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People Loved to Hear Him Preach

strongRobertFrequently we have heard pastors speak about how they love to preach the Word of God. And that is great.  But to hear that God’s people love to hear their pastors preach, well, that is less heard today.  Yet it was the case that people loved to hear the Rev. Dr. Robert Strong preach the Word.  Who was he?

Robert Strong was born in the windy city of Chicago on June 13, 1906. He moved to California to attend college soon after his graduation from high school.  He graduated from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1920 with honors.  He studied next at the University of Southern California for his Master of Arts and Master of Theology degrees in 1930 – 1932.  Returning east, he attended the newly formed Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, from which he earned his Bachelor of Theology degree.  A Doctorate of Sacred Theology from Temple University finished out his educational experience.

At some point prior to 1936, he was ordained in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.  But in that pivotal issue confronting the Presbyterian Church in the mid thirties, Robert Strong took his stand with  Bible believers and joined the Presbyterian Church of America in 1936.  He was to stay in that new church and later on through the name change to the Orthodox Presbyterian Church until 1949.

Part of his initial pastoral ministry took place in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, when he led 225 members out of the PCUSA in 1936.  For three vital years, Pastor Strong met with the members of this beginning church in the American Legion post.  The church continues today as a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America.

Dr. Strong joined the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. in 1949.  Why the change?  Students of Presbyterian history realize that there was a schism in  the Orthodox Presbyterian church in that year of 1949 between the views on apologetics of Cornelius Van Til and Gordon Clark.   Robert Strong left the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and joined the Southern Presbyterian church, indicating his position on the topic.

Two Presbyterian churches down south were  sites for his pastorates.  The first was the First Presbyterian Church in Augusta, Georgia.   And the second was Trinity Presbyterian Church in Montgomery, Alabama.  Both churches are presently in the Presbyterian Church in America.

In 1973, Dr. Strong left the pastoral ministry to become Homiletics and Practical Theology professor at Reformed Theological Seminary, teaching there until his retirement in 1978.  After a life time of service for Christ, he would enter glory in June 17, 1980.

Words to Live By:
From the Journal of the  Evangelical Theological Society, the following memoriam was written:  “Robert Strong was a model Christian scholar, possessed of a keen mind that he used well.  He read widely and had varied interests, one of them being the relation of Christianity, the Bible, and science.  He was a highly gifted preacher who loved to preach, and people loved to hear  him preach.  He enjoyed greatly the opportunity to participate in the equipping of young men for the gospel ministry.  He was a man of many gifts who used those gifts well in the service of our Lord.”  Using gifts well in the service of the Lord!  Are not all Christians in general, and Christian ministers in particular, to use their God-given abilities well? May God grant that it be so.

Chronology for the Life of Dr. Robert Strong—
Born 13 June 1907 in Chicago, IL to Walter Wills Strong and his wife Genevieve Kipley Strong.
Educated at UCLA, 1926-30, AB; University of Southern California, 1930-32, AM, Th.M.; Westminster Theological Seminary, 1933-34, Th.B.; Temple University, 1936-38, S.T.D.
Married Roberta Kirkpatrick, Long Beach, CA, 27 May 1933. Children born to this marriage included Patricia (Mrs. Harry Gould Barrett, Jr.); and James Walter Strong..
Licensed in May and ordained on 1 June 1934 by the Presbytery of Philadelphia [PCUSA]
Installed as pastor of the Calvary Presbyterian Church [Independent], Willow Grove, PA, 1933-1949
Pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Augusta, GA, 1949-59.
Pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church, Montgomery, AL, 1959-1973
Professor, Reformed Theological Seminary, 1973-1980.
Died on 7 June 1980 in Pensacola, Escambia County, Florida.

Chronological bibliography—
1933

A Study of the Factors of Persuasion in the Sermons of Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  [Los Angeles] University of Southern California, 1933 . Microform, 72 l.

1939
“Paul’s Gospel,” The Evangelical Student 14.1 (January 1939): 8-11.

1960
Doctrinal Sermons : Preached in the Winter Quarter of 1960 in Trinity Presbyterian Church, Montgomery, Alabama.  Montgomery, Ala. : Trinity Presbyterian Church, 1960-1961?  59 p. : port.

