Do you see my brethren that those truly born again are those who are resting in Christ as His disciples? They keep His commandments from the motivation of love for Him, not in order to earn their salvation. I adjure each of you to examine yourselves. Ask God to reveal the truth of your standing before Him to your hearts. Repent of what He shows you then rest in our Lord as you walk and serve Him yoked up with Him. Love Him and serve Him for His glory alone.
37 Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “ If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. John 7:37-39 (NASB)
3 “ Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:3-12 (NASB)
Hell is real. All who do not repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ will spend eternity there. Those who repent and believe are those who ‘come to Jesus to drink.’ They believe as the Holy Spirit is poured out on them to the point that their lives are taken over by Him. Those who do will never experience hell. Instead, they come to Jesus and find rest for their souls. Those who do this are poor in spirit. They mourn for their sins. They are not proud, but meek. In their growing godliness they hunger and thirst for Christ’s righteousness to become manifest in them. They become more and more Christlike, therefore, they take on His character. They show mercy as He does. They become more and more pure of heart. They remove themselves from seeking their own. Instead, they become those who live to bring others to their Lord. Conversely, this holy and separate life does not cause them to find peace in the world. No, instead they are persecuted for righteousness sake.
25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. 26 Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight. Matthew 11:25-26 (NASB)
The passage above is partially made up of a short prayer by our Lord. In vv20-24 preceding this passage our Lord had just pronounced woes upon the impenitent who had seen His mighty works and heard His preaching and teaching.
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By Carl R. Trueman — 5 months ago
Written by Carl R. Trueman |
Wednesday, December 15, 2021
Even in the last three weeks, I have taught classes on campus criticizing the Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision and Bruce Jenner’s gender transition—career-damaging lectures at almost any other institution of higher education in the United States. And I have for many years been one of the most vocal opponents of the way in which identity politics, particularly that of the LGBTQ+ movement, has damaged our culture and public life. I have received nothing but support from the college administration as I have continued to speak up on such matters.
“Do I teach at a woke school?” was not a question I seriously considered until one evening last week when I received an email from a friend assuring me of his prayers for me in my workplace. The reason was an article he had just read on a website, The American Reformer, entitled “Wide Awoke at Grove City College?” The background to the article was a petition launched some weeks ago by parents of Grove City College (GCC) students and alumni concerning what they perceived as a woke drift on campus. The GCC president had responded to the petition in a way that I myself had thought was solid but American Reformer dismissed as “limp” and, by implication, disingenuous. I do not know if the author of the article has ever set foot on the campus which he writes about, but I confess that had he not told me he was writing about GCC, I might have struggled to recognize the ethos of my institution in the way he described it.
Now, wokeness is surely a serious problem in American higher education. Parents and alumni of all schools are right to be concerned about how various institutions are responding. I am not persuaded that petitions are ever the best way to address such problems but I can certainly sympathize with those anxious about their children or about their beloved alma maters. I myself am passionately committed to saving education from wokeness. I am a member of the James Madison Society at Princeton University and the National Association of Scholars, both of which have a keen interest in maintaining the importance of academic freedom and excellence on campuses. I am a contributing editor at the decidedly anti-woke First Things and a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, one of the best-known conservative think-tanks in Washington, D.C. I am acutely aware of the struggle many friends face at this difficult time and I understand why parents and alumni are disturbed when they hear stories (or, in this case, mostly misguided rumors) about their institution. They are right to ask questions and raise concerns. They need to know if the colleges that take their money are providing the education they claim to be doing.
At the heart of academic institutional excellence is, of course, academic freedom. That can be tricky at a school that holds a stated religious position, such as a Christian college like Grove City College, but it can be done. The way a Christian school can hold to its beliefs yet give students a good education is to hold faculty to a standard of belief but then ensure that they engage other viewpoints in the classroom, host speakers from a variety of political and philosophical traditions, and encourage students to wrestle honestly with the great ideas and the hard questions of the past and the present. For example, as I recently told the Religious News Service, I declare my classes to be free-speech zones (something none of the more progressive figures interviewed said about their classes). I do not require students to agree with me in order to get a good grade. But if they dissent from my view they need to do so respectfully and give me an argument as to why I am wrong. For me, education is not about cloning myself intellectually in the classroom (as it is becoming at so many woke schools); it is about giving the students the skills to think for themselves.
