A. Baptism is a sacrament wherein the washing with water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, doth signify and seal our engrafting into Christ, and partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace, and our engagement to be the Lord’s.
Scripture References: Romans 6:4; Galatians 3:27; Ephesians 5:25-26; Matthew 28:19.
What are the essential points of the definition of baptism as found in our Standards?
The essential points of the definitions are:
(1) It is a washing with water,
(2) It is a washing in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
(3) It is done with the design to signify and seal us and make us a partaker.
What is essential to baptism?
Baptism is essentially a washing with water. No particular mode of washing is essential for there is no one mode specified in the com- mand. Water is commanded because it is a natural symbol of moral purification and it was established as such in the ritual of Moses. It is a symbol of Christ’s blood being poured out for us and our hearts being sprinkled from an evil conscience?
Who is the author of baptism?
The Lord Jesus Christ is the author of baptism and he instituted it just before His ascension into heaven (Matt. 28:19).
In name are we baptized and what does this signify?
We are baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost and this signifies our baptism in the authority, and into the faith, profession and obedience of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
What is meant by our engrafting into Christ?
When we are engrafted into Christ we are cut off from our old na- ture and become joined to Christ and’ therefore we can grow up in Him and bring forth fruit to Him. His righteousness is imputed to us (Galatians 3:27).
What are the benefits of the covenant of grace we receive?
We are admitted into the visible church, our sins are remitted we are regenerated, and adopted and are raised to everlasting life.
A RIGHTLY USED SACRAMENT
Too many times, in churches subscribing to Reformed doctrine, the sacrament of baptism is taken too lightly. Too many parents are guilty of the attitude of thinking their task is done when they have their child baptised. Two many churches give themselves a pious pat on the back when another child is baptised and feel that their task is completed. The sacrament of baptism is used in the wrong way so many times.
It is good for us once in a while to review our beliefs about a particular doctrine. In regard to baptism, we need to be reminded again and again that a person may be saved without it and a person may be lost with it! We do not believe in the necessity of baptism for salvation. We do believe it is a sin to neglect it. Here we need to review what our Confession states regarding it: “…it be a great sin to condemn or neglect this ordinance.” Again, “The efficacy of baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered; yet, notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinance the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited and conferred by the Holy Ghost…”
I remember hearing one time a minister holding a “renewal of the vows of baptism” in his church. He had before him a group of some twenty or thirty parents. He asked them, “Have you, as parents, been impressing upon your children the fact that they need not be afraid to die because if they love the Lord Jesus and believe that Jesus shed His blood for them and they are trusting Him to wash away their sins, they will be saved?” It was a serious time and it was a serious question. It was certainly a making of a right use of this sacrament.
One of the troubles today in churches committed to the Reformed faith is that we forget our responsibility to teach our children (as part of our baptismal vows) that God does not show any mildness apart from the offer of His Son. The Bible says, “There is none other name under heaven whereby we must be saved.” We need to remember that there are two things that must be kept before our children, baptized in infancy, can be saved: (1) The keeping of the covenant promises by the parents, (2) Tne public profession of the child of Jesus Christ. And the last must be followed by fruit in the life.
John Murray put it well when he said, “To suppose that we may entertain any confidence respecting the covenant grace Signified and sealed by our baptism, if we are destitute of godly fear, if we break God’s covenant, and walk contrary to His commandments, would be contradiction.” May God help us to use this in a correct way!
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. 6, No. 11 (November 1967)
Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor.
Our guest author David Hall is taking a summer break from his Election Day series and will return with a new post on August 13th. So for today’s post, Rev. David Myers has this to share with us:—
Disabled in Body, But Not in Spirit
The teenager had gathered that Sunday, July 30, 1967 with some friends and sisters to swim in the Chesapeake Bay waters. Diving into the bay seemed like a safe thing to do, but Joni Erickson was not aware of the shallowness of that water. As she struggled to rise to the surface, her sister had to assist her because she had no feeling in her arms. Indeed, after an emergency vehicle had taken her to the emergency room was it discovered that she had broken her neck. She was paralyzed from the shoulders down.
Understandably, she went through a horror of emotions in the first two years. The “why” answers were not being given by God or anyone else. She immersed herself in the Bible and there in that inspired book found both the strength to continue on and a purpose to continue living.
