Martin Luther

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Post for August 1, 1545  Knox’s Number Two

We begin, readers, with a quick quiz this day.  Name the Reformers who followed men like Luther, Calvin, and Knox in their respective countries of ministry.  In other words, who was number two?  In Germany, it was Martin Luther and ________________,  Geneva’s John Calvin was followed by ________________.  And in our country of interest, Scotland, it was John Knox and _________________.

If you answered Martin Luther and Phillipp Melanchthon for Germany, John Calvin and Theodore Beza for Geneva, and John Knox and Andrew Melville for Scotland, give yourself a treat, for all three of these are the identities for Number Two Reformers.

Our focus today is Andrew Melville, who was born this day, August 1, 1545 in Baldovy, Scotland.  He had more than a little hardship in that before  he was five years old, both his father and mother died.  One of his nine brothers, Richard, took charge of Andrew, giving him the best schooling he could bring to bear upon the situation.  By the age of 14, Andrew went to and graduated from St. Andrews University, having the reputation of being “the best philosopher, poet, and Grecian of any young master in the land.”

In 1564, Andrew left Scotland to study in France, and after training in Hebrew and the legal profession, went to Geneva, where he sat under Theodore Beza.  At the urging of his fellow students, he returned to Scotland.  He was influential of introducing European methods of education, where one professor taught only those students who were interested in his expertise, rather than having one professor teaching every topic to a group of students.  The reputation of the Scottish universities grew until students from all over flocked to the schools.

The age-old issue of Presbyterianism versus Anglican government and doctrine was still being debated in the land.  Who was the head of the church?  Was it the king of England, or was it King Jesus?  Melville clearly believed the latter and was prepared to oppose the former all of his days of ministry in the land.

Andrew Melville went on to serve the Lord of the church as an educator, pastor, and churchman as the Apostle of Presbyterianism.  Elected Moderator of the General Assembly five times, he was the key author of the Second Book of Discipline.   Unmarried,  his life and ministry was always for the glory of Jesus and the advancement of His church.

He is the author of that famous “Two Kingdom” speech which he delivered to King James the Sixth.  While this author will treat it by a separate post, a few words will keep us in anticipation now.  Taking the king by the sleeve, he said “Sire, I must tell  you that there are two kings and two kingdoms in Scotland: there is King James, the head of the Commonwealth, and there is Christ Jesus, the Head of the Church, who subject King James VI is, and of whose kingdom he is not a head, nor a lord, but a member . . . .”

Sent to the Tower of London as a prisoner for four years for alleged wrongs to the king, he was let out only to be banished to France, where he lived the rest of his life as a professor at the University of Sedan.  He died in 1662.

Words to Live By: Wylie paid Andrew Melville the tribute that Protestantism would  have perished were it  not for the incorruptible, dauntless and  unflinching courage of Andrew Melville.  King Jesus, give us men and women today in our land who will stand up for the gospel, come what may.  Reader, pray much for the church, your particular congregation, the churches of your presbytery, and the national denomination of which you are a part, that they will stand up for the Scriptures, the Reformed Faith, and the Great Commission.

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What’s in a Name?

Solomon wrote once that “a good name is to be chosen rather than great riches.”  (Proverbs 22:1a ESV)  And while this text speaks of one’s personal name, it could also have an application to the name of a denomination.  What’s in a name, after all?  That question was the issue in February, 1939 when the Presbyterian Church of America had to be renamed, just two and one half years after taking it up in 1936.

The Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. had taken the young denomination to court over the issue of its chosen name.  That whole scene will be dealt with in a future historical devotional on April 28.  When the PCUSA won the court case, the General Assembly of the PCofA decided not to contest the lower court decision.   Calling a special meeting in the month of February, the question was simple.  What do we call ourselves now?

Many names were suggested by the teaching and ruling elders.  Some of them were: Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian and Reformed Church  of America, North America Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church of Christ, Protestant Presbyterian Church of America, Seceding Presbyterian Church  of America, and this contributor’s favorite, Free Presbyterian Church of the World!  Oh yes, one other name was also suggested.  It was the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

In the end, on this day, February 9, 1939, the name of Orthodox Presbyterian Church won over “Evangelical Presbyterian Church” by a close margin, but a winning margin. Certainly, each of the above suggested names meant something to the proponents of them, or they wouldn’t have been suggested in the first place.  The choosing of the winning name spoke volumes about the orthodox or straight, right, and true convictions which led the men and women out of the apostate Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. in the first place.  Biblical orthodoxy would be the hallmark of the continuing church, as it had been back in 1936.

The managing editor of the Presbyterian Guardian, Thomas R. Birch, said that year of 1939 in his editorial,

“You whose privilege it is to bear that name (e.g. Orthodox Presbyterian Church), bear it proudly, gladly, holding its banner high.  It is a true and a great name, a name to exult in and a name to make you humble.  It tells the world exactly what you are and where you stand in the present death-struggle between the forces of faith and the battalions of unbelief.  It proclaims to the world that here is a Presbyterian church that takes its confession of faith seriously.  At the very outset it is a name with a meaning.”

The OPC is not alone in having to find a new name. The name originally chosen in 1973 for what was to become the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) was the “National Presbyterian Church,” but seeking to avoid a conflict with the Washington, D.C. congregation of the same name, we wisely chose another name in 1974 and so came to be the PCA.

Words to Live By: Biblical orthodoxy is, sadly, in ruins in some Presbyterian denominations and churches.  Let it not be in the specific church with which you are associated as a member or a minister.  Stand for the truth of the gospel, believing Martin Luther’s words to be true, “Let goods and kindred go, This mortal life also; The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still, His kingdom is forever.”

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Remembering October 31

It is my earnest hope that no reader is going to wonder why this writer wants them to remember Halloween!  October 31st, and specifically October 31, 1517, is the date of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.  On this date, an obscure Augustinian monk by the name of Martin Luther nailed ninety-five theses to the church door in Wittenburg, because that was the usual custom of advertisement for the people’s attention.  It was the twenty-first century bulletin board.   Luther nailed them up at noon sharp because it was the time of the most frequent feasts.  Professors, students, and the common people would be coming from all four corners to the church, which was filled up with relics for transfers of credit.

A lot of Protestants, while  hearing of this incident of the nailing of ninety-five theses, think that they were ringing endorsements of Protestant theology.  In reality, they were more Roman  Catholic than Protestant.  There is no protest against the Pope and the Roman Catholic church, or any of  her doctrines, not even against indulgences.  They were silent about justification by faith alone.   They were primarily opposed to the abuse of indulgences.

But while the form is Romish, the spirit and aim is Protestant.  They represent a state of transition between twilight and daylight.  We must read between the lines, as the leaders of the Roman Catholic church did in the sixteenth century.  As they did, they saw a logical drift which sought to undermine the whole fabric of Romanism.

Luther hoped that there would be a scholarly debate of the abuse of indulgences.  But no one came to debate him.  Instead, with the recent invention of the printing press, the copies of the ninety-five theses were sent all over the empire.  The pope  had a copy within two weeks.  The common people read them and rejoiced over them.  Luther was the talk of Germany.  There was a trumpet call being sounded for what later on became   the Protestant Reformation.

refday_luther02


Words to live by: In less than five years, in 2017,  we will celebrate the five-hundredeth anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Will there be a revival of its themes in your church and more important, in your heart, such as  Scripture alone, Christ alone, Grace Alone, Faith Alone, and Only to the Glory of God?  That sums up what Luther, and Calvin, and Knox thundered to the masses and the visible  church.  Reflect on  the story of Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation in your heart, home, and  church.

What better reason for remembering this day. No, not Halloween. Rather, October 31st, and specifically October 31, 1517, as it marks the date of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.  On this date, an obscure Augustinian monk by the name of Martin Luther nailed ninety-five theses to the church door in Wittenburg, because that was the usual custom of advertisement for the people’s attention.  It was in effect a public bulletin board. Luther nailed the document up at noon sharp because that was the time of the most frequent feasts.  Professors, students, and the common people would be coming from all four corners to the church on “All Saints Day,” for that was a time when it was filled up with relics for transfers of credit or “merit” under the Roman Catholic system.

 

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Being a Reaper for the Lord

McCormickThe revival was going strong in the little Virginia church on the McCormick farm. Minister after minister preached the Word of grace from the Word of God. One Sunday morning, the challenge went out to the audience gathered, “I want everyone who is on Christ’s side to stand up.” People stood up all over the sanctuary, except the young man named Cyrus McCormick. The twenty-one year old went back to his house where he went to bed. Before he fell asleep, his godly father came into his room and said, “Son, don’t you know that by being quiet, you are rejecting Christ?” Young Cy had not thought of it that way. He rose up, got dressed, and even though it was dark outside, went to see and talk with Billy McClung. He was a believer in Jesus. Waking up the young man, he asked how he could know Jesus and get peace with God. Billy McClung was used of the Lord to show the way, and that night Cyrus McCormick committed himself to Jesus as his Lord and Savior. The next Sunday morning, he did what he did not do the previous Sunday, and publicly gave his testimony of having trusted in Jesus Christ.

