Matt Chandler, about whom I don’t know a whole lot, along with Michael Horton and Tim Keller, two men whom I respect greatly, discuss how the church (and the Church) relate to culture in this helpful, introductory video on the church/culture issue(s).
54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ 55 But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” 57 So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”
Call To Worship:
Psalm 111 1-4
Great Are the LORD’s Works 1 Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation. 2 Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who delight in them. 3 Full of splendor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever. 4 He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and merciful.
This psalm is an acrostic poem, each line beginning with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.
Matheson said about this hymn:
My hymn was com posed in the manse of In ne lan [Ar gyle shire, Scot land] on the ev en ing of the 6th of June, 1882, when I was 40 years of age. I was alone in the manse at that time. It was the night of my sister’s mar ri age, and the rest of the fam i ly were stay ing over night in Glas gow. Some thing hap pened to me, which was known only to my self, and which caused me the most se vere men tal suf fer ing. The hymn was the fruit of that suf fer ing. It was the quick est bit of work I ever did in my life. I had the im press ion of hav ing it dic tat ed to me by some in ward voice ra ther than of work ing it out my self. I am quite sure that the whole work was complet ed in five min utes, and equal ly sure that it ne ver re ceived at my hands any re touch ing or cor rect ion. I have no na tur al gift of rhy thm. All the other vers es I have ever writ ten are man u fact ured ar ti cles; this came like a day spring from on high. –www.cyberhymnal.org
Scripture: Exodus 3
14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am.”  And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’”
Song: For the Beauty of the Earth Words: Conrad ocher 1838 / Music: Treva Blomquist 2010
A. The work of creation is, God’s making all things of nothing, by the word of his power, in the space of six days, and all very good.
The story of creation in Genesis 1 establishes the God of the Bible as the creator of all things. The very first verse of Scripture states, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1.1, ESV). The phrase, “the heavens and the earth,” is a literary device often used in Scripture called a merism. A merism is “a pair of opposites that are all-inclusive” (thank you Dr. Currid for the simple definition). So the author of Genesis uses two opposites, the heavens and the earth, to state that God created everything. The same literary device is being used when John records the words of the one on the throne in the book of Revelation. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end” (Revelation 21.6, ESV).
As the story unfolds we find a highly structured narrative recounting God’s work over six days. It is important for us to remember the setting that this story would have originally been given. The Israelites were on their way from Egypt to Canaan, the Promised Land. All along the way they were grumbling and longing to be back in Egypt, overlooking the fact that they were being led out of Egypt by the God of all creation. When understood with this context in mind, we see that the story of creation in Genesis 1 is highly polemical theology. Dr. John Currid writes, “Polemical theology is the act of the biblical author in using thought-forms and stories common in ancient Near-Eastern cultures and filling them with radically new meaning” (John Currid, Genesis, Vol. 1, p 43.). There were a number of creation accounts floating around the ancient near east. The various peoples from Egypt to Mesopotamia had their own ideas about creation and god. In many ways, the first few chapters of Genesis, and especially Genesis 1, stand against these various cosmogonies. The works that various gods had been said to have accomplished is now in Genesis proclaimed to have been all done by one God, Yahweh, the creator of heaven and earth.
This work of creation God did by his word. In the Genesis 1 account of creation, we find the oft repeated phrase, “And God said…” In fact, each of the six days of creation in Genesis 1 begins with this same refrain. Several other passages put forth God’s word as his creative too. “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host… For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm” (Psalm 33.6 &9, ESV). “Let them praise the name of the Lord! For he commanded and they were created” (Psalm 148.5, ESV). “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible” (Hebrews 11.3, ESV). “For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God…” (2 Peter 3.5, ESV).
A final crucial passage in our understanding of creation is found in John’s gospel. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son form the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1.1-3 & 14, ESV). John’s opening statements teach us that Jesus, the incarnate Word, is God and was active in creation. The truth that Jesus was active in creation should be a great encouragement to us, for if the one to whom we look for redemption can bring everything out of nothing by the power of his word, then it is in his power to bring life out of death, making his people to be new creations in himself.
