Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Reading Psalm 119 as a Picture of Jesus Christ

I've been reading through and meditating on Psalm 119 as part of my daily Bible reading. Older Old Testament scholars viewed the author of the Psalm as David or that David was a compiler of the many parts that make it up. In many ways we can see and hear David in it. The subject of this large Psalm is obvious to all by its use of synonyms for the word of God in each section; e.g. word, commandments, judgments, law, precepts, statutes, testimonies.  The Psalm is also known for its alphabetical arrangement according to the Hebrew alphabet. The leading word in each line of each section begins with the letter of the alphabet the defines that section. Modern English versions often give the Hebrew letters in the heading of each section. 

The Psalm often seems repetitious to the casual reader. Keeping in mind the meanings and nuances of the several words used to refer to the word of God  helps the reader to contemplate the fullness and breadth of the doctrine of the word of God and its application to life. This takes discipline. You can't read the Psalm quickly not only because of its length but because of its style. Its written to be meditated upon. I've always found CH Spurgeon's Treasury of David a help because he adds so many of other commentators' comments. 

Here is another hint. This is something that I've not seen elsewhere as a main theme. This is something I am finding very productive and helpful. Consider the Psalm as a description of Jesus Christ. Think of David's greater son. We know that Christ, the God-man, is the subject of all the scriptures (Luke 24:27). You  can hear the "beatitudes" in the first section (Aleph). Then as you contemplate Christ living out all of God's commands and word for believers in the rest of the psalm you see the beauty, the devotion, and the love of God's word that he has (Look at Ps. 119:73-80 as an example). This understanding gives me great comfort that while I fail Christ has done all. This unfailing example of Jesus Christ my savior encourages me to seek the same beauty, devotion, and love of God's word too. May the Holy Spirit help you to see Christ in all of scripture!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Chirstian Sabbath; A Day of Mercy

How did you spend your Sunday? Did you go to church or not? Were you thankful for a "day off?" Did you think whether you "got something" out of church or worship today? Maybe you didn't even think about church, worship, or religion. How often we think only in terms of whether a particular day fulfilled our needs, wants, and desires.

Today's sermon was about "Sanctifying the Sabbath." It came out my series on the Old Testament book of Nehemiah. You may remember that Nehemiah became governor of the people of Israel after they returned from the 70 years of captivity. Nehemiah led the people in the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem and the re-establishment of the Jewish state. After the people celebrated the completion of the work they, like us, struggled to keep faithful and to keep their faith practice alive. The necessities of life crowded in. 

My text was from Nehemiah 13:15-22. In that text we see that the people "profaned" the Sabbath day by engaging in work, buying, and selling. They were trying make a living. They made the Sabbath day like any other day, and so "profaned" the day that God had set aside as holy and they made it common. The Jewish leaders that permitted it and the people risked bringing the return of God's judgment on them as he had recently by sending them to exile. Nehemiah confronted the leaders and then enforce the Sabbath law as governor.

This all sounds very Old Testament and strange to our New Testament ears. You may wonder what this has to do with us who are free from the bondage of the law. We must remember that when God created all things he established for us three basic "creation ordinances" that framed human existence. God established marriage, the intimate completing union between one man and one woman. He established work as a good thing for humans to do to the glory of God. He established the weekly cycle of life, six days of work and one day of rest by God's own example (Genesis 2:3). God set in motion the parameters of our existence in physical and moral/ethical life.

All this was codified in the Mosaic law and summarized in the 10 commandments. Israel's civil, religious, and moral laws were unified. They all pointed to the Christ to come. Exodus 20:11 reminds us the Sabbath command is a creation ordinance and looks back. Deuteronomy 5:15 reminds us that the Sabbath has a redemptive purpose and looks forward. Jesus Christ fulfilled all this claimed the Sabbath as his own(Matthew 12:8). Hebrews 4:8-11 teaches us that our real Sabbath rest awaits us in the future of Jesus Christ's fulfilled kingdom.

