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May 23

Robert S. Marsden

On May 23, 1956, the Rev. Robert S. Marsden delivered an evening address to Philadelphia-area Orthodox Presbyterians at Calvary OPC, Glenside, at a service to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the OPC. Basing his remarks on Paul’s words in Philippians 1:16, “I am set for the defense of the gospel,” Marsden noted that “the church in every age is appointed for the defense of the gospel and every milestone in its history is a monument on the battlefield. … The church’s life is one long war from which there will be no discharge until what the Apostle calls ‘the day of Christ.’"

After surveying also the history of American Presbyterianism in its 250th anniversary year, Marsden drew the following conclusion:

“My friends, 1706 and 1936 are but monuments on the perpetual battlefield of the war in which the church must constantly be engaged. If a church forsakes that battle it may build great cathedrals, it may attract vast multitudes to religious meetings, it may dictate the policies of governments, it may rule the world, but it will not be a church of Christ. It will be a synagogue of Satan, an instrument in the hands of the god of this world who blindeth the eyes of those who will not see the truth.

“And my friends, our church will remain a church just so long as it is doing battle with the full armor of God and with the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. Our church will remain a church just so long as it is a church set for the defense of the gospel. Then it will be a church in spite of its smallness, in spite of its failures, in spite of the weaknesses and sins of its ministers, of its elders, of its members. Then it will be a church in spite of any persecution, in spite of the sneers and jeers of its enemies, in other words, it will be a church in spite of all the powers of hell. It will be a church that succeeds as God counts success.”

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