September 2018

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STUDIES IN THE WESTMINSTER SHORTER CATECHISM.

Q. 101. What do we pray for in the first petition?

A. In the first petition, which is, “Hallowed be Thy name,” we pray, that God would enable us, and others, to glorify Him in all that whereby He maketh Himself known, and that He would dispose all things to His own glory.

Scripture References: Ps. 67:1-3; II Thess. 3:1; Isa. 64:1-2; Rom. 11:36; Isa. 11:9.

Questions:

1. What is meant by the word “petition” and how many are there in the Lord’s Prayer?

The word “petition” simply means the desiring or asking of anything. There are six in the Lord’s Prayer and we are considering the first.

2. How do we hallow the name of God?

Simply stated, it would mean to glorify His name. For example, Isa. 3:13 states, “Sanctify the Lord of hosts Himself, and let Him be your fear, and your dread” We should glorify (sanctify, hallow) Him in all ways as we walk in this world so that the world will see Him in us as much as possible.

3. How can we be certain that we shall do this?

We can be as certain as possible by endeavoring to be diligent about the attributes, ordinances, word and the works of God? It would be good for us to look back in our studies once again to our duties concerning these ways God makes Himself known to us and examine ourselves regarding them.

4. When we pray in this petition, “Hallowed be Thy name,” what is the meaning of our prayer?

We are really praying for two things: 1. That God will hallow (glorify) Himself in this world; 2. That God, working through us, will enable us to glory His name in this world. The first part of this petition is accomplished as God magnifies Himself as He works out all things after His will, even those things which seem to us the opposite. The second part of this petition has been discussed in Question 3.

5. What are the things He works out after His will that are opposite from what we would expect?

A few we could mention would be the persecutions, the trials He takes us through and the times we sin and He overrules.

GLORIFYING GOD IN PRAYER.

In a summary of Richard Baxter’s directions on how to pray, taken from his Christian Directory, published in 1673, we find these words: “When you are about to pray, stir up in your souls the most earnest belief in those unseen things that your prayers refer to; and pray as if you saw them all the while–God in His glory, heaven and hell, and Jesus Christ as your Mediator in the heavens.”

Not long ago I noted a prayer by Richard Alleine, one of the Puritans, in which he said, “O Lord, our God, Thou high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, we know that Thou hast said that Thou dost dwell with him that is of contrite and humble spirit, that Thou dost revive the heart of the contrite ones.”

These two quotes then led to a study of what the Word of God says regarding intercessory prayer. Our question, after studying the first petition of the Lord’s Prayer, should be: how do we prepare ourselves for real prayer as we begin by glorifying His name? What does God’s Word say about the methods that might be used to glorify His name? Let us check a few of the verses and see what we might find from them. Let us see if we can not put down some principles of how we, in prayer, may hallow His name.

1. Our prayer could well begin with Eph. 1:17 as we pray that God might give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.

2. Our prayer might continue with Eph. 1:13 as we pray that the eyes of our understanding might be enlightened.

3. From here we could progress to a continuation of Eph. 1:18 as we pray that we might know the hope of His calling.

4. Our prayer could continue with Eph. 1:19 as we seek to understand, comprehend, the exceeding greatness of His power.

5. We could end this short study of how to glorify Him in prayer by turning to Eph. 3:19 and ask that we might be filled with all the fulness of God.

Certainly there are many more principles. We could turn to Eph. 3:18; Phil. 1:9; Col. 1:9-10 and many others. The point is that we are not left without instruction in the Word of God as to how we can best glorify Him in our prayers. As we begin the Lord’s Prayer with those words, “Hallowed be Thy Name,” we can surely recognize that our attitude can be conditioned by some of the above principles.

Published by The Shield and Sword, Inc.
Dedicated to instruction in the Westminster Standards for use as a bulletin insert or other methods of distribution in Presbyterian churches.

Vol. 7, No. 6 (June 1968)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor.

As you prepare your hearts for times of worship this Lord’s Day:

HOW TO LEAVE THE HOUSE OF GOD.

[excerpted from THE CHARLESTON OBSERVER, Vol. XII, No. 39 (29 September 1838): 154, column 2.]

And he sent them away.“—From these five short and simple words, Bishop Heber forms one of his most practical and interesting sermons. After repeating the Evangelist’s account of the miracle, at the close of the performance of which Jesus Christ uttered these words, he goes on to lay before his hearers the duties that are incumbent upon them, after being “sent away,” with a blessing from the house of God, and begs them, in his own impressive manner, to bow in supplication, as they leave that temple, to Him who can alone give them strength to go on their way rejoicing, or enable them to fulfil the duties that intervene between that time and the next period appointed for their assembling together. So should we go away strengthened, and refreshed in spirit by the words of the teacher, as the multitude left the Saviour, nourished in body by the miraculous food he had bestowed—”then would the dawn of each returning day bring increase of knowledge;” then, when another Sabbath calls us to God’s holy temple, we would return in the increased favor of God and the clearer light of His countenance; and at length, when the great Sabbath of nature is arrived, and he who once fed the poor flock in the wilderness returns in His father’s glory, to rule over heaven and earth, He will “send us away” no more, but cause us, world without end, to dwell in His tabernacle, and before His face, that “where He is, there we may be also.”Southern Churchman.

