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

Q. 95. To Whom is baptism to be administered?

A. Baptism is not to be administered to any that are out of the visible church, till they profess their faith in Christ, and obedience to Him; but the infants of such as are members of the visible church are to be baptized.

Scripture References: Acts 8:36; Acts 2:38-39; I Cor. 7:14; Ephesians 2:12 (See verses below).

Questions:
1. Is it Scriptural to administer baptism to all people?
A. No, only those who are members of the visible church, who are part of the covenant, are eligible.

2. How can infants be baptized, an infant who cannot repent and believe and thus become a member of the visible church?
A. Our Larger Catechism teaches us that the visible church is made up of “all such as profess the true religion, and their children.”

3. Can you explain, in outline form, the proof that infants should be baptized?
A. The following steps are involved and it should be kept in mind that these steps are simply motivators for your own study in this important doctrine:
—1. When you consider infant baptism you are basing your belief on what we call “Covenant Theology” for the practice of infant baptism is vitally related to the covenant of grace.
—2. The infant must be the child of a believing parent (or parents) in order to be considered part of the covenant (I Cor. 7:14; Acts 2:38-39).
—3. God established a covenant of grace with Abraham and this covenant included children (Gen. 17:7, 11-12).
—4. The covenant of the Old Testament and the covenant of the New Testament are substantially the same and God promised it would be an everlasting covenant (Gen. 17:7; Gal. 3:13; Rom. 4:3).
—5. The rite of circumcision symbolized salvation in the Old Testament and it was the sign of the covenant relationship between God and His people. Baptism in the New Testament symbolized the same. (Gen. 17; Deut. 10; Rom. 4; Col. 2:11-12).
—6. God’s people, because of the teachings just mentioned, are bound to put the sign of the covenant upon themselves and their children.

A RIGHTLY USED SACRAMENT

Many times, in churches subscribing to Reformed doctrine, the sacrament of baptism is taken too lightly. Too many parents are guilty of an attitude of thinking their task is done when they have their child baptized.

Too many churches give themselves a pious pat on the back when another child is baptized 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 even with it. We do not believe in the necessity of baptism for salvation. We do think 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. . .”

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.”

God help us to use this sacrament in the 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)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor.

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Background to Current Missions Work

The Mission to the World collection shows how a modern mission sending agency grew from a movement within the Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS) to become an independent board, a committee within a new denomination and finally a mature, experienced denominational agency. This is a continuing story, and the collection is a dynamic set of active records and correspondence managed by the PCA Historical Center.

The collection begins late in the 1960s as a small group of pastors and laymen within the Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship (PEF) organized to express dissatisfaction with the teaching and social activism of some missionaries and the “equalization policy” of the PCUS denomination. Under equalization an individual or church did not have the freedom to specifically support missionaries with whom they agreed theologically.
Conservatives’ money was being used to fund a quite-liberal world agenda.

A revival movemnt of the 1950s and 1960s in the PCUS, spread by PEF evangelists, created a new concern for world evangelism. In 1971 this movement culminated in formation of the Executive Committee for Overseas Evangelism (ECOE). Initially ECOE tried to be a liason between conservatives and the Board of World Missions, PCUS. Instead, the Board saw ECOE as a dangerous competitor, and it became a rallying point in the controversies leading to the withdrawal of churches into the National Presbyterian Church [the name initially chosen by the PCA]. In 1973 ECOE became Mission to the World, the sponsoring agency for six missionaries who left the Board of World Missions at the formation of the PCA.

It was through the Joining-and-Receiving of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod (RPCES) that a new component was added. The Committee on Mission to the World was merged with World Presbyterian Missions. WPM was born on June 11, 1957 as the sending agency of the Bible Presbyterian Church. Its origins were in the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions, which was itself the central point of contention in the heresy trials and subsequent division of the Presbyterian Church in the USA during the 1930s. In WPM’s 25th anniversary year, 1982, it was absorbed by MTW. This now larger organization immediately had to cope with a conflict of management styles. The RPCES had used an agency approach, while the PCA utilizes a committee structure. There also were differences in philosophy and strategy. MTW had more joint agreements with non-Reformed groups and an urban church-planting approach.

From an historical perspective, the MTW collection is of immense value since it provides a detailed account of the problems and thinking unique to late-20th century missions as a new organization was founded and then incorporated into a new denomination. Particularly noteworthy is the determination of such leaders as Jimmy Lyons, Ben Wilkinson, and William E. Hill. There is an immense body of correspondence from these men which candidly presents their philosophy and goals. Interaction between these men and the Board of World Missions also shows the lack of common ground available in the PCUS for conservatives and moderate/liberals.

The assembled materials also document how the organization grew as a business and the problems and potential which data processing advances brought in the 1970s. There also are significant indiations of the lfie and ministry of the MTW missionary in the field and policies and criteria for fielding missionaries.

