February 2007


I have been spending time in two very important books on Presbyterian church government. The first is Jus Divinum Regiminus Ecclesiastici which was written in 1646. The second is Assertion of the Government of the Church of Scotland, In the Points of Ruling Elders, And of the Authority of Presbyteries and Synods by George Gillespie. This one was written in 1644. The Gillespie work is a great read for those interested in reading on church government, but do not have a lot of time to devote to the study. Each chapter is very short and to the point. Below is one chapter which is illustrative of the length and the spiritual depth of the book. Thank you to my friend Shawn Anderson who recommended it to me. Shawn just spent over one year studying this issue in depth. He will have a bibliography available for us all soon.

We have another reason to add, and it is borrowed from lawless necessity; for without a subordination among ecclesiastical courts, and the authority of the higher above the inferior, it were utterly impossible to preserve unity, or to make an end of controversy {60:A} in a nation. A particular congregation might happily end questions and controversies betwixt the members thereof, and so keep unity within itself (and not so neither, if the one half of the congregation be against the other), but how shall controversies betwixt several congregations be determined if both of them be independent? how shall plurality of religions be avoided? how shall an apostatizing congregation be amended?
It is answered, (1.) If a particular congregation neglect their duty, or do wrong to another, the civil sword may proceed against them to make them do their duty. (2.) A particular congregation ought, in difficult cases, to consult with her sister churches; for so much reason dictates, that in difficult cases, counsels should be taken of a greater number. (3.) Sister churches, when they see a particular congregation doing amiss, out of that relation which they have to her, being all in the same body, under the same head, may, and ought to admonish her, and in case of general apostasy, they may withdraw that communion from her which they hold with the true churches of Christ.
But these answer are not satisfactory. The first of them agreeth not to all times; for in times of persecution the church hath not the help of the civil sword: a persecuting magistrate will be glad to see either division or apostasy in a congregation; but so it is, that Christ hath provided a remedy, both for all the evils and diseases of his church, and at all times. The church (as was said before) is a republic, and hath her laws, courts, and spiritual censures within herself, whether there be a Christian magistrate or not.
The second answer leaveth the rectifying of an erring congregation to the uncertainty of their own discretion, in seeking counsel from a greater number. And, moreover, if this be a dictate of reason, to ask counsel of a greater number when the counsel of a few cannot resolve us, then reason, being ever like itself, will dictate so much to a congregation, that they ought to submit to the authority of a greater number when their own authority is not sufficient to end a controversy among them.
To the third answer we say, That every private Christian may and ought to withdraw himself from the fellowship and communion, either of one man or of a whole congregation, in the case of general apostasy. {60:B} And shall an apostatizing congregation be suffered to run to hell rather than any other remedy should be used beside that (commonly ineffectual) remedy which any private Christian may use? God forbid.
What I have said of congregations I say also of classical presbyteries: How shall sentence be given betwixt two presbyteries at variance? How shall a divided presbytery be reunited in itself? How shall an heretical presbytery be reclaimed? How shall a negligent presbytery be made to do their duty? How shall a despised presbytery have their wounded authority healed again? In these and such like contingent cases, what remedy can be had beside the authority of synods?

Five years ago today Lydia and I were married at the Chapel of Reformed Bible College. We sang Psalms, read Scripture, and were married according to the Reformation form written by Peter Detanus. Reformed Christians have been using this form for nearly 500 years. It was a blessed event in which the glories of Jesus Christ were proclaimed. We thank Him for 5 years and pray that the Lord would grant us many more.
In the past five years the Lord has blessed us in many ways. The greatest of which being Anna Grace and Owen Justice. We look forward to our new baby as well. The Lord is gracious and kind unto those that love His name.

Here is the prayer that was prayed as we were married before God:

Almighty God, Thou who dost manifest Thy goodness and wisdom in all Thy ordinances, and from the beginning hast said that it is not good that man be alone and therefore hast created him a helpmeet to be with him, and ordained that they who were two should be one, and who dost also punish all impurity; we pray Thee, since Thou hast called and united these two persons in the holy state of marriage that Thou wilt give them Thy Holy Spirit, so that they in true love and firm faith may live holily according to Thy divine will and resist all evil. Wilt Thou also bless them as Thou hast blessed the believing fathers, Thy friends and faithful servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; in order that they, as coheirs of the covenant which Thou hast established with these fathers, may bring up their children which Thou wilt be pleased to give them, in the fear of the Lord, to the honor of Thy holy name, to the edification of the Thy Church and to the extension of the holy gospel. Hear us, Father of all mercy, for the sake of Jesus Christ, Thy beloved Son, our Lord, in whose name we conclude our prayer.

Members and Friends of the Associate Reformed Church of Grand Rapids : we have a meeting with delegates from the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America to discuss joining this historic denomination. Please remember to come and to have questions in hand.

The sign reads:

Reformed Presbyterian Church (Paxtang). In 1721, near this site, America’s first Reformed Presbyterian Church was organized of believers who had suffered in Scotland and Ireland “for Christ’s crown and covenant.”

Also, the first presbytery of the Church was formed here in 1774.

200 years later at Paxtang, reformed presbyterians gathered to reaffirm his kingship.

The Puritans brought many great things to Christian culture. It seems as though many have wrong ideas of who the Puritans were. I would recommend the book Worldly Saints by Leland Ryken for anyone who would like to learn more about the Puritan movement. The book gives many proofs that expose the false ideas of who the Puritans were. It is also very readable and edifying.

Upon hearing that I attend Puritan Seminary, I had one person ask me if we kill witches there. Wow!

Here are a few other false ideas of who the Puritans were:

  • A Puritan is a person who pours righteous indignation into the wrong things. -GK Chesterton.
  • A Puritan through Life’s sweet garden goes to pluck the thorn and cast away the rose. -Kenneth Hare
  • The Puritan hates bear-bating, not because it gave pain to the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the spectators. -Thomas Macauley
  • To the Puritan all things are impure. -DH Lawrence

They (the elders) must particularly give heed to the walk of each member. There must be careful supervision as to how one conducts himself at home; that is, whether there is love and harmony and whether each member in his particular position of the household conducts himself properly towards others (II: 146).

Grand Rapids Press ran a religion section article on Puritan Seminary today. It is actually quite well done. Charles Honey is the religion editor and from what I hear, he is a member of Fountain Street Church.

Maybe some mainstream media can keep their biases to themselves. Of course, we all know that there is no neutrality.

Right Here.

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