What Is Arminianism? ~ J. I. Packer

What Is Arminianism?1

Historically, Arminianism has appeared as a reaction against Calvinism, affirming, in the words of W. R. Bagnall, “conditional in opposition to absolute predestination, and general in opposition to particular redemption.”2 This verbal antithesis is not in fact as simple or clear as it looks, for changing the adjective involves redefining the noun. What Bagnall should have said is that Calvinism affirms a concept of predestination from which conditionality is excluded, and a concept of redemption to which particularity is essential, and Arminianism denies both. The difference is this. To Calvinism, predestination means foreordination, whereas to Arminianism it means only foresight of events not foreordained. On the Calvinist view, election, which is a predestinating act on God’s part, means the foreordaining of particular sinners to be saved by Jesus Christ, through faith, and redemption, the first step in working out God’s electing purpose, is an achievement actually securing certain salvation—calling, pardon, adoption, preservation, final glory—for all the elect. On the Arminian view, however, what the death of Christ secured was a possibility of salvation for sinners generally, a possibility which, so far as God is concerned, might never have been actualized in any single case; and the electing of individuals to salvation is no more than God noting in advance who will believe and qualify for glory, as a matter of contingent (not foreordained) fact. Whereas to Calvinism election is God’s resolve to save, and the cross Christ’s act of saving, for Arminianism salvation rests neither on God’s election nor on Christ’s cross, but on a man’s own cooperation with grace, which is something that God does not Himself guarantee.

Drawn from Packer’s excellent introduction to John Owen’s The Death of Death in the Death of Christ (first published in 1647). The title to this introduction is simply “Arminianisms.” The work is also found in this collection of Packer’s writings: Puritan Papers – Vol. 5, 1968-1969. We hope to continue to pull some quotations from this work in the next few months, and you will see why in the next paragraph.

This week we will be focusing on some Canons of Dordt items in connection with the 400th anniversary (1618-19/2018-19). There are some new and exciting resources available on the “great Synod” and its work. Watch for these posts in the days to come!

If you wish to continue reading Packer’s essay, visit the link below.

Source: Arminianisms | Monergism

January 2019 Tabletalk: Commemorating the Synod of Dordt

We are overdue in noting the January 2019 issue of Tabletalk, Ligonier Ministries monthly devotional magazine. This month’s issue is a special one for all Reformed Christians and true Calvinists, for it is a tribute to the 400th anniversary of the great Synod of Dordt (1618-19).

Editor Burk Parsons gives a fine introduction to the theme with his “Five New Points of Old Heresy.” Here are a few of his thoughts:

If indeed we are Christians, we will care what we believe and, therefore, what we confess in our creed, for what we believe is the very basis of whether we are biblically orthodox or whether we’re heretics. The historic Reformed creeds and confessions summarize and systematically articulate what the Word of God teaches us, to the end that we might glorify God and enjoy Him forever. If we care about what we believe, we will care about the historic creeds and confessions of the church, and we will care about what happened in the Netherlands four hundred years ago and how the Reformed church responded.

Tonight we also wish to call attention to the first featured article, which is penned by noted Reformed historian Dr. W. Robert Godfrey. He writes the article linked below, “The Reason for Dort.” He provides a historical overview of the synod and its work, demonstrating why this “great synod” was necessary. That reason was chiefly the false teachings of James Arminius and his followers, known as Arminians, which made a defense of the absolute sovereignty of God and His saving grace so crucial.

We pull a few paragraphs from his article, encouraging you to read the rest at the link below.

The Dutch Calvinists decided that the synod should be more than simply a national synod. They invited representatives from most of the Reformed churches of Europe to attend and to be full voting members of the synod. The result was the greatest and most ecumenical gathering of Reformed churches ever held. (Lest my Presbyterian friends feel that I am slighting the Westminster Assembly, let me remind them that that assembly was not properly a church gathering but a gathering of theologians to advise the English Parliament.)

The Synod of Dort did its work carefully and thoroughly. It met from mid-November 1618 until late May 1619, first hearing the Arminians and then, when they were uncooperative, reading their writings. The greatest accomplishment of the synod was the preparation of what are known as the Canons of Dort. These canons or rulings of Dort respond to the five points of Arminianism. Strictly speaking, Calvinism does not have only five points; rather, it has the many points that one finds in the Belgic Confession or the Westminster Confession of Faith. Calvinism has five answers to the five errors of Arminianism. The canons respond point by point to the Arminian summary presented in 1610. The synod’s first head (or chapter) is on unconditional election. The second head is on limited atonement. The synod combines the third and fourth heads to show that total depravity is maintained only when the necessity of irresistible grace is taught. The fifth head teaches the perseverance of the saints because of the preserving grace of God.