At the center of the storm surrounding GCC was an invitation to Jemar Tisby to speak in chapel. Hindsight is 20/20, of course, and in retrospect inviting Tisby to give a chapel address may have been a mistake. A chapel address carries a certain institutional imprimatur that a simple guest lecture does not, though inviting guest lecturers to campus to engage our students on critical topics such as race, in this current culture, is an important role of any college or university. But that is not a criticism of my colleagues who invited Tisby to speak in chapel. One of the hallmarks of wokeness is cultural amnesia—the swift forgetting of what was true the day before yesterday in order to demonize those who still hold, say, to the importance of biological sex for gender. Conservatives need to be careful not to play their own version of the woke-amnesia game when it suits them. Tisby is a good example. He was first given a platform by Reformed Theological Seminary where he had been a student on its Jackson, Mississippi campus. That is a flagship conservative reformed institution. Indeed, as recently as 2015, he was appointed director of the African-American Leadership Initiative at RTS. He was described at the time by the RTS Chancellor, Ligon Duncan, as follows: “a man I trust … a dear friend … an educator and a churchman…. His commitment to the inerrancy of Scripture, the Reformed faith and the gospel ground all his efforts towards our honoring the image of God in all people.” Ligon Duncan is no woke progressive, as anyone who knows him will attest.
Duncan’s eulogy is a reminder that Tisby has been on a long journey, from RTS poster child in 2015 to working for Ibram Kendi’s outfit in 2021. Indeed, even The Color of Compromise, a book with which I have some stated disagreements, is surely not representative of where he is today. The fact is, the summer of 2020 appears to have been a radicalizing watershed for Tisby as for many others on both sides of the political divide. The college can hardly be blamed for failing in 2019 to predict the radicalization of the RTS graduate who had recently been seen as the emerging African American bridge-builder in conservative reformed Presbyterianism.
In an email exchange, the editor of The American Reformer expressed concern to me that Grove City College was platforming Tisby while not platforming faculty like me on woke issues. Well, Tisby came to campus for one day and (I believe) spoke twice. Then he left and has not returned. As for me, I lecture for several hours every day on campus to classes that are full. I speak in chapel every year. I write things almost weekly at places like First Things and World that whack wokeness. The college launched its Great Lectures series by showcasing me on identity issues as they culminate in today’s identity politics. The college arranged for me to speak to a Washington D.C. group of Capitol Hill staffers twice in the last 18 months—once on sexual-identity issues, once on race. Even in the last three weeks, I have taught classes on campus criticizing the Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision and Bruce Jenner’s gender transition—career-damaging lectures at almost any other institution of higher education in the United States. And I have for many years been one of the most vocal opponents of the way in which identity politics, particularly that of the LGBTQ+ movement, has damaged our culture and public life. I have received nothing but support from the college administration as I have continued to speak up on such matters. And from my vantage point, the same could be said of my colleagues who share my support of GCC’s Christ-centered mission, but do not come down on every hard issue where I do.
That makes Grove City College, even with all of its mortal failings and human flaws, a remarkable place. My wife and I recently hosted students at our house for a dessert evening. One of them asked if I hoped to stay at Grove City College until I retire. I responded yes, because I love the college and, more significantly, because my writings and lecturing have made me likely unemployable almost anywhere else in this age of the woke. As evidence, I told them about a Christian college where I gave a lecture by Zoom in the last year. The professor who invited me to speak asked if he could record the session because he expected to be the subject of a complaint that he had created an unsafe learning environment by having someone of my views speak. And that was a Christian college. A Christian college. That would not happen at Grove City College.
Is Grove City College perfect? No more than I am. But I am a conservative and a Christian and that means that I believe certain things are true. For example, I believe that no institution can ever make no mistakes and do the right thing every time. And the larger the institution, the more likely it is that issues will arise. With nearly 200 faculty, a large staff, a student body of more than 2,000, and more than 800 courses taught each semester, GCC is too big for even the most perfect administration to micromanage. Built from the crooked timber of fallen humanity, Grove City College, like all institutions, reflects our own failings and weaknesses. But if the test of people’s character is not whether they live a perfect life but how they handle their mistakes and failings, then the test of an institution’s integrity is how it addresses those things which have not gone as planned or have proved unexpectedly counter-productive. GCC’s management of this continuing challenge is smart and effective. It strives to hire excellent scholars with solid Christian convictions. There is no tenure; everyone gets a one-year contract requiring affirmation of the college’s mission and values. When occasional issues arise, direct and constructive conversations take place with the expectation of missional alignment. That is why it is sad that the college’s recent statement about its commitment to addressing the matters raised by the petition has met with such cynicism from an ostensibly conservative Christian source.
