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

Q. 70. Which is the seventh commandment?

A. The seventh commandment is, Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Q. 71. What is required in the seventh commandment?

A. The seventh commandment requireth the preservation of our own and our neighbor’s chastity, in heart, speech, and behavior.

Scripture References: Exodus 20:14; I Thessalonians 4:4-5; I Corinthians 7:2; Matthew 5:28; Ephesians 4:29.

Questions:

1. What is meant by the word “chastity”?

The word “chastity” means a hatred of all uncleanness, no matter whether it be in the body or in the mind and affections (Job 31:1),

2. What is the two-fold duty involved in the keeping of this commandment?

The two-fold duty involves both ourselves and others, there is an equal responsibility here.

3. How can the seventh commandment be broken?

It can be broken by an act, but also by impure thoughts; and it should be recognized that it is from within the heart of a man that sin comes. Therefore the real source of violations of this commandment is the sinful heart.

4. How can we preserve both our own and our neighbor’s chastity?

We can best preserve it by keeping in the right relationship with our Lord. If we do that, then there will be certain characteristics about us such as: loving with a pure heart (I Pet. 1:22); speaking in a way that will only edify ourselves and our neighbor (Eph. 4:29); behaving in such a way that we are always a testimony for Jesus Christ, never giving any cause for criticism in this area (I Pet. 3:1, 2).

5. How can we best keep in that right relationship with the Lord in this regard?

We must be watchful over our hearts and spirits, over our eyes and ears. We must be diligent in our walk with the Lord remembering we can never take even “minute vacations” from our watchfulness. We must follow after temperance in all things. We must be careful of the company we keep, the marriages we contract. We must seek the mind of Christ with regard to things sinful and unclean. We must study the Word and pray daily.

6. Why must we be careful to keep this commanment?

We must be careful to keep it because it is a command or God, but one which in this age is bypassed time and time again by society.


THE LAW OF CHASTITY

Our Lord well knew the dangers to which we would be subjected when He had His servant pray: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.” He knew that our only method of living was by His grace. He knew that His Word dare not be left out of our approach to life.

When we ask the question as to why there are so many divorces, wrecked homes, broken hearts, and all kinds of vice and immorality in the world of today, we must remember that the difficulty lies in ignorance of, or rebellion against, God’s will. People have lost knowledge that the married state in God’s sight is holy—holy in origin, in essence, and in purpose. It is holy in origin because God Himself instituted it. It is holy in essence because God intends that it shall be a life-long covenant between one man and one woman. It is holy in purpose because it is God’s institution for the propagation of the human race, the living together of two people, all to the glory of God.

Today we must be on guard, especially against the false ideas about marriage, about morality. The “New Morality” is one of the worst lies of Satan ever to be spread in this country. And to think it is being spread by the church itself! Actually it is nothing new. It is nothing but a rejection of the Ten Commandments and this is what the true church of God has been living with for years—the rejection of the Word of God. The difference today is that the proponents of immorality are becoming bolder, for they realize now there are few who will stand against them. How deplorable it is to think they are playing right into the hands of the Communists whose first rule has always been: “Corrupt the youngl”

As believers we need to be on our guard in two ways. FIrst, that none of these so-called new rules creep in unawares into our lives and we begin to excuse wrong behaviour with the old “everybody is doing it” sort of approach. Second, that we might raise up the standard of the Word against them. We must declare the Word of God against all unchastity. We must remind people again and again that our Lord puts His finger on the difficulty: “For out of the heart proceed evU thoughts…” We must preach Jesus Christ to a dying world! There is no other method of dealing with the problem. The “New Morality” is taking hold because people do not know Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. Such should be our constant messagel

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Our Primary Author!—On his Birthday, No Less!

myersDavidT02Seventy-five years ago, on this day, October 7, 1940, out on the wind-swept plains of Lemmon, South Dakota, David T. Myers was born—the fourth and youngest child of Rev. David K. Myers and his wife Anne.  Rev. Myers was riding the rural preaching circuit at the time, preaching to and pastoring as many as fifteen small prairie churches in the newly formed Bible Presbyterian Church.  There is little recorded of the Myers’ family life of this time, other than one story that the Myers children were known to say, especially during blizzard season, “Now, let us pray for Daddy if he be stuck!”  Certainly this was a product of the faithfulness of young David’s mother, Anne, whose “determination, steadfast support, and unfailing labors in the church and home with her prayers,” recalled Rev. Myers years later, allowed him to “go far in ‘them thar’ hills for the gold of precious souls who turned to Christ by evangelistic means to receive the Gospel.”

