Documents of Synod:
Study Papers of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod (1965 to 1982)


151st GS MINUTES, MAY 18, 1973, pp. 60- 61

from the Preamble: Proposed Plan of Union with OPC

4. A Testimony to Holy Living

New obedience to the revelation of the grace of God in Jesus Christ has kindled new desire for holy living. Both churches have manifested deep concern that Christians be not conformed to this world in an age of license, but rather be transformed into the image of Christ. These churches have honored the law of God, believing that contemporary immorality springs not only from the lusts of the flesh but also from hatred of the truth. The apostasy that casts off the authority of God's Word of commandment revealed in Scripture is at the last more destructive than guilty sensuality.

Because both churches teach obedience to the revealed commandments of Christ they have also sought to apply these specific commandments to modern life.

The Orthodox Presbyterian Church has called attention to the specific instruction of our subordinate standards, particularly the Larger Catechism, on the requirements of the Word of God for holy living. The Westminster Larger Catechism so applies the Ten Commandments, warning that each commandment implies the specific forbidding of all sins of that kind, "together with all the causes, means, occasions and appearances thereof and provocations thereunto" (Q. 99). In the exercise of pastoral supervision ministers and assemblies of the church have similarly warned against specific breaches of God's law. The application of the teaching of Scripture to the question of abortion was a recent example of such warning.

The plan for the union of the Reformed Presbyterian Church with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church to form the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod, contained a declaration of the Christian life in which the united church emphasized the applicability of God's commandments to questions of conduct and practice that arise in the modern world.

The acknowledgment of Scripture as the infallible rule of faith and life has therefore borne fruit in both these churches in specific exposition and application of the Bible to learn what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man. In life as in faith, the rule of the Word of God is both specific and inclusive. As the church is led into all truth by the Word, so is it led into all righteousness: whatever we do, individually in our hearts, together in our homes and communities, or corporately in the church of Christ, we are to do to the glory of God.

In uniting their witness, these churches would seek to grow in love and new obedience to Christ, finding in that obedience the remedy for both legalism and antinomianism. We dare not build a hedge around God's law, adding to it the burdensome traditions of men. Neither may we ever cease to hear in the law the voice of the living God, whose will and nature are revealed in His commandments. Yet respect for the liberty of the sons of God must not dampen our pastoral zeal to warn those in our charge against particular sins and against those practices in contemporary life that become frequent occasions of sin. When the mass media pander to unlawful sexual appetites, the Saviour's warning about the lustful look must be part of the church's instruction. When respect for human life is cheapened by revolutionary violence and socially sanctioned murder, the church must declare that man is made in the image of God, and apply the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" not only to the murderous hand but to the murderous heart. When the proper function of the body is impaired through the vain pursuit of pleasure and escape by the use of narcotics, stimulants, depressants, and hallucinogenic drugs, the church must teach that our bodies are for the Lord; it must warn not only the drunkard and the addict of his sin, but also caution all those who would begin in their desires to rebel against God's ordinances for sober and responsible human life; and it must charge all Christians to obey the law of love in every situation where the exercise of their own liberty under the gospel might offer an occasion to sin to another, or impede the service of Christ's church. When lusts and abuses of every kind are exploited for gain and power, the prophetic warnings against men who profit by pandering to vice must be heard in the preaching of God's Word. Apart from the courageous application of Scripture to individual and social sins in the context of modern life, the church cannot fulfill the whole ministry of the Word of God. As the occasion demands, such application must be made not only by pastors and sessions, but also by presbyteries, synods, and general assemblies according to the principles of Chapter 31 of the Confession of Faith ("Of Synods and Councils"), which are based upon the council of Jerusalem (Acts 15). The forming of Christian consciences to prove the things that differ is most necessary so that the church shall not be conformed to the lawlessness of an unbelieving world.

[Documents of Synod, pages 265 - 166.]

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