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A Presbyterian Church in the Heart of Anglican Virginia
by David T Myers

There is an expression commonly heard yet misunderstood by mostly every citizen today in our land. It is “the separation of church and state.” Most commonly, it is interpreted as American government should not enter into Christian principles and practices ever! In my area, an individual running for office in the county found out that her opponent actually quoted some Scripture in a personal letter. Why, she reasoned in an open letter, this violated his political position, because of the separation of church and state. I trust that the readers of this website understand that when we talk about the separation of church and state, we simply mean, as our forefathers understood, there is no such entity as a state church. And yet while that is true, it was not recognized to be true until 1786 in Virginia, eleven years after the American Revolution.

When Presbyterians entered Virginia, “the Church of England (Anglican) was the official church of the Virginia colony. Overseen by the Bishop of London, the church in Virginia had the royal governor of the colony as its head. The General Assembly passed laws for the ‘suppression of vice’ and set ministers’ salaries, fixed parish boundaries, required attendance at Anglican churches, and restricted secular activities on Sundays. Heads of households paid mandatory church taxes levied by Anglican parish vestries to pay ministers, to build and repair church buildings, and to assist the needy. Anglican churchwardens reported violators of religious laws to country courts for prosecution. Formal services from the Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer were the rule in parish churches.” (Quotation from the Colonial Williamsburg Sign on the wall of the Presbyterian Meeting House)

When Presbyterians (and other religious groups) began to enter the Virginia colony over the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, at first persecution met the new faith based groups. Gradually, these “dissenters,” as they were called, were the subjects of a more tolerant attitude, in that they were allowed to practice their own convictions. However, they had to obtain licenses for themselves and their meeting houses, and continue to pay Anglican church taxes.

On June 17, 1765, a group of Presbyterians successfully petitioned the county court for permission to meet in a house in Williamsburg, Virginia. Seventeen men signed the petitions. They were mostly Williamsburg business men composed of a carpenter, blacksmith, hatter, printer/bookbinder, stay maker, cabinetmaker, wheelwright, two shoemakers and two tailors. Solid members of Williamsburg society, they dissented from the established Church of England to worship as Presbyterians.

Presbyterian ministers were hard to come by in the early days. In 1767, Presbyterians in Pennsylvania and Delaware appointed Andrew Bay and Jacob Ker to minister to their small band of Presbyterians in the town. James Waddel, a newly licensed pastor, was appointed to the town for two Sundays in 1767 by the Hanover Presbytery. Certainly Samuel Davies of nearby Hanover County helped to minister to the little band of Presbyterians.

Sustained effort to change the laws of the Colony continued to keep the issue of religious freedom in the public mind all through the American Revolution. Finally this sustained effort was essential in the change in 1786 to pass the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, written in 1777 by Thomas Jefferson.

Words to Live By:
If you are able to visit Williamsburg, Virginia today, you can visit the Anglican Church on the grounds which is historic to the day and age of the early beginnings of our country. Don’t forget to visit also the plain building which houses the Presbyterian Meeting House of Williamsburg, where the Word of God was preached in all its fullness by faithful men of God in the beginnings of our country.

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In the Minutes of the Thirty-third General Assembly (2005) of the Presbyterian Church in America, pp. 56-58, we find this tribute to the life and ministry of Alta Woods Presbyterian Church, Jackson, Mississippi, which was organized on this day, February 29th, in 1948, and which was merged with the Pearl Presbyterian Church of Pearl, Mississippi in 2005:—

COMMUNICATION 3 from Mississippi Valley Presbytery

Recognition of the Alta Woods Presbyterian Church 1948 – 2005

Whereas, Alta Woods Presbyterian Church was established as a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in the United States on Daniel Loop in South Jackson by Central Mississippi Presbytery on February 29, 1948 unto the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, and

Whereas, Alta Woods sought to uphold the inerrancy and sufficiency of Holy Scripture in a time when both have been seriously challenged and she held forth freely the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ as the only way of
salvation, and

Whereas, Alta Woods under the leadership of Rev. B. I. Anderson was instrumental in the formation of the Presbytery of the Mississippi Valley in 1973 for the preservation of a Biblical church through a well trained
and Bible believing ministry, being a charter church, and

Whereas, the pastor and ruling elders of Alta Woods Presbyterian were actively engaged in the formation and establishment of the Presbyterian Church in America in 1973, being represented at the convocation of sessions on May 18, 1973 and at subsequent General Assemblies of the PCA, and

Whereas, Alta Woods directly encouraged men to pursue the gospel ministry through generous support of students, sending out many sons into the ministry of the PCA and impacting our community, country and world
with gospel zeal, and

Whereas, Alta Woods was directly responsible for the support of Rev. Al LaValley with his planting of the West Springfield Covenant Community Church in West Springfield, Massachusetts, for the support of Rev. Rodney
Collins for his planting of the Grace Presbyterian Church in Laconia, New Hampshire, for the sending of Rev. Bill Inman to Crystal, New Mexico to pastor the Navajo Indigenous Church, and for the establishment of South
India Reformed Theological Institute through the work of Dr. Tom Cherian, and

Whereas, Alta Woods nurtured a missionary vision that supported and sent missionaries who served around the world, as well as mission groups to Columbia, South America; Crystal, New Mexico and West Springfield, Massachusetts, and