All the spiritual ground was prepared by his godly parents, and grandparents, and ancestors. He came from a Scotch-Irish heritage of Covenanters who had stood for King Jesus in the old country of Scotland and Ireland. Being persecuted for the old faith was part and parcel of the life which they lived and died for in the “Killing Times” of the mother country. Young Cyrus, born onFebruary 15, 1809, had the spiritual upbringing of both the Bible and the Westminster Shorter Catechism. He was a spiritual product of the theology of Martin Luther, John Calvin, and John Knox. The twin truths of the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man were stamped into his character.

Living in the Virginia farm was not easy however. Especially was it difficult to harvest the grain before it spoiled. Cyrus’s father had tried for years to build a machine which could reap the wheat quickly, so it wouldn’t be lost by spoilage. Cyrus McCormick took over for his father and with the natural gifts of God upon him, in 1834 took out a patent for a reaper which could accomplish all which he and every farmer of the land had long desired. But he didn’t stop there with the invention. He mass-produced the machine for usage by farmers all across America. Of course, this brought in incredible wealth to this Christian man.

Many have had the sad testimony that riches has ruined them in their Christian testimony. But Cyrus McCormick was different. He simply brought his heritage of Christianity, and specifically the rich Presbyterian heritage into his business life, so that family and friends could not separate his religious life from his business life. Even after marriage to Miss Nettie Fowler, and a family of six sons and daughters, he gave away huge sums of money to Christian and especially Presbyterian ministries. After his death in 1884, his wife continued the ministry of using her wealth for Christian enterprises. McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago is named after him because of that generous financial support toward that institution.

Words to Live By: Cyrus McCormick’s favorite Bible passage was Romans 8:31 – 39.  That is our application, or words to live by portion for today. Turn to it now and read the gracious promises of the elect of God.

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Scientist, Educator, and Inventor.

coffinJamesHenryJames Henry Coffin was born in Williamsburg, Massachusetts, on September 6, 1806 and died on February 6, 1873, at the age of sixty-six. Orphaned as a young child, he was educated by his uncle, the Rev. Moses Hallock and later graduated from Amherst College in 1828. Exhibiting an independent, entrepreneurial character, he made a career of teaching and founded a successful manual labor school in Greenfield, MA. In 1837, he became principal of an academy in Ogdensburg, NY, and it was during this time that he began to develop an interest in meteorology, writing treatises on solar and lunar eclipses and on the moon. The Greylock Observatory on Saddle Mountain, at 3500 feet above sea level, was established under his guidance. For use at this observatory. Professor Coffin devised the first self-registering instrument ever constructed for determining the direction, force, velocity, and moisture of the winds. His life’s final work was was the manufacture of an improved instrument for this same purpose, for the National Astronomical Observatory at Buenos Ayres, Argentina.

Then in 1846, he was called as professor of mathematics and astronomy at Lafayette College, where he served for the remaining twenty-six years of his life. His greatest contributions to science culminated in these years. One biographer notes that “During more than thirty years Prof. Coffin was engaged in collecting from all quarters, either in printed documents, or by an extensive correspondence, the data necessary to determine the mean direction of the surface winds in all parts of the Northern Hemisphere, their rate of progress, their relative velocity when blowing from different points of the compass, and the modifications they undergo in all these respect in the various seasons of the year.” It was a meticulous work which ultimately proved to be of great use.

Not long after Professor Coffin died, a bronze tablet was erected in his honor on the campus of Lafayette College, in recognition of his place as one of Lafayette’s most distinguished instructors and as a scientist of world-wide reputation. His associate, Professor Francis A. March, prepared the inscription for the tablet, which in part read:

“He annexed the atmosphere to the realm of science and searched the highways of the winds and the paths of vagrant storms.”

Professor Coffin was for many years a ruling elder in the Brainerd Presbyterian Church in Easton, PA. Alfred Nevin’s Presbyterian Encyclopedia reports that Coffin “united with the Church at an early age, and lived a sincere and devout Christian. He was fitted for his work as an educator and an investigator by the best gifts of heart and head. A man of clear, strong and candid mind, of scrupulous integrity of character, of conscientious regard for accuracy, and above all, a lover of truth for its own sake.”

Words to Live By:
James H. Coffin exhibited in his life a love for his fellow man and a consistent Christian character. Taking the gifts and abilities that God gave him, he faithfully sought to serve both God and man. Every honorable calling in life can glorify God. As Martin Luther taught, “in making shoes, the cobbler serves God just as much as the preacher of the Word.” Regardless of your calling in life, seek to serve and honor the Lord in all your ways.

