teaching

Don't Forget: Remember What Is Important!

"The means God appointed to help the children of Israel were to remember what was important. In his dealings with Moses, God had established a set of repetitive processes by which the Israelites would be constantly reminded of all that God had done for them. Thus, for example, in Exodus 12, God establishes the Passover Feast, the performance of which is designed in part to provoke later generations to ask the question of why this is done. This will then require parents to tell their children about God’s great act of saving grace in bringing the children of Israel out of Egypt even as this was by means of an awesome and terrifying judgment against the Egyptians.

The Passover is just one example of many rituals outlined in the Torah which functioned on one level as reminders of who God was, who the Israelites were, and how they related to each other. Thus, when we come in to the Promised Land and we find the Israelites suffering persistent recurrences of amnesia, it does not take a genius to assume that part of the immediate cause of this was their abject neglect of the means which God had established for keeping his name and his acts fresh in their minds.

What this kind of amnesia tells us is that we need constant reminders of who God is and what he has done if we are to stay on the straight and narrow; and that these are provided by the routines and rituals which God specifies in Scripture. For the Christian, under the terms of the NT age, these are the Word of God, read and preached and heard, and the sacraments, or, if you are a Baptist, the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. These things are given to remind us of who God is; and the neglect of them will only help to accelerate any proclivities towards forgetfulness that our instinctive rebellion of God encourages."

(Carl Trueman, "Lest We Forget" in Themelios 34.3 Nov 2009: http://themelios.thegospelcoalition.org/article/lest-we-forget)

 

"Fresh Reasons for Doxology" in the "Details of His Saving Plan"

In his recent book on the Westminster Confession of Faith, Dr. Chad Van Dixhoorn writes,

"Many of the topics raised in this confession of faith have deterred the faint-hearted, such as the problem of evil, the divine decrees, and the freedom or bondage of the will. The [Westminster] assembly offers careful sketches on each subject as well as clear counterpoints to associated errors; both new initiates to Christianity and seasoned theologians will find these outlines helpful."

"Why is it not enough to speak simply about being 'saved' or being 'in Christ'? Why must the confession also define 'justification' and 'imputation' and 'forgiveness'? If I am to be candid, it seems to me that one reason for the specificity of the confession has to do with the simple pleasure of its authors. Thoughtful Christians sometimes develop an appetite for God that can become an insatiable desire to discover fresh reasons for doxology.... We are told to rejoice in the details of his saving plan and in the distinct blessings we receive from God and his gospel. Serious students in Christ's school become instinctively equipped to enjoy every brush stroke on the canvas of God's revelation of redemption, and not simply the final effect that the Master has produced."

"The other reason why we see a careful attention to precise terminology in this confession is that labelling can promote learning. We see this in chemistry or grammar. We see this in theology too. Take the doctrine of justification as an example. The Scriptures tell us about a true righteousness being credited to those who do not deserve it and a free gift of forgiveness purchased for sinners. Sometimes the Scriptures tether this credited righteousness to justification, sometimes they tie forgiveness to justification. The authors of this confession, like many Bible readers before and after them, noted these frequent associations of words and ideas and, in this case, concluded that 'justification' must be the Bible's umbrella term for credited righteousness and divine forgiveness, two distinct but united aspects of the one doctrine of justification."

(Quotes from Chad Van Dixhoorn, Confessing the Faith, The Banner of Truth Trust, 2014) Available online here: https://banneroftruth.org/us/store/theology/confessing-the-faith/

Van Dixhoorn's argument that "labelling promotes learning" and that there is a simple pleasure to be found in the careful study of God's Word really resonates, doesn't it?! Do you rejoice in the "details of his saving plan"? Do you enjoy seeing the various brush strokes being laid down in Scripture to describe the ministry and work of our Saviour? Do you find something deeper than curiosity and stronger than wonder at work in your heart as you see the previews of our Saviour's work in the shadows of the Old Testament people, events, and places? 

Let me (Pastor Norm) be one of the many who recommends this book to anyone who is interested in learning more about the Westminster Confession of Faith and the background to each of the articles of the Confession! It's a great resource and tool for growing in your understanding of sound biblical teaching. Highly recommended!