Monday, August 06, 2007

Why are you so strict?

The world is constantly seeking to make the Church more in conformity with itself - not to be so strict. Yet this is also a question that has been asked many times down through the centuries by those within the Church that are afraid of giving too close obedience to the Scriptures. It can be focused against the commitment to applying carefully and faithfull the authority and sufficiency of Scripture in doctrine, practice or worship. It was asked during the Covenanting times. Charles II offered an Indulgence to the Scottish ministers, allowing them to return to their parishes if they acknowledged his authority over the church. This was refused by many as a requirement to deny that Christ alone was King and Head over the Church. There was great persecution as a result for the Covenanters who were fined, pursued, exiled, imprisoned and martyred. When one of the ministers who had accepted the King's Indulgence heard of Donald Cargill's rejection of it, he asked, "What needs all of this ado? We will get heaven and they will get no more." When Cargill heard of this remark, he replied, "Yes, we will get more; we will get God glorified on earth, which is more than heaven." The true Christian does not seek just to "be saved" but to glorify God to their utmost. They desire that His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

The puritan Richard Rogers suffered greatly through his refusal to conform to any requirements of the Church of England that were not required by the Scriptures, he refused to comply for instance with using the sign of the cross in baptism. Bishop Kennet remarks, "that England hardly ever brought forth a man who walked more closely with God." Rogers was once with a gentleman of respectability who said to him, "I like you and your company very well, only you are too precise." "Oh sir," he replied, " I serve a precise God." When we regard the requirements of Scripture as too strict or to be dispensed with we are displaying our true attitude to God. As the Lord Jesus Christ taught, if we love Him we will keep His commandments. The godly man's delight in God's law is unreserved, he believes in obeying all God's precepts concerning all things no matter how hard or how contrary to carnal taste and wisdom. Psalm 119:128 "Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right". He gives all of God's commandments equal respect not discarding some and emphasising others. "The many "alls" in this verse used (not unlike that in Ezekiel 44:30) showeth the integrity and universality of his obedience. "All" is but a little word, but of large extent." (John Trapp)

"Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:19).