Sunday, June 08, 2008
The "Aha" Moment: Why It's Right to Be Reformed (Part II)
Before I dive into Part II here I would like to clear up something from my last post. From my description of us believers as "wretches" and "worms", some might get the impression that Christians have to be miserable and haters of themselves in order to be pleasing to God. Nothing can be further from the truth. What we do have to realize and admit about ourselves is the condition we were in before God the Holy Spirit regenerated us from spiritual death. Let's face it before we are born again we may think that we are fine, upstanding and beautiful people. We think that if there is a "God" he sure ought to be impressed with us because, we're good enough, we're smart enough and gosh darn it people like us! The truth is; however, prior to rebirth we are vile creatures in God's eyes. We are covenant-breaking, God-hating, rebellious sinners. After being saved and honestly looking back at who we truly were should cause to understand that were worse than "wretches" and "worms". But God . . .
What we need is God's view of us. We, as his children, are now certainly precious in His sight. But we must acknowledge (and therefore tell the unbeliever) that prior to salvation we are abhorrent things and nothing short of the saving grace of God is able to change that. The truth is also; however, that we still have a bent toward that. Without the restraining power of the Holy Spirit, even in our regenerated condition we still sin. That capacity to still sin is still vile in God's sight. The Puritans put it this way:
"O Fountain of All Good,
Destroy in me every lofty thought,Break pride to pieces and scatter it to the winds,
Annihilate each clinging shred of self-righteousness,
Implant in me true lowliness of spirit,
Abase me to self-loathing and self-abhorrence,
Open in me a fount of penitential tears,
Break me, then bind me up;
Thus will my heart be a prepared dwelling for my God;
Then can the Father take up His abode in me,
Then can the blessed Jesus come with healing in His touch,
Then can the Holy Spirit descend in sanctifying grace . . ."
(The Valley of Vision, edited by Arthur Bennett, p.8)
This is the type of submitted contrition that comes from the Reformed perspective.
Now on with part deux . . .
Why is it right to be Reformed? Because of Reformed theology's relentless submission to the authority of Scripture. For the Reformed, the Holy Bible is without exception the final rule for his faith and practice. The reformed person bows his knees to Holy Writ no matter how much his personal situation may beg him to do otherwise. The reformed believer filters every suggestion, idea, impulse, teaching, action, thought, word, dream, etc. through a biblical grid. In other words the Reformed believer maintains a biblical worldview (for the easily offended: I realize that no one does this perfectly).
Here is an excellent distillation of the Reformed view of Holy Scripture from the Westminster Confession of Faith(chapter 1, section 1):
" Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of His will, which is necessary unto salvation. Therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal Himself, and to declare that His will unto His Church; and afterwards for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which makes the Holy Scripture to be most necessary; those former ways of God's revealing His will unto His people being now ceased"
Now it's not my intention here to go into the proofs for the veracity of Scripture or to define the proper method of biblical interpretation. What I want to submit for your consideration is one perspective on the Bible that I have found to be foundational to the Reformed perspective. And that is . . . the Bible is not about us. The Bible is God's book, God's HIStory, God's historic plan of redemption for His fallen creation.
As I alluded to in my last post, the normal conceptions of the Bible are inadequate. It is not just a "good book" of the "instruction manual for life". These perspectives necessarily place mankind in the spotlight of Scripture. No perspective could be more wrong. Jesus Christ and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is carefully crafted into every page of Scripture; and if you do not find Him . . . you ain't readin' it right!!! If there was movie poster for the Bible, top billing would be given to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Man would not be found until you read the scribble at the bottom of the poster!
Of course, this runs contrary to our "it's all about me", "gotta get my needs met" mentality. Well, we either get over that or we live far short of glorifying God. "Choose this day whom you will serve . . ." For the Reformed, to compromise Scripture is to violate God. Therefore the commitment to the study of Scripture and to rightly divide the Word of Truth is right up there with breathing. The Reformed believer is never embarrassed by the wrath of God nor over-reaching in the love of God because he allows Scripture to tell him who God is not modern psychology. He stands in awe of the God who deigns to reveal Himself in the words of Holy, infallible and inerrant Writ.
Many might say, this view of Scripture is held by all Christians. I'll close with one final statement. Have you watched TBN, lately?
Be Like the Bereans, Baby!!!