Reservations are not required and the cost of the lunch is $5. If you have any questions, please contact Joshua Rieger in the Discipleship office at 601-326-9243 or email@example.com
Historic First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, Mississippi, USA (founded 1837) is the largest Presbyterian congregation in the State and one of the largest in the United States. A flagship congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), First Church played a significant role in establishing the PCA (the largest conservative Presbyterian denomination in the English-speaking world), Reformed Theological Seminary, and Reformed University Ministries (a nationwide campus fellowship).
Vol. 33 Num. 12
First Published: March 17, 2000
For the many families in our congregation with school-age children, I trust that you had an enjoyable and relaxing Spring Break. It was most gratifying to look out last Wednesday night and see the strong attendance. Our Minister of Teaching,
By the way, also in the nature of encouragement, I have been meaning to mention to you, ever since the officer elections, how high was the number of people voting. The election managers indicated to me that the number of ballots cast was the highest in their memory, approaching 1000 in each of the rounds. Indeed, on the second Sunday of the elder election, we very nearly ran out of ballots! I thank God for your faithful and prayer participation. Do continue to pray for our newly elected officers and for the many fine men who went through the training. We have plans to begin some special discipleship activities for all of these brethren, especially in light of the role they have to play in the future health of our congregation.
On another subject, last week, I shared with you a bit about our work on the PCA’s creation study committee. As I said, there are at least four different views of the nature of the creation days on our committee (the Traditional view, that is 24-hour or normal day view; the Framework view, that is, that the days are literary devices to describe the real historical events of God’s creation but do not tell us anything about how long or in what order God actually made things; the Analogical view another figurative view, that says the days represent real events, and may even speak broadly to the sequence of creation, but are a literary device for establishing an analogy between “God’s creation days” and the days of our work week; and the Day-Age view which says that the days were long ages, aeons).
What I need to stress is that every member of the committee affirms the historicity of Genesis 1-3, the reality of God’s special creation of the world and rejects Darwinian evolution. The committee is desirous that the PCA would affirm a range of core commitments regarding the doctrine of creation that would allow for a limited, principled diversity on some matters relating to the doctrine of creation, while ensuring that secularism and naturalism gain no foothold in our circles. When the report is published, we’ll make it available for your perusal in the church library.
Perhaps next week I can share a little about my recent visit to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in
Vol. 33 Num. 10
First Published: March 10, 2000
I want to thank you for your generous giving toward the work of missions this past year. Another exceedingly large anonymous gift was given toward our mission work just this last week. This means that our church has supported the expansion of Christ’s kingdom through evangelism, discipleship, church planting and missions with around $2,000,000 in the last year alone. We all ought to be rejoicing over this. Thanks be to God, that in his grace he has seen fit to use us as instruments of blessing to his people, as well as to those who will become his people, around the world.
If you have not yet made a Faith Promise commitment, now is your time to join in on the blessing. From the very beginning, God’s covenant of grace has entailed our being a blessing to the nations (see Genesis 12:1-3). This means that, as Christians, we must care about all the lost wherever they are, pray for them, and be committed to doing everything we can to disciple the nations. As Joe Novenson reminded us, the covenant of grace means that we are no longer “guests” here, but “hosts.”
This last week I spent two days in
The committee has researched the matter vigorously and debated the matter comprehensively. We have not come to an identical point of view, but we have all been drawn closer together (I think) in our mutual understanding. There are at least four major views of the Genesis days represented on the committee. The Traditional view (often known as the 24-hour or normal day view) that Genesis days were basically calendar days as we know them is the position of the majority of the committee (perhaps 7 of the 12 members). The Framework view (that Moses does not mean to indicate a specific sequence and duration of time in speaking of the six Genesis days, rather these days refer to the real historical events of God’s creation but do not tell us anything about how long or in what order God actually made things) also had a representative on the committee. In other words, this view says that the events of Genesis 1-2 are real history, but that that history is recounted in a literary framework of a “week.” The Analogical view (that the days represent real events, and may even speak broadly to the sequence of creation, but are a literary device for establishing an analogy between “God’s creation days” and the days of our work week. The main architect and proponent of this view served on the committee. Finally, the Day-Age view (which says that the days were long ages, aeons) was represented as well. This view has been around since the advent of the new geology at the turn of the nineteenth century and has been held by many famous Reformed theologians. More about this next week. Enjoy your Spring Break!
