What I Read Online – 10/21/2011 (a.m.)

    • Upstaged by Halloween, October 31 is also Reformation Day.
    • There has been no material change in the Roman Catholic position on the issues that led to the excommunication of the Reformers.
    • The worship remains corrupted with human inventions that bury God’s Word; the authority assumed by the magisterium assaults the majesty of the church’s King to rule by his own Word and Spirit, and most significantly, Rome continues to reject in no uncertain terms that we are justified by grace alone in Christ alone through faith alone.
    • I like Luther a lot. I look up to Calvin as a mentor through his writings. But do I really care what Rome thinks of “my guys”? No, not really. It’s not about them. It’s about the gospel and the wider issues connected to it concerning authority, superstition, and idolatrous worship.
    • The Reformation isn’t over. Not by a long shot. What we need most right now is not the rehabilitation of Luther, but the rehabilitation of true proclamation. We need it now, even in Protestantism-perhaps especially in Protestantism, more than ever.
    • The Bible teaches that elders are to teach the Word, set a godly example for the flock, and oversee the affairs of the church (1 Tim. 3:2; 1 Pet. 5:3; 1 Tim. 5:17). Scripture therefore calls all Christians to “submit” to the leaders of our churches (Heb. 13:17). At the same time, Scripture teaches that the congregation as a whole has final authority in matters of discipline (Matt. 18:17; 1 Cor. 5:4-5) and doctrine (Gal. 1).
    • Still, the congregation maintains final authority. The decision to excommunicate must finally be theirs. The elders cannot simply “announce” that they have excommunicated so-and-so. They must bring all irresolvable cases of unrepentant sin to the congregation for a final decision.
    • I had to stop here, and consider.  In bringing Eve along as Adam’s helper, God was giving her her own dignity and her own distinction. 
    • Does it strike you, as it did me, that God knew the man would need help in obeying?  This is before the fall, remember.  Being given a prohibition implies a choice.  Unfallen man was not to be left alone in this quite serious business of obeying God.  He would need help in ‘subduing’ the earth, even a perfect one.  Likewise, he would need help in subduing his own nature, with its God-given free will, in order to be able to obey God.  
    • In injecting order, boundaries, and submission into the design of creation, God clearly chose one person to bear the ultimate responsibility (the apostle Paul will corroborate this),[iv] and one person to help.  These positions were God’s intentional design, an intent that would continue to unfold. 
    • I came to the conclusion that ‘helping’ and ‘submission’ go together  

       

       Yes, now we get to the nitty-gritty.  You hoped I would find a way out, but I did not.  In the New Testament, a woman’s submission to her husband is spelled out quite plainly, both by Paul and Peter.  Paul calls this ‘sound doctrine’ (Titus 2:1), and Peter, an ‘imperishable quality’ (I Peter 3:4, 5).

    • Our worship should reflect our theology. In fact it nearly always does reflect our theology. Unfortunately sometimes what it reflects is confusion in theology. When we say we believe in evangelical theology and yet worship in a different fashion it reflects our lack of understanding of our own theological position.
    • Symbols are powerful communicators of one’s theological understanding. They are inevitable in the context of meetings and buildings especially when a group continues to use the same meeting place and format. Thus it is important for evangelicals to safeguard the character of their church gatherings so that the gospel is truly presented symbolically by the way in which they meet.
    • The idea of worship as every teenager in church has ever been taught, is to give God his worth. God can never be worth less than all we have got to give.
    • While there are many passages of Scripture that teach the ideas in the preceding paragraph, Isaiah 66 is one passage that we need to pay careful attention to. In this chapter Israel is condemned for worshipping God in ways that seem to be consistent with the law. But for God they are totally unacceptable. For what God requires is for people to hear and obey His word. This is true evangelical worship. To rightly respond to the gospel is evangelical worship.
    • When we come together in church we gather to hear His word, to encourage each other to love and good works, to sing His praises, to pray to Him and acknowledge our faith in His name with His people. All these are good, right, proper  and true activities of Christian congregational life. However, that is not what the Bible means by worship, for worship is the broken and contrite heart that obeys God in every aspect of life. Thus it is misleading to welcome people to church by welcoming them to our ‘worship service this morning’. Or to persuade people that they need to go to church because they need to worship God.
    • Frequently there is the appeal to art, music, dance, silence, drama and the songs of the book of Revelation. The variety of activities within congregational life can be enormous. But the purpose must be that of edification. The purpose is not to put us in touch with the divine. It is the gospel word that puts us in touch with the divine. The reading of Scripture is our touch with God for it is God reaching us. If drama, music or art are going to be helpful in building us in our Christian life then by all means let us be musical, dramatic and artful! However most of these activities are not in fellowship particularly edifying. To gather together in order to sit in silence is not a particularly edifying sense of fellowship. It may have a moment of helpfulness in order to get us ready to listen to what the word of God has to say or to spend some time thinking about it before we should speak to each other, but we can sit at home alone in silence just as satisfactorily and it is very hard to love and stir each other up to good works by being silent.
    • Yet the reason these things are argued for is not that of edification and fellowship, but of worship. People think that God meets them in the great silence. They desire to have art and beauty, music and dance because they confuse their aesthetic perceptions and sensitivities with godliness. The middle term of the confusion is that of spirituality. Platonic spirituality is to put you in touch with the immaterial. Christian spirituality is to put you in touch with obedience to God’s word. Art, music, silence, pageantry, crowds, etc put you in touch with Platonic spirituality not necessarily godliness.
    • But it is the mystic religions that are really causing evangelicals confusion today. It is the creating of worshipful experiences. The appointment of worship leaders who are people gifted in making the congregation aware of the presence of God amongst them. It is the use of colour and light, of sound and moods, of dance and silence, to sensitise people to the reality of the immaterial. Within evangelical circles all these activities can be baptised by gospel jargon. People will find going to such church services uplifting, exhilarating, awe-inspiring, powerful, loving and exciting. But they do not reflect the evangelical theology of gathering together to hear the word of God!

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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About Joe Fleener

Lover of Christ & His Gospel, Husband to Mandy, Father to three wonderful children, Servant to the Local Church, Bible College Lecturer
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