[Note: David’s father, the Rev. David K. Myers, wrote an autobiography titled Preaching on the Plains. For information on how to order a copy of this most interesting autobiography, click here. The table of contents, and later, several sample chapters, were posted here.]

Without a doubt, David Myers’ early life was cocooned in the message and work of the Gospel.  He must have breathed it in, along with the crisp northern wind, and been animated by its strength and power in the time before even his first memory.  When David was a boy of three, Rev. Myers took on a new calling as a chaplain in the U.S. Army.  There followed numerous different postings, including a most memorable three years at the Army chaplaincy in post-World War II Germany, at the infamous Nazi concentration camp—Dachau.

It was in Dachau that mankind’s depravity and desperate need for a Savior was seared onto David’s consciousness.  At the impressionable age of eight to ten years old, David would wander the camp of horror in those first years of the American occupation, even before the full extent of the Holocaust was known to the world.  He saw bones in the dirt, human ashes in the ovens, and a gruesome hanging tree, ropes still swinging.  David later wrote of the “breathtaking cruelty” that was apparent throughout Dachau.  He would recall one instance “walking through a shower room with bars of soap, sprinkler heads, drains in the floor, except everything was wooden, including the bars of soap. This was a gas chamber, and I can remember hurrying out of there when one of my older friends with me then mentioned it as that.”  All of this impressed upon the boy with indelible force the inescapable “sinful depravity of man” and his need for the Gospel.

It was to that Gospel calling that David would turn as he returned to America and entered his formative years of study, eventually completing his masters of divinity degree at Faith Seminary in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, where his father had taken up a professorship (later, David would add a doctoral degree from Covenant Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri).  Then, in 1966, he and his new bride, Carolyn, began what would stretch to nearly fifty years of faithful and continuous Gospel ministry—pastoring five different Presbyterian churches, serving as an “honorary chaplain” at the U.S. Army War College, and engaging in numerous scholarly work, popular writing, and public engagement ministries.

After a short stint in Alberta, Canada, David and Carolyn moved to Lincoln, Nebraska to plant a new church work in the Bible Presbyterian denomination.  God blessed their efforts and as that church grew, David’s ministry expanded in the community.  In 1974, it was reported by the local press that David had begun, and was serving as President, the Nebraska Association for Christian Action.  “It is the aim of this organization to bring to bear the Word of God on vital social and political issues, and to engage in Christian witness and action in public affairs,” David said at the time.  The organization fulfilled its mission during those years as it testified regularly before the state legislature and advocated on many issues of public concern.

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With the birth of a new, reformed Presbyterian denomination in America, the PCA, David transitioned his ministry into a new denominational home.  Both the work he began in Lincoln, and the subsequent work begun in Omaha, remain faithful congregations—with fruitful church offspring of their own—in the PCA.  During this time, David and Carolyn welcomed into their lives and ministry their only child, daughter Ann Margaret.

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In 1986, having seeded the cornfields of Nebraska with a flourishing reformed Presbyterianism, David accepted a call east and left his beloved Nebraska Cornhuskers for the hills of Pennsylvania.  There, for the next twenty years, he would pastor two PCA congregations, one in Pittsburgh and one in Carlisle.  While in Pennsylvania, David’s fascination with American history, and particularly the period of the Civil War, reached new heights.  He began a ministry of research and writing connecting the deep Christian spirituality of that era to the on-the-ground living history of battlefields and memorials across the Pennsylvania countryside.  His personal tours through the Gettysburg National Park became renown among Christian tourists seeking to learn the specific Christian stories of the war.  As always, David never took off his pastoral cap, using history to illuminate again, the power of the Gospel of Christ.  His books [Stonewall Jackson: The Spiritual Side and The Boy Major of the Confederacy] on the era do the same.

