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The Quiet Influence of a Canadian Presbyterian

kikJM

Quiet workers, in God’s kingdom, are often found to have an abiding influence.

“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men,” – (Col. 3:23, NASB)

In 1965, the following obituary (slightly edited here) appeared on the pages of Christianity Today, observing the passing of one of the founding editors of that magazine:

The Reverend J. Marcellus Kik was one of the first three members of the editorial staff of Christianity Today, from its inception in 1955. When the magazine was initially planned, advice was sought from hundreds of men in this country and abroad. None of the replies showed more depth of understanding and vision for this Christian witness than Mr. Kik’s. His long experience as a pastor and as editor of a church paper in Canada enabled him to make a significant and lasting contribution to this maga­zine, which he served as associate editor.

About 1960, Mr. Kik assumed the post of research editor. In that capacity he spent many months in Europe, particularly in Switzerland and Holland.  In Geneva he received permis­sion to study all minutes’ of the consistory for the period of Calvin’s great ministry in that city, and also the min­utes of the city council dur­ing the same years.  Mr. Kik had these minutes micro­filmed and then translated from seventeenth-century French into English.  These indefatigable efforts brought to light the clear distinction Calvin made between his duties as a Christian citizen and the spiritual role of the corporate church in society.

During 1927 and 1928 Mr. Kik attended Princeton Theological Seminary, and he was part of the first class graduated from Westmin­ster Theological Seminary in the Spring of 1930. For the next twenty­-two years he held pastorates in Canada, where he also conducted a weekly radio program for thirteen years.  He wrote a number of religious books and served on the Board of Trustees of both Westminster Seminary and Gordon College and Divinity School.

Mr. Kik continued his Calvin research up to the week of his death.  In 1964, he underwent radical surgery from which he never fully recovered but which never daunted him in his work and witness for his Lord. He died in Philadelphia on October 22, in 1965.

Funeral services were held in the Second Reformed Church of Little Falls, New Jersey, of which he had been pastor for eleven years before joining the staff of Christianity Today. A testimony to his life echoed through the hymns sung at the service: “O, for a Thousand Tongues,” “Hallelujah! ‘What a Saviour!,” and “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.”

Jacob Marcellus Kik was born in Phillipsland, Netherlands on 24 December 1903.  He attended Hope College, graduating in 1927 and then went on to Princeton Seminary, attending there from the Fall semester in 1927 through the Spring semester of 1929. He then transferred to the newly founded Westminster Theological Seminary in the Fall of 1929 along with other Biblical conservatives.  He graduated from Westminster in May of 1930, was ordained by Miramichi Presbytery on 29 October 1930 and pastored the Bass River and West Branch churches in New Brunswick, Canada from 1930 to 1933.

Rev. Kik’s influential role began early on, as noted in this article, speaking of the situation in Canada in the 1930’s and following:

“A pattern had been established. Independent Presbyterian journals presented an opportunity for minorities to present their views and gain an audience. Only a decade after church union, a new independent journal would appear. Bible Christianity owed much to the fundamentalist-modernist controversy of the 1920s and 1930s from which Canada was largely spared. The magazine, supported by W. D. Reid, minister of the well-heeled Stanley Church, Westmount, Montreal, became known for its outspoken opposition to what it perceived as liberalism in the continuing church. Bible Christianity was edited by J. Marcellus Kik, a Presbyterian minister who was among the first graduates of Westminster Seminary after it split from Princeton in 1929. Kik had been minister in New Brunswick but came to Montreal in 1936 and served there in various capacities (for a time as full-time editor and religious broadcaster) from 1936 to 1952.  [The later Bible Presbyterian, which was published out of New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, by dissident Presbyterian minister Malcolm MacKay.]” — Note: Vol. 1, no. 1 of Bible Christianity is now posted in PDF format.

