Ascension Day Thoughts – A. Kuyper

Night Sky, Hyden, Western Australia.

On this Ascension Day 2019, I give you some moving words from Abraham Kuyper, after reading ahead and finding this appropriate meditation on Christ’s ascension in his newly translated work Honey From the Rock (see details below).

No, the Lord God saves! actually saves! He saves both body and soul.

And what’s truly beautiful is not the apparent defeat of saving love, as tragically moving as that may be. No, the only thing that is truly beautiful, moving, and holy is the saving love that also triumphs. It not only descends into the stream but is also capable of rising out of the stream. He not only succeeds in rising from the stream, but he carries the drowning person out of that stream of misery with him and sets him on the throne where he himself had been before. [Kuyper has used the illustration of a parent out of love being willing to plunge himself into a stream to save his drowning child, but perhaps not being strong enough to get himself and the child back out of the raging torrent. And now he is contrasting that with the saving work of God in Christ.]

This is the reason  why the ascension of Jesus is so beautiful, my good readers. It’s why it’s so majestic and so completely glorious. For here we see overwhelming power. Here is complete victory. Here we have ascending once again out of a majestic and beautiful struggle. Here we witness climbing higher, being lifted up until he is again finally ‘where he was before’!

He’s there despite everything that opposed him. The laws of nature opposed him. The elements opposed him. The human flesh he assumed opposed him. Even the love found in the hearts of his disciples opposed him. It all pulled him down. It all held him down. It all resisted his ascending.

But even so, nothing withstood him.

He vanquished it all.

He ascended.

And oh, the miracle of divine omnipotence! In ascending he carried the entire church of the redeemed along with him on high. Those who dwell above! Those living now! And those who have yet to live. All God’s children!

Look! Look at him standing there in heaven with his treasure, the souls of the redeemed in his arms.

All the angels are adoring him.

All the martyrs and prophets are kneeling before him.

The Father is crowning him!

honey from the rock-ak-2018Taken from the new translation by James A. De Jong of Abraham Kuyper’s Honey from the Rock (Lexham Press, 2018), pp.242-43.

This particular meditation (#75 of Volume 1) is titled “Ascending to Where He Was Before” and is based on John 6:61b-62 (KJV), “When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?”

1st Quarter Books 2019 – PRC Seminary Library (Part 2)

A few weeks ago I started (belatedly) to post here my list of significant book acquisitions for the first quarter of this year, a list I put together for the faculty, students, and Theological School Committee. Tonight we will finish that list, looking at five sections – creeds, dogmatic theology, practical theology, philosophy, and miscellaneous.

As noted before, part of my reason for posting this list here is not only to show you the kind of books the seminary adds to its library, but also to stimulate you to find something to read. Yes, there are books here for the layman and laywoman, for the young adults and for teenagers. Browse this list and perhaps you will find something of interest to you.

I might also add that not all of these are new books, nor are they always sought after. I purchase a fair amount of used and bargain books, and we also get some that are donated to us, which we always appreciate.


Creeds, Confessions, History of

  • Saving the Reformation: The Pastoral Theology of the Canons of Dort / W. Robert Godfrey. Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust, 2019.

