Almighty God

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A Christian Patriot Who Suffered During the American Revolution

We are more apt to recognize the New Jersey delegates like the Rev. John Witherspoon, or maybe Richard Stockton, as signers of the Declaration of Independence. But joining them was one Abraham Clark.

Born February 15, 1726 in Elizabethtown, New Jersey, his family was solid Presbyterians in their denominational affiliation. Baptized as an infant by the Rev. Jonathan Dickinson, first professor of the College of New Jersey, he grew up in the thrilling but dangerous days of increasing agitation of separation from England. With his inclination to study civil law and mathematics, he became known to his neighbors. Popular as “the poor man’s counselor,” he refused to accept any pay for his helpfulness to his neighbors. He further served them as High Sheriff of Essex County.

But it was as a member of the Continental Congress on June 21, 1776, that he became interested in the issues of liberty and justice. Penning his name to the Declaration of Independence, representing New Jersey, he states that he and his fellow signers knew that “nothing short of Almighty God can save us.”

He knew full well the cost of liberty. To a friend serving as an officer in the Jersey contingent of troops, “this seems now to be a trying season, but that indulgent Father who has hitherto preserved us will I trust appear for our help and prevent our being crushed. If otherwise, his will be done.” There is no doubt with convictions like this that he saw himself and his country safely within the sovereign providence of God.

His two sons were captured by the British and put into the prison hold of a notorious prison ship called “Jersey.” Fellow prisoners fed one of the sons by squeezing food through a key hole. Abraham Clark did not wish to make his personal suffering public, so he told no one about his family stress. When they found out about it from other sources, the American authorities contacted the British and told them that as they were treating prisoner of war Clark, so they were going to retaliate against a British officers in captivity. Only then did the brutal treatment of Clark’s sons ease up.

Abraham Clark was recognized as the member of Congress who moved that a chaplain be appointed for the Congress of the United States. And ever since then, a chaplain has been elected for that spiritual position.

But there were religious responsibilities which Abraham Clark also kept. From October 26, 1786 to 1790, Abraham Clark was a trustee for the Elizabethtown Presbyterian Church of which Pastor Caldwell was the minister. Abraham Clark died in his sixty-ninth year on September 15, 1794.

Words to live by: It was said that Abraham Clark was a Christian, a family man, a patriot, a public servant, and a gentleman. That about covers the sphere of influence which all Christians are to serve both God, the church, and our country. Once, he was offered freedom for his sons from their British captivity if . . . if he turned colors and became a Tory, or become loyal to England. He responded “no.” He was convinced, as he said to a friend in a letter in 1776, “Our fate is in the hands of an Almighty God to whom I can with pleasure confide my own. He can save us or destroy us. His counsels are fixed and cannot be disappointed and all his designs will be accomplished.” Amen, and Praise God

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

Q. 30. — How doth the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?

A. — The Spirit applieth to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us, and thereby uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling.

Scripture References: Eph.2:8; John 15:5; I Cor. 6:17; I Cor. 1:9; I Pet. 5:10.

Questions:

1. How does the Spirit apply this redemption to us?

This redemption is laid upon the soul by the Spirit. It unites us to Jesus Christ, it “joins” us to Him, makes us “one” with Him. It is an act of God.

2. How is it possible that we can be united to Christ when he is in heaven and we are here on earth?

It is possible because the person of Christ is everywhere. Matt. 28:20.

3. In the union between Christ and the Christian is it a mutual union?

It is a mutual union but it begins first on the side of Christ. The Bible teaches that “I will put my Spirit within you.”

4. What happens when this application takes place in the soul?

When the application takes place in the soul the soul believes, it passes from the dead state to the state of being alive.

5. Is it possible for this union to be dissolved?

No, it is impossible for this union to be dissolved because it contains within it the perseverance of God.

6. Is this faith that takes place that of ourselves or of God?

It can be said that faith is our act but it is God’s gift and the work of His Spirit. A good verse in this regard is Col. 2:12 – “Ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God.”

7. To what does the Scripture compare this union?

The Scripture compares this union to the union between husband and wife; head and members; root and branches; foundation and superstructure.