What is my point? The moral law, the ten commandments applies to all of us (Romans 1:18-32; 2:14-16). Christ has fulfilled the law for us and we are to be a holy people (I Peter 1:9-12). The weekly Sabbath, now the first day of the week because of Christ's resurrection (John 20:1,19,26, Revelation 1:10), is a great reminder of the mercy of God to us in Christ, a promise of our eternal rest, and a day of rest in Christ, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit. We should rejoice and sanctify the day as a day for God and rest from the world. It isn't legalism but freedom in Christ to step back from the world, rest in Christ, and be renewed in our Christ focused faith. The day isn't about us but it is about Jesus Christ and his work. Do you see the Sabbath as a day of delight? (Isaiah 58:13,14). The Sabbath is a witness to a dying world of the life to come, of Christ's redeeming work, and of our eternal hope!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

After Death Then What?

Spring seemed like it was coming and then suddenly winter made another stand. We probably should have known better given the gentle winter we have had. Nonetheless winter's relapse surprised us.

Death in the midst of life, while expected in one sense, always seems to surprise us. Last time I wrote about the reality that we all face, facing death. I'd like to continue that thought process using the Westminster Confession of Faith chapter 32. So what happens after death? The chapter continues, "...but their souls, which neither die nor sleep, having an immortal subsistence, immediately return to God who gave them:..."

This clause is in contrast to the first part which reminds us that our bodies which are made from the "dust" or the elements of this material world die and decay back to their constituent elemental properties. Is that all we are? This clause reminds us that no, there is another part of us that we are all aware. The "inner" man, the conscious part, that part that really animates our body and experiences the world we live in through its senses. It's that part that never really seems to age though it grows in understanding, knowledge, and experience. We all know this intuitively. Materialists attempt to deny it but we know there is something more to life. We want meaning. We believe in immaterial things like good & evil, truth & falsehood, love & hatred, justice & injustice. We yearn for eternity because we were made for it. All of us want meaning. We want our lives to mean something to someone and to ourselves.

The point of this section is that our spiritual part returns to God at death. He is the one in control. He renders some decision about our eternal state. This is the meaning of Ecclesiastes 12:7, "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was and the spirit shall return to God who gave it." Our actions in the body, our thoughts, our loves fit into this. God considers all these things and renders a verdict. Death teaches us that we are accountable. We are not just "here" for a while as an accident or chance occurrence. We know we are not self created. We didn't pick our parents, our family, our nationality, our time of existence. Life teaches us that we are not really in full control. Things happen to us. Death reminds us that God is in control and we will give an account.

After death then what? That is the concern of the gospel in Jesus Christ. The question is whether you are alone in death before God or whether you are "in" Christ by faith in his atoning work. Will God see your soul by yourself with all your sins or will he see you in Christ Jesus in his righteousness. The point is at death, God will render a verdict. You and I will return to God who gave us life. Has He given you eternal life?

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Facing Death

A death of a family member recently occurred in our church's fellowship. This prompted me to write about something we all experience. Most people if indeed not all believe something happens at death even if they say that nothing happens, that the person ceases to exist. That statement is a statement about something, and that "something" is a statement about existence. All this opinion making is a faith or belief statement. No one has ever come back to tell us what to expect except one, the Lord of life, the one who has conquered death. He didn't give us a lot of specifics about the experience but more importantly he gave us promises because, well, we know death is pretty final. But the Christian has hope in Jesus Christ. The non-Christian has just pure speculation and fear.

The Bible, as the very word of God and of Christ Jesus as the Holy Spirit directed the human authors to write it, gives a broad understanding about death in many places. This is where confessions and creeds help us because they summarize the Bible's teachings found in many places about particular subjects. Creeds and confessions aren't the word of God but they are helps. In that vein I want to look at the Westminster Confession of Faith chapter 32 as a helpful guide to what the Bible teaches and what the Christian believes. Here is help for you when you face this inevitable experience in your life. 

The chapter begins, "The bodies of men, after death, return to dust, and see corruption:..." The Christian believes what the Bible teaches in Genesis 3:19 that God promised Adam and his posterity that he/they would die and their bodies return to the dust of ground from which they were taken because of Adam's sin. "The wages of sin is death..." (Romans 6:23). This is the first point about death. Death isn't natural in the sense that is a necessary part of God's creation. It is the common experience and is the natural affect of sin but death didn't have to be a part of our experience. In fact, before there was sin there was no death. The presence of death reveals the presence of sin (Romans 5:12).