Another article, on the early history of the Banner of Truth Trust, notes the influence of Rev. Kik:

“Among Professor Murray’s chief concerns was the restoration of true preaching.  One who shared this view was the Rev J Marcellus Kik, a trustee of Westminster Seminary. This subject was discussed with Mr. Kik when he was present in London in 1961.  As a result he carried back to Professor Murray in Philadelphia a proposal that a conference should be held for ministers the following year in the UK, concentrating specifically on the need for a renewal of preaching.” [Thus the beginnings of the annual Banner of Truth Pastors’ Conferences.]

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Sad Schism Among the Saints

They were united in their conviction over the apostasy of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A.  A number of the teaching and ruling elders had suffered over expulsion from the rolls of the visible church.  Others had lost church buildings, manses, and pensions.  But in God’s providence, they had gathered in great rejoicing to begin a new church faithful to the Scriptures, the Reformed faith, and the gospel of Jesus Christ.  They were one in coming out of the apostasy, but it was not too long before the members of the Presbyterian Church of America were divided over other issues.  It was at the third General Assembly of the P.C.A. in Philadelphia, as reported by the June 26th, 1937 Presbyterian Guardian, that these divisive issues came to the floor of the assembly.

The first one dealt with the issue of Independency versus ecclesiastical Presbyterianism within the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions.  Obviously, since 1933 at its organization, this mission board had not been affiliated with any denomination.  It was independent of it.  Independent agencies had always had a place within the American Presbyterian Church.  But now with the advent of the Presbyterian Church of America, the majority of the elders desired that a Presbyterian affiliation be adhered to again.  When Dr. J. Gresham Machen was voted off as president of the Independent Board, his place was filled by an Independent Presbyterian, with no affiliation with the new Presbyterian Church of America.  Further, the vice-president’s position was also filled by an individual who was independent of any ecclesiastical relationship to Presbyterianism.  Many members, including the General Secretary, Rev. Charles Woodbridge, resigned from the Independent Board.

The commissioners to the Third General Assembly, meeting in Philadelphia at the Spruce Street Baptist Church, overwhelmingly voted that the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions was no longer to be an agency for foreign missions by the Presbyterian Church of America.  By that same margin, they voted to endorse a new Committee on Foreign Missions by the P.C.A.

The second issue dealt with whether total abstinence from alcoholic beverages was to be the position of the church.  While it was acknowledged that the greater number of delegates to the assembly abstained from alcohol, yet they were  hesitant to make it a rule for the church, but instead leave it as a matter of Christian liberty to its membership.  This position was especially difficult for pastors in the middle west of the country who were fighting the saloon trade in western towns.  Given the national issue then in the country over the temperance issue, it was thought that this would have been a wise decision.  But again the Assembly refused by a wide margin to make total abstinence the only true principle of temperance.

It is interesting that Westminster Theological Seminary, soon after this assembly, stated to its students, that “to avoid any misconception by the public, a rule is established forbidding all beverage use of alcoholic liquors upon the grounds and in the buildings of the seminary.”

A third issue which led to this division had to do with what was termed “the millennial question.” Those leaving to form the Bible Presbyterian synod held primarily to an historic premillennial position. They tended also to see dispensationalism in a more favorable light, even if they themselves were not dispensationalists. By contrast, those remaining in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church fell mainly in the amillennial camp, with some fewer holding to postmillennialism.

At the end of this assembly, those who  had been in the minority on both of these issues, gathered to begin what became the Bible Presbyterian church. (See June 4) What had been a united front before the watching world became two smaller church bodies of Presbyterians.

Words to Live By:   It is easy to look back at a later date and see the “right thing” to do.  But it is obvious that there were unfounded rumors of wild drinking parties on Westminster Seminary grounds as well as  a lack of understanding by some elders of the challenges facing pastors of western churches.  To be sure, the guiding wisdom of a J. Gresham Machen was missing from the assembly with his entrance into the heavenly kingdom earlier that year.  But all elders, both teaching and ruling elders, are to filled with the Spirit.  And working within the framework of love, deal wisely with others who differ from them in points of contention.   Let us learn to do this in our own circles.

