Easy Idolatry in the Church

The Church and Idolatry by Jared Wilson | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

Part of my Sunday “before worship” reading was this outstanding article from this month’s Tabletalk. Written by Pastor Jared Wilson (Middletown Springs Community Church in Vermont), it covers the “easy” sin of idolatry in the church – even in Reformed churches. He has many good thoughts and applications, also for us. I will quote a few lines and once more encourage you to read the rest at the link above. It makes for good follow-up reading to our Sunday worship – and for our life of worship this week.

Now set your mind and heart to seek the LORD your God” (1 Chron. 22:19). All sin is idolatry because every sin is an exercise in trust of something or someone other than the one true God to satisfy, fulfill, or bless. It is not difficult to see how violations of commandments two through ten are automatic violations of commandment one. This truth reveals that the hottest “worship war” going is the one taking place daily in the sanctuary of our own hearts. But we must wage this war because none of us is a bystander to idol worship.

…Likewise, every weekend men and women file into church buildings in order to exult in the rhetorical skill of their preacher, to admire him and think of their church as his church, not Christ’s church. Many of us file in each week to enjoy the conspicuous spiritual exercises of our brethren. We worship the worship experience; we tithe with expectation of return from heaven’s slot machine; we dress to impress; and we serve and lead to compensate for the inadequacies in our hearts that only Christ can fill. Every weekend, hundreds of preachers extol a therapeutic gospel from the pages of the same Bible where the real gospel lies. We Reformed are not exempt, as too often our affections are poured totally into doctrine with only vague admiration reserved for doctrine’s Author.

A church will become idolatrous in a heartbeat because it’s already there. So, we cannot set our worship on autopilot. We cannot mistake the appearance of busy religiosity for worship in spirit and truth. We see in Exodus 32:5 that even the worshipers of the golden calf ascribed their worship to the covenant Lord Yahweh.

The gospel imperative, then, is to return again and again to the gospel indicative. Our first duty is “gospel obedience” (Rom. 10:16; 2 Thess. 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17), which is to stand at attention to Christ upon the gospel’s “tenhut.” Our hearts and minds flow through the rut of idolatry, but the deliberate proclamation of Jesus at every possible turn will force us off our idolatrous course.

June “Tabletalk” – The Theology of Evangelism

Evangelism for God’s Glory by Burk Parsons | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

The new issue of Tabletalk, Ligonier Ministries’ monthly devotional, is out, and on this first Monday of June we start to take a look at it. The theme of this issue is another excellent one: “The Theology of Evangelism”. Four feature articles explain and expound this theme. Here they are in the order in which they appear in the magazine:

  • What is the Gospel? by W. Robert Godfrey
  • The Sovereignty of God and Evangelism by Paul Helm
  • Preach the Gospel, and Since It’s Necessary, Use Words by Ed Stetzer
  • Evangelism: Naturally Speaking Good News by Will Metzger

Burk Parsons, editor of “TT”, once again introduces the theme with the fine article linked above. I will give you a few paragraphs from it and encourage you to read the rest of it here.

Although we certainly need to be discipled in our knowledge of the gospel and equipped to proclaim the gospel, we must not forget that gospel proclamation isn’t first and foremost a program, it’s a way of life. It’s not something we only do on a particular day of the week when our schedules allow it; it’s something we do every day of our lives.

…The life of the Christian is the daily life of gospel proclamation to our own stubborn hearts when we sin; to our spouses whenever they need to hear our repentance and God’s forgiveness in Christ; to our children whenever we discipline them and point them to their desperate need for Christ; and to our coworkers, colleagues, classmates, communities, and to the ends of the earth. We don’t just enter the mission field when we drive out of our church parking lots each Lord’s Day, we enter the mission field when we get out of bed each morning. Our proclamation of the gospel takes place around the kitchen table in our homes, across the tracks in our communities, and around the world — wherever God has us presently and wherever He might call us in the future.

And, don’t forget, the daily devotions continue on the Heidelberg Catechism this year, using the proof texts as the guide.