(Tim) This is the main part of the exhortation I give prior to our celebration of the Lord's Supper every other week at Church of the Good Shepherd. It's from an old, undated Scottish Book of Common Order. I've been asked for a copy often enough that I'm putting it up here for the use of others. Like most things worth reading and recommending, it's in the public domain and may be freely distributed.
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The Order for the Celebration of the Lord’s Supper, or Holy Communion.
The Prayer after Sermon being ended, the Minister may give this Exhortation:
As we are now about to celebrate the Holy Communion of the body and blood of Christ, let us consider how St. Paul exhorteth all persons to examine themselves before they eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For as the benefit is great, if with a truly penitent heart and lively faith we receive that holy sacrament (for then we spiritually eat the flesh of Christ, and drink His blood; then we dwell in Christ and Christ in us; we are one with Christ and Christ with us), so is the danger great if we receive the same unworthily...
(Tim) If you'll overlook his mention of your scribbler, here is a foundational post by Doug Wilson that opens up the relationship between the Sacraments, marriage vows, and submission. Note the parallel between a man and a woman shacking up and professed believers who reject the Church's authority by neglecting vows of submission to any particular congregation. And of course, Doug's final point must be noted by those who accuse all F-V men of being sacramentalists. Here's one of them--and a rather large one at that--who is no such thing. No such thing at all.
by David and Tim Bayly on August 21, 2010 - 12:08pm
Moreover the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live. (Deuteronomy 30:6)
(Tim) In 1Corinthians 3:4 ff. the Apostle Paul is rebuking the Corinthians' party spirit. Different factions of the congregation were lined up behind this or that minister of the Gospel using this or that man to get a leg up on their opponents. So the Apostle Paul has the dicey job of defending his own apostolic authority and doctrine, honoring the beautiful feet of ministers of the Word while also opposing the hero worship at the heart of the Corinthian division.
He ends up saying, on the one hand, that ministers of the Gospel are the means by which God's people come to faith in Jesus Christ; but on the other hand, that ministers of the Gospel are nothing. So it's both ministers are God's chosen instrument and ministers are nothing.
For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men?
What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. (1 Corinthians 3:4-7)
See the careful footwork?
Ministers are "servants through whom (the Corinthians) believed." Ministers are servants who "planted" and "watered as "God caused the growth." And...
Ministers are not anything (which is another way of saying ministers are nothing).
Our hearts are filled with love for the ministers of the Gospel who planted and watered so we might hear and believe the Good News, and be saved. But immediately, the faithful minister, the Apostle Paul, the Holy Spirit reminds us ministers are nothing at all. It is always God Who gives us the opportunity and causes the growth.
Now stick with me, here. I know it all seems so very obvious as not to need any comment, but follow the logic here, carefully.
Now since this charge is expressly given to the apostles along with the preaching of the word, it follows that none can lawfully administer baptism but those who are also the ministers of doctrine. When private persons, and even women, are permitted to baptize, nothing can be more at variance with the ordinance of Christ, nor is it any thing else than a mere profanation. - Calvin on Matthew 28:16-20
Increasingly, the session of ClearNote Church of Bloomington has been receiving applicants for membership who have been baptized by Cru girlfriends, their parents, a parachurch aquaintance, or almost anyone other than a church officer administering the Sacraments as a fulfillment of his office.
We've worked through this carefully, finally coming to the conclusion that baptisms done privately by friends and relatives are not true baptisms. There are many issues, here, and the arguments are long and involved, but at the end of it there was no doubt in our minds that the Sacraments are given by our Lord to the Church--not to individuals and families--and that to be a fulfillment of our Lord's commands, they must be administered by the officers our Lord has called and set apart to lead His Church.
Sitting in presbytery ordination exams, many times I've heard the question, "What is the proper mode of baptism?" The required answer, of course, is "sprinkling," and that's what most every candidate says. Then the candidate is asked this follow-up question: "Will you baptize by immersion if asked to do so?" Well-schooled candidates respond with this shibboleth, "Well, I suppose an unusual situation could arise in which I would be willing to do so, but sprinkling is the proper mode and I would only deviate from that mode for an extraordinary reason." Some overzealous men, though, win brownie points by responding, "No and never! Live presbyterian or die!"
Presbyterians and baptists bickering with each other like teenage girls--that's what this presbytery ritual is all about. Assuming raising Covenant children is not the only form of evangelism presbyterians are doing in our day, we can expect adult baptisms in our work and in most of those cases it's our practice to immerse...
Some noticed my comment under another post, that I do not think men should place their children, wives, or themselves under the care of Lutheran pastors and churches, today. Why not?
Principally because modern Lutherans administer, teach, and write about the Sacraments in a way that leads tender souls to trust in the ritual and the elements rather than Jesus Christ. Here's the opening paragraph from a Concordia Publishing House pamplet distributed at no cost in the foyers of Missiouri Synod Lutheran churches around the country. Titled "What About Holy Baptism," it opens with this paragraph:
Suppose for a moment that there was a doctor who had such incredible talent that he could prevent people from dying, and bring those who had died back to life, never to die again. Just imagine how people would do whatever they could to be treated by this doctor! Now consider that in Holy Baptism, God actually does give us the gift of eternal life! Let's learn more about this marvelous blessing. (The pamplet goes on to make statements about the connection between "the Word" and the water, and once or twice faith is mentioned, but the first paragraph is an accurate representation of the whole.)
This is sacramentalism and it destroys souls. Yet sacramentalism is foundational to much of Christendom today. It permeates Lutheranism, Anglicanism, Episcopalianism, and Roman Catholicism, and it is connived at by many Reformed and Presbyterian denominations and pastors. In fact if we're honest we'll admit that the sacramental error is cheek-by-jowl next to every Biblical practice of infant baptism, bedeviling paedobaptist churches just as the sacramentalism of decisional regeneration bedevils credobaptist churches.
