From the Pastor’s Desk: Remembering D-Day

June 6, 1944—a date that will live in the collective memory.

This year marks the sixty-fifth anniversary of the landings of Allied troops at five beaches in Normandy, codenamed Sword, Juno, Gold, Omaha, and Utah.

Thousands of American, British, and Canadian soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice on that fateful day. So did thousands of German soldiers, who like their counterparts fought bravely during the horrific bombardments and the assaults that followed.

We have all seen photos and movies of D-Day, but these can only begin to capture the horror of the battle. No cinema experience can reproduce the howling of big guns, the drenching of salt water spray and surf, or the stench of blood amidst wounds and corpses.

Much planning went into D-Day. Secrecy and deception helped to guarantee its success. But once the Allied forces established the toehold in occupied France, World War II, at least in the European Theater, was essentially over—it was only a matter of time until Germany would be defeated.

However, D-Day didn’t signal an end to the fighting. Countless thousands more troops would die over the next eleven months, as the Nazis fought fanatically to try to prevent the unconditional surrender to the Allies.

The situation regarding D-Day has been compared to the rule of Christ in this world, and His rule in the human heart.

When Jesus Christ died at the cross and then three days later rose again from the dead, Satan’s stronghold was broken. Jesus had told His disciples that it was necessary to bind the strong man in order to plunder his kingdom—and that is what Jesus has done and is doing with respect to Satan.

However, from another perspective, the devil, though defeated, is still desperately fighting back. Even though his position is more hopeless than that which Germany faced after June 6, 1944, the devil will not quit in his efforts to ensnare people in his wicked and wily ways. Much fighting remains, both at the cosmic level, and in the individual heart.

But those who have trusted Jesus as Lord and Savior can be assured that the victory has been secured through the blood of Him who is the Lamb of God.

On this D-Day anniversary, let’s not forget the sacrifice for freedom paid by the Allied troops on the sands and the bluffs of Normandy. But let us also remember that D-Day serves as a parable of the time between Jesus’ first coming and His second coming, when He shall complete the mopping up operation and bring in the universal peace. And let us always be mindful of the fact that in the spiritual realm, the fight is even more ferocious and intense than what was experienced on D-Day.

From the Pastor’s Desk: Reflections on MARTA

People — faces — stories — lives.

Hurtling through the darkness of the underground tunnel, the car, brightly lit, speeds its occupants to their destination.

As I journey, I look around at my fellow travelers: dozing, reading, i-podding, blackberrying, just sitting.

At rush hour, we’d be packed like sardines. Now, at midday, the carriage is not half-filled. Yet the two dozen people still represent the wondrous diversity of the human race: black, white, and all shades in between.

More than that, each person has a story to tell as well as a life to live.

As I gaze on the faces, I wonder — what is behind the mask? Is that woman in a happy marriage? Is that other lady suffering from a dread disease? Is that young man realizing his dreams? Is that businessman secure in his job?

But underlying the different stories is a common humanity, for each individual is made in the image of God. That’s what makes the human story so compelling and the human face so fascinating — because we human beings reflect God.

I also wonder as I look about me — how many of my fellow travelers have been converted by God’s grace? With how many of them will I spend eternity — in heaven, with Jesus?

Our trip on MARTA is like a parable of life itself. There are vicissitudes — ups and downs. There are times when we get jerked around curves, and surprised by a sudden rough spot on the rails. And we are all headed, inevitably, to the journey’s end.

“North Springs station,” we are told, in honeyed tones, by the recorded voice, as we reach the end of the line. “All passengers are asked to exit the train.”

Even so, some day all of us will reach the end of the line — we will travel no more miles along the way of life. We will all give account of our lives. And the most important question at that time will be — do we have a Savior, Jesus Christ? For no matter what our socio-economic or cultural background, or what happy or unhappy circumstances we have experienced, “It is appointed unto man once to die but after this the judgment.” Only those who believe in Jesus alone by faith alone by God’s grace alone will be welcomed into the heavenly mansions which He has prepared for His people.

People — faces — stories — lives — grace — salvation — eternity. “All aboard!”

Pastor Frank Smith

From the Pastor’s Desk: Ancient Landmarks

Proverbs 22:28 says, “Remove not the ancient landmark, which your fathers have set.” In a recent sermon on this verse, I pointed out that every society has a set of landmarks which it will defend — whether that be of a moral nature, or even with respect to old buildings and architecture.

