Tag Archives: Westminster Confession of Faith

The Age of Accountability?

Is there an “age of accountability” for children? No, I do not believe so.

The term “age of accountability” has become a theological term in many circles.  According to Theopedia, it is defined to be “that time in the development of a person when he or she can and invariably does sin against God and thus stands in the need of personal redemption through Jesus Christ.” Often contained in this teaching is that there is a certain age, often deemed to be 12 years old though some might make it younger, before which a child either does not sin or at least is not held accountable for his sins before God.

So typically, the doctrine of the age of accountability includes the teaching that the child will not be judged guilty before God. In other words, if the child dies prior to this age, he receives the gift of eternal life (i.e., he goes to heaven). John MacArthur, who states that this doctrine is not clearly identified in Scripture, still concludes without qualification that for any child dying at a young age “that up until that point of real saving faith, God in His mercy, would save that child.”

So what should we think about children, […]

Speaking of the Spirit

Reformed Christians are often accused, perhaps rightly so, of not emphasizing the person and work of the Holy Spirit sufficiently enough. As the Father has sent Jesus as our God-man mediator, from worship to evangelism our focus is to call people to come to the Father through the Son. We speak of being Christ-centered in our worship and preaching, as we should.  Yet often we can slip into “binitarian” tendencies instead of practicing a robust Trinitarian faith by not recognizing fully enough our dependency on the Spirit of God. Simply put, we fail to speak of the Spirit like we ought.

J.I. Packer has done a great deal to help us in the Reformed faith honor the Spirit’s role, most notably from his book on the third person of the Trinity entitled Keeping in Step with the Spirit: Finding Fullness in Our Walk with God. However, note how his familiar “hidden floodlight” illustration could be easily misunderstood if taken out of context.

I remember walking to a church one winter evening to preach on the words ‘he shall glorify me,’ seeing the building floodlit as I turned the corner, and realizing that this was exactly the illustration my ministry needed. When flood-lighting is […]

If Church Isn’t Necessary, Let’s Quit.

Here’s a proposition for the new year. I propose that if church isn’t necessary, we quit. I mean it. If it’s not necessary let’s cancel all of our services, board up the windows, lock the doors, and send everyone on their merry way. Sure, Christians have been gathering together to hear the Word read and preached, to sing with grace in their hearts, and observe the sacraments for over two thousand years. But if it’s not necessary let’s be the first generation to finally end the practice. Let’s silence the pulpit, close up the song books, dry up the baptismal waters, and put away the bread and wine. If church isn’t necessary, let’s quit.

Why? Because I’m convinced if it’s not necessary it’s too difficult and not worth my time. Listening to sermons is hard and it’s not really my learning style. So, let’s quit. Singing is outdated and the thought of someone hearing me slightly off key or out of tune is unbearable. Let’s quit. Praying together is boring and I’m too easily distracted. Let’s quit. I have my own friends and family and people at church can be hard to get along with. Let’s quit. It’s also too time […]

Confessional Boundary Stones

Do not move the ancient boundary which your fathers have set.” -Proverbs 22:28

Around western Pennsylvania where I live, it is common to see yards and farmlands with stone walls taken from the the abundant flagstone found in this region. As you walk or drive by one of these walls, they convey a sense of boundary, antiquity, and definition. The walls almost seem to give off an aura of peace and permanence.

In recent weeks the Lord has given me a number of experiences where I have had that same feeling when it comes to the historic confessions and creeds of the church.

At the beginning of the academic year our seminary faculty treated the subject of providence from the Westminster Confession of Faith, and there was a sense of security in standing with these men reviewing and rediscovering the beautiful and comforting truths of this doctrine.

In a class on preaching I teach, we are discussing each week a portion of the statement on preaching found in the Westminster Directory of Publick Worship.

During the recent internet firestorm regarding the errant teaching on the eternal submission of the Son, it has been comforting to […]

The Law of the Nations

Last week I posted a brief article on “The Law of the Church” to remind readers of the place God’s Law is to have in the congregation and to encourage in simple ways the restoration of its knowledge and practice. Today let us look at how the Law of God is to be sought after as a guide for the nations of the earth. I offer these meditations because the nations are spurning the ways of the Lord and, in their ignorance, are calling God’s further judgments upon them. The church has a sacred duty to warn them and call them to repentance.

To understand this, let us begin with Israel.  Upon her deliverance from Egypt, the Lord through Moses took his people to Mt. Sinai and with his own finger wrote the Ten Commandments upon stone tablets. Further insight into their application, along with ceremonial and civil laws, were delivered to Israel through Moses. The people had a responsibility to teach the Word of God diligently in their homes (Deut. 6:4-9). The eventual kings of Israel were to make their own copy of God’s Law in order to govern the nation by it and be prospered by the Lord (Deut. 17:18-20). […]