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Archive | The Church

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?

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?”

Defining Corporate Worship

From a recent class on worship, we hammered out a brief, Biblical, working definition of what a local congregation should be pursuing as it worships the Lord as His holy temple here on the earth.  I simply offer it below with no comment save one.  The Bible makes it abundantly clear that when people worship the Triune God, their behavior toward others will become more Christlike.  Otherwise, they are not truly worshiping.

Corporate Worship is the Church’s 

Reverent & Obedient Service to God,

as Regulated by His Word,

in the Love of the Father,

through the Mediation of the Son,

by the Indwelling Power of the Spirit,

on the Lord’s Day and Other Duly Appointed Times,

Where We are Strengthened by God

to Love the Brethren,

Evangelize the Nations,

and Engage the Needy

in Preparation for the Consummation of the Kingdom.

A GenRef Podcast: Interview with Dennis Prutow

Dr. Dennis Prutow is the Professor of Homiletics and Pastoral Theology at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary (RPTS) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  A former Army chaplain, seasoned pastor, and author, Denny’s life and ministry was celebrated recently at an RPTS dinner in his honor, as he is set to retire at the end of this academic year.  As I witnessed this wonderful evening of stories from former students and remembrances by family members, and have also recently read with great profit his new book entitled Public Worship 101, I thought it would be fun for Austin and I to interview him.  Indeed, we enjoyed the following conversation with Denny, and trust you will as well.

MP3 Download

For Whom The Bell Toils . . .

Rob Bell is back, and the critiques of his latest work are coming in.  I’ve not yet had the opportunity to read What We Talk About When We Talk About God, but I’m starting to peruse the reviews.  Having read and taught concerning his previous work, I know that Bell’s claims about Christianity must be taken seriously and answered seriously.  It is precisely that fact which causes me to cringe a bit regarding the reviews of his most recent work.  So far, they seem to follow the typical pattern of analysis and refutation, which is well and good.  But, similar to the last batch of critiques, they contain an element which subtly but substantially undermines the otherwise helpful work within them.