Mark T. Bube
The apostle Paul wrote to the young pastor Timothy, “But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me” (2 Tim. 1:12).
Christ calls his church to share in suffering for the gospel in this life, a call that in many ways seems so strange to modern ears. The world values strength and might and, when deemed necessary, even having the power to enforce our will on others. Fallen man earnestly pursues the twin idols of fame and fortune, hoping that they might bring a large measure of happiness and fulfillment. And yet, God’s Word tells us that this is all vanity and striving after wind.
If Christ tarries, every one of us will die. Then comes the Day of Judgment, when all will be sorted out. Those who would stand before God in the foolish belief that they have done enough supposed good during their lives on this earth to merit his blessing will find no excuse. They will hear the inexorable sentence of death pronounced against them, as they are banished for all eternity, away from the presence of God, to a place of indescribable terror and woe. But the Scriptures also tell us—and here’s the good news—that, for those whom he has chosen to save from before the ages began, Christ has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. And on that Day, those whom he has saved through his own righteousness, suffering, and death will find mercy from the Lord and inherit eternal life.
Moved by the Holy Spirit, the apostle Paul, even while writing as a prisoner for the sake of the gospel, confidently testifies to the grace of God who has saved him and called him to a holy calling according to Christ’s own purpose and grace. And he encourages the young man to whom he is writing not to be ashamed of Christ, or of his servants, but rather to share in suffering for the gospel—and here’s the key—by the power of God. The apostle, in knowing Christ, has also come to know his power. And on that basis he can declare: Christ is able!
Built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, and likewise also having come to know him, Christ’s church in each successive generation continues to follow the same pattern of sound words. As part of the visible church today, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church knows that both her saving and her divine calling are not because of her own merit, but because of Christ’s own purpose and grace. And together with others of like faith and practice, she guards, by the Holy Spirit who dwells within her, the good deposit that has been entrusted to her, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
Being faithful to Christ often requires those who belong to him to suffer in this world—though, at least in our own circumstances, perhaps not physically. But we have become increasingly aware of brothers and sisters in Christ in distant places, who have suffered both beatings and, yes, even death, rather than deny Jesus Christ or remove themselves from his worship. And most of us have experienced “the look” that others have shot at us from time to time when we have given voice to the hope that lies before us in Christ, or when we have been compelled to take an unpopular stand because we are convinced that God’s Word requires nothing less.
Born in the seventh year of the Great Depression, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church has always known what it is to be poor when it comes to the things of this world, and to have to wait upon the Lord. At the end of 2011, the median size (half smaller, half larger) of her 275 organized congregations was only seventy-six members (including noncommunicant covenant children), with sixty-five attending worship.
As might be expected, most of the ministry in the OPC is done in the context of her local congregations, where public worship services are conducted, the flock is shepherded, the covenant youth are catechized, the lost are evangelized, and the poor are shown mercy. Yet the OPC has always been a consciously Presbyterian church, convinced that this is what the Scriptures teach. She is grateful for the connectionalism that her congregations enjoy, both in the presbytery and in the whole church. Her presbyteries and her general assembly are visible manifestations of the unity her people enjoy together in Christ. They also provide an opportunity for her congregations and mission works to put their hands together in ministry to those who are geographically removed or for what might lie beyond what any single congregation is able to do on its own.
Having a particular heart for missions, the OPC labors both at home (within the bounds of her presbyteries in the U.S. and Canada) and in distant lands. She has witnessed the imprisonment of her missionaries and their coworkers on the foreign field, and she has experienced the hostility of some local governments—even here at home. Just as is the case among her congregations, some of her presbyteries have been blessed with significant resources, while others need help from the whole church to carry on the ministries entrusted to them. In obedience to our Lord’s Great Commission, the OPC, as a whole church, carries on her combined ministries of Christian education, foreign missions, and home missions—together called Worldwide Outreach—through the labors of the Committee on Christian Education, the Committee on Foreign Missions, and the Committee on Home Missions and Church Extension, all of which are supported by the giving of God’s people in worship. These ministries are interdependent: Where will the next generation of missionaries (FM) and church planters (HM) come from, if we don’t have interns (CE) today? How will the number of missionaries she is able to send to other lands (FM) increase, if our numbers are not growing here at home (HM)? You begin to get the picture.
Every year Orthodox Presbyterians have a special opportunity to participate in the advancement of the work of Christ through the whole church in Worldwide Outreach by giving to the Thank Offering. The goal this year is $800,000. Knowing whom you have believed, and being convinced that he is able, please join with us in giving sacrificially to the Thank Offering to support the Worldwide Outreach ministries of the OPC.
The author is the general secretary for the Committee on Foreign Missions. New Horizons, November 2012