August 2015

You are currently browsing the archive for the August 2015 category.

Today we come to Chapter VIII of PRESBYTERIANISM FOR THE PEOPLE. In this chapter our author, Rev. Robert P. Kerr, gives us a glimpse of a late nineteenth century ecumenical effort among Presbyterians world-wide. How the ecclesiastical landscape has changed in the intervening years! Today, the World Reformed Fellowship and the International Conference of Reformed Churches are the two global ecumenical works formed by conservative Presbyterian and Reformed denominations. 

CHAPTER VIII.

THE GENERAL COUNCIL.

This assembly is composed of delegates from the various Presbyterian or Reformed churches throughout the world. It held its first regular meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland, in July, 1877, and will meet triennially in different countries. It has no authority over the churches belonging to it, but can only advise. It is intended to show the world that the various branches of the Presbyterian family are one, to bring their united influence to bear against sin, to help and encourage feeble churches, and to arrange for the formation of native churches among the heathen, gathering into them the converts of the missions of the various Presbyterian churches.

The formation of this body was earnestly desired by the Reformers of the sixteenth century, but was not effected until quite recent times. Much good has already come from the alliance of very many of the divisions of the Presbyterian body, and still greater results are confidently expected.

The following is a catalogue of the organizations holding the Presbyterian faith and order represented by this council:

CONTINENT OF EUROPE.

AUSTRIA.
Evangelical Reformed Church of Hungary.
Reformed Church of Moravia.
Reformed and Evangelical Church of Bohemia.

BELGIUM.
Union of Evangelical Congregations.

FRANCE.
Synod of the Union of Evangelical Congregations.
National Reformed Church.

ITALY.
Waldensian Church.
Free Church of Italy.

GERMANY.
Free Reformed Church of Germany.
Old Reformed Church of East Friesland.

NETHERLANDS.
Reformed Church of the Netherlands.
Christian Reformed Church of the Netherlands.

SPAIN.
Spanish Christian Church.

SWITZERLAND.
Berne French Church.
Evangelical Church of Neuchatel.
Reformed Church of Canton de Vaud.
Free Church of Canton de Vaud.
Reformed Church of Geneva.

UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND.

ENGLAND.
Presbyterian Church of England.

IRELAND.
Presbyterian Church of Ireland.
Reformed Church of Ireland.

SCOTLAND.
Established Church of Scotland.
Free Church of Scotland.
United Presbyterian Church
Reformed Presbyterian Church.
Original Secession Church.

WALES.
Calvinistic Methodist (Presbyterian) Church.

BRITISH COLONIES AND DEPENDENCIES.

CANADA.
Presbyterian Church in Canada.

CAPE OF GOOD HOPE.
Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa.

CEYLON.
Presbytery of Ceylon.

EASTERN AUSTRALIA.
Synod of Eastern Australia.

NATAL.
Dutch Reformed Church.

Presbytery of Natal.
Christian Reformed Church of South Africa.

NEW HEBRIDES.
Mission Synod of New Hebrides.

NEW SOUTH WALES.
Presbyterian Church of New South Wales.

NEW ZEALAND.
Presbyterian Church of New Zealand.

ORANGE FREE STATE.
Dutch Reformed Church of Orange Free State.

OTAGO AND SOUTHLAND.
Presbyterian Church of Queensland.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA.
Presbyterian Church of South Australia.

TASMANIA.
Presbyterian Church of Tasmania.

VICTORIA.
Presbyterian Church of Victoria.

UNITED STATES.
Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. (Northern).
Presbyterian Church in the United States (Southern).
Reformed (Dutch) Church in America.
Reformed (German) Church in the United States.
Associate Reformed Synod of the South.
General Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church.
Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in America.
United Presbyterian Church of North America.
Welsh Calvinistic Methodist (or Presbyterian) Church in America.

These Presbyterian bodies scattered all over the globe, including above forty millions of people, have at last, in “The General Alliance of Reformed or Presbyterian Churches,” found a tie which binds them together. It is proposed thus to combine our forces, to magnify our grand institutions of government and theology, and to remove the stigma of discord which has so often been affixed to the Presbyterian name.

