Don’t miss Christ the Center, episode 80, “The Regulative Principle of Worship.”
The Reverend Derek Thomas, Minister of Teaching at First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, Mississippi, first explains the threefold aspects of worship– form, element, and circumstance–then demonstrates that the Reformed emphasis on the Regulative Principle of Worship (RPW) is not merely an invention of the Puritans, as J.I. Packer and others maintain, but is the application of the Reformation ideal of Sola Scriptura. In other words, the final authority of Scripture in the faith and practice of the church is the foundation on which the RPW is built. Rev. Thomas is also very helpful on many debatable issues like the frequency and symbolisms of the Lord’s Supper and the appropriateness of the inclusion of original hymnody and musical instruments in New Covenant worship. Finally, he makes a compelling and edifying case for Sunday evening worship. Would that more churches returned to such a practice in the interests of keeping holy the Lord’s Day.
Listen and learn a little more about what it means to worship God according to Scripture by Reading the Word, Praying the Word, Singing the Word and Hearing the Word Preached.
Now, this is what I call music…!
In case you can’t keep up, here’s the lyrics. Read along, then consult your Bible and read and pray and think!
Here’s a controversial subject that tends to divide
For years it’s had Christians lining up on both sides
By God’s grace, I’ll address this without pride
The question concerns those for whom Christ died
Was He trying to save everybody worldwide?
Was He trying to make the entire world His Bride?
Does man’s unbelief keep the Savior’s hands tied?
Biblically, each of these must be denied
It’s true, Jesus gave up His life for His Bride
But His Bride is the elect, to whom His death is applied
If on judgment day, you see that you can’t hide
And because of your sin, God’s wrath on you abides
And hell is the place you eternally reside
That means your wrath from God hasn’t been satisfied
But we believe His mission was accomplished when He died
But how the cross relates to those in hell?
Well, they be saying:
Lord knows He tried (8x)
Father, Son and Spirit: three and yet one
Working as a unit to get things done
Our salvation began in eternity past
God certainly has to bring all His purpose to pass
A triune, eternal bond no one could ever sever
When it comes to the church, peep how they work together
The Father foreknew first, the Son came to earth
To die- the Holy Spirit gives the new birth
The Father elects them, the Son pays their debt and protects them
The Spirit is the One who resurrects them
The Father chooses them, the Son gets bruised for them
The Spirit renews them and produces fruit in them
Everybody’s not elect, the Father decides
And it’s only the elect in whom the Spirit resides
The Father and the Spirit- completely unified
But when it comes to Christ and those in hell?
Well, they be saying:
Lord knows He tried (8x)
My third and final verse- here’s the situation
Just a couple more things for your consideration
If saving everybody was why Christ came in history
With so many in hell, we’d have to say He failed miserably
So many think He only came to make it possible
Let’s follow this solution to a conclusion that’s logical
What about those who were already in the grave?
The Old Testament wicked- condemned as depraved
Did He die for them? C’mon, behave
But worst of all, you’re saying the cross by itself doesn’t save
That we must do something to give the cross its power
That means, at the end of the day, the glory’s ours
That man-centered thinking is not recommended
The cross will save all for whom it was intended
Because for the elect, God’s wrath was satisfied
But still, when it comes to those in hell
Well, they be saying:
Lord knows He tried (8x)
Thank you, Shai Linne, whoever you are.
Today’s headlines from the Daily Evangel, in the Evangelical News & Views section, includes Christianity Today’s interview with Rick Warren in which he clarifies some of the comments he made during his interview with Larry King on CNN Monday night (click on ”Q & A: Rick Warren” in the sidebar). In my last post, I introduced the topic with the statement that “a couple of pastor Warren’s comments troubled me,” then I only blogged on one of them. The second thing was his announcement, as an example of what he calls “interfaith projects” (which he finds far superior to “interfaith dialogue”), that he would attend a Jewish Passover seder hosted by a rabbi friend of his, Elie Spitz. Spitz’s congregation is hosting a “community seder” (see this advertisement).
Larry King had sought a comment from Warren about President Obama’s recent comments regarding Islam in Turkey. Here’s the exchange:
KING: Obama has traveled to Turkey, first president to visit a Muslim country. He had this to say about the United States and Islam in a speech to Turkish parliament. Watch. I’d like you to comment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The United States is not and will never be at war with Islam. In fact, our partnership with the Muslim world is critical, not just in rolling back the violent ideologies that people of all faiths reject, but also to strengthen opportunity for all people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: What do you think of that?
WARREN: You know, I think that’s the exact right tone, Larry. There are 600,000 Buddhists in the world. There are 800,000 Hindus in the world. There are a billion Muslims in the world. There are 2.3 billion Christians in the world. You have to get along together. That’s why I speak with Jewish groups. I speak to Muslim groups.
We’re all human beings. We have to work on issues we don’t always agree on. I’m not really into what I call inter-faith dialogue. I think that’s a lot of wasted time. I’m interested in what I call inter-faith projects. In other words, I’m not going to convince a lot of people who have other beliefs to change their beliefs and vice versa. But we can work together on issues like poverty, disease, illiteracy and things that — problems common to all humanity.
This week, for instance, tomorrow night, I’m going to a Seder dinner with my dear friend Elie Spitz (ph), who is a local rabbi. We’ll celebrate Passover together. And then later in the work [week? jdc], I’ll do Easter, which is — they’re both all about redemption. My next door neighbor is Muslim. I traveled with him to the Middle East. We’re dear, dear friends. And there’s no reason — what people don’t seem to understand is that you don’t have to agree with everybody in order to love them.
In the CT interview, Warren elaborates on these remarks:
People see me out there — I speak to Muslim groups and Jewish groups, I’m actually having a Passover Seder tomorrow night. People never need to doubt why I do what I do, even when associating with people gets me in all kinds of hot water. Jesus got into hot water for the people he associated with. Fundamentalist groups say Warren hangs out with Jews and Muslims and gays and on and on. The point is, I’m not allowed to not love anybody.
With these words, Warren blurs the lines between loving people regardless of religion or lack thereof, which is of course appropriate, and worshiping with them. It’s not hard to distinguish between the two, yet Warren seems to see no distinction. The apostle Paul wrote in Romans 13:10, “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” However, in the book of Hebrews, the author of that letter warns Christians against engaging in the worship of unbelieving Jews (Hebrews 5:11-6:8). To do so, according to the author of Hebrews, is tantamount to apostasy. The elements of the Passover seder, like the Old Testament temple worship, are a “copy” and “shadow of the heavenly things” (Hebrews 8:5).
I submit that it is not unloving to refrain from worshiping with those who reject the gospel, while still living a life that does no harm to them. At the same time, I find that this announcement of participating in the copies and shadows of things fulfilled by the Lord Jesus Christ, in the context and company of those who deny his fulfillment of them, is just the logical conclusion of the kind of fuzzy thinking Warren engages in when he calls Roman Catholics and others who distort the gospel, “brothers and sisters in God’s family” (see my previous post).
Dearly beloved, this type of activity on the part of Protestant (yes, I said “Protestant”) leaders is indicative of the spiritual decline in Christianity that I believe is linked to the kind of sociological decline reported on by Newsweek magazine. What American Christianity needs is a revival and a Reformation. It needs to regain the courage to be Protestant. I would ask you to consider the words of the Cambridge Declaration, a recent statement and call to reformation and revival prepared by the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. This statement is found on my “Creeds, Confessions, Catechisms and Statements” page, but here’s the link for your convenience.
The introduction to the Cambridge Declaration describes well the state of affairs and the need of the hour. Please consider them seriously:
Evangelical churches today are increasingly dominated by the spirit of this age rather than by the Spirit of Christ. As evangelicals, we call ourselves to repent of this sin and to recover the historic Christian faith.
In the course of history words change. In our day this has happened to the word “evangelical.” In the past it served as a bond of unity between Christians from a wide diversity of church traditions. Historic evangelicalism was confessional. It embraced the essential truths of Christianity as those were defined by the great ecumenical councils of the church. In addition, evangelicals also shared a common heritage in the “solas” of the sixteenth century Protestant Reformation.
Today the light of the Reformation has been significantly dimmed. The consequence is that the word “evangelical” has become so inclusive as to have lost its meaning. We face the peril of losing the unity it has taken centuries to achieve. Because of this crisis and because of our love of Christ, his gospel and his church, we endeavor to assert anew our commitment to the central truths of the Reformation and of historic evangelicalism. These truths we affirm not because of their role in our traditions, but because we believe that they are central to the Bible.
