Grace Protestant Reformed Church

From What Does Faith Proceed?

Date: AM
Text: Acts 17; Lord's Day 25
Psalters: 283, 89, 394, 65
Series: Heidelberg Catechism (2013-15)
  1. Worked by the preaching.
    1. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Rom. 10:17).
      1. This is a specific, distinct kind of hearing; it is not just sitting in a worship service.
      2. Unless Christ Himself speaks and is heard, faith is impossible.
    2. To preach is to herald the good news of the gospel.
      1. An herald is one who officially brings official announcements from an authority to his subjects.
      2. The preacher must be "sent" (Rom. 10:15), which is done by the elders (Acts 13:1-3).
    3. Preaching is the authoritative proclamation of the gospel by the Church in the service of the Word of God through Christ.
      1. The contents of the preaching must be strictly limited to the Scriptures.
      2. Christ Himself speaks and is heard (John 5:24; 10:3,4, 27; Rom. 10:14-17; Eph. 4:21; I Thess. 2:13).
    4. How is the preaching of the Word a means of grace?
      1. The Spirit of God makes the preaching an effectual means.
      2. The Spirit works an assurance of the truth proclaimed, as a burning (Luke 24:32).
  2. The Holy Spirit confirms faith by the sacraments.
    1. The sacraments are signs, i.e., visible representations of invisible realities.
    2. And they are seals, i.e., marks of ownership and authority, guaranteeing what is revealed in the sign.
    3. How are they signs and seals?
      1. They have no power in themselves, but it is only by the Spirit working.
      2. They are fingers which point our faith to the content of the preaching, viz., that salvation is only in Christ crucified.
      3. The sacraments signify the promise preached and they depend on the preaching for their meaning and content.
  3. The clear implication is that we must use correctly the means God uses to give grace.
    1. We are bound to use them if we want grace and an increasingly stronger conscious faith.
      1. Attend unto it with diligence, preparation, and prayer.
      2. Patiently persist in the use of the means God appointed to work these graces in us (Canons I, 16).
    2. Pray for the preacher and preaching (I Thess. 5:25; Eph. 6:19; Col. 4:3; Heb 13:18).
    3. Have the nobility of the Bereans (Acts 17:11).
      1. First, ?receive the word with all readiness of mind? (Acts 17:11).
      2. Second, search the Scriptures to see whether what they heard preached was true; and then believe and heed it.