Hope for Reformation

How would Paul pray for the church today? Look at his prayer in 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17.

Begin with thanksgiving. Be thankful for God’s loving choice. Your salvation rests in God’s choice of you from eternity. God has chosen you to be saved, to be delivered from the eternal punishment. Grace alone.

Rejoice in God’s call to share in Christ’s glory. The call always comes through the gospel. You cannot separate the sovereign working of the Spirit from the Word. God’s call leads to your sharing in the glory of the risen, ascended, returning Christ. That is both a future hope and, to a degree, a present reality.

We tend to think of tradition as bad–and it is when it compromises the authority of God’s Word. But it can also refer to apostolic preaching and the teaching that follows that standard. Don’t be shaken from the apostolic tradition. Paul was not preaching innovative ideas. Rather, he proclaimed the gospel that he had received from the Lord. Resist novelty that departs from the standard of God’s Word. The inscripturated Word contains the gospel Paul proclaimed. Scripture alone.

You are loved by Christ and his Father. Paul mentions the Lord Jesus Christ first. The reformation principle of sola Scriptura inevitably leads to solus Christus. God has given you eternal comfort. Comfort here is not a pair of slippers, an easy chair, and a cup of hot chocolate! Rather, it is someone, ultimately the Comforter, coming not just alongside of you, but into you to energize you to love and serve God. God has also given you good hope, hope with a foundation, hope that is reliable.

Be established in every good work and word. Never use God’s sovereign grace as an excuse for laziness. Both your words and your actions must be good. They must be seen in relation to God. They must give glory to him. Don’t let a focus on justification minimize the importance of sanctification.

We live in a culture that is becoming increasingly self-consciously pagan. The need for reformation has not decreased! As you continue to judge all things by the Word of God, as you continue to focus on the Lord Jesus Christ, as you work to bring all things into subjection to him, you continue the work of reformation. And that is a task for which Paul would willingly pray, because it focuses on the Lord.

John Murray comments: “It is our duty to pray for and labour unto worldwide reformation, whatever may be the purpose of God in the unfolding of his redemptive plan for the world. If we are jealous and zealous for Christ’s honour, for the crown rights of the Saviour, we cannot have lesser desire and passion than the worldwide extension and embrace of his Kingdom.” (“Reformation” in Collected Writings, Vol. 1)

About jwm

I serve as pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church, Newberg, Oregon.
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