Friday, August 28, 2015

The Vision (8.28.15): Musculus: Five Benefits of the Public Reading of Scripture

Luke 4:17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written (NKJV).

Acts 13:15 And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.

Romans 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

Colossians 4:16 And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.

1 Timothy 4:13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.

The Regulative Principle of Worship holds that the only elements we should have in our worship services are those prescribed by command or example in the Scriptures.  One of those elements of worship is the public reading of Scripture.  This is why each Sunday, in addition to the reading and singing of Psalms as well as the reading of the text of the sermon, we usually read at least one chapter from the Bible in of our worship services.  At present we are reading through Paul’s letters in the morning and Genesis in the afternoon.  We believe that merely exposing God’s people to the reading of Scripture not only honors the Lord but also blesses his people. 

Wolfgang Musculus (1497-1563) was an influential Reformed theologian.  In Richard Muller’s book on Holy Scripture (Baker, 1993), he summarizes a series of five reasons that Musculus offered for the public reading of God’s Word (pp. 471-472):

1.  The general edification of Christians.

2.  The maintenance of “the purity of public doctrine” against errors caused by the ignorant.

3.  The aid of others who cannot read and who, unless others read publicly for them, might be shut out from the light of Scripture.

4.  Preparation for and support of godly preaching.

5.  The establishment of a basic rule for the mind and heart more useful in a single verse than a “whole sermon of a Doctor [who] intends to demonstrate his learning and eloquence more than just to instruct simply folk plainly in the knowledge of God.”

May we continue to read and hear God’s Word.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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