In 2004, David retired from his period of formal ministry in the PCA, but he has never retired from the ministry of the Gospel.  David soon took up a key post as an “honorary chaplain” at the U.S. Army Chapel at the Carlisle Barracks, a part of the Army War College.   In this way, David brought his ministry full circle from those early years as an “Army brat” witnessing the horrible depravity of man while his father ministered in the chaplaincy in Dachau.  David served as a faithful teacher and occasional pastor at the Chapel, ministering to some of the U.S. Army’s top brass as they moved through postings at the War College.

David’s characteristic wry humor found one of its keenest expressions during his time at the Chapel.  He is known to remark: “It is the most perfect church I have known.  If you don’t like the congregation, they leave every year, and if you don’t like the chaplain, he leaves every other year!”  But beyond humor, David has continued his life’s work, bringing the light of the Gospel to everyone around him.  For example, in 2012, Col. Randall Cheeseborough, the chairman of the War College’s department of academic affairs, told one publication that he and his wife kept returning again and again to hear David’s teaching: “It was so Scripture based, it was a wonderful experience.  It’s good for me to see an older man’s faithfulness and dedication.  He’s just a wonderful role model.”  Another member of the brass, Col. Bill Barko told the same publication: “More than about any single person, David has been a huge spiritual influence on our community.”

Readers of this blog certainly have known and experienced these same truths.  In 2010, David floated to the PCA Historical Center the idea of a daily devotion tied to events in Presbyterian history.  Others, including director Wayne Sparkman, thought it was a fine idea, but were concerned about content production.  Thus, David’s project was given the green light, but on one condition: that he write an entire year’s worth of daily devotionals before the project would launch.  David eagerly accepted the challenge and for the next two years, wrote what would become the first 365 of this project’s devotionals.  To date, This Day in Presbyterian History has produced over 1,300 daily devotionals from Presbyterian history, is read by thousands around the globe, and has been cited by many other publications both scholarly and popular.

And so, on his seventy-fifth birthday, we are honored to wish our founder a hearty “Happy Birthday!” with his own, well deserved chapter in this collection recounting God’s abounding grace and saving mercies as they have been deposited in one branch of his Church.  David’s faithful life and work have, without a doubt, testified to the truth that there is a Savior, and that he is Jesus Christ, our Lord.  David and Carolyn continue to live in the hills of Pennsylvania, in the village of Boiling Springs, and he can still be seen, from time to time, leading fellow Christians and history buffs around the Gettysburg battlefield, recounting stories of faith in the most trying of times.  His daughter Ann lives in Kansas with her husband Caleb, and David’s five grandsons.

Our post today comes by way of family members grateful for his legacy of faith.

 

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A Heart for Missions

gilchristRWIt was a proud day in Las Vegas, New Mexico, on March 14, 1892, when Elizabeth Rowland Gilchrist and her husband Joseph James Gilchrist welcomed their new child into the world. George Riggle Monfort Gilchrist was, in part, named after a favorite uncle, the Rev. George Washington Riggle, who was a pastor in Socorro, New Mexico. The name Monfort was in honor of the Huguenot side of the family, in particular, Joseph Glass Monfort, who was George’s great uncle. He was quite involved with Old School Presbyterian Church, working primarily in Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.

George Gilchrist attended Occidental College, graduating with the Bachelor of Science degree in 1915, and from there proceeded to Chicago, where he attended the Moody Bible Institute for two years, graduating in 1918. Seminary added a few more years as he prepared for the ministry, and graduated in 1923. Even while in school, he had his eye on mission work, and in particular the field of Chile, annually serving there as a short term missionary during his Seminary years, primarily teaching in the Instituto Ingles, located in Santiago.

Rev. Gilchrist was ordained by the Presbytery of San Francisco (PCUSA) on April 27, 1924 and he was installed as the pastor of the Presbyterian church in Richmond, California. He served this congregation less than two years before he departed as a foreign missionary, serving in Chile under the auspices of the PCUSA’s World Missions Board. He would remain on the field in that capacity for twenty years.

gilchristRW&RuthThen in 1945, Rev. Gilchrist transferred his credentials to the Bible Presbyterian Church, and continued to labor another fourteen years in Chile, now under the auspices of the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions. When the Bible Presbyterian Church split in 1956, Rev. Gilchrist aligned himself with the Columbus Synod BP’s and concluded his missionary work in 1959 with World Presbyterian Missions. In retirement, Rev. Gilchrist eventually came to live in Mount Hermon, California (circa 1968).

