What's Missing?

The visible church, preaching, worship, and the Lord’s Day, for starters. These are what are missing from a summary of “Reformed-Evangelical” spirituality from Peter Adam (lots of redemptive historical heft there) via Justin Taylor:

Christ is the mediator of the revelation of God, so this spirituality is Christ-centred, responding with faith in Jesus Christ, and especially to his saving death and resurrection.

Christ has revealed the Father, so this spirituality is that of trust in God our Father, his love and kindness in Christ, and his sovereign and providential rule over everything.

Christ has sent the Spirit, so believers are sealed or anointed with the Spirit, the Spirit witnesses within them that they are the children of God, and they use the gifts of God in the service of God.

The response of trusting Christ and obeying him, of loving God with heart, mind, soul and strength is common to all believers, so spirituality is not just an option for the advanced but is required of all the saints. It is a spirituality common to all the people of God. It is a spirituality of normal humanity, of daily life and duties, or work and play, of family and society.

God’s grace and acceptance of us in Christ means that we do not have to search for God, find him, ascend to him or journey towards him. God has come to us in his Son Jesus, spoken to us in the gospel, and welcomed us into his presence through Christ our High Priest. We stand now in God’s grace, we are now at peace with God, we can now have assurance of final salvation, through trust in his promises.

The great barrier to true spirituality is not the lack of technique in spiritual aptitude, but sin. Sin is the state of humanity in every aspect of life and personality, and the wages of sin is death. But God has dealt with our sin by the sacrifice of Christ, and has accepted us as his children. His holiness and righteousness are demonstrated in the death of Christ, our sin is atoned for and we are forgiven. We stand in his grace, and he works in us by the death and resurrection of Christ and by his Spirit, to change us into the likeness of Christ. God gives us faith and obedience, God trans- forms us, and God does his good works through us.

God has provided ‘means’ by which he works in us for his glory. We must make good use of the means provided by God, and not replace or supplement them with means that we devise. The means provided by God are explained in the Bible, namely the Bible itself, the fellowship of the people of God, prayer, baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and a right use of the creation. We should not neglect these means, nor use other means, such as statues, pictures, icons, silence or impressions of God’s will. We should not over-value the sacraments, those visible words of God. While we will hear echoes of the Bible in our inner selves, the God-given and certain place to hear God speaking is in the Bible.

The great means is the Bible, in which we find Christ clothed in all his promises. To love God is to love his words, and to be alert to the Spirit is to receive the words of the Spirit in the Bible. In the Bible we find God’s self-revelation, God’s character, God’s will and God’s plan. In the Bible God’s mystery, Christ, is now revealed. A corporate and personal spirituality of the Word is at the heart of biblical faith and life. We do not know everything about God and his plan, but what we do know is found in the Bible.

Prayer is an expression of our trust in God, and our dependence on him. It is gospel-shaped: we come to pray to God our Father through the power and goodness of Jesus’ death on the cross. This is the means of our access to God. We pray in response to God’s words in the Bible, so that we know the God to whom we pray, and what he has promised. As we read his Spirit-inspired words, the Spirit also works within us, prompting us to know that God is our Father, and that we may approach him with boldness because of Christ’s death for us on the cross. We pray to God alone, and not to saints, because we pray as instructed by God in the Bible. [bold mine]

Compare to chapter 21 of the Confession of Faith:

2.

Religious worship

is to be given to God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and to him alone; not to angels, saints, or any other creature: and, since the fall, not without a Mediator; nor in the mediation of any other but of Christ alone.

3. Prayer, with thanksgiving, being one special part of religious worship, is by God required of all men: and, that it may be accepted, it is to be made in the name of the Son, by the help of his Spirit, according to his will, with understanding, reverence, humility, fervency, faith, love, and perseverance; and, if vocal, in a known tongue.

4. Prayer is to be made for things lawful; and for all sorts of men living, or that shall live hereafter: but not for the dead, nor for those of whom it may be known that they have sinned the sin unto death.

5. The reading of the Scriptures with godly fear, the sound preaching and conscionable hearing of the Word, in obedience unto God, with understanding, faith, and reverence, singing of psalms with grace in the heart; as also, the due administration and worthy receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ, are all parts of the ordinary religious worship of God: beside religious oaths, vows, solemn fastings, and thanksgivings upon special occasions, which are, in their several times and seasons, to be used in an holy and religious manner.

