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The Assembly’s Shorter Catechism

In Catechesis, Preaching, Shorter Catechism, Westminster Shorter Catechism, Westminster Standards on 17/10/2012 at 11:25

The following article, though written from the perspective of a concern within Congregational churches in the early 19th century, has much that is applicable for us today.  One key point is made in the statement that “Doctrinal  standards give stability, and secure uniformity of sentiment and discipline.” Dr. John Leith made this same point, though more extensively, some years ago in his Warfield Lecture, “Reformed Preaching Today.” Among other points, Leith stressed that the recovery of great preaching requires a well-educated congregation that can track with the pastor’s sermons:

 The recovery of great preaching calls for the revival of the Christian community as a disciplined, knowledgeable, worshiping community of people. The recovery of preaching and the recovery of the community will have to take place together, because there can be no recovery of a vital Christian community, well informed, apart from the recovery of great preaching. And on the other hand, a great congregation makes a great preacher.

And catechesis is the indisputable foundation of a great congregation!

The Assembly’s Shorter Catechism

[The Charleston Observer, 10:29 (16 July 1836): 113.]

            In this age of change and boasted improvement, we have witnessed with regret, the increasing disposition of Christians to depart from ancient standards and formularies of doctrines. How far the love of novelty has influence in producing this state of things, we are not prepared to say. The fact is that innovations and changes are easily effected, and the old paths are forsaken; often, seemly because they are old and have been trodden by men of other ages, and new ones are chosen, seemingly because they are new and without examination, whether they will conduct safely or not.

            Perhaps in no portion of the Christian church has the change been greater, than in the congregational churches of Connecticut; ancient standards of doctrine in these churches, have been suffered to pass away, not by a public and formal objection, but by silent neglect on the part of individual churches in order to accommodate and receive to their communion such as would dissent from doctrines contained in their old standards. To this as one cause silently operating, may be traced as we believe the gradual decrease of the congregational churches in Connecticut, and the increase of other denominations. Doctrinal standards give stability, and secure uniformity of sentiment and discipline, and then adhered in the denominations embracing them, they serve to strengthen and increase that denomination but when such standards are trodden down or thrown aside, the denomination is changed in its distinctive character, notwithstanding the name should be still retained. Read the rest of this entry »

Certain Things Essential

In Christian Life, The Evangelical Student on 08/10/2011 at 23:07

THE SCRIPTURAL METHOD OF BIBLE STUDY
by Professor O. T. Allis, Ph.D.

[The Evangelical Student 1.2 (October 1926): 3-6]

THERE are certain things essential to the truly scriptural study of the Bible which need to be emphasized today in view of the insistent claims which are so often made by the advocates of the so-called “modern” or “critical” method of Bible study.

The first of these is the unity and harmony of the Bible. This characteristic has impressed believing scholars in all ages as a signal proof of its divine origin. The fact that so many different writers, so widely separated in time, wrote a collection of many books which are in the truest sense one book, the Bible, is a strong evidence of its unique inspiration. Read the rest of this entry »

God’s Unfailing Guidance

In Christian Life, Harold Samuel Laird on 25/09/2011 at 13:17

THE PROMISE OF
SUPERNATURAL GUIDANCE

Rev. Harold S. Laird, D.D.

[The Independent Board Bulletin 7.3 (March 1941): 3-4.]

1 will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: 1 will guide thee with mine eye.” (Psalm 32:8.)

The thirty-second Psalm describes two methods of supernatural guidance. Both methods, of course, are employed only on behalf of those who are ordained of God unto eternal life.

The first is that employed with those of His children who have a desire to know and to do His will. To them, and to them alone God speaks when He says, “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.” The second method is that used with those who are self-willed, stubborn, and wayward. It is of this group that He speaks when He says, “Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.” Thus God does guide many, in order that, in spite of their self-willed waywardness, they may at last be brought unto Himself. Read the rest of this entry »

Blessed Is That Man

In Christian Life, Harold Samuel Laird on 23/09/2011 at 17:13

MAKING THE LORD OUR TRUST

Rev. Dr. Harold Samuel Laird

[The Independent Board Bulletin 7.6 (June-July 1941): 3-4.]

