Ezra As A Model Of Continuing Reformation -- By: Jerry Bilkes

Journal: Puritan Reformed Journal
Volume: PRJ 01:1 (Jan 2009)
Article: Ezra As A Model Of Continuing Reformation
Author: Jerry Bilkes

Ezra As A Model Of Continuing Reformation

Jerry Bilkes

In days like our own, when many are leaving the church, there is furious attention given to the question what we can and should do to make the church more attractive. Books, websites, conferences, radio programs all give their versions of how to make the church building, the parking lot, the programs, and the worship of the church more attractive. This is not a new problem. The eighteenth century Scottish theologian William Cunningham said it well: “Men, under the pretence of curing the defects and shortcomings, the nakedness and bareness, attaching to ecclesiastical arrangements as set before us in the New Testament, have been constantly proposing innovations and improvements in government and worship.”1

Not infrequently, however, the Bible does speak about the attractiveness of the church of Jesus Christ. It is pictured as a bride adorned with ornaments and jewels (Isa. 61:10; Jer. 31:4; Rev. 21:2). The Lord Himself groomed and beautified her (Ezek. 16:12-13). He desires her beauty (Ps. 45:11). She is eminently beautiful (Ps. 48:2), in fact, “the perfection of beauty” (Ps. 50:2). She has beautiful garments (Isa. 52:1). Her Lord remarks on her beautiful figure and features (Song of Sol. 6:4; 7:1). Her worship is in the beauty of holiness (Pss. 29:1; 96:9). Her ministers are said to have beautiful feet (Isa. 52:7). Her Lord is Himself called beautiful (Pss. 27:4; 90:7). Clearly, the terms “church” and “beauty,” or “attractiveness,” belong together.

The real issue, not surprisingly, is not whether the church is to be attractive; instead it is to whom and in what way it is to be attractive. John Calvin says it well: “Christ adorns the Church His bride with holiness as a pledge of His good-will.… The true beauty of the Church

consists in this conjugal chastity, that is in holiness and innocence.”2 Seen from this perspective, making the church truly attractive to the Lord is the work of continuing reformation. It was a driving motivation behind every true reform movemen...

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