1961
Sermons on the Last Things : Preached in the winter quarter of 1961 in Trinity Presbyterian Church, Montgomery, Alabama.  Montgomery, Ala. : Trinity Presbyterian Church, 1961.  84 p. : ill.

Contents:  Does the soul survive death?; What are they doing in heaven?; Is there such a place as purgatory?; Is hell real?; Will Christ return to earth in person?; What must occur before Christ comes again?; How will Christ return?; Will the dead literally be raised to life?; Will there be a Millennium?; Why is a final judgment necessary?; The New Heavens and the New Earth; What made that Friday good; Easter privileges.

1962
Sermons on the Apostles’ Creed : preached in the winter and spring quarters of 1962 in Trinity Presbyterian Church, Montgomery, Alabama.  Montgomery, Ala. : The Church, 1962.  110 p.; 1 port.

1963
Sermons on the Order of Salvation : preached mainly in the winter quarter of 1963 in Trinity Presbyterian Church, Montgomery, Alabama.  Montgomery, Ala. : Trinity Presbyterian Church, 1963.  106 p.; port.

1965
Holy Week and the Civil Rights Demonstrations at the Churches : A Sermon-Address.  [Montgomery, Ala. : Trinity Presbyterian Church, 1965.  1 v. (pages not numbered) ; 27 cm.

Sermons on the Covenants and on Romans Eight : preached in 1964 and 1965 in Trinity Presbyterian Church, Montgomery, Alabama  [Montgomery, Ala. : Trinity Presbyterian Church, 1965.  156 p.; port.; 23 cm.  Contents:  Holy Week and the Civil Rights Demonstrations at the churches.

1966
Sermons on the person and work of Christ : preached in 1966 in Trinity Presbyterian Church, Montgomery, Alabama.  [Montgomery, AL : Trinity Presbyterian Church, 1967.  140 p.; port.

1967
Sermons on the Person and Work of Christ. [Montgomery : Trinity Presbyterian Church, 1967. 140 p.; port.

1969
The Issues We Face .  Address recorded at the Atlanta rally of Presbyterian Men United, Atlanta, Ga., Dec. 6, 1969. Sound recording, 1 audio cassette, 53 minutes in length, mono.

1970
The Modern “Tongues” Movement (glossolalia).  [S.l. : s.n., 1970.  19 p.; 23 cm.

1977
“The Gordon H. Clark Case”. 1977?  17 leaves ; 28 cm. “A lecture delivered at Reformed Theological Seminary, 5422 Clinton Boulevard, Jackson, MS 39209, 1977.”  Typescript (mimeographed)

Marshall, James Williams; Robert Strong, editor, The Presbyterian Church in Alabama : a record of the growth of the Presbyterian Church from its beginning in 1811 in the eastern portion of Mississippi Territory to the centennial of the Synod of Alabama in 1936.  Montgomery, Ala. : Presbyterian Historical Society of Alabama, 1977.  xii, 493 p.; ill.; map; ports.; 24 cm.  [PCAHC]

Undated

The American Tradition is in Danger : A Sermon-Address.  [S.l. : s.n., 1962-1994?  1 v. (unpaged) ; 15 cm.

The Story of Man : Sermons preached in 1970 in Trinity Presbyterian Church, Montgomery, Alabama.  Montgomery, Ala. : Trinity Presbyterian Church, 1970-1975?  142 p.; port.

Critical Evaluation of the Proposed New Confession of Faith.  [Weaverville, NC: The Presbyterian Journal, 1970s.  20 p.; 28 cm.  [PCAHC]

Our Foreign Policy Blunders and Their Domestic Roots. [Montgomery, AL: Robert Strong], 1962. 20 p.; 15 cm. [PCAHC]

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Last year we wrote of the founding of the Presbyterian Ministers Fund on this day, January 11, in 1718. Rather than cover that ground again, and lacking some other significant Presbyterian event or person for this day, it seems good instead to turn to Leonard Van Horn’s commentary on the Westminster Shorter Catechism.

Rev. Van Horn was born in 1920, educated at Columbia Theological Seminary, and pastored churches in Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee and New Mexico. He also served as a professor at Reformed Theological Seminary. His work on the ruling elder remains in print, but his series on the Shorter Catechism has, regrettably, never been published. It was originally issued in the form of bulletin inserts, and the PCA Historical Center is pleased to have a complete set of these inserts.

