Reformation Sunday 2021: The Necessity of Reforming the Church Doctrinally – John Calvin

“We come now to what we have set down as the second principal branch of Christian doctrine, viz., knowledge of the source from which salvation is to be obtained. Now, the knowledge of our salvation presents three different stages. First, we must begin with a sense of individual wretchedness, filling us with despondency as if we were spiritually dead. This affect is produced when the original and hereditary depravity of our nature is set before us as the source of all evil — a depravity which begets in us distrust, rebellion against God, pride, avarice, lust, and all kinds of evil concupiscence, and making us averse to all rectitude and justice, holds us captive under the yoke of sin; and when, moreover, each individual, on the disclosure of his own sins, feeling confounded at his turpitude, is forced to be dissatisfied with himself and to account himself and all that he has of his own as less than nothing; then, on the other hand, conscience being cited to the bar of God, becomes sensible of the curse under which it lies, and, as if it had received a warning of eternal death, learns to tremble at the divine anger.

This, I say, is the first stage in the way to salvation when the sinner, overwhelmed and prostrated, despairs of all carnal aid, yet does not harden himself against the justice of God, or become stupidly callous, but, trembling and anxious, groans in agony, and sighs for relief. From this he should rise to the second stage. This he does when, animated by the knowledge of Christ, he again begins to breathe. For to one humbled in the manner in which we have described, no other course remains but to turn to Christ, that through his interposition he may be delivered from misery. But the only man who thus seeks salvation in Christ is the man who is aware of the extent of his power; that is, acknowledges Him as the only Priest who reconciles us to the Father, and His death as the only sacrifice by which sin is expiated, the divine justice satisfied, and a true and perfect righteousness acquired; who, in fine, does not divide the work between himself and Christ, but acknowledges it to be by mere gratuitous favor that he is justified in the sight of God.

From this stage also he must rise to the third, when instructed in the grace of Christ, and in the fruits of his death and resurrection, he rests in him with firm and solid confidence, feeling assured that Christ is so completely his own, that he possesses in him righteousness and life.

“Now, see how sadly this doctrine has been perverted. On the subject of original sin, perplexing questions have been raised by the Schoolmen, who have done what they could to explain away this fatal disease; for in their discussions they reduce it to little more than excess of bodily appetite and lust. Of that blindness and vanity of intellect, whence unbelief and superstition proceed, of inward depravity of soul, of pride, ambition, stubbornness, and other secret sources of evils they say not a word. And sermons are not a whit more sound. Then, as to the doctrine of free will, as preached before Luther and other Reformers appeared, what effect could it have but to fill men with an overweening opinion of their own virtue, swelling them out with vanity, and leaving no room for the grace and assistance of the Holy Spirit?

But why dwell on this? There is no point which is more keenly contested, none in which our adversaries are more inveterate in their opposition, than that of justification, namely, as to whether we obtain it by faith or by works. On no account will they allow us to give Christ the honor of being called our righteousness, unless their works come in at the same time for a share of the merit. The dispute is not, whether good works ought to be performed by the pious, and whether they are accepted by God and rewarded by him, but whether, by their own worth, they reconcile us to God; whether we acquire eternal life at their price, whether they are compensations which are made to the justice of God, so as to take away guilt, and whether they are to be confided in as a ground of salvation. We condemn the error which enjoins men to have more respect to their own works than to Christ, as a means of rendering God propitious, of meriting His favor, and obtaining the inheritance of eternal life; in short, as a means of becoming righteous in His sight. First, they plume themselves on the merit of works, as if they laid God under obligations to them. Pride such as this, what is it but a fatal intoxication of soul? For instead of Christ, they adore themselves, and dream of possessing life while they are immersed in the profound abyss of death.

