January 2007

By what authority does a minister of the Gospel come? To what extent does his authority, in Christ, extend?

The full and free and unrestricted power to take possession of this world in the name of Christ, to the exclusion of any other form of faith and worship, is what Christianity demands: with less than this it cannot be satisfied…The ministers of the Gospel claim it as a right to go into every nation, however fenced around and guarded from intrusion, and to demand an entrance in the name of Him who sent them, even although the magistrate should bid them depart from his coasts. Further still, the messengers of the Cross arrogate to themselves the title to enter into every human dwelling where is a sinner is to be found,- seeking admittance in the name of the Saviour of sinners, that they may negotiate with the inhabitant in behalf of their master, however sternly the door may be closed against them by jealousy of their errand, or hatred of their cause.
-James Bannerman, The Church of Christ, volume 1, page 141

Recently a friend of mine asked what the Blue Banner stood for. Here is a two paragraph answer that is worth reading.

Also check out Wikipedia for a starting point if you want to learn more about Presbyterian history. I would begin with a search on the RPCNA. Pay special attention to the history section. From there do a Covenanter search. You should also read on the Bishop’s Wars for a better understanding of what all of the fighting was about. (Remember Wiki is only a starting point, make sure not to use it for serious research since any person can have access to writing on it.)

There are also a number of books that are worth reading:

  • Fair Sunshine by Jock Purves
  • Our Covenant Heritage by AN Moore
  • Scot’s Worthies by John Howie
  • The Scottish Covenanters by JG Vos

Make sure to read the first two parts of Glasgow’s History of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in America for some really great information. He discusses the history of the Covenanters as well as the formation of the ARP in America.

For those of us in the center of Dutch Reformed society I would recommend The Scottish Covenanters by JG Vos. His father was Christian Reformed theologian, Geerhardus Vos who was president of Calvin Seminary in their glory days. He left Calvin to teach at Princeton and JG was ‘converted’ there to the RPCNA.

Feel free to add links to other places of interest concerning the Covenanters to the comments section.

Questions and Answers on the Shorter Catechism by John Brown of Haddington has just been republished by Reformation Heritage Books. John Brown was an Associate Presbyterian in Scotland and brings much insight into the Word of God through this style of ‘catechising on the catechism’. This book has not been republished since 1846.

This book will prove to be extremely valuable to pastors, teachers, and all those who want to know the Scriptures better, the Catechism better, and Christ better. Each answer in this book is heavily supported by Scripture. Following the ‘proof-texts’ will prove to be a valuable Bible study in itself.

If therefore the Lord leads us in difficult ways, and brings us in a situation where we must lose our life for the truth’s sake, may we then not love our life and deem it precious, but offer it willingly to the Lord as a sacrifice. Paul said, “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand” (2 Tim. 4:6). There is no more glorious death imaginable than to die as a martyr for Christ. Oh, how blessed is he who may thus use Christ as Priest, and who himself may be a spiritual priest! (I: 560).

How serious do we take our high calling of being a follower of Christ? Do we cultivate that relationship with Him or do we find contentment in the fact that now I am a believer I can go on ‘doing my thing’. I believe that there is a sad form of antinomianism in the reformed churches today that wants to replace our battle cry of ‘All things done to God’s glory and enjoyment’ with a spirit of ‘do these things really matter’?

I answer with this: If things matter to the Lord Jesus Christ, they should matter to us. All Scripture is given for doctrine, etc. If my main concern with my relationship to my wife is to keep the legal status of married, I would not have to cultivate much in that relationship. If my main desire is to love her, to honor her, to respect her, to please her, to care for her, to grow deeper in love with her- then I have a lot of daily labor as I cultivate that type of relationship.

If I want to maintain my legal status with the Lord Jesus Christ I can do those lowest common denominator things. If I want to fall deeply in love with the Lord Jesus Christ and esteem his smiles higher than the smiles of men and esteem his frowns higher than the frowns of men; than I have some work to do.

Heart-work is hard work indeed. To shuffle over religious duties with a loose and careless spirit, will cost no great difficulties; but to set yourself before the Lord, and to tie up your loose and vain thoughts to a constant and serious attendance upon him: this will cost you something. To attain ease and dexterity of language in prayer and to be able to put your meaning into appropriate and fitting expressions is easy; but to get your heart broken for sin while you are actually confessing it; melted with free grace even while you are blessing God for it; to be really ashamed and humbled through the awareness of God’s infinite holiness, and to keep your heart in this state not only in, but after these duties, will surely cost you some groans and travailing pain of soul. –John Flavel

I am hoping to start a monthly book study at my house on Sunday nights following evening worship. I would like to go through the Puritan Paperbacks, beginning with Christian Love by Hugh Binning. I will be submitting a proposal to session, and am wondering if this is something that people would be interested in. It will only be once a month and we will cover one or two chapters per month. I would be happy to provide the book to anyone who cannot afford it.

Is this something that people would be interested in? All are welcome as long as there is a commitment to reading the material and interacting with it. Children are also welcome, since the church is a covenant community, not just a community of adult believers.

Well folks, it seems as though they found the still in the cellar. Just kidding! I will be back next week.

  • Please pray for me as I preach at Rose Point Reformed Presbyterian Church this coming Lord’s Day
  • Pray that the semester gets off to a good start, I have 19 credits, plus my job.
  • Pray that my Dutch Reformed Ecclesiology professor sees the superiority of the Westminster over the Three Forms of Unity.

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