George R. M. Gilchrist died on August 13, in 1988, at Bethany Manor in Ripon, CA, just a few weeks after a family reunion for his sixty-fifth wedding anniversary. His mortal remains were laid to rest in the cemetery in Felton, California. Gilchrist was a teacher and an evangelistic missionary in Chile for more than three decades. He was survived by his widow Ruth and four children. Of these children, the Rev. Paul R. Gilchrist is noted as having served as the second Stated Clerk of the PCA, from 1988 to 1998.

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Born in Rendham, Massachusetts on March 13, 1918, Thomas G. Cross was educated at Hampton Sydney College and went on to prepare for the ministry at Faith Theological Seminary. In a ministerial career that spanned fifty years, the Rev. Thomas G. Cross was instrumental in establishing forty churches across the United States. He was ordained by the Bible Presbyterian denomination in 1943 and from 1948 to 1953, served as General Secretary for the National Presbyterian Missions agency. Among his published works is a concise history of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod.

The last years of his life were devoted to developing a pleasant and affordable retirement center primarily for the widows of Calvary and Palmetto Presbyteries. Bailey Manor, as it was named, in Clinton, South Carolina, was created from a former hospital. The Rev. Thomas G. Cross passed away on May 12, 1994.

Dr. Cross was survived by his widow, four sons and a large extended family including three brothers, David, Howard, and Walter G., Jr., all of whom also became PCA teaching elders. David, the youngest of the Cross brothers, has graciously supplied us today with his own recollections of his brother Thomas:—

Rev. Dr. Thomas G. Cross – March 13, 1918 – May 12, 1994
by his youngest brother, David Cross.

Tom was almost 24 years old and had been married to Jane for almost 2 years when I was born, so my earliest recollections of Tom are of his visits to our parents’ home in Scranton, PA. We sat around the kitchen table as he told stories about driving the length and breadth of the United States and even into Canada to help small groups of people who wanted to form a Bible Presbyterian Church. Many of those churches are now part of the Presbyterian Church in America. The skills in business affairs that he learned from our father were valuable assets in the things he did for those churches.

Tom was the General Secretary (Chief Operating Officer) of National Missions, the church planting agency of the denomination. As the ministry grew, Tom moved it to St Louis, where Covenant College and Seminary were starting and at the time was the center of the country based on population.

Soon after that move increasing tinnitus exacerbated by air travel and the needs of a family of four boys, motivated him to accept a call to the Bible Presbyterian Church in Greenville, SC. But his interest in church planting never dimmed. He became the founding pastor of Mitchell Road PCA as well as encouraging the planting of several other churches in that part of the state.

When he retired from Mitchell Road he moved to Columbia, SC to start yet another church. Then returned to Greenville where he helped a struggling church to get moving.

For years he, and some like-minded men had been working on the idea of having a retirement home for people of average means. The right location seemed to elude them until a redundant hospital building became available in Clinton, SC. Tom and Jane sold their lovely home and moved into one of the first available apartments converted from old hospital rooms in Bailey Manor, which at the time was still a building site.

My last recollection of Tom was his visit to England in 1993. I was serving there with Mission To the World. He came for the 350th anniversary celebration of the formation of the Westminster Assembly. He preached in the tiny church we were planting in Chelmsford and he wanted to know about things, even the small businesses that operated from trailers and sold tea and sandwiches alongside the highways.

Tom never lost his enthusiasm for the spread of the gospel, nor his interest in the people who surrounded him. His example has been a challenge to me for my whole life.

Words to Live By:
Tom Cross never lost his enthusiasm for the spread of the gospel.  Do you, as a reader of this post, have an enthusiasm for the spread of the gospel?  After all, that is what the Great Commission is all about, starting in your  home town (your Jerusalem), going to your county or state (your Judea), including parts of your living area which may be on the adverse side of life (your Samaria), and going through support of foreign missionaries, or going yourself to the other parts of the world.  May we all have Tom Cross’ testimony, that of being on fire for the spread of the gospel.

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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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