Secondly, death is not just physical. There is a spiritual death. In fact we are born physically alive but spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1-3). It is by the gospel promise, faith in Jesus Christ alone, that God makes us spiritually alive (Ephesians 2:4,5)

Physical death results in the separation of the two component parts of a human being. At conception a union of a soul or spirit and a body is formed and person has being. Death is the violent separation of these two parts as a judgment for sin against a holy God. Because the sin of Adam is imputed to all human beings descending from Adam by ordinary means (Romans 5:12-14) that sin has corrupting effects on the physical bodies of all human beings and makes them subject to suffering, disease, and death. This is the third point we need to understand about death.

Even Christian believers die. Flesh and blood, these corrupted bodies, cannot inherit the kingdom of God (John 3:5,6: I Corinthians 15:42). Yet for the Christian believer, his death is not a judgment but an entrance into the holy presence of the risen Jesus Christ. Because of Christ's victory over death, God uses death as an act of his love to finally free believers perfectly from sin and misery experienced in this life in the union of their corrupted bodies (Isaiah 57:1,2; Revelation 14:13). This is the fourth point about death we need to understand. God uses an "evil," death, by his love for the good of his people. Christian believers being united to Christ are freed from sin and misery at death.

Here we see God's grace in the face of the terminal condition we all face. We all know and experience the corruption at work in us due to sin. The amazing grace is that God turns the death sentence of sin into a blessing in Christ by his love for us in Jesus Christ. We can chose to ignore death but it will come. We can pretend to have no fear of death but death will take your life, your loved ones, and all that you hold dear. It is relentless. The Christian has hope despite all this because Jesus has conquered death for him.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Challenge of Leadership

It was the weekend of "The Game" again. The century plus long football rivalry between Ohio State and  the University of Michigan was played out with guts, grit, and disagreements. There is always disappointment and often contention. This year "The Game" featured a nail biting double overtime. Not only was this the first overtime game in the history of the rivalry but Michigan forced a double overtime true to the highly competitive history of these annual meetings. I think anybody who watched these two teams play sensed the energy and pressure on the field and got caught up in it. It was a good game. It was so good that many got caught up in the emotion that boiled over after "The Game" finally came to an improbable end or what others might say, an unfair end because of a disputed call by the officials.
I have no problem with the disagreement of those on the Michigan side that about that call. I understand their emotion. Michigan played to win the whole game. In many ways they out played Ohio State. To its credit, the Ohio State team never gave up and tied up the game in regular time in a stunning if not struggling fashion. In overtime, Michigan went toe to toe with Ohio State and nearly denied them the needed yardage to keep the winning touchdown drive alive. If it just weren't for the disputed call. I really understand.

What I don't understand is the post game behavior of coach Jim Harbaugh. I think he got caught up in the emotion of "The Game." He made it personal. He failed to lead. That is tough language I know. We all make mistakes. Yep, I've made them too. This isn't irredeemable but I think a coach needs to be a coach to his players all the time, especially in the situation of hard loss. Life is tough. "The Game" is still only a game. Leadership lasts for a lifetime in bigger things. So, I think the Big Ten Conference was right to punish Michigan for the coach's behavior. But wouldn't the lesson had been better learned by the players on both sides if the coach would have led this team through the defeat rather than rail about it?

Michigan's coach, Jim Harbaugh, had every right to challenge the call at the time. It was reviewed by the officials, and they decided to stand by the original call. That hurt. It kept the Buckeyes' drive alive and they got the winning touchdown. I don't blame coach Harbaugh for stating at the end of the game that he disagreed with the officials. It happens. Officials aren't perfect, they are human too. It is the coach's job to defend his players and be sure they get a fair shake. It's the officials' job to enforce the rules. In the end their ruling counts. If not, the game can't be played, it can't be enjoyed, and the lessons it is supposed to teach can't be learned. But here is where coach Harbaugh failed when he said he was bitter about the loss. He didn't remember that there is a lot to be learned in accepting a loss even what appears to be an unjust one. Life is like that. It isn't fair.

