Purpose of Theology

The first intention of the Scripture, in the revelation of God towards us, is, as was said, that we might fear him, believe, worship, obey him, and live unto him, as God.

John Owen, The Glory of the Trinity: Taken from the Works of John Owen, electronic ed., vol. 2 (Simpsonville, SC: Christian Classics Foundation, 1999), 14–15.

I wanted to share this great quote, because this is often what is missing from the lives of many ministers. They have become event planners, people counters, culture changers, and process workers.

What they need to be is God lovers. It is far too easy to study the Bible as an academic act, an intellectual pursuit, or a simple curiosity. That will leave the soul lifeless and dead.

But when the eyes behold the greatness of Christ in the pages of Scripture, paradise breaks through from the age to come, and the soul can taste of the powers of the age to come.

But it is only the soul whose eyes stayed fixed on that point, through no strength of their own, that will one day see these glories face to face.

Scripture is meant to drive us to worship and love God.

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Christmas and the Regulative Principle

Should churches celebrate Christmas?

Should and can a church celebrate the incarnation of Christ Jesus?

The London Baptist Confession of 1689 in chapter 22 paragraph 1 it says this:

But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God, is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshipped according to the imagination and devices of men, nor the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representations, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scriptures.

There are several points to make out of this confessional thought:

  1. God has instituted an acceptable way to worship him.
  2. God has limited the acceptable way to worship him by his revealed will.
  3. God has therefore outlawed worship that is according to
    1. the imagination of men
    2. the devices of men
    3. the suggestions of Satan
    4. under any representations
    5. or any way not prescribed in the Holy Scriptures.

So what has God commanded for us to do in worship?

Derek Thomas in a blog post at Ligonier Ministries says this:

Particular elements of worship are highlighted: reading the Bible (1 Tim. 4:13); preaching the Bible (2 Tim. 4:2); singing the Bible (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16) — the Psalms as well as Scripture songs that reflect the development of redemptive history in the birth-life-death-resurrection- ascension of Jesus; praying the Bible — the Father’s house is “a house of prayer” (Matt. 21:13); and seeing the Bible in the two sacraments of the church, baptism and the Lord’s Supper (Matt. 28:19; Acts 2:38–39; 1 Cor. 11:23–26; Col. 2:11–12). In addition, occasional elements such as oaths, vows, solemn fasts and thanksgivings have also been recognized and highlighted (see Westminster Confession of Faith 21:5).1

So according to Thomas, God has commanded us to:

  1. Read the Bible
  2. Preach the Bible
  3. Sing the Bible (Psalms, Scripture songs
  4. Prayer
  5. The two sacraments
  6. And sometimes:
    1. oaths
    2. vows
    3. solemn fasts
    4. thanksgiving

So with that in mind, I would like to offer ways that churches could celebrate Christmas without violating the regulative principle.

Reading the Bible

If your church wants to do special Scripture readings on the promises of the Messiah in the Old Testament and then the fulfillment passages, there is nothing about that that violates this principle. So if you want to have advent readings in the service as a church body, there is nothing wrong with that.

Preaching the Bible

When we preach the Bible we are to preach Christ. As a matter of fact as reformed believers we pride ourselves in preaching Christ from all the Scriptures. So to preach on the fulfillment of prophecy in Christ, or the offices of Christ, or the incarnation, or the humanity and deity of Christ, is perfectly in line with this principle. So if you want to preach specific sermons on issues surrounding the incarnation of Christ, then that is perfectly fine.

Singing the Bible

We are commanded to sing. So if at Christmas time we sing songs over the topic of the incarnation of Christ, then there is nothing wrong with that either.

I think if we venture outside of these basics we are on very shaky ground in terms of God’s sanction. But there is no need for Churches to fear, ignore, or even vent at Christmas celebrated in a church, when we follow the above guidelines.

 

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  1. http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/regulative-principle-worship/ (Accessed December 13, 2016 11:53pm)

Does the Bible Teach that Jesus is God?

the only conclusion we can draw is this: Jesus is God.

Does the Bible Teach that Jesus is God? What about Worship?

Revelation 4:9-11 describes the worship of God.

 And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.

This scene overflows with such beautiful images of worship.

  • Give glory and honor and thanks to him
  • Elders fall down before him
  • Worship him
  • Cast their crowns before him
  • And then they say

God alone is worthy to be worshiped. God refuses to share glory and worship with anyone or anything else.

I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. (Isaiah 48:2)

We must not have other gods before God Almighty. This is even the beginning of the 10 commandments.

You shall have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:3)

So, in Revelation 5:6-7, Jesus Christ as the Lamb standing slain, comes and takes the scroll from him who sits on the throne, who was worshiped in chapter 4.

And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne.

How do the elders and living creatures respond? In Revelation 5:8-14 we see

  • The Elders and Living Creatures fall down before the Lamb (8)
  • They sing a new song which speaks of the Lamb’s worth. (9-10)
  • Then 10,000 upon 10,000 sing a song to the Lamb telling his worth to receive power, wealth, wisdom, might, honor, glory, and blessing (11-12)
  • Then all creation worships him (13)
  • And the final verse emphasizes that the Lamb was worshiped (14)

If there is only one God. And if that God alone deserves worship, praise, and adoration. then for Scripture to tell us that this Man Jesus, this Lamb who was slain, received this exact kind and type of worship, the only conclusion we can draw is this: Jesus is God. As Christians we believe there is only one God who eternal exists in three persons: The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

And if this man Jesus is God, then you and I must answer this: Who do we say Jesus is? What have you done with Jesus? What do you believe about Jesus? What allegiance if any do you give to Jesus? If the one who was slain (died on the cross for sin) is God, then he is the only one who not only deserves our worship and loyalty, but he is the only one who can fix what is broken in us and what is broken in our world.