I do appreciate my friend praying for me. I hope that he prays that all of us at Grove City College will stand firm for God’s truth, academic freedom, and intellectual integrity in this storm of wokeness that surrounds us. But above all, I hope that he gives thanks that I and my colleagues work at a place where we have the freedom to be faithful in our callings, a freedom that exists in few other institutions of higher education today.
Carl R. Trueman is professor of Biblical and Religious Studies at Grove City College. This article is used with permission.
By Cole Newton — 4 weeks ago
Although we may lament the prosperity of the wicked, let us keep the day of judgment ever before our eyes. In Psalm 73, Asaph began to envy the wicked, who seem to have no trouble at all, yet when he went to the sanctuary of God, he was reminded anew that the LORD establishes the wicked “in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin” (Psalm 73:16).
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment
Psalm 1:5 ESV
After giving a three-verse portrait of the blessed, the psalmist gave a terse contrasting image of the wicked. Unlike the blessed, they do not delight in and meditate upon God’s Word; thus, they are not rooted in eternal truth like trees beside streams of water as the blessed are. Rather, they are like chaff that the wind drives away. ‘Therefore,’ the psalmist continues, ‘the wicked will not stand in the judgment.’
While there can be any number of judgments that the LORD pours out upon the wicked in this life, the psalmist likely has the final judgment in mind, the day when “God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14). Elsewhere, Scripture calls this the Day of the LORD. Under the new covenant, we know it also as the return of our Lord, the second coming of Christ. John records his vision of that day:
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated upon it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life.
REVELATION 20:11-12, 15
By Jason Piland — 8 months ago
I am convinced that removing the present wording of the statute of limitations in BCO 32-20 will lead to other serious problems and unintended consequences. The proposed amendment will potentially open up members to harassment by the courts; it will allow the shepherding from elders to become lax; it will allow courts to settle for evidence that has been corrupted by time but fits a preconceived narrative; and, ultimately, it will harass and harm untold members of our congregations.
Removing the “Statute of Limitations” from the Book of Church Order (BCO) of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) is a serious matter, and I am concerned that last summer’s General Assembly hastily began that process without counting the costs. If we move forward with the proposed substitute to BCO 32-20, I fear there will be significant unintended consequences. I write in hopes that Presbyters across the PCA will better appreciate the wisdom of having a statute of limitations and, with Anton Heuss, I hope that the proposed replacement of BCO 32-20 will NOT be approved and that better language will be put forward.
As it stands today, BCO 32-20 begins, “Process, in case of scandal, shall commence within the space of one year after the offense was committed, unless it has recently become flagrant.” This amounts to what some, including the SJC and an important commentator, have called a “Statute of Limitations” for church discipline, at least for cases of “scandal.” The new proposal sent to Presbyteries for their advice and consent removes this language altogether and only codifies the right the accused already has to object to indictments and names “degradation of evidence” as one possible ground for objection.
Overture 22, which gave rise to the proposed language, and Howie Donahoe, the esteemed moderator of the 47th GA, raise a number of objections to the current BCO 32-20, but neither account for the significant costs of removing a statute of limitations altogether. Nevertheless, I share their concern about abuse and other private sins that are not immediately known or discovered. I wholeheartedly agree with criticisms of the current BCO 32-20 on this point, but this does not warrant overthrowing a statute of limitations altogether when an exception could be built into the BCO that provides a way to bring before the court cases of past abuse.
We need to remember why we have a statute of limitations in the first place, and I posit that there are at least three significant reasons to retain a statute of limitations for church discipline.
To Protect the Accused
A statute of limitations protects every member of the PCA from all kinds of harassment by the courts. If a court declines to bring charges against a person, it can’t hold the possibility of charges over that person’s head in perpetuity.
Consider another situation. Suppose a pastor or Session believes a church member is guilty of a particular sin, and, with a clear conscience, the church member does not believe he has committed it. Or suppose a church member believes he is repentant of a certain sin, but his elders don’t think so. What happens then? Often in cases like these, the church member hears continual, frank, and strong counsel about how he needs to own up to his sin or to biblically repent of it. The shepherds are doing what they believe is right: rebuking strongly from time to time, bearing with the individual over the long haul in a “pastoral” manner, calling him to be faithful to Scripture’s teaching, and seeking to keep the rest of the church pure from the potential defilement of sin.
But the actions of the elders wear down the church member. The elders don’t want to bring charges, so they are “patient.” They don’t realize how the church member feels like the life is being squeezed out of him. In these cases, forbearance isn’t the answer. When the church member and Session legitimately disagree after prayerful dialogue and counsel, the pastoral answer is not to wait it out and hope the church member changes his mind. The loving and right thing is often for the Session to bring charges. From the Session’s perspective, he is in conscious sin, and it must be addressed immediately. From the church member’s perspective, he has the right to have his case heard not just by his Session, but also to have it reviewed by the higher courts of the church. It is a merciful thing that the church member has his day in court to vindicate himself and to appeal to higher courts for assistance. We are Presbyterians, and this is Presbyterianism at its best. This is good for both the Session and the church member because there will be resolution to the disagreement.
A statute of limitations requires Sessions to bring charges sooner rather than later. It protects the accused from a forbearance in the name of pastoral kindness that ends up being harmful. Where legitimate disagreement exists, a statute of limitations puts an end to it by requiring action, and it protects the accused from all kinds of potential harassment by the courts of the church.
To Encourage Diligent Shepherding
If a court is not able to bring a charge on day 366, it is forced to be diligent in shepherding its flock in the first 365 days after a disciplinable offense takes place. When a court knows that a sin cannot be addressed through process after one year, a statute of limitations actually compels action. We want to encourage the shepherds of the church to conscientiously care for the hurting and wandering sheep and not to let a sheep walk away from the fold for years before beginning the process of bringing him back.
When someone commits an offence of the sort that often gives rise to formal discipline, it often takes several months for the dust to settle, for the church to understand what happened, and for the offender and the offended parties to appreciate the fallout. The spiritual realities are not usually immediately clear. So the statute of limitations ought not be too short to require the court to act before it can shepherd the parties through these early days and gain clarity of the situation. But it seems that a year has been plenty of time in the PCA to understand what happened, counsel the parties, assess their responses, and determine if formal process is fitting. These situations are difficult, and courts must be diligent shepherds to adequately care for its members. A statute of limitations requires them to be engaged intentionally from day one, and that is a good thing.
To Ensure Accurate Evidence
As time goes on, the quality of evidence degrades. Memories fade. Witnesses move away, die, or otherwise disappear. Documentary evidence, whether digital or physical, corrupts or goes missing. The immediacy of the offence is lost to time, and the accuracy of the remaining testimony decreases in quality. Overture 22 admits as much. Of course, there is no certain time where good evidence goes bad, but the principle still stands: It is better to call upon witnesses and use evidence when it is as fresh as possible so that the accuracy and truthfulness of that testimony is best preserved and conveyed.
Additionally, the further one is from an event, the easier it is to falsify documents or to produce fraudulent testimony. We minimize the risk of false accusations if we maintain a statute of limitations.
The substitute proposal includes an encouragement to courts to not entertain an indictment if the evidence has been too degraded, but such a question is far too subjective and could easily be answered to accord with the court’s view of the merits of the case. I question the wisdom of placing this as the only named backstop on the court’s ability to do adjudicate ancient cases. A bright-line statute of limitations takes this question out the hands of the court in the interests of fairness.
While I deeply appreciate the concern about some alleged offenses that may not be immediately known, I am convinced that removing the present wording of the statute of limitations in BCO 32-20 will lead to other serious problems and unintended consequences. The proposed amendment will potentially open up members to harassment by the courts; it will allow the shepherding from elders to become lax; it will allow courts to settle for evidence that has been corrupted by time but fits a preconceived narrative; and, ultimately, it will harass and harm untold members of our congregations.
There are better ways to word an amendment to handle the problem of alleged offenses in the church than to remove a reasonable and limited time period altogether, avoiding throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater.
I urge Presbyteries to vote against the proposed amendment to BCO 32-20 and then let us find a better solution to the perceived problem. Concerned members of the PCA can work to make sure a better alternative isn’t too far away.
Jason Piland is a Minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and serves as Associate Pastor of Redeemer (PCA) in Hudson, Ohio.
 See, e.g., Grace RPC Session v. Heartland Presbytery, Case No. 93-14, M23GA, 113–121; Morton H. Smith, Commentary on the Book of Church Order of the Presbyterian Church in America, 5th ed. (Greenville: Southern Presbyterian, 2004), 313.
 The full text of the proposal is as follows:
The accused or a member of the court may object to the consideration of a charge, for example, if he thinks the passage of time since the alleged offense makes fair adjudication unachievable. The court should consider factors such as the gravity of the alleged offense as well as what degradations of evidence and memory may have occurred in the intervening period.