Leaders lead when it's tough, when it's unfair, when it seems that life is stacked against you, etc. Leadership doesn't devolve into bitterness and complaint about the rules. Coach Harbaugh's example is another poor example of the behavior being exhibited in our society and on our college campuses. We think winning is all that matters. If we don't win, we think the rules aren't fair. We complain or worse. Sports, like other aspects of education, should prepare students to "play by the rules" in the bigger venues of life. Sometimes when you do, you don't win. Failure is more often the result in real life. Those failures, graciously accepted and learned from, build a character of integrity that ultimately prepares you for success. This is why Christian morality (Biblically informed morals) is so important to life (Romans 13:1,2; I Peter 2:13-20; I Peter 3:8-17). And of course, such suffering leads us to depend on God and not ourselves (I Peter 2:21-25)

You would think a coach had learned that. I think coach Harbaugh has learned it. He just forgot for a moment. He can still lead and do the right thing by his players. So can we.

Friday, December 4, 2015

"These are the times that try men's souls."

Thomas Paine’s words, “These are the times that try men’s souls,” written as the opening lines of his Crisis articles in 1777 have often echoed in American history during trying times. Again our land is beset with trials and difficulties from without and within that try the union of the country, that seem to defy the rational capabilities of our leaders, and that seemly refuse any attempt at a solution. Most I fear are problems of our own doing and thinking. So, these are the times that try men’s souls.

In my reading of Zechariah, the Old Testament prophet inspired by God to deliver His word to the Jewish people who had returned from their captivity, I found some thoughts that brought hope and comfort. For whatever men may do or think, God is control of history. He will have His way. God sent Zechariah to bring hope to the Israelites of old. Things would not continue as they had. His anger against them as a people for their sins had passed. God is after all a covenant keeping God. He sent Zechariah to comfort them in that. A few lessons stand out to me in Zechariah 1:7-16, his first vision.

Trials are Meant for Good

This is contrary to our expectations and seems contrary to the goodness of God. But the scriptures are clear in many places that God does indeed use the sins of men and the trials in a sin filled world to accomplish good in the lives of his people. Consider Joseph’s statement to his brothers in Genesis 50:20. This is where the apparent clever argument of the atheist of the “problem of evil” against Christianity falls to the ground. God’s wisdom is so far above our own and his power so mighty that he even uses evil to accomplish his good purposes! So it was with Israel of old. God brought “trying times” upon Israel for their faithlessness and disobedience. That time was past (Zech. 1:14-16). God used the evil of the oppressing nations but would turn their evil back upon them. He was not content to let the then world rest in quietness of the status quo by the ruling powers (Zech. 1:11,15).

Paul writes in a similar vein in Romans 5:1-5 that the believer’s sufferings produce good in him. Having peace with God by faith in the provision for salvation, Jesus Christ, the believer rejoices in the hope in glory of God and in the tribulations of life. Such trials beget good things in us; perseverance, character, and hope.

The Church is Not Israel of the Old Testament

God treated his people Israel as children. They were underage (Gal. 4:1ff). I do not mean to disparage Israel of old. They were and are unique as a people for God made covenant with them. They had and have a special role in the plan of redemption (Rom. 11:25-33).  Yet as with a child they were disciplined as a whole and subject to outward punishments. They were given signs and shadows, not the reality of the full redemption in Christ. They heard the gospel (Heb. 4: 2) and were saved by faith (Romans 4). Nonetheless we see God’s mercy towards his people again and again despite their sin.

God surely disciplines believers (Heb. 12:7ff). Yet his dealings with the church are more of grace and mercy. There is no warning of captivity and divorce. The trials bear the fruit of building up believers and he defends his blood bought people because they are truly and fully his children (John 1:12,13). So, God does not treat his Church like he treated Israel of old. Just as a parent more severely rules his young child in order to teach and then grants greater freedom to the mature child so God works differently in the life of His beloved Church as the bride of His Son. If there was grace and love toward Israel of old surely God is truly zealous for his Church. In trying times God builds his church and his grace is displayed even more.

God Removes the Ease of the World to Enlarge the Church

God promised through Zechariah that he would again visit Jerusalem with mercy and cause the cities of the land to grow and prosper. He expressed his anger with the nations at ease who had with evil intent oppressed Israel. Throughout the prophets we see that God would judge the nations and upend their rule for the sake of his people. The Israelites that returned from the seventy years captivity would live through the upheavals of God’s punishment of the nation powers of that time. Yet, God stated that he loved his people, would comfort them, and enlarge them again.