It may be said that I am exaggerating on this head, but no man can deny the trite doctrine of the schools and churches to be, that it is by works we must merit the favor of God, and by works acquire eternal life — that any hope of salvation unpropped by good works is rash and presumptuous — that we are reconciled to God by the satisfaction of good works, and not by a gratuitous remission of sins — that good works are meritorious of eternal salvation, not because they are freely imputed for righteousness through the merits of Christ, but in terms of law; and that men, as often as they lose the grace of God, are reconciled to Him, not by a free pardon, but by what they term works of satisfaction, these works being supplemented by the merits of Christ and martyrs, provided only the sinner deserves to be so assisted. It is certain, that before Luther became known to the world, all men were fascinated by these impious dogmas; and even in the present day, there is no part of our doctrine which our opponents impugn with greater earnestness and obstinacy.

“Lastly, there was another most pestilential error, which not only occupied the minds of men, but was regarded as one of the principal articles of faith, of which it was impious to doubt, viz., that believers ought to be perpetually in suspense and uncertainty as to their interest in the divine favor. By this suggestion of the devil, the power of faith was completely extinguished, the benefits of Christ’s purchase destroyed, and the salvation of men overthrown. For, as Paul declares, that faith only is Christian faith which inspires our hearts with confidence, and emboldens us to appear in the presence of God, (Romans 5:2.) On no other view could his doctrine in another passage be maintained, viz., that

“’We have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father,’ (Romans 8:15.)

“But what is the effect of that hesitancy which our enemies require in their disciples, save to annihilate all confidence in the promises of God? Paul argues, that

“’If they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect,’ (Romans 4:14.)

“Why so? Just because the law keeps a man in doubt, and does not permit him to entertain a sure and firm confidence. But they, on the other hand, dream of a faith, which, excluding and repelling man from that confidence which Paul requires, throws him back upon conjecture, to be tossed like a reed shaken by the wind. And it is not surprising that after they had once founded their hope of salvation on the merit of works, they plunged into all this absurdity. It could not but happen, that from such a precipice they should have such a fall. For what can man find in his works but materials for doubt, and, finally, for despair? We thus see how error led to error.

“Here, mighty Emperor, and most Illustrious Princes, it will be necessary to recall to your remembrance what I formerly observed, viz., that the safety of the Church depends as much on this doctrine as human life does on the soul. If the purity of this doctrine is in any degree impaired, the Church has received a deadly wound; and, therefore, when I shall have shown that it was for the greater part extinguished, it will be the same as if I had shown that the Church had been brought to the very brink of destruction.”

John Calvin in his magisterial work “The Necessity of Reforming the Church” (To The Most Invincible Emperor Charles V., And the Most Illustrious Princes and Other Orders, Now Holding a Diet of the Empire at Spires, 1543)

A HUMBLE EXHORTATION, Seriously to Undertake the Task of Restoring the Church. Presented in the Name of All Those Who Wish Christ to Reign.

Published in: on October 31, 2021 at 7:34 AM  Leave a Comment  

500 Years Ago: Luther’s “Here I Stand” Moment at Worms

“Here I stand” in the fear of the Lord

The soon-to-be-released 2021 Reformation issue of the Standard Bearer (Nov.1, 2021) is a special one devoted to the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s historic stand at the Diet of Worms (Germany) in April of 1521. As you will see from the cover above (and that is only a sampling), the issue contains a variety of profitable and rewarding articles on this significant event in Reformation history.

The publisher posted a “teaser” excerpt on its blog last week, and from that we also quote in this post. The reference is to Rev. Jacob Maatman’s article “‘Here I Stand’ in the Fear of God.” Below is an extended quote from that article. To read all of it, visit the post linked here. To receive the issue, visit the RFPA website and the Standard Bearer page.

“The spokesman was not interested in an answer like this. All he wanted to hear was, “revoco.” Yes or no, Martin Luther? Do you, or do you not, retract? And then the monk, before emperor, electors, lords, princes, and bishops, a silence filling the hall, breathless anticipation, the eyes of all fixed upon him—then the monk spake those words that reverberated through that assembly, and have reverberated through the hundreds of years since:

Since then your serene majesty and your lordships seek a simple answer, I will give it in this manner…. Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. I cannot do otherwise, here I stand, may God help me, Amen.

