June 2015

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Eighty years ago, on June 30, 1934, there was an observance of the fiftieth anniversary of the Korean mission started by the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Other denominations had their own missions in that land. The Southern Presbyterian Church (properly, the Presbyterian Church, U.S.) had a substantial mission there as well, one which was greatly blessed of the Lord, and we may speak of the PCUS mission later.

But for today, reading briefly in The fiftieth anniversary celebration of the Korea Mission of the Presbyterian church in the U.S.A., June 30-July 3, 1934 by the Rev. Harry A. Rhodes, we come to what is for us the heart of the subject, a paper presented by the Rev. Herbert E. Blair, under the title of “Fifty Years of Development of the Korean Church.”

The Role of Missionaries
According to the Rev. Herbert E. Blair, three main principles undergirded the PCUSA mission to Korea in the period between 1884-1934. These were: (1) the supreme place given the Bible, with its simple Gospel message as the inspired, authoritative Word of God. (2) the common determination to make the Korean Church an indigenous church from the beginning, self-propagating, self-instructing, and self-governing. And (3) a spirit of comity and cooperation.

Persecution
But Blair also notes that there was great opposition to the gospel ministry in Korea in those days. “Men were imprisoned and flogged and threatened with death for helping the foreigners bring in the Gospel. Terrible persecutions were inflicted by hostile communities or privately by families or by fathers and husbands. Young widows of the Church were snatched and sold by heathen relatives and terribly abused. Wives were beaten, dragged out of churches and through the streets by their hair and cursed, and their clothes hidden so that they could not go to church again. Some were locked up and food denied them. They were cast off for Christ’s sake. Young boys suffered terrible beatings at the hands of brothers and fathers and were driven from home. Young girls were dragged away to heathen marriages and tortured if they protested. If they fled they were arrested and forced back into weddings they could not escape.”

The Bible and the Korean Church
Rev. Blair continues: “But by God’s grace, the Korean Church grew and became established—established upon the very best and only true Foundation. Writing from his vantage point in 1934, Dr. Blair states, “Bible study has been magnified in the Korean Church. The Bible has been ever at the side of leaders and followers alike. The Bible has been a passion with many pastors and teachers. Rev. Kil Sun-chu [or, Kil Son-ju, 1869-1935], the blind preacher of Pyongyang, has been first of all a diligent Bible student. He had studied all the old cults, but nothing brought peace till his soul began to feed on the Word of God. Pastor Kil has been an inspiring model before the eyes of the whole Church. His sight failed him but Dr. H.C. Whiting operated and enabled him to read again. This past generation pictures Pastor Kil always standing in the midst of great Bible classes, holding up his Bible close to his big, round, radiant face so that through his immense lenses he could himself read the Scriptures and then pour out his great soul in vision and plea. He has so studied and taught the Bible that he can repeat whole books. He has repeated the Revelation hundreds of times. Similarly, most of the leaders of the Church have been good Bible students. Their Bibles are filled with notes, worn and black from Genesis to Revelation. Some of them know their Bibles so well that they are veritable concordances. Such examples have helped the whole church to become a Bible-studying, Bible-loving church. Even old grandmothers and ignorant farmers have been inspired to learn to read so they too could know God’s Word.”

“One can tell a Christian home by the Bible on the floor or on the box at the window or the little table. In their homes family prayers have not only been for daily devotion but they have also been the family schools where the fathers and mothers, aged parents and little children, have gathered in circles about the little oil lamps on the floors, with their Bibles open before them, reading around, verse after verse, the fathers often pronouncing syllable after syllable for the little children to repeat till all have learned to read. Probably all who have spent any length of time in Syen-chun, have been impressed when late at night or earlyt in the morning, while going through the street, passing house after house, they have heard the sound of family prayers or the muffled tone of song. The open Bible is the family altar. All over Korea for years, in multitudes of homes, they have had such family prayers.”

Words to Live By:
Much of this account seems so similar to accounts of other times of God’s great blessing upon His Church. And consistently in each case, a faithful devotion to the Word of God and to prayer undergirds each of those times of blessing. Christian, where is your Bible? Is it gathering dust? Or is it your daily companion? And are you constant in prayer, seeking your Father’s face, drawing near not just with your daily burdens, but also with groanings and petitions for the Church at large, that the Lord would be glorified before a watching world? Be constant in God’s Word and in prayer, and watch expectantly to see how the Lord will work. Pray that once great denominations in the U.S.A. would again be seized with the truth of the Bible and return to a faithful proclamation of the Gospel. Pray too that we who consider ourselves orthodox would indeed maintain our first love in all humility and obedience.

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With some slight editing, we present today a portion of the text from George P. Hays’s 1892 work, PRESBYTERIANS.

Each in Turn, Briefly Center-stage

By act of Parliament, Presbyterianism was legally established as the state religion of England on this day, June 29, 1647. But before it could be further set up, proceedings in that direction were halted by Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell. In 1649, King Charles I. was beheaded by the authority of the Rump Parliament, and finally all parliamentary government was destroyed. The tidal wave toward Independency, which rose at the time of Cromwell, began to get ready for its return as the English people saw the Lord Protector’s soldiers dispersing Parliament.

Cromwell was as much opposed to Presbyterianism as he was to Episcopacy. His Latin secretary, the poet John Milton, had quite famously and precisely expressed Cromwell’s sentiments when he said that, “Presbyter was only Priest writ large.” The English nation, however, soon found out that Cromwell, while he was pious and honest, was also a dictator, and had at his back a thoroughly disciplined army. Under him the nation was quiet and orderly and voiceless at home and powerful abroad. The navy swept the seas clear of competitors; and a shake of the head by Cromwell, concerning the persecution of the Waldensians, as expressed in that magnificient poem of his secretary Milton, “Avenge, O Lord, thy slaughtered saints,” made even the Duke of Savoy and France’s king Louis XIV. call home from the Alps their relentless bloodhounds, and the Pope to cringe in his palace.

Oliver Cromwell, the absolutist, died in 1658 and he left no viable successor. Social chaos rolled over the kingdom when his son Richard tried to fill his father’s chair. In 1660 General Monk forestalled the movement for a parliamentary contract with royalty by calling Charles II. back to England and by the army putting him on the throne. Charles came, a thorough-going Stuart, without having learned any wisdom from the experience of his father. His return sent the Puritans into retirement and brought the rollicking Cavalliers all to the front. Amusement ran riot over England.

The Episcopal bishops immediately found that their success needed that they should keep still and flatter Charles. The Presbyterians yielded in quiet, in the hope that that the Savoy Conference to adjust religious matters, held in 1661, would secure religious toleration. Instead of that the Act of Uniformity came in 1662, and two thousand non-conformist ministers were forced to leave their pulpits and their worldly support, rather than violate their consciences. In the providence of God, all of this tended to increase emigration out of England and into America.

Words to Live By:
Nothing in the political and social machinations of man ever surprises the Lord of all creation. Jesus Christ remains King of Kings and Lord of lords, sovereign over all the nations of this earth. Great hope was perhaps raised on this day, June 29, 1647, but within a short span of years that hope seemingly came to naught. Then what seemed a great defeat in 1662 was used of God to bring a greater triumph as the Church was established for the next several centuries in a more prosperous and strategic place across the ocean. We may not understand—in fact, in this life we most likely never will understand—but God’s purposes and plan are sure. Surely the Lord God oversees all of human history, and will bring it to His intended conclusion.

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

Q. 25. — How doth Christ execute the office of a priest?

A. — Christ executeth the office of a priest, in his once offering up of himself a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice, and reconcile us to God, and in making continual intercession for us.

Scripture References: Heb. 9:14, 28: Rom. 3:25; Rom. 10:4; Heb. 2:17; Heb. 7:25.

Questions:

1.
What did Christ do for us as the first part of his office as a priest?

The first part of Christ’s priestly office was the offering up a sacrifice to God for us. The sacrifice was Himself, the shedding of blood unto death.

