What We Believe

Who Is to Practice Evangelism, and How?

Who is to practice evangelism? The people who enjoy God's grace are those who witness to others; they are the ones who practice evangelism. A witness is someone who faithfully tells others what he has seen, heard, or personally experienced. In Acts, new believers in Jesus seemed to have irrepressible joy, which produced spontaneous witness. They were sinners, saved by the crucified and resurrected Christ, and were refreshed by grace (Acts 3:19). They once had been dead, but now were fully enjoying new life. They once had been blind, but now were amazed at what they saw. They enjoyed Jesus and wanted others to enjoy him, too. Ordinary Christian Witnesses The apostles were not the only witnesses, for they were not the only ones who had been given eternal life through faith in Jesus. In fact, it was the ordinary people (if anyone who has the gift of supernatural life can be called simply an "ordinary" church member) whom the Spirit propelled from Jerusalem as witnesses (Acts 8:1, 4). They were honest ... Read more

"Especially the Preaching"

The Athenians did not have a thing on us in their insatiable demand for novelty (Acts 17:21). In our lust for the "latest," we seem perpetually driven to redefine everything, even the church and its mission. How many denominations and congregations erect committees to define the church and its mission, as if that had not been done centuries ago? We find such a definition in chapter 25 of our Confession of Faith, sections 1 and 2, describing the church, and section 3, setting forth the mission of the church: "Unto this catholic visible church Christ hath given the ministry, oracles, and ordinances of God, for the gathering and perfecting of the saints, in this life, to the end of the world." Simply put, the mission of the church is to gather (evangelize) and perfect (disciple) God's people by a faithful use of the means of grace (the Word, sacraments, and prayer). To be sure, we can become stagnant and stale in a heartless use of the means of grace. This is why we always need to be renewed in our first ... Read more

Having an Eye for the Harvest

Are church-growth folks correct to say that a church will grow only if it is welcoming and friendly? Indeed, this is not just a technique for growth, but a loving response to Christ. Examples of it are found throughout the Bible: see Gen. 19:3; Deut. 10:19; Job 31:32; Matt. 5:47; Mark 2:15; Rom. 12:13; 1 Tim. 3:2; Heb. 13:2; 1 Pet. 4:9. Hospitality is to be shown to believers, to those not yet in the faith, to strangers and aliens, to anyone anywhere. This is, in fact, simply the lifestyle of those who follow Jesus. If you're not "naturally" friendly, he wants you to become more biblical! Here are some simple thoughts for making visitors feel welcomed in your church: 1. Expect visitors . Pray for them before you come to church. Once a month prepare Sunday dinner with a visitor or two in mind—nothing fancy, just more water in the soup. Your kids will love it, and they'll love your kids. 2. Look for visitors , for someone you haven't met. Hang around the entryway. While talking with a friend, ... Read more

Personal Evangelism

Evangelism is an intimidating word. Most of us recall times when we tried to testify about Christ, but stumbled on our words and failed miserably. Yet the role you can play in leading your friends to Jesus is enormous. The Institute for American Church Growth conducted research to determine why people—at least from a human standpoint—come to Christ and the church. Over fourteen thousand laypeople were asked, "What or who was responsible for your coming to Christ and your church?" Look at the following responses. Keep in mind that some people checked more than one category. Special need 1-2% Walk in 2-3% Pastor 5-6% Visitation 1-2% Sunday school 4-5% Evangelistic crusade      0.5% Church program 2-3% Friend or relative      75-90% The vast majority of the persons surveyed ... Read more

Memories of Robert Knudsen

The Rev. Dr. Robert D. Knudsen passed into glory on Monday, February 21, and while I rejoice in his entrance into glory, I am also saddened by the loss of a friend. Having now been in the same presbytery with him for seven or so years, I have seen him as a dear brother in Christ who will be missed. To appreciate Dr. Knudsen, you have to begin with Knudsen the humble servant of God. He loved God too much to allow Christians to do anything in less than God's own way. He succeeded Dr. Van Til on the faculty of Westminster Seminary, and maintained Van Til's desire to glorify God in apologetics. Then there was Knudsen the pastor—yes, pastor. He is remembered in my congregation (as no doubt in many others) as a gentle preacher who gladly filled the pulpit to the glory of God. His last motion on the floor of the Presbytery of Philadelphia was one intended to help a fellow minister resolve his conflict with others in the presbytery. There was Knudsen the humorist, who declared that he had finally ... Read more

Foundation Day or Freedom of Faith Day?

February 11, 2000 was a Japanese national holiday, Kenkoku Kinen ("Foundation") Day, celebrating the founding of the nation—according to Shinto mythology. The nationalistic-Shintoistic elements within Japanese society hold "pep rallies" on that day. But Christians call the day Shinkyou no Jiyuu ("Freedom of Faith") Day. Many Christians gather on that day to learn about and discuss the state of religious freedom in Japan and to develop strategies to cope with the gradual erosion of religious liberty and freedom of conscience in the country. The Revival of Shintoism According to traditional Shinto religion, which is foundational to Japanese culture and nationhood, the first emperor was the grandson of the sun goddess Amaterasu , who sent him to earth to rule it. The claim of subsequent emperors to divinity—and their right to be worshiped by the people—was of course denied by Christians. This resulted in their persecution, which became increasingly ruthless during the fanatical days ... Read more


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