With her loving husband, Ken Tada by her side, whom she married in 1982, they began a ministry for the disabled called Joni and Friends. It is a world-wide organization which seeks to minister to those disabled to conquer life’s challenges, and especially to find the love of God through Christ.
Joni has had an autobiography in her book (“Joni”) , then in movie form, several musical albums, books galore, etchings — all to show that disabled people can have a ministry in the church and in the world. And as a member of the Presbyterian Church in America, she has had extraordinary opportunities to share her saving faith in all sorts of forums.
Even in her recent challenge of breast cancer, which she successfully endured, she is hopeful of a positive prognosis. God has not abandoned those with disabilities. All kinds of sufferings will “work together and will fit into a plan for good and for those who love God and are called according to His design and purpose.” (Amplified, Romans 8:28)
Words to Live By: Jesus, in one of the dinners he had been invited to while on earth, gave some instructions to his host. He, in Luke 14, told him “to invite the poor, the disabled, the lame, and the blind.” (v. 13) We have a ministry to these ones who are in desperate need of acceptance by the believers of today. Let’s plan on ways we can minister in word and deed to these ones, especially the disabled in our churches and neighborhoods. What can you do to show them hospitality?
The Practical Use of the Shorter Catechism
by Rev. David T Myers
Having written on the Larger Catechism on July 20, we now turn your attention to the Shorter Catechism, as on this day, July 28, 1648, the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly approved it.
There has always been a plurality of definitive books explaining its matchless answers for Presbyterians. The books this author has in his personal library on the Shorter Catechism are the following: Thomas Watson: A Body of Divinity, The Ten Commandments, The Lord’s Prayer; Thomas Vincent: The Shorter Catechism Explained from Scripture; Alexander Whyte: The Shorter Catechism; John Whitecross: The Shorter Catechism Illustrated from Christian Biography and History; and a modern book, G.I. Williamson of The Shorter Catechism, Vol 1 & 2. These have all been effective in teaching and training both children and adults, especially the officers of the local church. I would like to commend to our readers the practical influences of this Shorter Catechism in this post.
First, whenever the good news of Jesus Christ is preached or shared by teaching elders from the pulpit, the answer of Shorter Catechism No. 31 regarding Effectual Calling is beneficial. It states, “Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he does persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel.” Each one of these statements can be pleaded in quick petitions to the Holy Spirit that He will “convince (sinners) of (their) sin and misery,” “enlighten (their) minds in the knowledge of Christ,” and “renew (their)wills,” and “persuade and enable (them) to embrace Jesus Christ” as He is freely offered in the gospel. We need both the elders and the deacons, to say nothing of the members, to apply this answer in their personal prayers during the preaching of the gospel.
Second, to the church member who wishes to find out his personal calling in life, there is no better description of purpose than the magnificent answer to Shorter Catechism no. 1. You should know the answer already, as it tells us that “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” There you have it, reader, in a proverbial nutshell. In whatever field you pour out your life and time, keep this before you always.
Shorter Catechism No. 4 gives us a matchless description of God’s attributes, which can be repeated in our adoration in prayer. It says, “God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.” Take each attribute, and magnify it in your prayers.
Once this author’s wife was confronted by a visitor at the door who asked about her definition of God. Being a “Shorter Catechism woman,” she answered with this catechism. The young man was so “blown away” with her answer that he could hardly contain himself, and literally ran from the door to tell his calling friends about the great definition of God which he had heard from her.
Justification, Adoption, and Sanctification each have their biblical definitions in answers 33, 34, and 35. Read them, indeed memorize them, so as not to be swayed from the Bible’s truth on them.
Nothing beats in this author’s mind and heart the section on the Law of God as exemplified in the Ten Commandments, in question and answers 39 – 81. A memorization of them, as this author has done, adequately helps out every Christian to stay true to Scripture in his faith and life.
I have written the words of Shorter Catechism answer 90 on the reading and hearing of the Word of God on the front flyleaf of my Bible many years ago. It reminds me of my proper worship in the house of God.
How many of our readers can adequately sum up the two sacraments. Shorter Catechisms 92 – 97 deal with their definitions? They are there for your understanding.
Then the Shorter Catechism ends with the Lord’s Prayer, with explanations of each of the parts of that prayer which the Lord taught His followers to say, in 98 – 107. When it is prayed in our worship services, a review of these answers enable us to mean what we say and say what we mean.