“Now the interesting question is, How have the people improved the preaching of the law and the gospel? Most of those who lived under the ministry of my predecessor have gone to the grave. But to you who are yet living and hearing the gospel, the question is solemn and important. Have you so improved the preaching of God’s word as to become wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus?

 

The bicentennial observation of the founding of the Fairfield Presbyterian Church, of Fairton, New Jersey, commonly known back then as the Old Stone Church, was observed on September 29, 1880, the church having been organized in 1680. That congregation continues on to the present day and is a member church of the Presbyterian Church in America.

osbornEthanEasily the most distinguished pastor in the history of the Old Stone Church was the Rev. Ethan Osborn. The following is a transcript of the aged pastor’s last words to his congregation,

“the aged preacher, in all the faithfulness of his still loving heart, and under circumstances which could not fail to awaken for him the sympathy of his audience. He is now in his ninety-second year. The place where he stands was he scene of his eventful ministrations for more than half a century, and he does not expect ever to preach from that pulpit again. After referring to the ministry of his predecessor, who in 1780 preached the first sermon in the house, to his own labors there, and to those of the writer of this memorial, then the pastor of the congregation, he proceeds—”

“I may safely say that by the preaching of these three ministers, in this house, the doctrines and all things essential to duty and salvation, have been clearly explained and faithfully urged upon the people. The doctrine of human depravity has been explained and proved from Scripture and common observation. Here also the doctrine of regeneration has been repeatedly set forth, and the absolute necessity of it urged upon the people. It has been shown that we must be new created in Christ Jesus, must have the love of God ruling in our hearts, or we can never be admitted into his kingdom.

“Also the doctrines of repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, have been faithfully preached in this house, and their absolute necessity in order to obtain pardon and heavenly felicity. Likewise the duties prescribed in the gospel have been explained and insisted on. The people have been informed that supreme love to God is their indispensable duty. Here also they have been taught the duties we owe, one to another, to do good to all according to our abilities and opportunities; and to ourselves, to live sober and religious lives in the world. Here also, that the law forbids every sin, whether in action, word or heart, and pronounces a curse on every transgression of it. For ‘cursed is every one that continueth not in all the things which are written in the book of the law to do them.’ And as all have sinned, therefore no human being can be justified before God by the deeds of the law, or by meritorious obedience. The law requires perfect and perpetual obedience. But as no man has yielded such obedience, or possessed sinless perfection, therefore in vain do you now look to the law for justification.

‘Since to convince and to condemn,
Is all the law can do.’

“But, thanks to God : the gospel reveals a way of justification, how we may obtain forgiveness and the favor of God. And this blessed gospel has often been preached in this house, the gospel which offers a free pardon to every humble penitent. ‘This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.’ The blessed Saviour invites the weary and heavy laden sinner to come to him, assuring him that he will raise him up at the last day to eternal life. Such is the inviting and beneficent language of the gospel. But at the same time, both law and gospel denounce everlasting punishment on such as reject the Saviour and die impenitent.

“Now the interesting question is, How have the people improved the preaching of the law and the gospel? Most of those who lived under the ministry of my predecessor have gone to the grave. But to you who are yet living and hearing the gospel, the question is solemn and important. Have you so improved the preaching of God’s word as to become wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus?

“To those who are pious believers, I would say, you have chosen the good part, and God has begun a gracious work in you which he will carry on until it terminates in glory. So that by faith in Christ, shaving laid hold on the hope set before us, you may have a strong consolation, and go on your Christian course rejoicing. Be not satisfied with your present relative attainments, but press forward to the work of perfection, the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Use the appointed means of reading and hearing the word of God, not forsaking the assembling of yourselves for public worship, as many do, and by no means neglect the privilege and duty of prayer. Ask and receive, not only that you may have grace to serve God, but that you may also grow in grace and in the knowledge of your Lord Jesus Christ. In this way religion will become more pleasant. The nearer you advance toward heavenly perfection, the more delighted you will be with heavenly enjoyment. ‘O taste and see that the Lord is good.’

‘Come leave his pleasant ways,
And let us taste his grace.’

“Never be weary in well doing, for in perseverance, you shall in due time reap a glorious harvest. As an inducement thus to live and spend your remaining days, remember your judge and mind will ere long call us to answer, how I have preached the gospel and how you have improved it.

