A Holy Book Is Not Enough

In an age of many holy books and many religions accompanying those holy books, what makes the Bible and Christianity special? How do we respond when people ask how our holy book differs from the Koran, the Vedas and the Upanishads, or the Book of Mormon? We could certainly respond by explaining the inspiration of Holy Scripture, but we may have a far greater impact by simply responding that a holy book—even the Bible—is not enough. This season of special remembrance of the incarnation of Jesus Christ—the God-man—challenges us to ponder this thought. The Old Testament: Previews of Coming Attractions God himself dwells in unapproachable light. While the heavens declare his glory and the firmament shows his handiwork (Ps. 19:1), he—as he is in himself—is the invisible God. In his essence, he is too high, too great, and too wonderful for us to comprehend. Our puny minds quickly exhaust themselves trying to contemplate what is infinite, eternal, immense, and unchangeable. And ... Read more

Celebrating Jesus' Birth—Without His Picture

During the final weeks of every year, visual images of our Lord Jesus Christ seem to be everywhere. From Christmas cards to commercial advertisements, it is nearly impossible to avoid seeing a barrage of pictures of Jesus in the manger during the holiday season. Of course, many such images are simply the product of a crass commercialism or unthinking sentimentality. But other images are produced and distributed out of sincere, pious motives. What should Reformed Christians think of this? The Reformed tradition has taught that Christians should not make or use any images of Christ, however sincere their motives and however careful they are not to worship such images. For example, the Westminster Larger Catechism (Q. 109) includes the following among the things forbidden in the second commandment: "the making any representation of God, of all or of any of the three persons, either inwardly in our mind, or outwardly in any kind of image or likeness of any creature whatsoever." In our own day, there are ... Read more

The OPC's Coming Ministerial Challenge

The federal government knows about it. City planners, builders, and insurance companies are preparing for it. And soon the Orthodox Presbyterian Church will feel the full force of its impact. What is this phenomenon that is turning the heads of demographers? It is the stark reality that between 2005 and 2015 the number of people reaching retirement age in America will increase by a staggering ten million. Nothing like it has ever happened before, and ministers in the OPC will be among that number. A quick study of A Ministerial and Congregational Register of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, 1936-2001 , indicates that over the next ten years, ninety-eight ministers under active call in the OPC will reach the age of sixty-six. That includes missionaries, seminary professors, chaplains, general secretaries, and the pastors of 81 of the OPC's 312 churches. It means that in the next ten years some major changes are in store for the people of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Not every OP minister who ... Read more

Helps for Worship #13: The Prayer of Invocation

"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find." (Matt. 7:7) There are so many prayers in a worship service: opening prayers, closing prayers, prayers of confession, the "pastoral prayer" (which can often become quite long!), prayer after the offering, prayer before the sermon, and then prayer after the sermon. Why so many prayers? The fact that we take so much time for prayer during worship indicates the blunt truth that without the blessing of Christ we can do nothing (John 15:5). It also indicates that we know that everything we have comes from God, so we are to be thankful in everything (Phil. 4:6). We use the term prayer of invocation as a formal term to describe the first prayer in a Lord's Day worship service. (In our church, we usually call it the "prayer for God's blessing on our worship.") It may well be the most important prayer of any worship service. In a prayer of invocation, we "invoke" (i.e., call upon, summon, beg) God to bless our time of worship. While God greets ... Read more


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