A Pastor-theologian that has impacted my thinking on the church is Dr. Philip Ryken. I first heard him via the web on the Alliance of Confessing Evangelical website. [Alliancenet.org] I am currently reading his book City on a Hill which my father bought me last year at the Reformation Society Conference in Pittsburgh last September.

Dr. Ryken writes to pastors and church officers, the purpose of his book is to 'reclaim the Biblical Pattern fo the Church in the 21st Century.' Trumpeting Matthew 5:14, "you are a CITY on a hill." Understanding this as a Puritan, We are a city that is visible to the whole world. This is an amazing truth to meditate upon.

Ryken properly suggests that there are eight notions for the church to follow today. They are as follows:
1. expository preaching
2. corporate worship
3. Fellowship
4. Pastoral Care
5. Discipleship
6. Missions and Evangelism
7. Mercy Ministry
8. The Gospel

Each of these mesh with the nine marks of a healthy chruch by Nine Marks Ministries. The Word of God is to be preached in a clear expository manner revealing the truth of Scripture. There is to be congregational worship honoring God for who and what He is in the manner that He has ordained. Christians are not to be lone rangers of the faith but instead a triumphant army that conquers all things. The church is also to be led by pastors caring for the soul, through ways of sharing the gospel in evangelism, missions, mercy, and discipleship.

Ryken also offers a congregational prayer that confesses of our shortcomings in many manners... read it and take heed of what the Lord has commanded you .

Father, we have sinned. We confess that we do not listen to your Word. We read it and hear it, but we do not obey it. We say, “That was a great sermon!” but it doesn’t make a difference, because we are not willing to change.

We confess that we do not worship you the way you deserve to be worshiped. We are more concerned about what we get out of it than what we put it into it. We are often distracted. Our lips keep moving, but our hearts are cold and still.

We confess that we do not love one another very much. We do not want to be bothered with other people’s problems. We think the worst about others, rather than the best.

We confess that we do not always fulfill our responsibilities to one another. We are harsh when we should be gentle, and when we need to be firm, we lack the courage to say or do what is right.

We confess that we are not willing to pay the high cost of discipleship. We try to be as worldly as we think we can get away with. We prefer to squeeze our faith in around the edges of life, rather than to let you stand at the center to control everything we are and have.

We confess that we lack passion for evangelism. We think of missions as something someone else does, somewhere else, rather than something you have called us to do right here and now. We lack the courage to proclaim the gospel. We are afraid to talk about spiritual things, for fear of what others will think.

We confess that we lack compassion. We think it is important to help the poor, provided that someone else actually does the helping.

In the name of Jesus, we ask forgiveness for these and all our sins.


The Dearest Place on Earth... Who would have thought that the church would be known as such. Many people think of the church as the most rotten place on earth. So why did Spurgeon describe the church in such a manner?

He knew that in the church God is there. Fulfilling Christ's promise, "when two or three are gathered in my name I will be there." What makes the church so special is that Jesus Christ is there, the Father is there, and the Holy Spirit is as well. Making God's word come alive to us and resonate within our hearts. This entity is composed of men and women, whoever believes in Christ as their Lord and Savior, and it is Christ's bride.

The Church is designed by God to be the agent of Kingdom renewal in the World not only renewing individual hearts but also renewing forms and structures in society, being redemptive agents of global shallom.

It is in the church where you see sinners become brothers, and when you have a brother lose his way for awhile be welcomed back and carried along with love and care. Change happens because Christ is there.


New Book on the Westminster Confession

Crown and Covenant Publications are publishing a new book on the Westminster Confession of Faith by Dr. Wayne Spear. Dr. Spear was the Professor of Systematic Theology for 35 years at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh. He has written Talking to God: The theology of Prayer, which is also published by C&C. It is a good read and i look forward to reading this commentary on the WCF.

Here is a Book review by Jared Olivetti.