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Ask God to Use His Rod
A PERSONAL TESTIMONY
By Max Belz

belzmax03aIt is a blessed experience, at least after the initial shock, to know the chastening stroke of God’s rod. In Psalm 23:4 David says to his Lord, “Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”

Many pastors and members of modernist controlled churches who yearn to be separate from the apostate bodies are still struggling as captives in the ecclesiastical web, being forced constantly into compromising positions, yet never making the final, important decision to separate. Any true Bible-believer who contends for the faith within a modernist controlled church body soon finds that real comfort of conscience is impossible.

I believe that the first step for many such troubled brethren is simply this: “Ask God to use His rod.”

Three years ago I asked God to remove me from the ownership and management of a prosperous grain business if it was in any way a hindrance to my Christian witness in His sight. I did not really want to leave the business, because it was profitable, I enjoyed the work, and 60 years of family tradition were back of it. But I did open the question with the Lord. He took care of the rest. He used His rod, rapping my financial knuckles just hard enough to make me willingly let go of the big warehouses and 60 years of family tradition in the grain business. I started training for the ministry in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.

But that was not enough. I still needed more rod treatment. Against the pleadings of many friends I stubbornly determined to get my training from the nearest Presbyterian university, even though modernistic teachers and speakers were openly tolerated and honored there. At the same institution were instructors and speakers who held earnestly to the “faith once delivered,” and I assured my protesting fundamentalist friends outside that they did not need to worry about my spiritual welfare. Then, about two years later, a doctrinal dispute arose in the school, and it became apparent that fundamentalist forces were not in control of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. It seemed impossible that I could avoid the issue further, and, finally, on my knees I asked God to use His rod again if I needed it. He did not long delay in making a vigorous answer. This time He rapped my ecclesiastical knuckles, removing me from a thriving Presbyterian student pastorate and my faithful wife and four children from a comfortable Presbyterian manse at Rowley, Iowa. These rapid removals came fast on the heels of my utterance of the following words at a Presbytery meeting:

“I am persuaded that the executive committee and the administration of the University of Dubuque have now openly committed themselves by their actions to a ‘middle-of-the-road,’ lukewarm theological policy. I fear the consequences both for them and myself it it continues thus. I cannot return (as a student) unless there is a sharp turn toward a true Calvinistic position.”

Although the battle thus precipitated still rages, God’s rod and staff have led us into the happy fellowship of the Bible Presbyterian fold, and graciously led the little Cono Center Presbyterian Church congregation along with us. I an joyfully testify today to the riches of God’s grace in Christ to me as a sinner and to the fact that His rod has comforted me.

Just a few hours before writing this I accompanied Jim Andrew, Iowa Choirtet second tenor, in a visit at about a dozen homes in our Cono neighborhood. Most of these folks have been through the thick of the battle which arose from our renunciation of the jurisdiction of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., and I never talked with people more radiant and happy in their daily Christian testimony. Jim Andrew made the same observation several times between visits. These Cono people have been deprived of their little church building and denied the use of their church treasury by virtue of a court order instituted by the Presbytery of Dubuque in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Yet in the midst of this apparent confusion they have seen God answer their prayers, leading them into the pleasant pastures of a marked spiritual revival. Souls are being saved in the Cono neighborhood, and attendance at the Sunday morning, evening, and midweek services is better than for many years.

Has God’s rod been on this little flock? We believe it has. But it has brought comfort – a living, happy and real comfort – a dynamic, militant and moving comfort. God’s rod has driven us graciously to the table prepared in the presence of our enemies. Our cup at Cono is running over, and, though the Presbytery of Dubuque has forced us from the little church built by our fathers, we believe surely that goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our life, and we look forward to dwelling in the house of the Lord forever.

Many dear brethren in the modernist controlled churches today can be led out into real comfort if they will open the question earnestly with their Lord. The first step for many may simply be to “Ask God to use His rod.” The next step will surely be a definite step of separation from apostasy, and the results will be a happy and blessed surprise.

“Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”

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“Why Doesn’t God DO SOMETHING About this War?”

