Monday, February 2, 2009

The Preaching of the Word of God is the Word of God

July 18, 1504 was the date of the birth of a man who would in years to come rise to be one of the most influential theologians of the Protestant Reformation. Heinrich Bullinger, successor of Huldrych Zwingli the Swiss Reformer, as head of the church in Zurich and pastor at the church known as the Grossmunster.

Bullinger is the author of the Second Helvetic Confession of Faith [] originally written as a personal statement of faith it later developed into one of the leading and most well respected confessions or the Protestant Reformation. According to Joel Beeke and Sinclair Ferguson in their harmony of the Reformed Confessions the Second Helvetic Confession written by Heinrich Bullinger in 1562 stands as a "compact manual of Reformed theology, containing some thirty chapters and extending to some twenty thousand words." For a little comparison, the 1689 confession is a little over 12,000 words. This was no small work.

They add that it was "written against the background of the definitive edition of Calvin’s Institutes in 1559, as well as the Counter-Reformation assembly at Trent...It formulates Reformed theology in a comprehensive summary. Beginning with Scripture it moves through the loci of systematic theology, striking characteristic Reformed and (what they refer to as) Calvinian notes." These Reformed and Calvinian notes demonstrate that it is "a mature statement of Reformed theology...well received internationally, it was translated into Dutch, English, Polish, Italian, Turkish, and Arabic (among others). In the opening statement of the Second Helvetic Confession entitled "Of The Holy Scripture Being The True Word of God" we are presented with the following text:

Wherefore when this Word of God is now preached in the church by preachers lawfully called, we believe that the very Word of God is proclaimed, and received by the faithful; and that neither any other Word of God is to be invented nor is to be expected from heaven.
In a day when the words of the preacher are often seen as nice ideas, suggestions, the opinions of men or something else in the category of "take it or leave it" the words of the Second Helvetic Confession have a high view of preaching indeed. Furthermore it is a consistently Reformed view of preaching. And most importantly, it is a thoroughly Biblical view of preaching. The Apostle Paul addresses this issue of hearing the very word of God in the preaching of the word of God when he writes in Romans 10:14 - How are they to believe in him whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? Here the Apostle Paul, effectively demonstrates that preaching is the means that God has chosen through which Christ gospel word is to be heard, the heart stirred to a deeper love for truth, and the life changed into conformity of his image. May we continue to preach and continue to receive the word of the gospel for what it is in truth - the very word of Christ!

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