Icons in Church: H.C. Question 98

But may not images be permitted in churches in place of books for the unlearned?

Romans 10:14-17 – How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 – All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Peter 1:19 – We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

Jeremiah 10:8 – They are all senseless and foolish; they are taught by worthless wooden idols.

Habakkuk 2:18-20 – “Of what value is an idol carved by a craftsman?  Or an image that teaches lies?  For the one who makes it trusts in his own creation; he makes idols that cannot speak.

Woe to him who says to wood, ‘Come to life!’  Or to lifeless stone, ‘Wake up!’  Can it give guidance?  It is covered with gold and silver; there is no breath in it.”  The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.



Philippians 1 – Advance of the Gospel

Read Philippians 1

Paul opens his letter to the church in Philippi on a decidedly happy note, not because of what is going on with him, but because of what he hears ash been going on in the church there.  He calls them “partners” in the Gospel and is overjoyed by the growth that has been taking place there, which he has heard about even in Rome.

It is not just the church in Philippi that is giving Paul a reason to celebrate, though.  Yes, they have been moving forward in the right direction, following God’s lead and seeing the Gospel advance whereas other churches that Paul wrote to were not.  But Paul himself is seeing the advance of the Gospel even in his own context where it was much less expected.

At the time of his writing, Paul was imprisoned in Rome under house arrest.  It would be understandable for us, as Paul talks about his chains, that he would be in a rather sour mood.  Yet he continues to rejoice because even in that context, the Gospel is moving forward!

Though Paul was in prison, the Gospel continued to advance.

Throughout Scripture, there are a myriad of narratives about God using seemingly bad situations for the good of those involved in them.  Once again, God is using Paul’s imprisonment for the advance of the Gospel.  This, Paul says, is also true when it comes to those preaching the Gospel.  Some do it for selfish reasons while others preach out of love.

“What does it matter?”  Paul says.  “The important thing is that in every way… Christ is preached.”

Sometimes we get caught up in denominationalism, questioning the motives of certain preachers, or criticizing the actions of other faith communities.  Paul, however, is not concerned with the minutia of what is going on in different churches as long as the Gospel is being faithfully preached.  Now, this isn’t a license to preach and teach whatever we want.  Yet, whatever the human motives are, when the Word of God goes out, it will not return empty.



Acts 13 – Missionary Journey

Read Acts 13

Paul was not only a prolific writing and preacher throughout his life, he was also the first “missionary” and church planter.  In fact, these missionary journeys became the source of his writings as all of the books following Acts are known as “Epistles,” or letters to the churches that he planted.

While the Holy Spirit was with him on these journeys, they were anything but a cakewalk.  Paul and his companions faced considerable resistance and persecution in the places that he went and preached.  Where the Gospel is expanding, so to will the enemy be pushing back against the work of God.

Again, I find it interesting how much similarity there is between the records of the book of Acts and how churches often operate in today’s world.  Paul, when he arrives at Antioch in Pisidia (which is different than the Antioch in Syria), begins preaching in the synagogue and many of the Jews there are amazed.  The are so enthralled with Paul and the message that he is preaching that they ask him to come back.

Word of this gets out and the whole city comes to hear Paul speak.  What an awesome response to the Gospel?  Yet, seeing all these people coming out, the Jews get nervous and change their tune and start to criticize Paul.

Isn’t this so typical of us too though?  Yes, of course we want to preach the Gospel and we want the Holy Spirit to work, but isn’t our greatest fear sometimes that it actually will “work?”  All these new people means change… I might not be able to sit in “my seat” on Sunday.

The Gospel of Jesus brings life but it seldom brings comfort, at least physical comfort.  But that isn’t want Jesus’ message is all about… is it?