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The Westminster Confession of Faith, the Larger and Shorter Catechisms, written in the late 1640's, still have the spiritual power to transform individuals, families and entire cultures on the threshold of the Twenty-First Century. As no other book, outside the Bible, the Westminster Standards have been informing, inspiring and transforming people and nations for over 350 years. Why? Because they take seriously all the facts of the written Word of God and all the facts of reality and human life. They seek to understand everything we need to know about God and the universe in the light of that Word, Psa. 36:9. They look at all of life from the perspective of the God of the Bible, for from Him and through Him and to Him are all things, Rom. 11:26. It is for this reason that the Westminster Shorter Catechism begins with the question: "What is man's chief end?", and answers: "Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever."

“I wish every Christian, at least every Presbyterian, would read this message.” - Wayne Rogers

 

Near the conclusion of this sermon we find these words:  “As for this building, my brethren, beautiful as it may be in our eyes, let it please us to call it only a plain Presbyterian meeting-house. The glory we see in it, let it not be the glory of its arches and timbers—not the glory of its lofty and graceful spire, pointing ever upwards to that home the pious shall find in the bosom of God—not the glory found in the eloquence or learning of those who, through generations, shall here proclaim the Gospel—nor yet the glory traced in the wealth and fashion, refinement and social position, of those who throng its courts. But let its glory be "the glory of the Lord risen upon it!"   Let its glory be the promises of the covenant engraved upon its walls, which are yea and amen in Christ Jesus. Let its glory be found in the purity, soundness and unction of its pastors—in the fidelity and watchfulness of its elders—in the piety and godliness of its members. Let its glory be as a birth-place of souls, where shall always be heard the sobs of awakened penitence, and the songs of newborn love. Let its glory be the spirituality of its worship, its fervent prayers, its adoring praise, and the simplicity and truth of its ordinances and sacraments. Let its glory be the communion of saints, who here have fellowship one with another, and also with the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ. Let its glory be as the resting place of weary pilgrims, toiling on towards the heavenly city—the emblem of that Church above” ‘ Where congregations ne'er break up, And Sabbaths never end.’”

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The church, under Christ her King, is an independent domain, even as the state is.  The church is a separate institution with its own powers, functions and jurisdiction.  The state has its own domain.  Each institution may exercise authority only within the jurisdiction given it by Christ.  Ecclesiastical constitutions have no authority in civil government; and civil constitutions have no authority in ecclesiastical government. To reject this limitation is political, cultural and ecclesiastical suicide.

Sermons

Last weekend I read about two women who have made history. One was on the front page of the newspaper and is of the “I am woman hear me roar” school. She is known and admired by many for her intelligence and aggressive pursuit of power. She is tough and politically savvy.  She will be entering an international arena to help project the policies of the new Presidential administration. No doubt she will eventually get a sentence or two mention in the history books of the 21st century.

Historians of generations past and journalists and government school ma’ams today, tend to dismiss the seventeenth century American Puritans as somber cranks and kill-joys who, thankfully, evolved into practical and realistic Unitarian Yankees (“people who believe in one god, at most”). Dressed in black, the Puddleglum snoops peered in their neighbors’ windows to ensure compliance with the rigid and ridiculous ethical pruderies of the Calvinist theology imposed on them by their inquisitional, witchcraft-obsessed ministers. The obdurate cynic H.L. Mencken described Puritanism as “the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”[1]