Jesus’ Prayer in Gethsemane

Here [in the garden of Gethsemane] Jesus’s wrestling with submission to His Father’s will causes our Savior more suffering and spiritual agony than even the physical brutalities of Golgotha could offer.

…Most likely, Jesus prepared for this battle at Gethsemane in his previous prayer there. This would be the most ferocious battle of his life, because the realities of Golgotha were quickly  being realized. The coming flood brought Jesus to a crisis point. Would he, the sinless one, be willingly swept away by the wrath of God or retreat to safety, leaving us as sinners to bear God’s ferocious wrath?

We should not miss the biblical-theological significance of John walking us through the ‘garden’ of Gethsemane (John 18:1). Remember reading Genesis 2:8, ‘The LORD God planted  a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed’? Adam and Eve were tempted  in that garden and failed miserably, bringing ruin and destruction upon the world. Jesus was tempted in a garden and triumphed gloriously on behalf of the elect. His response rectified Adams’ act of rebellion that led to the death of all men, because all sinned in him.

Adam likely sinned in the daylight, bringing about spiritual darkness; Christ obeyed in the darkness, bringing about spiritual light. In fact, commenting on Gethsemane (Matt.26:36-46), Matthew Henry writes, ‘The clouds had been gathering a good while, and looked black…. But now the storm began in good earnest.’

prayers-jesus-jones-2019Taken from chapter 22 (“Jesus Prayed in Great Distress”) of Mark Jones’ new book, The Prayers of Jesus – with the subtitle Listening to and Learning from Our Savior (Crossway, 2019), 173-75.

PRC Seminary Addition Update – March 2019


It was a good week of spring weather in West Michigan and more good progress was made on the archive/office addition at the PRC Seminary.

The Bosveld “team” of John Hop was there to carry on the work, inside and out. It started with some wrapping of the outside roof area with more board and Tyvec, in part because we were supposed to have a rainy day Wednesday/Thursday. But it stayed nice and that work was completed.

Then “JH” spent some time building a special platform and stairs to enter the addition through one of the windows, since this is the best entrance into it right now. When the semester is done, the wall now separating the addition from the library will be torn now and an opening made (You will see that wall in the photos below). But for now, the window is the door. Make sense? Just watch your head going in! 🙂

Part of the work involved demolition of the old roof overhang, because what was outside is now inside. Make sense? Perhaps a few pics will help here too. And now you can see what wall has to come down. Yes, that brick one, so that a temporary stud wall can be made for the south side of that first office. Which stud wall will eventually come down too, when that temporary office is no longer needed. Then the “office” will become part of the library. Or maybe the archives. I know, it’s getting complicated, so let’s not worry about that right now.

Today (Friday) a Kleyn electrician came to put in some temporary power and some lights. And now you get your first look at the new archive room! It’s bare! But that’s ok; it will fill up in time. Wait until you see the cool shelving system we hope to install in it. I’m quite excited. (But that’s a secret at this point. Shhhh.)

And last, but not least, a little work was done this week on the library renovation part of this project. Two rows of sample sound-deadening ceiling tiles were put in by “JH.” so that we can begin to get a feel for how they look and how they sound. That is, hopefully, what sound we don’t hear. Make sense? Good!

Stay tuned for the next installment of PRC SAAU (seminary archive addition updates)!

Published in: on March 29, 2019 at 10:09 PM  Leave a Comment  

Dordt’s Theological Significance: “Saving the Reformation” – R. Godfrey

saving-reformation-godfrey-2019Fresh off the press is W. Robert Godfrey’s book commemorating the 4ooth anniversary of the great Synod of Dordt (1618-19) and especially her Canons. I have referenced Saving the Reformation: The Pastoral Theology of the Canons of Dordt previously, but now that I have the book in hand we can begin to examine its contents.

In this post we will listen to what Godfrey says in his Introduction to the book, taking a few quotations from that opening section:

…The Synod of Dort (1618-19), the greatest of the Reformed church assemblies, preserved the great heritage of the Reformation for the Calvinist churches. This synod is both interesting and significant, and its decisions are a theological and spiritual treasure for Christians. On the occasion of the four-hundredth anniversary of the synod, it is good to remember and be renewed in an appreciation of its accomplishments. But studying the canons is much more than a historical exercise. It will be spiritually profitable for Christians and churches today.