In Harold Samuel Laird on 12/09/2012 at 14:17

lairdhsFor our Sunday sermon, and with an eye to Veteran’s Day tomorrow, we present the following sermon, preached by the Rev. Harold Samuel Laird [1891-1987] at some point over the summer of 1942, about a year after the United States had entered World War II. He had the previous Sunday preached a sermon titled “What Should the Christian’s Attitude Be Toward This War?” The second sermon in this short series, reproduced here below, takes Matthew 24 as its text.

Rev. Laird was a pastor in Wilmington, Delaware, and a member of the Bible Presbyterian denomination. He taught for many years at Faith Theological Seminary. A man of high character, he was always spoken of with the greatest regard.

Why Doesn’t God DO SOMETHING About this War?

There are two questions touching the present war with which by this time most of us are quite familiar, for they have been repeatedly asked. They are: first, What should the Christian’s attitude be toward this war? and second, Why doesn’t God do something about this war?

While the first of these two questions arises for the most part in the minds of Christians, many of whom honestly desire to know and do the will of God in the present emergency, the second comes not so much from Christians, who are more or less acquainted with the revelation which God has given of Himself in the Holy Scriptures, but rather from those who are wholly ignorant of that revelation.

In the light of this fact, it is not the least bit strange that we hear the question of our theme so often in these days. Though the Bible is now, as it ever has been, the best seller among all the books in the world, never in its history have the great masses of the people who possess it been more ignorant of its contents than they are in this very day. This is no doubt due very largely to the fact that the Church itself has failed miserably in its God-given mission to make known to the world the message of the Word of Cod. Instead, it has been giving another message—the message of human philosophy, or the “wisdom of this world,” which, according to the greatest philosopher the world has ever seen, is “foolishness with God.”

Therefore, when one puts to me this question, earnestly and honestly, I am absolutely persuaded that I have the answer that will perfectly satisfy his soul, provided he is willing to accept the testimony of this Book, as a supernatural revelation from God concerning Himself and His immutable purposes for this, His sin-cursed creation.

You ask me, “Why doesn’t God do something about this war?” 1 answer by means of three positive statements: first, God has already done something about this war, second, God is now doing something about this war; and third, God will yet do something about all wars.

I.—God HAS ALREADY DONE Something About This War.

I refer, of course, to that which God did two thousand years ago, when He saw the wickedness of man, that it was great in the earth. Once before, approximately three thousand years prior to that, Moses tells us in the Book of Genesis, the book of beginnings, that God saw the same sight, “and that every imagination of the thoughts of his (man’s) heart was only evil continually.” Moses adds that “it repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart. And the Lord said, 1 will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth’’ (Gen. 6:5-7). And we have it both from the record of Sacred History and from the traditional history of practically every heathen race, that in due course of time God did what He said He would do, and, save for one man and his family, who found grace in the eyes of the Lord, the whole sinful human race was destroyed by the flood.

But it will be remembered that following that destruction, God gave to Noah a promise that never again would He thus deal with man. As a pledge of His promise, He set His bow in the sky. Hence it was that three thousand years later, when once again God looked upon the wickedness of man, instead of destroying him, He exercised mercy, and sought to save him from his wickedness and selfishness by sending into the world His only begotten Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. God purposed that through Him, and His great sacrifice on the cross for sin, the wicked heart of man might be changed.

We understand, of course, that the heart of the Gospel is in John 3:16, where we read that “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” But we also know that this is by no means the whole of the Gospel. When God sent His only begotten Son into the world, He did so not only that man might be saved from hell and secured unto heaven, but that his very nature, which the Word of God declares is “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked,” might be changed. To use the words of the Lord Jesus, God gave His Son that man might be “born again,” and thereby receive a new nature, a nature that LOVES instead of HATES, that GIVES instead of TAKES, that seeks another’s good, and not his own. “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” (James 4:1). Whence come these lusts that war in our members? Come they not hence, even of our Adamic fallen natures, from the sinfulness of which God sought to deliver men by the work of His only begotten Son on the cross?

