The Dancing Puritan

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Church and Christmas


Sanctification...is a thing which depends greatly on a diligent use of scriptural means.  When I speak of means, I have in view Bible reading, private prayer, regular attendance on public worship, regular hearing of God's Word, and regular reception of the Lord's Supper.  I lay it down as a simple matter of fact that no one who is careless about such things must ever expect to make much progress in sanctification.  I can find no record of any eminent saint who ever neglected them.  J.C. Ryle

What is your attitude concerning the church?  

The church belongs to God!  Embracing that statement will help you to better understand and appreciate life in the body of Christ.  It will also help to keep you from seeking to infringe upon that which belongs to Another by importing your own opinions and ideas about the church.

Chapter 21 paragraph 1 in the Westminster Confession reads:

The light of nature showeth that there is a God, who hath lordship and sovereignty over all, is good, and doth good unto all, and is therefore to be feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served, with all the heart, and with all the soul, and with all the might.  But the acceptable way of worshiping the true God is instituted by himeself and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshiped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scripture.

That is sometimes called the Regulative Principle of worship, meaning that God has ordained through His Word how He is to be worshipped in His church.  There are a variety of perceptions concerning the Regulative Principle.  One way that it might be stated is that the church must do what the New Testament commands her to do when she gathers for worship. She must not do what the Scripture does not command.  She is free to do that which is consistent with the Bible.  On this last point, for example, there are those who think that because the New Testament is silent on the church using musical instruments, the church should not use them in worship. However, if one holds to the view that the Regulative Principle of worship permits the Christian to do that which is consistent with the whole of Scripture, then one would be free to use musical instruments in the public worship of the church.  The main point is that God is not silent about worship. His Word is to inform and direct His people in congregational worship.

Christ owns the church and the church is the "pillar and ground of the truth" (I Timothy 3:15).  The truth that is to be held up is summarized in Vs. 16 God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory.

That passage of Scripture summarizes the message of Christmas.  The Lord's Day is a reminder, as we gather with the people of God, that we belong to God and we exist to stand on and hold up the truth about Jesus.  He was "manifested in the flesh..."

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