Biblically speaking, the landmarks which we who are Christians celebrate and defend are founded upon the Law of God — particularly the ten commandments.

Today, we are witnessing a removing of ancient positions — whether a total removal or a slight displacement which can also have devastating effects — in a variety of areas.

In the sphere of the family, the offspring of godly parents often go their own way, deliberately tearing down and rejecting the faith and morals of those who preceded them. This phenomenon is manifested not only in the home, but also in business: department store magnates J.C. Penney and John Wanamaker were strong Sabbatarians, but their successors have repudiated any notion of keeping the Lord’s Day holy.

In society and government, old landmarks are being replaced on matters such as the sanctity of marriage and an abhorrence of sexual deviance. The “politically correct” are attempting to change history and to erase from monuments all references to the nation’s Christian heritage. Even the very nature of law is being challenged through notions such as a “living constitution” — the perverse idea that a document’s meaning can change even though the words remain the same.

But this proverb has particular and pointed application in the contemporary Church, as historic standards are being set aside in favor of the whims of the moment. This is true not only in leftist denominations, such as the so-called mainline Protestant groups, but also among those who would consider themselves evangelical and Bible-believing. Scripture is being mistranslated, sometimes to suit the latest fads (such as being “gender-neutral”). The “openness theology”, which maintains that God doesn’t even know the future, threatens to dethrone Him. Entertainment has supplanted the genuine, heart-felt worship of yesteryear — a reverent approach to the Almighty. Old familiar guideposts have been swept away even by those who claim to honor the One who set them up.

It is incumbent upon us not to remove the ancient landmarks; and in that regard, we place a great deal of importance upon history. But we also recognize that trying to preserve the “old paths” cannot be done in our own strength, and that we cannot be accepted before God by our good intentions. The Lord Jesus is the One who has fulfilled this proverb. He never transgressed the proper bounds, but rather always sustained His Father’s law and will. In doing so, He thereupon prepared a pleasant heritage for us — which we receive by faith alone in Him.

Pastor Frank J. Smith

From the Pastor’s Desk: Morality and Money

The current economic crisis has caused many of us, I am sure, to think more seriously about financial matters. But what I’d like to do is to focus our attention on the relationship between morality and money.

While pundits and talking heads may concentrate on the political dimensions, and engage in blaming one political party or another, let me suggest that there are more fundamental reasons for the mess in which we find ourselves. The Bible is clear — whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap. This is a principle that applies to nations, too. We have sown the seeds of forgetfulness toward God — and the Almighty has given us over to our materialistic ways and demonstrated that our false gods of money, mutual funds, and 401-Ks cannot save us.

Our forgetting of God has had other moral implications in the realm of finance. If we act as if God does not exist, then of what use is His law? The Eighth Commandment tells us, “Thou shalt not steal.” And the Tenth Commandment, “Thou shalt not covet,” is designed to protect against greed. But corrupt businessmen who engage in fraud and corrupt politicians who think they can create money by running the printing presses, have pretended that these laws are irrelevant.

Again, God is not mocked: He will take vengeance on men and nations who ignore Him and flaunt His divine law.

But while we can rightly take financiers and government officials to task, we must remember that we have a personal responsibility regarding monetary matters. Have we acted prudently with regard to expenditures? Have we run up credit card debt irresponsibly? Have we purchased houses and property beyond our normal means? How we spend our personal and family financial resources is also a moral issue. It affects us as individuals, and it affects our offspring.

And yet another issue regarding money and stewardship is that of support for the Lord’s work. It has been said that if Christians would be faithful in tithing their income, the Church would have no problem in supporting all of its ministries and missionary efforts. Is it not the case that the current financial situation is, in large part, the result of the failure of professing believers to support the worship and work of the Church to the best of their ability?

A final aspect of money and morality has to do with the sayings of Jesus. The Lord spoke much about money, and in one of His most famous statements, proclaimed, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Money is a means to an end, viz., the promotion of God’s glory in this world. After all, all of the gold and silver belong to the Lord. How we spend our resources says much about who we are, and, indeed, as to whether we are really Christ’s followers.

May the Lord grant us financial stability in these tough economic times. But may He, most importantly, grant us a contentment with that with which He has blessed us, and a comfort in the sure knowledge that our true treasure is not found in this world, but in Christ.

