Thursday, September 10, 2009

Why a PCA Pastor Joined the RPCUS -9/10/09

Why I Want to (and did) Join the RPCUS

Henry E. Johnson

Pastor, Trinity Presbyterian Church

Tazewell, VA

The house was slowly yet steadily being undermined. More and more of the foundation was exposed as the excavation proceeded. The team of demolition experts was hitting the exposed foundation with hammers. Each blow created cracks in the foundation. These cracks steadily crawled up the walls. However, the occupants of the house lauded the progress that was being made by their wisdom and broadmindedness. The mantra that they had sung for years grew louder as more and more elders joined them. “Diversity is our strength,” they sang as they honored the very men who were gradually destroying the very foundations upon which the house rested. They rejected any warnings that the course they were on spelled disaster for the house and those in it. “We need to be charitable rather than criticize these men who are so broad minded. We personally don’t see the issues the way they do, yet we certainly don’t want to offend them by asking them to adhere to our own personal interpretation of Scripture. After all we are one big happy family. We don’t want to be so parochial as to “bind anyone’s conscience” or exclude anyone who says they love Jesus.”

Such is the sad state of the PCA.

Praise God for the RPCUS, a reformed denomination that is seeking to live out the original motto of the PCA, my present denomination: True to the Scriptures, the reformed faith and the great commission.

Why do I want to join the RPCUS? Let me summarize the reasons.

1) I want to be part of a denomination that is True To The Scriptures. We must bow before the authority of God and His Word, the Bible. Not only is the inerrancy and infallibility of the Scripture crucial, but also the sufficiency of Scripture is vital to Biblical Christianity. We must have the Bible as our only rule of faith and practice; the only rule in every area of life.

2) I want to be part of a denomination that is True To The Reformed Faith. The Lord God brought a great reformation in the 1500’s and 1600’s. He brought His Church back to the Bible. We are spiritual heirs of this great work of God. We must be willing to stand with those great men and women upon the Word of God. We must not shrink back from the Bible and the truth of Scripture known as the reformed faith, the faith that John Calvin, John Knox and Martin Bucer preached and lived!

3) I want to be a part of a denomination that is True To The Great Commission. Only the Jesus of the Bible can save people, families, churches, institutions and whole cultures from the ravages of sin and death and hell. Future generations need a Biblical denomination that will stand unflinchingly as she proclaims the Gospel from the whole counsel of God in the Scriptures.

First, the RPCUS is a denomination that seeks to bow before the authority of the Scriptures, even when it is not politically correct in the eyes of our culture to do so. True To The Scriptures. Several examples will suffice.

Creation. There is no other teaching in Scripture that is more foundational and central to the remainder of Holy Scripture and Biblical Christianity than creation. The RPCUS clearly has taken its stand with the Westminster Standards. The Bible teaches that God created the heavens and the earth in the space of six days [six twenty-four hour days] and rested on the Sabbath day [seventh day], thereby instituting the Sabbath day and declaring it very good. What difference does it make? The seeds of neo-orthodoxy are found in the accommodating views that we see today such as: the day age theory, gap theory, and the poetic view of creation. These views cuddle up to an evolutionary view of origins and make room for interpretations of Scripture that do violence to the Bible’s own interpretation of itself. It is the chief tool of neo-orthodoxy to take the Word of God and make it say something that it really doesn’t say or mean. By this contorted method of hermeneutics, which is the kingpin of neo-orthodoxy, such issues as homosexuality and abortion have been championed and legitimized in our culture. This same method of interpreting the Scripture has been used to deny such cardinal doctrines as the virgin birth and the bodily resurrection of Christ. The very seeds of apostasy and unbelief are being sown and nurtured in my own denomination today. Man after man comes up to me and says, “Well now, Henry, I personally believe in the twenty-four hour day, but you just can’t force that view. Scripture just isn’t clear and just doesn’t say.” I want to be part of a denomination that is willing to take a stand on what the Bible clearly teaches regardless of its popularity.

The roles of men and women. A growing number of elders in the PCA advocate women becoming deacons. Others advocate women leading in worship services and preaching the Word of God as long as it is “under the oversight of the session”. This erroneous position is held even in the face of the very clear teaching of I Timothy 2 (forbidding the women in the church to teach or exercise authority over a man in the church), and I Timothy 3:1ff (a qualification for elders and deacons being “the husband of one wife”). In the PCA accommodation to the values of our egalitarian, evolutionary, and humanistic culture is becoming more prevalent than submission to the Bible. We also see women being allowed to lead worship services, teach men in adult Sunday school classes and even “preach” in PCA churches. Where will it end? Only the Lord knows. But if these men are consistent with the hermeneutic that they have adopted, then they will find themselves or their disciples advocating the same thing that we see in the neo-orthodox denominations of our day. Here the position is purported that there is no distinction between men and women in the church or in the home, in spite of Scripture (Genesis 1,2,and 3,; 1Timothy 2,3, and 5; Proverbs 31; Ephesians 5). The Lord God has given a glorious work to men and women to serve the Lord together. Although they do not labor in the same roles, they do complement each other as they work together as a team. The neo-orthodox position is not God’s design, however politically correct it may be. The RPCUS believes that the Scripture and not the whims of a godless culture must be the rule. The RPCUS unashamedly seeks to live by the Word of God in the roles of men and women. That means no woman may hold the office of deacon or elder or may lead men in teaching and public worship. There are no elders advocating, let alone practicing such things in the RPCUS. This is why I want to join the RPCUS.