“Again an attempt was made to get him to budge, but Luther remained firm. The diet recessed, and he returned to his lodging.

“Scripture—that was the refrain that continued to be heard the days following, when various persons and delegations tried to negotiate with him. “Then began the attempt to break Luther down through a committee.” But he was resolute: he could only agree to submit his case to the judgment of another, including a council’s, if Scripture would be the standard of judgment and the final authority. The negotiations fell flat. April 26, several days after his second appearing, Luther departed for home, the emperor honoring the promised safe conduct.

“This history exemplifies that great Reformation principle—and one that grated upon the ears of Rome during Luther’s time at Worms—of sola Scriptura, of which the Belgic Confession speaks in the seventh article:

Neither do we consider of equal value any writing of men, however holy these men may have been, with those divine Scriptures, nor ought we to consider custom, or the great multitude, or antiquity, or succession of times and persons, or councils, decrees, or statutes, as of equal value with the truth of God, for the truth is above all.

“Which is to say, God is above all.

“Martin Luther stood in the fear of the Lord. Already at his first appearing, we see it. Why did he ask for time to prepare an answer? In his own words: “Because this is a question of faith and the salvation of souls, and because it concerns the divine Word…it would be rash and at the same time dangerous for me to put forth anything without proper consideration.” He went on to quote Matthew 10:33, words that stood large before him. Here is a man neither headstrong nor cocksure, but one who feared God. He was confident,but not self-confident. Listen to his prayer; he felt his own weakness, but upon the Lord he relied. At the diet, many and great were the faces and the power they wielded, and what was he? But there was a witness that day (though you would not have seen him with your eyes), someone watching and listening who had more hold on Luther than anyone else: the living God, to whose Word Luther’s conscience was captive. “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe” (Prov. 29:25).”

Published in: on October 25, 2021 at 9:28 PM  Leave a Comment  

Faith in the Time of Plague – An Important New Anthology

A significant new book has been published by Westminster Seminary Press (September 2021)- a book with sixteenth-century Reformation roots and twenty-first-century application to our times. The book is Faith in the Time of Plague, a collection of sermons, treatises, letters, and even a hymn presenting a distinctly Christian perspective on suffering and affliction – all written during past seasons of plague that deeply affected the church – and all from fathers of the church who pointed God’s people to the sovereign God and His perfect plan for them and to the Lord Jesus Christ and the only comfort to be found in Him and His saving work.

The publisher gives us this description:

“We often hear the Covid-19 pandemic described as “unprecedented”, yet for Christians of earlier times, plague was nothing new. For generations, Church leaders regularly faced the sorts of ethical questions that still prove divisive today.

“Selecting from the great “plague writings” of the historic church, Todd M. Rester and Stephen M. Coleman have translated and assembled a one-of-a-kind anthology. The wisdom of the past collected in this book offers much needed and trustworthy illumination for pastors, leaders, and laypeople in times of crisis and uncertainty.

“Many of the works appearing in Faith in the Time of Plague have never been available in English until now. Included in this volume are the writings of Martin Luther, Theodore Beza, Ulrich Zwingli, Cyprian of Carthage, Zacharias Ursinus, Gijsbert Voetius, and many more.

“Introduced by Peter A. Lillback, Faith in the Time of Plague also includes a Foreword from Mayo Clinic Virologist, Dr. Gregory A. Poland.”

For a profitable survey of the book and its purpose with its editors, Stephen M. Coleman and Todd M. Rester, watch the special edition of “The Afterword” above.

Right now the work is available for $15.00 – 50% off at Westminster Bookstore. I received my copy for the seminary library this week, and it is a beautiful book with content to match! If you are looking for a substantive “comfort” read in these times, this would make a fine one. The material will feed your mind and console your soul.

