As I begin to write today, the Supreme Court of the United States has just announced the ruling in the case of Obergefell v Hodges, the matter of homosexual marriage. The public reaction has been predictable.
For my part, I am impressed again of the need to hear and to consider carefully the theme for our denomination this year: “Fresh Insight from Ancient Paths.” The theme comes from Jeremiah 6:16; “Thus says the Lord, stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is. And walk in it. Then you will find rest for your souls.” Will there be rest for souls because of this court ruling? I doubt it.
Jeremiah, called the “weeping prophet,” brought a prophetic vision of a “boiling pot” that will break forth on the inhabitants of the land. This comes because Israel ” has forsaken Me, says the Lord. Burned incense to other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands.”(Jeremiah 1:13-16) Will we “stand in the ways and see” and repent?
The “Ancient Paths” or “way-markers,” to which we should look are biblical truths and the experience of Holy Spirit conversion. Last month Rev. Matt Lucas reminded us of the beginning and essential pentecostal experience. Without the Holy Spirit’s work in the inner man, one cannot come to Jesus or understand the Law of God.
In the following pages, Dr. Nathan Frazier explains the “way-marker” laid out by Edward Fisher in The Marrow of Modern Divinity, and the commitment of our “old fathers” in understanding the compulsion of Christian experience. When the gospel is preached and freely offered to sinners, revival is the result.
The experience of revival is part of who we are as Associate Reformed Presbyterians. Conversions have filled our churches in the past and have supplied missionaries and ministers. Erskine College has been transformed by revival movements in past years. Today the ARP Church needs to be warmed, yes thawed, by another revival experience.
Also, in this issue, Cathy Wilson has written of the experience of Mrs. Katherine Neal Dale. Mrs. Dale was raised in a Christian home where the foundations of faith were laid. While a student at Due West Female College (1890) there was a group of students who began to pray. The group became larger as time went on and a revival began so that it could be said that “the movement grew in spiritual momentum, and before the close of the week every student in both institutions had been brought into the fold of Christ.” During this revival, Mrs. Dale sensed her call to prepare for Christian missions as a doctor. This is who we are; this evangelistic and missional outlook, the result of prayer and revival, is a “way-marker” for the ARP Church today.
In the January 2007 issue of The Associate Reformed Presbyterian, Jack Heinsohn, a former chaplain at Erskine College, reports of a revival which took place in Due West. “…a group [of faculty and students] began meeting at 6 a.m. in the chapel in old Bonner Hall to pray for world missions. The group also began meeting on Saturday afternoon, as many as 100 students showed up.” Then, Heinsohn reports, the ministers at the Due West ARP Church and the Due West Baptist Church became involved. An experience of the Holy Spirit swept through the town, including a visit and preaching by a young Billy Graham. This is who we are as ARPs and this is the best of Erskine College in its influence of the denomination. We are true Pentecostals! Look at this “old path,” observe the powerful experience of conversion and Holy Spirit revival. And note, such conversion and revival begins with fervent prayer.
Will you organize a prayer meeting to pray for your pastor, your congregation, and your community? Focus your prayer and see if God, by His Spirit, will come on your church, Erskine College, our missions, and church planting. Perhaps this is how God will begin to address the rebellion of our culture and our institutions.