This week for Desiring the Kingdom, we’re discussing the chapter 5 sections “Law,” “Confession & Pardon,” and “Baptism.”
I’m sorry I’m so late in getting this out. It is too bad, too, because this was a great section! I wish I could delve into it a bit deeper, but that just isn’t going to work out right now.
Chapter 5 might just make the slog through the middle worth it. :)
Summary: The elements of worship teach us of the elements of life.
Smith covered this in more of a round-about way, but in reformed circles we speak of the three-fold uses of the law:
- The law is a mirror. It exposes our sinfulness and our need for a Savior.
- The law is a curb. It helps restrain evil by drawing boundaries and making definitions.
- The law is a guide. It demonstrates to us the “grain of the world” as Smith put it; it shows us the way God would have us live.
Although it might be natural to think of the law as a downer, in all three instances the law is actually a true blessing and one to be grateful for.
Confession & Assurance of Pardon
I loved how Smith emphasized in this section the fact that true freedom comes from confession and forgiveness, which does mean dependance rather than autonomy.
The good news speaks to our dependence, for our forgiveness comes as a gift, the overflowing of Christ’s work on the cross.
Freedom comes from aligning with truth, and that means acknowledging our failures and responding in faith to the grace offered us in the gospel.
Our assurance does not stem from our own accomplishment, nor does God’s forgiveness stem from simply dismissing the demands of justice or ignoring the brokenness of creation; rather, God himself takes on our sin and its effect in the Son, on the cross, who also triumphs over them in the resurrection.
The sacrament of baptism orients us to the world from our very birth or conversion, whichever is the stage at which we enter. The covenant promise Smith cites here is the exact one our church uses when a baby is baptized. Having not only made this promise dozens of times in a dozen years, but having heard it wash over me, standing up postpartum with a newborn, it is very meaningful to me, very thick. We are not alone. We are not an isolated island family. We are a family within a large family. We have commitments and responsibilities with one another and our identities are forged together – this is community.
Perhaps because he didn’t want to delve too far into a paedobaptist assumption, Smith missed one formative aspect of the baptism sacrament: when a baby is baptized, we are visually reminded that we receive God’s grace and salvation as helplessly and dependently as that tiny newborn. We have contributed to our salvation just as much as that newborn has to his baptism. It is all of God and none of ourselves. It is a beautiful picture.
Further Book Club Conversation
Visit these other participants’ posts and keep the conversation going in the comment sections! You don’t have to have a blog to participate. Please jump on in.
Next week: “The Creed” through “Eucharist”