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............."Oh, the gallant fisher's life, It is the best of any 'Tis full of pleasure, void of strife, And 'tis beloved of many." ..........[Piscator's Song, "The Compleat Angler" by Izaak Walton] "The fishers also shall mourn,and all they that cast angle into the brooks shall lament, and they that spread nets upon the waters shall languish." [Isaiah XIX:8]

Friday, July 3, 2015

Nativity Displays and Jesus in the Public Square

The U.S. Supreme Court and Elwood City (PA) borough managers
notwithstanding, Jesus Christ is not only “the reason for the season,” but
Jesus Christ is also the only “name under heaven that has been given among men,
by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12), God having exalted Him and “bestowed on
Him the name, which is above every name”. Let the folks at the Freedom From
Religion Foundation and all the earth
hear, then, before it’s too late, that the day is coming when every knee shall
bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of
God the Father (See Philippians 2:9-11.),
Yes, I know the political incorrectness of this claim, but faith and
reason have persuaded me that the Bible is true. I can preach no other.

R. Daniel Knox

A More Profound Union

As a minister of the gospel I am constrained to respond to the op-ed  “Triumph For Civil Rights” by Bloomberg  View, which appeared  in  The Beaver CountyTimes  on June 29, 2015.  Describing the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage as “historic” and “moving” and the final paragraph “worth quoting in full,” we read, “No union is more profound than marriage.” I would respond by referring to a yet more profound union, the union of Jesus Christ and His church. In the Bible the apostle Paul describes marriage and the marriage relationship in Ephesians 5. Marriage, from the beginning, was instituted by God for the honor and happiness of mankind, an institution in which one man and one woman enter into a bodily and spiritual union , so long as both shall live.  Marriage is not a sacrament; nor is it peculiar to Christians.  It is lawful for all sorts of people to marry.  Nevertheless, in Scripture, the Holy Spirit sets forth the sacred and exalted nature of marriage when he likens  it to the mystical  union that exists between Christ and his redeemed bride, the church , saying, , “This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.” How can it be that the eternal, infinitely wise, all-knowing, holy and just, God of the Bible, Creator of heaven and earth, would enter into a sacred union with despicable sinners, the likes of you and me? And the answer is, “Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present  to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.” (Ephesians 5:25-27).  In other words, Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, that through His life, death, and resurrection, He might save a people and make them fit to live with Him forever in heaven in the blessed union of Christ with His church.   There is no union more profound than that. It was with the eternal foreknowledge  of the marriage of Christ with His church in view that God ordained marriage in the beginning. It only makes sense then, that He would define marriage and set its terms.  God alone sets human rights; we are not free to do as we please.  After all, it is He who has made us in His image, and we are His.  And by the way, the covenant sign of the celestial rainbow, (not the co-opted gay pride emblem) wherein God promised not to destroy  by flood the earth and “all flesh that is on the earth” (Genesis9:9-17), did not save Sodom and Gomorrah from the brimstone and fire of God’s judgment.  And the Day of reckoning is coming when the Bridegroom shall return to receive His bride to Himself.  Jesus Himself says, “Behold , I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me,  to render to every man according to what he has done” (Revelation 22:12).  To all (Jew or Gentile, male or female, black or white), then, we say, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). God is not mocked; the final triumph belongs to Him.  "Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, , nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God" (I Corinthians 6:9-10).  Those who have ears to hear, let them hear.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sad But True

An Associated Press article appeared in our local paper yesterday, June 20, 2011, entitled
"NC Grapples With Legacy of Sterilization Programs". The article began as follows:

Nearly 35 years after ending the country's most active post-war sterilization program, North Carolina is the only state trying to make amends to thousands of people who cannot have children because of eugenics-inspired theories about
social improvement.