And then, after pointing out some of the synod’s other work, Godfrey ends with this:

The Synod of Dort did outstanding work that is well worth celebrating four hundred years later. It preserved the true teaching of the Bible on salvation and provided in other ways as well for the well-being of the life of the church. The synod fought the good fight to which Jude calls Christians. The fight did lead to a fracture in the church. A small minority left to form the Remonstrant Brotherhood. But as Jude makes clear, such a division is not the fault of the orthodox but the fault of those who oppose the truth (Jude 19). The great accomplishment of the synod was that it kept, taught, and defended our faith, “our common salvation” (v. 3).

Source: The Reason for Dort

Additionally, and related to this, Ligonier will soon be releasing a new work on Dordt by Godfrey. The title is Saving the Reformation: The Pastoral Theology of the Canons of Dort (Reformation Trust, Jan. 2019). This is the publisher’s description:

There has been renewed interest in the five points of Calvinism among many Christians today. But these doctrines are not a product of the twenty-first century. So where did they come from, and why are they so important? Dr. W. Robert Godfrey takes us back to 1618-19 when the Canons of Dort were written in response to a mounting theological assault on Reformed Christianity. Now, for its four-hundredth anniversary, he offers a new translation and pastoral commentary on the canons, equipping the next generation with these God-glorifying truths.

To Read Well, Enjoy (and Work Hard!) – K. S. Prior

reading-well-priorPractice [for reading well] makes perfect, but pleasure makes practice more likely, so read something enjoyable. If a book is so agonizing that you avoid reading it, put it down and pick up one that brings you pleasure. Life is too short and books are too plentiful not to. Besides, one can’t read well without enjoying reading.

On the other hand, the greatest pleasures are those born of labor and investment. A book that requires nothing from you might offer the same diversion as that of a television sitcom, but it id unlikely to provide intellectual, aesthetic, or spiritual rewards long after the cover is closed. Therefore, even as you seek books that you will enjoy reading, demand ones that make demands on you: books with sentences so exquisitely crafted that they must be reread, familiar words used in fresh ways, new words so evocative that you are compelled to look them up, and images and ideas so arresting that they return to you unbidden for days to come.

A few more good thoughts on ‘reading well” in Karen S. Prior‘s new book by that title (On Reading Well, which I purchased at the local Barnes & Noble store last Fall. As I make my way through it this year, we will be sharing its wisdom with you. There is much to be found just in the “Introduction” (as I am discovering).

So what are you set to read this year? Are you making good choices? Will you read well, for virtue (Prior’s aim)? You may also read for pleasure as you do so – pleasure that comes from work, as you see above. Push yourself, while also enjoying what you read. I promise to do the same.

Published in: on January 14, 2019 at 10:55 PM  Leave a Comment  

Thoughts on Worship as Living Sacrifice – R. C. Sproul

…God’s feelings are not hurt by insincere praise, but neither is He honored by it. God is never honored by flattery. That is why true worship must be sincere.

…The central element of worship in the Bible involved honoring, blessings, esteeming, and reverencing God. A sacrifice was offered as an outward sign of a heart that was filled with awe, reverence, and respect toward God. When a sacrifice was not given in faith, it was nothing more than an external rite, a formal pattern of behavior that was not an expression of true faith that held God in the highest possible esteem and reverence. It lacked what the Wisdom Literature calls the fear of the Lord, that sense of awe by which the heart is inclined to adore and honor the Creator. The very heart of worship, as the Bible makes clear, is the business of expressing, from the depths of our spirits, the highest possible honor we can offer before God.

[In connection with Romans 12:1,2] …It is as if Paul said to the Romans: ‘Think of the gospel. What is your response to what Christ has done for you – Christ, who spared nothing, who gave His life for His people, who made the ultimate sacrifice for His sheep? How do we respond to that? What is the reasonable response?’ Paul said, ‘Here is your reasonable service or your spiritual worship.’

