The heart cannot exalt in what the mind rejects. And where the foundations are destroyed, the righteous are helpless.
It is grievous how a diet of drivel will destroy a soul. Then covenant children fall easy prey to the carnal deceptions of Satan. But long and deep drinks from the wells of salvation nourish the soul, stir the affections, and steel the will in confidence around newfound conviction. This appears to be what happened in many young people on the Theological Foundations For Youth (TFY) 2011 Team (pictured).
I'm just home from a two-hour breakfast with a student leader who took long, thirsty slurps of truth at the TFY program in Pittsburgh, Penn. My own heart was stirred as this young man (who was sent into this adventure by our session) spoke of “understanding the whys” of the Christian life and seeing the church as a “witnessing institution.”
In this theological boot camp teenagers dug hard into seminary level material for their first week. They plunged into St. Augustine’s Confessions and carefully scoured J. Gresham Machen’s Christianity And Liberalism. They sat for many hours under the instruction of pastors and seminary professors. They discussed how the regulative principle of worship is the logical extension of Sola Scriptura and wrestled with the implications of the mediatorial kingship of Jesus Christ.
But TFY isn’t only about propositional truth. This ministry is dedicated to “equipping young people for a life of ministry to Christ in the RP church by providing … practical ministry experiences and an increased awareness of opportunities to serve Christ within the RPCNA.” This meant the students had an active itinerary in local congregations their second week laboring in diaconal work and vacation bible schools. They visited several RPCNA institutions where communities of people are actively serving Jesus Christ. They experienced the entire adventure together , and are now part of a growing community of TFY alumni.
Jesus commended such an integrated approach: “Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matt. 7:24). I'm reminded of my pastor's story of returning from his Ph.D. studies in Scotland in the 1950s to to engage in intercessory prayer (in Ken Smith's living room) and intentional Gospel endeavors alongside Leroy Eims and Bill Bright. Though always imperfect, such labors will bear eternal fruit because "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Heb. 13:8). I look forward to seeing how the Lord will use this present generation of students whose hearts are built firmly and soundly on the Rock.