Monday, January 17, 2011

W. Robert Godfrey: Machen, Christianity and the Church


The last address is by our president W. Robert Godfrey, and he talks about Machen and his view of the institutional church, which according to Machen is the most important institution.

Quoting 1 Tim. 3:14-16, Godfrey has three points for us on the importance of the church. Firstly, the Church supports the truth by confessing the Truth. Secondly, the Church supports the truth by contending for the Truth. Thirdly, the Church supports the truth by comforting with the Truth.

We confess the truth. The Church must always confess the truths of God which she is entrusted with. If you don't build a hospital, somebody else might. If you don't build a school, somebody else might. But if the church doesn't preach the Gospel, nobody else will. We therefore must always confess the truths of the Gospel and proclaim them to all.

In light of the need for confessing the truth, Christian Education is crucial. In this light, there is a desperate need for biblical Christian pastors who are faithful in handling and teaching God's Word.

The Church contends for the Truth. In order to confess the truth, we must at the same time maintain that that which is false is not of the truth. In this light, we must not let kindness or niceness cause us to betray our loyalty to Christ and His Gospel. We must not yield even one inch on what the Gospel is, and refuse to compromise any part of that which Christ has entrusted to us and to His Church.

Paul in 1 Tim. 1:18 tells Timothy to wage a good warfare. Christian pastors and leaders therefore are similarly commanded by God to wage a good warfare in contending for the truth. For truth cannot be rightly taught unless it is set in opposition to error. In this light, it is humorously remarked that we should have a polemic red-letter Bible, whereby all polemical passages in Scripture are marked out with red letters. It is guessed that the Bible would be full of such passages both in the Gospel accounts and the epistles, with the reddest of them all probably being the Epistle to the Galatians.

Lastly, the Church supports the truth by comforting with the truth. Sadly to say, this is not easy. On the liberal side, true comfort is impossible. The slogan "God is the solution to your problem" is not only vacuous, but wrong. God cannot be the solution to any problem because God Himself is the problem for sinful human beings. Because of sin, we humans are alienated from God and face His Wrath against our sin. How can God be the solution when He is the problem?

We must be both loving and faithful. We must be faithful to the truth yet we should not be so "hard" that we cannot comfort those who are broken with the truth of the Gospel. The Church is to be therefore both loving and faithful, knowing that our main business is to bring souls to Christ.

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