“Your Kingdom Come” – Our hope and Expectation
Thinking about a certain young person of the congregation who recently recited the entire First Catechism in only two settings gave me cause to encourage all of us to be so diligent. This piece is an adaptation of an introduction recently written for another member of the congregation who has labored incessantly to make these Standards available for his home country, see endnotes.
It is a folly in human nature to approach life as if we were the first to have lived. Generally, men count it as wisdom to learn from those living before us. To our own hurt, the church has not always understood the usefulness and abiding value of her historical confessions and creeds. So, of what value are we speaking and what dividends do they yield for the believer today?
Our confessions and creeds are carefully worded affirmations of generationally shared Christian beliefs. Beliefs which have been founded upon the Word of God. Beliefs written down for all the world to see, a belief bearing witness to the wonderful grace of God at work in history, an evidence of God’s covenant faithfulness from ancient times to the present. These are God’s work within us at a given point of time that then become a way of marking the foot prints of God across history, enabling us to take stock of God’s ways among us.
Beyond a testament to God’s work, it is worth noting that a church’s creeds serve the church in a variety of offices. Our creeds serve as instructors pointing us to the Bible to see Christ alone as our hope and salvation. They are historians calling us to accurately remember the great works of God in redeeming a people for His name’s sake. They are communicators with our people and particularly our youth since those who take the pains to acquire this knowledge find a language filled with rich biblical vocabulary to communicate the gospel. They are watchmen to inform us when the church strays or is threatened. They are evangelical soldiers which battle false teaching. They serve as apologists to a mocking and often jaded world. They are evangelists promoting gospel truth wherever they go. To us, they are friends sharpening friends. They are accountability partners from the past holding the church’s under-shepherds accountable to God’s word. From them the voice of a comforter points out the security of the gospel. While they are not the cause of our praise, they are leaders in our praise drawing confession of intelligent and instructed gratitude from our mouths to God our Savior.
The catechism is not a replacement for the Scripture, rather, it is a way into the length, and depth, and width, and height of Holy Scripture. These are wholesome words which accord with the doctrine of godliness serving as a Divine pedagogy and theology which has been forged on the anvil of time and truth, by tested and trusted Christians. It is a tool for the mind, an orderly means of categorizing truth and providing a mnemonical method perfectly suited to thinking minds, both young and old.
Among the great cloud of literary witnesses to Christ since the first century of the church, the Westminster Standards have come to take an honored place among the creeds of the Christian church. The Westminster Confession of Faith published in 1647 and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms published in 1648 are products of the Westminster Assembly of Divines meeting in London, England from 1643 to 1653. The assembly consisted of over 120 ministers of the gospel and from this body of men Biblical truth was distilled into doctrinal statements and teachable portions for doctors and babes alike. In a play upon words that remind us how easily a word or term can change from age to age, the Standards have joined the digital cloud as well. Thus, D.v., ensuring our Standards will easily pass on to yet another generation downstream.
The Westminster Standards have left an indelible mark on history and the souls shaped by the gospel of our great God.[i] The influence of the Westminster Standards over the last 370 years is demonstrated by the vast number of Biblically faithful churches worldwide adhering to the Assembly’s work. Benjamin Warfield comments, “It is honor enough for the Westminster Assembly that is has provided this multitude of voluntary adherents with a practicable platform of representative government on Scriptural lines, and a sober and sane directory of worship eminently spiritual in tone; and above all, with the culminating Reformed Confession of Faith, and a Catechism preeminent for the exactness of its definitions of faith and the faithfulness of its ethical precepts.”[ii]
However, the lasting value of the Westminster Standards is perhaps best attested to by what Warfield called, “sound presentations of the truth, not derived from extraneous sources.”[iii] In other words, the standards commend themselves because of their closeness and dependence upon God’s word. The resulting triumph is seen in, “the voluntary adhesion of multitudes of Christian men”[iv] acknowledging and submitting to this doctrinal and ecclesiastical expression of the Word of Christ.