Conway, AR prizes knowledge – the acquisition of knowledge, the possession of knowledge, the application of knowledge, technical knowledge, artistic knowledge, literary knowledge – we love it all. Our nickname is “City of Colleges.” The slogan for our wonderfully active chamber of commerce is “Get Smart.” When we were named the 6th Geekiest City in the United States last year (behind places like Hartford, CT, Silicon Valley, CA and Austin, TX and ahead of places like Boston, MA), what did we do? We wholeheartedly embraced it, printing and hanging “Proud to be a Geek” posters around town. Between the University of Central Arakansas, Hendrix College, Central Baptist College, Axiom, Hewlett Packard, and the natural-gas industry there is a relatively high percentage of people running around here with above average levels of education and training. The AETN headquarters are here in Conway, and we get really excited about things like progress, EcoFest, ArtsFest, and the Arkansas Shakespeare Theater. We hang billboards on the interstate to celebrate our local National Merit Finalists. We love knowledge and the culture attached to it!
To be clear, prizing knowledge is not necessarily a bad thing. Sure, one can set up knowledge as an idol, but, contrary to what some might say, there is nothing inherently wrong with being highly educated, prizing knowledge, or enjoying the types of cultural happenings that tend to crop up in communities that prize knowledge and education. However, the church must be careful to avoid four pitfalls.
First, we must avoid the blanket rejection of and withdrawal from the culture in which we live. Rather than simply decrying the culture, Scripture gives us the example of speaking into the culture with the gospel. The classic example of this is Acts 17 in which Paul’s Areopagus address is recorded. Paul proclaims, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you” (Acts 17.22-23, ESV). Along the same lines, Paul writes to the Corinthians, “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people — not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world” (1 Corinthians 5.9-10, ESV). As a Christians, we often fail to distinguish between the very different goals of being counter-cultural and being Christ-exalting. The latter will at times entail the former, but we can’t assume the opposite (we also can’t assume being counter-cultural is all that being Christ-exalting will entail).
Second, we must avoid refusing to think about our faith. Too often, the evangelicals have simply rolled over or walked away with our fingers in our ears when we faced hard conversations. While we don’t have to explain ourselves by assuming a worldview (ethics, aesthetics, metaphysics, epistemology, etc.) that is contrary to Scripture, we don’t have the freedom to refuse thoughtful and challenging dialogue about our faith. Again, we look to Paul’s letter to the Corinthians where he writes, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15.17, ESV). Paul was fully willing to acknowledge and engage in debates that struck at the foundation of the Christian faith. Peter writes in his first letter, “…in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect…” (1 Peter 3.15, ESV). In Romans 1.28 and 12.2, Paul makes clear that the mind is effected by both the fall and redemption. The prophet Isaiah calls his audience to reason or dispute with him about the reality of redemption (Isaiah 1.18). Scripture does not allow us, and much less call us, to put our minds on the shelf when we take up matters of faith.
Third, we must avoid reducing evangelism to an argument about objective facts. Yes, the gospel is objective; it is the true story of a set of historical events surrounding the person and work of Jesus Christ. If the facts of the case are proved false, then nothing is left (see Paul’s take on the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15), our hope is in vain. However, our winning an argument with a friend regarding the objective facts of the gospel does not make our friend a Christian. How can that be the case? Yet again we go to 1 Corinthians for the answer to our question. Paul writes,
Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe… And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God… The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 1.20-21; 2.1-5, & 14, ESV).
Fourth, the church must not become so enamored with ministering to those with vast knowledge and extensive education that we are unable or unwilling to also minister to those who, in God’s providence, never finished high school. Though we may attempt to deny it, the structure of our society (and too often our churches) implies that laborers are servants to thinkers and never the other way around. There is simply no room for such classism in the church or our evangelism (See Galatians 3.28).
As we seek to minister to Conway, I pray that we might be a church who speaks the true gospel of Jesus Christ into our culture, resting on the power of the Word of God and not our rhetoric, without neglecting those whom we often, sinfully refuse to prize.
If you asked me to boil down the things I remember being most important to/loved most by my dad when I was growing up to the top three, they would be as follows:
1. Church – We went to church a lot. My family helped plant a church. I even remember on one canoeing trip (see #3) going to some random church way down a dirt road in the middle of nowhere. I think we met the church patriarch on the river, and he invited us.
2. Family – By design we lived within five minutes of all my grandparents and my two living great-grandparents. If we didn’t see each of them in a week, we must have been on vacation.
