Choosing a pastor is a strange business. Basically the search committee has arranged a blind date, and after one date you get to decide if you want to get married, with the hope that this is a match made in heaven and we will live happily ever after. There is a lot of trust involved, in the search committee and the council, in the process and most of all in God. We have entreated Him in earnest prayer for 15 months. We asked you to pray since the beginning of 2020. We cannot pray too much asking for God’s leading, asking for wisdom, discernment and clarity. Choosing a pastor is the most important decision a congregation can make. It has powerful influence on the future of the church and the spiritual life of the flock.
We live in one of the most affluent countries on earth, we are better off than every previous generation, we have access to an abundance of goods and services, yet somehow it isn’t enough. Modern American advertising skillfully and subtly fuels our desire for more, making us feel like our quality of life depends on having this or that. We are barraged with messages of what we need, must have, even deserve. Facebook is brutal. I can see what my high school and college classmates are doing, where they are traveling, what they are driving, what their house or second house looks like. The battle against this sin will be tough because everything in our culture is against us. We are all supposed to pursue the American Dream. We are all called to pursue our happiness and happiness is found in money, possessions, and achievements. We invented the bumper sticker: He who dies with the most toys wins. We live out the motto: some is good, more is better and too much is just right. What is greed? A good desire gone bad.
For the past few weeks we have explored the nature of the church and church leadership. We have talked about the importance of good church government and doing things decently and in order. We have talked about the Biblical foundations for having a plurality of qualified elders and deacons. One thing we haven’t talked about is whether the officers of the church must be men or not. There are few things in the contemporary church today that have caused more division and debate than the issue of women in spiritual leadership over men. Why do some denominations and some churches have them and some don’t? Why doesn’t First CRC have women elders or deacons or let women preach? Is it because of past prejudices born out of long standing tradition? Is it because we are uncomfortable with that kind of change, we just aren’t quite ready for it yet? Is it because some think women are inferior or not as smart or too weak? Is it because of first century culture, and the lack of education for women of that time? Is it because the Bible was written by a bunch of male chauvinists? Is this just our interpretation and it’s no better than anyone else’s? After all don’t lots of serious scholars disagree on this issue? Is it just because of our current pastor and as soon as we get a different one who is more open minded things will change around here? The push to ordain women in the past 50 years has not come from a church that after 1900 years of progressive enlightenment has now finally opened its blind eyes to see the truth. The push is coming from a culture that has lost or thrown off its Biblical mooring. We live in a day of blurred distinctions, and especially when those distinctions are sexual. Almost all boundaries are gone, and the church has entered into that confusion and blurring of distinctions. She has lost her moorings in the timeless truth of God’s Word. Our generation doesn’t want God to define who we are and what we may do. So when that’s cast off, what’s left to guide us but the shifting winds of culture? This is true whether we are talking about when human life begins or what marriage is or what the nature of spiritual authority is. Let’s turn to Scripture and lay the foundation for why we do what we do so that when our understanding is challenged we will have a good answer. Since our text appeals to Genesis let’s start at the beginning.
This evening I am announcing the beginning of a series of sermons on the 37 articles of the Belgic Confession. This will complete our study of the three standards of unity that are the theological backbone of all the denominations that come out of the Netherlands. Tonight I will begin with an introductory sermon on confessions in general. Next week I will give the background on the Belgic Confession and its history and author. And then we will begin working our way through the Belgic Confession itself. Tonight I want to remind us of the value and importance of creeds and confessions and why we should know and profess our faith.