July 2012

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This Day in Presbyterian History:  

The Apostle of Persia (Iran)

The great adversary of the church, Satan himself, did not want the Rev. Justin Perkins to go and minister in ancient Persia, which is modern Iran.  Yet that was where he had been called to work as the first American to live and minister in this Moslem country. And that was where this Presbyterian missionary was sent in 1837 by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.

Justin Perkins had been born in Massachusetts in 1805.  He spent his early years on his father’s farm. Having a religious experience when he was 18 years of age, he attended Amherst College, graduating with honors. His theological studies were at Andover Theological Seminary, and  ordained  a Presbyterian minister in 1833.

It was on July 21, 1833 that he married Charlotte Bass, of Middlebury, Vermont. Their life together would be spent in Persia with incredible hardship and sorrow, as they lost to disease six of their seven children.

Justin Perkins was so ill on the scheduled day of their departure that he  had to be carried on board ship on a litter. Then departing from the port, they encountered terrible storms, which lengthened the ocean trip. Arriving  on the coast of the region of Persia, they ran into opposition from local tribes and national governments. Only an appeal to the diplomatic corps brought them relief from their hardships.

When they arrived finally in their chosen place of labor, Justin Perkins began to preach to the people of the  Assyrian Church of the East in Northwest Persia. Despite being poor and ignorant people, Perkins set up boys and girls schools, translated their Syriac language into Scripture, and printed in their language, books by John Bunyan and Richard Baxter. Even the Moslem rulers were impressed by his ministry, and schools were set up for them.

But with the hardships and death of their family, Charlotte Perkins was emotionally and physically weakened, and went back to America in 1841. To everyone’s surprise, she improved and lived until she was ninety years of age. Her husband died in 1869 in Massachusetts. He was the first American, and American missionary to live and work in Iran.

Words to Live By: 
It was the great apostle Paul to acknowledge that in the midst of his great and effective door opened to him in first century Ephesus, a great many adversaries to the gospel were also present. (1 Corinthians 16:9)  Justin Perkins would understand that all too well.  We must all remember that Satan is alive and though the defeated one, is still active on Planet Earth.  Our life and ministry as Christians will not be easy.  Let us put on the armor of God and go forth to battle.

Through the Scriptures: Isaiah 43 – 45

Through the Standards: The honor inferiors owe to superiors

WLC 127 — “What is the honor that inferiors owe to their superiors?
A.  The honor which inferiors owe to their superiors is, all due reverence in heart, word, and behavior; prayer and thanksgiving for them; imitation of their virtues and graces; willing obedience to the lawful commands and counsels; due submission to their corrections; fidelity to, defence and maintenance of their persons and authority, according to their several ranks, and the nature of their places; bearing with their infirmities, and covering them in love, that so they may be an honor to them and to their government.”

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This Day in Presbyterian History:  

Indentured Servant and Iron Maker Signs the Declaration of Independence

Born in Ireland on 1716, and one of eight signers who was foreign-born, George Taylor disappointed his minister father in educational plans to  become a doctor by sailing to  the American colonies. Indentured in service to  Samuel  Savage to work as a common laborer in his iron forge in the new country, his passage across  the Atlantic Ocean was paid. However his expertise as a book-keeper enabled him to move higher up in the company.  When the owner of Warrick Furnace and Coventry Forge died in 1742, Taylor’s had by this time risen in the company to become the  manager for the furnace and forge. He  married the owner’s widow, Ann Savage.

Working there for the next decade, he was marking time as the will of Samuel Savage dictated that his son would take over the business when he came of age.  In 1755, Taylor moved to Bucks County to take over an iron works company there.  From the latter, ammunition was provided to the colonies in the French and Indian War.

In the Bucks County deed book, there is a record which states that George Taylor, along with a number of others, purchased one acre of land to be used by the Presbyterian Church in Tineeum Township for a cemetery.  This is the first reference we have which speaks of George Taylor as a Presbyterian.

In 1764, Taylor began his political career, short as it was.  He served on various committees, picking up an opposition to the British government on the way.  Still working in the iron business, he was one of the first business men to supply ammunition to the Continental Army, though there were complaints that his cost was too steep.

It was on July 20, 1776, that he was elected to the Continental Congress, representing Pennsylvania.  Like many delegates, he signed the Declaration of Independence later than others, pledging his life and honor to the new nation, on August 2, 1776.

George Taylor died on February 23, 1781.  While his name is not found in the records of the Red Hill Presbyterian Church, it is likely that he was a member there, given the above  reference of the purchase of a cemetery for Red Hill Presbyterian Church.  Further, in the biography of the signers of the Declaration, the religious affilitation of Taylor is listed as Presbyterian.

Words to Live By: 
We don’t read of any pithy statements by this Presbyterian signer with respect to the Bible, or salvation through Christ alone, or other Christian convictions, such as is the case with other Presbyterian founders of our country.  Perhaps like Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus of biblical days, he was a secret follower of Jesus.  We cannot commend that principle or practice.  But, like the two biblical characters, there were deeds of commitment to the Lord, as with George Taylor, who purchased  land for a Presbyterian cemetery.  For that we highlight him in this series of Presbyterian signers of the cardinal document of our American Independence.

Through the Scriptures: Isaiah 40 – 42

Through the Standards: Additional catechisms on the Persons of the Fifth Commandment

WLC 125  — “Why are superiors styled mother and father?
A. Superiors are styled Mother and Father, both to teach them in all duties toward their inferiors, like natural parents, to express love and tenderness to them, according to their several relations; and to work inferiors to a greater willingness and cheerfulness in performing their duties to their superiors, as to their parents.”

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This Day in Presbyterian History:  

Benefits of God’s Grace

Without any historical person, place, or thing found  in Presbyterian history, we turn back to one of the more comforting Shorter Catechisms in our Westminster Standards. Question and answer 36 speaks of those benefits which flow during our lifetime from justification and adoption and sanctification. These latter benefits are the three great foundational benefits.   But God has also given us from them five other benefits in this life. They are: assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, increase of grace, and perseverance unto the end.  Let’s briefly look at each one.

Assurance of God’s love is promised to believers. All through Scripture we have many precious promises that nothing can separate us from the love of God.  Romans chapter 8 is filled with such promises, especially verses 28 – 39. He assures us of His love by His written word and His wonderful providence in our life. No believer should be content to go through life without the assurance of God’s love.

Peace of conscience is closely associated with the last benefit.  Being assured of God’s love, we know that we are the son or daughter of God, that all judgment against us has been paid by Christ’s own death, burial, and resurrection, that nothing can accuse us successfully, our sins are under the blood of Christ, and we have the promise of eternal life.  If God can be for us, who then can be against us? Answer: No one!  That produces peace of conscience.

Joy in the Holy Ghost or Spirit is the third benefit in this life.  All of the above which is written about the three foundational benefits plus the two above which flow from them causes us to rejoice in the Holy Ghost.  This is a Scriptural expression, found in Romans 14:17, where we read of “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” (KJV)  It is true that being still sinners, though not under its power any more, we still sin.  And that causes sorrow to us.  But the joy of our salvation can be restored to us.  David prayed that in Psalm 51.  And the entire book of First John is to cause us to have joy in the Holy Spirit.

Increase of grace is to be our daily experience.  We are to be growing in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus.  It is true that on some days we may be advancing in grace and other days declining in grace.  It may be one step forward and two steps backwards. But this increase in grace is to be our disposition always.

Last, we are to persevere to the end.  We are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.  But at the same time, we as believers must  persevere in holiness.  We must press on to the prize of the high calling of God in salvation.

All these are benefits in this life.

Words to Live By: 
What a great catechism for self-examination.  Which of these benefits do we enjoy in this life?  What has occurred in our life that has caused us to lose any of them?  How must we re-possess them?  These questions cannot be answered by anyone else except you?  Pastors may help.  Parents may be a guide.  Close personal friends can encourage.  But essentially it comes down to you, your Bible, prayer, and other means of grace which will help you.  What are you waiting for?

Through the Scriptures: Isaiah 37 – 39

Through the Standards: The significance of father and mothers of the fifth commandment

WLC 124 — “Who are meant by father and mother in the fifth commandment?  A. By father and mother, in the fifth commandment, are meant, not only natural parents, but all superiors in age and gifts, and especially such as, by God’s ordinance, are over us in place of authority, whether in family, church, or commonwealth.”

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Plans for a New Seminary

The “school of the prophets” was lost to Old School Presbyterianism. The great theologians of old Princeton — Alexander, Miller, Hodge, etc. — might still be buried in the cemetery plot of Princeton, but so also was buried their historic stand for the faith once delivered unto the saints. Re-organization of the trustees was now done and signers of the infamous Auburn Affirmation placed on the board. It was only a matter of time the fruits of liberalism would be manifest in the teachings of the classrooms.

Recognizing that sad truth, the Rev. Walter Buchcanan, pastor of Broadway Presbyterian Church in New York City, invited on June 17, 1929 a group of teaching and ruling elders to the University Club to respond to these developments. The following statement was approved by the group of elders:  “Resolved: that this group will support the loyal members of the former Board of Directors of Princeton Theological Seminary in any step they may see fit to take (1) toward prevention by legal means the misuse of the Seminary’s funds, or (2) toward the formation of a new Seminary if they decide that it is necessary.”  A wide latitude was allowed in this resolve, as you can see.   Despite the new liberal members, see if we cannot keep Princeton  Seminary from digressing away any further from the faith, but failing that, the possibility of a new seminary is on the table as well.

There were meetings taking place in other cities as well.  Philadelphia was the site of a meeting of elders, including one in which finances were pledged for one year of the new seminary.  The historic meeting which launched the new seminary took place on July 18, 1929 with seventy-eight teaching and ruling elders present at the YMCA in Philadelphia.  The name of Westminster Theological Seminary was chosen at this meeting. An executive committee was chosen as composed of six (6) teaching elders and eight (8) ruling elders.

The teaching elders represented were: Maitland Alexander, Roy T. Brumbaugh, Walter Buchanan, Samuel Craig, Charles Schall, and Frank Stevenson. Ruling elders Roland Armes, Edgar Frutchey, Frederick Paist, James Runkin, T. E. Ross, James Schrader, John Steele, and Morgan Thomas were also present. Dr. Robert Dick Wilson, J. Gresham Machen,and O.T. Allis served as advisers.

The happy fruition of this meeting on that same year of 1929 was September 25, in which fifty students gathered at the Seminary campus at 1528 Pine Street in Philadelphia.  A seminary was born!

Also on this day :
July 18, 1823
marks the birth of Archibald Alexander Hodge, eldest son of Charles and Sarah Hodge.

Words to Live By: 
One of the minor prophets of the Old Testament wrote that we were not to despise the day of small things.  Certainly, this founding of Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia, Pa., was just a tiny speck in comparison with Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey in the world’s eyes.  But when your standard is the authoritative Word of God and the gospel of the Lord Jesus, then there is more that meets the eye in the start of this school which carried on the historic testimony of old Princeton.  Let us learn to look ever to the Bible, not the world’s estimation, in your prayers and financial support of churches and institutions of the biblical gospel.

Through the Scriptures: Isaiah 34 – 36

Through the Standards: The Fifth commandment: Duties required

WLC 123 and WSC 63 — “Which is the fifth commandments?
A. The fifth commandment is, Honor thy father and thy mother: that they days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God gives thee.”

WLC 126 “What is the general scope of the fifth commandment?
A. The general scope of the fifth commandment is, the performance of those duties which we mutually owe in our several relations, as inferiors, superiors, and equals.”

WSC 64   “What is required in the fifth commandment?
A. The fifth commandment requires the preserving the honor, and performing the duties, belonging to every one in their several places and relations, as superiors, inferiors, or equals.”

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This Day in Presbyterian History:  

Injurious to Your Health

It was downright unhealthy to be the president of the College of New Jersey (today’s Princeton University) in the opening years of that educational institution.  In the first nine years of its existence, five presidents were installed and five presidents were on the short list to heaven!  That fifth president was Samuel Finley.

Born in Scotland in 1715, Samuel Finley came over to the colonies at age nineteen. He studied theology at the celebrated Log College under the Tennents, was ordained into the New Brunswick Presbytery as a revivalist preacher.  He was clearly a New Side Presbyterian.

