March 2005 New Horizons

Laughing with God at the empty tomb

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Laughing with God at the Empty Tomb

The resurrection of Jesus was a great victory by our Lord over his enemies. This victory calls for, among other things, laughter! The apostle Paul certainly saw it this way. In his sermon in Acts 13, the apostle sees in the resurrection of Christ the fulfillment of Psalm 2: Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, "Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us." He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, "As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill." (vss. 1-6) In response to the efforts of men and demons to thwart his redemptive purposes, God himself laughed at his enemies on the day he raised his Son from the dead. But may we too join in God's triumphant laughter? We certainly may, inasmuch as Christ the King was in his ... Read more

Election and the Covenant of Grace

The Westminster standards put the covenant of grace in the context of election. They indicate that the covenant promises are made only to or for the elect. This teaching is found in several places in the standards. Let's see if there is biblical warrant for what our standards teach. Those places are at least the following: WCF, 7.3: "... the Lord was pleased to make a second, commonly called the covenant of grace; wherein he freely offereth unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ; requiring of them faith in him, that they may be saved, and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life his Holy Spirit, to make them willing, and able to believe." LC, A 30: "God ... of his mere love and mercy delivereth his elect out of it [the estate of sin and misery], and bringeth them into an estate of salvation by the second covenant, commonly called the covenant of grace." LC, Q/A 31: " With whom was the covenant of grace made? The covenant of grace was made with Christ as ... Read more

My Church Is My Family

As I was driving my kids to school, I saw a bumper sticker I really liked. It said, "St. Francis Cabrini Catholic Church Is My Family." It reminded me that my congregation, Pineville Presbyterian Church, is my family. My first thought was that maybe we could make our own bumper sticker. It would testify to our community that we care about one another. And care we do! I confess with delight that I have been embraced by most, if not all, as family! But the bumper sticker also reminded me that the church should be the focus of our lives. The psalmist recounts his supreme delight in the saints of God (Ps. 16:3). He beseeches the Lord for the favor of participating in the joy of the covenant people (Ps. 106:4-5). In the New Testament, Paul refers to the church as our mother (Gal. 4:26). Wherever he went, he established local churches and sought by visit and letter to strengthen the brethren, that they might endure in the kingdom of God (Acts 14:21-23). The church is the house of the living God, the pillar ... Read more

Turning Points in American Presbyterian History
Part 3: Old Side versus New Side, 1741-1758

Almost like clockwork, once every hundred years or so, American Presbyterians have endured a major division in their ranks, resulting in the formation of two separate denominations. Most Orthodox Presbyterians are aware of their own break with the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. in 1936 under the leadership of J. Gresham Machen. Many are also aware of the split in 1837 between the Old School and the New School (still to be featured in this series). Few, however, know much about the split between the Old Side and the New Side Presbyterians. That split occurred in 1741, only thirty-five years after the formation of the Presbytery of Philadelphia. It pitted the anti-revival Old Side against the pro-revival New Side. But the pro-revival party could not claim the mantle of conservative Presbyterianism, as has often been thought. The revivalists were generally the innovators (if one can be novel in a church so young), while their Old Side opponents were not the proto-liberals that many have assumed them to ... Read more


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