It went on to say
Eugenics programs gained popularity in the U.S. and other countries in the early 1900s, but most abandoned those efforts after World War II because of the association with Nazi Germany's program aimed at racial purity. However, North Carolina's expanded, with sterilizations peaking in the 1950s and early 1960s. About 70 percent of the state's 7,600 sterilizations occurred after the war, state figures show.

Here are my thoughts;
While the state of North Carolina may be the only state in America "trying to make amends to thousands of people who cannot have children because of eugenics-inspired theories about social improvement”(June 20, 2011), all of America has been strapped with the legacy left behind by such theories and programs. It is hard to believe that the theory, that the less desirables of society ought not to be permitted equal opportunity to reproduce as others, gained a foothold in America. It is sad but true that it did. It may seem hard to believe that eugenics is still being implemented in the world today as a means of population control, again it's sad but true. Beware if you happen to be conceived and born a female in some countries. Your right to life may not be protected either in or out of the womb. Consider, for example, China’s brutal one- child per family policy, Closer to home, let us consider the well-documented fact that Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, was highly involved in and influenced by the eugenics movement in America in the post-Civil War era. It is no accident that the abortion industry flourishes in America or that abortion clinics are often situated in poorer, often black communities. Yes, it’s quite a legacy we have been handed. But it is not too late to make amends.If we repent, will God be yet merciful to America?What shall we pass on to generations yet to come?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Do you love Me?

He said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "(Shepherd My sheep.")
17He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him
the third time, "Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You " Jesus said to him, "(Tend My sheep.)
18"Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go."
19Now this He said,
signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God And when He had spoken this, He said to him, "(Follow Me!" [John 21:16-19].
Following the resurrectionJesus appeared to HIs disciples on the Sea of Tiberius.At His command they let down again their empty net. They brought it up so full of fish they could barely get it to shore.Does this not speak of the upcoming apostolic ministry of these men whom Jesus called to be "fishers of men"? Jesus has promised a great worldwide catch. After breakfast, Jesus there spoke to Peter, three times asking the question, "Do you love Me?"Peter affirms and reaffirms his love for Jesus his Lord. Meanwhile,Jesus presses home Peter's ministerial responsibility to feed Jesus' sheep and also as the text makes clear, He speaks of what kind of death by which Peter 'would glorify God.'
THis text has been much on my mind recently.The fly tying desk lies idle this winter, and the keyboard at the computer collects dust. SOMEONE ELSE MUST HELP ME DRESS AND TIE my shoes in the morning. My stroke at the end of October has left my left hand limp and my left foot fitted with an orthotic device. No longer do I simply walk wherever I wish to go, although the quad cane certainly helps.My heart yearns to be man-fishing and to be feeding Jesus' sheep, but providence has indicated I needed a seaon to learn something about dying. Shall I be able to return to the woods or to the streams or to full ministerial labor? God knows. BUT, oh to follow Jesus and to glorify God in our death! Lord, help us.
Dear readers, As a dying man speaking to dying men, allow me to exhort you to greater love and greater service to Christ. Together, Let us redeem the time that remains for us, making the most of every opportunity to glorify God.Amen.

Friday, October 29, 2010

"A Blessing": the poem by Ken Hada

To read a poem on fly fishing by Ken Hada and to hear it read by Garrison Keillor on The Writer's Almanac, visit http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/index.php?date=2010/10/27. Click on "Listen."

Friday, September 24, 2010

Of Baptism and Young Children

Suppose a husband and wife come to Christ, already having children aged 3 through 13. In being received into the visible church, should the children be baptized or should they be made to wait until they make a profession of faith?

This is an important recurring question in one form or another. My answer follows:

The Reformed and Presbyterian understanding of covenant children, of course, is that they are to be included in the membership of the visible church. Our Westminster Confession of Faith (XXV.II) says the following:

“The visible church, which is also catholic or universal under the gospel(not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion; and of their children: and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation” [Emphasis added].

