minds (Rom 12:1–2). The Holy Spirit transforms sinners not institutions (Col 1:13). Grace does not restore nature in salvation; it redeems sinners with the person and work of Christ. Continue reading →
Understanding that Jesus is the subject of the whole Bible, our third URC Bible study will take place February 19 at 6:00pm. The meeting will be held at Sean Kelly’s, The Stone of Accord, located at 4951 N. Reserve St., a block south from I-90 Reserve Street Exit. The Stone offers great dinner and has the perfect size conference room (down the hall on the right). So, come hungry for God’s Word, great food, and fellowship. I hope to see you there and invite friends, all are welcome, whether Reformed, on the journey, or interested in hearing about a simple Gospel centered church.