Whereas, Alta Woods grew to become the second largest Presbyterian Church in Jackson under the able leadership of pastors: Rev. A. N. Moffett (1948-55), Rev. B. I. Anderson (1955-85), Dr. Steve Jussely (1989-96), and Dr. Merle Messer (1996-present). She further enjoyed the dedicated leadership of associate pastors: Rev. Bill Bratley and Rev. Roger Collins, and assistant pastors: Rev. Don Craft, Rev. John Keubler, Rev. Timothy Meyer, and Rev. Judson Davis as well as many notable youth ministers and interns. Moreover Alta Woods has been blessed with many dedicated ruling elders who have guided the church and participated in presbytery and the PCA with sacrificial service and devotion, and

Whereas, under the faithful leadership of Dr. Merle Messer, Alta Woods desires to continue her ministry in union with the Pearl Presbyterian Church, of Pearl, Mississippi,

Therefore, be it resolved that the Presbytery of the Mississippi Valley give all praise to Jesus Christ as the head of the church for his mighty work in and through the Alta Woods Presbyterian congregation over the last fifty seven years and that we offer thanksgiving for her valuable role in the establishment of our presbytery and her faithful work among us for the building up of the church. Moreover, let us express our joy and extend our deepest desires for the successful union of the Alta Woods Presbyterian congregation into the Pearl Presbyterian congregation that together they might know the continued blessing of our sovereign God upon their ministry and outreach. May this united work serve to bring greater glory to Jesus Christ.

Let it further be resolved that this resolution be signed by the clerk of Mississippi Valley Presbytery and spread upon the minutes of this presbytery, and

Let it further be resolved that an official copy of this resolution be sent to the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America to be included in the official minutes of the PCA General Assembly that all might marvel at the great work of Christ as the head of the church and might pray for his greater blessing upon the union of the Pearl and Alta Woods congregations.

To God alone be all the glory given!

Adopted by The Presbytery of the Mississippi Valley on June 7, 2005.
/s/ Roger G. Collins
Stated Clerk

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This day, January 15, in 1966 marks the death of the Rev. Flournoy Shepperson.

sheppersonSrFlournoy Shepperson was licensed and ordained in July of 1917 by the Ouchita Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church, U.S. His first pastorate was in a yoked ministry to the Presbyterian churches of Magnolia and Mt. Holly, Arkansas, serving there 1908 to 1911. Rev. Shepperson next pastored the Presbyterian church in Monticello, Arkansas from 1911 to 1920, before answering a call to serve Purity Presbyterian church in Chester, South Carolina, from 1921-1925. His last pastorate in the PCUS was with the Second Presbyterian Church of Greenville, SC, which he served from 1925 to 1940. He then withdrew from the Southern Presbyterian denomination and united with the Bible Presbyterian Synod, while his brother David remained within the PCUS. Upon leaving the PCUS, Dr. Shepperson planted a Bible Presbyterian church in Greenville with an initial congregation of 335 members. The church later took the name Augusta Street Presbyterian church, and eventually became part of the PCA, though it was dissolved in 1996. The Augusta Street church was also notable as the original location of the Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

shepperson_BPchurch03

Oddly, Second Presbyterian of Greenville—the church that Dr. Shepperson left—later became one of the founding churches of the PCA, in 1973, and it was not until 1982 when the Augusta Street church also joined the PCA, as part of the Joining and Receiving of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod (RPCES).

From the Memorial read at the 144th RPCES General Synod:

Dr. Shepperson was among those who very early sensed the rising tide of unbelief in his own Presbyterian denomination and took a strong stand against it. It was under his leadership that there was formed a new Presbyterian church in his own city of Greenville, South Carolina, completely separated from apostasy, which church has grown to be one of the largest and most influential churches of our Synod.

Dr. Shepperson was an able and faithful preacher of the Word of God. He possessed a sense of humor that often brightened and enlivened his messages. This he did not lose even in that period of ill health that preceded his death. Many of us can testify to the rich blessing of his ministry from our own pulpits. Those of us who knew him intimately can also testify to his deep devotion to his Lord and to the consequent blessing always experienced in fellowship with him.

We are all aware of the fact that our loss is his great gain. We know that for him to depart this earthly life was to immediately be with Christ, which is far better. We believe that he could honestly echo the words of the great apostle, “to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

Dr. Shepperson had three sons, two of whom entered the ministry, and a daughter. Flournoy Shepperson, Jr. was ordained in the BPC and later came into the RPCES. He pastored churches in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Pittstown, PA, Savannah, GA, Durham, NC and Tampa, FL. Dr. Shepperson’s son Sam was also ordained in the BPC and later affiliated with the PCA. He had a long pastorate in Arkansas and is now honorably retired. It was Sam who so graciously provided the news clipping and photograph of his father.

Words to Live By: The Church is blessed with many faithful pastors. Sometimes it is easy to focus on the relative few who stray in doctrine or practice, and we forget to praise God for how He works through those who remain faithful and steadfast year after year. We are engaged in a great spiritual battle, and your pastor is on the front lines. Remember to pray for him.

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