On the use of analogies in explaining the Trinity

Sassafras2 300A friend of mine asked about using analogies to explain the Trinity to children. I tend to avoid analogies for explaining the Trinity — note, I do not condemn or discourage such analogies if they are used carefully. However, I find that such analogies fall so far short of the reality that they tend to add confusion rather than clarity. The Trinity is the most profound mystery at the very centre of all reality; it is no surprise that this is beyond our comprehension.

When I explain the doctrine of the Trinity to my children I make a point of saying I do not fully understand it and, indeed, no one can because it is just that profound and amazing! This is ultimate reality! I give the child as much as I can but, personally, I do not try to make the mystery more accessible with analogy. Again, I’m not condemning doing that! I’m just sharing what I’ve done.

God has revealed something of Himself in regard to His Being — this mysterious ‘ultimate reality’ — and what He has revealed we can understand and affirm so far as He has granted us the ability. This mysterious God is always and forever One and Three but in different respects.

I usually explain to the child that, just as we understand what it is to know different persons (Mommy, brother, Daddy), we know that there are three distinct persons when we talk about God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. But unlike us, these Three aren’t separate each from the other in the same way that we are. Here is part of the mystery! Depending on the age and capacity of the child, that may be enough for the time, or I may introduce language about ‘Being’ and ‘Essence’, and how that distinguishes us each from the other, but in the case of the mysterious Trinity this is the very thing in which the Three are One! It’s heady stuff and I want them to develop an awe of it! I want them to be comfortable with the idea that God is ultimately so amazing that I cannot fully grasp everything about Him! That’s okay! He’s just that profoundly marvelous!

So, my thinking on this approach is that analogies of the Trinity are inherently frustrating and counterproductive. An effective analogy must have some fundamental aspect in common with the thing it is intended to illustrate. But this is precisely where every analogy of the Trinity breaks down so quickly! Nothing is ‘three’ in precisely the way the Divine Persons are Three! Nothing is One in precisely the way God is One! Consequently, the very thing the analogy is intended to do it is profoundly ill equipped to accomplish. The more one uses an analogy to grasp the Trinity, the more failing the analogy becomes! So, instead, I encourage my child to embrace the mysterious nature and awesome incomprehensibility of our marvelous God. I encourage him to hold onto what God has given us, but be satisfied with the limits of our comprehension.

I only offer this as a warm recommendation of the direction I have chosen, not at all as a condemnation or discouragement for those who have chosen a different direction. God must bless our efforts as parents and teachers or all our efforts should surely fail! God grant us wisdom in shepherding the godly offspring He desires!


Excellent resources on a biblical view of evangelism

2009 06 7 OSA recent request from a friend led me to look for something concise written on the topic of a classically Reformed view of evangelism. Gladly, I found just such a concise collection in the June-July 2009 edition of the [OPC](http://www.opc.org/)’s periodical *[Ordained Servant](http://www.opc.org/os.html)* entitled “[Evangelism: Whose Responsibility?](http://j.mp/QbLAqb)”

The editor begins his introduction as follows.

> The late Rev. Charles Dennison was relentless in challenging me to found my views of the Christian’s duty in evangelism and culture on the text of Scripture and the confessional understanding of that text. I am pleased that my dear friend lived to see me change my views substantially in both areas. I was already convinced of the exegetical principle, which my ordination vows required me to believe. But like the proverbial pudding, the proof was in the exegesis. Shortly after I was ordained in 1980, Charlie gave me a copy of a paper he had presented to the Presbytery of Ohio that same year, “Evangelism and the Church,” in which he upheld a high view of the visible church and its offices with reference to evangelism. He courageously took issue with the prevalent view that evangelism is the obligation of every believer. During the previous decade every-member evangelism had been popularized within NAPARC churches by D. James Kennedy’s Evangelism Explosion (1970).

The periodical contains three articles that are concise, biblical, confessional, and make helpful historical connections.

