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Archive for December, 2006

     Often in this Advent season two senses of advent are emphasized.  First, we see nativity scenes in many church’s lawns and in many Christian houses, and we hear many sermons on out of the early chapters of the Gospels, thus helping us to remember Jesus the Christ’s birth.  Then, often in our hymns and sermons we emphasize that he is coming again “to judge the living and the dead.”  Therefore, emphasizing two “comings.”

     Yet, there is a present tense advent that often is left out in this Advent season.  Christ comes to us even now.  This is done in various ways.  First, he has sent us his Spirit, so he can truly say, “Lo, I am with you even to the very end.”  Also, he is with us spiritually by virtue of his rule in heaven over the earth.  Thirdly, he is with us through the ” ordinary means of grace.”

     By these I mean the Sacraments (the Lord’s Supper and Baptism), the preaching of the Word, and prayer.  In these “means” Christ is presently nourishing his people and uniting them more and more to himself.  For instance, in the preaching of the Word he instructs, admonishes, condemns, convicts, feeds, and encourages his Body.  And through the Eucharistic celebration (or Lord’s Supper) he Spiritually feeds his people at his table his body and blood; thereby, making them “very bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh.”  It certainly is a mystery, but he is truly present as we are lifted to him, and he descends to sup with us.

     So as we celebrate Christ’s coming, especially in the past and future, let us not forget that he is present with us, even now, defending, nourishing, and preserving his Body that she may be presented unto him a victorious and glorious Bride.

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If one were to bring this topic up when around me, they would quickly find out that I am very passionate about the possibility of a RCA and CRC union.  There is a new book out on this topic; one that I really can’t wait to read.  Here is the link to the short blip the RCA has on it: http://www.rca.org/NETCOMMUNITY/Page.aspx?&pid=2574&srcid=2225

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     With all that has been said in the previous posts on the Law of God, there is one more thing that should be noted.  In the Reformed tradition the reading of the Law has come after the Prayer of Confession and the Assurance of Pardon.  This is usually found at the beginning of the service.  This ordering of the services fits very well with the third use of the Law for Christians, as described in the last post on the application of the Law to Christians.

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     What work is the Christian to do?  Of what use is the law to the Christian?  Is the use of the law only for the unbeliever, as the believer is lead by the “law of the Spirit?”[1]  The Westminster Standards do emphatically extend the use of the law for the believer.[2]  This use is similar to the use to all men and the unregenerate, but it is not altogether the same.  Like the unbeliever, the law awakens and drives to Christ.

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     And the moral law is that which “does bind forever all (people).”[1]  And it is this aspect of the Mosaic economy that is thought of as that which is engraven on the all peoples’ hearts.  But even this definition can be confusing, showing the complexity of the law.  Yet, even in the complexity, the Westminster Shorter Catechism (WSC) makes, in simple terms, the connection between the law on the hearts of Adam and Eve, the moral law, and the Ten Commandments.[2]  Thereby making the Ten Commandments the summary of the moral law[3]; moreover, making the Ten Commandments binding upon all who have them. 

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(This will actually be a series of postings adopted from a paper I wrote in a class I had this past semester on the Westminster Standards.  For those of you who are not familiar with these standards, they are the doctrinal standards coming from the Presbyterian tradition.  They are a more systematic representation of  Reformed doctrine than those standards of the continental reformed churches – the Heidelberg Catechism, Belgic Confession, and Canons of Dort.  These standards are very helpful and valuable, if you have not read them, I would recommend that you do.) 

Oh How I Love Your Law: An Exposition of the Westminster Standards Teachings on the Law of God (Pt. 1)

“The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.” (Ps. 19:7) “Oh, how I love your law!  I meditate on it all day long.” (Ps. 119:97) “See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the LORD my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it.  Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’…And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today?” (Deut. 4:5-8) “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.” (Deut. 29:29) 

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.  Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:17-19)

     It is clear from the Scriptures quoted above that the law of God is to be held in high regard, especially among God’s people.  And the Westminster Divines, in line with most of Christian history, knew this and exemplified this understanding in the Westminster Standards.  In the system of doctrine taught in these standards the law of God has always existed, is been binding upon all humanity, and is to guide the Christian as to how he is to live.

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    For the most part the Reformed Church in America has supported public education since its inception.  Yet, this was for various reasons.  For instance, in Holland, MI there is record that many thought that it was unwise to support Christian schools when schools could be set up and supported by the government, and Christianity and the tenets thereof could be taught within those walls, essentially allowing them to be the same as the parochial schools.  But this is clearly not the case today.  Christianity is blantantly attacked in the school systems, as well in other public arena’s.  Maybe it is about time for the RCA to begin to instruct that their members send their children places where their faith will be nourished and strengthen, instead of questioned, battered, and attacked. 

(I understand the arguments for and against.  I also understand there are areas in this country where Christianity can be “taught,” or at least discussed without many reprocussions.  But even in that case Christianity sits in the category as a viable option, not as the only true religion.)

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