November 2017

You are currently browsing the monthly archive for November 2017.

We Don’t Do Evangelism!
by Rev. David T. Myers

A speaker over the phone actually said the words of our title to a friend of this author. She was shocked, and so was I upon hearing it. Have they snipped out by scissors the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18 – 20? The very existence of our Presbyterian Church in America is that of being committed to the Great Commission. Certainly the subject of our post today when he sailed for the New Hebrides in 1846 was for the purpose of evangelism. His name was John Geddie.

John Geddie was born in Scotland on April 10, 1815 to John and Mary Geddie. At the tender age of two, his parents sailed to Pictou, Nova Scotia in Canada. Joining the Succession Presbyterian Church there, the young Geddie was trained in the ordinary schools of that province while joining his father in his clock making business. But his real interest was spent in reading books sent by the London Missionary Society. He was brought to a saving knowledge of Christ as Lord and Savior through these means at age nineteen. Enrolling in theology courses, he would be licensed to preach the gospel in 1837 and ordained as a Presbyterian minister one year later. Marrying Charlotte MacDonald in 1839, they set about rearing a family which eventually reached eight children.

Having a call to serve the Lord outside of Canada was made difficult in that no Presbyterian church was actively involved in foreign missions. Geddie organized a mission society in his local congregation. Yet even with the organization established, missionary endeavors were slow in coming to fruition. This was all too obvious when the regional synod voted 13 to 12 to select a mission field to even evangelize!  Yet one year later, on November 30, 1846, John Geddie, his wife Charlotte, and two small children sailed for the New Hebrides. Landing on the island of Aneiteum, they set at once to build a ministry among the natives.

For the next fifteen years, they sought to be faithful to the Great Commission in the midst of these heathen tribes. Often John would be assaulted by spears and stones as he traveled from one place to another. Then six years after he landed, several native chiefs converted to biblical Christianity. Thirty-five hundred natives, nearly one half of the population, threw away their idols and avowed the true Jehovah as their God and Savior. Immediately, the converted natives began to obey the Great Commission and send Christian teachers to other islands in the chain of the New Hebrides. Indeed, if you look up the country today (known as Vanuatu), you will see their religion to be Christian.

James Geddie died on December 14, 1872, but not before he had translated the entire New Testament in their language. He was in the process of working on the Old Testament when he was taken home to glory.

The island memorial to John Geddie is stunning to behold. It reads, “when he landed in 1848, there were no Christians here, and when he left in 1872, there were no heathen.”

Words to Live By:
A friend of this author had made one rule his guide in his ministerial life. For every milestone he passes, he endeavors to share the gospel with that many strangers in his ministry area. Thus, if he has turned fifty years of age, then he endeavors to witness to fifty unsaved individuals. Now, whether that goal brings 50 conversions is entirely dependent upon the work of the Spirit of God. We Reformed Christians understand that!  But do we recognize the command of the Great Commission is to be carried out by us? Or is it our practice that we do not do evangelism?

Occasionally we cast off any tie to the calendar and post something simply because it is important. Given the times, such as they are, it would seem the following advice has never been more needed, never more urgent to implement. “There never was a day when the mind of youth should be so charged and fortified against the insidious and bold attacks of error and infidelity as the present. As parents are awake to the life and destiny of their children, will they use these effective agencies for their safety and salvation?”

The Value of Memorizing Scripture and the Catechism in Childhood

by the Rev. E.E. Bigger

[excerpted from Christianity Today 4.5 (Mid-September 1933): 6.]

Paul, in writing to Timothy charged him to “Hold fast to the form of sound words.” 2 Tim. 1:13. Dean Alford, in his Greek Testament, places the stress on the word “form” in this verse. His reason is, the rule that the position of the substantive (subject or object) in relation to the verb, before or after, determines whether the emphasis should be on the substantive or the verb. In this instance the object precedes the verb in the Greek text, hence the emphasis is on the object, “form,”–“The form of sound words,” doctrine. Paul tells us when and by whom Timothy came in possession of “the form of sound words,” viz. “from a child,” young child: “Continue thou in the things which thou has learned and has been assured of, knowing of whom (viz. thy mother Eunice and thy grandmother Lois, 2 Tim. 1:5) thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, which is in Christ Jesus.” 2 Tim. 3:14, 15. Timothy, with his mother and grandmother, was probably converted under Paul at Lystra. The Holy Spirit naturally used the Scriptures, in the new birth and conversion of Timothy,, which he had known from a child, as Paul says it was able to make him wise unto salvation. So, many parents have had the great joy of seeing the early conversion of their children, as the gracious reward of the faithful training of their children, in storing their minds with the Scriptures followed by prayer. Paul says, “Bring up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Peter says, “The milk of the word” is necessary to the growth of the babe in Christ. So, “the milk of the word” is necessary to lay the foundation of spiritual life and growth of the babe in the flesh. The greatest heritage to which a child can fall heir in this world, is that of godly parents, faithful in the responsibility for the destiny of their children. Prov. 22:6.