IT IS GOD THAT WORKETH IN YOU

Calvin’s definition of faith is found in his Institute (III, 2:7): “Now we shall possess a right definition of faith if we call it a firm and certain knowledge of God’s benevolence toward us, founded upon the truth of the freely given promise in Christ, both revealed to our minds and sealed upon our hearts through the Holy Spirit.” The Presbyterian Standards are in complete agreement with the teaching contained in Calvin’s statement and our Catechism question and answer lays the foundation for this teaching in this question and other questions to follow.

Our title. “It is God That Worketh In You” is a very necessary teaching in this day and age. There is so much preaching and teaching today that contradict the Scriptural teaching of man’s utter and complete dependence on God for conversion. It is true that in the midst of the conversion experience it is sometimes difficult for man to understand the relationship. But the hymn writer put it well when he said:

“I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew
He moved my soul to seek him, seeking me;
It was not I that found, 0 Saviour true;
No, I was found of thee.”

Few people in our Presbyterian churches today would doubt that it was God that worked in them when He drew them by the irresistible regenerating grace of the Holy Spirit. But many of them do not live as Christians in such a way to prove to a dying world that the same Almighty, Sovereign God is on the Throne and they recognize His Lordship. The Scripture teaches: “For all people will walk everyone in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever.” (Micah 4:5). It is our responsibility to walk in true piety. Our faith is not to depend upon the pressures of our fellowmen or what they may think of us, but our faith must have the constancy of the Almighty God. Or, to put it another way, because our faith has the constancy of the Almighty God, we can know that nothing can turn us aside from the course that finds its way to heaven.

Calvin once prayed: ” … may we learn to raise up our eyes and minds and all our thoughts to thy great power, by which thou quickenest the dead, and raisest from nothing things which are not, so that, though we be daily exposed to ruin, our souls may ever aspire to eternal salvation.” Remember, “It is God That Worketh In You!”

Published By: THE SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Vol. 3 No. 30 (June, 1963)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor

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Good Providence Sums Up His Calling

Reared outside the prairie town of Lemmon, South Dakota, David Peterson would travel to many war-torn countries around the world before his calling as an Army chaplain would be over.  But that thirty-year career did come to an end on September 1, 1995.  For the next thirteen years, he led the Presbyterian Church in America Mission to North America Chaplain Ministries as its Coordinator.  Currently he is the chairman of the International Association of Evangelical Chaplains, which assists foreign nations in developing and training of chaplains.

A key highlight of an adventure filled life and ministry for this Covenant College and Covenant Theological Seminary graduate was his experience as the Senior Military Chaplain for General Norman Schwarzkopf in the first Gulf War.  He was present in the underground bunker in Saudi Arabia when the first United States bombers were to take off for Baghdad, Iraq around midnight.  The general had gathered his staff together, including Col. Peterson.  Before the order was given to start the war, he asked his chaplain to say a prayer.

Chaplain Peterson prayed the following prayer on that momentous night: “Our Father, on this awesome and humbling occasion, we are grateful for the privilege of turning to you, our Sovereign and Almighty God.  We believe that, in accord with the teaching of your word and revelation, we are on a just and righteous mission.  We pray for a quick and decisive victory. Your Word informs us that men prepare for battle, and we have.  But victory rests with the Lord.  Therefore we commit our ways to you and wait upon the Lord.  In the name of the Prince of Peace, we pray.  Amen.”  Those military men affirmed the words with their response of Amen.

Let it be said that Chaplain Peterson suspected that this would be coming.   He had talked with the General for a time that very night.  Just before going to the bunker, there was a time when this PCA minister was alone by himself, waiting for the general to go to the underground bunker.  At that time, David Peterson composed his spirit and quickly wrote down some Scriptural texts and prayer requests on a three-by-five card.  Thus, when the time to pray came in that war room, he was ready to intercede with the God of war for the souls of the men who would enter into a battle that very night,  to say nothing of the victory over the enemy.

Just a few years later, in 1999, Chaplain Peterson would write:

During a recent missions conference, someone said to me, “As long as our nation is not in a significant war, people are not concerned about the military and therefore not concerned about the chaplaincy.” Reluctantly, I must admit that there is some truth in that statement. There is a tendency for the citizens of our nation to take our freedom for granted. Today, very few American citizens are aware of the historical role the military has played in our society and why it is important to continue having a strong force. Nor do we give much thought to the role and impact our chaplains have in the ministry to our military force and their families.

Words to live by: One of the more comforting doctrines of God’s Word is the doctrine of divine providence.  Sometimes the word providence was used in earlier times as a synonym for God Himself.  But properly used, it simply signifies, as our Westminster Confession of Faith states in Chapter 5 that “God the great Creator of all things does uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least, by His most wise and holy providence.”  If we could as Christians simply live our lives in the full knowledge of, and trust for, that doctrine, how much we would live more comfortably  in this present world.

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A Desire to Effect a Reformation

J.J. JanewayThe Rev. Jacob Jones Janeway [1774-1858] was an early Philadelphia pastor who served initially as an associate alongside the Rev. Ashbel Green. Rev. Janeway was also a close friend and supporter of the early Princeton Seminary faculty.

When the new year of 1800 opened, the Rev. J. J. Janeway was found on its threshold with a strong desire to “effect a reformation” in his heart and life. He wrote in his diary, “On examination, it is found that early rising, fervency in devotion, religious reflections in company, humility, courage, disinterested benevolence, and much engagedness are particularly worthy my attention in this reformation. May God enable me to reform. Amen.”

It was not a short-lived expectation or goal for Rev. Janeway. He persisted. On June 26th of that same year, he wrote in his diary:

“This day I spent in fasting and prayer for the blessing of Almighty God on my ministry. I have read the Scriptures; meditated and prayed. Confession of sins has been made. I have entreated God to bestow on me courage, wisdom, prudence, ardent piety, circumspection, a feeling sense of the importance of divine truth, compassion for the souls of men. I have prayed that I may propose divine truth with clearness, illustrate it with wisdom, and urge it with affection and energy; that I may be furnished for my work abundantly; that I may be a wise, faithful, able and successful minister of the Lord Jesus.”

Words to Live By:
An able, effective, and pointed prayer for any pastor. And in a similar way, for any and all who claim Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. May each of us press closer to know the Lord, to seek His face, to draw near to Him day by day. Read the Scriptures. Dwell upon their meaning and pray. Confess your sins and ask God to give you what is needed for this day, to live to His glory.

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The following short quote comes from the Memoir of the Rev. J. J. Janeway, a biography compiled by Janeway’s son, Thomas L. Janeway. Jacob Jones Janeway was a noted Presbyterian pastor, situated in Philadelphia in the first half of the nineteenth-century, serving first as associate pastor under Ashbel Green. A close friend of Dr. Samuel Miller, Rev. Janeway was also a key supporter of Princeton Seminary in its early years.
Much of this biography is drawn from diaries kept by Rev. Janeway, and in this particular quote, we find him reflecting on the close of the year and looking forward to the new. His reflections are made the more poignant in that during that year past, he and his wife had suffered the death of a child. By God’s grace and mercy, most of us have probably not lost loved ones in the past year, but the sum of the quote is otherwise an admirable reflection, worthy of review.
So often we conclude a post with a “Words to Live By” comment. Lest we take away from the impact of his words, his reflection is so labeled:—  

J.J. JanewayWords to Live By:
SABBATH, January 6, 1811. ” It has pleased the Lord to prolong my life. How many thousands have died during the last year! but my life has been spared. How many thousands have languished in sickness! but I have enjoyed health. How many millions have lived the year out under thick Heathenish darkness! but I have enjoyed the light of the glorious gospel of Christ. How many who, although they hear the gospel calls and invitations, yet have been living in a state of sin and condemnation! But I have. I trust, been enabled, by free and sovereign grace, to spend the year in a state of peace and friendship with God, and in hope of a blissful immortality. Oh, to grace, how great a debtor! I mourn over the sins of the last year, and beseech grace to spend this more than any heretofore to the glory of God. This year finds us one less in family. It has pleased Almighty God to remove our dear babe from us. We bow to the stroke of Divine Providence.”

[Excerpted from Memoir of the Rev. J. J. Janeway (1861), pp. 177-178.]

Afterthought: The above quote, excepting perhaps the last few sentences, might be a good one to write out on a card and place in your Bible, for frequent reflection through the year.

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