Seminary Mourns a Loss in our “Family”: Mr. John Kalsbeek

Today we at the Seminary are also remembering and mourning the loss of a dear brother in Christ, Mr. John Kalsbeek. Yesterday afternoon (March 27, 2014) the Lord of glory called John home to glory after he declined in health due to many afflictions related to years of suffering rheumatoid arthritis. He spent his last days at Faith Hospice in Byron Center, MI, where he was kept comfortable through medication and especially the love and friendship of his wife, family, and church family (Faith PRC, and extended).

Mr.John Kalsbeek with the 2006 graduating class from Hope PRCS

Mr.John Kalsbeek (middle left) with the 2006 graduating class from Hope PRCS

John was a godly husband and father, and for many years a well-loved Christian School teacher in the PRC, serving in our Christian schools from Redlands, CA to NW Iowa, to Grand Rapids, MI. He was also, along with his wife, the long-time janitors of our Seminary building, coming in twice a week to clean our facilities. Since my time here at seminary I noticed that while Judy did the detailed cleaning, John liked to do the vacuuming, something I thought had to be hard for him given his condition (gnarled hands and frail body). But, as with all his labors, John did it cheerfully and without complaint. Up until last semester John – ever the learner even as he was an educator! – audited a class here at Seminary.

John was a gifted man of God and had some unique hobbies for which we remember him also: exotic frogs and fish kept in a multitude of tanks lining his home office; an amazing cacti collector and grower – the plants line the window sills of Seminary as we write, since while he kept them outside in his yard in the summer, he brought them inside here in the winter; a gifted painter – as any visitor to his home discovered – his paintings filling the walls; and a book collector and reader. Just last Fall he asked me to come and browse his library to pick out some books he wanted to donate to the library and to the students. Such was the nature of this wonderful Christian man.

John also served many terms as a faithful elder in my home church, Faith PRC.  And because he loved covenant children and loved teaching, even after retiring he willingly gave his time to teaching catechism classes.

We will miss John tremendously, here at Seminary and in Faith congregation. We can and do rejoice in his going home to be with Jesus, delivered not just from his physical afflictions, but from his sin and the buffetings of Satan and the press of this wicked world. We prayed for this at the end, and the Lord answered in His time and way. We now pray for the comfort of his wife and family. May they experience the peace of their Savior as He speaks to them out of His Word the gospel of His triumph over death and the grave.

May John’s comforting confession also be theirs:

 

  • Q. 1.  What is thy only comfort in life and death?
    A.  That I with body and soul,1 both in life and death, am not my own,2 but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ;3 who, with His precious blood,4 hath fully satisfied for all my sins,5 and delivered me from all the power of the devil; 6 and so preserves me7 that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head;8 yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation,9 and therefore, His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, 10 and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto Him.11

Here is the obituary for John as it appeared in the Grand Rapids Press. And these are the arrangements for visiting John’s wife and family and for his funeral:

Visitation at Mattysse Funeral Home in Grandville

Saturday 5-8 PM and Sunday 2-4 PM

Funeral at Faith PRC Monday 11:00 AM

 

J.Calvin on Psalm 130: “…the sinner… shall find him (God) ready to be reconciled towards him.”

JCalvinBibleFor our further meditation on Psalm 130 let us also read and take to heart these words of John Calvin on v.4. While we focus on this part of Calvin’s exposition of the psalm, it would also be worth your while to read his thoughts on v.3 at the CCEL website. May his words also point us to the only One in Whom we have hope as sinners, so that by faith we come to Him and cast ourselves upon Him in Jesus Christ.

4. But with thee there is forgiveness.

This verse leads us farther. Though all men confess with the mouth that there is no human being in the world whom God may not justly adjudge to everlasting death, should it so please him, yet how few are persuaded of the truth which the Prophet now adds, that the grace of which they stand in need shall not be denied them? They either sleep in their sins through stupidity, or fluctuate amidst a variety of doubts, and, at length, are overwhelmed with despair. This maxim, “that no man is free from sin,” is, as I have said, received among all men without dispute, and yet the majority shut their eyes to their own faults, and settle securely in hiding ­ places to which, in their ignorance, they have betaken themselves, if they are not forcibly roused out of them, and then, when pursued close by the judgments of God, they are overwhelmed with alarm, or so greatly tormented as to fall into despair.