But there is a higher name than Presbyterian. It is CHRISTIAN. Under that name all the followers of Christ at last shall be ONE.

Next Saturday, with Chapter IX, we will come to the topic of Deacons.

Tags: , , ,

A Publishing Family Heritage

From 1839 to 1960 plus, one family surely set the record for publishing in the news world.  That family was the Converse family and their religious magazine continues to be published on the web in the present day, though others are at the head of it.  The magazine is the Christian Observer.

The patriarch of the family was Amasa Converse, born on August 21, 1795 in Lyme, New Hampshire. His education included Phillips Academy in Andover.  After that, he taught for a while when he grew up in adulthood.  Then he entered Dartmouth College in 1818, where four years later he graduated with honors.  Feeling a call into the gospel ministry, he entered Princeton Theological Seminary.

His sole teacher was Dr. Archibald Alexander, where he learned the famous theological system of doctrine  of what later on became Old School Presbyterians.  In fact, so well did he learn it, that Dr. Alexander told him that he had enough book knowledge for a vocation and seek a milder climate in which to communicate it!

Ordained by the Presbytery of Hanover in 1826, he became a missionary in Virginia for two years.  But then the door opened for him for what would become his life’s calling in publishing.  He became editor of “Visitor and Telegraph” newspaper in Richmond, Virginia for twelve years until 1839.

The Christian Observer came upon the scene in 1840.  This namesake of a magazine absorbed fourteen other periodicals of that day, like the Religious Remembrancer, The Family Visitor, the Religious Telegraph and Observer, the Protestant and Herald, and the Cincinnati Standard.  Its real basis was found in Louisville, Kentucky.

That Christian Observer was published first in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from 1840 to 1861.  It was ruthlessly ordered closed by Lincoln’s Secretary of War, Stanton, but a local United States District Attorney rejected the attempt, citing freedom of the press.  Seeing the proverbial handwriting on the wall, Amasa Converse closed up the publishing house in Philadelphia, and opened another one in Richmond, Virginia in 1861, where for the next eight years it was to be used of the Lord to help bring revival among the Confederate Army.  After the war, it moved to Louisville, Kentucky until 1872.

Amasa Converse died in December of 1872, but the work continued under the eldest son.

Words to live by:
The power of the printed word, and often in this case, the printed Word of God, can be an effective tool in the hands of the Holy Spirit to point sinners to Christ, and saints to sanctification.  When God calls an individual, and in this case, a family of publishers, much good will occur for Christ’s kingdom from such a ministry today.  The Christian Observer continues to be a vehicle for Presbyterian and Reformed ministries as a web newspaper.

Image sources:
1. Amasa Converse – Engraved portrait from Alfred Nevin’s Presbyterian Encyclopedia (1884), page 155.
2. The Religious Remembrancer, vol. 1, no. 1, (4 September 1813) – scanned image of an original copy preserved at the PCA Historical Center.
All scans prepared by the staff of the PCA Historical Center.

Tags: , , ,

 It Wasn’t a Church Split But an Exodus

The high court of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. was on a roll. Any and all teaching elders, along with a few laypeople, who had been involved in the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions were being disciplined by the respective courts of the church. Presbyteries had convicted the men of refusing to obey the Mandate of 1934, which ordered them to cease and desist from any connection with this upstart mission board. Appeals had been made and denied from presbyteries, synods, and general assembly. Now sentences of deposition from the ministry had gone out to men like J. Gresham Machen, Charles Woodbridge, Ed Rian, Paul Woolley, H. McAllister Griffiths, Merrill McPherson, Carl McIntire, and David K Myers, suspending them from their ordinations.

One of the few supporters of the Independent Board, and one who had been on the board of the mission board himself, was the Rev. Dr. Roy Talmadge Brumbaugh, pastor of the Tacoma, Washington Presbyterian Church U.S.A. He saw what was coming, especially when the Presbytery of Olympia began to demand that all Session and Congregational records of the church be given to them. The liberals had begun to investigate the church. Dr. Brumbaugh met unofficially with his session of elders and deacons. After much discussion, the hearts and minds of the officers was to leave the denomination. On that following Sunday,  Dr. Brumbaugh led his church and most of the  five hundred members in it, directly across the alley into a large Scottish Rite Cathedral available to them to worship on August 20, 1935.

