The ABC’s of Presbyterianism

This is our first Friday of the month look at one of the booklets that are provided by The Committee on Christian Education (CCE) of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

What perfect providence that Rev. Danny Olinger is coming to visit with us this very Lord’s Day! Be sure to come to Sunday School at 9:45 a.m.. He is from this committee.

Today’s booklet is, The ABC’s of Presbyterianism by Larry E. Wilson  There are a few copies of this booklet in the bookcase at the church building in the foyer if you would like a hard copy.  This booklet is not available online at this time. This is also the last booklet in this series of reviews.

Have you ever had someone ask you about being a Presbyterian and what that meant? Or maybe you’ve even had questions about what it means to be a Presbyterian yourself. The material in this booklet first appeared in New Horizons from January 2014 to December 2016. It is intended to give you an overview of Presbyterianism.

This booklet is divided up into 30 short devotional segments that give a great overview of the Church and how it is structured according to Scripture.

In the first segment, Who Runs This Church?, the author quotes Edmund Clowney from the book, Living in Christ’s Church:

“It is Christ’s church. Christ is the bridegroom, the church his bride; Christ is the head, the church is his body; Christ is the king, the church is his kingdom; Christ is the shepherd, the church is his flock. Apart from Christ the church makes no sense. We cannot start with a building or a roll or members — we have to start with Christ. Without a shepherd the sheep are scattered. It is the call of the shepherd…that gathers the sheep into a flock (John 10). When Jesus said, “I will build my church” (Matt. 16:18) he was speaking of men and women, boys and girls to be set upon the foundation of his apostles. Christ builds in living stones; the church is not only is possession, it is his creation.”

In three segments on, The True Vicar of Christ, the author speaks of the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church. “If the Holy Spirit is the vicar of Christ (the agent who mediates his presence and rule in this world), then the tool that the Holy Spirit especially uses is God’s Word. The Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God (Eph. 6:17).” Page 12

The booklet does a good job of explaining the priesthood of all believers and the necessity of officers in the Church. It also explains well the Biblical basis of the offices of Teaching Elder (Pastor or Minister), Ruling Elder, and Deacon.
“For a church to be healthy, she needs a faithful administration of the means of grace (God’s Word proclaimed and confirmed in the sacraments) — the role of ministers. She needs faithful obedience to God’s Word by the church and its members — the concern of the elders. And she needs active love expressed in concrete service — the task of the deacons.” Page 24

I could probably share great teaching from each page of this booklet, but if I did that then you’d have nothing to follow up with and read yourself. In re-reading this booklet again this week I thought of using it with my family by reading one section at a time and then discussing God’s Church and how He cares for His church in the way God protects the flock and structures His body.

I will close with one thought that shows a great benefit to Presbyterianism vs a congregational or hierarchical structure of church life. “Some think that presbyterianism means “rule by elders,” but actually presbyterianism means that our Lord Jesus rules his church by his Word and Spirit through presbyteries (councils or assemblies of elders acting jointly). “In an abundance of counselors there is safety” (Prov. 11:14).” Page 30

I hope you enjoy this final booklet from the Committee on Christian Education, and that you are blessed both in the reading of them yourself, and sharing your church with others.