But if God is sovereign, we can be confident in our salvation, confident that there is meaning in our suffering, confident that our evangelism will be effective, confident that we will remain in the faith, confident that Christ will return, confident in all God is, in all he does, in all he says, in all he has promised.
Christians speak often of God’s sovereignty. Reformed Christians speak very often of God’s sovereignty. God’s sovereignty refers to his presence in this world, his authority over this world, and his control within this world. God owns and oversees his creation to such a degree that nothing happens apart from his knowledge, apart from his will, apart from his wisdom. There is nothing we are given that does not in some way pass through his hands.
As we speak of God’s sovereignty we have to ensure that we do not speak of it only theoretically, that we do not relegate it purely to the realm of the intellectual, for it is no mere abstract doctrine but one that is sweet and precious and ought to be close to the heart of every Christian. This is a doctrine that gives us hope in every sorrow, that lends meaning to every pain, that gives confidence in every circumstance.
Perhaps it is good to consider some of what would be true if God is not sovereign.
If God is not sovereign we cannot be confident in our salvation. We cannot trust that his gospel is the only true gospel, that his salvation is effective, that his way is the right way. For if he is not sovereign, the will of another being may supersede his, the plan of another may outrival his, the word of another may take precedence over his. Unless God is sovereign, our very salvation is in doubt.
If God is not sovereign we cannot be confident that there is meaning in our suffering.
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By Benjamin Glaser — 10 months ago
We are made perfect in holiness at death. It is a freeing mercy without compare. All the pleasures of this life are nothing to that moment when the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit is complete. It is not a selfish thing to desire that beautiful blessing which we have in Christ. We all experience the corruption brought about by Adam’s sin, both in our spirit in regards to the fight we have with the old man in sin, and in our body as we watch it break down and deal with disparate disease and the realities of old age and overuse. Death frees us from this, and because of who we are in Christ our comfort is that all the physical/spiritual trials we face are temporary.
Today’s catechism lesson gets us into the nitty gritty of life. What happens when we die? More importantly what happens to our faith when we die? Well the good news is that nothing happens to our faith in fact it actually improves and becomes perfect. But what about our bodies? Even better news there. According to this morning’s Shorter Catechism answer to question 37 our physical bodies, the stuff you can pinch right now, remains united to Christ just as it is while you are alive. Without getting into the mechanics of that (philosophers love to waste time on how the spiritual works when adoration and thanksgiving are the more proper responses) the reality is we will all die, unless the Lord returns first, but even in the case of the eschaton’s arrival (which I don’t think will be for a while) the same truth is our peace and comfort. We belong body and soul to our Redeemer and there is nothing that can take that away from us, even death itself. It may be the separation of the soul from the body, but nothing can ever separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ. So let’s get into the questions:
Q. 37. What Benefits Do Believers Receive From Christ at His Death?
A. The souls of believers are at their death made perfect in holiness, and do immediately pass into glory; and their bodies, being still united to Christ, do rest in their gravest till the resurrection.
Q. 38. What Benefits Do Believers Receive from Christ at the Resurrection?
A. At the resurrection, believers being raised up in glory, shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the day of judgment, and made.
This section of the catechism is continuing to work through what it calls the “benefits” that believers receive from Christ. We’ve read about effectual calling, justification, sanctification, adoption, and now are hearing a bit on the eternal blessings which come from faith. As noted above there is a sense in which when we get down to the brass tacks of why we do what we do in the Christian life it’s less because of the right now and more about the not yet. Our Lord Jesus came to die so that we would live. It makes sense then that the culmination of the Westminster Divines writing on salvation would focus on what takes place when we leave this mortal coil.
The era in which our catechism was written was full of death. While not a member of the Assembly, a Puritan contemporary John Owen lost eleven children before the age of maturity, most as infants. He had one daughter survive to adulthood.
By Simonetta Carr — 1 year ago
Yi was baptized in 1896, and worked with Swallen to establish a church in Wonsan. Yi’s dream and his conversion from bully to evangelist led some to nickname him “the Apostle Paul of Korea.” Yi helped to spread the gospel in Wonsan and surrounding region by distributing Bibles and gospel literature (as a colporteur or, in Korean, gwonseo). By answering questions, gathering interested people and establishing contacts, gwonseos played an important role in the institution of the Korean church.
Gi Pung Yi – First Korean Martyr
He was the first Korean Protestant missionary and the first Korean martyr, often remembered as the father of the Korean Protestant church. It all began through a rock and a bout of hot temper.