3. Motorcycles – Dad never owned a bike while I lived with him, but we were always looking at them and debating the functional value of touring bikes vs the inherent coolness of a loud, low chopper. I knew earlier than most that a kuncklehead wasn’t only a name for a frustrating kid. Also, I knew that the sky is blue, grass is green, and Harleys are black.
4. Canoeing – It’s what we did. If there was water in the Buffalo, Cadron, Piney, or Mulberry we were probably on it.
Now that I am all grown up, I am a church planter, very little comes before my family, I consider a well-built chopper high art and the sound of a straight-piped V-twin symphonic, and I still can’t cross a bridge without checking to see if the water underneath it is white.
Why? In part, because of who my dad is. By and large, kids behave like their parents. This is not just a genealogical issue. It is a spiritual issue as well, and such is Jesus’ point in talking to the Jews in John 8.39-47. Our desires and behaviors mimic those of our father.
In this story, the Jewish people fist say Abraham, who was justified by faith, is their father, but Jesus points out that their lack of faith and their seeking to kill him suggest otherwise. After this they claim they have one Father, God. Again, Jesus reminds them that they are seeking to kill the One God sent to them, so their claim doesn’t really hold water. In the end, Jesus says they are right. They are doing the works of their father, but they are wrong about who their father is. Their works testify against them that they are of their father the devil.
Over and over again we read in Scripture that our works matter. But we must be clear, our works don’t matter because they change who/whose we are, but because they reflect who/whose we are. James goes as far as saying “faith without works is dead” (see James 2.14-26). John writes in his first letter, “Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning” (see 1 John 2.28-3.10). So we see that our works reveal our heart and our kin.
The question now is, what do we do if our works reveal a heart full of sin and an allegiance to a devilish father? Perhaps we would expect the answer to that question to be, “Change your works,” but operating under that assumption would be a tragedy. The answer to the what-do-I-do-now-question is precisely where the gospel shatters our expectations. Rather than working our way into a relationship with God as Father, we throw in the towel on our sinful (dressed up as good) works and look to Jesus. This has been Jesus’ plea throughout the entire Feast of Booths narrative. “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink… I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life… I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins… If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 7-8). When we look up and see the reality of our sinful hearts, our only hope is Christ.
I had all but thrown in the towel on this book until someone said some hopeful things about the last chapter in a comment on my last post dealing with this book. So here we go again.
Schultze seeks to make three points in chapter 5, “Being Authentic in Webs of Spin.” He writes,
This chapter first contends that people are using online resources and relationships partly to fabricate human identities, including how people perceive themselves – their self-identities… Next, it argues that cyberspace actually grants greater power to professional communicators who benefit from economies of scale and publicity… The third section of this chapter stresses the importance of regaining authenticity in an information society (Schultze, 116).
Each of these points is true: people do lie readily on the internet, the mass-communication capabilities of technology do increase the exploits of the old-fashioned pitch-men, and we should be authentic in our interactions within an information society. However, none of these issues are unique to technological culture. For instance, taking Schultze second point, we could have raised, and I am sure someone did, the exact same issues with the advent of TV and before that radio and before that magazines and before that the city square and before that the city itself and before that the tower of Babel. As a matter of fact, Scripture makes some similar points about the tower of Babel, with one significant difference – Scripture doesn’t view the tower as the problem.
Schultze seems to point to cyberspace as the issue when he makes statements such as, “Cyberspace is partly a new arena for human beings to access the kinds of resources that enable them to explore new self-identities” (ibid., 117) or “Cyberspace is filled with practices that distort truth and embrace the efficacy of deception” (ibid., 132). Much of what Schultze writes seems to posit that the technology is the issue rather than the users of technology. The point so far seems to be that we need to inform and guard our hearts from the lures of technology, yet Jeremiah writes, “The heart is deceitful above all things…” (Jeremiah 17.9, ESV). Again, James writes, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire” (James 1.14, ESV). Schultze words and these verses set in the context with each other beg the question, is the issue at hand my social media community (or whatever precinct of the technological empire you favor) or my heart? This is not to say that we shouldn’t work to keep ourselves from temptation, we just need to be honest about where that temptation is actually coming from.
