Monday 10 August 2009

Have We Forgotten Some Things?

There seems to be so many things that the English church has forgotten that it is hard to know where to begin in explaining this. Most likely my experience among English Christians will be repeated in many countries around the world. Imagine that you and I go to your local city centre or a Christian conference to survey Christians and ask them some questions. Here are some possible questions.

Question: What is the Lord’s Day?

Answer: Commonly many people would have no concept that the day we call Sunday is what the Bible calls the Lord’s Day. The Jew’s observed Saturday but Christ rose from the dead on Sunday and ever since this day has been a day when Christians have gathered for worship, in remembrance of the resurrection of the Son of the Living God.

1Corinthians 16:1 ¶ Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also.
2 On the first day of every week let each one of you put aside and save, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come.

Acts 20:7 ¶ And on the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul [began] talking to them, intending to depart the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight.

Question: What is worship? Or, how do you worship God?

Answer: This question will receive a whole range of answers but most of them will include the idea of music, anointed songs and a sense of the presence of God. In other words it often involves a sense of us engaging with God with our feelings, often with a gifted musician to get us there. However this is a departure from a historic understanding of worship. In Reformed Churches the high point of our worship should be listening to faithful preaching out of the Bible and the whole service is worship. Worship is not restricted to singing, though congregational singing is part of our worship.
The whole idea that when we sing is the only time when are worshipping would be rather strange to most Christians over 2000 years. Worship includes the reading of the Bible (not poems and Christian books), prayer, congregational singing, preaching and the right administration of the sacraments which are: baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

Question: How important is preaching on the Lord’s Day to the church’s edification?

Answer: I will answer this from one of the Reformer’s called Heinrich Bullinger who wrote:
‘The preaching of the Word of God is the Word of God. Wherefore when this word of God is now preached in the church by preachers lawfully called, we believe that the very Word of God is proclaimed, and received by the faithful; that neither any other Word of God is proclaimed, and received by the faithful; that neither any other Word of God is to be invented nor is to be expected from heaven’.

Bullinger rules out what would commonly be understood to be prophetic words, sharing of ‘pictures’ and people claiming to speak on behalf of the Lord. This alone would cause quite a vacuum in many congregations if they were restricted to the Bible alone!!
The word recover means ‘to get back something that is lost’ The Church has forgotten and lost many things and we need to pray for a recovery of biblical truth in the land where we live.

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