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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 »

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