One of the people commented that “it wasn’t a church split.  It was an exodus.”  Fourteen of twenty-four ruling elders left the USA church.  Forty-nine of fifty-six deacons walked out. Twenty-three of twenty-five women society leaders left.  Eleven of thirteen Sunday School superintendents joined the new church. Every Systematic Bible Study teachers, except one, walked across the alley to the new “church” building.  Almost all of the youth, along with the Young People’s leader put their hand to the spiritual plow.  In fact, nine young people who had committed their lives to Christ’s service joined the exodus.  Oh, and most of the choir left, and five of the seven branch Sunday School missions withdrew.  It was such a division that the remnant in the Presbyterian U.S.A. church appealed to other Presbyterian local churches to send them members so that they would have a church service the following Sunday.  The church would initially be called the First Independent Church of Tacoma, Washington.  Who was this man who led them out of apostasy?

Roy Brumbaugh was born April 15, 1890 in Pipersville, Pennsylvania.  Trained at Princeton Seminary from 1916 – 1919, he had studied under the feet of men like Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield, John Davis, William Benton Green, Geerhardus Vos, Robert Dick Wilson, Caspar Wistar Hodge, Oswald  Allis, and John Gresham Machen. Ordained by the Philadelphia Presbytery in 1919, Brumbaugh was the pastor of three Presbyterian churches until he went to the First Presbyterian Church of Tacoma, Washington in 193

The church in Tacoma later became known as the First Bible Presbyterian Church, Unaffiliated. And while it joined in the later associations of the Bible Presbyterian Church of the American and International Council of Christian Churches, it eventually did join the Bible Presbyterian Synod.  In 1947, Dr. Brumbaugh was the moderator of the Tenth General Synod of the Bible Presbyterian church, which met in Tacoma that year.

Over the years, the congregation has had a unique ministry to the servicemen from various military installations, winning many of America’s finest to Christ, and leading them into the ministry.

Rev. Roy Brumbaugh went to be with the Lord on January 3, 1957.  The church is still affiliated with the Bible Presbyterian Church.

Words to live by: Unusual times call for unusual means.  While we may look back and question his independent status at that time, we can well understand the hesitancy to join immediately a new denomination. And yet others of sound faith and judgment were not hesitant, believing that one of the glories of the Presbyterian church is its connectionalism.  He was certainly used of God’s Spirit in winning countless servicemen to the gospel, and sending many on their way into gospel ministry itself.

Tags: , , ,

The Anti-opium League in China
written by davidtmyers

DuBose, HampdenC_02This author earnestly hopes that none of our readers see another missionary biography in this post and respond with a ho-hum attitude. These dear servants of Christ, even in earlier centuries and countries, are important to acknowledge in the overall kingdom of Christ down through the ages. And our post today on August 19 is no exception to that rule.

His name was Hampden Coit DuBose. Born in 1845 in South Carolina, he was a Confederate soldier during the War Between the States. But of far more importance was that he was a Christian soldier in that eternal war between Christ and Satan. Graduating from Columbia Theological Seminary, he and his wife Pauline went to China under the American Presbyterian Mission of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, aka Southern Presbyterian Church. Settling in Soochow, China, they began to preach the gospel to a people steeped in Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism. Over the next 38 years, in preaching in the market and the street, he claimed for his King this city in China.

Far beyond normal mission endeavors, his ministry entered the cultural mandate area in that he took on the opium trade in China. At the time, this crop in the land hindered greatly the gospel message as it brought Chinese citizens under its power. We are talking about millions addicted to it. Complicit in the use of this deadly narcotic were both England and America. Rev. DuBose was successful in bringing both nations to own their responsibility for the opium trade, and stop doing so. The Presbyterian missionary galvanized missionaries and Christian medical workers to organize the Anti-Opium League in China. Rev. DuBose became its first president.

It was on this day, August 19, around 1906, that the Presbyterian missionary placed a petition signed by 1,333 British and American missionaries and Christian medical personnel into the hands of the Chinese emperor, Giangxa, seeking to prohibit the trade and abuse of opium. The Emperor issued an imperial edict two weeks later, which was practically verbatim the petition DuBose had drafted and given to him.

Rev BuBose served as a Christian missionary until his death in 1910. Recognition for his service included a stone tablet at the time in Soochow, China. He had as well earlier been elected to serve as Moderator of the General Assembly of the Southern Presbyterian Church in 1891.

Words to Live By:
Like Hampden DuBose, every Christian in these United States should be involved in a needy cultural mandate area which begs for a Christian witness. A biblical church ought to have at least one ministry in which it shines the light of the gospel into some needy area of culture. With Rev. DuBose, it was the opium trade which had captured large numbers of Chinese people to the exclusion of the gospel. Which arena of culture is it in your area of ministry? And are you being the salt of the earth to that area of culture? Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men?” (Matthew 5:13, NASB). May our Lord keep us from becoming good-for-nothing Christians and/or Christian churches, especially in this great hour of spiritual need in our land.

Tags: , , ,

First Presbyterian Church West of the Rockies

Henry Spaulding and Marcus Whitman along with their wives, were Presbyterian missionaries to the Oregon Territory, seeking to win two Indian tribes to Christ. To accomplish that, they established the first Presbyterian Church west of the Rocky Mountains on August 18, 1838.

The Rev. Henry Spaulding was chosen as its pastor, with Dr. Marcus Whitman as its elder.  The charter members were Mrs. Eliza Spaulding, Mrs. Narcissus Whitman, Joseph Maki, Mrs. Mared Keana, and Charles Compo. The only member outside the missionary force was the last one, Charles Compo, who was a convert from Roman Catholicism.  They would add nine new names on September 1, 1838, but again all these new members were missionaries and helpers to the mission station. So for the first decade, its only members were the white Presbyterians and assorted helpers of the missionaries who had come to bring the gospel to these needy people.  In fact, there was nary one soul who came to the Lord Jesus in the first nine years of existence, despite faithful worship services twice on the Lord’s Day, and Bible studies during the week.  After years of faithful sowing of the Word, there were a few Indian names on the roll of membership.  And in 1870, a revival took place within the area which brought many Indians to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus.

However, in the midst of this time, what has become known as the Whitman Massacre took place in the late fall of 1847. Dr and Mrs Whitman, along with several others, were attacked and killed by the Cayuse Indians.  The reasons were said to be two-fold, if there is ever justification for murder. There was resentment against Dr. Whitman that he was leading more and more white settlers across the Oregon Trail into the Northwest, taking them right by the mission station.  In one wagon train, there were over 1000 settlers. And second, a measles outbreak among their people caught from the many immigrants brought charges against Dr. Whitman that he was responsible for this disease among their Indian children. It was an Indian tradition that if the local “medicine man” could not cure the disease, then he would be physically removed from life.  That tradition became tragic for the Whitman’s.  The site in the state of Washington is today a national monument.

Words to live by:
It is so easy to substitute another purpose in place of our chief purpose in life to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.  Before we can know it, we can be seeking the things that are of this earth rather than heavenly things.  In hindsight, that is what happened to Dr. Whitman. He became more interested in being a guide to the countless settlers on the Oregon Trail than being a guide to the souls of the Indian tribe to which he had been called.  Let us examine ourselves continually, using natural or spiritual birthdays, anniversaries, or New Year resolutions, to make sure that we are on the Lord’s track first and foremost.

Tags: , , ,

A Calvinistic Evangelist

Rev. Dr. Daniel Baker [17 August 1791 - 10 December 1857]Imagine your mother dying when you were an infant.  Then imagine your father dying when you were only eight years of age.  How difficult your upbringing would be.  In the case of little Daniel Baker, who was born at Midway, Liberty county, Georgia, on August 17, 1791, he could only look with sadness at his playmates who had loving parents to watch over them.  But Daniel  had a heavenly Father who watched over  him and was preparing him for great things in the kingdom of God.

