On January 20, 2017, Donald J. Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America at the 58th Presidential Inauguration.
As a Christian and citizen of the United States of America, I will pray for the success of the Trump Administration (1 Timothy 2:1-5). I will submit to the Trump Administration with the conviction that “all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God” (Romans 13:1; see also 1 Peter 2:13-17).
But when a government goes against the will of God, “We must obey God rather than any human authority” (Acts 5:19).
Moreover, as a Reformed Christian I must confess and stand on the sovereignty of God in all things.
“Praise the name of God forever and ever,
for he has all wisdom and power.
21 He controls the course of world events;
he removes kings and sets up other kings.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the scholars.” (Daniel 2:20-21, bold added)
I believe the following from Southern Baptist pastor, author, and blogger Joe Thorn concisely and cogently explains why we need Confessions of Faith:
“For twenty years, I have considered myself a “confessional Christian.” That means I subscribe to a historic confession of faith that I believe beautifully and accurately summarizes the Christian faith. This doesn’t surprise people who know me. I tend to wear my convictions on my sleeve. Literally. The tattoos that cover my chest and arms speak to the faith I hold dear. The tattoo on my hand reads “1689” for the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith.
Because I love God, I love his word. And because I love God and his word, I love theology. And because I love theology, I love confessions of faith. To know God is to believe who he has revealed himself to be in Christ, to rest in his grace, and to obey him in faith. In all of this, we are dependent on the Holy Scripture, and are compelled to affirm and articulate the truths revealed therein. This is where confessions of faith play a vital role in the spiritual health of the Christian and the local church. (full article here)
In the above excerpt, Mr. Thorn says, “The tattoos that cover my chest and arms speak to the faith I hold dear,” which is really the purpose of our Confessions–they speak to the faith we hold dear.
And even those who “confess” that they have “no creed but the Bible,” when you ask them what they believe about the presence of Christ at the Lord’s Table will tell you what they believe, speaking from what they hold dear.
THE BELGIC CONFESSION.
The confession’s chief author was Guido de Brès, a preacher of the Reformed churches of the Netherlands, who died a martyr to the faith in the year 1567. During the sixteenth century the churches in this country were exposed to terrible persecution by the Roman Catholic government. To protest against this cruel oppression, and to prove to the persecutors that the adherents of the Reformed faith were not rebels, as was laid to their charge, but law-abiding citizens who professed the true Christian doctrine according to the Holy Scriptures, de Brès prepared this confession in the year 1561. In the following year a copy was sent to King Philip II, together with an address in which the petitioners declared that they were ready to obey the government in all lawful things, but that they would “offer their backs to stripes, their tongues to knives, their mouths to gags, and their whole bodies to the fire,” rather than deny the truth expressed in this confession.
Although the immediate purpose of securing freedom from persecution was not attained, and de Brès himself fell as one of the many thousands who sealed their faith with their lives, his work has endured and will continue to endure. In its composition the author availed himself to some extent of a confession of the Reformed churches in France, written chiefly by John Calvin, published two years earlier. The work of de Brès, however, is not a mere revision of Calvin’s work, but an independent composition. In 1566 the text of this confession was revised at a synod held at Antwerp. In the Netherlands it was at once gladly received by the churches, and it was adopted by national synods held during the last three decades of the sixteenth century. The text, not the contents, was revised again at the Synod of Dort in 1618-19 and adopted as one of the doctrinal standards to which all office-bearers in the Reformed churches were required to subscribe. The confession is recognized as one of the best official summaries of Reformed doctrine. (extracted from here)
This post is not about biblical hermeneutics–the how of interpreting the Bible. Rather, this post is about that attitude we need to cultivate as we approach the sacred text of the Bible.
- Place and Time. Find a place where there are few distractions as possible. When you go to this place, it’s to read the Word of God, not browse the internet on our smartphones. It’s for time in the Word of God
- Reverently. The Bible is unlike any other book in that it is the Word of God. Though written in the cultural norms and customs of the day, humanly speaking, it is divinely inspired, that is, breathe out by God. It is God speaking to us. Therefore, we should remove our sandals, as it were, for the place we standing on is sacred ground (see Exodus 3:5).
- Prayerfully. It’s time to pray and ask God’s guidance and wisdom as we open the Bible, to hear from him.
- Humbly. As we discover who God is–in all his glory and holiness–on the pages of Scripture, we will find ourselves like Peter, face down and on our knees before the Lord Jesus in Luke 5, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (v.8). A proper knowledge of God leads to humility.
- Submissively. With a submissive and obedient heart, we become like the ancient prophet Samuel. “And the LORD came and called as before, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ And Samuel replied, ‘Speak, your servant is listening.'” (1 Samuel 3:10 NLT). Yes, the Lord speaks to us through the Bible. When he does, we reply, “Speak, your servant is listening.
- Praise and Thankgiving. What a blessing it is to hear from God through sacred Scripture!
So as you embark on that most noble task of reading the Bible in 2017, I pray that you will find the above most helpful.
It’s only natural to want to set New Year’s resolutions–things we want to change, things we want to start doing, to improve self, etc–to become a better you, me.
As a Christ follower, I tend to see things differently when it comes to New Year’s resolutions. In categories of gospel and law, when I sin, I must repent and endeavor to be more like Christ. But never in my own strength, rather wholly leaning and relying on the good news of the gospel of Christ–Word and Spirit!
So I say NO to New Year’s resolutions!
But YES to daily repentance and sanctification!