So we are to respond to the gospel with a sacrifice – not a sacrifice of money, of time, or of material goods, but a sacrifice of our lives. Paul said we are to present to God our bodies – that is, ourselves – as living sacrifices. …He is not asking for martyrdom or for us to give our blood. He wants something more. He wants our lives. The response of faith is a giving of oneself, body and soul, to Christ.

And then, finally, reflecting on the fact that none of us has ever given such a perfect sacrifice to God, he comments:

…He would tell me [on judgment day] that every sacrifice I have ever offered has been marred, sullied, and compromised by the sin I have brought with it. If He were to look at the sacrifice that I offered, even if I offered it in the name of Christ, He would reject it as radically as He rejected the offering of Cain. My only hope is the glorious truth that the offering I give to my Creator today is carried to His presence by the perfect Mediator, who takes our sacrifices of praise and presents them to the Father.

taste-of-heaven-sproulThis is another post following our Sunday discussion groups this year at our home church (Faith PRC), which met tonight. We are continuing a study of R.C. Sproul’s book on worship. It was originally published under the title A Taste of Heaven: Worship in the Light of Eternity (Reformation Trust, 2006 – the copy I have), but has been newly published under the title How Then Shall We Worship? (David C. Cook, 2013, the Kindle version of which I also have). The above quotation is taken from chapter 3, “Living Sacrifices” (pp.39-47).

A Theology of Listening (to the Preaching of the Word) – K. Ramey

This  [that is, that the Bible is the inspired, reliable Word of God] also means when a preacher faithfully preaches the Bible, it is God speaking and not the preacher (John 14:24; Acts 13:7,44). By virtue of the fact that God is the one who spoke it, we should listen and obey.

It’s His Word.

Just like a child should listen to and obey what their parents say for no other reason than it is the right things to do because of who they are (Eph.6:1-2), we should listen to and obey what our heavenly Father has said because of who He is. God’s Word is an expression of all that He is. He spoke forth His Word so that we know about His glory, His love, His grace, His mercy, His power, His wrath, His justice, His goodness, His faithfulness, etc. God’s character is inherent in His Word (cf. Ps.138:2). What makes the Bible so dynamic and gives it the ability to dissect our hearts with such precision and so accurately discern every aspect of our lives is because it is the Word of the all-powerful, all-knowing God (Heb.4:12-13). Whenever we are exposed to the Word of God we are in essence being exposed to God Himself (1 Cor.14:24-25). That alone should be enough to motivate us to honor and obey the Word of God.

ExpositoryListeningTaken from Expository Listening: A Handbook for Hearing and Doing God’s Word by Ken Ramey (Kress Biblical Resources, 2010), Chapter 1 – “Biblical Audiology: A Theology of Listening.” We touched on the introduction in our first post. In the months ahead I plan to draw on some of the author’s good thoughts concerning our calling to listen believingly to God’s Word proclaimed.

Seeking the City That Continues in 2019

sb-logo-rfpaThe first issue of the Standard Bearer in the new year is now out (Jan.1, 2019) and the opening meditation by emeritus PRC pastor Rev. James Slopsema contains many good thoughts for us as we stand at the beginning of this new year of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The meditation is based on Heb.13:13-14, which reads, “Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.”

Among Rev. Slopsema’s profitable words of exposition are these:

Here we have no continuing city, but seek one to come.

To seek something speaks of an earnest desire for something. It also implies that one does all in his power to attain the thing that he desires.

So also we seek the continuing city that is to come.

The “we” includes all the true seed of Abraham that have the same faith as Abraham.

The fact that the true believer seeks the heavenly city of God arises out of his faith.

Faith does not seek the things here below but the things that are above. That is, faith is not interested especially in things earthly and physical – earthly riches, pleasures, position, power, and so on. Faith is interested in the things that are eternal – the continuing city that God has reserved for His people in Jesus Christ with all its spiritual riches and pleasures. Faith is interested in the earthly only in so far as it is necessary to serve the Lord God and enjoy a foretaste of the eternal riches that are to come.

And so the believer is one that seeks the continuing city that is to come.

And this truth leads him to make this final application in terms of our calling in 2019:

This seeking of the eternal city of God must control our lives for the New Year and for every year the Lord gives us during our earthly pilgrimage.

Interestingly, what is stated as a fact in this passage for the true believer is also given as an admonition in other passages, although using different language.

“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. (Col 3:1-2)

“Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matt 6:31-33)

The necessity of these admonitions is the sad fact that the believer in weakness of faith does not always seek the things that are heavenly and eternal but the things here below. His desires are too much earthly and not enough heavenly. He becomes distracted by the things that perish, losing sight of the things that continue. This also hinders him from going outside the camp to be sanctified in the blood of the Lamb.

Let us this year and every year that remains live in the faith of our spiritual father Abraham who looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

A New Year’s Resolution from M. Henry (plus Commitment to and Plans for Reading God’s Word)

New Year’s Day has traditionally been a time to make resolutions, by which one resolves (determines and promises) to do certain things in the new year that is before one. And while the people of the world make theirs today too, Christians are able to make genuine and meaningful resolutions. And there is a proper place for them in our lives, as long as we make them biblically and from the heart. (I may mention here that Burk Parsons has a fine article on this that was published yesterday on Ligonier’s website – “New Year’s Resolutions for God’s Glory, Not Our Own.”)

Today’s “Grace Gem” devotional contains the brief but beneficial resolution of Puritan pastor and commentator Matthew Henry, which may serve as a model for us. Based on Psalm 31:15, “My times are in thy hand,” it reads as follows:

Firmly believing that my times are in God’s hand, I here submit myself and all my affairs for the ensuing year, to the wise and gracious disposal of God’s divine providence. Whether God appoints for me . . . .
health or sickness,
peace or trouble,
comforts or crosses,
life or death–
may His holy will be done!
All my time, strength, and service, I devote to the honor of the Lord Jesus–and even my common actions. It is my earnest expectation, hope, and desire, my constant aim and endeavor–that Jesus Christ may be magnified in me.

In everything I have to do–my entire dependence is upon Jesus Christ for strength. And whatever I do in word or deed, I desire to do all in His name, to make Him my Alpha and Omega. I have all from Him–and I would use all for Him.

If this should prove a year of affliction, a sorrowful year to me–I will fetch all my supports and comforts from the Lord Jesus and stay myself upon Him, His everlasting consolations, and the good hope I have in Him through grace.

And if it should be my dying year–then my times are in the hand of the Lord Jesus. And with a humble reliance upon His mediation, I would venture into the eternal world looking for the blessed hope. Dying as well as living–Jesus Christ will, I trust, be gain and advantage to me.

Oh, that the grace of God may be sufficient for me, to keep me always a humble sense of my own unworthiness, weakness, folly, and infirmity–together with a humble dependence upon the Lord Jesus Christ for both righteousness and strength.

The devotional closes with some other profitable items, which I include here:

“Remember that your life is short, your duties are many, your assistance is great, and your reward is sure. Therefore faint not, persevere in ways of holiness–and Heaven shall make amends for all!” Thomas Brooks

~  ~  ~  ~

You may want to read J.R. Miller’s insightful one page article, “A New Year“.

~  ~  ~  ~

On this New Year’s day, you might want to ponder and seriously consider The RESOLUTIONS of Jonathan Edwards.

One thing we can and ought to commit to in 2019 is diligent reading of God’s Word. There are many good devotional plans, including in the daily devotions found online on the PRC website.

Ligonier always publishes one this time of year; you may find that here. And Crossway has a useful devotional plan to start the year that makes use of Paul Tripp’s fine book New Morning Mercies; you may find that here, as well as information on other reading plans.

And, while you are there (Crossway’s site), you might consider reading Donald Whitney’s article “Ten Questions to Ask at the Start of a New Year.” Need some motivation? Here you go:

Consider the Direction of Your Life

Once, when the people of God had become careless in their relationship with him, the Lord rebuked them through the prophet Haggai. “Consider your ways!” (Haggai 1:5) he declared, urging them to reflect on some of the things happening to them, and to evaluate their slipshod spirituality in light of what God had told them.

Even those most faithful to God occasionally need to pause and think about the direction of their lives. It’s so easy to bump along from one busy week to another without ever stopping to ponder where we’re going and where we should be going.

The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to stop, look up, and get our bearings. To that end, here are some questions to ask prayerfully in the presence of God.

Christmas in His Fear – John A. Heys

…When we celebrate Christmas In His Fear then we go to Him and praise Him for the gift of all gifts that He has given us. We go to Him in prayer. We go to Him in His house of worship. We acknowledge this great and glorious gift and do not hide it from ourselves and from our children by a host of worldly, material gifts that we give and receive from men. When we celebrate Christmas In His Fear, Christ and the loves of God in sending Him to be our Savior occupies the central part of our celebration; and the greater part of our activity on that day revolves about Him. When we celebrate Christmas in His fear we gather in all humility and joy before His feet to be taught by Him anew and more richly the glorious truths of the birth of His Son.

And he who truly celebrates Christmas in His fear will not be able to hold back his songs of praise to God. With the holy angels he shall sing: Glory to God in the highest. He will sing of the true peace that God has wrought in this Son for those who are the men of His good pleasure and will glorify Him for it. And as the shepherds returned glorifying and praising God and telling all whom they met what they had seen and heard, the covenant parent will also want to have the day filled with such praise and glory to God by his children and will take them along to God’s house of worship that they too may hear of all this wonder of God’s grace.

Christmas celebration In His Fear is celebration before His face. It is celebration in the consciousness that He accomplished all these things that the Church of Christ might live before His face in everlasting glory. And it is celebration that responds to that glorious truth.

…On Christmas we celebrate the birth of one infinitely greater and more worthy of our praise and adoration. And He lives and sees and knows what we do to celebrate the day of His coming into our flesh. Celebration In His Fear, therefore, is celebration as before His face and in love to Him.

You need not purchase a “Christmas” tree to honor and praise Him. He does not ask you to spend a tidy sum of money for tinsel and a string of light bulbs of various colors. He demanded of Israel that to celebrate the glorious deliverance from the house of the bondage of sin and death they eat the roast flesh of a lamb. But He does not demand you and me to procure a turkey or chicken to observe the day of His birth. In fact you cannot celebrate His birth by these things ! They have absolutely nothing to do with His birth. In fact that abject poverty into which He came in the stable, in the lowly manger, outside the inn militates against all this gaudy and vulgar display of an event so sublime and heavenly.

He does call us to unfurl the banner of the truth; to meet with His people in His house of worship to hear what He has to say; to sing praises to Him.

He calls us to listen to Him and to make all our celebration subservient to it and not to gifts, toys and meals.

He calls us to believe what He says of Himself; to rejoice in it because of faith and with the angels to sing of the glory of God.

He calls us to bow in childlike reverence before Him in the adoration of love.

In His Fear keep Christ in Christmas.

Keep Him there all day.

This gem from the past may be found in the December 15, 1955 issue of the Standard Bearer, and was written by John A. Heys, then minister of the Word in Hope PRC (Walker, MI). It was penned for the rubric “In His Fear,” hence its title and theme. It is even more applicable 63 years later.

Source: Christmas in His Fear

An Open Letter to the Depressed Christian at Christmas | Crossway Articles

As difficult as it may be to bring up this time of year, it is a harsh reality that some of God’s children find the end-of-year holidays to be anything but happy and celebratory. Not because they do not rejoice in the first coming of Christ the Savior or lack hope for His second coming, but because the season brings its own share of burdens, reminding these saints of and stirring up special pains that contribute to dark clouds and deep sorrows.

With this in mind, Dr. David Murray (Puritan Reformed Seminary) penned an “open letter to the depressed Christian at Christmas” on the Crossway website. His comments and comfort are timely and necessary for many in this time of year. I pray that it will be helpful to those of you who know such clouds and sorrows in this season.

Here is a portion of Murray’s article; find the full article at the Crossway link below.

Dear Friend,

Depression is tough at the best of times. Perhaps it’s the best of times, such as holiday times, when it’s especially tough. The thought of mixing with happy people fills you with dread. The thought of remembering lost loved ones fills you with gloom. How can people be so happy when you are so sad? How can people celebrate when you are in mourning? It jars your soul and scrapes your tender wounds, doesn’t it?

You may want to run away and hide from the noisy busyness and the social obligations. Or you may want to lash out at the insensitive and uncaring people who exhort you to “Cheer up!” Or maybe you just want to drown your sorrows with binge drinking, binge eating, or binge TV-watching. But none of these options—running out, lashing out, or pigging out—will improve your depression. Indeed, they will only make it worse.

But, of course, the author does not stop here. Listen as he begins to offer the help and hope we need:

Let me propose a better way that will enable you to carefully navigate this holiday season while also contributing to your long-term healing.