Words to Live By:
In short, we need the Presbyterian and Reformed churches in which our readers attend, to press upon the spiritual leaders the necessity of featuring in some way the remarkable questions and answers of this Westminster Shorter Catechism in their worship and work. It may be a bulletin insert, which this author once wrote for his members in his last church. It may be a weekly emphasis in our youth and adult Sunday School classes. I once offered an Adult class entitled “Everything you wanted to know about theology, but was afraid to ask.” It essentially was a summary of the Shorter Catechism. It certainly needs to be the instruction for our church officers. Above all, do not let its questions and answers become foreign or strange to the members in our circles. Let us become “Shorter Catechism people” in our faith and life.
Our post today comes from the pen of guest author Dr. Nick Willborn, an excerpt from a longer article. Here Dr. Willborn tells of the return of the Rev. Dr. John L. Girardeau in 1865, to serve as pastor of the Zion Presbyterian Church in Charleston, South Carollina.
According to a longtime friend of the Rev. John L. Girardeau, it was about this time that “[Girardeau] began to receive overtures from the Presbyterian young [black] men in Charleston” to return to his pulpit. His sense of duty and love for “the holy city” hastened his return.As Girardeau disembarked the train in the Charleston depot the “colored members of the church” greeted their pastor with “superabounding enthusiasm.”While this does not agree with the banal image often portrayed of the Africans’ lackluster enthusiasm for white Southerners, it is no doubt true.Girardeau found a considerable number of black Carolinians anxiously awaiting his return to the pulpit.
They were awaiting his return for indeed they had summoned him in a letter dated July 27, 1865.This was shortly after his grueling return from war and imprisonment. The letter speaks of their concern for Girardeau’s well-being and their desire for his return to them.It reveals a love for the man and his family that few textbooks recognize as having existed between whites and blacks, masters and slaves.
Revd Sir & pastor
We the undersigned members of Zion Presbyterian Church embrace this opportunity, as one among the many good ones we have engaged in the past and in doing so you have our best wishes for your health & that of your loving family hoping all are engaging that blessing of good health and realizing that fulfillment of good words those that put their trust in Him shall never want.
This love for Girardeau is further expressed in their longing for him to return to them and resume his pastoral labors in their midst. “The past relations,” wrote the Zion members, “we have engaged together for many years as pastor and people are still in its bud in our every heart therefore we would well come you still as our pastor.”
From the time Girardeau returned to Charleston until he was able to reoccupy the Zion pulpit, fifteen months had elapsed. Finally, “on Sabbath, December 23rd,1866, the Rev. John L. Girardeau re-commencedservices in the building.” Girardeau’s text for the occasion was “For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servant for Jesus’ sake,” (2 Corinthians 4:5). While no manuscript exists of this sermon there are a few points that appear obvious. First, he preached Christ. There can be little doubt that Girardeau reminded his listeners that he had always been faithful in preaching Jesus to them. He was no moralizer or politician in the pulpit. Indeed, he may have reminded his black brothers that his catechism was replete with the gospel, without mention of master-slave relations.Second, in preaching Christ, Girardeau was also sending a message to the Northern detractors that their harassment over the past fifteen months or so was unjust. That Jonathan Gibbs (the Northern missionary) would choose the property of Zion Presbyterian Church to occupy was a clear indication that he, and by association, the Committee that sent him, did not believe the South had been adequately preaching the gospel to the African-Americans. Girardeau’s first sermon in the Zion pulpit issued a resounding “Not true!” to such an implication. Third, it would not be far-fetched to assume that Girardeau reminded his hearers that, while they were no longer slaves, he would continue to be their slave for Christ’s sake.He was not free to do otherwise.
Girardeau wasted no timerebuilding the walls of Zion. First, a meeting was held to determine the total black membership that wished to continue as Freedmen in the Zion Presbyterian Church. Much to Girardeau’s disappointment, only one hundred sixteen indicated their desire to remain in Zion. This reflected the influence of Reconstruction and the less than enthusiastic attitudes of many Southerners toward their black brothers.