It is never, ever right to lead the souls under our care to believe that Baptism saves us...
When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?”
And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:25-26).
Again, here's a response to a question asked by "Jay" under the post, "Must a gay man go straight?" I thought it best to put the response here on the main page as a post.
Jay asked: "I do know other men and women who struggle with homosexual temptation, who not only reject copulation but also gay identity and culture, but who do not have any heterosexual desires. Are they saved?"
Sorry for the lack of response. The post took all my time for the blog yesterday so I'm playing catch-up.
First, I'm doubtful these men and women you know who struggle with homosexual temptation actually reject gay identity and culture as clearly and with the finality you indicate. If we live in a culture that hates sexuality as God made it; if we pursue androgyny in the pulpit in the way we preach (see the category of Baylyblog titled "gelded discourse"), in our appearance--hair length and style, for instance; if our men are physically vain (whether macho buff or femmie bling and piercings or a sweet combination of both); it's likely no Christian tempted by homosexuality has really turned away from androgyny to Biblical manhood and womanhood. Made an effort, sure, but today within the Church there are precious few heterosexuals who pursue Biblical manhood or womanhood.
So being "straight" in our sexuality as the Bible presents manhood and womanhood is exceedingly rare, today. Men are narcissists and refuse to man up, taking responsibility for themselves or others...
The Wisconisn Evangelical Lutheran Synod sees the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and raises them one. Or maybe ten.
In my former home of Pardeeville, Wisconsin, the WELS congregation was the dominant religious presence in town. When they called a new pastor, Mary Lee and I decided to invite him with his wife and children over for dinner. After a cordial introduction, we sat down at the table and I turned to him and said, "I've heard lots of things through the years, but let me ask you directly: do you pray, do I pray, or do we not pray at all?"
He answered, "You go ahead and pray and we'll sit by," and immediately his good wife turned to their children and said, "We're going to pray; fold your hands and close your eyes." God bless her.
We had a pleasant evening. During the conversation the WELS pastor told us his grandmothers was a godly Baptist and that he didn't pray with her, either...
But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother. - Galatians 4:26
Until believers understand that Scripture teaches the Church is our mother; and that, as Cyprian and Calvin put it, the man who won't have the Church as his mother may not have God as his Father; until then, parachurch religious organizations like InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Navigators, and Campus Crusade for Christ International will continue to hold pride of position in college and university communities, devouring the lion's share of mission giving and prayer flowing to those communities from congregations around the country. And this is tragic...
A blog calling itself "Thinking Christian" with a commendation by Josh McDowell featured prominently doesn't bode well for the state of critical thinking in the church today. Josh has done fine work but he's far from state of the art in the discipline Harry Blamires outlines in his little classic, The Christian Mind (which if you haven't read, you certainly should).
So my hopes weren't high when I started reading the post by blog-owner Tom Gilson titled "Is Campus Crusade Falling Away from Christ?" Gilson works as a "strategic planner" for Campus Crusade for Christ International, so this is an institutional voice speaking, here.
The piece demonstrates the depth of thought and BIblical discernment that, in my observation, has always characterized Cru. Their men seem incapable of receiving substantive criticism or instruction without responding superficially, always telling us their intentions are perfect and God is blessing them with trillions of souls "trusting Jesus."
The superficiality makes sense, though, if you consider that, over the course of years, a man comes to resemble his dog...
There's been an exchange concerning Cru/Campus Crusade for Christ International and parachurch organizations over at a blog hosted by First Things. Here's my latest comment. Really, someone should write a book...
Those following the doctrinal battle of the past couple of years within the PCA's Northwest Presbytery were surprised to see a pastor of that presbytery, Jason Stellman, announcing a couple days ago that he's renounced his ordination vows. He says he has embraced two of Rome's dogmas: that the Word of God is subordinate to the Church's tradition, and that infusion is right and imputation wrong. In other words he has publicly repudiated sola Scriptura and sola fide.
It's important to note that Mr. Stellman has been at the center of his presbytery's doctrinal battle as prosecutor of his fellow presbyter, Dr. Peter Leithart, for heresy. Mr. Stellman's work was completed when the court acquitted the accused. Now the accuser himself has embraced some of the very errors he was opposing in his prosecutorial work.
The two things cannot be unrelated, and while the precise nature of that relationship is known only by God, it would be foolish not to look for warnings we may take from this train wreck. Since Rome's heresies lead to apostasy, wise men will examine the paths of those who have fallen for indications of what we must avoid if we are to persevere to the end.
That said, nine days before Mr. Stellman embraced Roman Catholic doctrine, the acquitted posted a short piece saying he is too catholic to embrace Roman Catholicism. In that piece Dr. Leithart summarized his opposition to Rome...
Doug Wilson has a good post distinguishing between historic Evangelicalism (the kind Edwards and Lloyd-Jones and Iain Murray represent) and three-ring circus Evangelicalism (the kind Billy Graham and Robert Schuller and Wheaton represent). Coming at the issue through his own father's commitment and gifting for evangelism, Doug's post hammers one point and hints at another--both of which are critically important.
First, the billions of decisions for Christ claimed by the evangelists of three-ring Evangelicalism do not bear the fruit of men being regenerated. Assuming regeneration is their goal (which is a debatable assumption), their claims of billions saved, when tested over weeks and months and years, prove to be false. This Evangelical sacrament known as "decisions for Christ" has proven itself largely bankrupt of the Holy Spirit's power, and the moral squalor of these United States today demonstrates this to the point of exhaustion.
Second, the hundreds of millions of washing-of-water Trinitarian baptisms touted by Reformed neo-sacramentalists do not bear the fruit of men being regenerated...