The Word of God

In my last post I wrote about the importance of the ordinary means of grace (the Word, sacraments, and prayer) to our sanctification. I would like to think a little further about that first means of grace: the Word of God. It is so true that it is important for us to spend time in God’s Word, both as individuals and as families, but we sometimes overlook the importance of the Word of God in our corporate worship.

 

Terry Johnson said it so well in his description of a corporate worship service: “Thus our praise is modeled on Biblical Psalms, our confession of sin on Biblical repentance, our confession of faith on Biblical doctrines, and our preaching on Biblical texts. We address God intelligently (in Biblical praise and confession) and He addresses our understanding (through His Word). To put it simply, in worship we pray the Bible, sing the Bible, read the Bible, and preach the Bible and see the Bible (in the sacraments). The language of Christian worship is the language of Scripture. Why? Because this is what converts, sanctifies, and edifies God’s people.” (Reformed Worship by Terry L. Johnson)

 

Thus, God’s Word should be at the center of all corporate worship because it is through His Word that God condescends to reveal Himself to us. It is true that “the heavens declare the glory of God” but the heavens do not disclose to us the perfect holiness of God’s Law and our need for God’s gracious Gospel; that comes to us only through His perfect written Word. May you all have a blessed Lord’s Day tomorrow.

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The Ordinary Means of Grace

My youngest two boys are in many ways as different as night and day. The older one recently received a computer game as a gift and was thrilled with the creativity, strategy, and historical acumen required to become a successful competitor. The younger one, however, quickly wrote off the game because “the graphics weren’t good.” The latter, rather the former, is the picture of too many Christians in the 21st century. We want “good graphics.” We want excitement, thrills, and goose bumps to permeate every corner of our lives…even our spiritual life.

It is our hope that our spiritual growth will be accompanied by as many “bells and whistles” as possible. We are akin to the Jews who “demand[ed] signs” (1 Cor. 1:22) in order to find their spiritual satisfaction. However, God’s means of growing us in His grace are often too simple for our tastes. The answer to question 88 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism describes God’s usual method for accomplishing our sanctification: The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption are, his ordinances, especially the Word, sacraments, and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for salvation (italics mine).

Granted, “the Word, sacraments, and prayer” may not tickle our fancy as much as the hottest new church program, or warm our hearts as much as the latest “there is a conqueror inside you” anecdote, but it is the ordinary process used by God to sanctify His beloved children. We may not “feel” our spiritual growth anymore than a youngster can “feel” his physical growth, but it is comforting to know that same God who began a good work in us promised that he would “bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” May the Lord teach us to desire Christ and His sanctifying work through His ordinary means of grace: “the Word, sacraments, and prayer.”

Why another blog?

In a world satiated with blogs, why should I add another one? For starters, a friend has been encouraging me for a while to revive the old “Rankin File” (See, Brent, I do listen to you occasionally). Secondly, our pastor has started blogging again and nudged me tactfully to follow his example (See, Mark, I listen to you, also). Finally, if my feeble attempts to understand the glorious grace of God can be helpful to someone else, to God alone be the glory!