In a matter of minutes after completing this post I will facilitate my final tutorial session in our confession of faith. For a couple of years now, every other week, I have met with a devoted group of hardcore learners who have climbed mountain peak after mountain peak of sound doctrine as outlined in the thirty-two chapters of the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith.
Originally I undertook the assignment to teach this for the benefit I would gain as the pastor of a confessional church. Teachers always learn more than their students. And the exercise has not disappointed. I feel so much more grounded in the truths of our historic faith as a result that it really does constitute a milestone for me to conclude the journey.
I am a lover of the Reformed faith — the legacy of the protestant Reformation expressed broadly in the writings of John Calvin and John Owen and Charles Spurgeon and Jonathan Edwards, and contemporaries like R. C. Sproul and J. I. Packer and John Frame.
I speak of love for this legacy the way I speak of loving a cherished photo of my wife. I say, “I love that picture.” You won’t surprise me if you point out, “But that’s not your wife, that’s a picture.” Yes. Yes. I know it’s only a picture. I don’t love the picture instead of her, I love the picture because of her. She is precious in herself.
The picture is precious not in itself, but because it reveals her. That’s the way theology is precious. God is valuable in himself. The theology is not valuable in itself. It is valuable as a picture. That’s what I mean when I say, “I love reformed theology.” It’s the best composite, Bible-distilled picture of God that I have.
I exhorted my tutorial gang to treasure the truths contained in our confession to that end gazing upon and treasuring thirty-two amazingly textured and layered pictures that represent the glory of God and the greatness of His salvation. Thus should all our study of God and His word accomplish if we are to amount to something more than puffed up academics who don’t get the picture at all.
When my growth group finishes going through How People Change, I may decide form another tutorial troupe for a second go around on this rich resource. We’ll keep you posted.