That this was a part of the purpose of God in sending His Son Jesus Christ into the world is clear from the words of Christ Himself, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). But we also know from the record of the Gospels that man rejected the offer of the Lord, crying, “Away with Him; we will not have this Man to reign over us.” And from that day to this, men have continued to reject God’s offer in Jesus Christ, the only remedy in this dispensation for the elimination of war. As long as individuals will strive with one another, due to unregenerate natures, nation may be expected to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, even as Christ Himself has said (Matt. 24:7).

II.—God IS NOW DOING Something About This War.

There are those who tell us that God has nothing at all to do with this war. Let me say just this concerning such people—they are absolutely ignorant of the revelation God has given us of Himself in His Holy Word. Those who know and believe the Bible will agree that God has everything to do with this war.

Certainly, if the Bible teaches anything about God it is that He is SOVEREIGN God. What is meant by that? The best explanation of God’s sovereignty can be given by re-calling to your minds a bit of Old Testament History. I refer to Daniel’s historic record of Nebuchadnezzar. He was the ruler of the world’s first Gentile world-empire. God raised him up and employed him as His own tool for the chastening of His people Israel; and when God was through using him as His tool, God dealt with him.

The account of this dealing is found in the fourth chapter of Daniel, where we have the record of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the great tree, reaching unto heaven, which was hewn down and destroyed, leaving only the stump of its roots in the earth. The king, remembering Daniel’s ability to interpret dreams, summoned him, that he might reveal the meaning of this dream. The narrative gives us the words of Daniel as he speaks to the heathen king: “This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the most High, which is come upon my lord the king: that they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will” (v. 24, 25). In due time, as the record says, “All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar. At the end of twelve months he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon. The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?” (v. 28- 30). Continuing the account, we are told that “While the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee” (v. 31). Then we have the story of how his own subjects drove him from his palace to the wilderness, where, in accordance with the prediction of Daniel, for seven years by reason of his insanity, he “did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws” (v. 33). Finally, the record declares that God restored to Nebuchadnezzar his reason, and then it was that he bore testimony to the sovereignty of God—the greatest testimony found anywhere. Nebuchadnezzar himself tells us how he lifted up his eyes to heaven as his understanding returned to him, and blessed the most High, and “praised and honoured Him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation” (v. 34) . Then follows his testimony to God’s sovereignty in the words, “He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest thou?” (v. 35).

I would also remind you of God’s Word concerning others with whom He thus dealt, and His own testimony as to His sovereign power over them. One of the clearest examples is the account of the word of the Lord against Sennacherib, king of Assyria, on the occasion of his blasphemous message, delivered to Hezekiah, king of Judah (II Kings 19: 22-28). Thus spake the Lord to Sennacherib, “Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed? and against whom hast thou exalted thy voice, and lifted up thine eyes on high? even against the Holy One of Israel. By thy messengers thou hast reproached the Lord, and hast said, With the multitude of my chariots I am come up to the height of the mountains, to the sides of Lebanon, and will cut down the tall cedar trees thereof, and the choice fir trees thereof; and I will enter into the lodgings of His borders, and into the forest of His Carmel. I have digged and drunk strange waters, and with the sole of my feet have I dried up all the rivers of besieged places. Hast thou (Sennacherib) not heard long ago how I have done it, and of ancient times that I have formed it? Now have I brought it to pass, that thou (Sennacherib) shouldst be to lay waste fenced cities into ruinous heaps. Therefore their inhabitants were of small power, they were dismayed and confounded; they were as the grass of the field, and as the green herb, as the grass on the house tops, and as corn blasted before it be grown up. But I know thy abode, and thy going out, and thy coming in, and thy rage against me. Because thy rage against me and thy tumult is come up into mine ears, therefore I will put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way which thou earnest.” Thus spake our Sovereign God to a boastful pagan king.

