WHI-1272 | The Message & Mission of the Church

Sunday, 23 Aug 2015

This week on the White Horse Inn we are continuing our series on sustainable church discipleship. In this special conference edition of the White Horse Inn, Michael Horton challenges us to get reacquainted with Christ’s original message and mission.

As churches downplay doctrines like the sovereignty and holiness of God, the message of the gospel becomes warped and distorted. As a result, many think of Jesus more as a best friend or life coach than they do as a divine redeemer who rescues them from sin and hell. To add insult to injury the church has changed the methods of grace given in the Great Commission. Join us this week on the White Horse Inn as we learn more about the message and mission of the church and their interrelationship.

“The danger is always that a church that will not let God separate it from the world by election, justification, sanctification will be a worldly church and eventually will be absorbed back into the bloodstream of this passing evil age. Eventually, many churches that have a sound confession conclude that the methods can differ from those that are described in Scripture. As long as the message is the same, our methods can always be changing.
“The 19th century, Charles G. Finney subordinated the ordinary means of grace to the periodical revival meaning, and he said what the church really needs today is new measures, not the ordinary ministry of preaching and sacrament and discipline, which of course the churches of the Reformation affirmed as the three marks of the church, but new measures. In fact, even Christians he said need to get saved many times in order to take it to a whole new level in their Christian life. The methods reveal the message. If we are helpless to save ourselves, then we need God to come down with methods that get the gospel all the way to us. If however we’re not spiritually dead and we just need someone to help us make that ascent up to God, then we need more excitements, more zeal, more tools that are attractive to the world.”
– Michael Horton
Keys of the Kingdom
83 Q. What are the keys of the kingdom? A. The preaching of the holy gospel and Christian discipline toward repentance. Both preaching and discipline open the kingdom of heaven to believers and close it to unbelievers.
84 Q. How does preaching the gospel open and close the kingdom of heaven? A. According to the command of Christ: The kingdom of heaven is opened by proclaiming and publicly declaring to each and every believer that, as often as he accepts the gospel promise in true faith, God, because of what Christ has done, truly forgives all his sins. The kingdom of heaven is closed, however, by proclaiming and publicly declaring to unbelievers and hypocrites that, as long as they do not repent, the anger of God and eternal condemnation rest on them. God’s judgment, both in this life and in the life to come, is based on this gospel testimony.
85 Q. How is the kingdom of heaven closed and opened by Christian discipline? A. According to the command of Christ: If anyone, though called a Christian, professes unchristian teachings or lives an unchristian life, if after repeated brotherly counsel, he refuses to abandon his errors and wickedness, and, if after being reported to the church, that is, to its officers, he fails to respond also to their admonition—such a one the officers exclude from the Christian fellowship by withholding the sacraments from him, and God himself excludes him from the kingdom of Christ. Such a person, when he promises and demonstrates genuine reform, is received again as a member of Christ and of his church.
(The Heidelberg Catechism, Questions 83–85)

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