My hope, and I believe it a reasonable expectation, is that by providing faithful and scholarly translations of The Westminster Confession of Faith, The Shorter Catechism, and The Larger Catechism that the labor of our own church’s diligent Pastor-Missionary-Author[vi] , will greatly further the work of Christ in his homeland. These labors, which were the product of his loving and painstaking attention to detail and skillful wording will yet be used by God to bless the church existing now and yet to be born. May these works draw together scores of believers and teachers by grounding them in the faith of Christ which was once and for all delivered to the saints.[v]
Greg Stiner ~ Shawnee, Kansas USA
[i] Is the Shorter Catechism Worthwhile? ; Selected Shorter Writings of Benjamin B. Warfield, Vol 1, p. 382.
[ii] The Westminster Assembly and Its Work; The Works of Benjamin B Warfield, Vol. 6, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI; p 72.
[v] Jude 1:3 “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3 NKJ).
[vi] This blog is adapted from a recent introduction written for Missionary-Pastor-Author Dr. Eliah Massey and his translation of the Westminster Standards into the Urdu language – Entitled “Our Firm Foundation.“
Masks! To Wear or Not to Wear? That is the Question!
Christians Recognize that Civil Authority has an Obligation to Protect Life (Rm 13:1-7)
Acceptance of citizenship, law and order, peacekeeping authority, and even speed limits and seat belt laws are all evidence that most citizens recognize the God ordained responsibility of government to protect life. Our government’s response to the current pandemic extends from this God given authority. Exactly how to go about that responsibility is a concern which many legitimately have in these times. Our federal government’s Center for Disease Control continues to make its case that Americans should wear face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
When attempting to prove or disprove that wearing a mask saves lives many simply rely on anecdotal evidence or subjective stories that highlight only the point of view expressed. Do you recall that when seat belt laws were enacted stories were used to “prove” wearing a seat belt caused the death of someone whose car stalled on the train tracks. While another story told of a person being ejected from the car because he did not wear a seat belt. Each experience or story may well be true, but they represent different circumstances and so cannot prove or disprove the case for seat belt laws which must finally rest on higher principles.
In conquering opposition to speed limits and seat belts it was eventually understood that some level of personal autonomy would necessarily be infringed upon, even if only as an inconvenience. Like seat belt laws and speed limits, mask mandates are lawfully imposed on a free society when authorities acting on our behalf, for our good, and on reasonable evidence, take action to protect the people they serve. Christians should recognize this principle from the Biblical accounts of Joseph, Moses, King David and Solomon, and others.
Christians May Lawfully Redress an Overreach of Civil Authority (Ac 5:29 & 1 Pe 2:13)
As it happens, in a fallen world even the best leaders can get it wrong. Knowing this, we here in the metro may look across the county lines of our state and be tempted to envy those counties whose leaders chose to reject the Governor’s mandate. So, can’t we correct what seems to be a governmental overreach, and if so, how? The ability to address and redress our government’s missteps and deeds is found among the precious principles of a free republic. How is this to be done? Through petitioning governmental entities such as state, county, or a local municipality a private citizen may present his case and ask that the current laws be changed. If this does not affect change, elected officials are accountable to the electorate and can be turned out of office by due process in an election, or by the more drastic means of recalls or legal indictments where evidence of maleficent action is seen.
What about just disobeying the government? For a God-fearing Christian attempting or promoting civil disobedience as a means of remedy or redress can only be morally justified when it is shown that the authority is requiring our disobedience to God. If choosing this route becomes necessary the greatest caution must be advised, counsel sought from the church, and a continued honoring of “governing authorities” in every other respect should be maintained. Disrespect for authority has far reaching personal consequences and publicly leads to further emboldened disobedience and eventually a breakdown of all authority. We see this in the other sad issue agitating our country at present.
How is the Church to Respond in Light of Pandemic Mandates? (John 18:36; 1 John 3:10)
First, by following Christ and not the influence of popular opinion. Second, we pray for our civil authorities and encourage those seeking to do good. Someone recently asked me, what is the church doing to protect our freedoms? The church has taken our case to highest court, the court of heaven itself and the very throne of God. Our access and ability to gain an audience with God was a costly endeavor that was paid for by the ultimate and infinite price of the blood of the Son of God. Please, never underestimate the means of prayer, by it God works powerfully. Perhaps if more citizens of earth earnestly used this means God might choose to relent and remove this blight on the world. Finally, submission to God in this providence is our course. The Lord Jesus does not teach us to rent or lease the church’s authority for political simony nor to wage campaigns for personal freedoms or conveniences in the name of the Almighty. If these mandates do not harm us physically, nor cause us to sin against God, we are called to patiently submit.
