April 2015

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Some Pastors Are Born Teachers.

SandersonJWBorn in Baltimore, Maryland on March 19, 1916, John W. Sanderson later attended Wheaton College, graduating with the BA degree in 1937. He then attended Faith Theological Seminary, earning the Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1940 and the Master of Sacred Theology degree in 1945. In 1949 he earned an MA degree from the University of Pennsylvania. A final degree, the Doctor of Divinity degree, was awarded by Geneva College in 1966.

Rev. Sanderson was licensed and ordained in 1940 by Chicago Presbytery of the Bible Presbyterian Church. His first pastorate was at the First Bible Presbyterian Church of St. Louis, Missouri, serving there from 1940 until 1943. He was the first pastor of this church, and upon his departure, the congregation next called the Rev. Francis A. Schaeffer. From 1945 to 1952 and again from 1955 to 1956, Rev. Sanderson served as Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology at Faith Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, PA. Between those two terms as professor, he served as the pastor of the Bible Presbyterian Church of Newark, DE from 1952 to 1955.

sandersonIn the academic year of 1956-1957, Sanderson served as a professor at Covenant College, which was then located in St. Louis, Missouri. Leaving that position briefly, he served as a professor at Westminster Theological Seminary from 1957 to 1963. Returning to St. Louis, he taught at Covenant Seminary, 1963-1964, and then moved with the 1964 Covenant College relocation to Lookout Mountain, TN, working at the College variously as professor, dean and vice president between the years 1964–1976. Dr. Sanderson finally returned to teach at Covenant Seminary from 1976 to 1984.

Rev. Sanderson’s honors include serving as the Moderator of Synod for the Bible Presbyterian Church in 1951. Other fields of service included teaching in India (1973), Chile (1978) and Peru (1978). For a brief time, 1956-1957, Rev. Sanderson had also served as editor of The Bible Presbyterian Reporter.

He was honorably retired from the ministry in 1986, and died on April 30, 1998. He had transferred his ministerial credentials into the PCA in 1982 when the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod was received into the PCA, and at the time of his death, though residing at the Quarryville (PA) Retirement Community, was a member of the PCA’s Missouri Presbytery.

We close our post today with a brief but useful article by Rev. Sanderson which was published in Salt, a student publication at Covenant Seminary.

Great Biblical Ideas: God’s Omniscience.

God’s omniscience has meant much to me. Scripture teaches that the Lord knows all things about me (Psalm 139), about the world (Proverbs 15:3), and about Himself (1 Corinthians 2:10).

In its practical outworking, this concept gives comfort because it teaches us that there can never be any surprises for God, any unforeseen obstacles, nor any changes in His working because of developments of which He knows nothing. In one of his moments of assurance Job said, “But he knoweth the way that I take; when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10). Job uttered these words against a background of his own bitter ignorance of his situation, and he found some help in this truth.

God’s omniscience also helps us during times of temptation. The assurance that nothing can be hid from Him is a deterrent to sin. Clarence E. Macartney, in his volume The Way of a Man with a Maid, tells of a scene from a drama on the life of Joseph. Potiphar’s wife is puzzled because Joseph will not succumb to her temptation. Then she spies over in the corner an idol “looking” at them. Thinking the idol’s “presence” is what is deterring Joseph, she takes the cover from the bed and covers the idol’s face. Then she turns again to Joseph, fully expecting him to do now as she wishes. In the play Joseph still refuses because his God never hides His face.

Although this is only a fictionalized account, it illustrates vividly how God’s omniscience, when we are persuaded of it in practical living, is a positive incentive to holiness. God’s full knowledge is a sobering thought for the Christian (Hebrews 4:13) as well as for the disobedient (Jeremiah 23:23); Ezekiel 11:5).

God’s omniscience is one of the reasons for our believing in the full truthfulness of Scripture. We are assured of the integrity of the Word because the Word is an expression of the Spirit’s knowledge. Notice the way Paul develops this in 1 Corinthians 2. No man knows the future which God has planned for us (vs. 9), but God has revealed the future by His Spirit. The Spirit is qualified to do this revealing because He has searched all things, “yea, the deep things of God” (v. 10). Now these things have been given to the apostles by the Spirit (v. 12). The apostles preach these things and so they communicate to “spiritual” men what Paul calls “the mind of Christ” (v. 16). What a comfort in times of doubt and criticism — God knows more than the critics and this knowledge stands behind the words of Scripture!

God’s omniscience should drive us to worship. Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived, and his fame was so great that the queen traveled “from the uttermost parts of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon” (Luke 11:31). Read her reaction in 1 Kings 10 — “there was no more spirit in her.” Perhaps we should say that she was breathless! Yet Jesus says that she will condemn His generation because “a greater than Solomon is here.”

