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1991 Issue 4

Chapter XXI, of The Westminster Confession of Faith, has to do with "Religious Worship, And The Sabbath Day." There we read, in section I, that:

"...the acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by Himself, and so limited by His own revealed will, that He may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scripture."

The doctrine of God, writes Gregg Singer, is central to John Calvin, "simply because it is central to the Scriptures which reveal Him. If Lutheranism found its center in the problem of man's salvation, Calvinism, on the other hand, looks primarily to the glory of God as its focal point: man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever" (John Calvin: His Roots And Fruits, p.11).

Singer is correct. Calvin, in a letter (reply) to Cardinal Sadolet, writes that a man's thoughts must never be confined to matters regarding himself; rather, the prime motive of man's existence is to be found in a "zeal to illustrate the glory of God. For we are born first of all for God, and not for ourselves. As all things flowed from Him, and subsist in Him ... they ought to be referred to Him" (Selected Works Of John Calvin, edited by Beveridge and Bonnet, Vol. I, p. 33).

Truth is bound up with God and, for us, it is found in the meaning and in the interpretation which He gives to everything He has created. Apart from God and His revelation, truth does not exist. Truth is dependent on God. Where God is, there truth is. Since the whole of creation, right down to its minutest detail, bears witness to God, His truth extends throughout His creation. That being so, there is no place for anything that would deny what God has revealed or declared. To deny the truth or to seek to establish one's own Word independently of God and in contradiction to what God bas declared is nothing less than high treason against Him upon whom the whole creation is dependent. It warrants death and damnation. The false witness of the rebellious Satan led to the fall of man (Genesis 3:1-6). The true witness of our Lord Jesus Christ leads to our redemption. Life apart from Christ, who is "the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6), exists in the negative and temporary framework of falsehood. It has no lasting foundation. For "other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ" (I Corinthians 3:11). The truth is basic to the Kingdom of God and the grace and truth which came by Jesus Christ(John 1:17), in time and on earth, ensures the progress and the triumph of that kingdom, in time and on earth. The advance of God's kingdom requires the eradication of falsehood hence the commandment, "thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor."

This article by Rev. J.L. Wilson (1809-1886), PCUS missionary to W. Africa, was published in The Southern Presbyterian Review, December 1848.

"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." This stern declaration wrung from the disciples of Christ the earnest inquiry, "Who then can be saved?" To this the Savior replies, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." In other words, what is impossible with men is possible with God. What we can never effect by our own unaided efforts, may easily be achieved by throwing ourselves upon the almighty power of Jehovah.

Hath God set before us such a glorious prize as the saint's rest, and made us capable of such inconceivable happiness? Why then do not all the children of this kingdom exert themselves more to help others to the enjoyment of it? Alas, how little are poor souls about us beholden to most of us! We see the glory of the kingdom, and they do not. We see the misery of those that are out of it, and they do not. We see them wandering quite out of the way, and know, if they hold on, they can never come there, and they themselves discern it not. And yet we will not seriously show them their danger and error, and help to bring them into 1he way, that they may live. Alas, how few Christians are there to be found, that set themselves with all their might to save souls! No thanks to us, if heaven be not empty, and if the souls of our brethren perish not for ever. Considering how important this duty is to the glory of God, and the happiness of men, I will show how it is to be performed; why it is so much neglected; and then offer some considerations to persuade to it.

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:19, 20).

There are few passages of Scripture more familiar to Christians than these words of our Lord Jesus Christ recorded in the 28th chapter of Matthew. In our age, in fact, they are perhaps too familiar. They are so familiar that many who claim to follow Christ have forgotten their significance, weakened their impact, and narrowed their scope. 20th century evangelicalism has lost sight of the greatness of Christ's Great Commission. To most Christians of the 1990's, the scope of the Great Commission has been reduced from the glorious task of bringing entire nations into subjection to Jesus Christ to the futile task of an evangelical mandate doomed to failure.