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2004 Issue 3

Over four hundred people attended the Second Annual Reformed Family Bible Conference sponsored by the RPCUS and the Trinity Presbyterian Church, Tazewell, Virginia this past June. The Conference was held once again at Bluefield College located in the beautiful mountain town of Bluefield, Virginia. Besides those from the local and surrounding community there were 248 registered conferees from Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Illinois, Ohio, Oklahoma, Alabama, Texas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, and Ecuador. This year's theme was THE GOSPEL OF TRUTH. Following is a brief introduction to messages given by the speakers at the conference. At the end you will find how you can order audio/video copies of the messages.

Paul declared to Timothy: There is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus ... - I Timothy 2:5. Hebrews 12:24 refers to Jesus as the mediator of a new covenant...

Jesus Christ was sent to earth by God the Father to bestow God's unmerited grace upon sinners, saving us from our sins; and to reveal God's truth to mankind, giving us true insights in to the character and will of God and the nature of life in this universe so we can live for our Creator's glory. Therefore, when Paul says that this is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, he was speaking of this redemption and revelation. For this reason John says of Him: And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. -- For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. - John 1:14, 17

The following is transcribed from a seminar given by Phil Johnson at the London Reformed Baptist Seminary, meeting at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, London, on 10 January 2004.

In this hour, I want to give you a brief critique of a theological trend that began on your side of the Atlantic and is rapidly gaining influence among evangelicals in America.

It is a point of view known as "The New Perspective on Paul." Some of you will be familiar with that label. It's the nickname for a school of thought that suggests we need to overhaul our interpretation of the Pauline epistles and completely revamp our understanding of the apostle Paul's theology. And that, in turn, obviously, has serious and far-reaching ramifications for all of New Testament theology.

When voices are raised on every side prescribing solutions for all our social and domestic problems, which are too often mutually contradictory, where shall we turn to find the right way and to whom shall we listen with confidence as truly authoritative? Ours is an age in which the very foundations of family and nation are not only threatened, but are breaking up and disintegrating. All too often our churches attempt to counteract the forces of their own attrition by introducing stylish new programs and methods aimed at the youth or young married couples or for the golden years generation depending on particular situations. While much of this looks sound and reasonable at first glance, I do not believe it stands the test of close examination by the light of Scripture. While we specialize in particular age groups and ignore the family almost completely. We devise an endless variety of special programs and activities replete with the most graphic displays and teaching aids. How dramatically does the old Heidelberg Catechism cut to the heart of these vain and unbiblical efforts at Question 98: But may not pictures be tolerated in churches as books for the laity? No, declares the answer, for we should not be wiser than God who will not have his people taught by dumb images but by the lively preaching of his Word.

Recently, in my studies, I twice came across references to the poem "The Cotter's Saturday Night," by Robert Burns. The first was in a commentary on Psalm 127 which said, "This Psalm has been called 'The Cotter's Saturday Night Song.'" I had to look up the word "cotter," which I discovered means a cottager, cottage dweller, the mark of a peasant, rural laborer or small farmer. The other reference was in a message by the late Rev. J. Gary Aitken entitled, The Biblical Standard For Covenant Fathers and Family Worship. Rev. Aitken quoted remarks made by Dr. John F. Cannon to the 1897 General Assembly of the PCUS on the occasion of the 250th Anniversary of the Westminster Convention. Cannon declared, "It is no accident that The Cotter's Saturday Night was written by a poet trained under the Westminster Standards, and that its scene is laid in a land molded by Presbyterianism. A Scots servant girl hearing the poem read before a company of admiring English people naively said that she saw nothing very wonderful about it, for that was the way they did at her father's house every night. Such scenes are indigenous to Presbyterian Soil; and if our beloved old church ever loses her glory, it will be when the fires go out on her family altars."

Phil Mickelson, on national television, partially attributed his winning the Augusta National Masters to his deceased grandfather whom he believed gave the ball a bit of a nudge, causing him to win the 2004 Championship. It seems to me that we are hearing these kinds of "sentimental" ideas more and more. Just a few years ago we were unfamiliar with the idea of the dead giving assistance to the living! Could it be that we are tolerant of such notions, and at the same time intolerant of anyone who would dare spoil these "sweet" moments with references to Scriptural truths?

When my father died someone suggested, "Your dad will be pulling for you, putting in a good word." I knew my friend was showing compassion, but her concept was totally inaccurate. In this post-modern world we are without a standard, without truth - anything goes. The Scriptures do not say any deceased man or woman has the power to give assistance or bring us into harmony with anyone. "For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (I Tim. 2:5 NAS). God could have said He is God and Christ is the mediator and left it at that; however, He gave us specific numbers and a specific gender that we can understand - the numbers one and the man Christ Jesus.

A woman with a husband and two children recently died of cancer. I can't figure out why God allowed an awful disease to cut down a precious person in the prime of her life. I don't know why God allowed her husband and children to lose someone so dear to them, or why her parents, brothers, sisters, and friends had to go through crushing grief I don't know why she got sick and died. I do know that it wasn't due to a lack of prayer.

My friend's sister prayed many times for healing. Her husband and children prayed. Her brothers and sisters prayed. Her parents prayed. Her friends prayed. Entire congregations prayed. Many, many of us prayed and prayed and prayed that she would be healed. At times it even looked like the prayers were being answered in a thrilling way. There were encouraging reports, and our hopes rose. But those hopes were dashed by cruel cancer, and she died. Why did so many prayers bring such a crushing result? How could God not give healing and long life in response to so many prayers for such a beloved person?