13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme,
14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.
15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.
16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.
17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. (1 Peter 2:13-17 ESV)
At this point in our local experience the mandates imposed by state and regional officials are only inconveniences in a fallen world. Practically speaking, the mask mandates are not difficult to manage. Really! In our region we have not yet been told, “Do not sing in church” nor to keep our preachers silent as in some extreme cases, e.g. in CA. The church has no authority from Christ to mandate or call for resistance to civil authority in matters which do not involve the Christian in disobedience to God. Thus, the Christian response to lawful authority is framed by a loving obedience to God that produces honor and respect to civil authority even when we might be personally inconvenienced. This love of God along with loving our fellow man are hallmarks of genuine Christians.
A Christian Conclusion of the Whole Matter (Eccl 12:13-14)
Christians who know God realize that wearing a mask in and of itself is neither right nor wrong. Like all the trees in the garden of Eden which Adam could eat of, they were all created good. However, as soon as God commanded Adam to not eat of one tree, a moral imperative was given to obey God. So, it is with our authorities and our masks, God has placed a moral imperative on us to obey for the Lord’s sake.
In my understanding of God’s word, despite all the anecdotal stories, despite the best science, despite the immense pressure of public opinion, or the personal dislike of being told what to do, for the Christian, the question about masks is ultimately decided on moral, Biblical, and theological grounds, and on these grounds Christ is our Rock of safety.
How do you prepare for the Lord’s Supper?
Listen to Instruction From God’s Word
When God descended on Mt. Sinai, He told the Israelites to take three days to prepare themselves for His arrival (Ex. 19:10). When Paul wrote the church at Corinth about partaking of the Lord’s Supper, he addressed the need to prepare ourselves for communion with the Lord (1 Cor 11:17–34). Our preparations will greatly facilitate our blessing at the Table.
But in giving this instruction, I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse. For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you. Therefore, when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper, for in your eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk. What! Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this I will not praise you.
For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.
Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.
So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, so that you will not come together for judgment. The remaining matters I will arrange when I come.
*All verses above are taken from New American Standard Bible.
Reflect on this Special Celebration and Your Local Church’s Practice
On the Lord’s Day of August 9, we eagerly anticipate the celebration of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper during the morning worship service.
We are not casual about this observance. Rather, we look upon this remembrance of our Lord’s death as a holy and precious experience! The Scripture promises rich blessing to those who approach it rightly and warns of spiritual harm to those who don’t.
Because of this instruction in God’s Word, and for the good of everyone concerned, our church asks that all who wish to participate in the receiving of the bread and the cup, first meet with our elders to make a profession of their personal faith in Jesus Christ, describe their relationship to a true branch of Christ’s Church, and discuss the meaning of this sacrament.
An informal interview can be arranged for the convenience of each person interested, please speak with an elder if you desire to partake with us. Please, also bear in mind that due to time constraints it may not be possible to arrange an interview the morning of the service.
In any case, we hope this day can be a great blessing for you, as you hear God’s Word preached, join in His praises, and witness this celebration which recalls the sacrificial death of our Lord Jesus Christ for His people.
May you experience God’s grace and love abundantly!
Several of you have observed Mr. Box Turtle skulking around the church building for some time now looking for a free meal. However, finding Mr. Box at the church door this morning was a nice surprise. If you are interested, watch the short video about it >>> The Sky, Mr. Box, Flowers, and Water Drops, Magnify God – You Can Too!
Wisely Discern and Differentiate
A man was treated unjustly by the very authority charged to keep him safe and as all the world now knows, he lost his life instead. The man I’m speaking of here is Jesus Christ. There were no after-action mobs protesting His death. No pillaging, looting, plundering, or burning government or private property. After watching Jesus breath His last the mob proudly beat their chests and went home (Luke 23:48). They thought that they had gotten rid of their problem by killing Jesus.