Dogmatics, Theology, Historical Theology

  • Glaphyra on the Pentateuch, Volume 1: Genesis / Saint Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria, approx. 370-444; Nicholas P. Lunn, translator; Gregory K. Hillis. Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2018 (Fathers of the Church: A New Translation) v. 137
  • Thomas Aquinas / K. Scott Oliphint; Michael A. G. Haykin; Nathan D. Shannon. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2017. (Great Thinkers)
  • Martin Luther and the Called Life / Mark D. Tranvik. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2016.
  • The Fatherhood of God in John Calvin’s Thought / Karin Spiecker Stetina. UK: Paternoster, 2016.
  • Giving Glory to the Consubstantial Trinity: An Essay on the Quintessence of the Christian Faith / Michael A. G. Haykin. Greenbriar, AR: Free Grace Press, 2018.
  • The Select Works of William Huntington / William Huntington, 1745-1813. ; J.R. Broome. Brackendale Grove: Gospel Standard Trust Publications, 1989.
  • Across the Spectrum: Understanding Issues in Evangelical Theology / Gregory A. Boyd; Paul R. Eddy. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2002.
  • Confessing the Faith: Christian Theology in a North American Context / Douglas John Hall. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress Publishers, 1998.
  • Introducing Radical Orthodoxy: Mapping a Post-Secular Theology / James K. A. Smith; John. Milbank. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005.
  • Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense / N. T. (Nicholas Thomas) Wright. New York: Harper One, 2006.
  • Mere Calvinism / Jim S. Orrick. Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 2019.
  • Inerrancy and the Church / John D. Hannah; J. I. Packer; John H. Gerstner; John D. Hannah. Chicago: Moody Press, 1984.
  • The Voice of God in the Text of Scripture: Explorations in Constructive Dogmatics / Oliver Crisp, editor; Fred Sanders, editor; William J. Abraham; Oliver. Crisp. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016.
  • The Renewal of Trinitarian Theology: Themes, Patterns, & Explorations / Roderick T. Leupp. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2008.
  • Connected: Living in the Light of the Trinity / Sam. Allberry. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2013.
  • God With Us: Exploring God’s Personal Interactions with His People Throughout the Bible / Glenn R. Kreider. Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 2014.
  • A Father Who Keeps His Promises: God’s Covenant Love in Scripture / Scott. Hahn. Cincinnati, OH: Servant, c1998.
  • The Doctrine of Election in Reformed Perspective: Historical and Theological Investigations of the Synod of Dordt 1618-1619 / Frank van der Pol; Gunter Frank; Eric A. De Boer; Herman J. Selderhuis. Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2019 (Refo500 Academic Studies), vol. 51
  • Knowing Creation: Perspectives from Theology, Philosophy, and Science / Andrew B. Torrance, ed.; Thomas H. McCall, ed.; Simon. Oliver. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2018.
  • How I Changed My Mind About Evolution: Evangelicals Reflect on Faith and Science / Kathryn Applegate, editor; J. B. Stump, editor; Deborah Haarsma. ; Kathryn Applegate. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2016.
  • The Liberating Image: The Imago Dei in Genesis 1 / J. Richard Middleton. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2005.
  • The Fool and the Heretic: How Two Scientists Moved Beyond the Labels to a Christian Dialogue About Creation and Evolution / Todd C. Wood; Darrel R. Falk. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2019.
  • Lectures in Systematic Theology: Volume III – Doctrine of Christ / Greg Nichols. ; Rob Ventura. San Bernardino, CA: CreateSpace Independent Publishing, 2018.
  • Christology in Cultural Perspective: Marking out the Horizons / Colin J. D. Greene. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2004.
  • Anchored in Grace: Fixed Points for Humble Faith / Jeremy Walker. Minneapolis, MN: Cruciform Press, 2015.
  • By Grace Alone: How the Grace of God Amazes Me / Sinclair B. Ferguson; Henry L. Orombi. Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust, 2010.
  • If: The Conditionality of the Gospel and the Real Danger of Apostasy / Todd Pylant. Benbrook, TX: Word of God Speak Publishing, 2012.
  • Repentance in Christian Theology / Mark J. Boda; Gordon T. Smith; Ronald K. Rittgers; Mark J. Boda. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2006.
  • Holy Baptism: Word Keys Which Unlock the Covenant / Duane Edward. Spencer; James B. Jordan. Tyler, TX: Geneva Ministries, 1984.
  • The Lord’s Supper as the Sign and Meal of the New Covenant / Guy Prentiss Waters; Dane C. and Miles V. Van Pelt Ortlund. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2019 (Short Studies In Biblical Theology)
  • The Battle for the Sabbath in the Dutch Reformation: Devotion or Desecration? / Kyle J. Dieleman; H. J. Selderhuis. Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2019 (Reformed Historical Theology, v.52)
  • The Future of Everything: Essential Truths About the End Times / William Boekestein. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2019.

Image result for the future of everything boekestein

Philosophy, Logic, Ethics

  •  God and the Transgender Debate: What Does the Bible Actually Say About Gender Identity / Andrew T. Walker; R. Albert Mohler, Jr. Centralia, WA: The Good Book Company, 2017.

Practical Theology – Christian Living, Church government, Counseling, Family, Marriage, Missions, Pastoral Ministry, Prayer, Preaching, Sermons, Worship

