An Old Puritan Formula


A few weeks ago, our session had a retreat. This weekend, our whole presbytery had a retreat. In the same place. It was a great time of being renewed in the gospel. There was nothing earth shattering as far as a new principles go, but simply getting back to the basics.

We followed an old Puritan model of spiritual renewal. First there is a downward aspect of repenting that simply has to take place. We were instructed to repent not simply of our specific sins, but why in fact we chose those sins. Sin is always rooted in disbelief in the gospel.

We stopped there for the evening and then moved on the next morning to the upward part: faith. We tried to isolate a certain aspect of the gospel, a certain accomplishment of Christ which we had previously failed to believe: and thus fell into sin. It was great. I had to really reflect on the fact that there is no condemnation in Christ, and therefore I do not need to be angry when I don’t see ‘the results’ (numbers) I would hope to see in the church. The ‘results’ don’t validate me: Christ does. So I’m trying to believe that.

Another thing that I learned was this: “you don’t have to go it alone” (U2). Solitude is not always a bad thing, but being in real community around folks who truly believe always helps me when I’m struggling. If struggling with doubt, I’ve found that surrounding myself with believers (fellowship) blesses my soul greatly and begins to chip away at my doubts or despair. A community trying to believe, share, and apply the gospel is truly a beautiful thing. Even more beautiful than an individual trying to do the same thing.

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