2.
What is a sacrifice?

A sacrifice is a holy offering rendered to God by a priest of God’s appointment.

3. Did Christ offer a sacrifice of Himself more than once?

No, he offered Himself a sacrifice only one time, and this was sufficient for the sins of His people. (Heb. 9:38).

4. Why did Christ offer Himself as a sacrifice for us?

Christ offered Himself as a sacrifice for us that he might satisfy God’s justice for us and that he might reconcile us to God.

5. When the word “us” is used in the above question, of whom is it speaking?

It is speaking of the elect, not all of mankind. (John 10:15)

6. How did Christ’s sacrifice satisfy God’s justice?

It is so for this sacrifice was accepted by God and was worthy of acceptance.

7. What does Christ do for us as the second part of his office as a priest?

The second part of Christ’s priestly office is his making intercession o for us. Isa. 43: 12)

8. Where is the intercession made and what does He do for us in this intercession?

The intercession is made at the right hand of God. By it He prays to and pleads to God for us; because of it our sins are pardoned, our prayers are answered and we are actually reconciled. It should be remembered that He is the only intercessor in heaven for us.

OUR INTERCESSOR

The Belgic Confession makes the matter of Christ’s intercession very plain when it states: “We believe that we have no access unto God, save alone through the only Mediator and Advocate, Jesus Christ the righteous.” Further on, less there be those who would seek another intercessor, it states: “And if we seek for one who hath power and majesty, who is there that has so much of both as he who sits at the right hand of his Father, and who hath all power in heaven and on earth?” (Article 26),

There always have been present in the world those who look for “another intercessor” thinking that they might somehow find some extra power without going through the straight and narrow way, the way of salvation through Jesus Christ. The church is ever called on to take offense against such false beliefs as “another intercessor” and must always be ready to give an answer to such false beliefs. The Christian believer is convinced that Christ is the intercessor and is thankful for Him. However, there is ever the danger of the Christian taking Him for granted, not having the recognition that Christ’s intercession is true and powerful and therefore being properly grateful for it. Isaac Watts had the true approach to the matter when he wrote:

“Alas! and did my Saviour bleed?
And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?

But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe;
Here, Lord, I give myself away’
Tis all that I can do.”

The case can be put very simply to the born again Christian: Have you even experienced the drops of grief, to say nothing of the giving of yourself? Posstbly the difficulty in regard to our realizing what we have in the intercession of Christ is that we never cared enough about it to grieve over what He did for us. A Christian acquaintance of mine can never start talking about his Saviour’s sacrifice for him without shedding tears. You say, “Emotionalism!” Sincere tears about Christ’s sacrifice and His subsequent intercession will never harm anyone. The question is: Do we care that much? (Eph.3:14-21)

Published By: THE SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Vol. 3 No. 25 (January 1963)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor

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kerr_robertPContinuing with our plan to present each Saturday for the remainder of this summer a chapter from the little book PRESBYTERIANISM FOR THE PEOPLE, by the Rev. Dr. Robert P. KerrToday we present Chapter II, but also add a bit of biographical introduction regarding the author, the Rev. Robert P. Kerr.

The sixth pastor, Rev. Robert Pollock Kerr, was installed February 3, 1884. Early in his pastorate the work of moving the church from Capitol street to its present location was begun. The last Sunday service was held in the old church April 17, and a farewell prayer meeting Tuesday, April 19, 1884. During the rebuilding period Grace Street and the Second Presbyterian churches, Broad Street Methodist Episcopal Church, and Monumental Protestant Episcopal Church were generously offered for the use of the churchless congregation. Dr. Kerr’s pastorate was the second longest in the history of the church, lasting a little over nineteen years, ending May 25, 1903. Few pastors ever gained the love and admiration of their people or the high esteem of others to a greater extent than did Dr. Kerr while in Richmond. His departure was greatly regretted by all who knew him, and their numbers were legion, for his labors were not confined to his own church. He was always active in every general movement for the spiritual or moral uplift of the city, and was probably the best known minister in Richmond. Throughout his nineteen years service four hundred and twenty-five names were added to the church roll.

