Living in the World to Come – M. Ross

Two Sunday nights ago we pointed out the theme of the September 2018 issue of Tabletalk: “Between Two Worlds,” setting forth the Christian’s life and calling in this present world as a redeemed pilgrim while longing with his renewed heart for his final hope in Christ – glory in the new heavens and earth.

The final featured article on this truth is by Dr. Mark Ross, who writes on “Living in the World to Come.” (linked below) His article is really an extended exposition of the biblical concept of the sabbath, showing that the final destination of the believer in “the world to come” is truly the fulfillment of God’s rest.

Part of his article explains Psalm 92, which, you may remember, has the heading “a song for the sabbath day.” Tonight as we close out the last Lord’s day of September, let’s reflect together on these wonderful words concerning our Christian hope.

Psalm 92 is “A Song for the Sabbath,” and it celebrates the great blessing this day offers to the people of God. Its opening verses speak of the goodness and joy of worshiping in His presence (vv. 1–4), and its concluding verses speak of the flourishing that comes to those who are thus planted in the house and courts of our God (vv. 12–15). The pinnacle of this neatly balanced song is verse 8: “But you, O Lord, are on high forever.” It is the only single line in the psalm, and it occurs at its very center. Above and below this pivotal verse, the overthrow of the wicked (vv. 5–7) and the exaltation of the righteous (vv. 9–11) are rehearsed. Sabbath rest and worship thus offer an oasis for the weary and heavy-laden people of God, who live in a world where the wicked often flourish and the righteous often suffer. The worship of the Sabbath day peels back the illusion created by this fallen world and shows us that God is on high forever, and therefore the true outcome of all things will be just as He has promised—everlasting rest will come to the people of God. The Sabbath day thus anticipates the consummated kingdom, bringing into time the blessings of eternity and bringing down to earth the joys of heaven.

The read the rest of Ross’ article, visit the link below.

Source: Living in the World to Come

Abiding in Awe of the Holiness of God – R. C. Sproul

Moses-burning-ush-RCS-2018The account of the burning bush is a story about the holiness of God. What happened at the burning bush was a theophany – a visible manifestation of the invisible God. Moses’ attention was caught by something mysterious. He saw a bush that was burning but not consumed. As Moses drew near to the bush, God spoke, telling him, ‘Take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground’ (Ex.3:5). The ground was holy not because of the presence of Moses but rather because of the presence of God. It was holy ground because at that point, an intersection between heaven and earth occurred. God Himself appeared, through the manifestation of His presence in the bush.

One of the church’s biggest problems is that we don’t understand who God is. But in that one revelation – the theophany in which God appeared to Moses – the transcendent majesty of God was partially unveiled. What had been invisible became visible through the theophany. Part of our problem is that when something is out of sight, it’s out of mind. But from time to time throughout biblical history, God manifests Himself to human eyes. God manifested Himself at the burning bush, and it was earth-shattering.

…The Lord is holy, high and lifted up. He is a consuming fire. And if not for His grace, we would be consumed. This is still true for us today: if not for the covering of Christ’s righteousness, if not for the purging of our filthiness, we would be consumed. But God in His grace has condescended to make it possible for us to stand in His presence through Christ and live. What Moses experienced at the burning bush is what God’s people experience today: a holy transcendent all-consuming God who comes down to dwell with His people. He knows us.

Taken from the Introduction (“A Consuming Fire”) of a newly published work of R. C. Sproul, Moses and the Burning Bush (Reformation Trust, 2018), pp.1-7.

The Wonder of a Sprouting Bean | Aeon Videos


Two days ago I referenced Aeon Essays for the first time year. Today, for our “Friday Fun” item we point you to Aeon Videos for the first time. They have some wonderfully inspiring clips of the simplest things, but things that make you say “Wow!” all over again.

Such as the miracle of a bean kidney seed sprouting. I realize there are thousands of such videos on the Internet, but Aeon does some unique things with theirs, such as adding classical music to the sprouting bean.