  • Sound Doctrine: How A Church Grows in the Love and Holiness of God / Bobby Jamieson; Mark Dever. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013 (9Marks Building Healthy Churches)
  • The Spiritual Life / Campegius Vitringa; Richard A. Muller; Charles K. Telfer, Transl.; Charles K Telfer. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2018.
  • Step by Step: Divine Guidance for Ordinary Christians / James C. Petty; Susan Lutz. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Pub., 1999.
  • The Lordship of Christ: Serving Our Savior All of the Time, in All of Life, With All of Our Heart / Vern S. Poythress. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016.
  • Holding Fast the Faithful Word: Sermons and Addresses by Samuel Miller / Samuel Miller, 1769-1850; Kevin Reed. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2018.
  • Preaching the Old Testament / Scott M. Gibson; Haddon W. Robinson; Dennis R. Magary; Scott M. Gibson. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2006.
  • The Scottish Psalmody / General Assembly. Free Church of Scotland (Continuing); William B. Scott. United Kingdom: Riley Dunn & Wilson, 2013.
  • Trinity Psalter Hymnal / Trinity Psalter Hymnal Joint Venture; Alan D. (OPC) Strange; Derrick J. (URCNA) Vander Meulen. Willow Grove, PA: Trinity Psalter Hymnal Joint Venture, 2018.
  • Liturgical Forms and Prayers of the United Reformed Churches in North America: Together with the Doctrinal Standards of the URCNA / United Reformed Churches in North America. Wellandport, ON: United Reformed Churches in North America, 2018.
  • Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity / Eugene H. Peterson, 1932-2018. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1990.
  • The Potter’s Rib: Mentoring for Pastoral Formation / Brian Williams. Vancouver: Regent College, 2005.
  • How to Help People in Conflict: Becoming a Biblical Peacemaker / Jay E. Adams. Stanley, NC: Timeless Texts, 2005.
  • A Practical Theology of Missions: Dispelling the Mystery, Recovering the Passion / Eric E. Wright. Leominster, U.K.: Day One, 2010.
  • Principles of Reformed Mission Ministry: An Organisational and Exegetical Study – Matthew 9:35-38 and Acts 13:1-4; 14:21-28; 15:36-41 & 16:2 / Peter Back. Stoke-on-Trent: Tentmaker Publications, 1999.
  • The Gospel in the Marketplace of Ideas: Paul’s Mars Hill Experience for Our Pluralistic World / Paul. Copan. ; Kenneth D. Litwak. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2014.
  • The Missionary Fellowship of William Carey / Michael A. G. Haykin. Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing, 2018 (The Long Line of Godly Men Profiles)
  • God, Marriage, and Family: Rebuilding the Biblical Foundation / (2nd ed.) Andreas J. Köstenberger; David W. (David Wayne) Jones. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010.
  • Family Vocation: God’s Calling in Marriage, Parenting, and Childhood / Gene E. Veith; Mary J. Moerbe. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012.
  • Broken Pieces and the God Who Mends Them: Schizophrenia Through a Mother’s Eyes / Simonetta Carr; Michael Horton. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2019.
  • The Silent Shades of Sorrow: Healing for the Wounded / C. H. (Charles Haddon) Spurgeon, 1834-1892; Zack Eswine. Scotland: Christian Heritage, 2015.
  • Passions of the Heart: Biblical Counsel for Stubborn Sexual Sins / John D. Street; Heath Lambert. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing, 2019.

Can Science Explain Everything?

Misc. (Apologetics, Culture, Education, Music, Politics, Science, Work, World Religions, etc.)

  • Evangelical Dictionary of Christian Education / Michael J. Anthony; Warren S. Benson; Daryl Eldridge. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001.
  • Making Disciples: The Challenge of Christian Education at the End of the 20th Century / Norman E. Harper. Memphis, TN: Christian Studies Center, 1981.
  • Dethroning Jesus: Exposing Popular Culture’s Quest to Unseat the Biblical Christ / Darrell L. Bock; Daniel B. Wallace. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2007.
  • Lifestyle: A Biblical/Philosophical Study of Christianity and the Culture It Produces / R.E. Knodel. United States: XLibris, 2012.
  • Can Science Explain Everything? / John C. (John Carson). Lennox. UK: The Good Book Company, 2019.

Itching Ear Epidemic

But this [a lack of solid biblical, expositional preaching] doesn’t seem to bother many churchgoers. In fact, if given the option between a systematic, verse-by-verse exposition of a book of the Bible or a more topical message where verses are plucked from all over Scripture and combined to create a special series on practical issues like marriage, parenting, sex, money, work, dating, stress, etc., most churchgoers would pick the topical series as their favorite because in their minds it in easier and more enjoyable to listen to and is seemingly more helpful to their everyday lives. This should come as no surprise since the charge Paul gave to Timothy was given with a view to the future when the church ‘will not endure sound doctrine, but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears fro the truth, and will turn aside to myths’ (2 Tim.4:3-4). We are living in that time period about which Paul warned Timothy.