Nevertheless, Girardeau proceeded with the one hundred sixteen faithful, and on March 25,1867, the session nominated seven men to serve as “Superintendents” over the new congregation. The election of Superintendents, rather than elders as Girardeau desired, was in accordance with the resolution of the 1866 General Assembly. The men were all members of Zion before the war and some had served as Watchmen or Leaders of the Classes. “In 1867,” wrote Girardeau, “a fresh start in the teeth of many difficulties was made with 116 members of the 500.”
Later in the year, with Joseph B. Mack at his side, Girardeau began rebuilding the infrastructure of old Zion. The 1867 records indicate a total membership—Zion Church, Calhoun Street and Glebe Street—of four hundred forty. This included the one hundred sixteen freedmen. By March of 1868, the church had added sixty members. Fifty-one of the new additions came through profession of faith in Christ. There were nineteen infants baptized and seventeen adults. By March 1869 total communicants numbered five hundred sixty-one in Zion. Sabbath schools were once again instituted with two hundred enrolled. This number swelled to 750 scholars by 1875. While other conditions were still chaotic throughout the city, the South, and the Southern Presbyterian Church, there were some hopeful signs as evidenced by Zion.
In 1869, the General Assembly, following Girardeau’s lead, made it possible for freedmen to be ordained as elders. Just as Girardeau had quickly moved to install superintendents in the newly restored work in 1867, he wasted little time in organizing the black membership into a “branch congregation” of Zion,complete with ordained elders. On Tuesday, July 27, 1869, the Session of Zion Presbyterian Church dismissed three hundred forty-five members to form the Zion Presbyterian Church (Colored), Calhoun Street. From this we learn that in two years the black membership of Zion under the beloved white pastor had grown from one hundred sixteen to three hundred forty-five.Thus, in 1869 the black membership constituted more than one-half the total membership of Girardeau’s flock. This example offers some evidence that the integration of whites and the newly freed blacks into one church could have worked if it had been zealously pursued along the lines Girardeau recommended.
Upon the recommendation of Girardeau and the Zion Session, the following Freedmen were nominated to serve in the office of Ruling Elder—Paul Trescot, William Price, Jacky Morrison, Samuel Robinson, William Spencer, and John Warren. On “Sabbath August 15, 1869, 8 ½P.M.” the congregation of Zion Presbyterian Church (Colored) met for worship and the ordination and installation of their Ruling Elders. Girardeau chose for his text on this occasion Acts 14: 23—“And when they had appointed for them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting…they commended them to the Lord.” The records tell us, “Session did then with prayer and the imposition of their hands ordain the persons… and install them in the same.” Thus, Zion became the first Southern church governed by black elders.Girardeau had done what Dabney and a host of other Southern churchmen would not consider doing. He had admitted that black men could be qualified to rule in the church. He had exhibited his approbation by participating in the holy service, even the laying on of hands. What Dabney and others doubted possible, Girardeau confirmed as real.
Sadly, Girardeau’s experiment did not gain prominence in the Southern Church.In 1874, the Presbyterian Church US, under political and social pressures from within andwithout, voted to segregate their communion into black and white churches.Girardeau opposed the move, lost the vote, and lost his beloved Zion. Within a few short years many black Presbyterians across the South affiliated with the Presbyterian Church USA, leaving the Presbyterian Church US.
Conclusion All human weaknesses aside, the heritage of Davies, Jones, Adger, Smyth, and Girardeau is a good one.Their sacrificial labors could and should serve as a model for many today.Our elders and deacons should adopt a paternalistic model toward the precious sheep entrusted to them by our heavenly Father. A great sensitivity and shepherd like service would follow. The men we have considered loved their black brothers and gave themselves to the good work even in the face of social, political, and ecclesiastical difficulties.No doubt there are many rejoicing in the presence of our LORD today because of the loving ministries of these men and countless others like them.
[Note: Of our two photographs of the Zion edifice, it would appear that one of the two images is reversed and does not appear as it should.]
Gold Coast Presbytery (PCA), later renamed Southern Florida Presbytery, was organized on July 26, 1973, drawing churches primarily from the Everglades Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in the United States. Upon organization, it was constituted of fourteen churches, with eleven minister and a communicant membership of over 5,600. Nine more pastors were added in 1974 and communicant membership rose to 6,000. With the addition in 1978 of the Coral Ridge Presbyterian church, the Presbytery of Southern Florida was for some time the largest Presbytery in the PCA. By 1998 there were a total of 29 churches in this presbytery and thirteen mission churches, shepherded by 109 ordained pastors, and a total communicant membership of 20,502.
