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2003 Issue 1

A sermon preached on the day of the Continental Fast at Tredyffryn, in Chester County, by the Rev. David Jones, A.M., Philadelphia, July 20, 1775.

When the Continental Congress called for a day of prayer and fasting on July 20, 1775, the Rev. David Jones was invited to preach to a gathering of the troops. In Crosswicks, New Jersey, his support of the cause of American Independence had aroused a great deal of opposition from loyalists. More than 3,000 men gathered at the church, along with members of the congregation and other spectators. The Pennsylvania Gazette of August 16, 1775, announced the publication of his sermon, "Defensive War in a Just Cause Sinless," and its availability at nine pence from booksellers in Philadelphia, Lancaster, and Burlington. In 1776, David Jones offered his services as a chaplain to the army and was assigned to the Fourth Pennsylvania Battalion under Anthony Wayne.

Chapter one of Brian Abshire's unpublished book "Wealth and Poverty: Restoring Christian Wealth" A new chapter will appear in each future issue.

Discussing wealth and poverty can be tricky in Christian circles. On the one hand are the "health, wealth and prosperity" heretics who sucker the gullible with deviant theology in order to prosper themselves at the expense of their "pigeons." On the other hand, pietism and neo-gnosticism have so subtly infiltrated the modern evangelical church that many Christians have unwittingly adopted unbiblical presuppositions on the issue. "Pietism" is the belief that the essence of true Christianity is a private, personal and subjective religious experience, personally meaningfully, but socially irrelevant. Hence, pietism has little to say about the "real" world, especially how to achieve material blessings in it. "Neo-Gnosticism" is an ancient offshoot of Greek philosophy that sees matter as inherently bad and spirit as inherently good (with the idea that the path to true godliness is through secret knowledge). Thus, any concern about prosperity in this life is simply "unspiritual," "worldly" or even "sinful!" No, far better to spend our time poring over our prophecy charts trying to discern the next candidate for the anti-Christ than waste one's time on filthy "mammon."

The first public services of River Valley Reformed Presbyterian Mission (RPCUS) were held on the Lord's Day, April 20th, 2003. There were 18 people on hand (including one visitor) as mission worker Mark Anthony began teaching through the first epistle of John.

The River Valley Reformed Presbyterian Mission officially became a new work of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in the United States (RPCUS) at the 2003 Stated Meeting of Covenant Presbytery.

Ruling Elder John O. Kinnaird of Bethany OPC, Oxford, PA was tried and convicted on the charge of "teaching a doctrine of justification by faith and works, contrary to the Word of God and the Westminster Standards." The censure determined by the court for Mr. Kinnaird, by unanimous vote, is "indefinite suspension from office".

The Presbytery of Philadelphia, Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC), heard Elder Kinnaird's appeal on February 22, 2003 and voted to uphold the lower court's verdict. The denial of the appeal was by voice vote, with Dr. Richard Gaffin and several others requesting their vote overturn Elder Kinnaird's conviction be recorded in the minutes. The case is now expected to be appealed to the General Assembly of the OPC, meeting June 25th through July 2nd, 2003, in Sioux Center, Iowa.

Augustus Toplady is best known for writing the hymn Rock of Ages, first published in 1776. About eight years after its publication, the now popular story of the occasion of its writing was first promulgated. The Vicar of Blagdon, Toplady's former parish, related the following tale:

As young Augustus Toplady, curate of Blagdon in Somerset, England, strode about the rocky countryside one Sunday afternoon in 1776, he saw dark storm clouds gathering. As the sky became increasingly threatening and thunder rolled over the rocky promentaries of Burrington Combe, the anxious pastor searched for a place of safety from the coming storm. Spying a small ledge between towering boulders, Toplady crept under the sheltering rocks and crouched in their mighty shadows while the storm raged. While the wind roared and the thunder crashed, the words of the beloved hymn came unbidden to his mind, and taking a scrap of paper from his pocket, he hastily scrawled the inspired verses.

Visitors to Burrington Combe today are told this story even today. However, the true story of Rock of Ages lies instead in a great theological debate between Augustus Toplady and the Wesley brothers.

Do you have information overload? Would you know it if you saw it?

In a famous study, French economist Georges Anderla broke humanity's knowledge into units. He estimated that by AD 1500, humanity had amassed two units of knowledge. Within 250 years, total knowledge had doubled; the next doubling took only 150 years, and the next, only 50 years. The one after that took only ten years, so that by 1960 humanity had gathered 32 units of knowledge. The next doublings took seven and then six years, taking us to 128 units in 1973, the year of Anderla's study. Since then, the rate of doubling has continued to increase ever more rapidly so that today, with the advent of the information revolution, human knowledge is estimated to be doubling every eighteen months and it is predicted that it will double every four months by the year 2010.

In the current debate over Justification, it is argued by those holding to the "new paradigm" that Christians are those united with Christ through baptism, thus equating union with Christ to membership in the visible or "historical" church) and that this union can actually be broken through apostasy. In contrast, the following passages by the great theologian John Murray offer the orthodox view of the Biblical doctrine of Union with Christ.

Union with Christ is really the central truth of the whole doctrine of salvation not only in its application but also in its once-for-all accomplishment in the finished work of Christ. Indeed the whole process of salvation has its origin in one phase of union with Christ and salvation has in view the realization of other phases of union with Christ. This can be readily seen if we remember that brief expression which is so common in the New Testament, namely, "in Christ." It is that which is meant by "in Christ" that we have in mind when we speak of "union with Christ." It is quite apparent that the Scripture applies the expression "in Christ" to much more than the application of redemption. A certain aspect of union with Christ, it is true, belongs strictly to the application of redemption. With that we shall deal later. But we would not deal properly with the subject of union with Christ unless we set forth, first of all, its broader meaning. We would not be able to appreciate that which falls within the application of redemption if we did not relate it to that which is broader.