* [Ambassadors of the Heavenly King](http://j.mp/Q6fE8Z) by Gregory E. Reynolds

* [Evangelism and the Church](http://j.mp/Q6fFd1) by Charles G. Dennison

* [Evangelistic Responsibility](http://j.mp/QbMdjk) by T. David Gordon

While one never endorses everything written by particular authors, these have, on the whole, done an excellent job here on this topic.

In the [March 2010](http://j.mp/Q6gumb) issue, *Ordained Servant* published a [thoughtful rejoinder](http://j.mp/QbMT8z) by Dr R. Fowler White to Dr T. David Gordon’s earlier article. In the same edition, Dr Gordon’s [response](http://j.mp/Q6gouG) is included, continuing his defense of the classical Reformed position.

* [T. David Gordon’s Essay “Evangelistic Responsibility” in Ordained Servant Online: A Critique and an Alternative](http://j.mp/QbMT8z) by R. Fowler White

* [Reply to R. Fowler White’s “Critique and Alternative”](http://j.mp/Q6gouG) by T. David Gordon

I hope these articles will be found helpful by all in coming to a more biblical view of the duties of evangelism.


How critical is the doctrine of the Lord’s Supper?

There are more fundamental and principled reasons for full subscription to the Confessional Standards of the church, but this report from Pastor Wes White gives a practical example of the trouble caused by so-called “good faith” subscription; in this case it is in relation to the doctrine of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.

PCA’s Review of Presbytery Records approves and rejects paedocommunion


The PCA’s Review of Presbytery Records committee (RPR) met this past week, and paedocommunion was the hot issue. The result was conflicting main motions. In the case of Pacific Northwest Presbytery and Central Florida, RPR said paedocommunion was not a view hostile to our system of doctrine. In the case of Eastern Pennsylvania, RPR said paedocommunion was hostile to the system, stating it was wrong for Eastern Pennsylvania to ordain two candidates who held this view. In all cases, there will be minority reports, but the minority reports will be arguing the exact opposite positions.

Here’s how it happened.

Head on over to Pastor Wes White’s blog to read the rest of the report.


Third Rejoinder on Images of the Incarnate Word

Duet5 8Dr Gentry gave a lengthier reply to my second rejoinder. This was very generous of him and though I am grateful for his efforts, I am disappointed at what his reply reveals. Dr Gentry failed to understand or avoided addressing most of my objections and arguments. The result is that he spends much of his article pursing matters that either are not in dispute, or are beside the point.

As Dr Gentry has to move on from this subject, my third rejoinder is intended to be brief and to avoid introducing new arguments. I hope that it will remove confusion and bring greater clarity to the objections and arguments I’ve already made.

I am very thankful that Dr Gentry has taken the valuable time to interact with the critique I offered. Understanding that Dr Gentry intends no further articles on this topic at this time, I do not wish to introduce anything substantially new here, but simply to correct what appear to be some misunderstandings of my objections and very briefly to respond to Dr Gentry’s misunderstandings of the quotation from professor John Murray.

First, Dr Gentry misunderstands my objection regarding the scope of the second commandment. He uses a substantial portion of his reply citing historical evidence from Reformed and Presbyterian sources demonstrating that the second commandment governs worship. However, this matter was never in dispute. Rather, I objected to Dr Gentry’s assertion (repeated here) that in relation to images, the second commandment only forbids the use of them in worship. Earlier Dr Gentry seemed to indicate something more, that all images of the divine persons in relation to their divine nature are forbidden categorically whether in worship or not. Dr Gentry’s position is unclear on this point in his final articles. My comments about the Reformed tradition had to do with this point, namely, that the Reformed tradition has typically understood the second commandment not only to govern worship generally, but also to forbid all images of God whether in worship or not, and in the case of the second Person of the Trinity, this prohibition has traditionally included the physical aspect of His human nature.

Second, Dr Gentry misunderstands my objection in relation to God’s invisibility and what I called “original source material.” It is indeed impossible to portray God in His invisible essence, but that is really beside the point. We’re discussing what can be seen. On multiple occasions God portrayed Himself visibly to the eyes of men, and that prior to the Incarnation, yet men were forbidden to imitate such portrayals. My citation of Turretin was to show his agreement that God’s own portrayals of Himself do not give warrant for men to imitate such portrayals. On that same principle I argue that since Christ is God’s own Image of Himself, the Incarnation does not give warrant for men to imitate this image. I demonstrate this with an exegetical and theological argument from Exodus 24, Deuteronomy 4, and Colossians 1. Dr Gentry fails to deal with this biblical argument in any substantial way, leaving it stand unanswered.

Third, Dr Gentry misunderstands the import of John Murray’s statement which I quoted. Dr Murray is making the classic argument that images of Christ must necessarily break either the second or third commandment. Firstly, Dr Gentry protests that he experiences no worshipful response to the truths about Christ communicated for “educational” purposes by these pretended images of Him. This would appear to be contrary to what is required from us by the third commandment. But if the truths communicated by such images evoke the appropriate response required by the third commandment, then we have necessarily broken the second commandment by being moved to a right reverence of God but by a wrong means, namely that of a man-made image. Secondly, Dr Gentry then offers a reductio ad absurdum which fails by reason of the informal fallacy of weak analogy. The corresponding elements are not the paint and canvas of the image, and the ink and paper of the bible. Rather, the analogy is between the two disparate means of representing the human Image of God. The former means is visual, man-made, and forbidden; the latter is verbal, God-breathed, and commanded.

Again, I am very thankful for Dr Gentry’s generosity in engaging me in this discussion. While we continue to disagree on this important moral issue, I trust that our Lord Christ, whom we both love and serve, will bring us to one mind in His appointed time.


Second Rejoinder on Images of the Incarnate Word

Decalogue parchment by Jekuthiel Sofer 1768Dr Gentry extended his series of articles in favour of visual portrayals of Christ to a third and fourth article. In his series on this subject, Dr Gentry has alluded to my critique as presenting an “extreme” position, and suggesting that responses to his argument are not exegetical and theological, but merely emotional. I hope that my second response will show that the traditional Reformed and Presbyterian view which I have defended and which is held forth in the Westminster Standards is not extreme, but plainly biblical, and that our disagreement with his error is not an emotional response, but the result of exegetical and theological reasoning. My second rejoinder was as follows.

Dr Gentry has taught that we may not make images of God, but we may make images of the bodily aspect of the human nature of Christ. Reformed and Presbyterian believers for hundreds of years have objected to such teaching for both exegetical and theological reasons. While Dr Gentry suggests that the second commandment is limited strictly in its scope to the use of images for worship, this is not the standard Reformed exegesis. Similarly, Dr Gentry suggests that we may represent the bodily aspect of Christ’s human nature just as we may portray any human being, but this is contrary to standard Reformed theology regarding this matter.

First, in relation to the exegesis of the second commandment and related passages, Dr Gentry holds forth two prohibitions: We may not visually represent the divine nature, and we may not worship idols. Reformed and Presbyterian exegetes have typically come to a different understanding of what is found in the relevant passages, namely, we must not make images of an object of worship, and we must not use such an image in worship. Both these are found in the explicit wording of the second command, but further clarified in related passages, Deuteronomy 5.8, “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness…” and further at verse 9, “You shall not bow down to them or serve them…” Are all images of every sort forbidden? No, images of various creatures were used by God’s command in the Tabernacle (e.g., Exodus 26.1). So what images are forbidden? The preceding chapter of Deuteronomy sets the stage for understanding which images are forbidden. Deuteronomy 4.15-18 demonstrates that it is God Himself that must not be represented by some work of man’s hands. “Take careful heed to yourselves, for you saw no form when the LORD spoke to you at Horeb … lest you act corruptly and make for yourselves a carved image in the form of any figure…” God gave the command at Horeb in such a way as to teach this prohibition by example. God did not reveal Himself to the congregation in any form at Mount Horeb so as to teach them that they must make no form representing Him. “You heard the sound of the words, but saw no form; you only heard a voice… Take careful heed to yourselves, for you saw no form when the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire…” (Deuteronomy 4.12, 15).

We must note here that the passage examined above holds forth an express command forbidding the making of an image of God in any form whatsoever. Dr Gentry suggests that this does not apply in relation to our Lord Christ, because Christ has a body that can be seen. According to Dr Gentry, this means we are free to make visible representations of Christ. Dr Gentry would seem to be suggesting that the prohibition given in the Old Testament was partly due to a lack of original source material — that is, there was nothing to see, and so nothing to make. Dr Gentry suggests that the Incarnation changed all that. But this is shown to be false by the many theophanies God wrought in the Old Testament. We may note especially the visible representation God wrought before the 70 Elders in the immediate context of the events at Mount Horeb. “Then Moses went up, also Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and they saw the God of Israel. And there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and it was like the very heavens in its clarity… So they saw God, and they ate and drank.” (Exodus 24.9-11) So God formed a visible representation of the invisible God which these men saw, yet they were forbidden to make such a visible representation for themselves. God may make such a representation of Himself, but man may not. That seems plain enough from the text. And it also seems plain, as Dr Gentry rightly points out, that Christ’s body is an “image” of the invisible God prepared by God Himself. “He [Christ] is the image of the invisible God…” (Colossians 1.15). Now, given the remarkably clear prohibitions against manmade representations of God, even in the face of God’s own revealing of Himself visibly, why would Dr Gentry think that this prohibition ceases to apply in the case of the clearest and most permanent visible representation of the invisible God? Is there a single example from Scripture of any mere man making such an image of Christ? Is there any example from Scripture of a manmade image representing the invisible God that was not roundly condemned and cursed by God?

Far from being an “extreme” position as Dr Gentry suggests, the principles described here are plain enough from Scripture. It is a part of the traditional Reformed and Presbyterian view regarding the second commandment and images. For example, Francis Turretin (d. 1687) explains, “Although God sometimes manifested himself in a visible form and in such an appearance is described to us in Scripture…, it does not follow that it is lawful to represent him by an image. The same God who thus appeared nevertheless strongly forbade the Israelites to fabricate any representation of him…” (Institutes of Elenctic Theology, Vol. 2, p. 65). It is puzzling to read Dr Gentry describe a standard Reformed and Presbyterian position on images as “extreme.” With much respect to the learned doctor, from a committed and confessional Reformed Presbyterian viewpoint, Dr Gentry’s position would appear to be the one in the extreme.

Dr Gentry objects that if the traditional Reformed understanding were true, a first century person would be sinning by recollecting how God had revealed Himself visibly in Christ, but this is readily seen to be false. Such a person would not be sinning by recollecting what God had revealed precisely because God had revealed it to him. Of course, this would be true for those who experienced the various theophanies, as well. Dr Gentry further objects that we ought to be able to represent what God has represented, but as Turretin points out, this does not follow. Syllogistically, Dr Gentry’s argument clearly fails: God forbids images of God; God has made an image of Himself in Christ; Therefore, we may make images of Christ Who is the image of God. The conclusion simply does not follow from the premises. Further, we may ask, where do the Scriptures teach that we may pretend to do whatever God has actually done relative to revealing Himself visibly? Clearly this is a false assumption and there are no biblical arguments supporting it. Indeed, we have explicit prohibitions against it.

Finally, we may benefit from considering the reasoned theological and moral argument of Professor John Murray (d. 1975) on this matter. He points out that anything truthful conveyed by pretended images of Christ must necessarily evoke an appropriately worshipful response within us since it relates to Christ. But this is precisely what the second commandment condemns, all worship evoked by manmade images. “[P]ictures of Christ are in principle a violation of the second commandment. A picture of Christ, if it serves any useful purpose, must evoke some thought or feeling respecting him and, in view of what he is, this thought or feeling will be worshipful. We cannot avoid making the picture a medium of worship. But since the materials for this medium of worship are not derived from the only revelation we possess respecting Jesus, namely, Scripture, the worship is constrained by a creation of the human mind that has no revelatory warrant. This is will-worship. For the principle of the second commandment is that we are to worship God only in ways prescribed and authorized by him. It is a grievous sin to have worship constrained by a human figment, and that is what a picture of the Saviour involves.”

We trust that it is clear from all of the foregoing that ours is not an “emotional reaction” as Dr Gentry suggests, but a reasoned exegetical and theological objection.


On Images of the Incarnate Word

91px Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn 079Over at Postmillennialism.com, the Reverend Dr Kenneth L. Gentry has been posting a series of articles in defence of visible representations of the Lord Jesus Christ. I responded to this latest article as follows.

There is a fundamental flaw in Dr Gentry’s argument defending images and other visible representations of Christ. Dr Gentry explains that it is only images of the divine persons in their divine essence which are forbidden. Indeed, Dr Gentry explains that because God is a spirit, He is incapable of being represented visibly and thus this is the point of the second commandment in relation to images of God. Dr Gentry goes on to explain that the body of Christ is not essentially divine but human and thus visible and capable of visible representation. This is the crux of Dr Gentry’s argument in defence of visible representations of Christ.

While this distinction between the human nature and the divine nature of the Theanthropic Person is accurate and essential to biblical confessional orthodoxy, it fails as a defence for making images of Christ. First, we should note that the premise framed by Dr Gentry is demonstrably false. While it is true that God is a spirit, and thus invisible in His essence, Dr Gentry’s suggestion — that this in and of itself makes it immoral to represent visibly any or all of the divine persons — is not true. We know this is not true because God Himself, the invisible God, repeatedly represented Himself visibly throughout redemptive history before and after the incarnation of Christ. As it is impossible for God to sin, this visible representation of the Divine cannot be sinful in and of itself because God Himself did it.

And now we begin to see the real issue at hand. God alone may represent Himself visibly. This is part of what is forbidden to man in the second commandment, namely, 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” (from WLC 109). This has never been forbidden to God — it is indeed a prerogative which God reserves exclusively to Himself. God has, throughout redemptive history, represented Himself outwardly in various images and likenesses. This prerogative of God has always been forbidden to man.

The Incarnation of Christ is certainly the superlative epitome of Divine visible self representation, but the Incarnation does nothing to change the fundamental prohibition expressed in the second commandment. This visible representation is a prerogative that belongs to God exclusively. Dr Gentry’s own comments highlight this fact when he notes, ‘God himself prepared this “image,” the body of Christ.’ Exactly. This is a prerogative that is strictly reserved to God Himself and forbidden to man. The incarnation does not change that moral fact, it demonstrates it.


The Presbyterian Clerical Collar

JamesHenleyThornwellI have more than once heard a harsh word by fellow Reformed Presbyterians against the Presbyterian clerical collar. The charge is typically made that this attire is Romish and contrary to the Regulative Principle of Worship. On the former charge, it turns out that the clerical collar is of an entirely Presbyterian origin. A Presbyterian minister on facebook thoughtfully shared [a very enlightening article](http://j.mp/J1p1jn) which dispels a good deal of the misinformation regarding the history of the clerical collar.

On the latter charge, if this attire were laden with worship significance, then it would be contrary to the RPW since no such attire is commanded particularly for worship. But again, such is not the case. Rather, the collar was historically worn as the ordinary attire appropriate for those holding the *public office* of the Ministry of the Word. As such, it is simply a *public uniform* relating to the public station of the one wearing it. It has no particular significance in relation to worship, *per se*. Its significance is generic in relation to the public office of the Minister in any public context.


American Presbyterians and Holy Days

Pastor Andrew Webb has a [brief paper](http://www.fpcjackson.org/resources/apologetics/Sabbath,%20Worship%20and%20Holidays/Sabbath/sabbath_webb.htm) describing the change in American Presbyterian practise over the better part of the last two centuries. He begins as follows.

> Dr. Samuel Miller, Professor of Ecclesiastical History and Church Government at Princeton Seminary wrote confidently in 1835, “Presbyterians do not observe Holy Days.”1 Yet some 164 years after the book in which Miller made that bold declaration was published, an informal survey of 30 churches in the Presbyterian Church in America, the largest of the theologically conservative Presbyterian bodies in the United States, indicated that 83% of the churches do regularly celebrate Holy Days.

> What happened in those intervening 164 years? Did the practice of Presbyterians change significantly in that time or was Miller’s declaration inaccurate when he made it? What might have brought about such a radical change if it did in fact occur? This essay will seek to answer these questions. Because of space constraints, considerably more time will be spent examining the history of the development of Presbyterian practice in the United States regarding Holy Days than in examining the theological foundations for that practice.

Here are some interesting excerpts.

> Samuel Miller appears to be largely correct then when he declared, “Presbyterians do not observe Holy Days.” This was certainly the understanding of the first Presbyterians, it had been codified in their creedal documents, and it had been their practice both in Scotland and America for over 200 years. What then happened in the 19th and 20th centuries to change the practice of Presbyterians?


> The 1906 edition of the [PCUSA] Book of Common Worship was eventually replaced twenty-two years later by the edition of 1932. The 1932 edition continued the advance towards a liturgical format and included even more emphasis on the Church Year, with prayers provided for Lent, Palm Sunday, Pentecost, and All Saints’ Day. The 1932 edition was also the first edition to be officially accepted by the Southern Presbyterian Church. This was even more startling in light of the fact that in 1899 the Southern General Assembly had declared:

>> “There is no warrant in Scripture for the observance of Christmas and Easter as holy days, rather the contrary (see Gal. 4:9-11; Col. 2:16-21), and such observance is contrary to the principles of the Reformed Faith, conducive to will worship, and not in harmony with the simplicity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”23


> So while we can answer clearly why Presbyterians who belong to the PCUSA observe Holy Days, for they changed their doctrinal standards to allow for the practice, one cannot answer that question when it comes to members of other bodies that have not, such as the PCA. Their doctrinal standards clearly do not permit the practice, and yet it would seem that the majority of PCA churches observe Holy Days anyway.

*TE Andrew Webb is Pastor of Cross Creek Presbyterian Church in Fayetteville, N.C.*


The First Day Sabbath

I ran across a helpful article by O. Palmer Robertson on why the New Covenant Sabbath Day is on the first day of the week rather than the seventh (HT: @RScottClark on Twitter). Dr Robertson begins with the following.

Why on Sunday?

This question can be embarrassing, can’t it? Why do you worship on Sunday? Doesn’t the Bible say that the seventh day is the time God consecrated for his people? Where does the Bible say that Christians should sanctify the first day of the week, rather than the seventh day?

It’s a good question, you will have to admit. It’s also a question that needs an answer. So what can be said?

He goes on to give a very good biblical summary throughout the article. At one point he enumerates as follows.

The Resurrection of Christ

So it should not be surprising to find the disciples following a new pattern of worship and work. They began their week assembling with the resurrected Christ. Consider carefully the following evidence that the redemption accomplished through Christ’s resurrection determined the day for Christian worship:

  1. Jesus Christ arose on the first day of the week (Matt. 28:1). He entered into his rest from labor, not on Saturday (the seventh day), but on Sunday (the first day of the week). As Jesus entered into his rest on the first day, so he encourages us to begin the week by resting in the confidence that he will provide for all our needs for seven days with only six days of labor.

  2. Jesus Christ appeared to his assembled disciples on the first day of the week, as well as to Mary and to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (John 20:10; Luke 24:13). By these appearances on the first day of the week, the resurrected Lord set a pattern for meeting with his disciples. They began expecting to meet with him on the day of his resurrection, which is the first day of the week.

