Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Remnant Network - 8
A few years before concluding 16 consecutive years of exemplary service as Belvidere, Illinois' Mayor, Fred told me that he did not plan to run again.
I said, "Brother, while you have served our community, county, state, and country with unparalleled distinction and integrity as my favorite mayor of all time, I'm sensing your greatest leadership will now begin as an elder for Him in our family of faith on the corner of Lincoln and Main."
Proving that was an apocalyptic moment for us, Fred has become a visionary elder beyond the borders of petty parochialisms and shameless disobedience to our Lord's High Priestly Prayer in John 17 as he has prayed and labored tirelessly to bring the churches of our area together for common ministry under the Lordship of Jesus by the book.
He is also helping to shape our understanding of declaring to be part of the faithful remnant in the PCUSA.
He has written the next several paragraphs to help explain why we have declared remnant as he urges others likewise.
Why We Declared Remnant
On September 25th, 1960, the 1st Presbyterian Church in Belvidere, Illinois presented me the Holy Bible containing the Old and New Testaments. Leading up to that day, and ever since that day, I was taught, and I believed, the Holy Bible to be the infallible Word of God. The sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments is a complete and unified witness to God’s redemptive acts culminating in the incarnation of the Living Word, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible, uniquely and fully inspired by the Holy Spirit, is the supreme and final authority on all matters on which it speaks.
1 Corinthians 5: 1 – 2. It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and of a kind that is not found even among pagans; for a man is living with his father’s wife, 2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.
1 Corinthians 5: 9 – 13. I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with immoral men; 10 not at all meaning the immoral of this world, or the greedy and robbers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But rather I wrote to you not to associate with any one who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber – not even to eat with such a one.
12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside, “Drive out the wicked person from among you.”
1 Corinthians 6: 9 – 19. Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the Spirit of God. 12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything. 13 “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food” – and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that he who joins himself to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two shall become one.” 17 But he who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Shun immorality. Every other sin which a man commits is outside the body; but the immoral man sins against his own body. 19. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
Now comes the action taken by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), during the 221st General Assembly (2014), with the approval of an authoritative interpretation and a Book of Order amendment permitting ministers and sessions to use their own discernment to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies where allowed by law. Biblical and theological rationales provided by the Office of the General Assembly on this action reflects a greater desire for the Church leadership to respond to the will of people, rather than the will of God, as provided within the Holy Bible.
Confusion created in many minds by this change in authoritative interpretation by the Presbyterian Church (USA), begs the question, “What does it mean to be ‘Presbyterian’?” The Evangelical Presbyterian Church, as an example of friends who have exited faithfully, offer the following definition: “To be Presbyterian is to be governed according to the pattern of elders seen in the Old and New Testaments. We are ruled neither by bishops in a hierarchical model not by members in a congregational model. Biblically qualified elders are recognized through congregational election and, along with ministers, rule the church corporately. It also means being connected in mutual accountability and responsibility. Just as individual Christians are connected to one another as members of the body of Christ, so also individual congregations are connected under Christ as the great Head of the Church”
Upon becoming an Elder in Our Family of Faith on the corner of Lincoln and Main (Belvidere, Illinois), where Jesus is Lord, and only Jesus is Lord, the authority of the Bible as our manual was reinforced. Session’s desire to remain faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ, by the Book, and only by the Book, adopted a proclamation to become recognized as “A Remnant in the Presbyterian Church USA”.
So what has changed? Is the Bible out of touch with life as we know it today, or is society out of touch with the Bible?
Read the words of the New Testament In Contemporary Language from Eugene H. Peterson’s The Message/Remix.
1 Corinthians 5: 1-2 I also received a report of scandalous sex within you church family, a kind that wouldn’t be tolerated even outside the church. One of your men is sleeping with his stepmother. And you’re so above it all that it doesn’t even faze you! Shouldn’t this break your hearts? Shouldn’t it bring you to your knees in tears? Shouldn’t this person and his conduct be confronted and dealt with?
1 Corinthians 5: 9-13 I wrote you in my earlier letter that you shouldn’t make yourselves at home among the sexually promiscuous. I didn’t mean that you should have nothing at all to do with outsiders of that sort. Or with crooks, whether blue – or whit-collar. Or with spiritual phonies, for that matter. You’d have to leave the world entirely to do that! But I am saying that you shouldn’t act as if everything is just fine when one of your Christian companions is promiscuous or crooked, is flip with God or rude to friends, get drunk or becomes greedy and predatory. You can’t just go along with this, treating it as acceptable behavior. I’m not responsible for what the outsiders do, but don’t we have some responsibility for those within our community of believers? God decides on the outsiders, but we need to decide when our brothers and sisters are out of line and, if necessary, clean house.
1 Corinthians 6: 9 – 19 Don’t you realize that this is not the way to live? Unjust people who don’t care about God will not be joining in his kingdom. Those who use and abuse each other, use and abuse sex, use and abuse the earth and everything in it, don’t qualify as citizens in God’s kingdom. A number of you know from experiences what I’m talking about, for not so long ago you were on that list. Since then, you’ve been cleaned up and given a fresh start by Jesus, our Mater, our Messiah, and by our God present in us, the Spirit. Just because something is technically legal doesn’t mean that it’s spiritually appropriate. If I went around dong whatever I thought I could get by with, I’d be a slave to my whims. You know the old saying, “First you eat to live, and then you live to eat”? Well, it may be true that the body is only a temporary thing, but that’s no excuse for stuffing your body with food, or indulging it with sex. Since the Master honors you with a body, honor him with your body!
That is why we have declared to be part of the faithful remnant in the PCUSA and beyond our parochial borders. Isn’t it time for you to declare?
“For what does it profit us to go along with the unfaithful majority, if we lose are souls?”
In closing, hear the word of the Lord from Colossians 2: 6 – 8 As therefore you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so live in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. 8 See to it that no one makes a prey of you by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ.
Love, Mercy & Peace,