Thursday, October 19, 2006

Kickin' It Old School

The churches I have attended the past 3 years have all maintained a tangible, obvious respect for the Church's history. At most services, we would read a creed, a catechism, or some other old school text (by the way, thinking about this today made me label a CD at work "old school," which created an awkward stare and silence from my middle-aged, female customer). I never knew how much I had appreciated this until I visited some churches this past month that did not include this in the service.

It's good for me to engage this material, as I do it on my own sparingly at best. Subconsciously, I think I think that my generation is smarter than every other preceding generation. Plus, I'm often too lazy to work through long sentences and un-modern language. And the writing is often boring. Admittedly, all of this is to my discredit.

This past Sunday at chruch we read from The Westminster Confession, "Chapter XVI of Good Works." It really did a great job of explaining one of those Christian paradoxes with which I often struggle - the co-existence of faith and works. I tend to gloss over lists without thinking about the content, but the listed items in this text are really powerful. Plus, the listed items are so intense that they need be separated by semi-colons instead of commas as only old school lit can do. Without further ado:

"Pastor: Good works are only such as God has commanded in his holy Word, and not such as, without the warrant thereof, are devised by men, out of blind zeal, or upon any pretense of good intention.

People: These good works, done in obediance to God's commandments, are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith: and by them believers manifest their thankfulness, strengthen their assurance, edify their brethren, adorn the profession of the gospel, stop the mouths of adversaries, and glorify God, whose workmanship they are, created in Christ Jesus thereunto, that, having their fruit unto holiness, they may have the end, eternal life.

All: We cannot by our best works merit pardon of sun, or eternal life at the hand of God, by reason of the great disproportion that is between them and the glory to come; and the infinite distance that is between us and God, whom, by them, we can neither profit, nor satisfy for the debt of our former sins, but when we have done all we can, we have done but our duty, and are unprofitable servants: and because, as they are good, they proceed from his Spirit; and as they are wrought by us, they are defiled, and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection, that they cannot endure the severity of God's judgment."

1 comment:

Tammy O said...

wow, i've never been in a church that did that. i think we would do well, though, to spend some time reading such succinct yet carefully drawn up statements of who God is and what He has done, and of who we are in relation to Him and what we are to do in response to Him. thanks, ben.