There are lots of people in churches today who will not put up with sound, doctrinal preaching. They are intolerant of anyone who gets up behind a pulpit and preaches truth that confronts their sinful lifestyle or makes them feel uncomfortable. They flat-out refuse to sit there and listen. If they feel like the preacher is stepping on their toes, they either run him out of the church or find another church where the preacher strokes their ears and makes them leave church feeling good about themselves. They successfully insulate themselves from what they consider the offensive truths of the Bible by surrounding themselves with preachers who caress them rather than confront them, who tell them what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear. They evaluate preachers based not on whether their teaching lines up with the Scriptures, but on whether it tickles their fancies, scratches them where they itch, and satisfies their craving to always be encouraged and entertained. It seems most people these days prefer listening to light, uplifting, entertaining messages. If given the choice, they would rather hear fictional stories than biblical truths.

ExpositoryListeningTaken from chapter 4 of Ken Ramey’s book, Expository Listening: A Handbook for Hearing and Doing God’s Word , (Kress Biblical Resources, 2010). This chapter treats Paul’s warning to Timothy in 2 Tim.4:1-4 and is titled “The Itching Ear Epidemic” (pp.51ff.). In it the author speaks both to preachers and to listeners.

in light of what Ramey writes here, we may examine ourselves concerning our own propensity for “itching ears.” Have we been affected by this epidemic found in the churches about us? May God give us a hunger for the pure preaching of the gospel according to His Word and make us faithful listeners of such spiritual food.

Seminary Library Furniture Available!

Final stages of moving books and shelving today.

Seminary library furniture available!


The majority of the books have been moved into the large multi-purpose room in the middle of seminary.

We are gutting the library this summer (in process as we write – all the books and shelving have been taken out this week and moved to other areas of the building – see above photo) for the big renovation project (mostly cosmetic – new paint, carpeting, ceiling tiles, lighting, wood trim – and furniture).

Used credenza available

Which also means we are looking for a good home for some of the furniture that will be replaced: a large conference table with 8 wood-framed, padded chairs (church council room – school library?), several desks, a credenza (with side doors, hanging file drawers). If interested, email me at cjterpstra@sbcglobal dot net for more info (I’ve attached a few here).
Conference table available

8 Padded wood-framed chairs available

Library desk available

These items would be pick-up items only (we can’t deliver). We can discuss price/donation when you make contact.

The view of the library at end of today (no the study carrels are NOT available!).

Thanks – and spread the word!

Published in: on May 22, 2019 at 11:11 PM  Leave a Comment  

1st Quarter Books 2019 – PRC Seminary Library

Here it is nearing the end of May (middle of the second quarter of 2019) and I still have not posted my list of significant book acquisitions for the first quarter of this year. So, tonight it is time to do that. We will reference this list that I put together for the faculty, students, and Theological School Committee in two parts, looking at three sections – two on Biblical studies and one on church history.

As noted before, part of my reason for posting this list here is not only to show you the kind of books the seminary adds to its library, but also to stimulate you to find something to read also. Yes, there are books here for the layman and laywoman, for the young adults and for teenagers (perhaps a “bitesize biography for you! see below!). Browse this list and perhaps you will find something of interest to you.

I might also add that not all of these are new books, nor are they always sought after. I purchase a fair amount of used and bargain books, and we also get some that are donated to us, which we always appreciate.

Other Commentaries (Individual)

The Love of Loves in the Song of Songs

  • Esther: The God Who Is Silent Is Still Sovereign / Norman De Jong. Grandville, MI: Reformed Fellowship, 2018.
  • A Proverbs Driven Life: Timeless Wisdom for Your Words, Work, Wealth, and Relationships / Anthony. Selvaggio. Wapwallopen, PA: Shepherd Press, 2008.
  • That’s Just The Way It Is: A Realistic View of Life from the Book of Ecclesiastes / Derek Tidball. Fearn, Ross-shire, GB: Christian Focus, 1998.
  • The Love of Loves in the Song of Songs / Philip Graham Ryken. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2019.
  • Living Water: Studies in John 4 / David Martyn. Lloyd-Jones. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2009.
  • The Epistle to the Romans / H. C. G. (Handley Carr Glyn) Moule, 1841-1920. Grand Rapids, MI : Zondervan, nd.
  • Walking in the Way of Love: A Practical Commentary on 1 Corinthians for the Believer / (Vol.2) Nathan J. Langerak. Jenison, MI: Reformed Free Pub. Association, 2019.