Want a sample of the wisdom of the fathers found in these selections? This is from Theodore Beza’s work “A Learned Treatise on the Plague” (Geneva, 1580). [See the “read sample” button under the book image.]

Third Argument

But after this, they also ask, “If contagion is counted among second causes appointed by God, how could we flee what has been ordained by God?” Doubtless they ask so that they may conclude from this that “even if it is granted that the plague is infectious, it is useless to seek a remedy against it by flight.” I respond: But this too is a lead-headed reason. For if this conclusion is true, will it not be permissible to affirm the same of all second causes of death? If so, don’t eat, don’t drink, don’t seek any remedy against any diseases. Send soldiers to the frontline unarmed, since the death ordained by God cannot be avoided. On the contrary, the state of the case is this: Certainly neither the death, its time, nor any kind of death appointed by God can be avoided. But we do not eat, use remedies against diseases,or arm ourselves against our enemies as if we thought to withstand God. Instead, leaving those things secret which God has willed to keep secret from us, we must use those things which, with God himself going before us, nature tells us God has ordained to prolong our life so long as it shall please him. And if we do not do so, we will rightly be deemed to tempt and most grievously offend God. It is so far off the mark to assert that, by using the means he established to avoid death, we should sin against him, even though sometimes we may use them to no effect; that is to say, this occurs when he reveals our departure to us, that we are about to die, when we thought our life would still be prolonged. Asa is rebuked in this way, not
because he sent for physicians, but because he put his hope of life in the physicians.8 So when experience has taught us that contagion creeps about among things near rather than far away, no one is to blame who, while not neglecting any part of their Christian duty, withdraws himself and his family. Indeed, the person to be greatly rebuked is the one who heedlessly casts himself and his family into the danger of infection. This is especially the case when, as the Apostle witnesses, someone who does not have such great care over his family as he ought to with a healthy godliness and charity is worse than an unbeliever.

Published in: on October 22, 2021 at 9:32 PM  Leave a Comment  

Reformation Remembrances 2021: Luther at Eisenach, 1498-1501

Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World

The Schalbe family not only taught Luther that God must be at the center of life in a way that far surpassed anything he would have learned at home in Mansfeld but also exposed him to the idea that there could be a dark side to the church and that there might be some daylight between God’s idea of the church and the institution of the church itself. It was through the paterfamilias Heinrich Schalbe that Luther would first have heard of the elderly Franciscan monk Johannes Hilten, who was at that time imprisoned in the Eisenach monastery for his pronounced criticisms of the church.

Just as Saint Martin’s stand at Worms (Borbetomagus) in the fourth century may be viewed as an odd augury of Luther’s life a thousand years in the future, so Hilten’s apocalyptic statements can be similarly prophetic and unsettling. Hilten predicted in his apocalyptic writings that a man would arise in the year 1516 who would fight to reform the church—and who would succeed—and who would end the centuries-long reign of the monks. We do not know whether Luther was aware of Hilten’s writings at this time, but we do know that in the years ahead Luther would indeed identify himself as that figure Hilten had prophesied. This would certainly have strengthened him in his battle, bolstering the faith and courage that would become his greatest weapons in that battle. Hilten also prophesied that within a hundred years the Muslims would have overtaken Christendom, so for Luther in the decades ahead—given Hilten’s accuracy in predicting Luther’s own ascent and successes, if indeed he had done this—it must have been impossible not to feel that Hilten was right about the rest of it, that they were indeed all living in the Last Days of the world, and that the Antichrist was indeed abroad spreading destruction and in his final throes would wreak such unimaginable havoc that “even the elect” might be deceived.

Hilten died as a prisoner in the monastery in 1500, at the age of seventy-five, most likely of starvation, which might or might not have been self-imposed. But in his story we may again see that the idea of a holy man standing against the church was not at all a foreign one. We must not tolerate a simplistic view of church history, as though there had been no dissent until the Great Day of Martin Luther. Many others had done as much to bring the church back to its true and only roots and had failed. That the church was lacking in many ways and that many monks and priests and other ecclesiastics were greedy, hypocritical, and odious were hardly new ideas. And apart from what had been done about it or hadn’t been done about it, the laypeople saw it and expressed their thoughts on the subject, both privately and not so privately. But in all of these things, they had lacked a champion who would fight and win.

