Christian Fellowship While We Are In the World

During the first four months of 1935, J. Gresham Machen gave a series of radio lectures on the topic of the Christian faith. The specific topics were among the ones that were being particularly contested in his day (the inspiration and authority of the Bible, the nature of God, and the person of Christ). Machen was truly a defender of the faith. With sadness, the cause of truth led him to separate from the increasingly liberal Princeton Seminary where he had taught New Testament from 1906-1929, in order to found Westminster Theological Seminary in 1929. Then six months before his death, he was a leader in the founding of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church after separating from the liberal PCUSA. When he gave these talks in 1935, he was in the latter years of his controversy-filled life which ended somewhat abruptly in January of 1937. The broadcasts were later compiled and published (after his death) in 1945  under the title “The Christian Faith in the Modern World.”

With the trials and trauma of Machen’s heroic life in mind, it is very meaningful to read a series of remarks that he makes in the introduction to his final lecture in the series. He says:

“These are rather trying days to a man who sorrows when a visible Church that professes to believe the Word of God turns away from it so often into the pathways of unbelief and sin; and in such days it is doubly comforting to converse with those who truly love the Gospel of Christ and believe that it alone is the message that is forever new. I do rejoice with all my heart in the Christian fellowship which we have together, and I trust that God may richly bless you, both in joy and in sorrow, and may by His Holy Spirit cause you always to be grounded upon the rock of His Holy Word.”[1]

Machen found his trek through the Christian life to be tiresome in both soul and body. Yet, for him, the Word of God was a solid rock on which to stand and he was greatly encouraged that he did not stand there alone. I hope that you have the same joy in the Holy Spirit, stability in the Word of God and sweetness of Christian fellowship while in the world. I am reminded of the words of our Lord Jesus:
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33)

[1] J. Gresham Machen, The Christian Faith In The Modern World, p. 231.


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