Individual Biblical Studies Titles

The Shadow of Christ in the Book of Job

  • Getting the Message: A Plan for Interpreting and Applying the Bible / Daniel M. Doriani. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Pub., 1996.
  • God’s Design: A Focus on Old Testament Theology / Elmer A. Martens. Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, UK; Baker Books; Apollos, 1994.
  • Plowshares & Pruning Hooks: Rethinking the Language of Biblical Prophecy and Apocalyptic / D. Brent Sandy. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002.
  • Friendship in the Hebrew Bible / Saul M. Olyan; John J. Collins. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017 (The Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library)
  • Christ from Beginning to End: How The Full Story of Scripture Reveals the Full Glory of Christ / Trent Hunter; Stephen J. Wellum. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2018.
  • How to Read Prophecy / Joel B. Green. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1984.
  • Echoes of Exodus: Tracing a Biblical Motif / Bryan D. Estelle. Downer’s Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2018.
  • The Shadow of Christ in the Book of Job / C. J. (Clayton J.) Williams; Richard C. Gamble. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2017.
  • Out of the Depths: The Psalms Speak for Us Today / Bernhard W. Anderson. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1983.
  • Saved by Grace Alone: Sermons on Ezekiel 36:16-36 / D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Edinburgh, Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2018.
  • How to Read the Gospels & Acts / Joel B. Green. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1987.
  • Can We Trust The Gospels? / Peter J. Williams. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2018.
  • The Child-Parent Relationship in the New Testament and Its Environment / Peter Balla. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2006.
  • How New Is the New Testament?: First-Century Judaism and the Emergence of Christianity / Donald A. Hagner. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2018.
  • Paul, Women & Wives: Marriage and Women’s Ministry in the Letters of Paul / Craig S. Keener. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1995.
  • The Theology of Paul’s Letter to the Galatians / James D. G. Dunn; James D. G. Dunn. Cambridge [England]; New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1993.
  • Why I Love the Apostle Paul: 30 Reasons / John Piper. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2019.

Church History, General and Biography
A Tender Lion: The Life, Ministry, and Message of J.C. Ryle (Rogers)

  • Why Study History? : Reflecting on the Importance of the Past / John Fea. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013.
  • Augustine the Bishop: Church and Society at the Dawn of the Middle Ages / Frederik van der Meer, 1904-1994; Brian Battershaw, Transl.; G.R. Lamb, Transl. New York; Evanston: Harper Torchbooks, 1961.
  • The Middle Ages / Johannes Fried; Peter Lewis, Transl. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2015.
  • In Their Own Words: The Testimonies of Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, and John Bunyan / David B. Calhoun. Edinburgh, Scotland; Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 2018.
  • Christianity’s Dangerous Idea: The Protestant Revolution – A History from the Sixteenth Century to the Twenty-First / Alister E. McGrath. New York : HarperOne, 2007.
  • To Find a Better Life: Aspects of Dutch Immigration to Canada and the United States, 1920-1970 / Gordon Oosterman; Adrian Guldemond; George Vandezande. Grand Rapids, MI: National Union of Christian Schools, 1975.
  • Hollanders: The Development of their Objectives in Europe and America / Jacob A. Vander Meulen. Zeeland, MI: The First Reformed Church, 1945.
  • 1847 – Ebenezer – 1947: Memorial Souvenir of the Centennial Commemoration of Dutch Immigration to the United States Held in Holland Michigan 13-16 August / Henry Stephen Lucas, 1889-1961. ; MI Centennial Commission of Holland; J. R. Slotemaker de Bruine. New York: Netherlands Information Bureau, 1947.
  • A Tender Lion: The Life, Ministry, and Message of J.C. Ryle / Bennett W. Rogers. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2019.
  • Geerhardus Vos: Reformed Biblical Theologian, Confessional Presbyterian / Danny E. Olinger. ; Camden Bucey. Philadelphia, PA: Reformed Forum, 2018.
  • Charles Hodge / S. Donald (Samuel Donald) Fortson, 1956-. Darlington: EP Books, 2013. (Bitesize Biographies)
  • God’s Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe’s Religious Crisis / Philip Jenkins. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.
  • Archives and Anecdotes: 75 Years at Southeast Protestant Reformed Church / James Holstege; Tim Pipe, Sr. Grand Rapids, MI: Southeast PRC, 2019.

Carrying The Lord’s Vessel to the New Jerusalem – A. Kuyper

honey from the rock-ak-2018Doesn’t the picture of that Levite procession moving through an immense desert represent for you the pilgrimage of God’s saints traveling through the valley of this dreary life on their way to the city of the living God? Aren’t you carrying a vessel of the Lord as well? Have you been chosen as well for this task in his boundless grace?

Let me ask you this. What is the heart that you carry around in your breast if it isn’t a precious vessel? Jehovah wants to equip it as a utensil for his glory. He does this by sprinkling it with sacrificial blood and anointing it with the Holy Spirit, thus consecrating it to himself.

