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The Fundamental Question – Some Choruses, a Pep-talk, and an Offering, part 20 of 20

March 24, 2011

Theologians call the gathering of the church in heaven “triumphant” and the gathering of the church on earth “militant”—the label indicating her state; the congregation in heaven rests, the congregation on earth works. The division is descriptive but it can also confuse; leading some to think that our earthly worship is distinct, even separate from the worship of heaven. But there is only one church and when we worship down here, we really are joining a worship service already in progress up there. Let’s develop this further. Jonathan Edwards said long ago: “Let it be considered that the church on…

Getting to Know Owen

March 18, 2011

by Ryan Kelly posted on The Gospel Coalition (www.thegospelcoalition.org), March 2, 2011 Copyright © 2011 The Gospel Coalition, Inc. All rights reserved. used by permission   In many ways, the great Puritan theologian John Owen (1616-1683) was not unique for his day. This is not simply playing the contrarian. It is important to emphasize that he was one of many “hotter sort of Protestants;” one of many who bemoaned that the church in England was still “halfly reformed.” Owen’s theology was certainly not unique, but was one representative within the broader movement of Reformed orthodoxy. Many of his contemporaries had…

The Reason It has Changed – Some Choruses, a Pep-talk, and an Offering, part 19 of 20

March 10, 2011

Who’s changed? Not God. The word used to describe His attribute is immutability. It is why God is often compared to a rock: “He is the Rock…” sang Moses in Deuteronomy 32:4. If we miss Moses’ lyric and metaphor, God declares of Himself: “I the Lord do not change” (Malachi 3:6). If you want some New Testament, James 1:17 will do: “[God] does not change like shifting shadows.” So if He hasn’t changed, at the very least, shouldn’t the caution sign be up anytime we think its time for Sunday morning to evolve some more? Within one generation, there has…

It All Looks the Same – Some Choruses, a Pep-Talk, and an Offering, part 18 of 20

March 3, 2011

“We need to get back to the first century church.” How many times have you heard that? Their point being that the 21st century church has lost its purity, focus, and way. What is interesting is that many who say this are the very ones pressing for a progressive and ever-evolving Sunday morning worship. In other words, the ones wanting us to look back and emulate are the very ones wanting us to press forward in ways of worship the church has never worshiped before. It seems to be a contradiction; they want the “old ways” but they are creating…

The Third Mark is Gone, Too – Some Choruses, a Pep-talk, and an Offering, part 17 of 20

February 24, 2011

We spoke of the “three marks” last time. It is time to comment on the disappearance of the third and why such a discussion belongs in a series on worship. The third mark the 16th century reformers used to distinguish the true from the false church was the practice of church discipline; the true church practices church discipline, the false one does not. What is meant by church discipline? In short, it is pastoral shepherding that loves the sheep (and the goats) within the flock enough to confront un-confessed sin. The unbeliever’s chief sin is his unbelief; the believer’s is…

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