Blessed is that man that maketh the Lord his trust.Psalm 40:4.

How many of us can honestly say “Amen” to the great truth set forth in this verse! We have tasted of the blessedness promised those who honestly make the Lord their trust. This blessedness is to many of us the more pronounced because it is in contrast to the anxiety and fear experienced before we learned to make Him our trust, and while we were making someone else or something else our trust.

It is quite possible that many have not yet made the Lord their trust simply because it is not clear to them just what this means. This word “trust” is the characteristic Old Testament word for the New Testament words “faith” and “belief,” being found more than one hundred and fifty times in our English Bibles, and many more times in its Hebrew forms throughout the Old Testament. A careful study of these Hebrew forms of the word “trust” will disclose that in their literal sense there are three which cover the entire period of the soul’s experience—past, present, and future. Read the rest of this entry »

In Nothing Be Anxious

In Christian Life, Harold Samuel Laird on 23/09/2011 at 17:04

There is no better way to introduce the author of the next several articles than to reproduce this memorial which was spread upon the Minutes of Susquehanna Valley Presbytery (PCA). In my work here at the PCA Historical Center, every once in a long while I hear certain men spoken of with the greatest of respect. Harold S. Laird was one such man.

MEMORIAL MINUTE FOR HAROLD SAMUEL LAIRD
[8 August 1891 – 25 August 1987]
Harold Samuel Laird was born on August 8, 1891, in New Castle, Pa. His father was a faithful Presbyterian pastor who raised him in the nurture of the Lord. Harold Laird was converted at a young age and walked closely with his Lord ever afterward. Upon graduation from Lafayette College and Princeton Theological Seminary he was ordained to the Gospel Ministry and held six successful pastorates.
Harold Laird was an outstanding preacher of the Gospel, a caring pastor, a contender for the faith, and one who was vitally interested in world missions. He had a leading role in the events which led to the formation of one source of the PCA. He was a founding member of the Board of Directors of Westminster Theological Seminary, the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions, and Faith Theological Seminary. He was willing to suffer for his convictions even to the point of being suspended from the ministry of the PCUSA and being removed as pastor of one of the most prestigeous churches of Wilmington, Delaware. Wheaton College honored him with a Doctor of Divinity degree and he was elected as Moderator of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod. He also served on the Board of the Quarryville Presbyterian Home.
Dr. Laird was a man who walked with God. All who heard him pray came into the presence of God. His life verse was Matthew 6:33 and his godly spirit evidenced that he practiced it. He was completely content in the providence of God in his life. Harold Laird ran his race well and entered into glory on August 25, 1987.

THE CURE FOR ANXIETY

Rev. Harold S. Laird, D.D.

[The Independent Board Bulletin 7.4 (April 1941): 3-4.]

In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.”(Philippians 4:6, 7 American Standard Version.) Read the rest of this entry »

Wrapped in Prayer

In Christian Life, The Presbyterian on 16/09/2011 at 16:38

Prayer and Care for Young Converts

by the Rev. Samuel G. Craig

[The Presbyterian 99.44 (31 October 1929): 3-4.]

THERE should be much intercessory prayer, or prayer for others. Those who are Christians should pray for all classes and conditions of men. They should pray for the heathen, that they may be evangelized; for the wicked and criminal, that they may be led to turn from the evil of their ways; for the unconverted, that they may be turned to know and accept Christ as their Saviour; for the sick, that they may have the healing grace of God; for the sorrowing, that they may be comforted; for the aged, that they may have the sense of God’s presence; for the children and the young people, that they may become the true children of God. Read the rest of this entry »

This Great Body of Divine Truth

In Christian Life, The Presbyterian on 16/09/2011 at 16:31

The Christian’s Need of the Old Testament

By Rev. John T. Reeve, D.D.

[The Presbyterian 99.44 (31 October 1929): 8-10.]

Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.”—John 5: 39.

“SEARCH the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye O have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5: 39). There is another verse that should be associated with this, recorded in Luke 24: 27—”And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” These words occur in the conversation between our Lord Jesus and the two disciples on the way to Emmaus on the first Easter afternoon. They were troubled about his death, for they had thought “It had been He which should have redeemed Israel.” But now he was dead and their hopes were all dashed to the ground. You remember how he chided them: “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken,” asking them, “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into his glory?” Then it says, “And beginning at Moses and the Prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” Read the rest of this entry »

“All At Sea”

In Call to the Ministry, Christian Life, The Presbyterian on 13/09/2011 at 16:02

Here’s a great sermon illustration, free for the taking.

WITHOUT POSITION
by C. Laing Herald, Ph.D.
[The Presbyterian 98.10 (8 March 1928): 6-7.]

“Without position” is a nautical term ; it savors of the sea. Years ago, if one sailed the seas on a sailing ship, or wind-jammer, as such vessels were rudely called, one would have become familiar, more or less, with this term. Two vessels at sea, while passing each other within signaling distance, always exchanged the courtesies of the sea by giving their respective nautical positions. Each ship ran her colors to the masthead, thus displaying her nationality; then a board, painted black, was lashed to the shrouds of the mizzen rigging; and on this board was written in large letters, with chalk, the latitude and the longitude each captain thought his ship was in, according to his latest observations. In this way, for the sake of safety, the two captains compared positions. Sometimes, however, especially after a period of heavy or foggy weather, the words written on the board were, “without position.” In other words, the captain of the ship who wrote these words admitted that he did not know where his ship was nautically; that he was really without position; having failed to obtain observations of sun, or the moon, or the stars, so that he might learn from them his latitude and longitude, and being in doubt as to the accuracy of his “dead reckoning,” he was all “at sea” as to his position. Therefore, the words “without position” are significant.  

The science of navigating consists in the knowledge necessary to conduct a ship safely across the ocean, enabling the mariner to determine, from the position of the celestial bodies, with a sufficient degree of accuracy, the position of his vessel at any given time. And while navigation is a science to itself, yet, in a practical sense, it must, of course, be supplemented by seamanship. Read the rest of this entry »

Van Horn’s study on Pride

In Devotionals, Reformed Theological Seminary on 30/05/2011 at 15:42

In processing a collection recently at the PCA Historical Center, I came across the following devotional by the Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn. He was instrumental in the organization of Reformed Theological Seminary and he was later one of the founding fathers of the PCA. The following was formatted as a bulletin insert; we have a set of his similarly formatted work on the Westminster Shorter Catechism, but this series was one I had not seen before.

To God’s Glory: A Devotional Study of the Reformed Faith for Theological Students

The Subject : Pride.
The Bible Verses to Read : Isa. 42.8; 48:11; Jer. 9:23-24; Mark 7:21; Matt. 18:4; I Cor. 4:10; I Tim. 6:20-21.

Through the years I have learned I will be used by God to the extent I make I Cor. 4:10 operative in my life : “We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honorable, but we are despised.”  Paul knew the secret of the combination of humility and love and was mightily used by God.

The sin of pride is especially prevalent among young ministers. It is so easy to see oneself standing in the pulpit in the unique status the ministry occupies in the eyes of those present. The position could lead to self-importance, arrogance and deceit.

What is pride? In essence, pride amounts to a declaration of independence of God. It rests upon a false assumption, that of believing I can be something and do something apart from God. It is a fearful thing for it seeks to contend with God.

As a young minister I found myself constantly fighting this temptation. I do not mean to infer I never have to fight it now! But it was a great problem at that time. A person would praise me for a sermon. I would bring forth a thought in the midst of the verbal interchange in which ministers are constantly engaged and I would be praised for it. The glow of pride would well up within me.

It is the Lord Himself who needs to be exalted, no one else. Any excellence should be His and should be desired by no one else. The objectives of popularity, acceptance, and wisdom need to be replaced by service to God’s glory.

How can this sin be combated? There are many ways to mention two will help. (1) Remember the warning declared by God: “For the Lord of hosts has a day against all that is proud and lofty, against all that is lifted up and high; . . .and the haughtiness of man shall be humbled, and the pride of men shall be brought low; and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.” (Isa. 2:12, 17). A minister called by God dare not submit himself to the awesome judgment of God through the sin of pride. It is a sure road to falling and thus hurting the testimony of God before an evil world.

(2) Remember the responsibilities of mortification. The Christian life is to begin with the recognition of the total inability of man to save himself and of the knowledge that salvation is merited. All the believer has is from God and it is the duty of the believer to put to death all aspects of pride as it makes itself known in his life. Read the rest of this entry »

The Prominent Place of Catechesis

In Catechesis, Christian Life, Columbia Theological Seminary, Westminster Shorter Catechism, Wm. Childs Robinson on 29/05/2011 at 20:03

Catechizing

by Prof. Wm. C. Robinson

[excerpted from The Christian Observer 121.38 (20 September 1933): 7.]

Recent research is giving an increasingly prominent place in the establishment of early Christianity to catechizing. The Greek verb, “katecheo,” occurs seven times in the New Testament. In five of these instances it is used in our technical sense of elementary religious instruction. Luke wrote the third Gospel to confirm Theophilus in the irrefragable certainty of the topics, “logoi,” in which he had been catechized (Luke 1:4). Mark labored as a catechist under Peter. His Gospel may be described as Peter’s catechism “concerning the things Jesus began to do.” Indeed, the fact of this early Christian catechizing is so well recognized that it has become one of the basic presuppositions of the new investigation in the origins of the Gospels known as “Formegeschichte.”

Paul exhorts the Thessalonians: “Stand fast and hold the traditions which ye were taught whether by word or by epistle of ours” (II Thessalonians 2:13). He reminds the Romans of that “pattern of doctrine which had been delivered unto them” by teachers other than himself (Romans 6:17). A fragment of the original formula or belief is preserved in I Corinthians 15:3f. This confessional formula “was made known to Paul already at the time of his baptism” (Cf. I Corinthians 15:3f. with Romans 6:3f.).

Professor R. Seeberg says that “the primitive Christian ‘traditions’ (I Corinthians 11:2; cf. ‘first principles,’ Hebrews 6:2) offered more or less fixed formulas and traditions of the faith and moral life.” “Thus over against the freely working spirit principle, the individualization of inspiration and enthusiasm there stood from the beginning a structure of fixed representations, doctrines, regulations, morals, usages, historical authorities. The interworking of these two features made possible an ordered historical development. The form did not remain an empty form, but the personal experience gave it content; on the other hand, the experience did not become a formless enthusiasm but inclosed itself in the forms of the primitive knowledge of Christ.

The contents of “The Catechism of Primitive Christianity” have been carefully collated by A. Seeberg, R. Seeberg, and A.D. Heffern. It included:

(1) The Formula of Belief. In the case of Jewish converts this was chiefly “the things concerning Jesus” (Luke 24:19), the “elucidation and defense of the Gospel facts.” In the case of the Gentiles it certainly included the Jewish catechesis concerning monotheism (Hebrews 11:6, Romans 3:30). R. Seeberg offers ample New Testament evidence to show “that to this belonged also the triadic formula,” which “trinitarian belief in God” rests on the revelation which Christ made during the forty days.” “The words of faith,” I Timothy 4:6, gradually crystallized into the Roman symbol, the primitive form of the Apostles’ Creed. This “pattern of sound words” was taught the neophyte just before baptism, and was confessed by him at that sacrament. Read the rest of this entry »