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Covenanters and the Modern Church

14/07/2013

It is said that those who do not know their history are doomed to repeat it – in other words, that history teaches us lessons applicable to modern situations. So, what lessons can we learn from the Covenanter’s struggle, which can benefit us in our world of the twenty-first century? This is not the place to develop a sermon on Covenanter theology, and its place in the modern world. But it may be pertinent to draw a few simple lessons from the covenanting martyrs of the seventeenth century.

God is still a Covenant Keeping God! The Bible progresses throughout its history by means of a series of divine covenants with man. In all of these, the covenant is initiated by God, and agreed to by man. Covenants with Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David and of course the New Covenant of Jesus Christ are examples of this progression. It was under the terms of that New Covenant that our Covenanter Heroes found the basis for the Covenants drawn up in the seventeenth century. They believed that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of Moses and David is the same God in the present day; He has not changed, and He will always remember His Covenant with man. That Covenant requires a response from men, and the response is obedience, even unto death.
The Scottish Covenanters were tried and were not found wanting. How obedient to God are we, His Covenanted people today? We do not know what lies ahead of us. As we approach the end of time, the world becomes exceeding dangerous for the evangelical Christian. Arrest and persecution may not be far away. May God give us the courage that He gave the Covenanters?

There is still a need for Reformation in the Church. The church today needs to be taught afresh the lessons of separation, purity of worship without man’s inventions and the nned for a solid doctrinal foundation. The Covenanters were appalled at dead formal religion, which stank of Popery and ritualism. The church was under attack, and they rose to its defence. It became Scotland’s second reformation. Today, the church needs a third reformation, to bring it out on lethargy, apostasy, ecumenism and false religion. The attack of the Devil is subtler. Ministers and congregations are blown about by every wind of doctrine. Ecumenism has allowed error to penetrate under the guise of tolerance. Charismatics have undermined the foundation of the faith, the Word of God, with their extra biblical revelations, their appalling anti-biblical inventions of ‘worship’ and their misuse of what they call ‘gifts of the spirit’, while all the time Rome waits in the wings, ready to trap those willing to participate in ‘dialogue’ and ensnare them afresh in the yoke of Popish bondage. God’s church needs a another Reformation. Like the Scottish Covenanters we must recognise the state of the church of our day, and cry out to God for revival of true religion. We must get our congregations back to God’s Word, and back to prayer, and back to obedience, if we are to have worship, which is acceptable to God. That religion is not the dead religion of outward manifestations; music, dancing, drama etc. It is the religion of the heart, the inner expression of faith in God, which has no need of dance, instruments or postures and which willingly expresses itself in strict accordance with the regulative principles of worship laid down by God in His Holy Word. Jesus spoke of the change in worship practices that the New Covenant would usher in…

John 4:19-24 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Stability of Doctrine. The men who drew up the Westminster Confession added to it a Shorter Catechism, which could be taught to the entire congregation, from the youngest to the oldest. Each one would know exactly what they believe, and could answer questions on faith and doctrine. There was a body of theology common to all of the churches within the system, and regardless of who occupied the pulpit, that basis never changed. This gave Presbyterianism an inherent stability, which remains to this day. Where the shorter catechism is faithfully taught, there is less danger of drift into apostacy, than in those churches where no such body of doctrine exists.
Christians today could learn much about faith in times of persecution from the Covenanters.

We have a duty to attempt to reform the nation. What the Covenanters did in Scotland was to benefit not just themselves, but the nation as a whole. As Christians we have a God-given duty to be the salt, which will savour this world and preserve it in evil days.

Matthew 5:13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

It is the duty of every Christian to stand up for God and His Word. It is the duty of every Christian to bring influence to bear on those in Government and those who hold positions of authority, to ensure that the Evangelical cause is maintained, the Gospel given liberty and free course, and that the nation is governed under Godly principles.

From → Covenanters

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