So, in the human history of nations we see that God withdraws his grace and the nations are plunged into war. Their sin of pride runs unhindered again. God uses their own sin to punish them. Perhaps now as in the past we are seeing the nations turning to violence and oppression in large numbers. God is judging this unbelieving world. He is judging western nations and their civilization for turning their backs on him and all his external blessings. We see the upheaval as the nations again are allowed to let their sin produce its corrupt fruit. The Church is living through this upheaval. What is punishment for the nations is for the building up of perseverance, character, and hope of the Church. In the end this is all meant for the prosperity of the Church for God will call hopeless men, women, and children to himself through the only savior of world. God will enlarge the Church and it will spread out through prosperity by the calling of more sinners to faith and repentance from the ranks of unbelief, false religion, and outright enemies (Romans 5:6ff). These are the times that try men’s souls. God is trying your soul in these days. What is your trust?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Why I am a Presbyterian?

I had a visitor at our mission work recently ask why I would identify myself and the mission work as Presbyterian. He was referring to the recent action of the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) to affirm homosexual “marriage.”[1]  Presbyterians from the same denomination have been in the news recently for a article where a Presbyterian minister stated that he didn’t believe in God and still was proud to a minister in the PCUSA.[2] And again a PCUSA congregation in New Orleans recently hosted a rally to support and celebrate a Planned Parenthood abortion facility in that city[3].  Clearly the word “Presbyterian” has bad connotations for Christians that take the Bible as God’s word seriously and normatively. Why in the world would I who had just preached a Biblically based sermon identify myself with such a denomination? Why would I attempt to start a church that aims to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and use such a moniker that communicates the opposite to many people?

Not All Presbyterians are Alike:

As a matter of education there are many denominations that identify themselves as Presbyterian . There exist in the USA the PCUSA, the PCA, the EPC, the ARP, the OPC, the BPC, the KAPC, the RPCNA, just to name a few. We Presbyterians affectionately call ourselves the “split ‘Ps.’” The PCUSA is the largest but it is in serious decline because of the very positions against the teachings of the Bible and its own historic confession that it has taken.  So, while I am Presbyterian I am not a minister in the PCUSA though I grew up in it.[4] Many of the smaller Presbyterian denominations are more Biblically consistent and conservative trying to maintain the Biblical confessional standards that have characterized Presbyterians throughout the world and history. I am a minister in and do church planting for the OPC (Orthodox Presbyterian Church). So if I left the more progressive and liberal Presbyterian church why should I want to be a Presbyterian?

The Bible Teaches the Kind of Church Government Called “Presbyterian”:

The word Presbyterian comes from the Greek language used in the writing of the New Testament that refers to elder, presbyteros. If one reads the Bible carefully he will see that that the Jewish nation-church was ruled or governed by the elders by God’s appointment (Ex 3:16; 24:1). The New Testament church carried over this practice and a plurality of elders was elected in each new congregation (Acts 14:23). The apostles even saw themselves as elders though with a particular function as the authoritative witnesses of Jesus Christ, apostles, (I Pet. 5:1). Throughout the book of Acts we see the importance of elders in the churches. At its most basic level the word Presbyterian refers to the rule by elders.

Not only are the local churches ruled by a plurality of elders but the churches are connected. There is in Presbyterian government a connection of the all the churches to one another. This works to guarantee accountability of believers to the greater church, first to their own elders (Heb 13:17), and then to the broader church. Thus, in Acts 15 when there arose a theological dispute about how to handle the Jewish laws and the inclusion of the Gentile believers the elders of the all the churches gathered together to discuss, solve, and then communicate the decision of the whole church. I like to explain that the civil government structure of the United States borrowed from the Presbyterian Church. [5]  Think of local, state, and federal government and courts. That system of “graduated” or ascending levels of accountability is the outworking of Presbyterian church government. This is not just a man created system but a study of the book of Acts and Paul’s Pastoral Epistles in the scriptures reveal that the Presbyterian or “Elder” system of church government is taught and exampled in the Bible.[6]

Presbyterian Theology is Rooted in the Reformation:

The reformation of the Roman Catholic Church that swept across the organized church in Western Christendom had its identifiable beginnings in the 14th century with John Wycliffe. Wycliffe’s concerns about worldly prelates, the primacy of scripture, and the nature of the Eucharist/Lord’s Supper became the main points of dispute. These concerns were echoed by John Huss in the 15th century and the mighty Martin Luther in the 16th century. It was John Knox who as a student of the exiled Frenchman, John Calvin, took the reformation doctrines to Scotland and became the father of Presbyterianism. Presbyterianism then spread throughout the world in various Presbyterian denominations utilizing the reformed confession and catechisms of the Westminster Standards written in England (1643-49) as an accurate summary of the teachings of the Bible.

