Vol. 30 Num. 45
First Published: November 13, 1997
We live in a time of spiritual and theological tumult in the various evangelical churches. Even though many of us recently enjoyed a study luncheon celebrating the impact of the great sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation, we look around ourselves to witness, on virtually every side, a loss of the distinctive doctrines of the Reformation. Why is it that in evangelical and Protestant churches where the Reformed faith has been heralded for generations we see this loss of faithful teaching of and belief in the faith once delivered?
Sadly, it seems, we have lost the doctrines of the Reformation because we have lost the God of the Reformers. That is, behind this theological crisis we see in the church today, there is a spiritual crisis. For just as it is true that false doctrine cannot lead to the living God, so also it is true that without fellowship with the living God, true doctrine cannot be maintained. Without true godliness to anchor us in the truth, we will follow after the imaginations of our heart in our theology. I believe that we are seeing the dreaded consequences of this spiritual axiom in our own day and time.
What is the remedy to this situation? I would propose to you that the theology of the Bible provides the remedy. We must be reacquainted with the God of the Scriptures. We must refuse to define him by the standards and expectations of our age, but must listen to Him define Himself as he speaks to us through the inspired Scriptures. Then God Himself must become our greatest desire; this is my first suggestion. God Himself must become our priority. No longer can God be seen as someone who is simply a means to an end, a means to accomplishing our own purposes, a means to our achieving whatever goals we have, but God Himself must become our greatest desire and if He is to become our greatest desire, we must recover a view of His greatness. This was a key to the spirituality of the Reformers, that was the spirituality of the Psalmist, and of all the writers of Scripture.
If we are to become lost in the glory of who God is, and if we are to become lost in the pursuit of all the glory that it is to fellowship with Him, we must be convinced of His greatness to the bottom of our being. Christians must re-focus their lives on God Himself, reorder their thinking according to His Word, and let God be God just as He has revealed Himself in the Word. We must be God-centered in our thinking, God-fearing in our consciences, and God-honoring in our living. We must recover the same view of the greatness of God. We must recover those spiritual priorities that our catechism sets out so beautifully when it says "the chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever." Our greatest goal must be to glorify Him. Our greatest fruition must be to enjoy our fellowship with Him both here and hereafter. Until we do that, we'll never recover the great faith of the Reformers because we will never have recovered the God that they knew and loved and worshiped.