One of the most frequently asked questions I receive from visitors is, “Why does your church celebrate the Lord’s Supper every Sunday?” There are several reasons for our practice and I organize them under three categories: Biblical/Exegetical, Theological/Practical, and Historical.
Since I serve in a Reformed congregation, visitors sometimes assume that we celebrate the Lord’s Supper 3, 4, 6, or 12 times a year. Some are genuinely puzzled that we would embrace a practice that is at odds with the practice of other local Reformed churches. I remind them that John Calvin advocated the “at least once a week” position.
The doctrine of covenant succession (whether or not I knew it by these terms exactly) drew me to the reformed faith. The language of sonship, of heirs, of family, of promise, of generations, of covenant, stood in stark contrast to casting a lot and hoping it just happens to land in the lap. Nurturing our little ones in the faith rather than herding them towards it.
Those who have served in diaconal ministry know well the prescience of the apostles in requiring deacons to be "full of the Spirit and of wisdom." Serving others in mercy ministry requires wisdom at every turn: to provide money or not, to offer counsel or hold your tongue, to consult with elders for help or handle a matter within a diaconate. Growing in wisdom should be a daily pursuit of the Christian deacon; as with all Christians, a deacon is to be transformed by the renewing of his mind and ask God "who gives generously to all without reproach" (James 1:5) to give him wisdom in a time of need.
Over the past 15 years, I have seen various men and women leave Reformed churches. Sometimes they move to Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy. Other times they head for a more vanilla, antinomian, evangelical church. And sometimes they have left the faith altogether. Of course, this is anecdotal, but several things have stuck out about these conversions
Sanctification is our 'working out' what God Himself has 'worked in,' which includes not just the doing or working for His good pleasure, but even our willingness or desire to do so in the first place!
This is a reminder that everything needed for salvation is literally in Christ alone. To all those living and walking by faith, the Triune God has proven his faithfulness to you. So let us sing with our hearts, all glory be to Christ!
This is an index of some of Mark Jones’ excellent posts on justification, sanctification, good works, merit, and future judgment. These posts address aspects of these doctrines in light of current controversies, past wisdom, and confessional standards.
The New Testament and Old Testament do not differ in substance but only in accident (its manner or shape fitting to its time and use). The essential unity of the Old and New Covenants is seen clearly in that both contain the same spiritual blessings: the promise of grace, forgiveness, and eternal life and blessing for believers in Jesus Christ. In addition, both covenants contain the requirement of the same faith and obedience.
In this passage from the Institutes IV.14.7, Calvin argues that the rejection of Christ in the sacraments does not imply that the sacraments are not efficacious. Instead, to those who receive them in faith, the sacraments are evidences of God's grace to us, "seals of the good-will which he entertains toward us." They "nourish, confirm, and increase our faith."
It is true that the Reformed disposition to covenant theology makes the depiction of the sacrament less neat and tidy. However, it would be a mistake to presume a Zwinglian position that has historically become more and more popular.
It’s not enough for the peoples of the earth to simply know the hand of the Lord is mighty. Each generation of the Church should ask “What do you mean by this service?” (Ex 12:26), and each member of the Church should live so that unbelievers will ask it as well. Through the memorials of our worship services, we pray all peoples will come to know that the hand of the Lord is mighty to save.
"Vos... explained that the dualistic belief that placed covenant and election next to each other without any inner connection was prevalent among many Reformed believers in America. The covenant becomes a strengthened gospel offer. Election comes last, and functions like a second Amyraldian conclusion."
Since the Reformation, Protestants have looked with concern at the Mariology of the Roman Catholic Church. When a church makes doctrines concerning Mary essential to salvation there should be quizzical looks. And yet, in the rush to deny the Marian dogmas many Protestants can feel an uncomfortable tingle down their spine when they hear "Greetings Mary, God's favored one." Why is that?
Perhaps I can ask the question more practically. Why do people shudder at the sharing—common during Advent—of the depiction of Eve and Mary embraced while Mary's foot crushes a serpent? Or if I can ask even more directly, have Protestant overreacted to Roman doctrine and dismissed the true Biblical witness concerning the Virgin? Unveiled, why is it that some take issue with Mary crushing the head of the serpent?