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Archive | The Church

My New Life at RPTS

As a new teacher at Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary, I have been asked often as of late “How do you like it?”

My answer is simple.  “I’m having a blast!”  To be honest, that has been a big surprise to me.

Transitioning from pastoral ministry to an academic setting was not easy heart-wise.  Having just visited Indiana this past weekend, I was reminded again of how I miss greatly the congregation I left, the personal interactions with the people we love, and regularly ministering God’s Word to a dear flock of His people.  God’s heart, Christ’s blood, and the Spirit’s presence are with the local church in a particular way.  The man who is set apart to administer God’s care to the church has a very special assignment.

Truly feeling that way, to be honest I just did not think I could be as joyful about ministry coming to a seminary.  I knew I would enjoy being around the godly and talented faculty and staff at RPTS.  I looked forward to interaction with the students in and outside the classroom.  Yet I was unsure I would be able to enjoy fully this ministry context.

However, I have been simply overwhelmed with gratitude and astonishment […]

Foolish Preaching?

The preaching of the gospel is a profound aspect of Christian worship. Some see preaching merely as a teaching time. Some see it as a time for outreach.  Some see it as a time to justify paying the pastor!  But at the core of preaching is this- preaching is an act of worship.  Through preaching, fallen humanity is able to encounter the holy Triune God of the Bible in a powerful way.

How does the Bible view preaching? The Apostle Paul in I Corinthians says, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.“

To the non-Christian: Preaching is foolish.
To the Christian: Preaching is the power of God.

The Church in Old Testament Typology

We have been promoting happily David Murray’s book Jesus on Every Page, as it is such a clear presentation of how we can see Jesus throughout all of Old Testament literature as the Lord said we could (Luke 22:44; John 5:39).  Could it also be true that we can find “the church on every page” in the Old Testament, or at least the church on almost every page?

I believe so.

Of course this cuts against the grain of dispensational theology that grips much of the church today, which in itself is a sad irony as it leaves the church downplaying its very existence.  You see, one of the key tenets of dispensationalism is the sharp distinction made between the nation of Israel and the church.   This more than perhaps anything else is what distinguishes dispensational theology from covenant theology.  Though many systems of dispensationalism exist, every form of which I am aware sees God’s plan for Israel as different from that of the church in one fundamental way.  What is it?    Dispensationalists see the Old Testament prophecies regarding Israel as fundamentally describing the physical nation of the Jews rather than the church of the New Covenant.  Many dispensationalists would even go so far as to […]

Persecution: Bring It On?

It is not uncommon to hear Christians say something like “Maybe persecution would be good for the church in our culture.” Certainly, the church of Jesus Christ in the West has too-often strayed from Biblical truth in recent decades and centuries, in spite of enjoying great peace and freedom. Now, we see the judgment of God in our culture in various ways as a result. Some people are bracing for intense persecution of the church as a presumed certainty. Would it be good for the church today? God alone knows, and he will accomplish all his holy purpose.

A better question for us to ask is “What kind of attitude should we have towards persecution and the future of the church in the West?” Some Christians almost seem to have a “bring it on!” attitude because of the purification that has come in past ages through such suffering. The motive is not all wrong; people want to see Jesus glorified, and they are willing to die for it. There is also a desire for purity and holiness.  However, those desires must be shaped by the pure and holy word of God. So, what kind of attitude should we have toward persecution […]

Being with Jesus at the Evening Service

Years ago my wife and I sat down next to my seminary professor of New Testament, Dr. Renwick Wright, and his wife for an evening service.  Looking around the sanctuary, he expressed a bit of disappointment that not more people were there.  Then he said something that has always stayed with me.  “I always want to be at the evening service.  For that was when Jesus appeared to His disciples after the resurrection, and if the Lord chooses to show Himself again tonight by the Spirit I sure want to be here.”  An excellent teacher of the Scriptures, Dr. Wright was referring to John 20:19, which says, “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’”

Dr. Wright was emphasizing the importance of the evening service as being another time on the Lord’s Day for the church to experience her Savior. Sadly, the situation over two decades ago seems not to have changed much, as the evening service of the church often is dismally attended.  Though the above proof text alone […]

Why Are You Doing This?

The Lord led one college student to organize and lead a ministry of teaching English as a second language (ESL) as a ministry of Second Reformed Presbyterian Church here in Indianapolis this summer. As pastor, I have encouraged, supported, and prayed for this ministry, and have been blessed to see other saints take up the hands-on work.

Since we began about a month ago, God has brought twenty to thirty different students from Hispanic, Chinese, and West African backgrounds one or two times each week. They range from young children to grandparents and from those who know almost no English to those who are nearly fluent and simply want to meet more Americans. The work is hard and requires commitment and diligence, but wonderful relationships are being formed, and the Lord has opened many doors in a short period of time. The teachers and students sometimes even share meals together as a group and in one another’s homes, and for discussions of the nature of God and of the gospel.

The temporary sign in the picture was drawn together by some of the teenage boys in the congregation at the last hour to help guests find our location. It was only intended […]

Shady Interpretations

Why is it that two Holy-Spirit filled, Christ-loving, Bible-believing Christians can come to very different conclusions on the very same passage of Scripture? The same question applies to Christian denominations (and non-denominational churches) divided by differing teaching. Different doctrine results from differing interpretations of God’s Word. Such fractures among the faithful are frustrating; they run like ruptured veins through the body of church history and they continue to pain the church today. How can we come to collective clarity in our view of God’s Word?

Seven Phrases on the Ten Words

What’s THAT Have to Do With the Ten Commandments?

Have you ever had a conversation with a Christian about an ethical question where they said something to the effect of, “That’s a violation of the _insert number one through ten_  commandment.” And you responded with a “huh?!”

For the sake of example, here are some ethics-statements that Christians have said regarding ethics and their relationship to the Ten Commandments. You may have heard similar statements or have questions of your own :

Labor unions are violations of the Fifth Commandment (honor father and mother).
Angry outbursts are violations of the Sixth Commandment (against murder).
Going out for dinner on Sunday is a violation of the Fourth Commandment (Sabbath).
Playing state lotteries is a violation of the Eighth Commandment (against stealing).
Dressing immodestly is a violation of the Seventh Commandment (against adultery).
Singing uninspired worship songs violates the Second Commandment (no idols).
Birth control is a violation of the Sixth Commandment (against murder).

Again, the purpose of this article is not to attempt to answer the above questions or any ethics question that you may have. The purpose of this article is give you some principles to help you apply the Ten Commandments to some of the […]

The Not-So Lost Art of Pharisee Making

This week I followed a discussion that started off something like this: “New Presbyterian here. Anything I should know in your humble opinion?”  There were many answers given, some humorous, some ridiculous, some wonderful. Here’s a sampling of some of the answers. Remember, the question is, “I am a new Presbyterian; what should I know?

Bavinck.
The PCA and the PCUSA are not the same thing.
Babies are for baptizing.
The Federal Vision is bad.
The Westminster Standards and Three Forms of Unity complement each other very well.
We enjoy cigars- get smoking! Scotch helps too!
Psalms are for singing.
Grow a beard and say “covenant” a lot.
Buy a copy of the Westminster Standards NOW! (Free Presbyterian Edition) Carry it wherever you go.
Don’t neglect growth in holiness and love and compassion for others.

I enjoyed reading the answers that people gave. Many were obviously tongue-in-cheek and most of them were broad generalizations (except “Bavinck”) although attempting to be helpful. As I read through them I was reminded of two times in my life when questions were asked  related to the question “What should I do first?”