A Paul-like Conversion
Gi Pung Yi was only sixteen in 1885, when the American missionary Samuel A. Moffet arrived in Pyeongyang (today in North Korea). Yi distrusted foreigners. Why did this American come to Pyeongyang?, he wondered. Used to dealing with problems through violence, he gathered some friends and went to Moffet’s house, where they kicked the gate and threw rocks. The rocks broke a window and dislodged some roof tiles, but the Moffet family stayed inside.
One month later, Yi spotted Moffet at a street market, speaking in broken Korean while holding a track. Seeing his chance of protesting this foreigner’s intrusion, Yi picked up a rock and threw it, hitting Moffet in the chin. Losing his balance, Moffet fell on the ground, bleeding. No one came to his help. Yi left the scene.
Fast-forward ten years, when Yi met another missionary, this time in Wonsan, where he had looked for refuge during the Sino-Japanese war. By then, he was a young man trying to make ends meet by painting pipes and selling them on the street.
To Yi, the missionary, William L. Swallen, looked enough like Moffet to bring back a painful memory. For years, Yi’s conscience had been bothering him and Moffet had appeared in many of his dreams.
A missionary spoke to Yi about Jesus, who didn’t pay much attention. He just wondered who was this Jesus that people considered so important. That night, however, he had a dream where Jesus told him to stop persecuting him. Frightened, the next morning he ran to the house of the missionary who had talked to him.
After hearing Yi’s confession, the missionary took him to Swallen’s house, where Yi, crying profusely, continued to unburden his heart. Swallen prayed for him, and continued to teach him about Christ. Yi was baptized in 1896, and worked with Swallen to establish a church in Wonsan. Yi’s dream and his conversion from bully to evangelist led some to nickname him “the Apostle Paul of Korea.”
By George Sayour — 5 months ago
BCO 16-4 as amended would read: “ Officers in the Presbyterian Church in America must be above reproach in their walk and Christlike in their character. While office bearers will see spiritual perfection only in glory, they will continue in this life to confess and to mortify remaining sins in light of God’s work of progressive sanctification. Therefore, to be qualified for office, they must affirm the sinfulness of fallen desires, the reality and hope of progressive sanctification, and be committed to the pursuit of Spirit-empowered victory over their sinful temptations, inclinations, and actions.”
This year’s General Assembly was held in Birmingham, AL, the birthplace of the PCA. The number of voting Commissioners, TEs & REs (often referred to as Pastors and Elders), was around 2300 and was a record. The Assembly was a blessed time of co-laboring for the Kingdom with many like-minded brothers, for the Glory of God, the Good of Christ’s Church, and the Spread of the Gospel.
Here JUST A FEW highlights from the Assembly.
Pastor George’s 2022 PCA GA Update & Commentary VIDEOS:
1) Approved Petitioning the U.S. Government to End Abortion
Therefore Be it Resolved, That the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, on behalf of the Presbyterian Church in America, be directed to communicate to the President of the United States, the leaders of Congress, and the Governors and leaders of the State Legislatures of the 50 States, the following statement:
“God declares in Sacred Scripture that civil government, no less than the Church, is a divine institution and owes its authority to God. The Bible is the supreme revelation of God’s will and teaches that the unborn child is a human person deserving the full protection of the Sixth Commandment, “You shall not murder”.
We who love our nation, in the name of God who alone is sovereign, call upon you to renounce the sin of abortion, to repent of the complicity in the mass slaughter of innocent unborn children, who are persons in the sight of God, and to reverse the ruinous direction of both law and practice in this area. The obedience to God which places us in subjection to your rightful authority, requires of us to proclaim the counsel of God as it bears upon the same God-given authority.”
2) Taking Abuse Seriously
The PCA Study Report on Abuse was Presented.
Overture 2021-40 To Allow Victim Protection Provisions– This amends BCO 35:1-5. The gist of this is that victims of abuse don’t have to testify in church courts in the presence of their alleged abuser. This is common sense, but there was previously no provision in our BCO for this. This will have to pass 2/3 of the presbyteries.