Vol. 33 Num. 9
“Applying Christ’s Love”
First Published: March 3, 2000
This Lord’s Day morning, the Lord willing, we will come to the end of our studies of Jesus’ crucifixion and death in Matthew 27. Then, it’s on to Matthew 28 and in another three weeks we’ll have finished the book. It’s hard to believe. It has been a great privilege to work through the Gospel of Matthew with you over the last three years or so (we started the first Sunday of January, 1997!). I am so thankful for your enthusiasm in response to our study of this great book. It has been enormously helpful to me to prepare these messages. I have learned and grown along with you (one of the great advantages of expository teaching).
Our study of the trial, torture and crucifixion of our Lord has been helpful and convicting to me. And, of course, it forcefully displays his love for his people. One reason that I have wanted to dwell on these things for so long is because of their important for Christian living. The cross of Christ is at the center of Christian salvation and experience. For that reason, I thought it would be useful for us to meditate today on a couple of the practical applications of the doctrine of Christ’s Love for the Church.
For one thing, an apprehension of Christ’s love for the church not only teaches us what true love is--it evokes it from us. Love to God and neighbor flow from God’s love to us, in Christ. In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus teaches that our prime duty in life is to love God with all of our being. That’s why J.C. Ryle could rightly say that “Love is the grand secret of true obedience to God.” But Jesus, and his disciple John, also emphasized that this kind of love for God flows from God’s prior love to us. “We love, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
What is love? Delighting in God (love of God himself) and seeking others best interest because of delight in God (neighbor love). What are the roots of love? Knowledge of God in his grace. That’s why, if you don’t know God savingly you cannot love him. What are the evidences that we possess this kind of love? Well, there is:
(1) love of communion with him and love of his ordinances;
(2) contentment in God [we love the God of our blessings more than the blessings of God];
(3) hatred for sin;
(4) sympathy – grieving over the things that grieve him;
(5) desire to draw others to him [true love cannot be silent];
(6) we ache in his absence;
(7) we cheerfully do his will even when it conflicts with our ideas and agenda;
(8) willingness to suffer for him.
Another practical implication of the doctrine of Christ’s love for the Church concerns our assurance of salvation. Christ’s love for the church is essential for and foundational to our assurance. That’s why Jesus stresses to his disciples in John 15:9 that “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.” You see, if you think that the grounds of your assurance of salvation are found ultimately in what you have done you will never gain assurance. Even your repenting needs repenting of! Why, ultimately, do you persevere in the faith? Because of the perseverance of Christ’s love. Jesus loves us to the end (John 13:1).
So, as you continue to reflect on the love of Christ for you, as it is displayed in his death on the cross, think on these implications (and others). Pray that God will enable you to know and experience his love. And give him thanks for his matchless love.
The Pastor’s Perspective
Vol. 33 Num. 5
First Published: February 3, 2000
I cannot believe that January is already gone. For months we were anticipating the coming of the new year, with all the attendant Y2K hoopla, and now the first month has already passed. “Tempus fugit,” as our Latin teachers used to quip.
I was in
The time there was most encouraging. Second is a remarkable church and our friend Sandy Willson, their Senior Minister, is not only doing an excellent job, he is very much loved by his people. David Wells’ addresses were superb. It was good to meet so many relatives and friends of our congregation. As always, though, it is good to be home again at First. Every time I am away (and I try carefully to select and limit those times), I appreciate you more. My thanks to Derek Thomas for filling the pulpit so ably in my absence.
We have all enjoyed Glen Knecht’s teaching and preaching over the last week. We are thankful that we were able to have the meetings at all, given the weather. It’s the first time that Donna Dobbs has ever prayed against snow!
Glen’s talks for our family conference were well-received, his messages at the Mid-South Men’s Rally were strong, and his sermons on Sunday were challenging and timely. Many things stand out in my mind, reflecting on Glen’s messages.
His point, shared with husbands and wives on Thursday evening about “clarification” was a most helpful piece of sanctified common sense learned through years of study and experience. You’ll have to listen to the tape if you missed the meeting!
Glen’s second and third sermons at the Men’s Rally were especially meaningful to me. And his Sunday morning message was encouraging and stimulating. His call for us to long to draw near to God has stuck with me over these last several days, and his remarks about humility being derived from a high view of God (rather than an improper view of self) are worth further contemplation. I was also struck by his suggestion that the most important way we can impact our society and culture was to cultivate and experience the presence of God in the church.