“I now turn to those of you whose future happiness is not yet secured by faith in the Mediator. Your situation is awfully dangerous. You are now suspended between the possibility of eternal happiness or eternal misery. You are now between the two vast extremes, or if I may more plainly express it between heaven and hell. Either celestial happiness or infernal misery must in a short time be your everlasting portion. How solemn is the prospect before you—the joys of heaven or the sorrows of hell, one of which must be your everlasting portion,—the latter except ye turn at God’s reproof. ‘As though God did beseech you, by us, we pray you, in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.’ Believe me when I say it is my heart’s desire and prayer to God, that you and I may have a joyful meeting at the judgment, in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ.

“As we expect this to be the last Sabbath on which I shall speak to you from this pulpit, let me say, in the presence of God who knows my heart, that I have endeavored and prayed that I might faithfully perform my ministerial duties. Though I am conscious of much imperfection, God is my witness, that I have ever preached such doctrine and precepts as I verily believe are agreeable to his word. I have repeatedly said, ‘the lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.’ With gratitude to God, I look back upon the religious revivals with which he has blessed us and the friendly relations which have subsisted between us. It is no small satisfaction that as pastor and people we separated as friends, and that a pleasant intercourse subsists between myself and my successor, your present pastor. Never were the people more dear to me, I shall love them as long as I live.

“Excuse my plainness, and permit me once more to say in the fullness of my feelings, that my heart’s desire and prayer to God for you all is, that you may be saved. As it will not be long before we must each answer to God—I for my ministry, and you for your improvement of it, let us be diligent in what duty remains and in advancing toward heaven. Let brotherly love continue and abound, until it shall be perfected in the heavenly kingdom. And may God prepare us all to meet in heaven! I now bid you a cordial farewell, praying that it may fare well with you in this world, in blessings of health and prosperity, as far as shall be for God’s glory and your own good, and that in the future world, entered with your blessed Saviour into the joy of your Lord, you may FARE WELL.”

[excerpted from The Pastor of the Old Stone Church (1858), pp. 52-56. To read this work online, click here.]

Chalmers Alexander was a ruling elder at the First Presbyterian Church of Jackson, Mississippi. In an effort to acquaint our readers with some of his very astute work, we present this segment of a series published around 1949.

(“Exploring Avenues Of Acquaintance And Co-operation”)
By Chalmers W. Alexander

Jackson, Mississippi

This is the third in the series of articles by Chalmers W. Alexander under the heading, “Exploring Avenues of Acquaintance And Co-operation.” This is an informative new series of articles written by one of the most able laymen in the Southern Presbyterian Church.

The heretical Auburn Affirmation, bearing the names of almost 1,300 ordained ministers in the Northern Presbyterian Church, was published in 1924.

Since that time the Auburn Affirmation signers and their theological fellow-travelers have got hold of much of the machinery which controls the affairs of the Northern Presbyterian Church.

Now what have the Auburn Affirmationists and the other Modernists been doing in that denomination in recent years? Have there been any recent evidences of their far-reaching influence?

You do not have to look very far to find the answer to those questions.

The “New Curriculum”

In 1948 the Northern Presbyterian Church inaugurated a new program of religious instruction to be used in the Sunday Schools of that denomination. This new educational program, known as the “New Curriculum,” is the result of the work of a committee appointed to undertake the task by that denomination’s Board of Christian Education (which has had among its members, from time to time, various signers of the Auburn Affirmation).

A clear and detailed analysis of the contents of the “New Curriculum” was given recently by one of America’s outstanding Old Testament scholars, Dr. Oswald T. Allis, Ph.D., who taught for some twenty years at Princeton Theological Seminary. Dr. Allis, himself a member of the Northern Presbyterian Church, says, among other things:

“The New Curriculum clearly does not seek to impress on the minds of those who are to use it the fact that the Bible ‘being immediately inspired by God, and by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages’ is the final authority in all matters of faith and practice (see Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter I, Sec. 8). On the contrary, the aim seems to be to convince the reader by both direct and indirect methods, that the doctrine of the plenary (verbal) inspiration of the Holy Scriptures is no longer tenable. Such is the view of the editor-in-chief, and it is apparently shared by his collaborators . . .

“If you have been using the International Uniform Lessons, continue to use them for the present and demand that they or any substitute for them, such as the New Curriculum aims to provide, be truly Bible-centered, and that the device of teaching modern Liberalism by the story-book method be definitely abandoned . . .

