A Christian View of Death and Dying

This has been a year of grieving for many in my congregation. So it has been a good time for us to look again at what the Bible teaches about death, and the hope the gospel offers to believers. Perhaps it will be a good time for you, too, to think about these things. Three Biblical Truths about Death Let me begin with three sobering truths about death. 1. Death is the separation of body and soul. Physical death, according to the Scriptures, is not the end of personal existence. Rather, death is the dissolution of the personal union of the soul with the body. The body decomposes into its constituent elements, and the soul continues in the separate existence assigned to it by God the Judge—either heaven or hell. We must not miss the significance of this truth. In our society, arguments in favor of physician-assisted suicide, for example, are based upon the premise that death always brings an end to suffering. Yet hell is a place of suffering, and the warnings from our Lord about its ... Read more

Teach Us to Number Our Days

"Over the hill"—that is American shorthand for getting older, complete with black balloons. If you want to see what this nation thinks of aging, take a look at birthday cards. In America, those cards most often build their humor on the regret and fear we feel about growing older. The Christian is not to fear growing older, but is to learn to number his days: "Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom" (Ps. 90:12). What does it mean to number your days? Do you simply check them off on your calendar? That would be quite a reminder that aging is unstoppable, inevitable, and certain. But that would produce regret as people think of the days slipping past. How do we cope with the things we did or didn't do, the things we did or didn't say, the friendships we let lapse, or the jobs we never took? Christians may find themselves acting no differently than non-Christians when it comes to growing older. Christians make grim jokes, although we are instructed by the Word of God ... Read more

The Edge of Eternity

When I was a teenager, our boys' Sunday school class visited northern Arizona. I still vividly remember crawling with perspiring hands to look over the edge of a cliff and its sharp drop down to the Little Colorado River. (It didn't take me long to back away!) Today there is a particular group of people in your community who, spiritually speaking, are "crawling" toward an edge—the end of their life. Soon they will experience death and be ushered into eternity. I am speaking of the residents of nursing homes and care centers. They easily identify with the psalmist: "We finish our years with a moan. The length of our days is seventy years—or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away" (Psalm 90:9"l0). People in such institutions, for the most part, are in their seventies and eighties (and beyond). Many of them "moan" over poor health, ungrateful children, lost friendships, fear of the future, disorientation, etc. As we ... Read more

Facing Death and Judgment

Last June my family and I attended a conference on homeschooling. Fourteen thousand people came together on the campus of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville for instruction and encouragement. One evening we were all in the arena, listening to Dr. Mickey Bonner speak on prayer. He spoke of our need to seek God's face earnestly and come before him with a broken and contrite heart. "We must learn to pray with the mind of Christ, and it comes only when we have humbled ourselves before him," he said. "It comes only when we are broken." At that instant he fell backward to the platform, neither reaching back to cushion his fall nor clutching his chest in pain. There were a few convulsions of his diaphragm. For two seconds we were all stunned, and then several people with medical training ran forward to help. The conference leader asked us all to get on our knees, and he prayed for mercy. There was much weeping. I felt in my heart that Dr. Bonner had died before he hit the platform, and I found myself ... Read more

The Internet Seminary Unplugged

Computers and the Internet are changing the way we live. From going through the checkout line at the local supermarket to driving a car, we are surrounded by computers. Certainly, Orthodox Presbyterians have much to consider in their use of this new technology to advance the cause of Christ, as the July issue of New Horizons indicated. Such considerations are especially important in the matter of ministerial training. The article on "The Internet Seminary" suggests that on-line theological education is the wave of the future, and that the Orthodox Presbyterian Church should consider how "to make the most of this opportunity." Yet no matter how seminaries decide to deliver theological education, the OPC needs to examine a number of the author's assumptions before wiring her prospective ministers to—for want of a better name—the Internet Theological Seminary (ITS). The Internet Is More Expensive One of the great appeals of providing education on the Internet is that it reduces costs. But ... Read more

The Grounds for Ending Our Relationship of Ecclesiastical Fellowship with the CRCNA

The Sixty-fourth General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church attached the following grounds to its communication informing the Synod of the Christian Reformed Church in North America that the opening of the special "offices of elder, minister, and evangelist" to women (Acts 1995, Arts. 75 and 79, pp. 731-36, and Acts 1996, Art. 75.2, p. 560) is contrary to sound doctrine. References to these documents are abbreviated: Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF), the Belgic Confession (BC), and the OPC's Form of Government (FOG). Italics in each case are added for emphasis. 1. The ordination/installation of women to "the office of elder, minister, or evangelist" is prohibited by Scripture (1 Timothy 2:12). Synod 1995 erred when it set aside a clear Scripture command (1 Tim. 2:12) when it opened the special offices of "elder, minister, and evangelist" to persons biblically prohibited from holding them (Acts of Synod 1995, Arts. 75 and 79, pp. 731-736). The inviolability of the passage is particularly ... Read more

The Loan Fund at Work in Bend, Oregon

As we know, the church is the people of God, the body of Christ. This is true whether a local congregation owns a building or not. During the early centuries, the church met in homes, forests, and even catacombs. Thus, the church can exist and function without church buildings. However, church buildings are a benefit to the church, for they furnish a regular place to meet for worship, fellowship, teaching, and outreach. They help the local congregation establish a visible presence in the community. The building says, "This is where a local congregation of Christ's church meets." Moreover, it is often a matter of wise stewardship for a church to build rather than rent. So, while buildings are not essential to the church, they are beneficial in its ministry and witness. The OPC Loan Fund exists to help churches finance their building programs. This is the story of how the Loan Fund helped Grace Community Church in Bend, Oregon, with its building needs. When our church was established in 1936, the town ... Read more