Now I ask, has God changed? Has the most High ceased to be Sovereign? Is He no longer the Ruler of nations? Is it no longer true that the NATIONS ARE AS A DROP IN A BUCKET before Him? And that the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers in His sight? Is God helpless now to do “according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth?” My answer to all these questions is this: What He did then, He does now, because He is “the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8).

Just because God does not do what YOU think He ought to do is no proof that He is doing NOTHING. There is one thing He is doing now about this war. He is working out His immutable purposes respecting His chosen people Israel. It will be remembered that at the trial of Jesus before Pilate, the governor asked Him, saying, “Art thou the King of the Jews?” To which Jesus simply replied, “Thou sayest” (Matt. 27:11). A little later, in his determined effort to be freed from the responsibility of condemning the Lord, Pilate sought to secure His release by asking the Jews, “Shall I crucify your King?” To which they readily replied, “We have no king but Caesar,” adding, “Away with Him, crucify Him” (John 19:15). “When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. Then answered all the people, and said, “His blood be on us, and on our children” (Matt. 27:24, 25). It was but a short time thereafter, that as Jesus made His way to the hill called Calvary, bearing upon His bleeding back the heavy cross, He said to the Jewish women who stood by watching Him, and weeping over the sight they beheld, “Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children” (Luke 23:28).

There is also something else that He is doing about this war. He is dealing with the so-called Christian nations. I refer to Great Britain, and especially to the United States of America. We stood by and looked on while Italy conquered Ethiopia, and Japan over-ran China, even aiding Japan to the extent of sending oil and materials which were used in this war of aggression. God is now using Japan and Germany as He once used Nebuchadnezzar and Sennacherib. Let us remember that God deals with nations as He deals with individuals. The only difference is that because individuals live forever, He sometimes deals with them only in the world to come. Because nations exist only for the time being, He must chastise them here and now.

III.—God WILL YET DO Something About ALL War.

Let me say at once that until God does do what He intends to do, man is utterly helpless to do all that he has ever boasted he would do. We know that even now men are talking about the peace after this war. They are scheming and planning to the end that when this war is over we may have “permanent” peace. When will the world ever learn that man can never bring about a permanent peace! One would think that it would have learned this by now.

Well do I remember, as do many of you, how just before the last war men everywhere were boasting of the progress that had been made by the human race as a result of the so-called natural law of evolution. Everywhere the cry was heard that the world was getting better and better. Some were so daring as to predict that wars were a thing of the past, that they were absolutely impossible, that men could 110 longer take the lives of their brothers in organized conflict. Then suddenly in 1914 the world was plunged into the greatest war of all time. How these humanistic philosophers frantically sought for an explanation of it all! Finally, one, a bit wiser than the rest, had the happy thought that it was the LAST war, and was being fought to put an end forever to all war. What a wise notion that was!

You will also recall that it was from the close of the last war until within only a short time ago that we saw the greatest effort ever put forth by man for a permanent peace. The Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America was so determined that there should be 110 more war that they urged what they called “peace strikes” in the event of war. Some of the larger denominations endeavored to get their ministers to promise to have nothing whatever to do with a war, should it come, not even to take advantage of the opportunity to act as chaplains in the armed forces. These people were determined that there should be no more war. To what did all their determination amount? They even sought to do away with war by urging our own nation to disarm, by sinking some of its largest vessels and refusing to manufacture munitions of war. It would be just as sensible for the city of Wilmington to scrap its police force, with the thought that by so doing, Philadelphia would follow its example, and possibly Chicago also. Can you picture Chicago without a police force?

But, in spite of it all, war came, and when it did, it came with a vengeance. It has already put the last war in the shade. Sometime ago I listened to a program on the radio in which the speaker was commenting on the caption “Remember Pearl Harbor.” I found myself in perfect accord with him when he said, “True, we ought to remember Pearl Harbor, and we should do so primarily for one reason, and that is that never again should we heed the pleas of those who urge the nation to scrap its Army and Navy, and trust the other nations to follow its example.”