Christian Education. In distinction to the PCA, where the seeds of rebellion against God are being sown, nurtured and watered, the officers of the RPCUS believe, preach and practice the Covenant in the Christian nurture of our children. Malachi 4:6 declares, “And He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse.” When a person is converted, one of the first things that needs to take place is the application of the Gospel to his family. The home must be brought under the sway of Jesus Christ and His saving power. If the church of the Lord Jesus is going to prosper, if we would see this culture turned back from the brink of destruction and disaster, if the church is to be made strong and vibrant again, then it must be filled with families that are strong, solid, covenantal families under the rule of the Lord Jesus Christ. While everyone ought to give their children a distinctly Christian Education, an elder must. (See Ephesians 6:4 and Deuteronomy 6:4-8, 1 Timothy 3:1-7.) A distinctly Christian Education is where either: 1) the parents are exercising their responsibility to teach the children the fear of the Lord directly; or 2) are delegating that responsibility to someone in a good Christian school who will give their child an education based upon the Bible, focusing upon the Lord Jesus Christ, and bringing every thought captive to Him. In the PCA we have men who say, “Yes, we want our young people to be trained and taught to have a Christian worldview.” Yet they see no problem turning these young people over to the public school system of the day. This system is based upon the premise that you don’t need Jesus Christ and the Bible to know truth. Proverbs 1:7, Colossians 2:3-4. Romans 1:18-32 reveals God’s assessment of so-called neutral thinking that leaves God and His Redeemer out of the equation of truth. Through instruction and personal example, the elders must show their congregations how to fulfill the great commission. A fundamental way they do this through giving their children a distinctivly Christian Education. How can it be that men who are elders in the PCA could be so blind as to think that the public school system is good and acceptable in the sight of our covenant God? Modern public education clearly repudiates Proverbs 1:7 (”The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”) and Colossians 2:3 (”in Christ Himself are hidden all of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”). The commands of Scripture are plain concerning the teaching of children, (Deuteronomy 6:4-25 and Ephesians 6:4). How can elders deny such plain Scripture? Yes, we want to reach out to people who do not yet understand these things. Yes, we want to work with people where they are as they come to the Lord Christ. However, we must begin with the elders holding up the standard of God’s Word. Martin Luther said, “I am much afraid that schools will prove to be the great gates of hell unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures, engraving them upon the hearts of youth. I advise no one to place his child where the scriptures do not reign paramount. Every institution in which men are not increasingly occupied with the Word of God must become corrupt.” This denial of the covenant by God’s people, especially the elders in the PCA, is a tragedy, but praise God He is raising up a denomination full of elders who bow to the authority of God and his Word. The RPCUS is a denomination that is not ashamed of the God-given goal of every Christian, not only for individuals but also for our children. (Joshua 24:15 – “but as for me and my house we will serve the Lord;” 2 Corinthians 10:5 – “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of Christ, and we are taking every thought captive to Christ”). It is the practice of every elder in the RPCUS to give his children a distinctly Christian Education.

Numerous other examples of the commitment of the RPCUS to be true to the Scripture include:1) The RPCUS believes and proclaims the application of the law of God in every realm of life. [See Romans 13 and the Westminster Standards, application of OT law to every realm of life, personal family church civil etc. See the exposition of the ten commandments in the WLC Q&A 91-154 and the 19th Chapter of the WCF.( There is a growing antagonism to the law of God in the PCA.)] 2) The RPCUS not only says it is Presbyterian, but it also practices Biblical church government. We are Presbyterian not congregational, or hierarchical in our view of church government. (The PCA is increasingly becoming more congregationalist and hierarchical. There have been recent rulings that higher courts may not determine the rulings or the makeup of the lower courts. Also, the permanent committees and agencies of the church are functioning more like boards and autonomous self-determining bodies.) 3) The RPCUS will not allow practicing Masons to serve as elders in any of its churches. The PCA, however, has numerous elders who are also Masons. 4) The RPCUS stands against the unbiblical practices and philosophy of the “anything goes mentality” of the church growth movement. (The PCA has churches that use clowns, “baseball Sunday”, and dance classes on Sunday afternoon to attract people to the Gospel). 5) The RPCUS uses the qualifications of the Bible to assess church planters and missionaries. (The PCA requires her church planters and missionaries to pass a secular humanistic psychological test to be ‘qualified’ with the blessing of the hierarchy of Atlanta.); 6) The RPCUS is committed to the purity and the peace of the church and practices loving biblical discipline. (Today we see a hesitation and many times the outright refusal of the modern church, including the PCA, to practice loving Biblical church discipline for the glory of Christ, for the safe-keeping of the rest of the flock, and for the reclamation of the offending brother.) The RPCUS stands with Jesus and the Apostles upon the Word of God in this practice, see Matthew 18:15ff and 1 Corinthians 5:1ff.