Reared by a godly aunt, Daniel came to a knowledge of Jesus as Lord and Savior around 14 years of age.  Soon afterwards, he felt the call to be a preacher of the Word.  Receiving an offer of a scholarship to Hampden-Sydney College, he made a public profession of faith and joined the Presbyterian Church.  His spiritual attainments affected his fellow students there as well as at Princeton University to which he transferred.

Upon graduation, he was interested in enrolling at the Seminary, but instead placed his education under the Rev. William Hill of Winchester, Virginia.  While there was much lacking in this mentoring, his own study in the Westminster Shorter Catechism brought him to the place where the local Presbytery ordained him to the gospel ministry.

One of his greatest blessings was a godly wife, in the person of Elizabeth McRobert, who bore him several children, as well as helping him in his ministry.  While he labored as a pastor, it became almost common that revival would break out under his ministry.  Thousands came to the Lord, not only from the local church, but from those around the church. And so Rev. Baker decided to become a full time evangelist.

It must be remembered that Daniel Baker was a Calvinist evangelist.  He didn’t resort to producing the right emotional effect, but simply preached the whole counsel of God.  And the Lord added to the church such as should be saved.

The last part of his ministry took place in Texas from 1850 on. He became the president of Austin College and resided in Huntsville, Texas, what the school is located. There he preached the same gospel, with the same effects.  He died in 1857.

Words to live by:  Before Daniel Baker passed away, he called  his son to make sure that the epigraph on the tombstone read clearly, “Here lies Daniel Baker, Preacher of the gospel, A sinner saved by grace.”  The close of his life was one of triumph. He lifted his eyes to heaven, and exclaimed, in the calm exercise of a grounded faith, “Lord Jesus, into Thy hands I commend my spirit!” As these words passed his lips, he closed his eyes on earth, to open them forever on the face of that Saviour whom, not having seen, he so loved. Let us be known in life and death as Sinners saved by grace, God’s grace.

Tags: , , ,

STUDIES IN THE WESTMINSTER SHORTER CATECHISM
by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn

Q. 32. — What benefits do they that are effectually called partake of in this life?

A.
— They that are effectually called do in this life partake of justification, adoption, sanctification, and the several benefits which, in this life, do either accompany or flow from them.

Scripture References: Rom. 8:30; Eph. 1:5; I Cor. 1:30.

Questions:

1. What should we note about these benefits?

We should note that these benefits are absolutely tied up with effectual calling. It should be further noted by us that “calling”, in the Bible sense of the word, cannot fail or remain ineffectual. Effectual calling has the power to produce the intended effect, that of enabling us to embrace Christ Jesus. It also has the same power to grant us certain benefits.

2. What are these benefits granted to us as those effectually called?

These benefits are justification, adoption and sanctification.

3. What connection is there between effectual calling and justification?

The sinner has communion in the righteousness of God.

4. What connection is there between adoption and effectual calling?

The sinner has a spiritual Father, God, through his relationship to Jesus Christ.

5. What connection is there between effectual calling and sanctification?

The sinner has a relationship to Christ regarding their ability to live as Christians should live. He is the Christian’s strength.

6. What should be the attitude of the Christian towards these benefits?

Regarding these benefits the Christian should:

A. Give all diligence to make his calling and election sure (2 Peter 1: 10).
B. Be thankful that he is justified, adopted and is in the process of sanctification and show his thankfulness by praising the Lord and by serving Him.
C. Be looking forward to the day when, by His grace, He will be glorified knowing that such is the hope of those who have been predestinated, called, and justified.

HONEY OUT OF THE ROCK

In Psalm 81 there appears the following verse: “He should have fed them also with the finest of the wheat: and with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee.” Secular history teaches us that there were in the area of Palestine many wild bees who made their abode in the crevices of rocks. The rock here, spiritually speaking, represents Jesus Christ and the honey represents the fulness of grace in Him.

