PCA Historical Center

Historical Center News

Vol.. XIV, No. 1


History and the Gospel
"The student of the New Testament should be primarily an historian.  The centre and core of all the Bible is history.  Everything else that the Bible contains is fitted into an historical framework and leads up to an historical climax.  The Bible is primarily a record of events... ..Give up history, and you can retain some things...But be perfectly clear about one point--you can never retain a gospel.  For gospel means 'good news', tidings, information about something that has happened.  In other words, it means history.  A gospel independent of history is simply a contradiction in terms."
J. Gresham Machen
History and Faith

Two Letters Discovered:

A True Pastor's Heart
The following letter was located recently among some of the unprocessed papers of Dr. Robert G. Rayburn.  In the face of his own battle with cancer, he wrote in 1976 to minister to a young man in his congregation whose faith was under attack:
Dear Tom:
I have learned from your mother that you feel that God has done something wrong in allowing me to have the serious physical problem which is facing me at the present time, but I want to assure you, Tom, that you  are mistaken in feeling this way.
The Bible tells us that it is the mercy of God that we are not consumed, and certainly when we understand the sinfulness of our own hearts and realize how gracious God has been to us in spite of our sin we have no grounds for complaining against Him.
Since this cancer has been discovered in my body, I have felt instead of resentment a real desire to glorify the Lord in my illness. 

This isn't easy to do, I know, and the natural inclinations to be somewhat bitter rise in my heart; but God has given me a wonderful peace about it through such verses as the one in Romans 12 which tells us "Whom the Lord loves, He chastens."  I am taking this chastening as an evidence of God's love for me.  I hope you will accept it in the same way.  The Lord Jesus Christ is a great Saviour and He never fails those who put their trust in Him.  This is not a bluff!  It is reality.
          Most sincerely,
             Robert G. Rayburn

[It completes the story to know that Tom is now the Rev. Tom Ricks, pastor of Greentree Community Church (EPC)  in Kirkwood, MO.  He says Dr. Rayburn's letter greatly ministered to him at the time and that the letter remains a cherished part of his own files.   The depth and reality of God's work in Dr. Rayburn's life still speaks powerfully through this letter.]

Inside this issue:

Letter #2:   Why Your History is Important

Our second letter uncovered was written by Jane Mills Burk who has faithfully served for many years as Historian at the Plains Presbyterian Church, Zachary, LA..
Writing in 1986, she eloquently sums up the reasons for and the usefulness of church history:
"As I began to think I realized that God Himself is the greatest historian and that the local church history is part of His plan.  It in fact proves that God is working in the

world today through the church people, both past and present.  We simply can not escape from History nor do I want to.  As David said in Psalm 16:6, "Indeed my heritage is beautiful to me."  David's delight was not only in God, but in God's people and so I write about what God's people are doing.
Each time I go back into the past of some of those who so faithfully served their Lord here at the Plains Church, my faith

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