The children of believers, who have not yet professed faith (nor have denied it), are to be received as members with their parents. Baptism is to be administered at the time of admission into the church. Again, our Confession of Faith (XXVIII.I) says,

“Baptism is a sacrament of the new testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible church; but also, to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in newness of life. Which sacrament is, by Christ's own appointment, to be continued in his church until the end of the world."

Baptism is a sign and seal of God’s covenant administered to all received into the visible church and the covenant community. As an Old Testament example, by way of analogy and biblical precedent, at the time of the institution of the sign and seal of circumcision, it was to be administered to all the males in Abraham’s household. Our OPC Directory of Worship (IV.A.2) clearly states, “The baptism of infants is not to be unnecessarily delayed. Notice of intention to present a child for baptism must be given to the session by a parent who is a believer. The baptism of adults must await their public profession of faith in Christ.”

Your specific question about the ages of 3 through 10 is significant. I believe that the reference to “infants” in the Confession of Faith (XXVIII.IV) and in the Directory for Worship (cited above) should be understood in terms of an age of a minor. Are these children to be considered as adults? As stated above, “The baptism of adults must await their public profession of faith in Christ.” In some congregations some young people in the age range you mentioned might be deemed by the respective sessions ready to take a communicants’ class and to be received as communicant members, wherein a young person would be received as and treated as an adult in terms of membership status. This is understood to mean that there is evidence of a credible profession of faith and such necessary discernment to participate as a communicant member with all of the rights, privileges, and responsibilities belonging to such membership (which includes communing at the Lord’s Supper; voting in congregational meetings, including the selection of church officers; etc.).

I emphasized the word “some” in the above paragraph. There is not a prescribed age in the Scriptures nor in our OPC Book of Church Order which prescribes the age at which it is appropriate to receive a young person as an adult professed believer. For example, in our own congregation, young people typically pass through an intensive study of the Shorter Catechism before being considered ready to profess faith. The session has adopted a plan of instruction that builds a study of the Shorter Catechism into the 10th grade morning instruction class (Sunday School). We have judged that that is typically an appropriate time for such an in depth study in the WSC to occur before a young person is ready to stand as an adult on their own profession in the congregation, and not simply on the basis of his or her believing parent(s).

In short, then, unless the children in question are being treated as adults, it is entirely appropriate to baptize them as covenant children without expecting or waiting for them to profess faith.

In the specific cases of the young people referred to in the inquiries, it is the responsibility of the parents and of the particular session to make a judgment about the spiritual discernment and the credibility of profession these children are able to demonstrate. It is good to pray for those men of the session and to submit to their judgment, unless it can be clearly demonstrated that they have erred in their judgment of these cases.

This question is an important one in the life of a congregation. May God bless His church and may He give much wisdom in such matters. To that end, I hope that this answer is helpful.

In Christ,

R. Daniel Knox, Pastor
Grace Orthodox Presbyterian Church
Sewickley, PA

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Of Mosque Building and Koran Burning

The threat of building a mosque near Ground Zero or of burning the Koran has sparked worldwide outrage. “How dare the Muslims build so near the site where terrorists killed so many innocent lives!” “How dare anyone burn another’s sacred book!” The American Constitution, however, defends the peoples’ right to build worship facilities or burn books.

Even so, being lawful does not mean it is helpful (I Corinthians 10:23); and being Constitutional does not mean God approves. Realize the Constitution is not a Christian document. This nation as a nation has never confessed Jesus Christ as the Lord, fully God and fully man, who died for our sins, raised for our salvation, and ascended to the Father's right hand in heaven to reign forever. Yes, that is what Christians believe as truth, distinct from Islam, but also from Judaism, Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Hinduism, Buddhism, Native American spiritism, Christian Scientism, and other religions.

Ironically, when the citizens of Ephesus, living in the shadow of the great temple of Diana, heard the gospel, “many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of all . . . so the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing” (Acts 19:19-20). Oh, that 9-11 would cause all people in America and in the whole world to burn their magic books and to seek after the true word of the Lord and build upon it!