Fifty days later, the name of Jesus Christ was spreading through the world in such a powerful manner that mobs, Molotov cocktails and raging anger can never accomplish. That great and holy name has lasted and has become the Salvation of the world. Jesus Christ came into the world to save us from mayhem and hooliganism not to place His approval upon it. In His own day Jesus evaluated the human condition saying,
“For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. “For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke. 6:43-45)
Own the Problem
As citizens of this country we all must demand justice for Mr. Floyd of Minneapolis. At the same time, we must all own that angry mobs can never accomplish a true and civil justice. Christians must be on guard against those inciting crowds of people to commit further acts of violence or worse actually taking part with them in those acts. We must also be on guard over our own hearts as we all can too easily fall prey by watching the same viral video over and over again or listening to the incessant reiterations of the event by news media coverage working their audience into a mad frenzy of shame. Be aware that these are methods of anarchists and they tend to the subversion of the rule of law in a civil society and in this they do not differ from police abuse. This is not the way of peace and reconciliation.
Before you enter the crowd at the office or in the public square, before joining around your television with family and friends, recall that God tells us we must not follow a crowd to do evil (Exodus 23:2) not even in our hearts.
A Better Way
Follow instead the multitude of principles given to us by God in the Bible. Deescalate the tensions that exist by speaking and living in a manner meant to build up your neighbor by speaking the truth in love. Calculate the response to the words you are about to speak using the words of the old adage, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov. 15:1).
Affirm your underlying principles, like those found in Paul’s letter to Roman Christians.
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:16-21 ESV)
Point to God’s Lasting Justice
Offer the hope of the gospel to those who are dispirited by the recent actions concerning Mr. Floyd’s death. It was heart wrenching to see a man asking for air to breath. Why shouldn’t we be incensed to learn this man was denied his request? But let that indignation be quelled in sea of God’s grace by taking them to the cross of Christ. Tell them of the love of God in Christ toward a world that was filled with a raging enmity against the very One, the only One who could save them, even in the face of unparalleled hostility (Psalm 2). Let the world once again see both the brutality and obscenity of the cross as well as the beauty and wonder of the cross of Christ.
For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (1 Pet. 2:21-25 ESV)
Take the angry unruly hearts of our land to the cross of Christ to see the example of how God’s grace rules in a sin cursed world. Friends, I’d rather live in an imperfect society ruled by grace than in an imperfect world driven by anarchy.
The Midwest Presbytery is calling on her congregations to consider a day for prayer and fasting on Saturday April 4, 2020, for the purpose of seeking God’s help and mercy during this time of pestilence in our land.
“In Christian fasting, as an ordinance of God, the believer voluntarily abstains from food or some ordinary pleasure for a season for the purpose of seeking the will of God, strength for service, or deeper spirituality. It should be accompanied by meditation, self-examination, humiliation before God, confession of sin, repentance and renewed dedication to a life of obedience.”—Reformed Presbyterian Directory for Public Worship, 4.3
Blow the trumpet in Zion; consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people. Consecrate the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants. Joel 2:15-16a
As the passage above makes clear, there are none too young, nor none too old, to participate in a fast. And therefore we are calling on the congregations of Midwest Presbytery to set aside Saturday April 4, 2020, as a solemn day of fasting and prayer. Fasting is not simply abstaining from food for a time, but rather it is abstaining from a legitimate physical engagement for the purpose of seeking God in a more earnest and special way. Therefore, fasting and prayer are always to go together.
While there are many good reasons and occasions to fast and pray, we are asking that Saturday be specifically set aside for the purpose of crying out to God for help and mercy during this time of disease in our land.