So, enjoy the amazing growth of a bean plant, bottom to top. And stand in awe not just of “nature” but of nature’s God. For this is our Father’s world and He is Designer, Maker, and Sustainer of every such little bean seed. Watch His work and wonder!

Here is Aeon’s brief introduction:

Though it’s rather more ordinary than its Jack and the Beanstalk cousin, the kidney bean in this timelapse video puts on quite a performance as it sprouts, breaks through the soil’s surface and springs upward into a plant. Just as enchanting is its development below ground, where a single tendril expands into a complex and deeply embedded root system.

Whimsically employing Johann Strauss’s famous waltz ‘The Blue Danube’ (1866), the video puts one of nature’s unsung spectacles front and centre stage.

Source: It might not be magic, but a sprouting bean can still hold you under its spell | Aeon Videos

Published in: on September 28, 2018 at 9:25 PM  Leave a Comment  

PRC Archives: Voices from the Past – Rev. George M. Ophoff

GMOphoffFor our PRC archives post for this Thursday we turn to a voice from the past – Rev. George M. Ophoff, one of the founding fathers of the PRC.

Not only did Ophoff serve as minister of two PRC congregations and as professor in the PRC seminary for 35 years, but he was also a voluminous writer for the Standard Bearer.

Prof. Doug Kuiper, one of our new professors in the PRC Seminary, recently started a bibliography of Ophoff’s writings in the PR Theological Journal.  In the last issue (Spring 2018) he writes that Ophoff penned over 1100 articles for the SB. Many of these were in the area of OT studies, Ophoff’s specialty in the seminary.

Tonight we give you just a little sample of his manifold writings in that magazine, with this article for the rubric “Day of Shadows,” on Isaiah 49:13ff. titled “God’s Love for Zion.” (slightly edited)

God so loved Zion, His people, that He graved their likeness on the very palms of His hands, upon that side of His hands that always faces Him, so that, as the text declares, His people are always before Him, before His very eyes. Not once in all eternity, does He take His eyes off them. They are before Him ever. And the beauty of their likeness is His eternal joy and refreshment. And mark, you, He graved them upon the palms of His hand, indelibly inscribed them upon the tablet of His mind and heart.

You, too, have the likeness of that boy of yours in the armed forces written in your heart, and, so it seems to you now, indelibly so. It seems to you now that though you live to be a thousand years, time could not re­move, blot out, efface that inscription. But be assured that, as the centuries rolled by, the form and visage of that son, that now stands out so clearly in your mind, would grow dimmer and dimmer and eventually fade altogether. No, we do not have our children en­graved in our hearts, indelibly inscribed. But God has. Zion is indeed engraved on His palms, indelibly inscribed in His heart and mind, and all eternity can­not remove, blot out that inscription. So He loves His people. They may forget, yet will not I forget thee, behold, I have graven thee in the palms of my hands. From everlasting was Zion before Him, His everlas­ting joy and refreshment. For Zion, God’s chosen people, are beautiful.

O, by nature, apart from Christ, God’s people are not beautiful. By nature they are a people ugly, vile, guilty, condemnable and ill deserving, dead in trespasses and sins. It is certainly not God’s people as they are by nature that He graved in the palms of His hand, indelibly inscribed on His heart and mind. How could it be? Can the holy and the righteous God delight in an ugly picture? Certainly He cannot. Nay, it is not God’s people as they are by nature that He has eternally inscribed in His heart and in His palms, but Zion, chosen and beloved in Christ and by virtue thereof everlastingly clothed with the righteousness of her Savior and thus guilt­less and holy in Christ. It is this Zion that is God’s eternal delight. It is this Zion that God has engraved in the palms of His hands, mark you once more, in the palms of His hands.

God, it is true, has no hands and arms like a man. But the hand of God is His power to save His people and to complete their redemption. God’s people in this world, are saved to be sure, being set in heaven with Christ. But though saved, they have but a small beginning of true obedience. But God can and will realize in His people, in full, the fruits of Christ’s atonement and conform them whol­ly according to the likeness of Christ, thus according to the likeness of that image of Zion that He has engraved on the very palms of His hands.

For more on Rev. Ophoff, you may find a series on him in the SB by Prof. Herman Hanko, beginning with this article.

Children learn best when engaged in the living world not on screens | Aeon Essays

This powerful piece was published by Aeon back on August 2 under the subject of Education. The title says it all. It is yet another criticism of the modern mentality that computers (or tablets or smartphones) and the Internet are the key to learning for this and future generations.

The author demonstrates otherwise, with simple logic and personal experience. Nicholas Tampio is associate professor of political science at Fordham University in New York. He is the author of Kantian Courage (2012) and Deleuzes Political Vision (2015). His latest book is Common Core: National Education Standards and the Threat to Democracy (2018).

Here are a few of his early thoughts in the essay. Find the complete essay at the link below. It is worth your time.

As a parent, it is obvious that children learn more when they engage their entire body in a meaningful experience than when they sit at a computer. If you doubt this, just observe children watching an activity on a screen and then doing the same activity for themselves. They are much more engaged riding a horse than watching a video about it, playing a sport with their whole bodies rather than a simulated version of it in an online game.

Today, however, many powerful people are pushing for children to spend more time in front of computer screens, not less. Philanthropists such as Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg have contributed millions of dollars to ‘personal learning’, a term that describes children working by themselves on computers, and Laurene Powell Jobs has bankrolled the XQ Super School project to use technology to ‘transcend the confines of traditional teaching methodologies’. Policymakers such as the US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos call personalised learning ‘one of the most promising developments in K-12 education’, and Rhode Island has announced a statewide personalised learning push for all public school students. Think tanks such as the Brookings Institution recommend that Latin-American countries build ‘massive e-learning hubs that reach millions’. School administrators tout the advantages of giving all students, including those at kindergarten, personal computers.

Many adults appreciate the power of computers and the internet, and think that children should have access to them as soon as possible. Yet screen learning displaces other, more tactile ways to discover the world. Human beings learn with their eyes, yes, but also their ears, nose, mouth, skin, heart, hands, feet. The more time kids spend on computers, the less time they have to go on field trips, build model airplanes, have recess, hold a book in their hands, or talk with teachers and friends. In the 21st century, schools should not get with the times, as it were, and place children on computers for even more of their days. Instead, schools should provide children with rich experiences that engage their entire bodies.


Source: Children learn best when engaged in the living world not on screens | Aeon Essays

Published in: on September 26, 2018 at 10:42 PM  Leave a Comment  

The Gospel Truth: “Nothing Has Changed.” – S. Lawson

As believers, it is our responsibility to proclaim the divine truth in the gospel of Jesus Christ. We must spread this glorious gospel as far and as wide as we possibly can. There will be resistance and rejection from many in the world to whom this message is foolishness and folly. Yet in the midst of this unbelief, the sovereign purposes of God move forward as He sovereignly calls a chosen people to Himself. God will summon those who are His elect ones and then draw them into a saving relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ. Therefore, we must not to anything to diminish or compromise the truth of the cross.

To reach this lost world with the gospel, we do not need to adopt the foolishness of the secular message to enhance truth and make it more palatable. Paul makes it clear that if the truth is to be effective, it must first be offensive. Our duty is to bear witness to the truth that Jesus Christ has died for sinners as a perfect sacrifice for sins and trust God with the outcome. We are to issue the general call of the gospel to the whole world, and leave the results to God, who issues the effective call to those who are chosen. He brings them to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

There is salvation in no other name, for God has determined that salvation comes only through the death of His only begotten Son. There is not one drop of saving grace outside of the substitutionary death of the Lord Jesus Christ. He holds a monopoly on the grace of God for sinners. Jesus said, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through m’ (John 14:6). Only by faith in Jesus Christ is there deliverance from the wrath to come.

moment-truth-lawson-2018Drawn from the new book from the pen of Steven J. Lawson, The Moment of Truth (Reformation Trust, 2018), pp.79-80. This is from the fourth chapter of the first section, “The Gospel Truth.”