Indeed the believer has many benefits in Him, as our Catechism Question teaches us. The effectually called believer partakes of justification, adoption, sanctification and the other benefits. However, some of these benefits come only to His obedient children. Spurgeon states, “When his people walk in the light of his countenance, and maintain unsullied holiness, the joy and consolation which he yields them are beyond conception. To them the joys of heaven have begun even upon earth. They can Sing in the ways of the Lord. The Spring of the eternal summer has commenced with them; they are already blest, and they look for brighter things. This shows us by contrast how sad a thing it is for a child of God to sell himself into captivity to sin, and bring his soul into a state of famine by following after another god. 0 Lord, for ever bind us to thyself alone, and keep us faithful to the end.”

Christian, even as you have read the above, is such a description of your relationship with Him? Our Catechism teaches us that we certainly can enjoy the “showers of blessing” from above”, for these are the heritage of the Christian. But so many times we are not making use of them, we lose them because we do not walk with Him “in the light of His way.” The way of obedience to His Word is not our way and our testimony for Him and our joy in Him is not what it should be.

Someone once prayed: “Lord of every thought and action. Lord to send and Lord to stay. Lord in speaking, writing, giving Lord in all things to obey. Lord of all there is of me, now and evermore to be.” Indeed He will feed us with “honey out of the rock” if we will but commit ourselves to Him, all to His glory.

Published By: THE SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Vol. 3 No. 32 (August 1963)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor

Tags: , , ,

We continue this week with the remainder of Chapter VII of PRESBYTERIANISM FOR THE PEOPLE, by the Rev. Robert P. Kerr (1883). Please keep in mind that the author here is speaking of the organization of his own Church at that time. There are many differences today for most of the Presbyterian Churches in this country. For one, only the PC(USA) has the Synod level court; the PCA, OPC, EPC and other conservative Presbyterian denominations do not employ the Synod structure.

II. THE PRESBYTERY.

This is the most important assembly of the Church, because it has the most work to do. It has charge of all the congregations in a certain district, and is composed of all the ministers and one elder from every church in that district. [Ed.: This limit of one ruling elder per church was for the PCUS; it may or may not be the case with our modern Presbyterian denominations]. Quotation is made from the same excellent authority as before for a description of the functions of this body, and also the Synod and the General Assembly :

“The Presbytery has power to receive and issue appeals, complaints and references brought before it in an orderly manner; to examine and license candidates for the holy ministry; to receive, dismiss, ordain, install, remove and judge ministers; to review the record of the church Sessions, redress whatever they may have done contrary to order and take effectual care that they observe the constitution of the Church; to establish the pastoral relation, and to dissolve it at the request of one or both of the parties or where the interests of religion imperatively demand it; to set apart evangelists to their proper work; to require ministers to devote themselves diligently to their sacred calling and to censure the delinquent; to see that the lawful injunctions of the higher courts are obeyed; to condemn erroneous opinions which injure the purity or peace of the church; to visit churches for the purpose of inquiring into and redressing the evils that may have arisen in them; to unite or divide churches at the request of the members thereof; to form and receive new churches; to take special oversight of vacant churches; to concert measures for the enlargement of the Church within its bounds; in general, to order whatever pertains to the spiritual welfare of the churches under its care; to appoint commissioners to the General Assembly; and, finally, to propose to the Synod or to the Assembly such measures as may be of common advantage to the Church at large.” [compare the PCA’s Book of Church Order, chapter 13, paragraph 9, which is closely similar]

III. THE SYNOD.

This assembly has under its care all the Presbyteries in a large district, corresponding, usually, in America, with the area of a State—for example, the Synod of New York or the Synod of North Carolina. The Synod is usually composed of all the ministers and one elder from every congregation in its bounds; but, in some branches of the Church, Synods are allowed to choose between this plan and that of having its members appointed by the Presbyteries under its care.

“The Synod has power to receive and issue all appeals, complaints, and references regularly brought up from the Presbyteries; to review the records of the Presbyteries and redress whatever they may have done contrary to order; to take effectual care that they observe the constitution of the Church, and that they obey the lawful injunctions of the higher courts; to erect new Presbyteries and unite or divide those which were before erected; to appoint ministers to such work, proper to their office, as may fall under its own particular jurisdiction; in general, to take such order with respect to the Presbyteries, Sessions and churches under its care as may be in conformity with the Word of God and the established rules, and may tend to promote the edification of the Church; to concert measures for promoting the prosperity and enlargement of the Church within its bounds; and, finally, to propose to the General Assembly such measures as may be of common advantage to the whole Church. It shall be the duty of the Synod to keep full and fair records of its proceedings, to submit them annually to the inspection of the General Assembly and to report to it the number of its Presbyteries and of the members thereof, and, in general, all important changes which may have occurred within its bounds during the year.”