6. Neither prayer, nor any other part of religious worship, is now, under the gospel, either tied unto, or made more acceptable by any place in which it is performed, or towards which it is directed: but God is to be worshiped everywhere, in spirit and truth; as, in private families daily, and in secret, each one by himself; so, more solemnly in the public assemblies, which are not carelessly or willfully to be neglected, or forsaken, when God, by his Word or providence, calleth thereunto.

7. As it is the law of nature, that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God; so, in his Word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment binding all men in all ages, he hath particularly appointed one day in seven, for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto him: which, from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week; and, from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week, which, in Scripture, is called the Lord’s day, and is to be continued to the end of the world, as the Christian Sabbath.

8. This Sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering of their common affairs beforehand, do not only observe an holy rest, all the day, from their own works, words, and thoughts about their worldly employments and recreations, but also are taken up, the whole time, in the public and private exercises of his worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.

Or to chapter 25:

2. The visible church, which is also catholic or universal under the gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion; and of their children: and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.

3. Unto this catholic visible church Christ hath given the ministry, oracles, and ordinances of God, for the gathering and perfecting of the saints, in this life, to the end of the world: and doth, by his own presence and Spirit, according to his promise, make them effectual thereunto.

4. This catholic church hath been sometimes more, sometimes less visible. And particular churches, which are members thereof, are more or less pure, according as the doctrine of the gospel is taught and embraced, ordinances administered, and public worship performed more or less purely in them.

What’s added? The parachurch.

And the “right use of creation.”

Recycling is a means of grace?

And so the similarities between New Calvinism and neo-Calvinism continue, with paleo-Calvinism not an option for the other so-called Calvinists.

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17 thoughts on “What's Missing?

  1. And the “right use of creation.”

    On my drive to work this morning I was thinking about a movie plot if pre-Fall Adam were plopped into 21st Century America. One of the interesting thoughts that came up was how Adam would relate to animals and creation. Which then led me to think about how Christ related to animals and creation.

    It is rather fascinating the stark absence of Jesus’ relationship towards animals and the physical created realm in the way us modern-folk think about it. Certainly he multiplied bread and stilled the seas, but he also cursed a fig tree (talk about creation-care. I wonder how that farmer felt…) and sent demons into a herd of pigs, which subsequently drowned themselves, and angered the residents so much they drove Jesus out of town.

    Talk about stewardship…

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  2. “Right use of creation” usually means not drinking beer or drinking craft beer, or not drinking wine or drinking wine, or not eating too much fried chicken or only drinking organic, shade-grown, bird-friendly, fair trade coffee..with soy milk…or not. In the city or in the suburbs. What a wonderful thing the evangelical-neoevangelical-young, restless, reformedish continuum is.

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  3. Being a New Calvinist/YRR/TGC’er/Reformed Evangelical/or whatever must be exhausting. I can barely keep up with a wife, kids, a job, church, house, and a couple hobbies.

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  4. Hmmm, what about pot? After just walking twenty eight randomly chosen units, I think if you wanna reach the unchurched in the city, you need to work on a pot outreach and mix it with some oxy, cigarillos and Budweiser or at least the empty Budweiser cans. You can call it a recycling effort if you’d like.

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  5. You know what every drug den had on the floor? A bible or a tract or both. I kinda appreciated the whole rock bottom view. I had my empty Bud, cigarettes, multiple ‘script bottles, broken piggy banks, used papers and the bible. It’s not exactly the crowd that the Redeemerites are trolling for, but they’re a huge population base in the city, for the city, of the city, cuz of the city, we are the city. We need to talk about this whole ‘for the city’ thing, cuz I’m not seeing these folk in the Redeemer church in the ‘heart of the city’.

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  6. mboss and sean,

    the redeemerites maybe grow out of their urban phase, start raising a family, and decide to give the opc a try where we nurture our children and uphold RPW?

    I say this as a hypothetical, but I’m experiencing it in reality seeing who is coming to our church.

    still reading this post, dgh, gettin’ there…

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  7. A gold star for anyone who works in a cigarillo reference. Wouldn’t be cool if TKNY kept a clutch of grape or peach cigarillos in his sportcoat pocket? We can dream.

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  8. Only if by the 8 billlion in the bank, crowd, you meant the religious. I tip my hat to any number of that crew, but even within that selection you need another two or three selections to get to the sincere.

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  9. I tell ya,

    For the last five years or so, “means of grace” has been the catchy phrase. It’s just that everyone has a different list.

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  10. DGH: Rome won’t sell her fortresses and her second-hand junk because it “wouldn’t make that much of a difference”. I’m kinda paraphrasing but that’s essentially one of the many reasons why they ditch their garb.

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