Do people make up new false identities in cyberspace because cyberspace offers some unique means for doing something new or because we, at the same time, are given to self-worship and are aware that we are unworthy of such worship? Do we lie in cyberspace because of something unique to cyberspace, or do we lie in cyberspace because we are liars? Is there really a difference between creating our own techno-identity and getting lost in some smutty novela or hanging on our walls all of our accolades and none of our defeats or daydreaming of being the lone mysterious rebel that rides into town on his black Harley needing no one but stirring up everyone (I’m just saying, someone may do this) ? In the end people aren’t inauthentic in cyberspace because they are in cyberspace. We are inauthentic in cyberspace because we are inauthentic.
While Schultze rightly identifies many of the symptoms associated with the problems of virtual reality, he seems to hit just left of center when he aims at the actual problem. However, this may just be how Schultze is developing his argument. In his conclusion, Schultze peeks around the corner to glimpse what I have been wondering about and waiting for when he writes, “Wherease New Age religion generally embraces the contemporary fascination with technology and virtual reality, the Hebrew and Christian traditions remind us of our broken pasts and our capacity for self-delusion” (ibid., 138-39). Here’s hoping that the next chapter finds us wandering down a new hallway.
42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.
Confession of Faith: WCF 16. 1-2
Chapter XVI – Of Good Works.
i. Good works are only such as God hath commanded in His holy Word,(1) and not such as, without the warrant thereof, are devised by men, out of blind zeal, or upon any pretence of good intention.(2) (1) Mic 6:8; Ro 12:2; Heb 13:21. (2) Mt 15:9; Isa 29:13; 1Pe 1:18; Ro 10:2.
ii. These good works, done in obedience to God’s commandments, are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith:(1) and by them believers manifest their thankfulness,(2) strengthen their assurance,(3) edify their brethren,(4) adorn the profession of the Gospel,(5) stop the mouths of the adversaries,(6) and glorify God,(7) whose workmanship they are, created in Christ Jesus thereunto;(8) that, having their fruit unto holiness, they may have the end eternal life.(9) (1) Jas 2:18,22. (2) Ps 116:12,13; 1Pe 2:9. (3) 1Jn 2:3,5; 2Pe 1:5-10. (4) 2Co 9:2; Mt 5:16. (5) Tit 2:5,9,10,11,12; 1Ti 6:1. (6) 1Pe 2:15. (7) 1Pe 2:12; Php 1:11; Jn 15:8. (8) Eph 2:10. (9) Rom. 6:22.
Song:The Gospel is Good News Indeed
Words: William Gadsby, 1773-1844.
Music: Benj Pocta, 2005.
The gospel is good news indeed,
To sinners deep in debt;
The man who has no works to plead,
Will thankful be for it.
To know that when he’s nought to pay,
His debts area all discharged,
Will make him blooming look as May,
And set his soul at large.
Scriptural Warning: James 2:14-26
Faith Without Works Is Dead 14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
Song:Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence
Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
Our full homage to demand.
King of kings, yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth He stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
In the body and the blood;
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heavenly food.
The origins of this hymn are lost in the haze of antiquity. It probably comes from the fifth century and probably originated in the Orthodox churches –– but those are simply our best guesses.
But regardless of its origins, it continues to inspire us today. The first verse calls us to silent meditation –– to pondering Jesus’ incarnation. The second verse acknowledges Jesus as “King of kings, yet born of Mary” –– what a mystery it is that a baby born in such ordinary circumstances could be King of kings and Lord of Lords. The third verse celebrates the “host of heaven” –– God’s angels, tasked with clearing away the darkness and bringing in the light. And the last verse celebrates the cherubim who endlessly cry, ”Alleluia, alleluia, Alleluia, Lord most high!”
Song: It Is Finished – Part II (Hark, the Voice of Love and Mercy)
Taken from the Gadsby Hymnal #93
Words: Attributed to Jonathan Evans, 1784 & Benjamin Francis, 1787.
Music: Jeff Koonce, 2005
“It is finished,” O what pleasure,
Do these charming words afford.
Heavenly blessings, without measure,
Flow to us from Christ the Lord.
“It is finished, it is finished,”
Saints the dying words record.
Finished all the types and shadows,
Of the ceremonial law;
Finished all that God had promised;
Death and hell no more shall awe.
“It is finished, it is finished,”
Saints from hence your comfort draw
3 May the Lord bless you from Zion,
he who made heaven and earth!
