Friday, May 29, 2020

An Open Reply to Our Moderator Regarding His Pastoral Letter of Encouragement unto Public Worship

I wrote the following letter this morning. 

It is brief of necessity, because I expect that not all response to our Moderator's letter will be positive, and I wished to reply with encouragement as quickly as possible. There is so much more that I could have said about the thinking of our Session (and myself), our hunger to hear other ministers of the gospel speak similarly from Scripture, etc.

I make my letter "open" for similar reasons. Since there may be other voices that push back against him, I wish to be public in my support for our Morderator's wise and biblically prioritized counsel:
Dear Dr. Holmes,

I almost wept with joy upon reading your letter yesterday, brother. 

It has been a lonely time for me and the few other ARP ministers who thought that public worship is not something that we may cancel, and that if in trying to gather the Lord positively prevented us from being able to do so, that this would be a time for great mourning, regardless of what other measures might be taken for some semblance of continuing the means of grace without that public worship.

In all that was said and written, there was very little about the priority of the first table of the law over the second, the place of public worship and the Lord's Day in the will of Christ for His disciples and His church, the risk-worthiness of public worship, and especially the glory that is due unto God in the manner that He Himself says glorifies Him. 

The man-centeredness of even most of the careful and thoughtful commentary was cause for much reflection upon where our own congregation and lives have been man-centered in a way that we just couldn't see. We cried out to God to help us see and repent. And, God helping us, we have some areas in which our congregation will be reforming as a result.

But, as I said, we felt extremely lonely in our refusal to give up gathering for the public worship of God, and our viewing this as a call to REPENTANCE FROM innovation in worship (as opposed to new LICENSE TO innovate in worship). We reached a point where, as our Session and congregation prayed for the church generally and our Synod specifically, we did so with great grief, pleading with God to stir our hearts up toward Him and His worship. 

Your letter has been a part of the Lord's answer to that prayer. 

And now, I find myself able to pray not only that the Lord would bring us back to His inerrant and sufficient and authoritative word in Scripture; but, also that He would grant us humility and unity in heeding the edifying and encouraging letter from His servant who has stood upon the Scriptures to write so helpfully to us.

With thanks and prayer to our great and gracious God for you, I remain your co-laborer in the gospel ministry,

Pastor James Hakim
Hopewell ARP Church
Culleoka, Tennessee

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