Assigned first to a brand new Presbyterian church in Mitford, Connecticut, he discovered that the governor of Connecticut really did not want him, or for that matter, the Presbyterian Church.  He was escorted, or should I say, expelled from the colony.  It is clear from his later ministry that this was all due to the providence of God.

For the next seventeen years, he was the pastor of Nottingham, Maryland.  Receiving  accolades as the best training academy in the middle colonies, West Nottingham Academy soon became the school to attend.  With a standard of great scholarship, two signers of the Declaration of Independence — Benjamin Rush and Richard Stockton — studied under Samuel Finley there.

Finally, in 1761, as a member of the original board of trustees, Samuel Finley was chosen to be president of the College of New Jersey.  It was a time for numerical growth and spiritual growth for the college.  In fact, a revival broke out during the second year of Finley’s presidency.  It was said of Samuel Finley that he was a very accurate scholar and a very great and good man.  His preaching was “calculated to inform the ignorant, alarm the careless and secure, and edify and comfort the faithful.”  The students loved him and respected his scholarship.

A favorite expression before he died on July 17, 1766, is just as true now as it was then. Samuel Finley said constantly, “the Lord Jesus will take care of His cause in the world.”

Words to Live By: 
By no means are we to be lazy because the Lord will take care of his cause in the world.  We are told in Scripture to take advantage of every opportunity, because we live in evil days.  But there is comfort to know that the Lord is in control of His church, and His cause.  Let that be our thought as we go through this week.

Through the Scriptures: Isaiah 31 – 33

Through the Standards: A summary of our love for others

WLC 122 —  “What is the sum of the six commandments which contain our duty to man?
A.  The sum of the six commandments which contain our duty to man, is, to love our neighbor as ourselves, and to do to others what we would have them to do to us.”

WSC 42 “What is the sum of the ten commandments?
A.  The sum of the ten commandments is, To love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind; and our neighbor as ourselves.”  (The last phrase of this catechism being the sum of the last six commandments)

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This Day in Presbyterian History:  

Little of the Power and Life of Religion

In New Castle, Delaware, Pastor George Gillespie took an opportunity to write to a pastor friend in Scotland, for “the interest of the Glorious Christ.”  Written on July 16, 1723, Pastor Gillespie made reference to two hundred Scotch-Irish Presbyterian families who had recently left the old country to move to Pennsylvania.

In the letter, George Gillespie rejoiced that “the glorious Christ has great designs in America” with the arrival of these Reformed families from Ireland.  A many congregations had been erected and were continuing to be organized.  However, with the increase of both people and churches, there was to his disappointment “little of the power and life of religion” with them.  He prays in acknowledging that fact that “the Lord disappoint his fears” for the state of Christianity in the new shores.

The Scottish minister then gave the following statistics, that out of thirty ministers and licentiates in their synod, some six of the number had been “grossly scandalous.”  Discipline had taken place upon these six ministers, with the most severe censure that of suspension for four Sabbaths from the pulpit and means of grace.  It was interesting that one of the sins charged against one Robert Laing was that he had taken a bath on the Lord’s day.  George Gillespie noted that the latter minister “is the first from Scotland to be grossly scandalous in our parts.”

Pastor Gillespie ended  his letter to his friend with some prayer requests that the latter be a great prayer warrior for “the infant church of Christ in America, and that the Lord would purify the sons of Levi.”  He also prayed that “the faithful God  hasten the time when He would fulfil His promise in Isaiah 59:19 that ‘they will fear His name from the West.'”

Words to Live By: In our world, and even church world now, the charges of sin, like taking a bath on the Lord’s day, are not considered a scandal which needs discipline.  Indeed, it would more so be considered a necessity, or perhaps one of mercy to all those who might find themselves around him on that day!  But nevertheless, we see one of the marks of the true  church, namely, that of discipline being carried out in the Lord’s name.  That is ever a sign of a pure church.  Pray much for those elders who must administer discipline as well as those members under church discipline today, that they might be restored to the fellowship of the saints by repentance and renewal.