Yesterday, a great and humbling opinion article by Will Cain at CNN dealing with the Rep. Weiner situation came across my blog feed. The article, “If Weiner is ‘Deviant’ Then Maybe We All Are,” wasn’t great because it had some ground breaking information on the situation; the piece was great because it was honest and correct in its assessment of man’s plight. The piece was humbling because, I confess, it hit me right between the eyes. Honestly, I was somewhat amazed by Rep. Weiner’s sin and never would have been expected to be called back to right, biblical thinking by an opinion piece on CNN.com. While not wanting to justify Rep. Weiner’s behavior, Cain pointed out that Weiner isn’t all that unique. He writes concerning the difference between public figures and the rest of us,
When [men in the public spotlight doing ridiculous stuff as opposed to regular guys like you and I doing ridiculous stuff] get caught, you hear about it. Let me be clear, this isn’t to excuse Weiner or any of these men, I’m just saying don’t be so surprised, don’t be so naive, and tread a little carefully with your moralizing.
You cannot imagine what the guy in the cubicle next to you is imagining.
The point is that if you rip back the covers on many people’s thoughts and actions, you’re going to find some shocking things. Is what Weiner did creepy? Yes. Is it unique? Deviant? I’m not so sure (Will Cain, “If Weiner is ‘Deviant’ Then Maybe We All Are”, www.cnn.com).
Here is the point, people are depraved. We ALL are sinful, and we are ALL sinful. True, we are not utterly depraved (being, thinking, doing the worst we possibly could) but we are totally depraved (corrupt in every part of our being). The Bible says it like this,
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick, who can understand it (Jeremiah 17.9, ESV)?
None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one. Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes (Romans 3.10-18, ESV).
Cain is spot on in his assessment of people, we are all jacked up. Cain is also spot on in his call to chill out with the moralizing, after all, moralizing is usually done from a platform of pride not righteousness. While the exposure of Weiner’s sin may have been more glorious and public than the exposure our sin, his sin isn’t any more sinful than our sin. How then should we respond?
First, we do the next three things in humility, grace, mercy, truth, and love.
Second, we exalt the holiness of God.
Third, we call sin what it is, sin. In doing this we need to keep two things in mind: a) it is God’s standard, not ours, by which morality is measured and b) sin is not just a problem for others.
Fourth, we preach the good news of Jesus Christ. Jesus, the Son of God, came into the world as the one who is fully God and fully man. Having perfectly fulfilled all righteousness, Jesus died in place of his people in order to glorify his Father by paying for the sins of all who believe in him and establishing his kingdom for eternity.
28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable. 29 He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength. 30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted; 31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
Why Traditional Liturgy:
“Quiet simply, the liturgy makes us slow down. It is not like the voices we hear from commercials and online news sites, pleading with us in urgent language. The liturgy is quiet, gentle, full of room for the Holy Spirit. But it requires that we stop, that we focus our mind and heart on Christ. It refuses to pep us up or hype us into action. It is not a program or a plan for more activity or busyness “for God”. It is not a campaign or a cause. It is a way of slowing down. It teaches us to rest in God’s presence; it trains us to fix our eyes on the living Christ.” – NewLife Sunday Night
Call to Worship: Psalm 147 1-6
3 He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds. 4 He determines the number of the stars;
he gives to all of them their names. 5 Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
his understanding is beyond measure.
Song: Praise to the Lord
Public Domain. Words: Joachim Neander. Music: 17th century German tune.
Praise to the Lord,
The Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him,
For He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear,
Now to His temple draw near;
Praise Him in glad adoration.
Praise to the Lord,
Who over all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings,
Yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen
How all your longings have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?
“Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” is based on Psalms 103 and 150. It was inspired not only by those psalms but also by the beauty of the hills and rivers that Neander experienced on his walks through the German countryside.
Confession of Faith: Belgic confession
Article 1: The Only God
We all believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths that there is a single and simple spiritual being, whom we call God — eternal, incomprehensible, invisible, unchangeable, infinite, almighty; completely wise, just, and good, and the overflowing source of all good.
“The oldest of the doctrinal standards of the Christian Reformed Church is the Confession of Faith, popularly known as the Belgic Confession. During the sixteenth century the churches in this country were exposed to the most 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 Bräs 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 Bräs himself fell as one of the many thousands who sealed their faith with their lives, his work has endured and will continue to endure. The confession stands as one of the best symbolical statements of Reformed doctrine. The translation presented here is based on the French text of 1619.”