Doesn’t your soul belong to him if you are children of the kingdom? If you are regenerate and thus alive through your life with Christ? Doesn’t it belong to him so that you have no other right or obligation than to keep your soul pure? Than from now on to direct your life toward the New Jerusalem that is above, where your soul will be presented to the God who takes care of you as an ornament and trophy of his grace? That’s where it will be added to that vast, beautifully crafted display of God’s immeasurable mercy.

Won’t carrying that vessel of the Lord overwhelm you with the same difficulties on the way? The same heat of the day? The same dangers of the trip? The same fears about what you might encounter as those in the Levite procession expected on their journey through the desert and in crossing the rivers of their captivity on their way to ‘the river of God that makes Jerusalem rejoice’? Shouldn’t this command resonate with you as well: ‘Leave there; and purify yourselves’?

This is a timely word that tells you to break with the world around you. Isn’t this command to ‘go out’ the incentive you need to stop forever saying ‘I should go,’ without ever actually doing so? And isn’t the directive to ‘purify yourself’ meant for you too, so that you don’t just drag the world along in your heart when you physically leave it? And should the order to ‘untie the shoelaces on your feet’ be ignored with respect to the sacred things of God?

And then, after describing how the saints struggle in this present world to carry this precious vessel of the Lord faithfully to the holy city on account of sin in us and the allurements of Babylon around us, Kuyper closes with this paragraph of hope:

But for now and those like you carry your vessels as pilgrim’s on life’s pathways. You do this until you too reach the shores of the eternal Jordan. There you will shake the desert’s dust off your feet. Then you will pass through the valley of the shadow of death and enter the glorious, marvelous Jerusalem, where a place has been reserved for every ‘vessel of the Lord.’ Even better, an uninterrupted use in the worship of God has been foreordained there for every one of the Lord’s vessels. There, in the heaven of heavens, they will be retained in endless, completely blessed service.

Taken from the new translation by James A. De Jong of Abraham Kuyper’s Honey from the Rock (Lexham Press, 2018), pp.137-38.

This particular meditation (#44) is titled “You Who Carry the Lord’s Vessels” and is based on Isaiah 52:11 (KJV), “Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the LORD.”

Grace Worthy to Be Defined and Defended

Canons_of_Dort-1619The stereotype of old confessions like the Canons of Dort is that they take the theology of God’s Word and make it shrink-wrapped, freeze-dried, and boxed-up. Or, if we can mix metaphors, theologizing becomes nothing more than dissecting a dead frog.

But what if another analogy is more appropriate? What if the truth we are talking about is not cold and dead, but very much alive? What if, instead of thinking about dissecting a frog, you think about defining or defending your child? If someone mistook your child for someone else, or if someone ran off with your child, you would care very much about definitions. You would want people to know the name of your child. It wouldn’t be enough to just say, ‘I’m looking for a cute kid out there. Just bring me one.’ You would be precise about her name, her height, her hair, her eyes, and her voice. You would provide a careful definition of your child. Likewise, if someone misunderstood your child or attacked your child, wouldn’t you do everything in your power to defend him? Of course you would, because your child is precious.

And so it is with the truth of the God’s Word. Before the Synod of Dort conducted its business, each member took a solemn oath saying that ‘I will only aim at the glory of God, the peace of the Church, and especially the preservation of the purity of doctrine. They ended with a prayer: ‘So help me, my Savior, Jesus Christ! I beseech him to assist me by his Holy Spirit.’ The delegates at Dort were joyfully serious about the doctrine of the church.

Do we care as much about defining and defending grace?

…At their very heart, the Canons of Dort are about the nature of grace – supernatural, uniliateral, sovereign, effecting, redeeming, resurrecting grace, with all of its angularity, all of its offense to human pride, and all of its comfort for the weary soul. That’s what Dort wanted to settle. That’s what they were jealous to protect. Some words are worth the most careful definitions, just as some truths are too precious not to defend.

grace-defined-defended-deyoung-2019Taken from the “Introduction” of the newest book on the Synod and Canons of Dort in connection with her 400th anniversary. This is Kevin DeYoung’s Grace Defined and Defended: What a 400-Year-Old Confession Teaches Us About Sin, Salvation, and the Sovereignty of God (Crossway, 2019), pp.24-25.

I have a review copy from Crossway available for a serious reader who is willing to do a review for the Standard Bearer. I have also purchased a copy for the PRC seminary library.


