Friday, 13 February 2009

Christian Nurse Honoured and Re-instated at Work.

How pleasing it is to see that the Christian nurse, Miss Petrie, has been re-instated to her position after the controversy that was created when he asked a patient if she could pray with and for her!

Thank God for His graciousness in this situation, and for honouring her as she honoured Him.

Yet how sad it is that the Christian church has even less Christian grace than a national health service office, for it will not restore those servants of Christ who, in her eyes, transgressed against her. Isn't it a living rebuke to the church that a secular institution demonstrates Christian grace when it realised that it did wrong? The Christian Church is the one institution that ought to be setting the example in being gracious and generous to those who stepped out of line, yet she is so puffed up by her own self-importance that this becomes an impossibility for her. The kindness and generosity of spirit in those health service officials is delightful to see.

But, when the Christian church has the opportunity to demonstrate her allegiance to Jesus Christ, she fails and falters badly. When she is confronted with her abysmal failure to live Christ before a watching world, she reverts to self-defence and character assassination. And in defending herself, not only is she not following her Lord's example, she is doing what is essentially indefensible.

Theological Preaching

My studies into DMLJ's theology of the atonement are most enlightening, and will cause many men in the reformed world to do to the Doctor what they did to Dr R. T. Kendall, once they really understand his doctrine of the atonement - treat him as a pariah. While DMLJ had his faults - his semi-baptistic stance, his rank independence, his refusal to confront John Stott in 1966 on the Puritan understanding of Anglicanism, his fraternising with charismaticism, et al, he still has much vital material to teach us on the nature and message of the Gospel. He knew the Gospel in a way that enabled him to preach it mightily and faithfully, and without having to do damage to the vocabulary of Scripture. He had discovered the only hermeneutic that I know of that allows a preacher to treat the Scripture as it stands and without having to squeeze it through some dogmatic screen. That hermeneutic is authentic Calvinism, or to use a theological swear word in ultra-reformed circles, Amyraldianism. Compare it with Owenism, and you'll find the preacher having to 're-write' the Scripture, or 'explain it away,' when it comes to dealing with the Gospel texts that are universalistic in their language.

I digress from my original purpose in writing to you, but writing to you stimulates my theological juices, knowing that you are a man who also wants to allow Scripture to speak its own saving, sanctifying and God-glorifying message.

By the way, if you have this - I know you have a wealth of good books - but if you have accounts of the conversion experience of Christians under John Owen's preaching, would you let me know. I would very much like to read the testimonies of his converts.

Let us Worship God.

These are amongst the first words you should hear when you go to worship the sovereign God. This majestic 'call to worship' summons the congregation to do that which God demands of His creation (Ps.100:1), and especially of His people. It is God's call to all men to bow before the majesty of the great God. It is that which requires us to give God His rightful place in our worship and in our lives. It is surely the most solemn call that any man can hear.

When you think about it, the call to worship is the end goal for evangelism. David Brainard, that great missionary to the North American Indians about 250 years ago, said that what he aimed at in his evangelism was to get the people to "sing to God." The worship of God's pure and holy Name is the goal of evangelism.

Now it is strange, is it not, that in many evangelical, or should I say, evangelistic, churches, not only is there no clear summons to worship God, but even when it is implied, for the minister to then decide, on his own whims, to order half of the congregation NOT to worship God. You know how it goes; when you are singing your heart out to the great God of salvation and revival, the preacher interjects and says, "Men only for this verse," and then later, "Ladies only."

I must say that if I find this grossly insulting, how must not God feel about it. If we are gathered in God's house for the express purpose of worshipping His Name, what right has any man to stop half the congregation worshipping the Lord? What right has a minister to tell people on the basis of their gender that they are not to sing praise to God in this verse? Are they paving the way for the day when Christians will not be permitted to worship the Lord at any time? Do they know something that the rest of us do not know? Why are they doing this? What benefits ascend to God when this is practised?

Evangelicalism must surely take a long and serious look at what the Scriptures teach about how God is to be worshipped. IF He tells us in His word what he wants from us, who are we to change it? Who are we to decide what we will offer to God as worship? Remember how He rejected many contemporising practices in the OT, and described it as "offering strange fire to the Lord."

And we expect God to move amongst us in revival power and grace.

Let me mention another aberration of God's worship. When the minister says, "Let us worship God as we give to Him our tithes and our offerings." I don't know how these words are understood in your church, but in the churches that I know best, they are interpreted to mean, "Now is a great time to have a chat with the person sitting beside me." Have you noticed that? The minister calls us to worship God in this particular way (the offering), and we do the very opposite, while while putting our money on the plate. What the minister says is not really intended to be done - it a time to chat, or to check your mobile for messages, or to send a text to your friend sitting across the church from you, and so on. Worshipping God.

And we still think that we are on the way to revival! As I see it, the fact that we are prepared to play fast and loose with the worship of God is a sure sign, not that God is blessing us, but that the church needs revival urgently. If only we were to read the OT with open minds and hungry hearts, we would see just how far we have deserted the Lord's way regarding how He is to be worshipped.

My response? May the Lord have mercy on us, and bring us back again into the true paths, and may He restore to us that sense of His holy presence as we meet in His Kingly Name.