Today we revere scholars and are overwhelmed by their scholarship. How much more should we be overwhelmed by the “fountain of all wisdom” and tremble when we handle His Word!

“Great Biblical Ideas,” excerpted from Salt: Official Student Publication of Covenant Theological Seminary, 1.2 (18 December 1968): 10.

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With few Presbyterian events tied to this date, let’s look back at yesterday’s post and the concluding point that our life is hid with Christ. To explore this great truth further, excerpted here is a portion of a work, The Hidden Life, by Richard Sibbes. An excerpt does not do justice to him, but perhaps this short portion will draw you to read more. A Kindle edition is available here. Otherwise, the full treatise appears in volume 5 of the Works of Richard Sibbes.

Our life is hid with Christ in God.

We are dead, and yet we have a life. A Christian is a strange person. He is both dead and alive, he is miserable and glorious. He consists of contraries. He is dead in regard of corruption and miseries, and such like, but he is alive in regard of his better part, and he grows two ways at once. It is a strange thing that a Christian does. He grows downwards and upwards at the same time; for as he dies in sin and misery, and natural death approaching, so he lives the life of grace, and grows more and more till he end in glory.

This life is said to be a hidden life, ‘It is hid wiht Christ in God.’

The life of a Christian, which is his glorious spiritual life, it is hid. Among other respects,

1. It is hid to the world, to worldly men, because a Christian is an unknown man to them. Because they know not the Father that begets, therefore they know not them that are begotten, as St. John says in 1 John 3:1. They know not the advancement of a Christian: he is raised into a higher rank than they. Therefore, as a beast knows not the things of a man, no more does a carnal man, in any excellency, know the things of the Spirit, ‘for they are spiritually discerne, 1 Cor. 2:14. Therefore it is a hidden life in the eyes of the world. A worldly man sees not this life in regard of the excellency. He passes scorns and contempts of it, of folly and the like. A Christian, in respect of his happy life, is a stranger here, and therefore he is willing to pass through the world, and to be used as a stranger.

It is [a life] hidden in heaven. No enemy can come there. The devil comes not there since he first lost it and was cast out. It is safe in regard of the place. It is hid in heaven.

And it is safe, because it is hid in Christ, who purchased it with his blood; who has trampled upon all opposite powers, over death, and hell itself. It is hid in heaven and in him who has overcome all opposite power. Therefore it is a safe life.

And it is hid with Christ in God. Christ is in the bosom of God, Christ mediator. ‘It is hid with Christ in God.’ He is the storehouse of this life. It is hid with him. If any can rob God, then they may rob our life from us; for it is hid with Christ in God. It is a sure life therefore.

It is likewise a peculiar life; only to God’s people. For they only have union and communion with Christ; and therefore he says here, ‘your life is hid with Christ in God.’

It is likewise a glorious life; for it is hid with Christ, who is the glory of God; and he says in the next verse, ‘When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, we shall appear with Him in glory.’ It is a glorious life.

It is a secret, sure, peculiar, glorious life. Alas! we are ready to judge of ourselves by the present, and not to think it a glorious life. But he says, it is hidden for us. ‘Light is sown for the righteous,’ Psalm 97:11. It does not appear for the present. A garden has seeds sown and herbs, but in the winter there is no difference between it and a common field; but when the sun shines and appears, then the herbs appear in their lustre. So it is with a Christian. There is light and immortality and happiness sown for him. When Christ, the ‘Sun of righteousness’ shall appear, ‘then we shall appear with him in glory,’ 1 John 3;2.

As we may say of all things below, they have a hidden life: the plants and the flowers in the winter, they live by the root; and when the sun appears, then they also appear with the sun in glory; and when the sun appears, then they also appear with the sun in glory. So it is with the righteous: they have a hidden life. It is hid now in the root, in their head, in this life. When Christ the Sun of righteousness shall appear; when the spring comes; when the resurrection comes: then we shall appear with Him in glory.

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This Most Venerable But Perishing Pile of Stones

 

For whatever reason, the 200th anniversary of the Westminster Assembly, in 1843, did not garner all that much attention. The 250th anniversary, by comparison, was a much bigger event, widely observed by Presbyterians around the globe. So it was that on this day, April 27th in 1897 that Dr. William Wirt Henry [1831-1900] brought before the Presbytery of East Hanover, as it convened in the First Presbyterian church of Richmond, VA, a message titled “The Westminster Assembly: The Events Leading Up to It, Personnel of the Body, and Its Method of Work.” [Dr. Henry is noted as the grandson and biographer of that great American patriot, Patrick Henry]

From this address, we excerpt here an interesting bit of background on the historic room where the Westminster Assembly convened for most of its meetings:—

Dr. William Twisse was named as prolocutor, or moderator, and he opened the Assembly on the day appointed with a sermon on the text of John 14:18, “I will not leave you comfortless.” This sermon was delivered in the Abbey church in Westminster before a great congregation, in which sat the members of the two houses of Parliament and many of the divines named as members of the Assembly. The Assembly then went into the chapel of Henry VII., where the roll was called. The body continued to meet in this chapel until the approach of winter, when, finding it too cold a place, it adjourned to the Jerusalem Chamber, where the sessions were afterward held.

JerusalemChamber_interior_CRodriguez
It was most appropriate to connect the history of this memorable Assembly with the venerable Abbey, which is such a depository of all that is great in English history. The first church built upon the spot now occupied by the Abbey was the pious work of Sebert, king of the East Saxons, upon his conversion to Christianity in the sixth century, and is believed to have been intended as a memorial of the visit of Saint Augustine to England when he attacked and overthrew the Pelagian heresy in the native country of its author. The beautiful chapel of Henry VII. was built in 1502, and dedicated to the Virgin Mary by this last of the medieval kings of England. It has been the burial place of nearly every king since its erection, as the Abbey has been the place of their coronation. This has been beautifully expressed by the poet Waller in the lines,

“That antique pile behold,
Where royal heads receive the sacred gold;
It gives them crowns, and does their ashes keep;
These made like gods, there like mortals sleep,
Making the circle of their reign complete,
These suns of empire, where they rise they set.”

JerusalemChamber_exterior_CRodriguezThe Jerusalem Chamber was built by Abbot Littlington in the later part of the fourteenth century as a guest chamber for his house,and took its name from the tapestry pictures of the history of the seige of Jerusalem with which it was hung. It had been made memorable by the death of Henry IV. from apoplexy, March 20, 1413, while he was preparing for a visit to the holy land. Shakespeare thus describes the scene:

King Henry: “Doth any name particular belong
                   Unto the lodging where I first did swoon?”

Warwick:     “Tis called Jerusalem, my noble Lord.”

King Henry:  “Laud be to God! even there my life must end.
                    It hath been prophesied to me many years,
                    I should not die but in Jerusalem;
                   Which vainly I supposed the Holy Land;
                   But bear me to that chamber; there I’ll lie;
                   In that Jerusalem shall Henry die.”

Now a body of the most pious and learned men of English history were to occupy these venerable chambers, to restore the pure theology of Augustine; to teach a wicked king that resistance to tyrants is obedience to God; over the ashes of the greatest and the noblest of the English race, to proclaim the precious doctrines of the resurrection of the dead through a risen Saviour; to point from this most venerable but perishing pile to the new Jerusalem, not built with hands, eternal in the heavens.

Words to Live By:
We find ourselves now at a troubling point in history, where, because of long-standing unbelief and the subsequent advances of idolatry, that many of the great markers and memorials of the Reformed faith throughout England and Europe stand in danger of being overrun and may someday even be threatened with destruction. Should that day come, what will be our response? Nothing in this life is forever, even those things carved in granite. But praise God that we have a greater place to stand. The true Ebenezer of our faith—the very Person of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Rock of our salvation—can never be taken from us. Our faith rests not upon hallowed stones and hallways, but upon the living Lord of Glory who rose again from the dead to live and reign forever.

Image sources:
Rev. Charlie Rodriguez, pastor of Mount Carmel Presbyterian church, Clinton, MS, and owner of Fortress Book Service, has been gracious in granting permission to use these two photographs which he personally took, the first showing the inside the Jerusalem Chamber and the second that of the Great West Door of Westminster Abbey, which also shows the outside window of the Jerusalem Chamber. The Great West Door would most likely have been the primary entry point for the Westminster Divines as they gathered for each day’s work. Our thanks to Pastor Rodriguez.

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

Q. 16. — Did all mankind fall in Adam’s first transgression?

A. — The covenant being made with Adam, not only for himself, but for his posterity, all mankind, descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him in his first transgression.

Scripture References: Acts 17:26. Gen. 2:17. Rom. 5:12. I Cor. 15:21.

Questions:

1. How many persons do we read of in Scripture that represent the human race?

We read of two who represent the human race. The first Adam and the second, Jesus Christ. (I Cor. 15:45)

2. What reason is given in Scripture that the posterity of Adam fell with Adam?

The reason is found in the covenant of works, in which life was promised upon condition of obedience, and was made with Adam. This was made not only for Adam but for his posterity.

3. Since the covenant was a covenant of works, does this mean that Adam could merit eternal life?

No, it does not mean that Adam could merit eternal life. It was still God’s grace that would give eternal life, but a grace that would reward obedience.

4. Was it fair that Adam should represent his posterity?

Yes, it was fair since he was to be the common parent of all mankind, was created perfectly holy, with full power to fulfill the condition of the covenant.

5. How could all mankind be in Adam when he first sinned?

All mankind was in Adam in two ways:

1. Virtually, as a natural root and,
2. Representatively, as a covenant head.

6. What is meant by saying “all mankind, descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him?”

The phrase “ordinary generation” is used to exclude Christ who descended as to his human body from Adam, but not by ordinary generation since he was conceived in the womb of a virgin by the power of the Almighty God overshadowing her.

7. I have always heard, “In Adam’s fall we sinned all.” Is this a good commentary on this question?

This is an excellent commentary. It should be understood by it that we are sinners first of all because Adam, our representative, sinned for us. Our corrupted nature is the result of our inheritance in Adam.

A HARD LESSON

Time and time again we hear people say, “I do not think it is fair that God hold us responsible for Adam’s sin!” Many people outside of Jesus Christ use this as one of their main excuses for refusing to come to Him. But whether we like it or not, the Bible teaches that God deals with humanity on the basis of the principle of representation.

This principle is sometimes a hard lesson for us to learn. For those of us saved by grace, saved by the “second Adam”, it is not hard for us to accept the second representation. But sometimes even Christians wonder at the fairness of the first representation. This works at the mind of many Christians though very few will put it into words.

We must remember in this realm, as in all realms of our relationship with God, He is the Creator and Sovereign Lord, possessed of the right to require anything of His creatures in whatever way His wisdom might determine. His authority was, and is, unlimited. God could do anything to Adam personally, and with a view to his posterity, which was consistent with His own perfections. He is a law unto Himself and He acts according to His own will. At the same time, in His relationship with Adam in the Garden, He did not require anything of Adam that Adam was not able to bear.

This is the perspective that all God’s children must learn. The recognition that He is Sovereign and we are not. The recognition that whatever method He might want to use to teach us our lessons, the method is fair and just, for He is the essence of fairness. Our business is not to complain but to obey, not to fret but to accept, not to murmur but to rest in our duty of decreasing, in all humility.

All of this is a hard lesson for us to learn. James put it very well when he said, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up.” Many Christians desire to go a long way in the Lord’s work but do not do so because they have not learned to give God the complete right to any method, any means, any principle He might want to use with them. Some think so many times God is unfair, they refuse to let Him have His way with them, they refuse to submit to His authority and then wonder why He Is not able to use them as they wish. In all our thoughts and words, in all our actions and reactions, yea, in all areas of our lives we are accountable unto Him. And obedience to the Word of God transcends duty and privilege, attaining unto honor as He is thus glorified in our daily lives. (Deut. 11: 1,13-19).

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Excerpted from The Christian Observer 51.14 (3 April 1872): 4.3.

The Semi Centenary of Dr. Hodge.

hodgeCharles_grayThe completion of the fiftieth year of the professorship of Rev. Charles Hodge, D.D., will be celebrated in Princeton, N.J. on Wednesday, the 24th of April. All friends and former students of Princeton Theological Seminary, and the public generally are invited to be present. The exercises will begin at 11 A.M., with an address by the Rev. Joseph T. Dwyer, D.D., of Brooklyn, N.Y. This will be followed by a meeting of the alumni and the organization of an alumni association after which will be an alumni dinner. In the evening a public reception will be given at the house of Dr. Hodge, and the seminary buildings will be illuminated.

The following resolution in relation to this subject was adopted at a meeting of the alumni of the seminary last June:

Resolved, That the proposed celebration of the semi-centennial of Dr. Hodge meets our hearty concurrence, and we cordially unite with the Directors in inviting the friends and former students of the seminary to meet for this purpose in Princeton, on Wednesday, April 24, 1872; and that this invitation be very particularly extended to all our brethren in different Christian denominations, and in every section of our country, as well as in foreign lands, who have received their education where in whole or in part. And we express the earnest hope that the hallowed memories of the past, personal attachments, and local and literary associations with this cherished spot, may be permitted to overcome the long and wide separation of time and place,e and ecclesiastical organization, so that we may all upon this glad occasion gather around the instructor whom we all love and revere, a band of brethren, cemented in Christian love, renewing and pledging a mutual confidence and affection which nothing in the past shall be suffered to dim or to obliterate, and nothing in the future shall be permitted to disturb.

Words to Live By:
What made Charles Hodge great? Why is he so well remembered by Presbyterian historians and others? Certainly he was not without his flaws. But what made him great? Was it native intelligence? Was he simply smarter than most others? Or was it his steadfast adherence to the orthodox tenets of the Reformed faith? Clearly that was in his favor. But in the end, it is the Lord who gifts, empowers and uses men and women as He sovereignly moves history ahead according to His great plan. Time and again the Lord raises up the right people at the right time and in the right place to accomplish His will. Our place is to be faithful, doing the will of God as discovered in His Word. If we are to be greatly used in the Lord’s kingdom, He will bring that to pass in His time. We praise God for how He used Hodge, but the glory for all that Hodge accomplished belongs to the Lord and not to Hodge.

 

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