One of the churches in the Southern Florida Presbytery was Le Jeune Presbyterian Church in Miami, was pastored by the Rev. Robert C. Duhs. He and his congregation came into the Presbytery in the year following the Presbytery’s organization, and Rev. Duhs pastored this church from October of 1974 to March of 1977. The church had first been organized on January 7, 1946 as a mission church of the Shenandoah Presbyterian church, with thirty-eight charter members drawn from Shenandoah’s membership. Church services were first held from May of 1945 to January of 1946, at the Kinlock Park Elementary School, conducted by the Reverend D. Clyde Bartges. By 1949, the church was self-supporting. The cornerstone for the LeJeune congregation’s own home was laid and the building was occupied by late August of 1948. An education building was added in 1952 and a manse in 1954. Finally a new sanctuary was built and dedicated toward the end of 1965. Then in June of 1973, the congregation voted to leave the PCUS and so became one of the ten churches forming the Presbytery of Southern Florida within the Presbyterian Church in America. Le Jeune Presbyterian Church later merged with Grenada Presbyterian Church of Miami, on June 28th of 1984.
[pictured at right, the Rev. Robert C. Duhs, when serving as a commissioner to the Ninth General Assembly (1981) of the Presbyterian Church in America, as it met in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.]
Is God Your Father?
by Rev. Robert C. Duhs.
[as first published in The Presbyterian Journal, April 6, 1960, pages 7-8, 15.]
Is the doctrine of the Fatherhood of God and Brotherhood of Man Biblical?
Is God a Father to me? This is a basic spiritual question for it has to do with my hope of eternal life. If I can be sure that God is a Father in the benevolent, hopeful sense of that word, then I can have assurance of eternal life, the most important possibility in all the world.
A minister was once talking to his doctor. In the course of the conversation, he asked him, “Doctor, do you ever have difficult and rebellious patients?” The doctor replied, “Indeed I do. They come to me for help and then criticize my treatment and refuse to take medicine I prescribe.” “What do you do in such cases?” “Well, if they become too rebellious, I tell them to get another doctor.”
That story has spiritual implications. We come to God for a prescription of eternal life. But too often we have our ideas about how and on what conditions the prescription shall be given; and what it shall contain. Like the man without a wedding garment : in our Lord’s parable, we may cut ourselves off by insisting on coming as we want to.
One of the prescriptions which men have devised for their own salvation is that of the “Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man.” The doctrine expresses the theory that God is a loving, Heavenly Father to every man and that all men are equal, both socially and spiritually. Salvation belongs to the entire family of this loving, Heavenly Father, the human race, within which all members are brothers. Practically speaking there is no essential spiritual difference, in this scheme, between a Christian, a Jew, a Hindu, or a Buddhist, for God is Father to all men.
Now imbedded in this theory there is a germ of truth for we all are indeed creatures of the one sovereign Creator. But let us pause for a moment and reflect on the spiritual implications of the theory as it is generally understood. Is the spiritual “Fatherhood” of God and the spiritual “Brotherhood” of man an evident truth? Is it a reasonable thought? Is it Biblical?
To answer these questions we must have a starting point. If we can agree on the Bible as a starting point then we can search the Scriptures to see what it says on this issue. But what if we cannot agree on the starting point? Then we will only have what we have now — confusion. There must be a source of authority! And since the Bible is generally recognized as a source of authority in such matters, let us start with it.
I. STARTING POINT: THE WORD OF GOD.
What does the Bible say about the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man? In Genesis 1:26, 27, we are told that man came into being by God’s direct act of creation: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness … So God created man in His own image . .
It is our conviction, therefore, that God created man. Does this make God man’s Father? It certainly makes God his Creator, but for the sake of argument let us say it also makes Him man’s Father. Does this mean that man can forever claim salvation on the mere basis that God is his Creator or even his Father? If God is mankind’s Father, does that not carry with it certain prerogatives? And is it not logical to believe that one of those prerogatives is what inheritance He shall leave the children? Does a father have the right to divide his inheritance as he sees fit? Indeed he does. And the Bible repeatedly speaks of God “dividing to every man severally as He will.”
