Tuesday, December 21, 2010

"O sweet exchange..."

Good news for sinners from the Epistle to Diognetus, 9, 2nd century:

‘[God] himself took on him the burden of our iniquities, he gave his own Son as a ransom for us, the Holy One for transgressors, the blameless one for the wicked, the righteous one for the unrighteous, the incorruptible one for the corruptible, the immortal one for them that are mortal. For what other thing was capable of covering our sins than his righteousness? By what other one was it possible that we, the wicked and ungodly, could be justified, than by the only Son of God? O sweet exchange! O unsearchable operation! O benefits surpassing all expectation! — that the wickedness of many should be hid in a single Righteous One, and that the righteousness of one should justify many transgressors!’

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A definition of the local church?

This seems to be a decent working definition of the local church that would be helpful to call to mind every now and then as we 'forebear' and 'long-suffer' one with another:

The assembly is not the abode of Christian perfection; it is the abode of the family of God, those who through regeneration have been made partakers of His life and are developing in that life, sometimes in much weakness and limitation.  (Torch of the Testimony by John Kennedy, pg. 186-187)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Prayer of Contrition

The words of my mouth ring hollow.
With them do I vainly seek my own glory.
Deceptive thoughts too willingly I invite into my heart;
As if without understanding,
Entertaining them as a subterfuge for sin.
Indeed what I conceive in my heart and do is against Thee.

Yet where shall I now turn, but to Thee?
And who will deliver me from this mire, but the One I offend?
My only hope is in God's mercy.
Dear Lord, save me from my errant ways according to Thy Word.
Cleanse me and deliver me from my iniquity,
That I may know Thy lovingkindness and walk in Thy truth.

The Apostle Paul writes,
"Faithful is the saying and worthy of all acceptance,
That Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners;
Of whom I am chief:  howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy..."

Therefore, my trust is in Thee alone O Lord
Who has borne my transgressions on the bloody cross,
Who has purchased and delivered me from sin and death unto holiness and life eternal.

Grant then unto me, an unworthy servant, this Thy great salvation.
That what Thou has graciously begun, Thou will complete,
By the merits and mediation of Thy dear Son Jesus Christ my Lord.
-Jack Miller

[ASV 1 Timothy 1:15-16a]

From the Litany BCP 1662:
From all blindness of heart; from pride, vainglory, 
and hypocrisy; from envy, hatred, and malice, 
and all uncharitableness,
                     Good Lord, deliver us.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Worship Acceptable to God through Christ Jesus...

     R.S. Clark has a new post at Heidelblog titled The Scandal of Pagans Leading Worship commenting on the rising trend of pastors and clergy allowing "those who make no Christian profession, who regard themselves as non-Christians, non-believers, those we used to call “heathen” or “pagans” to lead worship through leading or playing musical instruments."  
     This is a timely essay by Scott on a wayward drift that touches too many churches today.  It seems that the before-unheard-of  idea of "inclusiveness of unbelievers" for the purpose of music in Christian worship is a growing phenomenon; unfortunately one that moves the church in the direction of the muting of the Gospel to the ears of the very unbelievers brought in to aid worship.  The rationale, apart from the increased aesthetic of music and singing, is that the talented unbeliever will be exposed to the Gospel.  Really?  The bright line between lost sinners under God's wrath and the merciful salvation offered in Christ is blurred as churches elevate the vehicle of music aesthetic in worship to a place of importance at or above that of the Word.  I was in a church that had unbelieving "cantors" (and, more or less, promoted the idea).  Beautiful singing... inspiring!  And after two years they moved on to another gig.  How can the Gospel be a clear call of repentance and faith to the lost who have already been brought into the worship of the Most High?  

Dr. Clark writes:
"Nowhere does the spiritual and epistemic antithesis come to a clearer expression in Holy Scripture than when it considers public, corporate worship. We live in the world, under God’s common providence, with unbeliever’s sharing (Matt 5:48) in God’s common gifts to humanity but when we gather, on the Sabbath, for Christian worship, we withdraw from the common into a special, sacred space and time. It is not a time to celebrate our common humanity with non-believers, it is not a time for cultural, artistic expression and achievement. It is a time to bow before the face of our Holy Triune God and worship him as he as commanded (WCF 21.1). In this sense, holiness is about distinction (antithesis) between belief and unbelief. To make something sacred is to set it aside. That’s what we are, in corporate worship, God’s holy people, his holy priesthood (1 Pet 2:5), a holy temple. It is then that we express our status as a “holy nation” (1 Pet 2:9)."