Remember the Missions Conference is set to begin on Sunday, February 13. Mark the various activities on your family calendar, make plans to attend, and pray for God’s blessing on the conference. Meanwhile, this Lord’s Day we continue our study of the cross in the morning, and we conclude our study of the life of Jacob in the evening.
The Pastor’s Perspective
Vol. 32 Num. 48
“The Peace of Christ at Christmas”
First Published: December 14, 1999
Last time, we asked the question: “Is this a peaceful season for you?” Specifically, “is this really a peaceful season, a time in which your soul is refreshed in and focused upon Christ?” Though there are many obstacles thrown up against our experience of God’s peace, we know that Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 3:16 “Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance.” So, God himself tells us that it is possible to experience his grant of peace, in every situation – good or bad.
We also asked “what is peace?” and suggested that peace is that state of the heart in which we rest comfortably in God because of his free favor to us in Christ. The peace of which we are speaking does not mean the absence of difficulties, challenges, or disappointments, but rather spiritual peace entails a sense of the presence of God and a free submission to His will. We repose in God, who is our refuge, because we have been reconciled to him through Christ Jesus and we delight to do his pleasure. Now, how does a believer experience this kind of peace?
We must recognize some of the things that hinder us from the apprehension of God’s peace. Sometimes we allow our troubles to overshadow our trust in God. For some of us, our circumstances have become the occasion of overwhelming worry. We must recognize this for what it is. Sin. Paul tells us not to worry about anything! Of course, some of us suffer from temperamental fearfulness. That is, we have a natural tendency to worry. We, too, must recognize this proclivity and arm ourselves in prayer against it. Then again, you may be in the midst of a season in which you sense a lack of God's presence. You feel distant from God. For a non-Christian, this may be the result of conviction or anger at God. For a Christian this is sometimes the result of a trial or the warning sign of a weak walk with the Lord. Prayerlessness is another thing that robs us of peace. Even mature Christians are quickly undone without prayer. Then again, misplaced priorities can undercut our experience of peace. For instance, when we set our hearts on things as a source of contentment, we are killing ourselves to obtain something that can’t deliver. God created with a “God-shaped void” within us. Only he can fill it. Some of us lack peace because our dread of consequences. We are fearful of what may happen, and peace is blocked out. And still others of us are haunted by regret over our past wrongs. We often kick ourselves endlessly over past sins and mistakes. All these things can be hindrances to our enjoyment of Gospel peace.
So what are the antidotes to these impediments to peace?
Well, if our troubles (hard circumstances) are robbing us of peace, we need to pray for God to grant our hearts a whole submission to his SOVEREIGNTY and GOODNESS. As when the Psalmist prayed: “In peace I will both lie down and sleep, For You alone, O LORD, make me to dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8) If our fearfulness (worry) is confounding our peace, let us determine to fortify our hearts with a reliance on and confidence in God's SOVEREIGNTY and RIGHTEOUSNESS. As when Isaiah promises: “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6) If we lack the sense God's presence (feeling distant from God), let us draw near to him in PRAYER. And if we discover our priorities misplaced (which is basically idolatry), let us determine to seek CONTENTMENT only in God (rather than in people, circumstances, and temporal prosperity). As Paul said: “For He Himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14).
More on peace next time.
Please join us for our Men of the Covenant luncheon on Thursday, March 4, from 11:45 - 1:00 p.m. Our speaker will be Mr. Bebo Elkin. Bebo has served as the Mississippi Area Coordinator for Reformed University Ministries for twenty-six years. Before assuming his present position, Bebo served on the campus staff at University of Southern Mississippi, and later as headmaster of Presbyterian Christian School in Hattiesburg, MS. He has been a visiting lecturer at RTS, Jackson, MS, and Charlotte, NC, Covenant Theological Seminary, St. Louis, MO, and Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Greenville, SC. He holds degrees from Belhaven College, RTS, the University of Rhode Island, and Union Theological Seminary, Richmond, VA. Bebo and his wife, Jan, have three children, Amanda (31), Emelie (28) and Jamey (27). Bebo lives in Jackson, and is a ruling elder at FPC.
Reservations are not required and the cost of lunch is $6.00. Please contact Shannon Craft in Discipleship if you have any questions.
601-326-9243 or firstname.lastname@example.org