Founders Ministries posted a video of a sermon by the late, great Southern Baptist pastor, Dr. W. A. Criswell entitled, “The Bible Kind of Salvation.” In his opening remarks, Dr. Criswell explains clearly that this is a sermon on the election and choosing of God. The fact that Founders Ministries is promoting this sermon says something about on which side of this great debate Dr. Criswell comes down (Who was Dr. Criswell?). Southern Baptists who are reading this blog are urged to consider the remarks that one of your great leaders of the recent past proclaimed as the truth of the matter on what the Bible teaches about the doctrine of election and the so-called “sovereign grace” of God.
In the “about us” page of Founders Ministries, it reads as follows:
Founders Ministries is a ministry of teaching and encouragement promoting both doctrine and devotion expressed in the Doctrines of Grace (what are the doctrines of grace? click here) and their experiential application to the local church, particularly in the areas of worship and witness. Founders Ministries takes as its theological framework the first recognized confession of faith that Southern Baptists produced, The Abstract of Principles. We desire to encourage the return to and promulgation of the biblical gospel that our Southern Baptist forefathers held dear.
As a deacon in a Southern Baptist church, I’m personally convinced that everything that’s right about the Baptist tradition it learned from
Reformed theology, and everything that’s wrong with it was adapted either intentionally or unintentionally from Anabaptism. I further believe that a return to a more consistent application of Reformed theology (aka, the doctrines of grace or Calvinism) is the key that will solve many of the issues that trouble Southern Baptists churches today.
The following is part one of a four part series. If you need help finding parts 2-4, click here.
The news has just reached me that the search for a new pastor has come to an end at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Last year’s loss of Dr. D. James Kennedy has certainly brought much change and transition to the local congregation. It certainly came immediately to the Coral Ridge Hour television show. The formerly hour-long program was immediately reduced to a half hour, cutting out my favorite part of the program, the music. From the exhilerating one verse processional, during which the choir and pastor enter the sanctuary and take their places to open the service, to the choir specials and classical solo features, it was part of my weekly preparation for worship at my own church. As a concession, I noticed that they began to squeeze in the song that is sung after the sermon, for which I was grateful, but it certainly was not the same.
But I digress. The Session (or, board of Ruling Elders) of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, whose concern is to shepherd a large, influential church without a Teaching Elder (Pastor), has recently called a young minister of some noteriety who is building a church which has yet to obtain its own building. In this way, its quite an interesting match–a church without a pastor offers its building to a church with a pastor but not a building. That’s right, they’re not just calling the pastor, they’re negotiating a merger. The name of said minister of note, who has received a call to pastor Coral Ridge, is Tullian Tchividjian (the last name rhymes with “religion”). Rev. Tchividjian is an up-and-coming pastor in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, (Coral Ridge is in the Presbyterian Church in America) who happens to be the grandson of “America’s Pastor,” Evangelist Billy Graham. But many Reformed believers may know him better as the guy featured in the promotional videos that recently introduced the Bible reading public to the new ESV Study Bible (which study Bible I highly recommend).
You can read the SunSentinel.com report on Rev. Tchividjian’s call and the subsequent merger negotiations here, and you can also keep up with the ongoing process at his New City Presbyterian Church blog (here, here, here, for starters). While this is an interesting event, I must say that in the inevitable changes that will come to the church, especially grievous to me personally will be any metamorphosis of Coral Ridge’s amazing music ministry, which, while it was technically “blended” (combining the singing of traditional hymns with contemporary music), it was effectively presented in a manner that majored on the classical, “traditional,” even the liturgical. One Reformed blog, Green Baggins, expresses concerns (read it here) similar to mine. I share some of this blogger’s concerns, especially about the implications of contemporary worship music, and the possibility of a “seeker sensitive” approach to the church’s ministry, although some of the comments on his post help alleviate my concerns.
Be that as it may, I’m glad to see that a changing of the guard is in the works, and I wish both churches (Coral Ridge and Tchividjian’s New City Pres.) the reformation and revival for which both are praying and working. May the Lord grant it to the advancement of his Kingdom throughout Florida, and, through their various TV and radio ministries, America and the world.