The consequence of this want of hope in men, that God will be favorable to them, is an indifference about coming into the Divine presence to supplicate for pardon. When a man is awakened with a lively sense of the judgment of God, he cannot fail to be humbled with shame and fear. Such self-dissatisfaction would not however suffice, unless at the same time there were added faith, whose office it is to raise up the hearts which were cast down with fear, and to encourage them to pray for forgiveness. David then acted as he ought to have done when, in order to his attaining genuine repentance, he first summons himself before God’s judgment seat; but, to preserve his confidence from failing under the overpowering influence of fear, he presently adds the hope which there was of obtaining pardon.

It is, indeed, a matter which comes under our daily observation, that those who proceed not beyond the step of thinking themselves deserving of endless death, rush, like frenzied men, with great impetuosity against God. The better, therefore, to confirm himself and others, the Prophet declares that God’s mercy cannot be separated or torn away from himself. “As soon as I think upon thee,” he says in amount, “thy clemency also presents itself to my mind, so that I have no doubt that thou wilt be merciful to me, it being impossible for thee to divest thyself of thy own nature: the very fact that thou art God is to me a sure guarantee that thou wilt be merciful ”

At the same time let it be understood, that he does not here speak of a confused knowledge of the grace of God, but of such a knowledge of it as enables the sinner to conclude with certainty, that as soon as he seeks God he shall find him ready to be reconciled towards him.

Sunday Worship Preparation – Psalm 130

Psalm130For this first Lord’s Day in March we focus on Psalm 130 for our worship preparation of the one, true Triune God, our Father in Jesus Christ. This is the eleventh “song of ascents”, another part of those songs the pilgrim saints sang as they sojourned “up” to Jerusalem for her special worship services. Let’s put this Word of God before us so that we may meditate on it and pray from it as we go up to God’s house today:

Psalm 130

Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord.

2 Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.

3 If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?

4 But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.

5 I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.

6 My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning.

7 Let Israel hope in the Lord: for with the Lord there is mercy, and with him isplenteous redemption.

8 And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

We sense right away that this is a crucial song for spiritual pilgrims to sing as they come before God in worship. This is a song of confession of sin and it is a song of confidence in a merciful, forgiving Lord. As such it is fitting for our special services too, such as holy communion or preparatory.

Yet, Psalm 130 is a song that we must sing (and pray!) every time we prepare to enter the Lord’s house and every time we stand before the holy and righteous God. For we are sinners, objectively, according to the law and testimony of the supreme Judge of heaven and earth. Not one of us is righteous, no, not one. Not one of us has done good. We are guilty, vile, rebellious people, and proud of it too. And therefore, not one of us fears God and desires to give Him one ounce of thanks and praise. Not one of us is worthy to or seeks to enter God’s presence and worship Him (Go back and read Psalm 14 again, and then Romans 1:18ff., and chaps. 2-3). All we deserve is God’s condemning wrath and fierce, everlasting judgment: “Depart from Me and go to hell!” Yes, He is the only One Who may say that.

But knowing this truth of God’s Word objectively, we must confess this subjectively. With repentant hearts and cleansed mouths (by God’s sovereign grace and Spirit alone!) we must personally acknowledge God’s righteous judgment of ourselves and confess “out of the depths” with a sincere cry, “If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?” Indeed, looking at ourselves in the light of God’s law again today, who of us can stand before the Holy One?! He knows your sin and mine. He sees far more than you or I see. And only one of our vile sins is worthy to banish me from His presence.

