31 October 2014
Dear church family,
31 October marks the anniversary of Martin Luther’s nailing of his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenburg, Germany. This challenge to debate regarding ecclesiastical abuses, while not the first of such challenges, sparked a Reformation of Christendom. This Reformation affected the Church’s doctrine, government, and worship; it also sent ripples into “secular” spheres of politics, economics, and art.
As Presbyterians, we are heirs to this Reformation heritage. We are part of a family known historically as the “Reformed” tradition. What does it mean to be “Reformed”? How does the Protestant Reformation continue to mold the Church? How does Reformed thought shape us as a congregation? Here are just a few thoughts:
We long for pure worship. The Psalmist expresses this deepest desire of every believer: “My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God…For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.” (Psalm 84:2, 10). This adoring praise of Christ is regulated by his Word. Christian worship is to be according to divine rule: “God is a spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24) One of our Presbyterian doctrinal standards states it this way: “the acceptable way of worshiping the true God is instituted by Himself, and so limited by His own revealed will, that He may not be worshipped according to the devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the holy Scripture.” (Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter 21.1) Pure worship is to include only those elements which God has commanded in the Bible. We approach and serve Him on the Lord’s Day through the reading, preaching, singing, and praying of His Word. A Reformed Christian longs for purity of worship.
We cling to the Church. We Reformed Christians love the church because we love Jesus. He is the sole King and Head of the Church.“All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” (Matthew 28:18) “Yet I have set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.” (Psalm 2:6)“And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church” (Ephesians 1:22) “And he is the head of the body, the church” (Colossians 1:18) Christ our King has appointed how the church should be governed. He also feeds us by his Holy Spirit, and brings vital spiritual energy to his body, the Church. Our commitment to Church life together will be in proportion to our love for the Church’s husband. If you love Jesus, you will call His people your own through committed, visible membership. As heirs to the Reformed tradition, we delight to join and celebrate visible membership in Christ's Church.
We devotedly obey the Truth. We love the Truth because we love Jesus. Christ himself said, “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth.” (John 18:37) We savor his words. We crave complete conformity to His teachings. “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24) His words dictate our beliefs and practices. We are zealous for precise obedience to the truth. This means we embrace the promises. We tremble at the warnings. We adoringly gaze upon the King in personal, family, and public worship. We resolvedly walk in His paths. The Reformed Christian pursues holiness by searching the Scriptures. The Psalmist puts it this way: “Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently. O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!” (Psalm 119:4-5) Our faithfulness as a congregation can only be measured by our obedience to the truth as it is in Jesus.
These thoughts form the core of who we are. We are the joyful heirs of a rich tradition! May we flicker as burning, shining lights! May we lovingly embrace our historic roots, and warmly commend them to the darkness of this world! We live in a world that calls good evil, and labels evil as praiseworthy. This October 31, as the world celebrates death and darkness, may we commit to the life and light of the Reformation. Oh, that the Spirit of Christ would stir us to a deeper love for pure worship, the Church of Jesus, and obedience to the Truth.
Much love in Christ,
Posted on Friday // October 31, 2014 // 7:20 AM
by Chris Thomas