“It is pointed out in the prospectus to the New Curriculum that the subject for study during the entire second year will be ‘The Bible.’ This announcement would be most welcome, were it not for the fact that it at once raises the vital question. How will this great subject be presented? Will this ‘Bible’ be the Bible of Protestant Christendom, the Bible of the Presbyterian Church which, in its Confession of Faith, defines it as consisting of 66 books which make up the Canon of Holy Scripture and are the Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice? Or, will it be the Bible of the critics, the Bible of so-called Modern Scholarship?

“We believe that the answer to this question is given with sufficient clearness in the materials of the New Curriculum which are now available . . .The article on ‘Introduction to the Old Testament’ was supplied by Professor Rowley. The view presented is in general that of the so-called higher criticism . . .

“Such ‘straws’ as these seem to make it rather plain that there is little if any basis for the hope that the New Curriculum will gradually become conservative and advocate positions which are acceptable to the Conservatives who are expected, in loyalty to the Boards of their Church, to use it … But the indications seem clearly to be that unless a radical change is demanded and insisted upon by the Conservatives who we believe still constitute a majority in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., the New Curriculum in its second year will be more decidedly and outspokenly modernistic and higher critical than in its first.”

In the May 1949 issue of Christianity Today, one of the sound church papers in the Northern Presbyterian Church, its Editor remarked: “A Presbyterian minister of our acquaintance wrote to the editor-in-chief of the New Curriculum expressing general agreement with the criticisms of it made by Dr. Allis in a ‘Critique,’ which was widely circulated throughout the Church last summer, and voicing the hope that the features objected to might be eliminated. He received a reply from which we quote the following: ‘I am sorry that I cannot promise any possibility that the curriculum will develop into closer accord with Dr. Allis’ viewpoint.’ This reply indicates how groundless is the hope of reform-from-within of the New Curriculum.”

(Dr. Allis’ detailed analysis of the “New Curriculum” first appeared in The Sunday School Times. It is now available in the form of a pamphlet entitled ‘A Critique of the New Curriculum.” It can be ordered from the Sunday School Times Publishing Co., 325 N. 13th Street, Philadelphia 5, Pa., or from The Southern Presbyterian Journal, and the cost is 15c per copy.)

The Westminster Study Edition Of The Holy Bible

In addition to their influence on the Sunday School literature which is to be taught to the children and adults in the Sunday Schools and the Bible classes of the Northern Presbyterian Church, the Auburn Affirmationists and the other Modernists in that denomination have definitely had an influence on the new Westminster Study Edition of the Holy Bible.

This Westminster Study Edition, commonly called the “Presbyterian Bible,” was published in 1948 by the Westminster Press, a subsidiary of the Board of Christian Education of the Northern Presbyterian Church (which Board has had among its members, from time to time, various signers of the Auburn Affirmation).

The Editor of Christianity Today wrote in the May 1949 issue of that paper: “The full significance of this Study Edition, at least for the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., will not be clear unless it is noted that one of its chief editors is Dr. James D. Smart, editor-in-chief of the New Curriculum, and that it has been announced that the subject for study in the New Curriculum during the entire second year will be ‘The Bible.’ It seems certain, therefore, that Sunday School scholars in said Church, insofar as it uses the New Curriculum, will be taught that the Bible is a faulty book that abounds in conflicting and even in flatly contradictory statements. It is equally important to note an this connection that its chief editors include three professors from Princeton Seminary, three from MoCormick Seminary, one from Louisville Seminary (Northern), and one from San Francisco Seminary—a fact that more than suggests that the view of the Bible taught in this Study Edition is being inculcated in the institutions training the great majority of the future ministers of said Church (the Northern Presbyterian Church)”.

Dr. Allis’ Opinion Of The Westminster Bible

And Dr. Allis, in commenting on the tenor of the editorial comments and explanations contained in this edition of the Holy Bible, has remarked: “. . . the viewpoint of the Westminster Study Edition is definitely ‘critical.’ It is an attempt to present in popular form and for the average reader the more or less radical conclusions of the higher critics. Those who are at all familiar with the critical theories which have been advanced with ever increasing confidence and dogmatism, first in Germany, then in England, and finally in this country, during the last half century and more, will probably find little that is new or startling in this volume. But for those who are not so well-informed, a few examples will suffice to establish this obvious fact and to indicate its vast significance for the student and teacher of the Bible.

“The critics have been insisting with ever increasing dogmatism for nearly a century, that the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) is composed of at least four major documents (J, E, D, P), that the earliest of these documents dates from about the time of Elijah, and that the composite work was not completed until about 400 B.C.

This view is definitely accepted by the editors, despite the fact that it makes it difficult, if not impossible, to regard any part of the Pentateuch as really dependable history . . .

“According to the editors ‘it is questionable whether the story of Adam and Eve was ever intended to be simply a literal and factual account of what two people said and did at a particular time in history . . .

“In the New Testament we observe the same critical attitude on the part of the editors as in the Old. The genuineness of four of the books is more or less emphatically denied: of I and II Timothy and Titus, all of which claim to be by Paul, and of II Peter, which claims to be by Peter. The generally accepted view that James was written by the Brother of the Lord is rejected and it is regarded as possible that ‘late in the first century some unknown Jewish Christian composed this book of exhortation in the style of the wisdom literature of the Old Testament’ . . .

Dr. Allis’ Conclusion

“The aim of this examination of the Westminster Study Edition of the Holy Bible has been to make clear to the reader the vitally important difference between the Biblical and the Critical attitudes toward the Bible, and to establish the fact that the Study Edition is definitely critical, at times even radically so. A number of examples have been given. The number might easily be increased. But the important point in estimating the value of the Study Edition is not the question as to how much of the Bible the editors believe and how much they reject, how much they take in its clear and obvious sense and how much they interpret to mean something quite different from what it definitely states.

“The most important point is that they adopt an attitude to the Bible which cannot fail to undermine or destroy its authority and trustworthiness. An intelligent reader does not need to be told very many times that he is not to believe what the Bible plainly states, in order to get the impression that, if the editors are right, there is little or nothing in the Bible that he can be absolutely sure of.

“The editors are greatly concerned because of the widely prevalent ignorance of the Bible. Do they really believe that the way to get people interested in studying the Bible is to tell them again and again that they must not believe what it says? Do they really expect intelligent people to believe that an ancient Book which must be drastically edited, expurgated, and reconstructed in order to make it acceptable to its modern critics really speaks or can speak with the authority of God? It is hard to see how they can believe this. But apparently they do . . .

“Nine of the eleven editors of the Study Edition are ministers in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (the Northern Presbyterian Church). One of the nine is editor-in-chief of the New Curriculum . . .

“The question Presbyterians everywhere must face is whether they themselves believe that by any stretch of the imagination a teaching which does not hesitate to contradict the Bible and to empty precious passages of their most precious meaning can be called loyal to the Bible and to the Standards of our beloved Church; and whether they are willing to accept and use materials which do this. The issue is clear-cut. The Board of Christian Education and the Committee on the New Curriculum are clearly determined to make the higher critical interpretation of the Bible official in our Church. Shall we permit this? Shall we not rather insist that all the materials for Bible study published by or with the authority of the Boards and Agencies of our Church be, not critical of the Bible, but strictly and wholeheartedly Biblical?”

Dr. William Childs Robinson’s Opinion Of The Westminster Bible

Dr. Allis is not the only able scholar who raises serious questions about this new Westminster Study Edition of the Holy Bible. Dr. William Childs Robinson, Th.D., of our Columbia Theological Seminary, whom I consider to be the greatest theologian and the ablest defender of the Faith in our entire denomination, has remarked of this Westminster Study Edition that its editors seem hesitant to call Christ God, and that these editors’ whole doctrine of the Deity of Christ is weak.

Dr. Robinson has stated further: “The Westminster Study Bible offers to give the Church ‘some share in the gains that the new knowledge and the new methods have made available.’ It is advertised to give to ‘the modern reader’ ‘the discoveries of modern research in history and archaeology.’ From such statements one might infer that the editors had access to new information which had not been available or had not been used by those who have coma to conclusions other than those presented in the Westminster Bible . . .

“What we fear is that the reader may infer that the higher critical positions taken in this study Bible are also ‘the explanation of what the Church believes about the Bible,’ and that they are based on new information which was not at the disposal of the trusted Presbyterian scholars who have opposed these conclusions of higher criticism. Have the editors of the Westminster Bible information that men like Warfield of Princeton, George L. Robinson of McCormick, Henrickson of Calvin, Allis of Philadelphia, Mack of Richmond., McPheeters of Columbia and Gribble of Austin either did not have or did not use? . . .

“As a matter of fact there are some discoveries that militate against the higher critical view which have been made since these views were enunciated over a century ago. It used to be said that Moses could not have written, or stood sponsor for the writing of the Pentateuch because writing was not known in his age. The Westminster edition admits that writing was done in Moses’ day — in view of the Code of Hammurabi, it might have admitted that it was done in Abraham’s day. The Westminster Notes, however, continue to speak of oral tradition in a way that shows their authors have not fully integrated the fact of writing throughout Israel’s history into their conclusions . . .

“In the New Testament field the Westminster conclusion may also be compared with those offered by other competent scholars . . . Michaelis, Stauffer, Albright and E. K. Simpson hold and defend the view that John the Son of Zebedee wrote the Fourth Gospel. The Westminster Introduction does not. Michaelis also defends the Pauline authorship of the Pastoral Epistles and offers a chronology following a first Roman imprisonment into which they may be fitted. Bartlett in the Britannica defends them on the basis of a chronology ending with this imprisonment. Other scholars hold that Paul commissioned an amanuensis (one who is employed to write from dictation, or to copy manuscript) to draft these epistles in his name. This Westminster Bible concludes that they were likely not written by Paul.

“At least modern knowledge is not unanimous on the positions taken in the Westminster Study Bible and therefore these positions cannot be regarded as the united verdict of modern scholarship. Has the Church (the Northern Presbyterian Church) authorized the description of these views as ‘a thorough explanation of what the Church believes about the Bible’?”

The Opinion Of Time Magazine

In Time, issue of September 27, 1948, an article appeared which commented on this Westminster Study Edition of the Bible and made some comparisons between what it says and what a new Roman Catholic translation of Genesis says. Of the Roman Catholic translation Time stated: “But the new text is accompanied by very conservative Biblical criticism . . . Say the Catholic editors: ‘The Pentateuch … is substantially the work of Moses. It is a closely knit literary unit and was originally conceived as one work written for a single purpose’.”

This is the view which has always been held by the Bible-believing Conservatives.

With reference to the Westminster Study Edition, on the other hand, Time states that, though this edition sticks to the traditional King James wording, it “is far from conservative in commenting on it …. Say the Protestant editors: ‘The Pentateuch did not receive its final form until about 400 B.C. . . . The contents of Genesis preserve no hint as to the names of its authors and editors . . . Whoever the author of Genesis was, he must have had ancient sources at his disposal, for no man could have been witness to all the events described. This means that the present book is a composite work drawn from various sources.’ “

This is the view which has always been held by the Modernists and the so-called higher critics.

Not only do those now in control of the Northern Presbyterian Church intend to warp the minds of the children, and of the young people who attend Sunday School, by means of the Modernism and the destructive criticism contained in the “New Curriculum,” but they also intend to present as accepted truth to adults the destructive views of radical criticism which have been woven into the editorial comments contained in the Westminster Study Edition of the Holy Bible.

Influence Of The Affirmationists And Other Modernists

Evidently the strong impetus given to Modernism in the Northern Presbyterian Church by the appearance of the Auburn Affirmation in 1924 has not diminished in the quarter of a century since that event.

The “New Curriculum” and the Westminster Study Edition of the Holy Bible reveal clearly the fact that the influence of the Auburn Affirmationists and the other Modernists in the Northern Presbyterian Church is still powerfully active in that denomination at the present time.

If the Southern Presbyterian Church unites with that denomination, Southern Presbyterians can rest assured that their children will be hand-fed in the Sunday School classes with the destructive Modernism which is found in the “New Curriculum.” And the adults who are weak in the Christian Faith will, in using the Westminster Study Edition of the Bible, find much in it that will make their faith still weaker.

What shall every Southern Presbyterian, as a Bible-believing Christian who repudiates completely the views contained in the Auburn Affirmation and who rejects completely the Modernism which it has helped promote in the Northern Presbyterian Church, say with regard to the proposed union with that heresy-tainted denomination?

Thou Shalt Say, No!

Our post today, while a bit long and not tied to today’s date, is presented here because it speaks to some recent discussions that you may have seen elsewhere on the Web. I trust you will find it edifying.

The Christian’s Need of the Old Testament

By Rev. John T. Reeve, D.D.

[The Presbyterian 99.44 (31 October 1929): 8-10.]

Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.”—John 5: 39.

“SEARCH the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye O have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5: 39). There is another verse that should be associated with this, recorded in Luke 24: 27—”And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” These words occur in the conversation between our Lord Jesus and the two disciples on the way to Emmaus on the first Easter afternoon. They were troubled about his death, for they had thought “It had been He which should have redeemed Israel.” But now he was dead and their hopes were all dashed to the ground. You remember how he chided them: “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken,” asking them, “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into his glory?” Then it says, “And beginning at Moses and the Prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”

It is strange that it seems necessary, in view of such words as these, to speak on the subject, “The Christian’s Need of the Old Testament.” But to-day there is a tremendous and increasingly greater tendency on the part of Christians to neglect and even to belittle the Old Testament. I presume this comes about partly from the terribly destructive work done on the Old Testament for the last fifty or seventy-five years. Many who call themselves Christians do not believe that it is the very Word of God, and consequently have lost their reverence and respect for it. But evidently our Lord and his Apostles believed in it and looked upon it as the very Word of God. He said to them, “Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” “Beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures, the things concerning himself.” In another place, it says, “Then opened he their understanding that they might understand the Scriptures,” and before that, it says, “These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the Law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning me.” How could it be that these words had to be “fulfilled,” unless they had been predictions of events yet to be? How could these things be predicted by ordinary men unless they were inspired by Almighty God himself? Yet you read in the New Testament, again and again, that things ‘‘had to be,” in order that the Scriptures might be fulfilled.