…In a profound sense, this synod saved the Reformation for the Reformed churches. While Lutherans would reject several elements of the canons, Calvinists saw clearly that a proper understanding of election was necessary to protect the Reformation’s ‘grace alone.’ The proper understanding of Christ’s atoning work was necessary to protect the Reformation’s ‘Christ alone.’ A proper understanding of the regenerating and preserving work of the Holy Spirit and of the Christian’s comfort in these doctrines was necessary to protect the Reformation’s ‘grace alone’ and ‘faith alone.’ Implicit in the canon’s conclusions is their commitment to the Reformation’s ‘Scripture alone’ as the only source of religious truth.

As the Reformation was a revival of biblical Augustinianism, so the Synod of Dort stands in the great Christian heritage that rejects Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism. It stands in the tradition of Jesus against the Pharisees, Paul against the Judaizers, Athanasius against Arius, Augustine against Pelagius, and Luther against Erasmus. Dort against the Arminians continues this great commitment. The canons became the official teaching and sincere conviction of many churches and millions of Christians through the last four centuries [1-2].

The book consists of three main parts:

  1. Historical and Theological Background (2 chapters)
  2. The Canons of the Synod of Dort – A Pastoral Translation [a new translation by the author]
  3. An Exposition of the Canons of Dort (7 chapters)

The book closes with five appendices, including”Arminius: A New Look,” “An Outline of the Canons of Dort”, and “A New Translation of the Doctrinal Statement by the Synod of Dort on the Sabbath.”

You will also find the author giving a description of the Synod and his book in the short video below.

Harrowing Your Heart to Hear God’s Word Preached

Jeremiah 4:3 – “For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.”

“Harrowing Your Heart to Hear” (Chap.3 in Expository Listening: A Handbook for Hearing and Doing God’s Word by Ken Ramey (Kress Biblical Resources, 2010), pp.35-49. We are currently taking time to read and draw on some of the author’s good thoughts concerning our calling to listen believingly to God’s Word proclaimed.

ExpositoryListeningIn this third chapter Ramey points to specific ways to ward off hardness of heart that leads to dullness in listening to and receiving God’s preached Word. Here are the points he mentions:

  • Read and meditate on God’s Word every day
  • Pray throughout the week
  • Confess your sin
  • Reduce your media intake
  • Plan ahead, and schedule your week around the ministry of the Word
  • Be consistent in church attendance
  • Go to church with a humble, teachable, expectant heart
  • Worship with all your heart
  • Fight off distractions
  • Listen with diligent discernment
  • Preparation of the heart and soul

Now, let’s consider a few quotations to help us for Sunday’s messages:

Reading the Word on a daily basis will develop in you a healthy appetite for God’s Word. You can’t expect to come to church on Sunday with a hunger for God’s Word if you haven’t been feeding on it throughout the week.

…You need to pray for the preacher. Pray that the preacher would preach with great liberty and boldness and clarity (Eph.6:19-20; Col.4:3-4); that God’s Word would run rapidly, transforming people’s lives for His glory (2 Thess.3:1); that God’s Spirit would empower the preacher and use him to help you grow in your understanding of God and His Word and accomplish His purpose in your life and the life of the church.

One of the simplest, most effective ways to prepare your heart for the preaching of God’s Word is to spend some time on Saturday night or Sunday morning to prayerfully examine your life and humble confess your sins to God. David’s example of confession in Psalm 51 serves as a practical path to follow in getting your heart right before God.

Listening demands a great deal of concentration and self-discipline. Augustine said, ‘To proclaim the Word of truth as well as to listen to it is hard work…. Thus, let us exert ourselves in listening.’ Jay Adams writes, ‘Many today drift into church with their minds turned off, slouch in the pew, and expect the preacher to do the rest. Examine yourself, brother or sister: have you been guilty of becoming a Sunday morning version of the couch potato?’

When you fail to plan ahead, Sunday morning ends up becoming a chaotic crisis, and by the time you get to church, you are frustrated and frazzled and your heart is in no condition to receive the Word. But when you plan well and are able to arrive in a relaxed, leisurely way, you will be in a much more receptive frame of mind.

Come to church with a spirit of anticipation, fully expecting God to speak to you through His Word in ways that will make a lasting difference in your life. …It should be that you can’t wait to see what you’re going to learn and how God is going to use His Word to convict you, correct you, comfort you, and change you.

It is required of those that hear the Word preached that they attend upon it with diligence, preparation and prayer; examine what they hear by the Scriptures; receive the truth with faith, love, meekness, and readiness of mind, as the Word of God; meditate and confer of it; hide it in their hearts, and bring forth the fruit of it in their lives. (Westminster Confession Larger Catechism)

PRC Archives: 1951 Young People’s Convention

These wonderful pictures came in from Mr. John Buiter (my former grade-school principal at Hope PRCS!) this week, as part of a donation to the PRC archives. John was a member of Oaklawn PRC in Illinois at the time, though he later moved up to Grand Rapids, MI for teaching and administration, and later belonged to my home church at Hope PRC in Walker.

John’s fine collection of photos included some from the 11th annual PR Young People’s Convention held in August of 1951 in…? You tell me! It’s really not hard if you look closely. But that church – isn’t that a beauty?! I previously did a post on this PRYP’s Convention after a member donated the group picture from this convention.

It seems John also had an eye out for a certain young lady at this convention too, a peach named Thea, whom he would later marry. You will find her in one of these pictures too. But you will need a good eye for that. Let’s see who can locate her.

I am guessing you can identify some of the people in these photos (there were many more, so maybe we can post more later). Some names appear on the front. And I see one of our older ministers in there too – can you identify him? Have fun!

And thank you, John, for thinking of the archives!




Published in: on March 21, 2019 at 9:45 PM  Leave a Comment  

The Amazing Cross: The Judgment of the World – H. Hoeksema

AmazingCross-HHProtestant Reformed pastor, seminary professor, and founder Herman Hoeksema had the custom of preaching special series of sermons during the Lenten season. Some were preached in First PRC where he served a long ministry and others he specially prepared for the radio broadcasts of the Reformed Witness Hour. Many of these were later published in written form.

One such collection of Lenten sermons is titled The Amazing Cross, first published by William B. Eerdmans in 1943. Last year the RFPA republished it, and tonight we feature it for our first Lenten season post. Here is the publisher’s promo for the book:

“The vicarious suffering of the Lord must occupy a central place in the consciousness of faith and in the preaching of the gospel. On the death and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ depends all of salvation.”

So states the author of these powerful meditations on the passion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, giving us all the reason we need to read them and digest them, to believe on the Christ presented in them and magnify the God of our salvation whose work is set forth in them.

Take up and read, and be led to feed on Christ crucified and raised!

The book is divided into two main sections, reflecting two series of sermons “HH” preached. The first series is called “Amazing Judgment,” while the second  bears the name “Amazing Obedience.” Tonight we quote from the first sermon of that first part, which is titled “The Judgment of the World” and based on John 12:31 – “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.”

This is part of the author’s explanation of the “amazing judgment” of Christ’s cross:

Thus it had to be. As men view the events of this world, what was historically the world’s trial of Jesus was in reality God’s trial of the world. What was to all appearances the condemnation of the Son of man by the tribunal of the world was in deepest reality the condemnation of the world before the tribunal of the Judge of heaven and earth. Two thousand years ago, or more definitely speaking in the ‘hour’ of Jesus, in that brief period when the Christ of God was tried, condemned, and crucified by the rulers of this world, the world very really stood in judgment before God and was tried and condemned.

True, there will come a final day, a day of the revelation of the righteous judgment of God when all the implications in the judgment of the cross will be publicly verified and exposed. But that does not alter the fact that in a very real sense the judgment of the world has already become a fact through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. We must understand and believe this truth. The world is already and irrevocably condemned. The prince of this world has already been utterly cast out. In the midst of this condemned world with its deposed prince, we must take shelter by faith in the shadow of the cross and take hold of the justifying power of the resurrection, so that we may be saved. [pp5-6]

You may also be interested to know that the RFPA has also just republished another similar volume by Hoeksema – The Royal Sufferer. Perhaps a future post can reference that wonderful book as well. I think you are able to judge that these make for marvelous reading profit in this time of year.

More on Dordt400: The PRC Seminary Conference, Dordt’s March Sessions, and “Grace and Assurance”

As the Reformed church world continues to mark the 400th anniversary of the great international Synod of Dordtrecht in the Netherlands (1618-19), we may note it here once more again. Dordt’s final session was on May 29, 1619, so we have a few months to remember and reflect.  Dordt-conf-flyer-speakers-colorFirst to note is the PRC Seminary’s Dordt400 Conference coming up in only a month – April 25-27. We hope you are planning to attend this significant event in Hudsonville, MI. The latest announcement serves as a powerful incentive:

Dordt400! April 25-27. Trinity PRC. The seminary-sponsored conference celebrating the 400th anniversary of the Great Synod is approaching! Please make plans to come to hear important speeches, see displays of 400-year-old artifacts from Dordt, learn the winners of the writing contest, and meet PRC friends coming from at least 10 different countries! Speakers are our seminary professors; Revs. B. Huizinga and W. Langerak; and Rev. A. Stewart (CPRC NI) and Rev. M. Shand (EPC Australia). Trinity PRC in Hudsonville, MI is our host. The conference will be live-streamed via Trinity’s website for those unable to attend. For more, see


The second thing to note is closely related. Prof. Douglas Kuiper has been writing special posts for the Seminary conference blog. Of special note are the short summaries of Dordt’s sessions he has provided. Much of this detail is new to me, and my own appreciation for Dordt’s careful and diligent work in answering the Arminian errors has grown tremendously.

Here are a few recent samples of his description of the Synod’s work during this month of March, only in 1619:

Session 110: Tuesday, March 12 PM
Synod read the last of the judgments regarding the first article of the Remonstrants–those of the deputies from Drenthe and from the Walloon churches.

Synod then turned to the judgments of the various delegations regarding the second article of the Remonstrants, which pertained to the extent and effectiveness of Christ’s work. Synod read the judgments of the delegations from Great Britain, the Palatinate, Hesse, and Switzerland. The last three delegations stated that when Scripture says Christ died for all, it means He died for the elect, not for every individual. For the elect, they added, His death effectively saved.

The delegates from Great Britain did not touch on this point. These delegates had realized earlier (session 74) that they were not agreed among themselves on the interpretation of their own creed, the Thirty-Nine Articles. This realization led them to ask advice from the Archbishop of Canterbury. He responded that the British delegates should not speak more specifically than did the Thirty-Nine Articles.

Session 118: Monday, March 18 AM
The Synod of Dordt had been in session for four full months. Due to sickness and other circumstances, the delegates from Brandenburg had never arrived (see session 3). At session 118, Synod received a letter from the Marquis of Brandenberg explaining the absence of his delegates. Convinced that Synod’s response to the Remonstrants would conform to the Reformed confessions, the Marquis asked Synod to send him its final judgment so that the clergy in his realm might sign it. The Acts of Synod do not indicate how Synod responded to this letter.

Synod continued to read the judgments of the various delegations regarding the third and fourth articles of the Remonstrants. At this session Synod read the judgments of the delegates from South Holland, North Holland, Zeeland, and Utrecht.

Grace_and_Assurance_mcgeown-2018Third, and finally, we reference again the new RFPA publication, Grace and Assurance: The Message of the Canons of Dordt, written by Rev. Martyn McGeown, missionary-pastor laboring in Limerick Reformed Fellowship.

Tonight we take a quotation from the author’s treatment of Article 5 of the Second Head of doctrine, where Dordt is linking the preaching of God’s salvation promise to the effectual, atoning death of His Son, Jesus Christ. After showing that God’s promise of salvation is particular (for elect believers only) and unconditional (without dependency on the actions of the sinner), McGeown shows that God wills that this gospel promise be widely preached – in contrast to what the Arminians claimed was possible for the truly Reformed.

This particular, unconditional promise must be preached. The heirs of God’s promise, the elect, must some to hear of it. Notice how the Canons explain this: ‘This promise…ought to be declared and published to all nations, and to all persons promiscuously and without distinction.’ The promise of particular, but the preaching is promiscuous, general or unrestricted. With the promise a second truth must be preached, which is the command or the call: ‘This promise, together with the command to repent and believe, ought to be declared and published’ (emphasis added). The promise is particular, but the preaching with the command or call to repent and believe is promiscuous, general or unrestricted. This is the response of Dordt to hyper-Calvinism, which is the belief and practice that the gospel should not be preached promiscuously, but only to the elect or to supposedly sensible sinners. Those who show signs of regeneration or receptivity to the truth are, in the minds of hyper-Calvinists, sensible sinners. To none other will a hyper-Calvinist issue the command or call to repent and believe. [pp.166-67]

There’s more, of course, to this answer, but you can see what Dordt’s basic reply was. And that answer still needs to be sounded plainly, because there is so much confusion and error concerning the call of the gospel, and not only from the side of the hyper-Calvinists. Those who claim the free or well-meant offer with its two-track theology need also hear Dordt’s clear statements.

We encourage all who love the Reformed faith to read and benefit from McGeown’s Grace and Assurance.

Unworthy Servants: “What do you have that you have not first received?”

…You are indebted to him entirely. He has to take care of everything for you, and in so doing above all to uphold and support you. For if he ever withdrew his hand from you, you would perish in your own deadly turmoil and become just one more sad catastrophe! And for all of this, he gets nothing in return from you.

This is difficult for the flesh to comprehend this. It is hard to hear this. But there is no denying it. Nothing can change it. From you he received not a single thing.

Not even if you pray and praise him and do good works?

Why not? You yourself would know this best!

But I say this much on the authority of the Word: ‘You have never prayed what in any sense might be called a prayer unless he had first awakened it in you! You have never exalted what amounted to really exalting in his praise, unless he qualified you to do so. You have never done any good work, unless he was the One who first moved you to do it, both to will and to work for his own good pleasure!’

So then, O man and O woman, what do you have that you have not first received?

And how can you argue with our blunt assessment: ‘You have received everything from him; he has received nothing from you.’?

Listen to what Job already testified in ancient times: ‘Can a man benefit God? Or, what does it benefit the Almighty if you are righteous?’ ‘If you are righteous, what do you give him or what does he receive from your hands?’ (Job 22:2-3; 35:7). Listen to what the apostle impresses on your heart: ‘Who has first given anything to God, that he should repay him?’ (Rom 11:35). Or better yet, listen to what your Savior whispers in your heart: ‘When you do everything that you were told to do, you should say, “We are unworthy servants.”‘

Listen to this, all you children of God who are not in total denial! Listen, and be wise!

honey from the rock-ak-2018Taken from the new translation of Abraham Kuyper’s Honey from the Rock (Lexham Press, 2018; James A. De Jong, transl.), pp.51-52.

This particular meditation (#16) is based on Luke 17:10 and titled “Unworthy Servants.” Good words to ponder as we end the week and prepare to enter the Lord’s house for worship.

I am finding gem after quotable gem in this collection of Kuyper’s meditations. My recommendation to you as I read through them personally: get the volume and read one or two a day for your rich spiritual profit.

PRC Archives: Some New/ Old Pics – Two Churches and a Minister

Hope PRC (Walker, MI) donated some pictures to the PRC archives this week (along with some documents) and we have been enjoying them at seminary.

Many are from the 1980s and include several from PRC synods (hosted by First-GR, Hope, and SW PRCs), a PR Christian School convention (at Covenant CHS in Grand Rapids, MI), Hope’s early involvement in Singapore, and a PRYP’s Convention they hosted. There are also some individual photos of ministers and churches, and it is some of these I feature here today.

The minister is easily recognized – Rev. Marinus Schipper (1906-1985). He served the Protestant Reformed congregations of Grand Haven, MI, Second (later SW) in Wyoming, MI (twice), South Holland, IL, and SE in Grand Rapids, MI. Rev. Schipper was a powerful preacher and I remember well hearing him in my home church of Hope as a young man.

But perhaps we can make you guess which church he is in in the photo to the right below.


We also have two pictures of old PRC buildings, and these we will make into a mystery photo-guess for you. Here they are – see how you do!

I have to admit, I did not recognize either of them and had to receive help from a certain professor. If I mention him, it may give away the answers. That’s the only clue you get! 🙂


If you recognize them, let our readers know!

Published in: on March 14, 2019 at 8:28 PM  Comments (10)  

Have You Ever Heard These 25 Obscure English Words?

As we have started a new month and have not had a “Word Wednesday” in a while, let’s make use of this one from, which came into my email box back in January. Instead of one word, however, you will get to consider 25! And, yes, these are truly obscure, and maybe a tad strange – I only knew a few – but look at the vocabulary you will add to your speech! Well, maybe not.

I include the introduction and the first part of the list – enjoy!

There’s something so satisfying about pulling out a $15 word—the kind that you hardly ever get to use, but fits the situation perfectly. On the other hand, that feeling when you can’t quite find the right word for what you’re trying to express is incredibly aggravating. Well, we’re here to help. Here are 25 weird, obscure, and downright cool words hidden in the English language.

For the rest, visit the link below.

Source: Have You Ever Heard These 25 Obscure English Words? |

Epeolatry: The worship of words. What better piece of vocabulary to kick off this list with?
Aglet: The little piece of plastic on the end of your shoelaces. (Crossword puzzle fans know this one.)
Grawlix: You know when cartoonists substitute a bunch of punctuation marks for curse words? They’re using grawlix.
Borborygmus: A rumbling in your stomach. Time for lunch!
Accubation: While you quell your borborygmus, you might engage in accubation—the act of comfortably reclining, often during a meal.
Jillick: To skip a stone across a surface of water.
Nibling: Here’s a handy word you might just now realize you were missing. Nibling is a gender-neutral term for a niece or nephew.
Tatterdemalion: Some words just sound like their meaning. A tatterdemalion is somebody wearing tattered clothing. It can also be used as an adjective meaning tattered or ragged in appearance.
Tittle: The word tittle has got just one tittle in it, but this sentence has six—no, seven—more. It’s the little dot above a lowercase j or i.
Pogonotrophy: You probably know someone who engages in pogonotrophy, the act of growing a beard, even if they don’t call it that.
Pilgarlic: On the opposite end of the spectrum, a pilgarlic is a bald-headed person—usually one you’re mocking or feeling sorry for.
Published in: on March 13, 2019 at 10:58 PM  Leave a Comment