Here is a suggested guide for praying as you fast …
Come, let us return to the LORD; for He has torn us, that He may heal us; He has struck us down, and He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live before Him —Hosea 6:1-2
Glorify & Exalt God
Confess & Acknowledge Sins
Plead for God’s Mercy & Grace in Christ
Thank Him for His Many Blessings to Us
PRAYER AND FASTING QUOTES
“Fasting possesses great power. If practiced with the right intention, it makes one a friend of God.” Tertullian (c. 160 – c. 220 AD)
“As bodily food fattens the body, so fasting strengthens the soul. Imparting it an easy flight, it makes it able to ascend on high, to contemplate lofty things, and to put the heavenly higher than the pleasant and pleasurable things of life.” John Chrysostom (c. 349–407)
“Fasting cleanses the soul, raises the mind, subjects one’s flesh to the spirit, renders the heart contrite and humble, scatters the clouds of concupiscence, quenches the fire of lust, and kindles the true light of chastity. Enter again into yourself.” Augustine (354–430)
“Fasting and prayer are proper means for the bringing down of Satan’s power against us, and the fetching in of divine power to our assistance. Fasting is of use to put an edge upon prayer; it is an evidence and instance of humiliation which is necessary in prayer, and is a means of mortifying some corrupt habits, and of disposing the body to serve the soul in prayer. When the devil’s interest in the soul is confirmed by the temper and constitution of the body, fasting must be joined with prayer, to keep under the body.” Matthew Henry
“The pleasures of this life and the desires for other things— these are not evil in themselves. These are not vices. These are gifts of God. They are your basic meat and potatoes and coffee and gardening and reading and decorating and traveling and investing and TV-watching and Internet-surfing and shopping and exercising and collecting and talking. And all of them can become deadly substitutes for God. ‘Desires for other things’— there’s the enemy. And the only weapon that will triumph is a deeper hunger for God. The weakness of our hunger for God is not because he is unsavory, but because we keep ourselves stuffed with “other things.” Perhaps, then, the denial of our stomach’s appetite for food might express, or even increase, our soul’s appetite for God.” John Piper
 And yet we fully recognize that some may not be able to participate at all, or only in a limited way, because of health concerns or some other legitimate reason. If there is a concern at all that a food fast would not be wise for you, please either consult with your doctor before or feel free to fast in another way that is more appropriate for you and/or your family.
Building Jesus’ Church by Confessing Christ
In Matthew 16:18 Jesus said, “I will build My church” and the last 2000 years of history clearly demonstrate Jesus’ powerful resolve and ability to build His church. The context of Jesus’ statement in Matthew 16 indicates that the church is built upon the rock of Christ and that Peter is a stone set in that grand structure which Jesus here possessively calls, “My church.”
When writing in his 1st Epistle, Peter used this same metaphor of building stones to describe our relationship with Christ and to each other, saying,
“Coming to Him [that is to Jesus] as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.” (1Pe 2:4-6)
Both the Matthew 16 and 1 Peter 2 passages point to Christ as the Rock or chief cornerstone, while we are stones built on Christ. It is a wonderful privilege of God’s amazing grace to be placed by the Master Builder into His spiritual house. So, how do we recognize if someone is a part of God’s spiritual house?
Look again at Jesus in Matthew 16 giving us an example to follow. There Jesus pointed to Peter’s outward confession of his inward faith. A faith given by the Lord (Mat 16:17) and outwardly professed was the criteria for identifying Peter as a living stone. Peter was a stone that Jesus would use to build His church and his confession was simple, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mat. 16:16). For some it may help to recall here that Jesus did not require Peter to be re-baptized upon profession of his faith, neither do we. The baptism of our covenant children proceeds on the grounds of obedience to Jesus’ command in Matthew 28:19 and the example and instruction of Peter in Acts 2:38, 39 and the analogy of faith throughout the whole of Scripture.
Our own profession of faith in Christ functions in the same way whether we are the children of believers or not. Inwardly saving faith unites us to Christ, outwardly our profession of faith identifies us as appropriate building material for Jesus’ church. If we have been baptized as children, we need not do so again. If we have never been baptized and wish to confess Christ now, we must follow the Lord’s command (Mt 28:19). But either way, it is neither right nor safe to build Jesus’ church with those who do not credibly confess to Jesus, His church, and the world, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world” (Jn. 11:27). Solo Christo!
 Communicant Membership is built upon a credible, believable, and trustworthy profession of faith in Christ. Our church’s constitution tells us our profession of faith must be credible (RPCNA Directory for Church Government, 1.1).
6835 Pflumm Road
Shawnee, KS 66216
Email: [email protected]
Sabbath School. . . . . . . . . .9:45 AM
Morning Worship. . . . . . . . 11:00 AM
Evening Worship. . . . . . . . .6:00 PM
Wed. Prayer Mtg . . . . . . . . 7:00 PM