Please note too that there may be some understandable quibbles regarding some of Rev. Kerr’s points. For instance, he states that the courts of the church (other than the Session) are composed of equal numbers of ruling and teaching elders.  That may have been the case in his denomination and time, but it has not been the practice in all other Presbyterian denominations.

CHAPTER II. — WHAT IS PRESBYTERIANISM?

The invisible Church consists of all God’s true people in heaven and on earth, and the visible Church of all who profess the essential doctrines of Christianity and who are organized for work and for worship, together with their children.

This great visible Church is made up of several denominations holding various views of doctrine, government and worship, having separate organizations and distinguished by many different names, but all professing the essential truth that we are saved by faith in a divine Saviour, Jesus Christ, whose atoning grace is applied to our souls by the Holy Ghost, who renews us, sanctifies us, and prepares us for heaven.

The various denominations have grown out of different crises of Church history, and, whereas many of them started in dissention, God has overruled their existence to the glory of His name and the good of the world; so that, as they stand today, they are unquestionably an advantage, ensuring a continued study of doctrine and the maintenance of purity, and furnishing an incentive to aggressive effort in the redemption of mankind by the preaching of Jesus Christ.

But, whilst we work in separate organizations, we should love one another, and should let charity so conspicuously crown our efforts as to show in spirit a fulfillment of Christ’s prayer that we “might be one.” Thus shall we silence the sneers of the world at our lack of love.

There are two great questions which every denomination must answer: What to do? and How to do it? “What to do?” refers to the preaching of the gospel; “How to do it?” refers to Church government. This second question some answer by saying, “Do it by episcopal modes;” others, “By congregational;” others still, “By presbyterian.” So Church government is simply “how to do it.” “What to do?” is a question upon which we are all substantially agreed—”to preach Christ and Him crucified.” As to “How to do it?” we say, “Do it by presbyterian modes.”

There are only three great principles of Church government: (1) Episcopal, a government by bishops, including Protestant Episcopal, Methodist Episcopal, and Catholic Churches; (2) Congregational, a government by congregations, including the Congregational, Independent and Baptist Churches; and (3) Presbyterian, a government by Presbyteries, including all Presbyterian and Reformed Churches throughout the world. In civil government there are two great systems, the monarchical, or oligarchical, and the republican; these correspond substantially with Episcopalian and Presbyterian. There is and can be, no such thing as a congregational or purely democratic government in the State if it include a large number of citizens. It is a government by the people without any rulers. Monarchy and republicanism, or self-government, have contended together from the beginning, with a gradual advance among the nations toward the latter; and the highest privilege claimed for the people under a republican government is to elect their own rulers. They are therefore called “representative.” Such is the case in the American republic and in others.

Presbyterian Church government is not a form, but a principle; and whereas the applications of this principle will have a strong resemblance, still the exact forms of its development are determined by circumstances. This principle may be briefly stated as follows: PRESBYTERIANISM IS A CHURCH GOVERNMENT BY REPRESENTATIVES ELECTED BY THE PEOPLE AND ALL OF EQUAL AUTHORITY, WHICH IS EXERCISED BY THEM ONLY WHEN ORGANIZED INTO AN ASSEMBLY OR COURT. These representatives are called Elders, or Presbyters, and are of two classes—Ruling Elders, who only rule, and Teaching Elders (or preachers), who both rule and teach. The assemblies, or courts, of the Church are composed of equal numbers of Ruling and Teaching Elders, except in case of the lowest, called the Session, or Consistory, where all except the presiding officer, or Moderator, are Ruling Elders.

These assemblies are arranged in the scale of a regular gradation from the Session, through the Presbytery and Synod, to the General Assembly, which is the highest. These are all Presbyteries, because composed of Presbyters, and had originally the same functions; but for the sake of efficiency and order there has been a distribution of duties, each one having its own province strictly defined. It is the duty of each higher court to review the proceedings of the next lower, and cases are carried from the lowest to the highest. In some parts of the Church minor classes of cases are not allowed to come before the General Assembly, but receive their final decision in the Synod.

 

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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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