Pastor Frank J. Smith

From the Pastor’s Desk: Equal Rights for Homosexuals

Recent decisions in Iowa and Vermont, coupled with the approval of Proposition 8 in California, have brought again to the fore the issue of homosexual “rights”, including the right to marry.

Now, let me say right up front that I believe in equal rights for homosexuals. Of course, I also believe in equal rights for thieves, bank robbers, murderers, drunk drivers, swindlers, and child molesters. In other words, I believe that since homosexuality is fundamentally reflective of deviant behavior, it should be treated as such. And, just like all deviant or criminal behavior, a person accused of sodomy should have the right of due process, including his day in court, the right to cross-examine witnesses, the right to counsel, the right of appeal, etc. Yes, sir, don’t let anyone say that Reformed Presbyterians are opposed to equal rights for homosexuals.

Similarly, we believe that those inclined toward homosexuality should enjoy the right to marry—as long as they marry within the parameters set by God. Therefore, we do not object to such people marrying—so long as they marry someone of the opposite gender.

You see, the contemporary advocacy of the right of homosexuals to marry—in the sense of same-sex marriage—involves a contradiction in terms. Marriage, by definition, is between two persons of opposite sex. As one wag has put it, In the Garden of Eden, it was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. This is the way that God Almighty designed marriage to be. And the homosexual movement represents a perversion of God’s intention for mankind, and is, indeed, a direct and deliberate attack on the Creator in whose image man is made.

Those who advocate the homosexual cause contend that homosexuality is not a choice, but rather is just the way some people were born. In response, we would not want to take a simplistic view of the nature of homosexuality. Man is born in sin, his corrupt nature being one aspect of original sin. And just as some people are more inclined toward drunkenness or stealing than are others, so some people may be more inclined toward the sin of homosexuality than are others. However, in none of those three cases—drunkenness, theft, or the practice of homosexuality—should there be any toleration. God’s Law is clear: the seventh commandment, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” covers all types of sexual deviance, including adultery, fornication, unlawful divorce, incest, polygamy, and homosexuality.

However, besides advocating equal rights for homosexuals, we have even better news—God’s grace is able to provide forgiveness for all types of sinners, including those who practice homosexuality. God is not only a God of justice, who wants equal justice for everyone. He is most especially and most wonderfully a God of grace. In the ultimate sense, all of us deserve equal justice before God’s law—which means that we all deserve eternal death because of our rebellion against Him. But Jesus Christ has died on the cross to take the punishment of all kinds of sin—including homosexuality. And that’s very good news, indeed, for those struggling with this enslaving practice.

Pastor Frank J. Smith

From the Pastor’s Desk: Guest Pastor Gilbert Moore

My wife and I are slated to be on vacation for a few days starting around April 15th. I am to present a paper on April 17th at a conference at Liberty University, Lynchburg, Virginia, entitled, “Evangelism and Ecclesiastical Politics: The Role of the Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship in Founding the Presbyterian Church in America.” And I am also to be the guest minister at the Orthodox Presbyterian Church congregation in Lynchburg, filling their pulpit during morning worship on the Lord’s Day. For the Sabbath School hour, I will be delivering a lecture, entitled “American Presbyterianism, Geology, and the Days of Creation.”

While Penny and I are away, Pastor Gilbert Moore, a member of Northwest Georgia Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America, will be preaching for our church here on April 19th. I’ve known Gilbert for fifteen years, and I am sure that you will benefit from his ministry.

From the Pastor’s Desk: What is the Gospel?

The term “gospel” means “good news”. And the best news of all is that salvation comes by the grace of God.

Man is a sinner. All of mankind fell into sin as a result of the rebellion of Adam in the Garden of Eden. And the Bible says that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). The death of which Scripture speaks is not only physical death — it also includes spiritual death (separation from God) and eternal death (the punishment of an eternity in hell).

But the “good news” is that the Triune God — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — has provided a way of escape from the punishment of sin, death, and hell. Those who believe in what Jesus Christ, the Son of God, did at the cross as a sacrifice for sin, have their sins forgiven by God. Jesus Christ took the sins of His people upon Himself, so that those who believe in Him are not punished for their sins. This is good news, indeed.

There are many things about which the Bible speaks. But none is more important than the truth that sinful man can be reconciled with His Creator, and that this reconciliation takes place, not because of anything man can do, but solely because of the love of God.

If you’d like to know more about the gospel, please contact us. We love to talk about the good news, and would love to share it with you.

Pastor Frank J. Smith