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Remembering October 31

What better reason for remembering this day. No, not Halloween. Rather, October 31st, and specifically October 31, 1517, as it marks the date of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.  On this date, an obscure Augustinian monk by the name of Martin Luther nailed ninety-five theses to the church door in Wittenburg, because that was the usual custom of advertisement for the people’s attention.  It was in effect a public bulletin board. Luther nailed the document up at noon sharp because that was the time of the most frequent feasts.  Professors, students, and the common people would be coming from all four corners to the church on “All Saints Day,” for that was a time when it was filled up with relics for transfers of credit or “merit” under the Roman Catholic system.

refday_luther02A lot of Protestants, when hearing of this incident of the nailing of ninety-five theses, think that they were ringing endorsements of Protestant theology.  In reality, they were more Roman Catholic than Protestant.  There is no protest against the Pope and the Roman Catholic church, or any of her doctrines, not even against indulgences. These theses were silent about justification by faith alone.  They were primarily opposed to the abuse of indulgences.

But while the form is Romish, the spirit and aim is Protestant. They represent a state of transition between twilight and daylight. We must read between the lines, as the leaders of the Roman Catholic church did in the sixteenth century. As they did, they saw a logical drift which sought to undermine the whole fabric of Romanism.

Luther hoped that there would be a scholarly debate of the abuse of indulgences. But no one came to debate him. Instead, with the recent invention of the printing press, the copies of the ninety-five theses were sent all over the empire. The pope had a copy within two weeks. The common people read them and rejoiced over them. Luther was the talk of Germany. His ninety-five theses had gone viral! There was a trumpet call being sounded for what later on became the Protestant Reformation.

Words to live by: In less than five years, in 2017, we will celebrate the five-hundredeth anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Will there be a revival of its themes in your church and more important, in your heart, such as Scripture alone, Christ alone, grace alone, faith alone, and glory to God alone? That sums up what Luther, and Calvin, and Knox thundered to the masses and the visible  church. Reflect on the story of Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation in your heart, home, and church.

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This Day in Presbyterian History:

Remembering October 31

It is my earnest hope that no reader is going to wonder why this writer wants them to remember Halloween!  October 31st, and specifically October 31, 1517, is the date of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.  On this date, an obscure Augustinian monk by the name of Martin Luther nailed ninety-five theses to the church door in Wittenburg, because that was the usual custom of advertisement for the people’s attention.  It was the twenty-first century bulletin board.   Luther nailed them up at noon sharp because it was the time of the most frequent feasts.  Professors, students, and the common people would be coming from all four corners to the church, which was filled up with relics for transfers of credit.

A lot of Protestants, while  hearing of this incident of the nailing of ninety-five theses, think that they were ringing endorsements of Protestant theology.  In reality, they were more Roman  Catholic than Protestant.  There is no protest against the Pope and the Roman Catholic church, or any of  her doctrines, not even against indulgences.  They were silent about justification by faith alone.   They were primarily opposed to the abuse of indulgences.

But while the form is Romish, the spirit and aim is Protestant.  They represent a state of transition between twilight and daylight.  We must read between the lines, as the leaders of the Roman Catholic church did in the sixteenth century.  As they did, they saw a logical drift which sought to undermine the whole fabric of Romanism.

Luther hoped that there would be a scholarly debate of the abuse of indulgences.  But no one came to debate him.  Instead, with the recent invention of the printing press, the copies of the ninety-five theses were sent all over the empire.  The pope  had a copy within two weeks.  The common people read them and rejoiced over them.  Luther was the talk of Germany.  There was a trumpet call being sounded for what later on became   the Protestant Reformation.

Words to live by: In less than five years, in 2017,  we will celebrate the five-hundredeth anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Will there be a revival of its themes in your church and more important, in your heart, such as  Scripture alone, Christ alone, Grace Alone, Faith Alone, and Only to the Glory of God?  That sums up what Luther, and Calvin, and Knox thundered to the masses and the visible  church.  Reflect on  the story of Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation in your heart, home, and  church.

Through the Scriptures:  Luke 10 – 13

Through the Standards:  The definition of a sacrament in confession and catechisms.

WCF 27:1
“Sacraments are holy signs and seals of the covenant of grace, immediately instituted by God, to represent Christ and His benefits; and to confirm our interest in Him: as also, to put a visible difference between those that belong unto the Church and the rest of the world; and solemnly to engage them to the service of God in Christ, according to His Word.”

WLC 162 “What is a sacrament?
A. A sacrament is an holy ordinance instituted by Christ in his church, to signify, seal, and exhibit unto those that are within the covenant of grace, the benefits of his mediation; to strengthen and increase their faith, and all other graces; to oblige them to obedience; to testify and cherish their love and communion one with another; and to distinguish them from those that are without.”

WSC 92 “What is a sacrament?
A.  A sacrament is an holy ordinance instituted by Christ, wherein, by sensible signs, Christ, and the benefits of the new covenant, are represented, sealed, and applied to believers.”

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