What hope do we have then?! What are we doing taking one step toward Jerusalem and the house of God?! Why start a pilgrimage to the holy city of God?! If we go and appear before this God, we are only damned and doomed!

O, no, fellow confessing sinners, get up and get going to Zion, for we have hope! Don’t stop your reading of Psalm 130 at v.3. Go on to the gospel in vss.4-8! In fact, there was hope expressed already in vss. 1-3 in the name of God the psalmist used: “LORD” – Jehovah God, the faithful, covenant-making, covenant-keeping God! The God of our salvation in Jesus Christ, the Mediator and Redeemer of the covenant! The Lord Who gave the Lamb slain for us sinners! The Lamb Who bore our sins, our curse, our wrath, our hell and took it all away! The Lord of boundless and endless mercy!

That’s why there is forgiveness with Him! Full pardon for guilty, putrid, proud sinners such as ourselves. Full dismissal of all charges against us stiff-necked, law-breaking rebels! Full removal of all stains of guilt and corruption! And perfect righteousness and holiness in the place of these filthy rags besides. O, wonderful God and wonderful gift! Blessed Lamb of God!

What shall we do then, as we prepare for worship? Wait for this Lord, v.5-6. Hope in this God of mercy, v.7. For, yes, He shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities. We know that and can sing that because He has redeemed Israel. That’s Calvary. The proof is in the empty tomb, which we commemorate every Lord’s Day. Christ is risen and we are redeemed! Hallelujah! Get up and get going to Zion, pilgrims! The Lord of mercy waits to receive us and our praise-giving thanks!

Psalter1912If you wish to meditate on Psalm 130 through the music of the Psalter, I encourage you to make use of this versification, Ps.#363. Below are the lyrics; at the link is piano accompaniment for you to use in singing these words.

1. From the depths do I invoke Thee,
Lord, to me incline Thy ear;
To my voice be Thou attentive,
And my supplication hear.

2. Lord, if Thou shouldst mark transgressions,
In Thy presence who shall stand?
But with Thee there is forgiveness,
That Thy Name may fear command.

3. For Jehovah I am waiting,
And my hope is in His word,
In His word of promise given;
Yea, my soul waits for the Lord.

4. For the Lord my soul is waiting
More than watchers in the night,
More than they for morning watching,
Watching for the morning light.

5. Hope in God, ye waiting people;
Mercies great with Him abound;
With the Lord a full redemption
From the guilt of sin is found.

J.Calvin on Psalm 129 – “…the Church …has always labored under the cross.”

As we meditate on Psalm 129 today, we may also use these comments of John Calvin on vss.1-2 to help us understand and use this part of God’s Word properly. May his thoughts spur us on to patient trust in the Lord and to hopeful endurance of all persecutions now and in the future.

JCalvinPic11.They have often afflicted me from my youth. This Psalm was probably composed at a time when the Church of God, reduced to a state of extreme distress, or dismayed by some great danger, or oppressed with tyranny, was on the verge of total destruction. This conjecture, I conceive, is supported by the adverb of time, now, which appears to me to be emphatic. It is as if the Prophet; had said, When God’s faithful ones are with difficulty drawing their breath under the burden of temptations, it is a seasonable time for them to reflect on the manner in which he has exercised his people from the beginning, and from age to age.

As soon as God has given loose reins to our enemies to do as they please we are distressed with sorrow, and our thoughts are wholly engrossed with the evils which presently harass us. Hence proceeds despair; for we do not remember that the patience of the fathers was subjected to the like trial, and that nothing happens to us which they did not experience. It is then an exercise eminently fitted to comfort true believers to look back to the conflicts of the Church in the days of old, in order thereby to know that she has always labored under the cross, and has been severely afflicted by the unrighteous violence of her enemies.

…In this dark and troublous state of matters, the Prophet encourages the faithful to fortitude, nor does he address himself to a few of them only, but to the whole body without exception; and in order to their sustaining such fierce assaults, he would have them to oppose to them a hope inspired by the encouraging consideration, that the Church, by patient endurance, has uniformly proved victorious. Almost every word is emphatic. Let Israel now say, that is, let him consider the trials of the Church in ancient times, from which it may be gathered, that the people of God have never been exempted from bearing the cross, and yet that the various afflictions by which they have been tried have always had a happy issue.