Through the Scriptures: Isaiah 28 – 30

Through the Standards: Proof texts of the fourth commandment:

Deuteronomy 5:12 – 15
“Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the LORD your God has commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor the alien within your gates, so that your manservant and maidservant may rest, as you do.  Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty arm and an outstretched arm.  Therefore the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.” (NIV)

Genesis 2:2, 3
“By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all  his work.  And God blessed the seventh day and made it  holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” (NIV)

Isaiah 58:13, 14
“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you all the Sabbath a delight and the LORD’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.  The mouth of the LORD has spoken.” (ESV);

Revelation 1:10
“On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit . . .” (NIV)

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Time to Move for a New Church

The evidence was already in, in fact, it was well in.  All of the efforts of the conservatives in the Southern Presbyterian Church (Presbyterian Church U.S.) had failed to stop the tide of liberalism in that once great church.  So after the last General Assembly in 1971, something had to be done.

Gathering together in Atlanta, Georgia, on July 15, 1971, a group of conservative Presbyterians met to discuss the situation.  Realizing that some key elders were not present, they met two weeks later on July 30th at the Airport Hilton in Atlanta, Georgia. This was a meeting which was filled with talk to the heavenly Father as well as to those of like precious faith. They met all together and then in small groups.

By the morning of the next day, some statements were presented to the group.  They were as follows:  “A plan for the continuation of a Presbyterian Church loyal to Scripture and the Reformed faith: 1. To create a climate of opinion favorable to the continuation of conservative presbyteries and churches loyal to Scripture and the Reformed Faith, by promoting as strong an image as possible of such loyalty through actions taken by synods, presbyteries, and congregations. 2. To identify presbyteries and congregations willing to take such a stand.  And 3. To accept the inevitability of division in the PCUS and to move now toward a continuing body of congregations and presbyteries loyal to Scripture and the Westminster Standards.

This intent was breathed in prayer in, in the discussion towards it, and breathed out in prayer at the conclusion of it.  Men who had been through the battle to return the PCUS to the faith of the fathers wept at the very prospect of the future.  And when the vote came in favor of the three points, there were no high fives, or shouts of victory, but rather silence, as one of the men there said, a heavy silence of profound sadness.  They were not merely leaving the southern church.  The southern church had left them and their ordained convictions for a mess of liberal pottage, as Cain had done much earlier in his life.

A timetable was then worked out followed by the organization of a Steering Committee.  The plans were set in motion for a Continuing Church, which in time was named the Presbyterian Church in America.

Words to Live By: 
Thank God for men and women with a firm conviction of the historic Christian faith.  Praise God for Christian leaders who refused to compromise the truth of the gospel for a mixture of theological error.  We need men and women like these in every age, for the Christian church to march on and be the appointed means to bring the gospel to every creature.  Be a part of your local church if it is holding faithfully to the faith once delivered unto the saints.

Through the Scriptures: Isaiah 25 – 27

Through the Standards: The importance of the word “remember.”

WLC 121 — “What is the Word Remember set in the beginning of the fourth commandment?
A.  The word Remember is set in the beginning of the fourth commandment, partly, because of the great benefit of remembering it, we being thereby helped in our preparation to keep it, and, in keeping it, better to keep all the rest of the commandments, and to continue a thankful remembrance of the two great benefits of creation and redemption, which contain a short abridgment of religion; and partly, because we are very ready to forget it, for that there is less light of nature for it, and yet it restrains our natural liberty in things at other times lawful; that it comes but once in  seven days, and many worldly businesses come between, and too often take off our minds from thinking of it, either to prepare for it, or to sanctify it; and that Satan with his instruments labors much to blot out the glory, and even the memory of it, to bring in all irreligion and impiety.”

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This Day in Presbyterian History:

The Father of U.S. Special Forces

Of all of the soldiers of the Revolutionary War in our nation’s history, very little has been written on Daniel Morgan.  Yet he fought in the French and Indian War, and in the battles associated with our nation’s independence.

In his early days, this six-foot man was very wild in his character and conduct. Known as a gambling and drinking man, he had his share of brawling with others.  Once as part of Braddock’s force, he had hit a British Lieutenant and received 500 lashes for striking an officer. If he had not being such a strong man, he would have died with this punishment.  He had a particular hatred after that experience for King George and the British army.

When the Revolutionary War began, the Continental Congress called for the formation of ten rifle companies from the middle colonies of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia to support the siege of Boston.  Virginia decided to send two companies.  The House of Burgesses chose Daniel Morgan to organize one of the companies and serve as his commander as a Captain.

Daniel Morgan recruited 96 sharpshooters in ten days, assembling them at Winchester, Virginia on July 14, 1775.  They then marched the 600 miles to Boston in twenty-one days, arriving there August 6, 1775.  They were known as “Morgan’s Rangers.” They were sharpshooters which changed the way the battle was fought, as officers in the British army were targeted by these men who were adept as snipers.

In later years, Daniel Morgan joined the Presbyterian Church, and specifically Old Stone Presbyterian Church in Winchester, Virginia.  He became an elder in the Presbyterian system.

Words to Live By: 
God is able to take a rough frontier image of a brawler and change the man inside to a Christian servant of God.  Think of yourself or others in the kingdom of God who have been so changed spiritually, and rejoice in the power of God’s grace this day.

Through the Scriptures: Isaiah 22 – 24

Through the Standards: The fourth commandment: reasons annexed

WLC 120 — “What are the reasons annexed to the fourth commandment, the more to enforce it?
A. The reasons annexed to the fourth commandment, the more to enforce it, are taken from the equity of it, God allowing us six day of seven for our own affairs, and reserving but one for himself in these words, Six days shalt thou labor, and do all they work; from God’s challenging a special propriety in that day, The seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God; from the example of God, who in six days made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; and from that blessing which God put upon that day, not only in sanctifying it to be a day for his service, but in ordaining it to be a means of blessing to us in our sanctifying it; Wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath-day, and hallowed it.”

WSC 62 “What are the reasons annexed to the fourth commandment?
A. The reasons annexed to the fourth commandment are, God’s allowing us six days of the week for our own employments, his challenging a special propriety in the seventh, his own example, and his blessing the sabbath-day.”

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This Day in Presbyterian History: 

A Plea for Tolerance or a Plan for Liberal Takeover—Which?

That was the fundamental question which was being debated in the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., in the early decades of the twentieth century in the United States.  Should this historic church be allowed to have all sorts of opinions accepted within the church, or should the principles and practices of the  historic Christian faith be demanded by all those who are ordained into the church leadership?  This issue was brought to a head by two opposing sermons, both of which were printed and sent to the nation’s spiritual leaders.

“Shall the Fundamentalists Win?” was the sermon which started the battle over which brand of Christianity should be accepted by the leadership of the Presbyterian Church.  Preached by Harry Emerson Fosdick at the First Presbyterian Church of New York City on May 21, 1922, this Baptist Associate Pastor  pleaded for tolerance of more liberal views of Christianity.  In reality, he affirmed that it was not necessary to believe in the sovereignty of God in history, or the inerrant Bible, or special creation.  The virgin birth could be denied by pastors and those in the pew without having to leave their churches and positions.  The Bible is not to be thought of as being without error and the supreme judge of all controversies of religion. Evolutionary science could be received by the visible church without harm. Negative sanctions should be placed in the past without hurting the gospel.  And ecumenism is the best way to go, as far as the end times are concerned.

This message, with printing financed by John D. Rockefeller, was sent out to 130,000 pastors and leaders. Its title was changed to “The New Knowledge and the Christian Faith.”

Answering the sermon was the Rev. Clarence Macartney of Arch Street Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 13, 1922 with a sermon entitled “Shall Unbelief Win?”  If all those points raised by Fosdick were valid, then Christianity would be a Christianity of opinions and principles and good purposes leading to a Christianity without worship, a Christianity without God , and a Christianity without Jesus Christ.  Liberalism was progressively making the church secular, according to Clarence Macartney.  This sermon was published and sent to the nation’s religious leaders as well.

These two questions, and their sermons, were the opening salvos in the modernist-fundamentalist battles of the twenties and the thirties in American Presbyterianism.

Also this day :
The Rev. John Leighton Wilson died on this day, 13 July 1886.

Words to Live By:
   Tolerance was pleaded by liberals.  But when they became in control of the church machinery, there was no tolerance for Reformed Christendom.  The latter ministers and elders were thrown out of the church.  Remember dear reader – once the essentials of Christianity are thrown out, then there is no real Christianity, no worship of the Triune God, no evangelistic efforts, and no hope for heaven’s shores left.  Always be ready to give an answer, or a defense, of the historic Christian faith.  Fight the good fight of faith.

Through the Scriptures: Isaiah 19 – 21

Through the Standards: The Fourth commandment : Sins forbidden

WLC 119 “What are the sins forbidden in the fourth commandment?
A. The sins forbidden in the fourth commandment are, all omissions of the duties required, all careless, negligent, and unprofitable performing of them, and being weary of them; all profaning the day by idleness, and doing that which is in itself sinful; and by all needless works, words, and thoughts, about our worldly employments and recreations.”

WSC 61 “What is forbidden in the fourth commandment?
A. The fourth commandment forbids the omission or careless performance of the duties required, and the profaning the day by idleness, or doing that which is in itself sinful, or by unnecessary thoughts, words, and works, about our worldly employments or recreations.”

Image sources:
1. Cover image of the sermon “Shall the Fundamentalists Win?” by Harry Emerson Fosdick. From an original copy located among the Fosdick miscellany collection at the PCA Historical Center.

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This Day in Presbyterian History:  

Not Works But Christ’s Merits Alone

From day one of this historical devotional, we have recorded several experiences of David Brainerd, the Presbyterian evangelist to the Indians in the early part of the eighteenth century in America. What made this young man go so courageously to their villages  and witness to the sovereign and saving grace of God in Christ? The only answer, beyond his call to do just that, was his own experience of saving grace and a desire to spread that message of eternal life.

David Brainerd was born on  April 20, 1718 to a religious family. Yet while ministers were among his relatives, he didn’t receive or respect the true way of eternal life. He thought almost all of his young life that salvation was through a life of good works. And he did live such a life.  Prayer, fasting, personal duties to God and man, all were his to show to God.  When he still couldn’t get any real peace with God,  he went to a spirit of real antagonism with this God of the Bible.

As he tells in his diary, he was irritated with the strictness of the divine law against sin. Then the condition of salvation by faith alone bothered him.  Couldn’t there be another way, he thought?  Then, just how does one find saving faith? He didn’t know, nor could he find faith at all.  Last, the sovereignty of God was a troubling idea to him.

All of these questions were answered on this day July 12, 1739 when God’s convicting Spirit fell upon him powerfully  and saved his soul.  Listen to his words in his celebrated diary: “By this time the sun was scarce half an hour high, as I remember, as I was walking in a dark thick grove, ‘unspeakable glory’ seemed to open to the view and apprehension of my soul.  By the glory I saw I don’t mean any external brightness, for I saw no such thing, nor do I intend any imagination of a body of light or splendor somewhere away in the third heaven, or anything of that nature. But it was a new inward apprehension or view that I  had of God; such as I never had before, nor anything that I had the least remembrance of it.  I stood still and wondered and admired.”

Now David Brainerd was qualified to take the unsearchable riches of the gospel to the tribes of hostile Indians.  Commissioned by the Scottish Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge, he served his blessed Lord and Savior for three years until on October 9, 1747, he went to glory.  But his diary has remained in print and has effectively influenced countless people with missionary zeal to spend and be spent with the call of the Lord to reach the unsaved people of the world with Christ and Him crucified.

Words to Live By: 
It may be that some of you readers have never responded to the gospel call of the Spirit of God.  It may be that some of you are still trying to claim that your religious works will save your soul.  Learn from the experience of David Brainerd of old that all the testimony of Scripture is that eternal life is only by Christ alone, through faith alone, by grace alone.  Repent, and believe the blessed gospel.

Through the Scriptures: Isaiah 16 – 18

Through the Standards: Leaders in families and business must set the example

WLC 118 — “Why is the charge of keeping the sabbath more specially directed to governors of families, and other superiors?
A. The charge of keeping the sabbath is more specially directed to governors of families, and other superiors, because they are bound not only to keep it themselves, but to see that it be observed by all those that are under their charge; and because they are prone ofttimes to hinder them by employments of their own.”

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