During the past week God has graciously reinforced, to me, the precious and powerful nature of His Word.
So often I neglect the great privilege I have. On a bookshelf at home I have at least twelve different versions of the Bible. I have both a Greek New Testament and a Hebrew Old Testament. On my mobile devices I have several translations. Moreover, I have many of these Bible translations in a variety of formats – chronological, without chapter and verse divisions, daily reading formats, etc. All of this is the living, active and powerful Word of God.
Dever, Deliberate Church and the Regulative Principle
It began with a group discussion on a section of Mark Dever and Paul Alexander’s book The Deliberate Church. The section under discussion was a section on the Regulative Principle and its application in church life. According to Dever and Alexander:
Briefly, the Regulative Principle states that everything we do in a corporate worship gathering must be clearly warranted by Scripture. (pg. 67)
Initially, to my mind, this sounded a little constricting with regard to Sunday corporate worship. My facetious nature immediately called to mind no chapter and verse for the use of PowerPoint, nor for sitting in pews, nor for applauding children waving to their parents from the front. However, Dever and Alexander’s application appeased my facetious nature.
Ultimately, they contend that the regulative practice applied in the Sunday corporate worship service is the Bible read, preached, sung, prayed and seen. Due to the nature of Scripture, it must be central to our corporate worship gatherings – large sections of Scripture read without comment display a high view of Scripture; passages of Scripture read, explained, illustrated and applied aid an understanding of Scripture; words, phrases and passages of Scripture set to music serve to increase our ability to memorise Scripture; the praying of Scripture communicates that we wish to approach God on his terms, not ours; and the visualisation of Scripture through baptism and communion give us a greater appreciation for Scripture’s message as there is a tangible portrayal of the gospel.
The Word is so important it must pervade our Sunday corporate worship.
Empty Words in the Blog-o-sphere
Later in the week I was then pointed in the direction of a blog…
I later thanked the person who pointed me in the direction of the blog for wasting 30 minutes of my life. There were plenty of words on the blog, some of them big, sophisticated words and yet through all of them the blogger succeeded in saying nothing. My exasperation was only exacerbated by the sad reality that the blogger was a church leader here in Ireland.
There is no power in our eloquent speech, intelligent vocabulary, or our apparently persuasive arguments. It is all empty, vain and fleeting; which was certainly the feeling I had after reading numerous blog posts on this particular blog.
The Word was certainly not present here.
On the very same day as I read the blog, I read Ezekiel 37 in my daily readings:
The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.”
So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.
Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.” (vv. 1-14)
This is a wonderfully enticing illustration of the power of the Word. Things that are not just dead, but have been dead for a long time, are made alive by the Spirit’s powerful application of the Word. This Word contains the glorious gospel, the message of salvation through Jesus’ sacrifice, the good news that God has acted to redeem a people.
The Word brings life.
The Word is living, active and powerful. It is a precious gift from God. Therefore, we should unashamedly treasure God’s Word; unwaveringly proclaim God’s Word; unfalteringly learn God’s Word; unshakeably live God’s Word. How can you do so in the next week?