Archive for the ‘Gospel Proclamation’ Category

“As when a fish is taken there are two actions, the bait alluring and beguiling the fish with hope of meat. This is like the working of the word which is Christ’s bait; but when He wins us to dryland, then, when the fish is hooked, there is a real action of the fisher, drawing and hauling the fish to land; it leaping and flightering [fluttering] and wrestling while it bleeds with the hook. And this answereth to the Holy Spirit’s powerful hauling and drawing of the soul in all the affections, that the soul feeleth joy, comfort, delight, desire, longing, believing, nibbling, and biting Christ’s bait.”

-Samuel Rutheford (c. 1600 – 1661)

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Call me a curmudgeon.  Or an arch-conservative, allergic to all things new.  And I will freely admit that I romanticize earlier days, fully aware that they were never so rosy as I fancy them.  But I am just not ready to jump on the small (‘cell’) groups bandwagon like so many other Reformed folks.  I have already raised some questions on the subject in a previous post.  I really do question how ecclesiologically Reformed it is after all.

But here’s another thing that makes me nervous of them.  I fear that they detract from a robust pulpit ministry, from Lord’s day to Lord’s day.  In some circles, cell groups aim to provide meaningful biblical study for preachers who want their Sunday services to be ‘seeker sensitive.’   In my judgment, that makes cell groups a crutch for an impotent ministry.

Related, it seems that they are now being touted (or maybe I’m just noticing it) as suitable vehicles for ‘missional’ outreach.  Unbelievers need a ‘safe’ place to be welcomed, where they will not feel judged.  So we can win them over to church, with all its trappings, through the back door.  Now, I am all for loving unbelievers and making them feel loved.  But what about public preaching as a means of grace?   What of God’s choice of the foolishness of preaching?  What of the scandal of the cross?  And does that scandal come in bold face through the small groups, or is it in the fine print on page 236?

Why are Reformed people enthusiastic about this?  Am I off, or is this broad evangelicalism, low churchism, or even anti-churchism sneaking in under the radar?

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“There is a deed or Grant of Christ made to Sinners, in the free Offer and Call of the Gospel . . . Tis true indeed, the eternal Destination, the Purchase and Application of Redemption is peculiar only to the Elect; but the Revelation, Gift and Offer is common to all hearers of the Gospel, insomuch as the great Mr Rutherford expresses it, the Reprobate have as fair a revealed Warrant to believe, as the Elect have.  Every man has an Offer of Christ brought to his Door who lives within the Compass of the joyful Sound, and this Offer comes as close to him, as if he were pointed out by Name.  So that none have reason to say, The Call and Offer is not to me, I am not warranted to embrace Christ . . . We have God’s commission to preach this Gospel, and to make offer of this Christ to every creature sprung of Adam, Mark xvi.15, and the event of the Publication of this Gospel among sinners follows in the next Words, He that believeth this Gospel shall be saved, he that believeth not shall be damned.”

Ebenezer Erskine (1680-1754)

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