What is true about memorizing Scripture in childhood is equally true of memorizing the Catechism. True, the Catechism is not so vital as the Scripture. But the Catechism provides definitions of the truths of Scripture essential to the understanding of Scripture. It also provides a system of Bible principles, showing the order and relation of the truths to each other, thus fixing in the mind the plan of salvation, and establishing and fortifying mind and heart against the false isms which would deceive, if possible, the very elect. Dr. John Hall, late pastor of the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, New York, speaking of the importance of memorizing the Catechism, said, “Having no anchor in definite religious knowledge, it is no wonder that a speculation cannot be propounded among us so silly that it shall not find followers.” Considering the great value of this system of Bible truth, there are two reasons why it should be memorized in childhood: First, because it is a much easier task for the child than in later years; and second, because if it is not memorized in childhood, it is one in a thousand that it never will be. Some think it is a useless task to impose on the child, since he can have little or no understanding of the meaning of the words. But the meaning will come in later years when the reasoning powers of the mind are developed, and the need and importance of the truths embodied are realized. The late Dr. John Cumming, of London, tells his experience: “When I learned that Scriptural and extremely abstruse work, the Shorter Catechism, I did not understand it. But my memory was stored with the truths of that precious document. And when I grew up I found those truths, which had been laid aside in its cells as propositions which I could neither understand nor make use of, became illumined by the sunshine of after years, and, like some hidden and mysterious writing, reveal in all beauty and fullness, those precious truths which I had never seen nor understood before.”

The Catechism was drilled into me Sunday afternoons, and the answer to “What is sin?” I rattled off without even a thought of its meaning, until in the maturity of manhood, its meaning flashed upon me, that there are two classes of sin, viz., sins of omission and sins of commission, shall I not say, equally heinous in God’s sight, according to their equal “aggravations”? Q. 83. There never was a day when the mind of youth should be so charged and fortified against the insidious and bold attacks of error and infidelity as the present. As parents are awake to the life and destiny of their children, will they use these effective agencies for their safety and salvation?

[excerpted from Christianity Today 4.5 (Mid-September 1933): 6.]

The Time Was Not Ripe
by Rev. David T. Myers

This mysterious phrase is found on a stone memorial on the grounds of the Battle of Rullion Green which is located eight miles south of Edinburgh, Scotland. It tells the tragic story of defeat in the first battle of the Scot Covenanters—Presbyterians all—against the English government of Charles II.

This battle was part of the Killing Times era of Scottish Covenanters. In essence, the Anglican government had declared war against the Presbyterians of Scotland, asking for unconditional surrender on their part. Their pastors—some 400 of them—had been ejected from their pulpits, their manses, and their parishes. When some of them began to preach to their people in the fields and moors, that whole scene became a dangerous practice, with fines leveled against the attenders, and imprisonment and death as well. All that was needed was a spark to ignite the smoldering indignation of the Scottish people of God.

That spark occurred on November 13, 1666 when an old man by the name of John Grier was accosted by the soldiers of the English government. Unable to pay a fine for his absence from his church with its Anglican curate in the pulpit, he was beaten severely that day. Four local Covenanters  happened upon the scene, and tried first to reason with the soldiers. When that failed, words turned to actions, and one of the soldiers was shot. Other villagers joined in the fray and took the solders prisoners. At this point, the Covenanters numbered ninety people.

Aware of the danger posed by their actions, they marched to Dunfries, Scotland, where they attacked other soldiers, killing one in the process. By this time, their numbers had reached two hundred and fifty. On the way, they captured Sir James Turner, the overall military commander in the area. Continuing further, they encountered a soldier friend by the name of James Wallace, who had experience in warfare. He and his military subordinates joined the Covenanter crowd. They then headed to Edinburgh, the capital city, to find more support for their actions to stop “the killing times,” though to their surprise, the weapons of the citizens were turned against them. The time was not ripe for a rebellion against English rule, evidently, despite their numbers having reached some three thousand or more by this time.

The English government dispatched General Thomas Daiziel against them, who with an army of 3000 (some sources say 5000 soldiers), marched after them. The Covenanter force, with their inadequate weapons and supplies, began to fail, with many deserting the force, leaving some 900 left to do battle. On the afternoon of Wednesday, November 28, 1666, on a long slope in the country side south of Edinburgh, three thrusts by the government forces eventually brought a crushing of the valiant forces of the Covenanters. Some fifty were killed, including two Presbyterian ministers from Ulster. But that was only the beginning of the killing done that day. A bloody retribution was exacted upon the prisoners, including starvation, death by handing, and sending many on prison ships to the American colonies and the West Indies.

Words to Life By:
On the monument which marks the battlefield, there is carved a biblical text from Revelation 12:11, which reads, “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.”  Another inscription reads,

“A cloud of witnesses lyes here,
who for Christ’s interest did not appear,
For to restore true Liberty
Overturned then by Tyrany
and by Proud Prelates who did rage
Against the Lord’s own heritage.
Their sacrifices were for the Laws
of Christ their king,  his noble cause,
These heroes fought with great renown,
By falling got the Martyr’ Crown.”