Mother’s Day 2019: A Joyful Mother of Children


Today we praise God for the gift of faithful, godly mothers in Israel. Christian husbands and fathers are called to rise up in the home and in the gates of Zion and praise them; children too (Prov.31:28). Today we do, not because the world has this day on its calendar, but because God’s Word calls us to honor our wives and mothers and because we delight to do that out of gratitude for who they are in Christ and for what they mean to our homes.

Our mothers need to hear this in today’s world of slighting and slamming our believing mothers for their sacrifice and service. To encourage and uplift them, we also post part of a Mother’s Day message Rev. C. Haak  delivered on the Reformed Witness Hour. It is based on Psalm 113:9 and titled “A Joyful Mother of Children.”

I quote part of the print version found here; if you want the audio, that may be found here. It would certainly bless your soul to listen to this message today or sometime this week.

People of God, daughters of God, the Word of God (God!) speaks of joyful mothers.  It is no myth.  God is speaking here of a joy that at bottom is nothing less than the joy of salvation, a joy in God, and a joy that God imparts to the experience of your heart as a Christian mother.  It is the joy of which Jesus spoke in John 15:  My joy, which no man can take from you.  A joy found in the knowledge that you are God’s servant, being used of Him in His kingdom—a joy that God gives to every believing mother today—every woman of God—a joy that is this, that God is your faithful God, who hath given to you a beautiful and a crucial task in His kingdom.  It is called “motherhood.”

        Our text is an example of the condescending goodness of God.  In Psalm 113 the psalmist is thinking of God in His glory and majesty.  “Who is like unto the Lord our God, who dwelleth on high, who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth!” (vv. 5, 6).  So exalted that He must stoop down low to view the heavens!  He must bow to see the stars!  So glorious is God.

        But this God is not like the detached idols of the heathen, like the Greek gods.  Their majesty was seen in indifference.  No, for although He is high and cannot be added unto, yet verse 7 tells us that He delights to raise “up the poor out of the dust.”  The glorious God, the fullness of blessing in Himself, delights in blessing the lowly and the insignificant, the downcast and the despised.  And He delights especially in blessing His daughters, women, mothers, to make them joyful.

        Unmistakably and un-ashamedly, the Scriptures of God identify motherhood with joy.  “He maketh a joyful mother of children.”

        The word “joyful” refers to a great inward happiness, not necessarily to what we might call a bubbly, happy temperament, but to the possession of a great good—a good so great that it floods the heart and gives an abiding inward joy or satisfaction to one’s soul.  That is the meaning of joy in Scripture.

        Certainly we may show outward happiness.  But when the Scriptures speak of joy, they are referring to something within, something deep within, present even in the midst of grief, something, in fact, that grief causes to shine.  My soul, says David, “shall be joyful in the Lord.  I will rejoice in God all the day,” even in times of trial and gloom.  The picture, then, of this joy is that of the heart, of a restfulness and satisfaction of soul in God, an abiding joy possessed by every believing woman.  Sarah, Abraham’s wife, said, “God has made me to laugh.  All that hear me will laugh with me.”  Mary said, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.”  Hannah, in the Old Testament, said, “My heart rejoiceth in the Lord.”

        Let us get that into our heads and into our hearts for a moment.  God gives to you mothers an abiding, inward, imperishable joy—joy rooted in God and in His grace to you as His daughters.  Do not let the world squeeze you into its mold.  And if there is any area in which the world system is trying to do so, it is in the area of motherhood today.  There is a demonic, concerted attack on the dignity and glory of motherhood as created by God.  Books, TV talk shows, politics—all proclaim that motherhood, as we understand it, is really depressing.  A career is more important.  Motherhood, we are told, can be chosen today outside of marriage.  Why should an unmarried woman be denied this privilege?  Motherhood should not stand in the way of a career.  And if motherhood threatens to interrupt your plans, then the world says you may abort your child.  Sterile operating rooms in our country slaughter millions of children, of people.  And our generation, which in hypocrisy decries the holocaust of World War II and of Hiroshima and marches in protest against the death penalty, condones and defends and insists upon the slaughter of children.  Our generation is going to have to answer one day to the Almighty!  Motherhood—we are told that that is confining, degrading, restrictive, evil.

        Now listen.  All the people of God, listen!  I do not want you to miss this truth.  Scripture informs us of this truth:  Motherhood is a joy given of God.

Savvy Sentence Structures – Part 1

Pulitzer-quote has started a three-part series titled “Becoming Savvy with Sentence Structure,” and tonight we’ll post the first of these.

