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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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Packer Compares Calvinism To Arminianism

J. I. Packer

Quoting J.I. Packer:

  • “One proclaims a God who saves; the other speaks of a God who enables man to save himself.
  • One view presents the three great acts of the Holy Trinity for the recovering of lost mankind—election by the Father, redemption by the Son, calling by the Spirit—as directed towards the same persons, and as securing their salvation infallibly.
  • The other view gives each act a different reference (the objects of redemption being all mankind, of calling, those who hear the gospel, and of election, those hearers who respond), and denies that any man’s salvation is secured by any of them.
  • The two theologies thus conceive the plan of salvation in quite different terms.
  • One makes salvation depend on the work of God, the other on a work of man; one regards faith as part of God’s gift of salvation, the other as man’s own contribution to salvation; one gives all the glory of saving believers to God, the other divides the praise between God, who, so to speak, built the machinery of salvation, and man, who by believing operated it.
  • Plainly these differences are important, and the permanent value of the “five points,” as a summary of Calvinism, is that they make clear the points at which, and the extent to which, these two conceptions are at variance.” (Introductory essay to John Owen’s The Death of Death in the Death of Christ)

Employing Wolves

Star Parker

Quoting columnist Star Parker:

“Putting more and more wolves in charge of guarding the henhouse might characterize the big problems we’ve now created for ourselves. Government is growing. The private economy is shrinking. Those wielding political power see fewer and fewer problems they believe private citizens can solve on our own. Soon, each one of us will have our own personal guardian bureaucrat. The real difference between us and the hens is that the hens are not paying for the wolves’ salaries and benefits.”

Worship Is No Place For Clowns

One Sunday morning in Edmonton, Canada, the congregation of McClure United Church was surprised as nine clowns entered the sanctuary to the taped music of “Send in the Clowns”. The clowns, who included the church pastor, then proceeded to pantomime the worship service. The audience responded enthusiastically with bursts of laughter and applause.

One of the clowns performed a liturgical dance during the service. The communion was also mimed. Pastor Lochhead reported that the service was “very meaningful for people” and there’s no reason why a place of worship can’t be fun and frivolous at times. No one in the congregation reported having problems with the service. “I don’t think we can take ourselves seriously all the time,” said Lochhead.

Perhaps, it is needless to say that I have a problem with this even if Pastor Lochhead’s congregation does not. Worship is not a trivial matter. Biblical worship is a meeting between sinful people and a holy God. To be in the presence of God is to stand on holy ground. We are meeting with the Creator of the universe. In the words of Hebrews 12:18-24, “For you have not come to what may be touched . . . But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” Hebrews is saying that the attitude of our worship should be this: understand that worship is a sacred meeting between you and the Living God.

Our culture’s infatuation with entertainment and motivational speeches has caused too many church services to become informal, upbeat, pep rallies. This merging of the culture and the church has caused too many Christians to believe that worship in the Old Testament was formal and reverent, while worship in the New Testament is spontaneous. This is absolutely false.

As the worshipping community, we come to serve the Lord. Our attitude is to be one of reverence and awe. As we assemble, we do so in a mood that gathers our thoughts and sets them aside for the worship of the living God. Clowns may be very appropriate for other forms of ministry. Worship, however, is no time to “clown around.”

For more information on this story. . . .

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