Do you know why peace is impossible, in spite of the efforts of men to bring it about? The explanation is found in God’s revelation concerning the heart of man. It is “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked,” as it ever has been. Man’s heart needs to be changed. Jesus Christ is the only One who can change it.

Because men continue to reject Him, their hearts will never be changed. Jesus Christ knew this when He spoke the words of our Scripture lesson, “Ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars. . . . For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom . , . ” (Matt. 24:6, 7). However, the Word of God is clear in this, that in God’s own time the Lord Jesus will return again to set up His own Kingdom, to rule and reign with a rod of iron, and thereby establish permanent peace. This promise we have in the prophecy of Isaiah, where we read, “The word that Isaiah the son of Amos saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isa. 2:1 -4).

He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; He breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; We burneth the chariot in the fire” (Psalm 46:9). Little wonder that the Apostle John prayed as he did in the conclusion of his Revelation, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”

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For today’s post, we’ve pulled our founding author out of a premature retirement, and are pleased to have his contribution, which concerns his elder brother, the Rev. John Andrew Myers, IV.

Can Anything Good Come out of Thunder Hawk?

myersJohnBible readers might remember the famous  question of the future apostle Nathaniel upon being  informed by his friend Philip, that Jesus the Messiah from Nazareth had been found.  Nathaniel asked, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:45, 46)  We might as well ask the question of this post, “Can anything good come out of Thunder Hawk?” Named for a famous Indian chief of the Sioux tribe, the tiny South Dakota town was the site of the birth of John Andrew Myers IV in 1936. Why there, you ask?  Because that was one of the preaching points of the famous “Athboy Circuit” of mission stations of the Rev. David K. Myers.  And John was his first son born into his family. Later that year, Rev. Myers would move his family to Lemmon, South Dakota and begin the first Bible Presbyterian church in the nation.

John was a sickly child in his birth. In fact, he was not expected to live long after his birth.  His mother, Hannah Myers, was also expected to die from this difficult pregnancy. The husband and father would spend hours on his knees praying that in God’s will, both wife and son would be spared from death’s dark door. Added to his inner turmoil was the outward turmoil of circumstances around his ministerial ordination. All of this occurred around the difficult days which occasioned his forced departure from the Presbyterian Church USA over the issues associated with the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions, of which our readers of these posts should be familiar.  God was gracious in granting his request. His wife and first son were preserved in life.

In his early years, like the rest of the family, John traveled with his military chaplain father to Army installations around the world. In time, he attended Shelton College, located in Ringwood, New Jersey, graduating in 1958. In addition to his degree, he married a college coed from Shelton named Janice Corby, who greatly aided his future home life and ministry. And to prepare for the latter, he went to and graduated from Faith Theological Seminary in 1961. Ordained into the Bible Presbyterian church, he served two B.P. congregations in Ohio and Delaware.

John always had a tremendous sense of humor. While a pastor in Delaware, he invited this writer, who was then a Senior at Faith Seminary, down to his home in Delaware for the Easter break. Both brothers spent happy times catching up with one another until the late hours of Saturday evening. Just before midnight, John asked me what was my sermon theme for the Sunrise service the next day? I replied that I wasn’t preaching, that I supposed that he was the speaker.  Whereupon he pulled out the church page of the local newspaper where it announced in big bold letters that Calvary Bible Presbyterian Church would have as their speaker at the Sunrise Service, “David Myers, Senior at Faith Theological Seminary.”

Leaving the Bible Presbyterian denomination, John, Janice, and their family of four traveled to Tennessee to pastor two more Presbyterian Churches in that southern state. Eventually, through the Joining and Receiving process by the Presbyterian Church in America and the Reformed Presbyterian Church Evangelical Synod, in which the latter body, John was a member minister, he became a pastor in the Presbyterian Church in America in 1982.

Due to complications from diabetes, John suffered the loss of both his lower limbs in his latter days. Still his dedication to the spiritual needs of the Church would be evident as he, now equipped with prosthetic legs, with obvious difficulty walked to many a podium to pray for revival in the visible church and a spiritual awakening in our land. As Rev. Myers so faithfully attended the National Days of Prayer, (never missing a time), another participant once confessed that seeing his example, he knew he had no excuse not to attend.