In other words, the Bible teaches that God is the Creator of all men; in a sense the Father of all. Now this Fatherhood encompasses the privilege of granting or cutting off the inheritance of those whom He has created. This is important to keep in mind. The Father determines who shall receive what inheritance.
II. THE UNITY OF THE HUMAN RACE
The idea of the unity of the human race lies imbedded in the Scriptures (our starting point). It is implied in man’s origin. Genesis 1:26-28 makes it clear that God created a single human pair, male and female, to become the embryo of humanity. We may conclude that all men have descended from this pair. At one time in history God divided mankind into different groups (Genesis 11) when He confounded their language and caused them to scatter, but men did not lose their identity, or their kinship to other men.
Therefore, we can say upon the authority of the Bible that all men are responsible to God. The true God must be worshiped in spirit and in truth by all men everywhere if they are to inherit eternal life. And please take note of that word “inherit” for it is a fact that men inherit eternal life; they do not earn it. God gives eternal life to those who meet His requirements.
III. MAN SEPARATES HIMSELF FROM GOD
If God created man, and if God is man’s Father, then He has the privilege and responsibility of showing man what is best for him. This is expected of earthly fathers; surely it can be expected of God. Now God does not shun His responsibility; He reveals to man what He expects of him if he is to inherit eternal life. He expects obedience—just what any father expects. Inheritance, blessing and guidance all hinge on obedience. Once a father has prescribed the rules his children must follow, he is not to blame if the child is cut off for disobedience.
When man disobeyed God, he violated his Father’s rules for inheritance, blessing and guidance. Because he sinned, he was cut off from eternal life. In Genesis 2:17 we read, “But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” It is well known how man (the child) acted toward God’s (the Father) command. Paul sums it up in Romans 5:12-14, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” (This takes care of the fellow who says, “Don’t blame me for what Adam did.” God doesn’t have to blame us for what Adam did. We are sinners too.)
Through the law of heredity, human depravity has passed from generation to generation and upon all men. In other words, the idea of the “Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man” does just the opposite from what most men think in reality, by relating us inseparably to Adam, it condemns rather than saves.
IV. THOSE WHO HAVE ETERNAL LIFE
According to the Bible (our starting point), only those who love God’s Son have the promise of eternal life. God the Father, who took away eternal life because of disobedience, now grants it back to those who, in obedience to His Word, are changed by the new life which is in Christ Jesus. In John 8:34, we read, “Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.” He then adds in verse 36, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” To deny the Son is to remain cut off from the Father. We are made children of God by faith in Jesus Christ. In John 8:42, Jesus said, “If God were your Father you would love Me, for I came from God.”
There is only one way for us to return under the Fatherhood of God and that is through our love for the Son of God, Jesus Christ. If a man does not receive Jesus Christ, God gives him up (a prerogative which is His as Father).
Jesus also declared in John 8:43, 44, that the man who will not hear His Word, is a member of the devil’s family — “Ye are of your father, the devil.” Jesus, in short, declared that some cannot call God, “Abba,” or Father.
One becomes a child of God, with restoration to the inheritance of eternal life, only by trusting in Jesus Christ (John 8:36); that is, by receiving and acting upon His Word (John 8:45-47).
Therefore, on the basis of Scripture we conclude that the doctrine of the “Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man” points to our natural condemnation rather than our natural salvation outside of Christ. Only in Christ is the natural brotherhood of man, in the sense of humanity’s universal condemnation, mitigated by the adoption of some men as re-generated children of God. We truly become brothers only in Christ.
We also conclude from Scripture that God becomes our spiritual Father only as we love Jesus Christ Who came from God to save us from our sins.
V. THE NEIGHBOR – RELATIONSHIP
Now in addition to the selective relationship of brother, there is another, truly universal relationship, that of neighbor. Once we have become a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ, we see all men — even those who are not our brothers in Christ — in a different light. For by nature all men are neighbors and towards our neighbors we owe an obedience. In the parable of the “Good Samaritan”, found in Luke 10:25-37, we are told what it means to “love our neighbor as ourselves,” according to the Levitical commandment.
Who is my neighbor? It is any man who stands in need. Our neighbor is not our blood relation only, not just the circle of our acquaintances, not just our countrymen, not just our brethren in Christ, but every human being whom we can help. And what greater help does any man outside of Jesus Christ need than to be introduced to the only One who can save his soul!