STUDIES IN THE WESTMINSTER SHORTER CATECHISM
Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever. Scripture References: I Cor. 10:31. Psalm 73:24-26. John 17:22,24.

Questions:

1.    What is the meaning of the word “end” in this question?
The word means an aim, a purpose, an intention. It will be noted that the word “end” is qualified by the word “chief”. Thus it is noted that man will have other purposes in this life but his primary purpose should be to glorify God. This is in keeping with the purpose for which man was made. It is when we are alienated from God that we have the wrong end or purpose in view.

2.    What does the word “glorify” mean in this question?
Calvin tells us that the “glory of God is when we know what He is.” In its Scriptural sense, it is struggling to set forth a divine thing. We glorify Him when we do not seek our own glory but seek Him first in all things.

3.    How can we glorify God?
Augustine said, “Thou hast created us for Thyself, O God, and our heart is restless until it finds repose in Thee.” We glorify God by believing in Him, by confessing Him before men, by praising Him, by defending His truth, by showing the fruits of the Spirit in our lives, by worshiping Him.

4.    What rule should we remember in regard to glorifying God?
We should remember that every Christian is called of God to a life of service. We glorify God by using the abilities He has given us for Him, though we should remember that our service should be from the heart and not simply as a duty.

5.    Why is the word “glorify” placed before “enjoy” in the answer?
It is placed first because you must glorify Him before you can enjoy Him. If enjoyment was placed first you would be in danger of supposing that God exists for man instead of men for God. If a person would stress the enjoying of God over the glorifying of God there would be danger, of simply an emotional type of religion. The Scripture says, “In Thy presence is fulness of joy. . . .” (Ps. 16:11). But joy from God comes from being in a right relationship with God, the relationship being set within the confines of Scripture.

6.    What is a good Scripture to memorize to remind us of the lesson found in Question No. 1?
“As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: …” (Ps. 42:1,2a). This reminds us of the correct relationship for the Christian, looking unto Him. It is there we find our ability to glorify Him and the resulting joy.

THE PRIMARY CONCERN OF MAN
It is a fact to be much regretted that the average Christian who gives allegiance to the Westminster Standards is a Christian that many times leaves out the living of these Standards in the daily pursuits of life. It is good to believe, it is good to have a creed in which to believe. But there is much harm that can result from believing in a creed and not living it day by day. From such an existence we arrive at a low tone of spiritual living and the professing believer becomes cold, formal, without spiritual power in his life.

We should always recognize that the first lesson to be learned from our catechism is that our primary concern is to be of service to the Sovereign God. Our Westminster Shorter Catechism does not start with the salvation of man. It does not start with God’s promises to us. It starts with placing us in the right relationship with our Sovereign God. James Benjamin Green tells us that the answer to the first question of the Catechism asserts two things: “The duty of man, ‘to glorify God.’ The destiny of man, ‘to enjoy Him.’ ”

It is to be regretted that though we have inherited the principles of our forefathers, in that their Creed is still our Creed, so many times we have failed to inherit the desire to practice their way of living. Many people will attempt to excuse themselves here by stating that we live in a different age, that the temptations and speed of life today divert us from spiritual things. But no matter what excuses we might give, the Catechism instructs us right at the outset that our duty is to glorify God, such is our chief purpose in life. All of us need to note the valid words of J. C. Ryle in regard to our Christian living: “Where is the self-denial, the redemption of time, the absence of luxury and self-indulgence, the unmistakable separation from earthly things, the manifest air of being always about our Master’s business, the singleness of eye, the high tone of conversation, the patience, the humility that marked so many of our forerunners . . . ?”

May God help each of us to stop right now, read again the first question and answer of our Catechism, and pray to God that in the days to come our primary concern might be that we will live to His glory. It is not difficult for us to know the characteristics of such a life. The fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5 are plain enough.

The Shield and Sword, Inc.
Vol. 1 No. 3  January, 1961
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn

Words to Live By:
Given our comments in yesterday’s Words to Live By, it seemed quite appropriate today to touch on this first question from the Catechism. Dr. Van Horn’s summary statements, above, are particularly apt.

Note: Our Through the Scriptures and Through the Standards sections have now been replaced by RSS feeds which appear at the top of right-hand column.

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