Clearly something good, by God’s sovereign grace, did come out of Thunder Hawk, South Dakota.  God would call John Myers home to Himself on July 27, 2003.

Words to Live By:

It wasn’t God’s sovereign will to take John Myers home to heaven in his infant years, simply because God’s Spirit had important work for him to do in His service.  And he was faithful in that work of ministry in four congregations. Faithfulness to God’s Word is ever the key to a successful ministry. Let others look to numbers, offerings, and buildings.  Keep your eyes on God and serve Him faithfully. God will bring the increase He intends, in His time.

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This day, January 15, in 1966 marks the death of the Rev. Flournoy Shepperson [10/10/1883-01/15/1966].

sheppersonSrFlournoy Shepperson was licensed and ordained in July of 1917 by the Ouchita Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church, U.S. His first pastorate was in a yoked ministry to the Presbyterian churches of Magnolia and Mt. Holly, Arkansas, serving there 1908 to 1911. Rev. Shepperson next pastored the Presbyterian church in Monticello, Arkansas from 1911 to 1920, before answering a call to serve Purity Presbyterian church in Chester, South Carolina, from 1921-1925. His last pastorate in the PCUS was with the Second Presbyterian Church of Greenville, SC, which he served from 1925 to 1940. He then withdrew from the Southern Presbyterian denomination and united with the Bible Presbyterian Synod, while his brother David remained within the PCUS. Upon leaving the PCUS, Dr. Shepperson planted a Bible Presbyterian church in Greenville with an initial congregation of 335 members. The church later took the name Augusta Street Presbyterian church, and eventually became part of the PCA, though it was dissolved in 1996. The Augusta Street church was also notable as the original location of the Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

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Oddly, Second Presbyterian of Greenville—the church that Dr. Shepperson left—later became one of the founding churches of the PCA, in 1973, and it was not until 1982 when the Augusta Street church also joined the PCA, as part of the Joining and Receiving of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod (RPCES).

From the Memorial read at the 144th RPCES General Synod:

Dr. Shepperson was among those who very early sensed the rising tide of unbelief in his own Presbyterian denomination and took a strong stand against it. It was under his leadership that there was formed a new Presbyterian church in his own city of Greenville, South Carolina, completely separated from apostasy, which church has grown to be one of the largest and most influential churches of our Synod.

Dr. Shepperson was an able and faithful preacher of the Word of God. He possessed a sense of humor that often brightened and enlivened his messages. This he did not lose even in that period of ill health that preceded his death. Many of us can testify to the rich blessing of his ministry from our own pulpits. Those of us who knew him intimately can also testify to his deep devotion to his Lord and to the consequent blessing always experienced in fellowship with him.

We are all aware of the fact that our loss is his great gain. We know that for him to depart this earthly life was to immediately be with Christ, which is far better. We believe that he could honestly echo the words of the great apostle, “to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

Dr. Shepperson had three sons, two of whom entered the ministry, and a daughter. Flournoy Shepperson, Jr. was ordained in the BPC and later came into the RPCES. He pastored churches in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Pittstown, PA, Savannah, GA, Durham, NC and Tampa, FL. Dr. Shepperson’s son Sam was also ordained in the BPC and later affiliated with the PCA. He had a long pastorate in Arkansas and is now honorably retired. It was Sam who so graciously provided the news clipping and photograph of his father.

Words to Live By: The Church is blessed with many faithful pastors. Sometimes it is easy to focus on the relative few who stray in doctrine or practice, and we forget to praise God for how He works through those who remain faithful and steadfast year after year. We are engaged in a great spiritual battle, and your pastor is on the front lines. Remember to pray for him.

Note: Our Through the Scriptures and Through the Standards sections have now been replaced by RSS feeds which appear at the top of right-hand column, and also at the bottom of each blog page.

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