This title is available for review. Contact me if you are interested.

Praying with the Psalms as Guilty Sinners and Innocent Saints – D. Bonhoeffer

Psalms-prayer-book-BonhoefferIn connection with his treatment of the “penitential Psalms” (That is, prayers for repentance), D. Bonhoeffer writes:

The Christian will find scarcely any difficulties in the praying of these Psalms. However, the question could arise as to how one is to think about the fact that Christ also prays these Psalms with us. How can the sinless one ask for forgiveness? In no way other than he can, as the sinless one, bear the sins of the world and be made sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). Not for the sake of his sins, but for the sake of our sins, which he has taken upon himself and for which he suffers, does Jesus pray for the forgiveness of sins. He positions himself entirely for us. He wants to be a man before God as we are. So he prays also the most human of all prayers with us and thereby demonstrates precisely that he is the true Son of God.

And then, in connection with the prayers of the saints in which they declare their innocence, he writes:

But the question is not which possible motives may stand behind the prayer, but whether the content of the prayer itself is appropriate or inappropriate. And here it is clear that the believing Christian certainly has to say not only something about his guilt but also something equally important about his innocence and his justification. It is characteristic of the faith of the Christian that through God’s grace and the merit of Jesus Christ he has become entirely justified and guiltless in God’s eyes, so that ‘there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’ (Romans 8:1). And it is characteristic of the prayer of the Christian to hold fast to this innocence and justification which has come to him, appealing to God’s word and thanking for it.

So not only are we permitted, but directly obligated – provided we take God’s action to us at all seriously – to pray in all humiliation and certainty: ‘I was blameless before him and I kept myself from guilt’ (Psalm 18:23)…. With such a prayer we stand in the center of the New Testament, in the community of the cross of Jesus Christ.

Quoted in Psalms, The Prayer Book of the Bible by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Augsburg, 1974), a translation of Das Gebetbuch der Bibel (the 8th ed. published in Germany in 1966). These thoughts are found in the twelfth section, “Guilt” (pp.50-55), where the author continues to treat the Psalter according to classification by subject.

Final Remembrances of Life in Beulah Land – B. Catton

waiting-train-catton-1987For our Thursday history post today we take you back one more time to Bruce Catton’s Waiting for the Morning Train (Wayne State University Press, 1987), the multifaceted story of his life growing up in northern Michigan, specifically, Benzonia.

The author ends the book with his final reminiscences about his last year at the Benzonia Academy in 1915-16, when “life was extremely pleasant and singularly uneventful.” (p.235) Part of that pleasantness was the Sunday afternoon walks he and his friends would take. His memories are quite descriptive, though he writes that “when I try to recall that time I remember hardly anything specific.” (p.235)

But I enjoyed his “vague” description anyway, as this part of Chapter 12 (“Night Train”) shows. It is clear how much this little Christian community shaped him and his world. This final quotation brings together much of what we have looked in this fascinating book.

…I remember the spring sunlight lying on the campus, and the academy buildings taking on dignity and looking as if they were going to be there forever – which, alas, they were not; I remember the band practice, and the orchestra practice, and the long, aimless walks we took on Sundays, tramping off the last vestiges of childhood, seeing things for the last time without realizing that it was the last time, unaware that once you leave youth behind you see everything with different eyes and thereby make the world itself different.

We would go across country to the power dam on the Betsie River, or along the shore of Crystal Lake to the outlet; and sometimes we went down the long hill to Beulah and then crossed the low ground to go up Eden Hill, a big shoulder of land that defined the horizon to the east. …Eden Hill and Beulah Land, named by godly settlers for the Paradise where the human race got into the world and the Paradise it will enter when it goes out; or so people believed, although we lived then in the present and asked for no Paradise beyond what we had then and there.

