Counsel of Chalcedon
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2006 Issue 5

The very reason why Christians are put in the position of giving a reasoned account of the hope that is in them is that not all men have faith. Because there is a world to be evangelized (men who are unconverted), there is the need for the believer to defend his faith: Evangelism naturally brings one into apologetics. This indicates that apologetics is no mere matter of “intellectual jousting”; it is a serious matter of life and death - eternal life and death. The apologist who fails to take account of the evangelistic nature of his argumentation is both cruel and proud. Cruel because he overlooks the deepest need of his opponent and proud because he is more concerned to demonstrate that he is no academic fool that to show how all glory belongs to the gracious God of all truth. Evangelism reminds us of who we are (sinners saved by grace) and what our opponents need (conversion of heart, not simply modified propositions). I believe, therefore, that the evangelistic nature of apologetics shows us the need to follow a presuppositional defense of the faith. In contrast to this approach stand the many systems of neutral autonomous argumentation.

THE DIRECTORY FOR THE PUBLIC WORSHIP OF GOD (1645)

This preparation of “a new form of worship” to replace the Anglican “Book of Common Prayer,” (abolished by Parliament), was a Directory of public worship, not a liturgy for public worship. The use of the word, “Directory,” “was new and deliberate. It was a reminder that the document was only intended to be a guide and an agenda, not a liturgy imposing exact words to be used in public worship.” - Iain Murray, TO GLORIFY AND ENJOY GOD, pg. 174.

The “Tree of Life” was the first “tree” actually given a title in the Bible, but the Fig has the honor of being the first ordinary tree named in the Holy Scriptures (Gen. 3:7) The honor is short lived, however, as we soon learn that the leaves of the fig tree were “sewn together” by Adam and Eve to cover their nakedness after their fall into sin! Time and again the fig tree is referred to in the Bible but is usually cast in a much more positive light! (Gen. 3:7; Luke 21:29; Mt. 7:16; James 3:12)

I had never tasted a fresh fig (nor seen one) until a dozen years ago when we moved to Jackson, Mississippi. In fact, Fig Newtons had been the sum total of my fig experience for 40 years! Then, in God’s providence, I walked out onto the small deck of our little manse in Jackson and was greeted by an unusual tree covered with some sort of very prolific small purplish-brown fruit hanging in the midst of large sculpted leaves!! Never hesitating when it comes to trying a new fruit, I popped one into my mouth and it was truly “love at first bite!” Imagine, then, how chagrined I was to have to leave this tree behind six years later. But in the extreme goodness of God, the house we moved into four years ago had a huge fig tree staring at us from the center of our back yard! Beyond “sharing the wealth” with other (somewhat rare) fig lovers, I was really at a loss to know how to preserve these delectable delights coming in at a rate of nearly 100 a day!! But one call to my Mama in Virginia and another to a dear older friend who has been making fig preserves for years and I was on my way to becoming something of a “fig sage” myself!

This question can be embarrassing, can’t it? Why do you worship on Sunday? Doesn’t the Bible say that the seventh day is the time God consecrated for his people? Where does the Bible say that Christians should sanctify the first day of the week, rather than the seventh day?

It’s a good question, you will have to admit. It’s also a question that needs an answer. So what can be said?

Sometime back, TE Rogers mentioned in this very publication that he had read the first chapter of an autobiography, John G. Paton: Missionary to the New Hebrides, and that it was quite possibly the greatest chapter of any book he had ever read. (I don’t recall if he expressly exempted the Scriptures from that statement, but I’m confident of his meaning.) Around the same time, at least one Elder at our Denomination’s summer Family Conference made reference to this same book in similarly glowing terms. So as Christmas time rolled around – or more pointedly, Christmas present buying time – a year ago, I decided that I would trust my Elders and buy a copy of John Paton’s book for a friend and I to read together. Shortly thereafter, the ladies of our mission work became interested in and adopted the autobiography as a part of their regular book study. Now, half our congregation can personally affirm, to one and all, that the Elders of the RPCUS were not exaggerating when they sang the praises of this book.

John G. Paton: Missionary to the New Hebrides, is one of the greatest books you will ever find, and I unabashedly demand for it a place on your book shelf – wedged in there between your copies of Pilgrims Progress and Through Gates of Splendor.

Are you good at Geography? I remember trying to learn the names of countries, oceans, rivers, mountains when I was a boy; but I imagine your teachers make it much more interesting for you in these days. I used to wish I had one of those big globes of the world, because then it was easier to see that Australia and New Zealand were on the other side of the world.

The world that we know today, thanks to people like Christopher Columbus, is a much larger place than the world that was known in the times of the Bible, but I want to talk to you about the big wide world in which the people of Bible days lived. The Bible refers to places as far away as India (Esther 1:1) and Spain (Romans 15:24). There are some who think that there is a reference to China in the Old Testament, but we are not quite sure about that. It‛s just possible that some of the people of the Bible times went as far as England.

But to a boy in Palestine, in Old Testament times, places such as India, Spain, China and England did not mean much. They must have seemed as far away as the moon.

Ginger Plowman, founder of Preparing the Way Ministries, has written three excellent works for parents, moms, and homes. Published by Shepherd Press (1-800-338-1445; www.shepherdpress.com), she has written two books: Don’t Make Me Count to Three – a Mom’s Look at Heart-Oriented Discipline ($12.95, 154 pages), and Heaven at Home – Establishing and Enjoying a Peaceful Home ($13.95, 224 pages). The third work, Wise Words for Moms, is chart printed in the style of a calendar for hanging on the wall for easy access and quick reference in addressing children’s misdeeds ($4.00).