True To The Reformed Faith.

Martin Luther once said, “If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved and to be steady on all the battlefield besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that one point.” The reformers were not ashamed of any part of the Bible. They proclaimed the whole counsel of God. They declared Jesus Christ as the focus of Scripture, and in His face they preached the whole counsel of God. All 66 books of the Bible teach us of Jesus and His saving power, of His rule for faith and life. The Reformers summarized the main teachings of Scripture in the historic creeds especially the Westminster Standards. The RPCUS is not ashamed to believe and preach all these doctrines. The PCA has a growing minority of men who will preach through the Scriptures and the Standards for fear that they will not be palatable enough for the appetite of the people in the pews. The length of sermons is a good indication of the spiritual plight of many elders in the PCA. There is also a lack of desire for the bread of heaven by the people in the pew. When a 10-15 minute sermonett suffices, you see an impoverished people. Hosea 4:6. It has been said that such ‘sermonettes’ will only produce ‘Christianettes’. As a result, we see a country full of shallow superficial ‘Christianettes’ who are taking our country into the realm of darkness at breakneck speed. Praise God for a denomination like the RPCUS. Not ashamed to stand with Luther, Calvin, Knox, with the Apostles, with those who love the Word, the Sovereign God and His revealed will, His very Word the Bible!

True to the Great Commission.

The RPCUS believes the great commission according to Scripture (Matthew 28:18). First, she believes that Jesus is the reigning King upon His throne. The One who sends us to preach the Word is Great. The scope is great. We are sent with the message of life to dead sinners, see Ephesians 2 and Ezekiel 37. Only Jesus Christ can and will save His lost sheep. The Father draws all His elect to Christ by his Spirit through the preaching of the Gospel. The RPCUS believes WLC Q&A # 191 and the power of God to accomplish all His good promises concerning the spread of the Gospel to the ends of the earth. The Lord has sent us to disciple all the nations. Did He send us on a fool’s errand? No. The Bible indeed give us great promises of the Lord yet bringing a great harvest, not only of individuals to come and bow before the Lord Jesus, but whole nations running to the Savior and loving His law and walking in His ways (See Psalm 2, Psalm 22 Psalm 45,47,110, Isaiah 2, 9,11,52,53, 60,61, Matthew 13, Romans 16:20-27 and Revelation 15:3-4). The content of the Gospel is the glorious claims of our Lord Jesus Christ. Repent and believe is what we declare. Justification by grace through faith alone in Christ is the only source of our righteousness before the Sovereign of the universe. He grants repentance and faith to all His lost sheep. The content of the Gospel is also, “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Look at the preaching of the great herald of Messiah, John the Baptist, in Luke 3:18-20. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is focused on the person and work of Christ and also speaks the whole counsel of God from the whole of Scripture to the whole of life! There is not a single area of life that is is excepted from the sovereign claims of Jesus Christ. Not only a person’s heart and mind, but also his entire being is obligated to serve Jesus. His family, his business, his money, his time, his culture, the institutions, and the civil government ought to be laid as a living sacrifice at the feet of Jesus by people who love and embrace Jesus as their King and Savior. This is what the apostles preached. This is the Gospel according to Scripture. The RPCUS believes and spreads this Gospel. This is why I want to join the RPCUS.

Psalm 11:3-6 says “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” It then shows us the Lamb upon His throne. He is the One to whom we look to rebuild the foundations. It is time to start rebuilding. By the grace of God the old foundation is being laid again for the house of God in this land. I believe that the time for me to work for reformation in my present denomination is drawing to a close. We ought to do all within our power to hand down to our children and grandchildren a faithful bride. It is time to build upon the Rock of Ages and His Word, the Bible, to see the church revived and made strong again. May He grant reformation to His bride in our day. He is on the throne. He is at work building His Kingdom. It is with confidence in the One who said that He would build His church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it that I take my stand with Martin Luther, who once reportedly said, “Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me”. It is because of these reasons that I joyfully look forward to joining with my brothers and sisters in the RPCUS in humble obedience to my triune God.

True To The Scriptures, The Reformed Faith, And The Great Commission.

It still is a great motto, this motto that was prominently displayed in the beginning of the PCA. It is my prayer that our Lord will bring revival and reformation to the church of the Lord Jesus Christ in these United States. May the PCA repent and return to her first love. It is also my prayer that until she turns from her wanderings in the wilderness, He will keep the fire of His Gospel burning in the pulpits and in the hearts of the RPCUS. May He use her to fan into flames the spark of revival and reformation that burns in His faithful bride. May His Spirit send His fire to sweep over this entire nation and beyond. May He give grace to many of my brothers who would despise the day of small beginnings, “Not by might, not by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord.”

Why a PCA Pastor Joined the RPCUS -9/10/09SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

No comments: