Mark T. Bube
“Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).
For most readers of this magazine, the answer to the first question in our Larger Catechism may sound a little different, but still very familiar: “Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever.”
That second clause, “fully to enjoy him forever,” brings the words of Psalm 73:24–26 readily to mind:
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
In harmony with the Catechism, John Piper, in his book on the supremacy of God in missions (Let the Nations Be Glad, p. 26), suggests that “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” It begins with God; it ends with God; and it is all of God.
In Psalm 37, the command to “delight yourself in the LORD” is nestled among several other choice morsels of biblical wisdom:
To the modern mind, coming from the world’s perspective, the command to delight in the Lord seems nonsensical and perhaps even slightly delusional. Delight? We might even recall the old caricature of our Puritan fathers (and mothers) in the faith as those who had “a haunting fear that someone, somewhere, might be happy.” But for the one who is in Christ, who is united to him by faith, this command to delight in him is not onerous or burdensome—no, just the opposite, it is wonderfully welcome and freeing.
The word “delight” carries the idea of having or giving great pleasure, satisfaction, or joy. How about you—what is it that you delight in the most? Oops, even the form of this question stumbles into the world’s way of thinking: the real question is not what, but who—who is it that you delight in the most? For the Christian, the answer is easy: my chief delight is in Christ himself!
Now the amazing beauty of the gospel promise comes into view: when we delight in Christ, God gives us the desires of our hearts. The psalmist exclaims, “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!” (Ps. 34:8). In proclaiming the free offer of the gospel, Isaiah calls out to those perishing in their sin (55:1–2):
Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
Our love for God manifests itself in a zeal for his glory, that all those whom the Father gave to the Son might come to him in faith and worship him; that they might be fully satisfied in the greatness of God’s superabundant mercies; and that they might come into his presence with thanksgiving, making a joyful noise to him with songs of praise.
Before he returned to his heavenly Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, after declaring that all authority had been given to him in heaven and on earth, commissioned his apostles (and through them, his church) to go and make disciples of all the nations. They were to baptize these new disciples (and their children) and teach them to observe all that he had commanded. And he promised that he would be with his people, even to the end of the age.
We in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, as a particular manifestation of the visible church, have sought from our very founding in 1936 to remain faithful to our Lord’s command. We have made diligent use of the means of grace that Christ has given to his church for the gathering and building up of his people. Trusting in his promise to make these means effectual by his own presence and Spirit, we have pressed on in the ministry entrusted to us, both in our local congregations and corporately to the ends of the earth.
In 1949, when the young church was barely a dozen years old, the Sixteenth General Assembly established a special Thank Offering for missionary work and Christian education and exhorted the congregations to support it. And every November since then, the congregations of the OPC have contributed generously to the work of the Committees on Christian Education, on Foreign Missions, and on Home Missions and Church Extension through the annual Thank Offering.
The Committee on Christian Education publishes New Horizons and Ordained Servant: A Journal for Church Officers, now in its twenty-second year. The OPC website, OPC.org, averaged 67,000 unique visitors per month and received more than nineteen million hits last year. In cooperation with the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), we operate Great Commission Publications, which produces Sunday school materials and other Reformed literature. This year, the Committee provided assistance to nine summer and eleven yearlong internships for seminarians and recent graduates to test their gifts and calling for the gospel ministry. The Committee organizes an annual Timothy Conference to identify and encourage young men, aged 16–21, with apparent gifts for the gospel ministry; the Shiloh Institute to recruit able men, aged 21 through first-year seminarian, for ministry in the OPC; and the Ministerial Training Institute to assist in maintaining and enhancing the quality of ministerial service in the OPC. And we’re looking forward to the release of the new Trinity Psalter Hymnal, a joint project with the United Reformed Churches in North America, sometime in the spring of 2018.
The Committee on Home Missions and Church Extension helps presbyteries and congregations start new Presbyterian and Reformed congregations throughout the United States and parts of Canada and the Caribbean. It is currently helping to support twenty-five church plants, four of which celebrated the arrival of their organizing pastors this year (Yuma, Arizona; Waco, Texas; Pasadena, California; and Arroyo, Puerto Rico) and five of which concluded their support. The Committee also assists in the support of eight regional home missionaries. And beginning this year, the Committee assisted in the support of two church-planting interns and a prison ministry in a state penitentiary (Orland Park, Illinois).
The Committee on Foreign Missions presently sends missionaries to Asia, Ethiopia, Haiti, Quebec, Uganda, Ukraine, and Uruguay. In recent years, we have also enjoyed the privilege of rubbing shoulders with missionaries from more than a dozen NAPARC and ICRC churches on foreign fields. In Asia, we are responding to requests from networks of house churches that have come to Reformed convictions and now desire to organize themselves biblically and to regularize their ordinations; one indigenous presbytery has already been organized. Mr. J. M. and family joined Mr. and Mrs. F. and Mr. and Mrs. M. M. in September, and at the time this is being written, a fourth family is well into the pipeline, hoping to arrive in Asia, Lord willing, early next year. Among the Karimojong in northeastern Uganda, we are seeing a first generation of Bible teachers beginning to emerge. The Mobile Theological Mentoring Corps is now regularly helping to train church leaders in Colombia and Switzerland/Austria. Churches there sent representatives to our General Assembly this year, as part of the ecclesiastical relationships that have been established between our churches—and we are working to develop opportunities in Hungary, India, and other lands as well. And we continue to wait upon the Lord for an opportunity to resume our labors in Eritrea, where two to three thousand of our Christian brothers and sisters currently languish in prison for the sake of Christ. Many of them are being beaten and kept in closed shipping containers in the hot desert sun, and some have died.
Dear friends, remember the grace of your Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. And as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, and in love—also excel in generosity, for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Delight yourselves in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
The author is the general secretary for the Committee on Foreign Missions. New Horizons, November 2017.