  3. Jesus appeared to the assembled disciples one week later on the first day of the week, with doubting Thomas present this time (John 20:26). Already a new pattern of assembly for worship was emerging. God’s new covenant people were making it a habit to assemble together on the first day of the week, the day of Christ’s resurrection. Jesus honored these assemblies by appearing to the disciples at this time, and encouraged their faith in him as the resurrected Lord.

  4. The resurrected Christ poured out his Spirit on the assembled disciples exactly fifty days after the Sabbath of the Jewish Passover, which was the first day of the week (Acts 2:1; cf. Lev. 23:15–16). The word Pentecost means “fifty,” referring to the fifty days after the Sabbath of the Passover. Forty-nine days would span seven Jewish Sabbaths or Saturdays, and the fiftieth day would then fall on a Sunday, the first day of the week. So it would appear that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit came on the first day of the week, when God’s new covenant people were assembled for worship. So the pattern would be established more firmly. Both the resurrection of Christ and the outpouring of the Spirit occurred on the first day of the week.

  5. As Paul spread the gospel of Christ among Jews and Gentiles throughout the world, the first day of the week was used as the time for Christians to assemble for worship. In Greece, Paul and Luke assembled with the people of God to break bread and to hear the preaching of God’s word on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). This was the day that the people of the new covenant assembled to hear God’s word.

  6. Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth to establish the pattern for their presenting of offerings for the service of the Lord. He ordered the Christians in Corinth to follow the pattern that had already been set with the churches in Galatia (1 Cor. 16:1). On the first day of every week they were to consecrate their offerings to the Lord (1 Cor. 16:2). This schedule for honoring the Lord had become the pattern for God’s people throughout the churches. The churches were not to present their offerings any time they wished. Rather, on the first day of each week, all the Corinthian Christians were to follow the pattern that had already been set among the Galatian churches. The first day of the week was the designated time for the presentation of offerings to the Lord.

The Lord’s Day

  1. The apostle John, now aged and perhaps the only living member of the original twelve apostles, had been banished to the island of Patmos. In this circumstance, he could not assemble for worship with the people of God. But the apostle informs us that “on the Lord’s Day” he was “in the Spirit” (Rev. 1:10). The significance of his being “in the Spirit” seems quite clear. He had entered into the presence of the Lord by the power of the Holy Spirit, and was offering his adoration to him.

But what is the meaning of the phrase “on the Lord’s Day”? In one sense, it may be said that every day of the week belongs to the Lord, and so might be called the “Lord’s day.” But John is referring to something more specific. He does not speak merely of “a” day that has been consecrated to the Lord. Instead he speaks of “the” Lord’s Day.

That one day that may be called “the Lord’s Day” was the day in which he proved to the world that he was Lord. On one particular day, Jesus made the universe understand that he was Lord of all. That day was the day of his resurrection. On that day, he conquered the last of the sinner’s enemies, which is death. On the first day of the week, he showed that his power could overcome all enemies, even death itself. That day is “the Lord’s Day.”

So by the end of the lifetime of the first apostles, Christians knew about one day of the week that was called “the Lord’s Day.” On that day, they celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. That day became the time for their assembly as they rejoiced in the resurrection of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.

I commend the article for your edification. This article is hosted on the web site for First Presbyterian Church of Jackson, Mississippi under their Sabbath Resources section. The following note is included at the footer of the article.

The author has served as a pastor and a seminary professor. Presently he teaches at African Bible College in Malawi and Knox Theological Seminary in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Reprinted from New Horizons, March 2003.



Protest Filed Against PacificNW Presbytery Decision

The Rev. Jason Stellman was the prosecutor in the case examining the Rev. Dr Peter Leithart. I was disappointed that the Pacific Northwest Presbytery ruled against the prosecution in that case, but I am encouraged that orderly procedures continue in this case in keeping with our Book of Church Order. The Rev. Jason Stellman is filing a protest against the ruling and has begun publishing portions of that protest on his blog at the following links.