Monday, February 17, 2020

Some random thoughts on Christ, Law, Gospel and Worship...

1. A number a years ago sitting with my wife on a Sunday morning visiting in an evangelical church, I wrote down the following on the bulletin sermon notes insert, concerning modern church services:

When one abandons a reformed Liturgy [referring specifically to Thomas Cranmer's BCP] with its content (which is Christ and Scripture centered), it is difficult, if not impossible to replace it with something that doesn't fall short of a holy worship; a definite problem for the modern Church.

Newer and more relevant is not necessarily more better when it comes to the faith once delivered and to what the Church has been called to as it gathers to worship Christ. One need only read through portions of the Book of Common Prayer (1928 or earlier) to be impressed with this.

Though the old style English is a bit foreign to our modern ear, the weightiness and focus is nonetheless apparent. Here is an excerpt from the Holy Communion (BCP 1662):

O LORD and heavenly Father, we thy humble servants entirely desire thy fatherly goodness mercifully to accept this our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving; most humbly beseeching thee to grant, that by the merits and death of thy Son Jesus Christ, and through faith in his blood, we and all thy whole Church may obtain remission of our sins, and all other benefits of his passion. And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and lively sacrifice unto thee; humbly beseeching thee, that all we, who are partakers of this holy Communion, may be fulfilled with thy grace and heavenly benediction. And although we be unworthy, through our manifold sins, to offer unto thee any sacrifice, yet we beseech thee to accept this our bounden duty and service; not weighing our merits, but pardoning our offences, through Jesus Christ our Lord; by whom, and with whom, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, all honour and glory be unto thee, O Father Almighty, world without end. Amen.

2. William Willimon, a bishop in the United Methodist Church in the U.S., writes concerning the preaching from the pulpit in today's churches:

"Unable to preach Christ and Him crucified, we preach humanity and it improved"

Today, preaching Law and Gospel from Scripture is considered antiquated and something that all too many preachers (and Christians) think only relevant to those congregations of the long forgotten Reformation and not appropriate for our "advanced age." But man's condition hasn't changed. The preaching of Christ and Him crucified has never been fashionable. The Law, rightly presented, diagnoses man as he is - born into Adam's sinful race and willfully alienated from God as an enemy of righteousness... helpless to change or free himself from the bondage of sin. This resonates with the one who hears, as it is consistent with what is the reality within the hearer's conscience. The Gospel presents Christ Jesus as the only propitiation for man's sin and our only means of salvation; a salvation that by God's grace is obtained through faith and repentance in Christ alone; His merit of a holy life lived as man, His loving offering of Himself as the full satisfaction for our sins upon the cross, and His resurrection from the dead being the sole basis of our justification and sanctification before a just God; and that is freely offered to all and received by all who believe in Him. He takes our sin away and then accounts to us His righteousness unto eternal life. This is indeed
good news; and as saints who are yet still sinners we need to hear this constantly.


  1. Thanks Jack. Enjoyed your thoughts. I am attending our Presbyterian church in Cherry Hill, NJ on a regular basis now, after being away too long.

  2. Ray! Wow, what a surprise to hear from you. Your comment gave me a big smile and brought back memories of you from back in the day, cross country - track, etc. Hope you are well and glad you have found a church. Is it PCUSA or PCA?

  3. Hey Jack, I am embarrassed to say I am not sure. My guess is PCUSA. I will ask. I hesitate to demonstrate how little I know, but am certainly learning more now that I am attending regularly at the Trinity Presbyterian in Cherry Hill NJ. Considering the gospels were written 40 years plus after death, it seems likely PCUSA is more common? On a more personal note, I have great recollections of you and our friendship. Do you recollect that we saw Steve Prefontaine as a freshman win the NCAA XC Championship race in Williamsburg? I still have the program from the race. Great times, good friends. We are all healthy and doing well here. Bless you and yours Jack.

    1. Yes, I remember that race. here's a link I found on it: