Location: Greensboro, NC, United States

Monday, September 06, 2010

Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 88

Q. 88. What are the outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption?

A. The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption are, his ordinances, especially the Word, sacraments, and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for salvation.

A great division exists between modern Evangelicalism and what would rightly be called Historic Christianity, and that division has to do with the question of how God gives salvation to His people. In modern Evangelicalism, individualism is... the operating philosophy. Salvation is about "me & Jesus". The institutional Church, while an okay idea, is secondary, if not a hindrance to spiritual growth. And the main way that a Christian's faith is nourished is through his "quiet time". With such a philosophy, the constant wandering of sheep from fold to fold should surprise no one.

Historic Christianity, on the other hand, sees the individual's salvation as normally connected to the institutional Church. While one's personal time of Bible reading and prayer is a good and normal practice, and while God uses all things in a Christian's life to save him (Romans 8:28), God's primary and normal means of saving a person and nourishing his faith is through the public worship of the Church. The Means of Grace given to the Church by God are public and external to the individual, neither private nor merely internal, though they then work salvation internally for the Christian. Contrary to Evangelicalism, Baptism and the Lord's Supper are not mere acts of devotion and obedience on the part of a Christian, but means by which God delivers the salvation procured by Christ to His people. The public reading and preaching of the Word of God, along with corporate prayer, are salvific, and are central to the life of the Christian in a way that one's personal devotions cannot substitute.

If there is a section of the Catechism that the modern Christian needs to hear, it is the next few questions. Jesus Christ didn't die to save lots of disconnected individuals, but to save a group of people, His Church. There are no Lone Ranger Christians.


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