Pray

I know prayer is perhaps too obvious, but sometimes we miss the obvious. Bring your burden to the Lord, tell him your fears and dreads, and seek his help to push through these daunting days. Lament by saying “Lord, I don’t want to give thanks, I don’t want to celebrate Christmas, and I don’t want to live through another year.” Admit, saying: “God, I can’t stand happiness right now and I can’t abide people.” Confess: “This is wrong and sinful, but I can’t seem to change.” Plead: “Lord, I am weak, I need your power, I need your patience, I need your joy.” Promise: “I will rely on you alone to carry me and even use this time for my help and healing.”

Share

Not everyone among your family and friends understands depression; but some do, as you know. Give them a call, or, better, meet with them, and talk to them about what you dread during this season. Ask them to pray for you and to support you in the coming days. Ask them to stay by your side in social settings, to protect you from those who don’t understand, to accept your silences, and to help you withdraw quietly when you have reached your limits of socializing.

Source: An Open Letter to the Depressed Christian at Christmas | Crossway Articles

December “Tabletalk”: Jesus is the Promised Messiah (and Paying Attention in Worship)

We are midway through this last month of 2018 and I have not yet referenced the December issue of Tabletalk, so tonight I will. I was able to get a lot of reading in it done today, and this new issue is once again packed with beneficial articles.

As you will see from the cover, the appropriate theme is “The Promised Messiah,” and there twelve articles based on OT passages showing how Jesus is the true Christ of God (Messiah). Editor Burk Parsons introduces the theme with his editorial “The True Israel of God,” part of which includes these important comments:

Jesus repeated, advanced, and fulfilled the history of Israel in the climax of His work. He suffered the exile of His death on the cross (Matt. 27:32–50), where He also fulfilled His role as the greater High Priest and the sacrificed Passover Lamb (26:1–13; 27:51). There, the temple of His body was destroyed (26:61; 27:40), but on the third day He was restored from the exile of death in His resurrection, raising up the temple of His body (28:1–10) and becoming the cornerstone of the new temple, His church, which is the fulfillment of God’s plan for His true people Israel (1 Peter 2:4–8). God’s sovereign plan and promise could not be thwarted, for now Jesus Christ has all authority in heaven and earth, and is with us to the end of the age, and He will return as our King and take us to the heavenly Promised Land.

The article I focus on tonight, however, is one written by John R. Muether for one of the regular rubrics – “For the Church.” His title forms part of the title of this blog – “Paying Attention in Worship” – and follows nicely on my blog post of last night. The author has some helpful thoughts about avoiding distractions in worship and being focused on our main purpose for being present – fellowship with and adoration of our God. Here are some of his closing words – good for the end of this sabbath day (read the rest at the link below):

Single-minded attention is strange to us, even in worship, because we take pride in our ability to navigate our busyness with speed and nimbleness. In a multitasking world, Marva Dawn rightly concedes that worship is a “royal waste of time” because we are focused on something that our frenetic culture dismisses as inefficient. And yet, neuroscientists have come to the consensus that multitasking is a myth. We accomplish far less when we juggle several tasks than when we focus on one thing at a time. What is worse, our digitally enhanced distractions are becoming addictive: our brains crave constant stimulation and instant gratification. How ironic, then, that we program our phones with “alerts” and “notifications” for so-called breaking news when they have the effect of diminishing our alertness, prompting thoughtlessness and negligence to the task at hand. In sum, the spirit of our age is inimical to the careful and sustained attention that public worship demands.

Is it possible anymore to resist the persistent distractions of our digital age that obscure the message of the gospel? We need not abandon such a hope. Traditional church practices refocus our attention on the gospel and enable our worship of the transcendent God. Public worship and Sabbath keeping are the most culturally disruptive witnesses for Christians to practice. On a day designed for the soul to feast, we must resist habits that distract us and others. I am trying to go completely offline during the day. It is proving to be a great struggle, but I trust that it will awaken me from the stupor that can come from living in a culture that prizes distraction.

The stakes may be higher than we think. As distraction dulls our senses, it can lead even believers to indifference about heavenly matters. The book of Hebrews (which many commentators believe was originally a sermon) speaks powerfully to our digital age when it warns, “We must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it” (Heb. 2:1).

Source: Paying Attention in Worship