Are You a Minister? Preach the Gospel!
All proclamations of God’s word in our context should contain within them a gospel call, freely offered to all present in that place. We are never to be under the assumption that every person in the hall that day knows the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior, even, or maybe especially, if it is the officers, elders and ministers, of His Church. An ARP Church must be a gospel, fire-breathing, house of hope for sinners. Not a lecture center of Reformed theology, but a place where men and women can come with the assurance that they will hear, with no strings-attached, the free offer of life eternal found alone in the Redeemer.
For the next couple of months in this space where we have been taking some time to consider ways to help our prayer and worship life we are going to begin a spring series thinking through some of the unique things that were, and still should be, the identifying markers of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. I am ARP on purpose. I am an ARP minister for the same reason I am not a Baptist, Methodist, or Lutheran, because I believe that the warp and woof of the heart of the ARP, found in its history and confessions is the most Biblical form of the Church found on this side of Heaven. I also am firmly convicted that you should be ARP as well. If I didn’t believe that I’m not rightly sure I could keep my vows. Pragmatism or its dastardly cousin, convenience, have no place really in my soul or when it comes to what I’ve been called to do, nor should it in your heart. That may seem rude, but it is not.
To fulfill that mandate I will give y’all some history and background, quotes from ARP men, either Scottish Seceders, or American-born ministers from our denominational past and explain more about whatever subject is on tap for that week. We’ll take a look at matters like how the gospel is preached, how we understand the biblical covenants and their relation to life today, and the manner in which Presbyterianism is practiced. I hope you find the time we spend on this helpful. The goal here is also to help people within and outside the ARP know more about why we are and who we are.
It makes sense that to start this we need to begin with what is most important, and that is the gospel. Christ dead for sinners, raising them from the spiritual darkness, washing them in His blood, forgiving their trespasses, and making them new creatures in the restored light of Jesus’s countenance. That’s the main message our Lord gave to His infant bride in Matthew 28.
To begin let’s consider first what it is we mean when we say that in the ARP we believe in the “free offer of the gospel”. One of the earliest charges against Ebenezer Erskine and others rallying at Gairney Bridge was that they were being fundamentally “Arminian” in the way they presented the good news of Jesus to the lost.