…He now adds, that their being subjected to this rigorous training was not without good reason, inasmuch as God had not ceased, by a continued course, to make use of these calamities for subduing them to himself. If the exercises of the Church, during her state of childhood, were so severe, our effeminacy will be very shameful indeed, if in the present day, when the Church, by the coming of Christ, has reached the age of manhood, we are found wanting in firmness for enduring trials. Matter of consolation is laid down in the last clause, which informs us that the enemies of Israel, after having tried all methods, never succeeded in realizing their wishes, God having always disappointed their hopes, and baffled their attempts.

These quotes are taken from the website Christian Classics Ethereal Library. You may read more of Calvin’s comments on this psalm here.

Polycarp’s Dying Testimony

Martyrdom of PolycarpBelonging to my Lord’s day reading was a few more chapters in the fine church history survey, All the Saints Adore Thee: Insights from Christian Classics by Bruce Shelley (Baker, 1994). I am in the early section of the book, where the early church fathers are being treated. One of the early chapters covers “The Martyrdom of Polycarp” (c.155 A.D.) and includes a description from an eyewitness of his dying words. It is a powerful testimony to the power of God’s grace working in His people, even when they are about to die for their faith in Christ. And it ought to encourage our hearts and strengthen our resolve to suffer for righteousness’ sake.

We also heard a sermon on the fifth commandment yesterday, about honoring those in authority over us. Prof.R.Dykstra mentioned in his sermon our calling always to submit to God’s authorities, even when we must disobey earthly rulers who charge us to do something contrary to the Word of God and our faith in Christ. The early martyrs, including Polycarp, are models in this respect too, as you will see when you read his testimony.

I take my quotes from this website and work.

Chap.9 – Polycarp’s examination:
1 Now when Polycarp entered into the arena there came a voice from heaven: “Be strong, Polycarp, and play the man.” And no one saw the speaker, but our friends who were there heard the voice. And next he was brought forward, and there was a great uproar of those who heard that Polycarp had been arrested. 2 Therefore when he was brought forward the Pro-Consul asked him if he were Polycarp, and when he admitted it he tried to persuade him to deny, saying: “Respect your age,” and so forth, as they are accustomed to say: “Swear by the genius of Caesar, repent, say: `Away with the Atheists’”; but Polycarp, with a stern countenance looked on all the crowd of lawless heathen in the arena, and waving his hand at them, he groaned and looked up to heaven and said: “Away with the Atheists.” 3 But when the Pro-Consul pressed him and said: “Take the oath and I let you go, revile Christ,” Polycarp said: “For eighty and six years have I been his servant, and he has done me no wrong, and how can I blaspheme my King who saved me?”

Chap.10 – His examination continued:
1 But when he persisted again, and said: “Swear by the genius of Caesar,” he answered him: “If you vainly suppose that I will swear by the genius of Caesar, as you say, and pretend that you are ignorant who I am, listen plainly: I am a Christian. And if you wish to learn the doctrine of Christianity fix a day and listen.” 2 The Pro-Consul said: “Persuade the people.” And Polycarp said: “You I should have held worthy of discussion, for we have been taught to render honour, as is meet, if it hurt us not, to princes and authorities appointed by God. But as for those, I do not count them worthy that a defence should be made to them.”

Chap.11 – The Pro-consul’s threats:
1 And the Pro-Consul said: “I have wild beasts. I will deliver you to them, unless you repent.” And he said: “Call for them, for repentance from better to worse is not allowed us; but it is good to change from evil to righteousness.” 2 And he said again to him: “I will cause you to be consumed by fire, if you despise the beasts, unless you repent.” But Polycarp said: “You threaten with the fire that burns for a time, and is quickly quenched, for you do not know the fire which awaits the wicked in the judgment to come and in everlasting punishment. But why are you waiting? Come, do what you will.”

Chap.13 – The preparations for burning him:
1 These things then happened with so great speed, quicker than it takes to tell, and the crowd came together immediately, and prepared wood and faggots from the work-shops and baths and the Jews were extremely zealous, as is their custom, in assisting at this. 2 Now when the fire was ready he put off all his clothes, and loosened his girdle and tried also to take off his shoes, though he did not do this before, because each of the faithful was always zealous, which of them might the more quickly touch his flesh. For he had been treated with all respect because of his noble life, even before his martyrdom. 3 Immediately therefore, he was fastened to the instruments which had been prepared for the fire, but when they were going to nail him as well he said: “Leave me thus, for He who gives me power to endure the fire, will grant me to remain in the flames unmoved even without the security you will give by the nails.”

Chap.14 – His last prayers:
1 So they did not nail him, but bound him, and he put his hands behind him and was bound, as a noble ram out of a great flock, for an oblation, a whole burnt offering made ready and acceptable to God; and he looked up to heaven and said: “O Lord God Almighty, Father of thy beloved and blessed Child, Jesus Christ, through Whom we have received full knowledge of thee, the God of Angels and powers, and of all creation, and of the whole family of the righteous, who live before thee! 2 I bless thee, that Thou hast granted me this day and hour, that I may share, among the number of the martyrs, in the cup of thy Christ, for the Resurrection to everlasting life, both of soul and body in the immortality of the Holy Spirit. And may I, to-day, be received among them before Thee, as a rich and acceptable sacrifice, as Thou, the God who lies not and is truth, hast prepared beforehand, and shown forth, and fulfilled. 3 For this reason I also praise Thee for all things, I bless Thee, I glorify Thee through the everlasting and heavenly high Priest, Jesus Christ, thy beloved Child, through whom be glory to Thee with him and the Holy Spirit, both now and for the ages that are to come, Amen.”

J.Calvin on Psalm 125: “…We prefer fluttering in the air to fixing our minds on the rock of his help.”

Also for our reflection on Psalm 125 and guidance in worship today we quote these thoughts of John Calvin on v.1. May they too serve to point us to our only place of security and peace: the Lord our God.

JCalvinPic1. They who confide in Jehovah are as mount Zion.

The present Psalm differs from the preceding in this — that while in the other it was said that the Church had been preserved by the power of God, without any human means, the Holy Spirit, in the one before us, teaches that in the time to come she shall always continue in perfect safety, because she is defended by the invincible power of God. When the Church is emblematically described by the situation of the city of Jerusalem, the design of the Prophet is to encourage each of the faithful to believe, that the safety promised in common to all the chosen people belongs to him. But in exhibiting to the eyes a visible image of the Church, he accommodates himself to the rudeness of those who, detained by the dullness of the flesh, still continue settled down in the earth.

It ought then, in the first place, to be noticed, that to those who may not sufficiently apprehend by faith the secret protection of God, the mountains which environ Jerusalem are exhibited as a mirror, in which they may see, beyond all doubt, that the Church is as well defended from all perils, as if it were surrounded on all sides with like walls and bulwarks.

Moreover, it is profitable to know what I have just now touched upon — that whenever God speaks to all his people in a body, he addresses himself also to each of them in particular. As not a few of the promises are extended generally to the whole body of the Church, so many contemplate them as at a distance, as far removed from them, and will not presume to appropriate them to themselves. The rule here prescribed must therefore be observed, which is, that each apply to himself whatever God promises to his Church in common. Nor does the Psalmist without cause make Jerusalem a representation of the Church, for the sanctuary of God and the ark of the covenant were there.

…We now perceive the meaning of the Prophet, which is, that although the world is subject to so many and so sudden changes as almost to put on a new face every moment, and although the faithful are mingled with and placed in the same external condition as others, yet their safety continues steadfast under the invincible protection of God. Not that they are permitted to dwell undisturbed and at ease; but because their safety being under the guardianship of God is assaulted in vain; at least they can never altogether fall, although they may stumble.