There are few things that the Christian church needs more than a revival of interest in the Old Testament. It would bring a new vigor into the life of the people, and it would do away with some forms of worship offered to God in Christian churches, which must be an affront to his Holy Being. It would do away with many things that are done in the name of religion because there would be such a new conception of the dignity of the House of God and the place where His honor dwelleth.

Someone has said that the foundation of the Christian religion is in the Old Testament; its republication and explication are found in the New. The only Scriptures that Jesus and the Apostles had were the Old Testament.

The only Scriptures that any of those who wrote the New Testament had were the Scriptures of the Old Testament. Can it be that we are so much better than they, that we may ignore this great body of divine truth, the record of God’s redeeming plan for mankind? Can it be that we may neglect these great writings which tell about Christ’s coming and his redeeming work? Can we neglect all this, and yet properly understand his coming and the meaning of his mission? The modern conception of Jesus Christ, so common to-day, in some quarters, could not be if there were the proper regard for the Old Testament.

The Old Testament is quoted in the New Testament, or alluded to, over 850 times, and if all the indirect allusions in the New Testament to the Old Testament, were recorded, I suppose the number would be much greater. There are 600 actual quotations from the Old Testament in the New. It would be impossible to intelligently understand the New Testament with all these 600 quotations and 850 allusions, without a knowledge of the Old—just as we cannot understand Shakespeare intelligently if we do not know the Bible, or Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” unless we know the Bible and classical history. Let me mention three reasons why I believe that Christians do need the Old Testament.

1. We need it that we may have a proper conception of man’s need and God’s plan for his redemption. The great word throughout the Old Testament is the word “sin,” and we can never have an adequate conception of the heinousness of sin and how God hates it unless we know what he has said about it and what methods he used to deal with it. All those minute laws relating to sacrifices, so minute that we can hardly take the time to read them, were for the purpose of impressing on the minds and hearts of the people how hateful sin was to God and how it brought guilt and pollution and uncleanness. All these laws about sacrifice were for the purpose of impressing on the minds of the people the truth that, “Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins.” As Paul says, “The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ.” Well, this modern world needs to have this great fact impressed upon it just as much as did the ancient one. Think of the looseness in the luxurious life of to-day. How shall men know the need of a Saviour and his redeeming blood, unless they first know how heinous sin is, and how utterly impossible it is for man himself to provide a remedy that can remove sin’s guilt and wash away its stain.

The late Principal Forsythe, in one of his books, speaks of the famous Dr. Dale talking with him about the loss of the word “grace” from the preaching of their day. And they concluded that the reason for the loss of this great and wonderful word from our language was the lost sense of sin. In other words, if man does not know what sin is (and he cannot fully know what it is unless he knows the Old Testament), he will not flee to God for salvation, but will try to save himself. And unless he does flee to God for salvation, he will never feel that it is “by grace” that he has been saved. He will never be able to sing with all the saints:

“Grace, ‘tis a charming sound,
Harmonious to the ear;
Heav’n with the echo shall resound,
And all the earth shall hear.”

Dr. Forsythe says, “For we have lost the sense of sin, which is the central issue of all ethics, because it turns on the relation of the conscience to the conscience of God. And apart from sin, grace has little meaning. The decay of the sense of sin measures our loss of that central Christian idea; and it is a loss which has only to go on to extinguish Christianity.”

The Old Testament not only reveals to man his sinful and lost condition, but also reveals to him the Saviour whom God has provided. The story of the redemptive purpose of God in Christ runs through the Scriptures from end to end. Moses writes about him in the proto-evangelism and predicts his coming when he foretells, “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a law-giver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” David sings about him when he writes in the 110th Psalm, “The Lord said unto my Lord, sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” And our Lord took those words and applied them to himself when he was reasoning with the Jews. So Isaiah foretells his coming and his virgin birth when he says, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel”; or again, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty Lord, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Later on in the great 53rd chapter, which the Christian church has always cherished as a clear prediction and delineation, of the Saviour’s sufferings on the Cross, we read, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” Still more clearly through these great prophets we trace the development of the kingdom, Christ’s coming again in power and his glorious reign.