3) Voted (1030-699) to Leave the NAE (National Association of Evangelicals)
4) Clarifying HOW the Standing Judicial Commission (SJC) will Take Original Jurisdiction of a Case
This is good, since some Presbyteries don’t do discipline on ministers who create public scandal and the SJC couldn’t previously assume original jurisdiction if Presbyteries conducted an investigation. In the low point of the Assembly, there was a Minority Report on this Overture which was ruled Intemperate for Impugning the motives of those who wanted the Overture. It implied there was an issue with their honesty in a number of places and fear-mongered unnecessarily. Thankfully, the Minority Report failed and the Overture passed. This will have to pass 2/3 of Presbyteries.
Floor Speech by TE Fred Greco in Favor of this Change. TE Greco Chairs the SJC, and is in the best position to know the affects of this Overture and he is for it.
Overture 8 – (Key Lines)
BCO 34-1 as amended would read
34-1. Process against a minister shall be entered before the Presbytery of which he is a member. However, if the Presbytery does not indict in either doctrinal cases or instances of public scandal and at least ten percent (10%) of Presbyteries request the General Assembly to assume original jurisdiction for a case of process, the General Assembly shall do so. The General Assembly may assess the costs thereof equitably among the parties, including the petitioning Presbyteries and the Presbytery of the minister.
BCO 33-1 would be amended similarly for Presbyteries to take Original Jurisdiction over Church cases.
5) Officer & Ordination Standards (These will have to pass 2/3 of Presbyteries)
These are the Overtures meant to replace last year’s Overtures regarding forbidding the Ordination of Gay Pastors. The point in these is not to disqualify a man from holding office for simply having Same-Sex Attraction(s) but it is how he views those attractions as they relate to his identity, being, sanctification, and repentance.
Overture 15 (Passed 55% – 45%)
BCO 7-4 as amended would read:
Men who describe themselves as homosexual, even those who describe themselves as homosexual and claim to practice celibacy by refraining from homosexual conduct, are disqualified from holding office in the Presbyterian Church in America.
Floor Speech by O. Palmer Robertson in Favor of Overture 15
Overture 29 (Passed by 90 % )
Pastor Greg Johnson of Memorial Presbyterian Church was the only floor speech against this Overture. He said he can affirm everything in it, but doesn’t want it in the Book of Church Order because enough harm has been done to the gay community. It should be noted, this does not make mention of any particular sin. This overture passed overwhelmingly (1922-200). Here is what it says:
BCO 16-4 as amended would read:
Officers in the Presbyterian Church in America must be above reproach in their walk and Christlike in their character. While office bearers will see spiritual perfection only in glory, they will continue in this life to confess and to mortify remaining sins in light of God’s work of progressive sanctification. Therefore, to be qualified for office, they must affirm the sinfulness of fallen desires, the reality and hope of progressive sanctification, and be committed to the pursuit of Spirit-empowered victory over their sinful temptations, inclinations, and actions.
Overture 31 (Passed Unanimously)
BCO 21-4.e as amended would read: Ordination Requirements and Procedures
In the examination of the candidate’s personal character, the presbytery shall give specific attention to potential notorious concerns. Careful attention must be given to his practical struggle against sinful actions, as well as to persistent sinful desires. The candidate must give clear testimony of reliance upon his union with Christ and the benefits thereof by the Holy Spirit, depending on this work of grace to make progress over sin (Psalm 103:2-5, 15 Romans 8:29) and to bear fruit (Psalm 1:3, Gal. 5:22-23). While imperfection will remain, when confessing sins and sinful temptations publicly, the candidate must exercise great care not to diminish the seriousness of those sins in the eyes of the congregation, as though they were matters of little consequence, but rather should testify to the work of the Holy Spirit in his progress in holiness (1 Cor. 6:9-11).
BCO 24-1 would be amended similarly for Ruling Elders and Deacons.
6) Miscellaneous Items.
Overtures Condemning CRT, Secret Orgs in the PCA, & Political Violence ALL FAILED.
Reduced Fee for Ruling Elders to $300. Teaching Elders increased to $500 (or $550?) This is good as REs have to take vacation and often pay out of pocket. Hopefully this will encourage more REs to attend.
Nominating Committee Nominees for Permanent Committees, Agencies, Boards, Standing Judicial Commission were mostly Conservative Confessional Men. This will have a long-term impact.
A lot of Overtures passed around our BCO Processes for how we do things within churches, presbyteries, and church discipline.
Last year’s Overtures that passed the Presbyteries were all approved.
50thAnniversary Plans underway for Next Year’s Assembly in Memphis.
George Sayour is a Minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and is Pastor of Meadowview PCA in Lexington, NC. This article is used with permission.