But let us notice that the word הבמחים, habbtechim, which signifies, those who hope or wait for, conveys an implicit injunction to steadfastness of faith. Whoever, then, desires to be sustained by the hand of God, let him constantly lean upon it; and whoever would be defended by it, let him patiently repose himself under it. When God suffers us to be often carried hither and thither, or driven about like chaff by the wind, this comes to pass through our own inconstancy — because we prefer fluttering in the air to fixing our minds on the rock of his help.

J.Calvin on Psalm 123:2 – “…Without the protection of God true believers have no comfort.”

JCalvin1For our further meditation on and profit from Psalm 123 today, we include this quotation from John Calvin’s commentary on v.2 (slightly edited for ease of reading). May his thoughts also confirm our hearts and strengthen our hands in our service to the Lord on this day of rest and worship.

2. Behold as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters.

This similitude is very suitable to the present case. It implies that without the protection of God true believers have no comfort, are completely disarmed and exposed to all manner of wrongs, have neither strength nor courage to resist; in short, that their safety depends entirely upon aid derived from another.

We know how shamefully servants were treated in ancient times, and what reproaches might be cast upon them, whilst yet they durst not move a finger to repel the outrage. Being therefore deprived of all means of defending themselves, the only thing which remained for them to do was, what is here stated, to crave the protection of their masters. The same explanation is equally applicable to the case of handmaids. Their condition was indeed shameful and degrading.

But there is no reason why we should be ashamed of, or offended at being compared to slaves, provided God is our defender, and takes our life under his guardianship. God, I say, who purposely disarms us and strips us of all worldly aid, that we may learn to rely upon his grace, and to be contented ‘with it alone.

It having been anciently a capital crime for bond-men to carry a sword or any other weapon about them, and as they were exposed to injuries of every description, their masters were wont to defend them with so much the more spirit, when any one causelessly did them violence.

Nor can it be doubted that God, when he sees us placing an exclusive dependence upon his protection, and renouncing all confidence in our own resources, will as our defender encounter, and shield us from all the molestation that shall be offered to us.

Word Wednesday: “Hope”

HopeinJCAs we enter the new year today, I thought the word “hope” is appropriate. Hope is basically expectation of good, even of things and experiences that are better than before. Whenever we start a new year, we are filled with fresh hope. We all seek good; we all want things to be better than before. Only now, our hope must not be that of the unbelieving world (What good can they expect? What better things do they have to look forward to?), but the hope we have as believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Here is how Webster’s New World College Dictionary (4th edition) defines hope. As you think about these points, fill them in (and fill them out!) with our sure hope in Christ according to His promises to us in His Word.

1. a feeling that what is wanted is likely to happen; desire accompanied by expection

2. the thing that one has hope for

3. a reason for hope

4. a person or thing on which one may base some hope

5. trust; reliance

And now here from the Bible is our gospel hope – determined by, defined by, and delivered to us by our faithful Savior, Jesus Christ:

Psalm 16:

8I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

9Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.

10For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

11Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

Psalm 39:7-  And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee.

Psalm 43:5 – Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

Romans 5:1-5: Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

Romans 15:13 – Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

Phil.1:20-21 – According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. 21For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

1 Thess.5: 8But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. 9For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 10Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. 11Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

Titus 1:2 – In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;

Titus 2: 11For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

Hebrews 6: 17Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: 18That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: 19Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; 20Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

1 Peter 1: 3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

May God grant you a truly HOPE-filled 2014!

“In 2014, Heaven is Still Our Hope”

SBLogoSuch is the title Prof.Barrett Gritters gives to his editorial in the January 1, 2014 issue of the The Standard Bearer. In the face of the contemporary enemies of the gospel who speak of heaven (and hell!) as being only on this earth and in the here and now, Prof.Gritters writes about the believer’s only true hope in this world of sin, suffering and sorrow – his glorified perfection in heaven in the presence of his precious Savior.

Below is some of what he wrote. I pray that it encourages you to remember what we live for and aim for, also in 2014. A blessed New Year to you and yours!

Although I would be heckled off the podium at most Christian universities and even Reformed colleges if I began a speech with such a line, I still confess with all the conviction my heart can muster: ‘Heaven is still my hope. Heaven is still my home.’

As the year of our Lord 2014 begins, my prayer for you, readers of the the Standard Bearer, is that you still hope for heaven, too.

We look to the future and embrace what our hearts are set on: heaven. As the world becomes increasingly wicked, we await with joyful anticipation our life in the presence of God and His saints – in heaven. As the church becomes more and more apostate, caring little for biblical righteousness and less for truth, we eagerly await heaven. As we become older, our thoughts more and more turn to our future home – to heaven and dwelling in eternity with God.

This is our hope.

…The deep error of those whose hopes have gone offtrack is to ignore the truth that Jesus is coming again – physically and bodily, as He ascended (Acts 1:11). Coming again for judgment. Coming again to redeem His earthly creation. Coming to resurrect those who fell asleep in Him and to change their bodies into heavenly bodies just as He changed their souls into heavenly souls when they died (I Cor.15!). Coming soon.

This earth will be destroyed. It is not salvageable by man. The political machines of the world will not be Christianized. The court systems of this world will not mete out justice, but more and more promote wickedness and condemn the godly. And when the cup of iniquity has been filled and the people of God are persecuted for standing for truth, then believers will cry out more than they do now, ‘Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly! Rend the heavens, and come down! Deliver us from our adversaries! And justify Thyself before all those who have rejected Thee!’

The hymn was right: ‘This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through.’

In 2014, our hope is still heaven (pp.148-151).

Year-End Thoughts from Psalm 90:12

Ps90-12As we come to the end of the year of our Lord 2013 and think again on the swift passage of time, we are reminded of the brevity and frailty of our own lives. And the prayer of Moses in Psalm 90:12 comes to our lips, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”

Along with that prayer, we post these comments of John Calvin on this verse as found in his commentary on Psalm 90. May they steer our thoughts in the right direction today and enable us to pray for greater wisdom as we end this year and soon begin another, D.V.

12. Teach us so to number our days. Some translate to the number of our days, which gives the same sense. As Moses perceived that what he had hitherto taught is not comprehended by the understandings of men until God shine upon them by his Spirit, he now sets himself to prayer. It indeed seems at first sight absurd to pray that we may know the number of our years. What? since even the strongest scarcely reach the age of fourscore years, is there any difficulty in reckoning up so small a sum? Children learn numbers as soon as they begin to prattle; and we do not need a teacher in arithmetic to enable us to count the length of a hundred upon our fingers.

So much the fouler and more shameful is our stupidity in never comprehending the short term of our life. Even he who is most skillful in arithmetic, and who can precisely and accurately understand and investigate millions of millions, is nevertheless unable to count fourscore years in his own life. It is surely a monstrous thing that men can measure all distances without themselves, that they know how many feet the moon is distant from the center of the earth, what space there is between the different planets; and, in short, that they can measure all the dimensions both of heaven and earth; while yet they cannot number threescore and ten years in their own case.

It is therefore evident that Moses had good reason to beseech God for ability to perform what requires a wisdom which is very rare among mankind. The last clause of the verse is also worthy of special notice. By it he teaches us that we then truly apply our hearts to wisdom when we comprehend the shortness of human life. What can be a greater proof of madness than to ramble about without proposing to one’s self any end?

True believers alone, who know the difference between this transitory state and a blessed eternity, for which they were created, know what ought to be the aim of their life. No man then can regulate his life with a settled mind, but he who, knowing the end of it, that is to say death itself, is led to consider the great purpose of man’s existence in this world, that he may aspire after the prize of the heavenly calling.

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