While there are other reformed Protestant denominations across the world (Lutheran, German Reformed, Dutch Reformed) the Presbyterian church is the Scots-English expression of the grand doctrines of grace that are focused on the primacy of the Bible, the grace of God in Jesus Christ, and the glory of God in the salvation of sinners.[7] Often summarized by the five solas; The Scriptures Alone, Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Christ Alone, and God’s Glory Alone, these doctrines of God’s free grace are what powered the Protestant movement and gave birth to renewed freedom and dignity of all people. Biblical and historical Presbyterian doctrine is an important inheritance from the reformation that we need to hear again today.

Presbyterians Have an Evangelistic Mission Orientation:

Presbyterian missions in America initially was organized as in effort around 1800 in western Pennsylvania and territories west that would become Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan. Not only were the early settlements a focus of the gospel mission endeavors but the native Indian tribes were also evangelized. In 1802 the Presbyterian Church USA established the first Protestant denominational mission organization, The Standing Committee of Missions, that focused on home missions in the USA developing new local churches in settlements. Presbyterians supported the American Board of Foreign Missions and finally established their own denominational Board of Foreign Missions on the model of the Western Foreign Missionary Society that was begun by the Synod of Pittsburgh in the PCUSA. That society fielded twenty one missionaries to Native American Indians and thirty nine missionaries to Liberia and India.

This missions emphasis was the outgrowth of the reformed theology of the Presbyterians contrary to many modern opinions. The idea that people are made right with God by the means of grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone as taught in the scriptures alone to the glory of God alone compelled missionaries to go to the world at large. This theological commitment was expressed in John Calvin’s early missionary endeavors to take the reformation doctrines to other parts of the world from Geneva, Switzerland that all kinds of people would benefit from the doctrines of grace.

It was this missions emphasis that led to the formation of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) when liberal theology that neutered the focus of the gospel of saving faith in Jesus Christ to a social gospel began to affect Presbyterian missions in the PCUSA. J Gresham Machen and others founded the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions to maintain the gospel of free grace in Jesus Christ as the focus of missions. So in 1936 the OPC was founded on the commitment to the gospel in Jesus Christ as reflected in the robust reformed theological heritage of the Reformation. The OPC has continued to keep the focus on missions, both home and foreign, as an important part of the identity of the church.

As you can see there are many good reasons to be a Presbyterian. One has to be discerning because many Presbyterians have departed from the scriptures and the reformation theology that is taught in them. I am not so much proud to be a Presbyterian as I am grateful to God for the heritage and faithfulness of Biblical Presbyterians he has maintained and used over the years. Christ is still building his church. Reformation doctrine and the fruit of it, missions, are good and important reasons to be a member of a Biblical Presbyterian church. God has used this part of Christ’s church to grow many in the faith and to share the faith in Jesus Christ for God’s glory.

[1] I refuse to surrender the term marriage to the modern practice of joining together people of various sexual preferences in civil interpersonal unions. Marriage has definite Biblical, historic, and commonly understood definition in human relations as an institution; Genesis 2:18-25, “the institution whereby men and women are joined in a special kind of social and legal dependence for the purpose of founding and maintaining a family.”  Webster’s 7th Collegiate Dictionary, 1971.
[2] See
[3] See
[4] Actually I was a child in the UPUSA (United Presbyterian Church in the north) which joined with the PCUS (the southern Presbyterian Church) in the 1980s and became once again an unified national Presbyterian denomination known as the PC(USA). 
[5] The first presbytery was organized in Philadelphia in 1706 and the Westminster Standards were adopted as the Presbyterian Church’s doctrinal standards in 1729. (see:
[6] See I Timothy 4:14 where the apostle Paul reminds Timothy of his ordination into the ministry by the presbytery (ESV) or elders. From this text and Acts 15 the meeting of the elders from the churches settled theological issues and ordained ministers (pastor-teachers/evangelists). This is the biblical way of governing churches.
[7][7] See