“The Standard Bearer”: 2013 Reformation Issue on the Heidelberg Catechism!

SB-2013RefIssue-HCLast week my 2013 Reformation issue of The Standard Bearer arrived in the mail and I was excited to receive it, though I knew what was in it. The “SB”, you see, is put together by Don and Judi Doezema at the PRC Seminary, and I already knew that this year’s Reformation issue would be devoted to the 450th anniversary of our beloved Heidelberg Catechism. And I already knew that the content would be edited versions of the speeches given at the recent Seminary conference marking this significant anniversary. Yet  I was excited to get my copy in the mail because, having heard the speeches, I wanted to “hear” them again through the printed page.

Besides, I also knew the meditation in this issue would be something “new”. From the PRC archives was a transcribed (by Mr. Martin Swart, long-time member of First PRC, Grand Rapids, MI)) and edited (by Mr.D.Doezema, himself a former member and listener of “H.H.’s” sermons) sermon of Rev.Herman Hoeksema (one of the founding fathers of the PRC) on Lord’s Day 1 of the HC. This too is a real treat. To encourage you to obtain this issue – and subscribe to this wonderful Reformed magazine – I quote from this sermon/meditation today. To find out how to start receiving the “SB”, visit its homepage here.

Here is part of “H.H.’s” sermon as edited for this issue:

Now to belong to Christ is really a legal, judicial idea. It implies in the first place that Christ is my proprietor. He owns me. I am His property, of which He can dispose as He wills. In the second place it implies that He is my Lord. I belong to Him as a servant belongs to his master. His will is my law. In the third place it implies that He is my representative, and I am in Him. He represents me before the Father, and He is responsible for me. These three things are implied in the confession that we belong to Jesus.

This Lordship is unique, exclusive, and all-comprehensive. The Catechism asks: “What is your only comfort in life and death?” And it answers: “That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.” That is unique, exclusive, all-comprehensive. I do not belong to Him just on Sunday, but every moment, in life and death. He is Lord of my body and soul. He is Lord of all that I am and have (p.51).

November “Tabletalk”: Enjoying God Forever

Enjoying God, Coram Deo by Burk Parsons | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

TT-Nov2013With the beginning of this new month comes an introduction to the November issue of Tabletalk, Ligonier Ministries’ fine devotional magazine. This issue has the good Presbyterian theme “To Enjoy Him (i.e., God-cjt) Forever”, taken from the first Q&A of the Westminster Shorter Catechism. If we are more aware of and appreciative of the first Q&A of the Heidelberg Catechism because of our own ecclesiastical heritage (“What is thy only comfort in life and in death?”), we ought at least to become familiar with the opening of the WSC as well.

As usual, I took my issue of “TT” along to church yesterday to start reading some of the feature articles. Today I point you to a couple of good ones I read prior to our worship services.

The first is the editor’s introduction to the issue (linked above). Burk Parsons explains the meaning behind this issue’s theme and why we ought to consider the idea of enjoying God. Here is part of what he had to say:

The first question and answer of the Westminster Shorter Catechism is as follows: “What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” When I read that, I didn’t struggle to understand the first part of the answer: “To glorify God,” but I did struggle to understand the second part: “to enjoy him forever.” Why didn’t the Westminster divines provide us with an answer that echoed Jesus’ answer when He said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37)? Why didn’t they just say, “To glorify God,” and leave it at that? What did they mean by “enjoy him forever”?‡

Over time, I have come to see the wisdom of the words to enjoy God. They capture the allencompassing nature of our relationship with God; namely, being chosen by God, called by God, united to God in Christ, justified by God, indwelt by the Spirit of God, adopted by God, sanctified by God, and loving God and neighbor to the end that we might glorify God. And although we will not be able to grasp the full meaning of enjoying God until we meet Christ face to face, we can know and experience now in part what it means to enjoy God because the Son of God, Jesus Christ, has met us, has dwelt among us, and now dwells within us by the Holy Spirit. Throughout history, our covenant God has graciously dwelt among His people in various ways, and yet we eagerly look forward to that glorious day when God will establish His eternal presence with us in the new heavens and new earth that we might fully glorify and enjoy Him, coram Deo, before His face, forever.‡

Another good article I read was R.C.Sproul’s “Faith Has Its Reasons”. In this brief essay he explains the relation between faith, reason, and sense perception as means by which God makes known his truth to us so that we can confess in the Apostles’ Creed (and others) “I believe”. Below are a few paragraphs from this profitable piece. Read the rest at the link provided here.

Revelation is the third category of knowledge. Christianity is a revealed religion. The Christian God is not mute. When we talk about faith as the evidence of things not seen, we’re talking about believing the Lord who has spoken. Not just believing inGod butbelievingGod. Believing God for things we cannot see now is the essence of faith, but it’s not an irrational or unscientific faith. God makes it very rational for me to believe He’s there. He’s shown Himself in the created order. He’s broken into time and space. Jesus came in the flesh, was seen, and rose from the dead in history. The Apostles testify to these events in Scripture, recording those things they witnessed with their senses.

It’s not irrational to believe in the One who vindicated Himself as the incarnation of truth. This is not blind faith but faith that embraces testimony. The real opposites of faith are not reason and sense perception but credulity and superstition. Credulity, or naive believism, believes something that has no basis in reality. Superstition believes in magical things that have nothing to do with Scripture.

The daily devotions continue in the prophecy of Daniel before going on to Haggai and Zechariah.