From the summit of Eden Hill you could look far to the north and west, across the Platte Lakes to the limitless blue plain of Lake Michigan, with Sleeping Bear crouched, watchful, in the distance and the Manitou Islands on the skyline. Beyond the green weeded country to the east, hidden by the rolling easy ridges, was the lumber town of Honor, and if we felt like making a really long walk out of it we could go on over to Honor, walk around the mill and its piled logs – they were still carving up some last allotment of first-growth wood, although most of the country’s mills were stilled – and then we could tramp the long miles home by way of Champion’s Hill.


Published in: on September 20, 2018 at 10:15 PM  Leave a Comment  

Punctuating Compounds That Precede – To Hyphenate or Not to Hyphenate

In another recent posting at, the matter of punctuating compound modifiers was addressed. This is a commonly misunderstood matter – also by myself, so it is good to review this grammar lesson too.

Here is the first part of the article, treating especially hyphenation. The second part speaks to another, more complicated usage, which you may read further about later.

It’s enough to drive even the most exacting writers, proofers, and editors a little batty sometimes: More than one descriptive word precedes a noun, forming what we call a compound modifier. Do we need to hyphenate the words, or are they well enough left alone? What if we have two words modifying another word and all three describe the same noun, creating a package that begs for punctuation?

Sometimes the solution is simple, as we’ve covered in our hyphen rules. Rule 1 advises hyphenating two or more words acting as a single idea when they come before a noun (late-arriving train, ne’er-do-well teenager, one-of-a-kind invention).

Exceptions to this rule are compound modifiers that include adverbs such as much and very as well as any -ly adverb (much maligned administrator, very good cake, easily remembered song).

We also wouldn’t hyphenate a compound that’s an obvious unit such as most proper nouns (Social Security check) and foreign expressions (quid pro quo exchange).

When a two-word descriptor takes the form of a compound noun (e.g., real estate, high school, sales tax), hyphenation becomes a matter of preference. Some writers and editors identify the compound nouns as clearly understood units while others still hyphenate them to maintain stylistic consistency and remove any chance of confusion.

real estate advisor vs. real-estate advisor
high school dance vs. high-school dance
sales tax increase vs. sales-tax increase

In Rule 5 of Hyphens, we also emphasize including a hyphen with a compound modifier anytime omitting one could lead to ambiguity.

Potentially misaimed: Springfield has little town charm. (If we omit the hyphen, we’re suggesting Springfield lacks appeal. Is that what we want to say?)
Clearer with hyphen: Springfield has little-town charm. (The punctuation establishes that Springfield has the charm of a small, cozy town.)

Potentially misaimed: That is a fast running machine. (Is it a machine that runs fast, or a running machine [i.e., a treadmill] that operates faster than others?)
Clearer with hyphen: That is a fast-running machine. (a machine that runs fast)
The guidelines thus far help define and apply hyphenation of preceding descriptors. The next question concerns what to do when we run into phrases such as stippling technique influenced painter and apple orchard scented candle.

I hope this has been helpful to you. I know it has been to me. I deal with this all the time in my editing work for the Standard Bearer, and there isn’t an issue in which I don’t face these very questions. I have to work to keep them straight. I hope you take the time to understand the importance of this for writing – and for reading with understanding.

For more on this, visit the link below.

Source: Punctuating Compounds That Precede – Grammar and Punctuation

Published in: on September 19, 2018 at 11:13 PM  Leave a Comment  

RFPA Interview with Prof. R. Cammenga on “Here We Stand”

Last week on its blog the Reformed Free Publishing Association published an interview it produced earlier this year in connection with the publication of its Reformation 500 title Here We Stand: Commemorating the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation.

The interview is with Prof. Ronald Cammenga, editor of the book, which is made up of the speeches given at the PRC Seminary’s 2018 Reformation 500 Conference.

After watching the video and learning more about this significant contribution to Reformation 500 studies, visit the RFPA website and order yourself a copy.