Excerpted from THE CHRISTIAN OBSERVER, Vol. XXXI, No. 13 (27 March 1852): 49, column 3.

Dr. Archibald Alexander was, in addition to his service as the first professor at Princeton Seminary, quite dedicated in the work of writing evangelistic tracts, many of which were later gathered and published in the volume, Practical Truths. The following short quote is taken from one such tract:

THE GOSPEL PRECIOUS.

Oh, precious gospel! Will any merciless hand endeavor to tear away from our hearts this best, this last, and sweetest consolation? Would you darken the only avenue through which one ray of hope can enter? Would you tear from the aged and infirm poor, the only prop on which their souls can repose in peace? Would you deprive the dying of their only source of consolation? Would you rob the world of its richest treasure? Would you let loose the flood-gates of every vice, and bring back upon the earth the horrors of superstition or the atrocities of atheism? Then endeavor to subvert the gospel; throw around you the fire-brands of infidelity; laugh at religion; and make a mock of futurity; but be assured, that for all these things God will bring you into judgment. I will persuade myself that a regard for the welfare of their country, if no higher motive, will induce men to respect the Christian religion. And every pious heart will say, rather let the light of the sun be extinguished than the precious light of the gospel.—[Dr. Archibald Alexander.

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

Q 38. — What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the resurrection?

A. — At the resurrection, believers, being raised up in glory, shall be openly acknowledged, and acquitted in the day of judgment, and made perfectly blessed in the full enjoying of God to all eternity.

Scripture References: I Cor. 15:43, 44; Matt. 25:33, 34; Matt. 10:32; Psa. 15:1; I Thess. 4:14; I Cor. 2:9.

Questions:

1. What are the three benefits of the believers as contained in this question?

(1) The believers shall be raised up in glory.
(2) The believers shall be acknowledged and acquitted at the day of judgment.
(3) The believers shall be made perfectly blessed in the full enjoyment of God to all eternity.

2. What is the glory referred to in this question and what will be the result of it?

The glory referred to in this question is the glory of the resurrection, when the body will be restored and no longer subject to death and dissolution and “be fashioned like unto Christ’s glorious body.” (Phil. 3 :21).

3. What is the meaning of the believers being acknowledged and acquitted?

The believers will hear the Savior’s “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matt. 25:34). Their faith shall be vindicated; they shall be publicly acknowledged as the redeemed children of God, (I Cor. 4:5), and the declaration will be made that all their sins are pardoned.

4. What is the third blessing that will come to the believers?

The third is the greatest blessing of all, the full enjoyment of God. The believers will ever be with the Lord and will receive the inheritance prepared for them. There the believers will behold their Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, and will finally be able to trace the ways in which the Lord has led and saved them. (I Pet. 1:6).

5. What will be the lot of the unbelievers at the resurrection?

Their bodies shall be released from the grave and they shall see Christ as their final judge. They shall stand before His judgment Throne and shall have their sins read out of the books and will be eternally cast into hell. (II Thess. 1:7-8; Rev. 20:11,12).

GOOD STEWARDS OF THE GRACE OF GOD

“As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” (I Pet. 4: 10). Blessing after blessing has been mentioned in the past few questions; but with blessings come responsibilities. It is a good thing to be reminded of the benefits that come to the believer both in this life and at death and at the resurrection. But it is an important thing that the believer recognize that with these benefits there is a call from the Lord to be good stewards of his grace.

Archbishop Leighton said, “Thinkest thou that thy wealth, or power, or wit, is thine, to do with as thou wilt, to engross to thyself either to retain as useless or to use, to hoard and wrap up, or to lavish out; according as thy humour leads thee? No! All is given as to a steward, wisely and faithfully to lay up and layout, not only the outward estate and common gifts of mind, but even saving grace, which seems most appropriated for thy private good, yet is not wholly for that. Even thy graces are for the good of thy brethren.”

If believers are to live to the glory of God, (going back to the first question), then they must be good stewards of the grace of God. The benefits given now and those to be given to the believers at the resurrection should be daily motivators toward wanting to thank and praise God for them in the way He desires praise—living to his glory. It should be noted by the believer that benefits are given for the purpose of being exercised; that the design of these exercises is not only for the advantage of the believer but is also for that of the body of Christ at large. In addition, when a believer is exercising a gift, a benefit, he ought to consider himself as a steward who must be faithful, being a good manager of the manifold grace of God.

In I Tim. 6:17-18 we have the same teaching: “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate.”

To be a good steward of the manifold grace of God is indeed a way to “redeem the time” in these evil days. May God help us to do so, all to His glory.

Published by: THE SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Vol. 3 No. 33 (February, 1964)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor

« Older entries

%d bloggers like this: