Last October I had a most interesting and enlightening Christian experience.
While approaching the doors of First in Grand Rapids I halted and looked up. There above the three sets of twin doors were three engravings projecting from the lintels. These provoked me to take a longer and closer look – which I did with great interest. The first on the extreme left was an engraving of the two tables of the law given to Moses on Mt. Sinai. The second and central engraving was an open book representing the Word of God. The last engraving on the far right was that of a cup and a small morsel of broken bread representing the communion of saints or Holy Communion.
After I had observed the above, several questions came to my mind.
(1) Why are these engravings on a church?
(2) Why are they arranged in this order: Law, Word, Communion?
(3) What do they mean to us?
With my limited amount of knowledge on ecclesiology, I proceeded to answer these questions in my own mind and now I present them to you.
Why are these three engravings on a church building? Many of you will remember that in catechism we learned that the church had three distinct marks, viz., the administration of Christian discipline, the true preaching of the Word, and the administration of the Sacraments. Therefore, one sees very readily in these three engravings the Law representing Christian discipline; the open Word representing the true preaching of the Word; and the Sacrament of Communion representing the sacraments.
Why this order, Law-Word-Sacrament? Since we are children of Western Civilization, we read, write, and set up graphic scales on a left-to-right basis because our numerical and alphabetical systems progress in such a manner. In the same turn, these engravings were set up – first the law written in the Old Dispensation stands at the far left; next the Word, i.e., Jesus Christ according to John 1:1-14; and last the sacraments which were instituted by Christ before His ascension to the right hand of glory.
Now that we have considered the left-to-right order, let us look at this order from a little different perspective.
The Word (Jesus Christ) is the center of this trilogy because it (He) is intrinsically related to both the Law and the Sacraments. The Word not only states the Law on the pages of Holy Writ, but also fulfills it in its minutest detail. The Word not only preserves the Sacraments on its pages but it also instituted them “a remembrance of Him.” The entirety of the Word gives meaning to both the Law and the Sacraments and preserves them, through the divine work of the Holy Spirit, for future posterity.
What is this supposed to mean to us as Protestant Reformed Youth? Basically it can only mean this: defend, witness and adhere to the preaching of the Word, accept Christian discipline prayerfully, and commune with the saints for that is the closest thing to heaven we know.