Thus we see how necessary it is that the Christian of to-day be familiar with the Old Testament as well as with the New if he is to have an adequate conception of our Lord and his redeeming work. That was the reason that he himself, in explaining to the two disciples on the Emmaus road the meaning of his death, went back to the Old Testament, “And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”

II. A better knowledge of the Old Testament would renew the moral vigor of the church and of the nation.

As we have said, there is a great deal of looseness in the luxurious life of to-day. Much of this has crept into the church. The great Alexander Maclaren wrote before he died, “Especially does that crash of Jerusalem’s fall thunder the lesson to all the churches that their life and prosperity are inseparably connected with faithful obedience and turning away from all worldliness, which is idolatry. Our very privileges call us to beware. The warning is needed to-day:for worldliness is rampant in the church.” In recent months the word came from our President that the dominant issue before the American people was the enforcement of and obedience to the laws of the United States, both Federal and State. He warned us that we are threatened with a breakdown in the moral sentiment of the country by reason of wide-spread disobedience to law. Think what it must have cost him to admit such a situation before the world! Think what it means—the “breakdown of the moral sentiment of the country!” How have we come to such a pass? How is it that there are 12,000 murders a year in our land—fifty times more than in Great Britain? How is it that there are 30,000 criminals at large in New York, and 10,000 in Chicago, as told us by the crime commissioner of the American Bar Association? Because we have disregarded the law of God. It is only a short step to disregard of the laws of the home, the church and the nation. A return to the faithful reading of the Old Testament, with such ringing words as those of David: “O how I love thy law, it is my meditation all the day,” would bring us back again to a new recognition of the sanctity of all law.

Wrong begins in a small way, but it goes from person to person like an epidemic. You would think it would take a thousand years for a community to become contaminated, but you are mistaken. It is like a disease. When one falls in error, another immediately falls, and so on, and it spreads through the people. If you read the Old Testament, you will see that that is the way it is. Take the awful sin of the Children of Israel at Baal-Peor, when Moses went up to the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments. When he came down, the whole nation was contaminated with the awful sin of licentiousness. It was necessary to train the people to see the difference between clean and unclean. And one of the greatest needs of our day is the revival of the power of discrimination between the clean and the unclean, between right and wrong, between that which is moral and that which is immoral.

So the Christian needs the Old Testament, in order to have an adequate conception of right and wrong, of moral and immoral, of clean and unclean. A return to its mighty Scriptures would restore some of that moral and spiritual vigor which made our fathers great. The plow-share of the law of God needs to tear through the hardened crust of many of these ruthless and wicked hearts, of whom our President speaks, and awaken them to the evil of their ways that they may turn from them and repent.

III. The Christian needs the Old Testament because Christ and the Apostles felt their need of it. Christ never recognized any other authority on earth but the Scriptures of the Old Testament. He proved everything by them, he referred everything to them, and if things did not measure up to the Old Testament standard of truth, then they were cast aside.

Of course, in some instances, he went on and added to the Revelation given through Moses since he was God’s latest revelation to man. But in all the critical and important issues of his life, he went back to the Scriptures that he had learned at his mother’s knee and in the synagogue, for his guiding principles. It is interesting to note that in answer to all the queries put to him by the devil during the temptation in the wilderness, our Saviour used the very words of the Old Testament. He in whom were all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge refused to rely on his own mind, but met the tempter with the very Word of God. It is significant to note that in all three instances, the answer came from Deuteronomy, once from the eighth chapter, and twice from the sixth.

Or take the instance when the young lawyer asked our Lord what he should do to inherit eternal life. Christ could have given him some very sound and helpful advice surely from his own fund of knowledge. But, instead, he referred him to the Scriptures and repeated to him those two great verses from Deuteronomy and Leviticus, which in another place he referred to as the first and greatest commandment.

If, as some would have us believe, we do not need to lean so heavily on the Old Testament, but can very well ignore it in these days, why did our Lord feel the necessity of quoting it verbatim on all these occasions ?

Take the occasion to which we referred in the beginning when the two disciples on the road to Emmaus were so puzzled about the events that had just taken place in Jerusalem in connection with the crucifixion. One would think that Christ could have just talked to them in a brotherly way and have shown them the reasonableness of it all—how it was necessary that he should die. But, instead, it says: “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” Why was it that Jesus did not stop on the road and say: “My brethren, it is this way,” and tell them why it happened that he was crucified and how he rose again? Why did he not tell them in his own words? Why did he not draw out from his own wealth of knowledge, for he knew all philosophy and all wisdom? The only answer we can give is that for him there was no higher authority than the Scriptures of the Old Testament, for they were the Word of God.

Even as he hung upon the Cross and uttered that great word that no human mind can fully understand, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” he was quoting from the twenty-second Psalm. And the very last word of all, according to Luke, when he said, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit,” was a quotation, the words of Psalm 31: 5.

Surety, in view of all this, it is clear that we poor, faltering, ignorant creatures, with our finite knowledge, cannot afford to ignore this great wealth of inspired truth. “Just as necessary as a question is to the answer and an answer is to the question, so necessary is the Old Testament to the New and the New to the Old.” Let us search the Scriptures, for in them we think that we have Eternal Life and they are they that testify of Christ. The Christian to-day needs the Old Testament as well as the New. Let us to the law and to the testimony, for the entrance of God’s Word giveth light.

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