IV. THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY.

This is the highest authoritative assembly of the Church. It meets annually, and has charge of all the Synods in its division of the great Presbyterian sisterhood. It is composed of an equal number of ministers and elders, appointed by the Presbyteries. If a Presbytery has more than twenty-four ministers on its roll, it may send two ministers and two elders, and in some branches of the Church may go on increasing the number of its delegates by two for every twenty-four ministers in its membership. There are many General Assemblies, representing many bodies of Presbyterians, and all independent of one another.

“The General Assembly shall have power to receive and issue all appeals, references and complaints regularly brought before it from the inferior courts* [*In some branches of the Presbyterian Church cases of minor importance are not allowed to come before the General Assembly, but the Synod’s settlement of them is final.]; to bear testimony against error in doctrine and immorality in practice injuriously affecting the Church; to decide in all controversies respecting doctrine and discipline; to give its advice and instruction, in conformity with the constitution, in all cases submitted to it; to review the records of the Synods; to take care that the inferior courts observe the constitution; to redress whatever they may have done contrary to order; to concert measures for promoting the prosperity and enlargement of the Church; to erect new Synods; to institute and superintend the agencies necessary in the general work of evangelization; to appoint ministers to such labors as fall under its jurisdiction; to suppress schismatical contentions and disputations according to the rules provided therefor; to receive under its jurisdiction, with the consent of the majority of the Presbyteries, other ecclesiastical bodies whose organization is conformed to the doctrine and order of this Church; to authorize Synods and Presbyteries to exercise similar power in receiving bodies suited to become constituents of those courts and lying within their geographical bounds respectively; to superintend the affairs of the whole Church; to correspond with other Churches; and, in general, to recommend measures for the promotion of charity, truth and holiness through all the churches under its care.” [compare the PCA’s BCO chapter 14, paragraph 6, which is similar.]

Tags: , , ,

Parting Words from the Rev. John A. Van Lear

On a grassy knoll in Virginia, surrounded by scenes of surpassing beauty, stands the Mossy Creek Church. The first settled pastor in the region of the Triple Forks, which included Mossy Creek, was the Rev. John Craig, who was born in August of 1709, in Antrim, Ireland.

Some years later, when the church called the Rev. John A. Van Lear in 1837, the church had by that time grown to be an independent, self-sustaining church. Moreover, the Rev. Van Lear proved to be a faithful pastor, and the people grew under his preaching. He was active in the work of Presbytery as well, serving as Stated Clerk for fourteen years. He even oversaw the construction of a new house of worship for the church.

Born in 1797, by the time Rev. Van Lear reached his fifty-second year, his health began to decline. He had spent himself for the sake of the Gospel. On August 14, 1850, just four days before his death, the Rev. John A. Van Lear wrote the following letter to his brethren of Lexington Presbytery:

Dear Brethren:—I have indeed greatly desired that it might be permitted me to meet once more upon earth a body of which I have been for so many years a member, in whose society I have enjoyed so much happiness, and for which I cherish the strongest affection. But such is not the will of God, and I am content. My days are nearly numbered, and my last remove is directly before me. I record it to the praise of the glory of His grace that God ‘hath counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.’ I have loved the work. I have preached, as I believe, in sincerity and truth, His gospel of salvation. I have tried to bring others to a like precious faith. I rejoice that I have been enabled to do this. But this is not the foundation of my hope. I trust in no labor of my hands. I fly to the cross and the covenant. There is my only hope. There I rest my soul, and my heart has peace. This is my testimony.

“It would give me please to send kind messages to you all by name, but I have not strength. I have come down now quite to the banks of the Jordan of death; but He who has passed through it for sinners has met me on this side of its dark waves, and all is well. My flesh and my heart faileth me, but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever. I leave you, hoping for a happy and eternal reunion in that heaven to which we have pointed so many of our fellow men.