This one treats the first two main types of sentence structure in English: simple and compound. If it’s been a while since you have paid attention to this matter of grammar, then this is a great time to review it, and become a better writer and speaker.

And when you are done reading and reviewing these points, you can take a “pop quiz” found here at the main website.

The art of writing resembles any trade that begins with the basics and evolves into skillful applications of them. A key component of precise and eloquent composition is understanding sentence structures.

English comprises four foundational sentence constructions: simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex. In part one of our discussion, we’ll review simple and compound sentences.

Simple Sentence

A simple sentence has one subject and one verb. It does not have a dependent (subordinate) clause, one that cannot stand alone as a sentence (e.g., when the boys return). Simple sentences also may include parts of speech such as direct and indirect objects, adjectives, adverbs, and infinitive and prepositional phrases.

Dogs (subject) bark (verb).
Regina (subject) gave (verb) her sister (indirect object) a card (direct object).
Antonio (subject) painted (verb) his old bike (direct object) red (adjective) yesterday (adverb).
Inga’s brown dog (subject) likes (verb) to sleep (infinitive phrase) on his side (prepositional phrase).

The subject (indicated by a single underline in the three sentences that follow), the verb (bold), or both may be compound in a simple sentence:

The moon and the stars came into view.
The pitcher threw six innings and hit a double.
The king and the queen each raised a hand and waved.

We can change syntactical positions in a simple sentence:

Above the law they are not.
There was no response to the question. (In this sentence, the word there is an expletive, a filler word for emphasizing the phrase no response to the question; without the expletive, the simple sentence would be No response to the question was given.)
Her parting glare he ignored.

Simple sentences can be further categorized as statements, commands, requests, questions, and exclamations:

Statement: You write well.
Command: Write well.
Request: Would you please write well?
Question: Do you write well?
Exclamation: You write well!

Compound Sentence

A compound sentence has at least two main (i.e., independent) clauses joined by a conjunction and a comma or by a semicolon:

Antonio painted his old bike red yesterday, and he will paint his scooter the same color tomorrow.
She writes well, but she is still improving at math.
The dreams of my youth have passed; the hopes of my future await.

For strong technique, we want to avoid compound sentences with loose and protracted constructions. This can sometimes happen when we string multiple clauses together.

Loose/Protracted: Angelique went to the store, and then she stopped at the post office, and next she picked up the kids.
Better (simple sentence with a compound predicate, i.e., verb or verb phrase): Angelique went to the store, stopped at the post office, and picked up the kids.

Loose/Protracted: The book was on the table, and Jason saw it, and he picked it up and started reading it.
Better (two independent clauses joined by a semicolon): Jason saw the book on the table; he picked it up and started reading it.

Loose/Protracted: They owned the team, and they were ambitious people, and they invested profits back into the franchise.
Better (consolidated simple sentence): The ambitious team owners invested profits back into the franchise.

Published in: on May 7, 2019 at 10:45 PM  Leave a Comment  

Circumcised to Live in Covenant with Our Forever Friend – A. Kuyper


…It [circumcision] meant that one no longer was part of the peoples of the earth as such, but that they were cut off from them and now belonged to the people of God.

…It was even an action whose all-embracing significance was in fact only understood by people of spiritual stature. This is because it was in fact a sacrament, thus a seal certifying that a person lived in covenant.

But what does it mean to say that a person is in covenant? This is first revealed in all its glory in the expression ‘circumcision of the heart.’

The covenant of grace always conveys that our estranged and lonely hearts get a friend for eternity. This is a friend who locks us into a covenant that will never be broken. It’s definitely a covenant that involves substitution. He takes on our obligation; we receive his glory. The exceptional beauty of the Christian faith lies precisely in this fact for us. It always has and always will – forever. This is the mystery of the work of salvation. This is what the soul treasures about the covenant. This is the goodness of salvation for the elect. This is the cup, the overflowing cup,  of their peace and salvation.

Then you realize that being circumcised amounts to being rooted in the covenant.

…Now for the first time you feel, you understand, enjoy, and experience what it is to live in covenant. This is a covenant with the One who will never forsake you and whose loyalty is unshakable. It is as solid as the mountain of the Lord. Now the truth of Paul’s word to the Philippians is proven true: ‘We, we are the circumcised, we who worship God in spirit and glory in Jesus Christ’ (Phil 3:3).

honey from the rock-ak-2018Taken from the new translation by James A. De Jong of Abraham Kuyper’s Honey from the Rock (Lexham Press, 2018), pp.117-19.

This particular meditation (#38) is titled “Uncircumcised of Heart” and is based on Romans 2:29, “But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.”