This is the commandment of love, but although it recognizes that we are all neighbors, it does not make us all brothers. However, it does make us aware of our neighbors and of their need for salvation. How can a man be a member of the Kingdom of God and not be interested in the souls of men? Just because lost men are not our brothers in Christ does not mean that we must not be interested in them — we are to love them, for they are our neighbors. How can a man love God with all his heart, and with all his strength, and with all his mind, and have no concern for his neighbor who knows not God? He cannot, and that is why Jesus gave us this parable — that we might see the need of our fellowmen and be inspired to help them.
Once we become Christians, we become partners in the Divine interest God has in mankind. We want our neighbor to know the Christ who alone can save, and to do that we must love him as we love ourselves. “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” are very searching words, for few, if any, ever have a real falling out with themselves.
We love our neighbor, not only because it is the Christian thing to do but because it may lead to his conversion. When we speak the Truth to him in this love, the occasion is provided for the Holy Spirit to enter in and regenerate him. Then he be-comes more than a neighbor, he becomes a brother.
The theory of the “Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of all men” is false. But the doctrine of the “Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of new men in Christ,” by Grace is true!
Meanwhile, brothers in Christ are to love their neighbors as themselves. In so doing they seek to reach the lost with the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ.
* * * * *
At the time when this was published, the Rev. Mr. Duhs was pastor of the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Vicksburg, Miss.
Home School Education in the Nineteenth Century They are still being used today! McGuffey Readers, that is. But what an important force they have had from the early days of our land up to the present. In a day when modern textbooks are known to tear down what is right about America and Christian values, the McGuffey Readers would instead reflect the values of […]
Over at Presbyterians of the Past, my good friend Barry Waugh posts more or less weekly, and has graciously allowed me to present his latest blog here today. And as we try to tie things to the calendar date, I can’t pass up noting that Rev. Milledoler had the distinction of being born on September […]
The following brief account concerns the small controversy over the ecclesiastical views of Jonathan Edwards. There is a separate account, to the same conclusion, originally told by Dr. Archibald Alexander and then related by the Rev. R. J. Breckinridge on the pages of the Philadelphia magazine, The Presbyterian. [perhaps I can retrieve that article soon]. But […]
Dr. David Calhoun just a few years ago published a volume on the life and ministry of the Rev. Dr. William Childs Robinson, the Columbia Seminary professor who was such a powerful influence in the lives of many of the founding fathers of the PCA. [Pleading for a Reformation Vision. Banner of Truth, 2013]. Let’s let […]
The Westminster Standards are the Standards of the Presbyterian Church We have already considered the meeting which took place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania which stopped an impending schism in the infant Presbyterian Church by The Adopting Act of 1729, as was presented on September 17. But there was another important commitment made by the infant church as part of this multi-day […]
It was yesterday actually—September 17th, 1936—and not today’s date of September 18th, when Dr. J. Gresham Machen spoke in Westfield, New Jersey on the subject “Shall We Obey God, or Man?”. But as we didn’t want to pass up mention of this occasion, so you will please forgive a bit of backtracking. This appears to be one […]
A Potential Schism Halted by a Compromise Initially there was no real problem with the written standards for the Presbyterian Church in America. Ministerial students were simply tested for their learning and soundness in the faith. But a controversy in the mother country soon changed this. So the question arose, should teaching and ruling elders be […]
Excerpted from Volume III of The Presbyterian Magazine, September 1853, pp. 413-415.This recounting of the venerable Dr. Alexander’s farewell to his congregation bears the following footnote: THE PRESBYTERIAN says, that “A valued friend recently discovered in the possession of one of the Pine Street parishoners of Dr. Archibald Alexander, a manuscript copy of the remarks made […]
This is the concluding article in the series PRESBYTERIANS IN AMERICA. The author, Rev. Prof. Paul Woolley, was formerly the professor of Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. I do hope you have found Rev. Woolley’s articles both interesting and instructive, and I do trust that our readers are more familiar now than […]
Dr. Paul Woolley’s series of articles on Presbyterians in America continues today with a segment on churches of Covenanter ancestry. Please keep in mind that these articles were written in the early 1950s and so much has changed since that time. VI – The Churches of Covenanter Ancestry [Reformed Presbyterian Advocate, 86.3 (March 1952): 25-26] […]