Soli Deo Gloria!

(all glory be to God)

Category: Law

DNC, RNC, God and Politics

Mitt Romney in 2007 in Washington, DC at the V...

Mitt Romney in 2007 in Washington, DC at the Values Voters conference (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last week there was quite the commotion over the Democratic Party omitting “God” from their party’s current platform. It even reached the level of spectacle when they attempted to reinsert “God” back in on the Convention Floor. They eventually did so, even though the party genuinely appeared split on this issue.

Being politics, this wasn’t the end of the incident. Gleeful Republican commentators pounced on this story as an illustration of how “ungodly” the Democrats are. However, the self-appointed “party of God” has much rotten in its own spiritual house.

But before we turn to the Republicans, let’s look at the Democrats in more detail. Some say that the convention was split 50/50 over support for ‘God’ in the platform. Now, what do we think the level of support would have been if the word”God” was replaced with “Jesus Christ”? I’d guess that the response on the floor would overwhelmingly have been negative!

You see, this is the problem! Our culture grudgingly puts up with this nebulous concept of ‘god’ that can encompass such diverse conceptions of a god as the Triune God of the Bible, Allah, Thor, etc. These various conceptions of god all differ and are at odds with each other!

So it is a sham to have the word God in your platform if you are not going to identify who this God is.

Now, that brings me to the Republicans. The Republicans, as noted earlier were having a virtual field day with this development. But here too, we have a problem. They consider themselves the “godly” party, but I would wonder, what would happen if Jesus Christ were on the party platform instead of this generic “God”? How much smaller would the Republican coalition be? Pretty tiny is my guess.

And on top of all of this, they have chosen Mitt Romney to be the candidate to represent their party. Here is a man whose religion denies the Triune God, denies the Doctrines of Salvation held by the Christian Church, creates new “scriptures” from the imaginations of a convicted con-man (Joseph Smith), and generally is about as brain dead of a religion as one can choose to follow. From a Biblical Perspective, this man is a Heretic. As an aside, I’d love for Romney to show up to a Native American group and try to tell them that according to his religion, that they are all really Israelites!

Fun with Mormonism aside, when we understand the role of the Civil Magistrate – as one who is a deacon of God (Romans 13:4, often translated servant), this becomes much more sobering and even upsetting. As Christians who are living in a Constitutional Republic, God has providentially given us authority over our Civil Magistrates. They rule based upon our assent! And if these men are to be ministers (Romans 13:6) and deacons (Romans 13:4) of God, how can we hand over a heretic to be God’s appointed servant?

Now, I understand that the majority of Civil Magistrates in this current age are probably apostates, pagans, heretics and atheists. But the Christian in the United States has a unique charge, as God has given us the power to appoint the Civil Magistrate through the ballot box.

This is why I think it is very dangerous for us to appoint an avowed heretic who disavows the Lordship of Jesus Christ to rule over us. We potentially will be enabling an enemy of God to rule over us.

Should we pray for the salvation of Mitt Romney and his family? Absolutely. But until Romney repents and turns to the real Jesus Christ and not the imitator found in the Book of Mormon – I will not cast a vote in his favor. My first allegiance is to my King, and it is very clear that neither the Republican or Democratic Parties currently acknowledge His Rule.

Regulative Principle of Worship

John Calvin

John Calvin

Last week our Pastor preached on the Regulative Principle of Worship. Given all of the contrary teaching found in the evangelical church, I thought that it was a fine time to reflect upon the wisdom in the Regulative (or rather Prescriptive) Principle of Worship.

Summary of the Regulative Principle

For those unaware, one can sum up the Regulative Principle as: “Worshiping God only in the way He has prescribed”. Now the trick in all of this is to figure out what God has prescribed (and on this, all sorts of sincere believers who hold to the RPW may differ) – but this is the key principle that should guide a discussion on the Regulative Principle vs. its opposite, which is: “What God has not prohibited is lawful for worship”, or the so-called Normative Principle which is the stance that most of the Western Evangelical church has taken.

Backlash

Immediately, in response to the RPW, our fallen nature wants to say, “No, as long as my worship to God is sincere – then God will accept it!”. And while an element of this may be true – I want to look at how the Regulative Principle is actually there to protect you from the abuses of the Church – and is not there to impinge upon your freedoms (always a hot-button issue here in the West). We’ll examine that in some detail after we start with some issues that lay the foundation for the Regulative Principle.

The Holiness of God

One of the things that has struck me since diving into Reformed theology is the emphasis that it places upon the holiness of God. You see, a lot of evangelical traditions will place an emphasis on the holiness of God when it comes to soteriology – that is that you need to be saved from the affronts you have made to a holy God.

However, then we seem to forget this attribute of God. It’s almost like we believe God has become tame and become our doting old grandfather because of Jesus’ work on the Cross. And while God’s wrath is averted and there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, our God is still a Holy God. And we seem to forget this, and treat Him like he’s our fraternity brother. But I want us to see something from the New Testament that says, “hold on one minute!”, “God is still fearsome!”

Turn to Hebrews 12:28 and see what the author has to say:

28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire.

You see? There still is acceptable worship to God, and our attitude is to be one of reverence and awe, because our God is a consuming fire. All too often, we treat God like He’s a tame lion (to use a Narnia reference if I may).

Continuity in the Bible

All too often we look at our Bible and see that it is split into a part called the “Old Testament” and a part called the “New Testament”. Due to predominant Dispensational thinking (thankfully rolling back as of late) in American Christianity – we treat God as if He’s had two different characters, and that the Church is something completely discontinuous from Israel.

But this is a big deal, as the early church only had the Old Testament as their Scriptures, and would have patterned most of their practices against it. In some cases, this was incorrect due to the New Administration of the Covenant of Grace (the once and for-all sacrifice of Jesus abolishing elements of the Ceremonial and Sacrificial System for instance). This is where the New Testament has a lot to teach us – thus giving us the book of Hebrews for instance (stop doing those things!!), Galatians, etc.

When the early Church got to worship, they worshiped in the synagogues – and would have kept many of the same “regulative principles” that fell under the old administration of the Covenant.

But ultimately, God’s nature hasn’t changed – He still stands in judgement over worship offered to Him. And we dare to enter His presence in such a non-chalant manner!

The Reformers were reacting to Abuses in Worship

This is key, and something we forget – because Church History is not a strong area of teaching in the American Church. But let’s remember something, the Reformers were responding to the Roman Church’s abuses in worship. Veneration of icons, Statues of the Saints, Incense, Bells, Worship of the Eucharist, Holy Relics, etc, etc. were all being found in the Roman Church!

The Reformers wanted to rid the Church of these practices, and return to a Biblical understanding of what was permitted under Worship to the Triune God. Binding the consciences of those who come to Worship Corporately was something that they would have been keen to avoid. The truly believed that Jesus (and only Jesus) is the Lord of your conscience and so they would have trembled before adding elements of worship that would be unbiblical. This is important, and we will return to it in a moment.

Were the Reformers Pharisees? Hardly!

Some will say, “this sounds like Pharisaical behavior!” Which to me is an amusing argument. Think for a moment about what the Pharisees did. They added to the Law, and made the people follow elements not Prescribed by God.

The Reformers on the other hand are careful to do the opposite. Rather than add to what God has commanded, they are careful to avoid adding any burdens to those who are worshiping Corporately. Rather, it is those who ask you to, “Raise your hands if you believe in the Gospel, with your head bowed and your eyes closed” who are tampering with worship and adding unbiblical elements. Same with altar calls, entertainment driven “worship” elements, etc. All of those experiential elements just take us back to Rome.

What if you had choices in where you could worship?

I think a lot of people would be more understanding of the RPW if they thought about the fact that in many places in the world, you still have no choices as to where you can worship. We would understand that as well, if we didn’t have modern transportation. Within a 5 minute drive from me, I can go to a Reformed MegaChurch, a Charismatic Church, a Bible Church, and a Reformed Presbyterian Church.

If I felt weirded out by the Charismania in the Charismatic Church, I could go to the MegaChurch. If I didn’t like the shallow worship music in the MegaChurch, I can go to the Reformed Presbyterian Church.

So we can shop for a church that suits our matter of ‘style’ and our level of understanding of Biblical things. However, for the vast majority of the people living in the last 2,000 years you’d have no choice. What if the only church in my neighborhood was the Charismatic Church with its dancers bounding on the stage, and the ‘worship leader’ asking you to ‘raise your hands if you were feeling the Spirit move?’ Your conscience would be bound to such unbiblical practices!

However, if we only stick to Biblical practices, we wouldn’t have this issue – and all churches would be a safe place to worship. The RPW is to protect the congregation. Not to limit their freedoms. Please keep that in mind.

Conclusion

God gets to determine what is proper worship, not the worshiper. He stands in judgement over our worship, and He is Holy. Also, the RPW protects congregations from abusive practices in worship, and keeping the believer from having to engage in practices that may violate their conscience.

Once you buy into those premises, the RPW should make a whole lot of sense.

Loving God and Loving People – in the Ten Commandments

Moses with the tablets of the Ten Commandments...

Moses with the tablets of the Ten Commandments

Just a small post this morning about Jesus’ teaching on the Greatest Commandment, and it’s reflection in the Ten Commandments.

Jesus was once asked, “What is the greatest commandment in the Law?”. Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God will all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:34-39).

If we look at the Ten Commandments (which is the summary of the Moral Law), we can see that the commandments are indeed structured in this twofold division. Here are the Ten Commandments for review:

  1. You shall have no other gods before Me.
  2. You shall not make any graven images.
  3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
  4. Remember the Lord’s Day to keep it Holy.
  5. Honor your mother and father.
  6. You shall not murder.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  10. You shall not covet.

As you can see, the Ten Commandments are structured in this exact way. The first 4 commandments (in red) involve loving God, and the next 6 (in blue) involve loving people.