“It is my parting prayer, that our faithful, covenant-keeping God may ever be with you, bless you, keep you in peace and love among one another, and send down His Holy Spirit upon all our churches, and fill the earth with His glory.

“Accept, dear brethren, my final farewell.

“Yours in the gospel of Christ, our Saviour.”

John A. Van Lear.

He died on the 18th of August, four days after writing his farewell words, in great peace of mind. On the 22d of August, at Goshen Church, nestled away among the hills of Highland county, this letter was read. Many were the tears its sweet and loving words called forth. His memory was duly honored by Session and Presbytery, with resolutions of respect well befitting the memory of this good man, who was a model character in all the relations of life.

[Slightly edited from The Encyclopedia of the Presbyterian Church, by Alfred Nevin (1884), p. 553-554.]

Words to Live By:
There are perhaps no more challenging and appropriate words for pastors than what we find from the pen of the apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 4:

I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, withgreat patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.
(2 Timothy 4:1-8, NASB)

Preaching upon that same text, the Rev. J. R. Miller observed, “Life is very serious. We are always standing before God who is our Judge. Our commonest days—are judgment days. We should learn to do everything ‘in the presence of God.’ This makes every word and act serious. If only we were more conscious of God and of eternity—we would live better!

Rev. Van Lear’s gravestone is pictured here.

Viewing that photograph of the gravestone, Rev. James T. O’Brien has previously noted that “On the page with his grave marker, we learn that four of his children died within 5 years of his death. One child lived another 31 years. His wife lived 36 years beyond him and buried five of her children. There is no mention of her sixth child. The Lord’s paths are through the sea, who can follow them?”

Tags: , , ,

A Heart for Missions

gilchristRWIt was a proud day in Las Vegas, New Mexico, on March 14, 1892, when Elizabeth Rowland Gilchrist and her husband Joseph James Gilchrist welcomed their new child into the world. George Riggle Monfort Gilchrist was, in part, named after a favorite uncle, the Rev. George Washington Riggle, who was a pastor in Socorro, New Mexico. The name Monfort was in honor of the Huguenot side of the family, in particular, Joseph Glass Monfort, who was George’s great uncle. He was quite involved with Old School Presbyterian Church, working primarily in Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.

George Gilchrist attended Occidental College, graduating with the Bachelor of Science degree in 1915, and from there proceeded to Chicago, where he attended the Moody Bible Institute for two years, graduating in 1918. Seminary added a few more years as he prepared for the ministry, and graduated in 1923. Even while in school, he had his eye on mission work, and in particular the field of Chile, annually serving there as a short term missionary during his Seminary years, primarily teaching in the Instituto Ingles, located in Santiago.

Rev. Gilchrist was ordained by the Presbytery of San Francisco (PCUSA) on April 27, 1924 and he was installed as the pastor of the Presbyterian church in Richmond, California. He served this congregation less than two years before he departed as a foreign missionary, serving in Chile under the auspices of the PCUSA’s World Missions Board. He would remain on the field in that capacity for twenty years.

gilchristRW&RuthThen in 1945, Rev. Gilchrist transferred his credentials to the Bible Presbyterian Church, and continued to labor another fourteen years in Chile, now under the auspices of the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions. When the Bible Presbyterian Church split in 1956, Rev. Gilchrist aligned himself with the Columbus Synod BP’s and concluded his missionary work in 1959 with World Presbyterian Missions. In retirement, Rev. Gilchrist eventually came to live in Mount Hermon, California (circa 1968).

George R. M. Gilchrist died on August 13, in 1988, at Bethany Manor in Ripon, CA, just a few weeks after a family reunion for his sixty-fifth wedding anniversary. His mortal remains were laid to rest in the cemetery in Felton, California. Gilchrist was a teacher and an evangelistic missionary in Chile for more than three decades. He was survived by his widow Ruth and four children. Of these children, the Rev. Paul R. Gilchrist is noted as having served as the second Stated Clerk of the PCA, from 1988 to 1998.

Tags: , , ,

« Older entries § Newer entries »

%d bloggers like this: