Thursday, April 8, 2010

Doctrine which doesn't produce Devotion

Doctrine which doesn't produce devotion will produce pride, which will produce all manner of sin and compromise!
The rise of interest in Calvinism in our day is something which would be foolish to commend too quickly. It is true that true doctrine leads to true devotion, or perhaps we should say true doctrine SHOULD lead to true devotion.
Spiritual maturity is not measured by the amount of intellectual knowledge we possess but by the application of the knowledge we have. (Hebrews 5:14)
There are far too many Calvinists who consume facts, reading up on the Reformers, Puritans, Edwards, Whitefield, Spurgeon, Lloyd-Jones and the like while they pick and choose what they will receive. The sort of nostalgia which enjoys reading and listening to the 'classics' but refuses to walk in the old paths which is a major reason why they finished so well is to be regretted. It has dawned on me recently that of the several books, sermons, or articles that I have read about 'how to' do church the right way, they all seem to downplay the importance of prayer. Prayer is now seen among many, especially in the reformed crowd to be something which you 'touch' upon (usually limiting it by some short time slot) but not something which you put a lot of emphasis upon. It is nothing short of tragic that church has been reduced to a science, and regardless of how witty, even doctrinally rich our suggestions if we don't emphasize the HEART of the church then we are left with an empty shell.
Prayer IS the evidence of our dependence upon God! When Spurgeon could point to the prayers of his church as the 'reason' why such blessing has come upon them, when George Mueller could also point to prayer as the 'secret' to why such things could be accomplished in the orphanage, there should be none who don't unanimously declare 'if that be so, glory be to God!' Likewise when we hear of ministers whom God used mightily and it is pointed out that such men were first men of prayer, we are not only convicted but delighted to learn that IT WASN'T anything special within them.
James 5:16,17 16.......The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
17Elijah was a man just like us.............

Like it or not the PROMISES attached to the commands and exhortations to pray CLEARLY point out that God desires to work through the 'means' of grace because they bring Him much glory. However of the many popular churches today, of the many witty young church gurus out there how many are described as being 'men of prayer'???
Once again we can turn to James and find 'the reason' why we so desperately search for that ministry which is really doing it right,
It is clear that '..you have not because you ASK not...' James 4:2

Without such personal and corporate devotion we run the risk of modeling either the Ephesus church (Revelation 2:1-7) which 'lost their first love' OR we model the Laodicean church (Revelation 3:14-22) which operated as though it 'needed nothing'.
A church which has a firm grasp upon doctrine AND a fervent expression of dependence in MUCH praying (individually and corporately) will be a church which, DESPITE structural flaws (such as the crowding of programs) will produce a loving community which seeks to edify the church and make disciples.
What sort of Calvinism do you possess?

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