Taken from Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World (New York: Viking, 2017), Kindle ed.

Published in: on October 20, 2021 at 9:17 PM  Leave a Comment  

Reformation Remembrance 2021: Luther and the Church

Third, Luther was clear on the marks of the true church. If the church is a holy assembly of believers, the marks of the true church must be pure preaching, because pure preaching creates believers and strengthens the faith of believers; and the faithful administration of the sacraments, because by baptism and the Lord’s Supper the faith of believers is nourished.

For Luther, the church was much more important than it seems to be for many modern evangelicals, many of whom despise the church by living in isolation from it. Carl Trueman explains: “For Luther, however, the idea that private Bible study might be a universal staple of the Christian life would have been bizarre: after all, few of his parishioners would have been able to read, even if they could afford a book.” “Luther’s piety was rooted in the gathering of the church, in the Word preached more than the Word read, and in the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper.”

The preaching of the gospel was for Luther primary in the church, for in the preaching of the gospel the believer was confronted with Christ. Indeed, such a confrontation did not take place in the private reading of the Scriptures, at least not to the same degree and with the same effect. For Luther, this had important pastoral implications. Again, Carl Trueman beautifully sets forth the views of Luther: “The person whose life is falling apart and who is tempted to despair needs to know Christ, and knowing Christ requires knowing who he is and what he has done.”4 He will hear who Christ is and what Christ has done in the preaching in the true church. He will not hear it at home, and he certainly will not hear it in the false church.

This article was first published in the October 15, 2016 issue of the Standard Bearer and was part of a special issue commemorating the 500th anniversary of the great Protestant Reformation.

Published in: on October 16, 2021 at 10:18 PM  Leave a Comment  

Reformation Month – Ligonier Resources

It’s Reformation month 2021 and that means time to make you aware of some great resources that relate the history of the great Reformation of the 16th century and that reaffirm the glorious gospel recovered during that great return to the Word of God.

In this post, I draw attention to three things that Ligonier Ministries is doing to promote the Reformation this October.

Luther: In Real Time

First is the return of Luther: In Real Time, a special podcast tracing significant events in the life of the great German Reformer, Martin Luther. This is Season 2 and it began this past weekend. Here’s the description and information of this wonderful retelling of Luther’s life (gather around to listen as a family!):

“The Luther: In Real Time podcast is returning for a second season. Walk again with Martin Luther to hear how God used the conviction of a lone German monk to spark the Protestant Reformation, returning the light of the true gospel to a church steeped in error and corruption. Season 2 begins October 8 and will continue every Friday through the end of the year.

“This second season is a 13-episode abridgment of season 1 with added discussion questions to help you, your family, or your study group get even more from the experience. Listen to the high points of Luther’s journey from his heresy charges to his famous stand for the authority of God’s Word, or experience the gripping story of the German Reformer for the first time.

“The trailer for season 2 is available now. Subscribe today to listen, and share the podcast with people of all ages so they can hear—in Luther’s own words—what Protestants are protesting and why it still matters today.

“Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon, Stitcher, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, Pandora, or RSS, or by visiting LutherInRealTime.com.”

The second thing is that Ligonier is once again allowing you to stream their Luther documentary free of charge this month. Here’s their notice of that:

More than five hundred years ago, Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg. Little did he know how the Lord would use him to ignite a movement that would change the world.

Throughout the month of October, you can stream Luther: The Life and Legacy of the German Reformer for free on Ligonier’s YouTube channel. Watch to remember the events God used in Luther’s life that led him to rediscover the gospel of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Don’t forget to tell your friends about this film.

To dig even deeper into Luther’s story and significance, you can also download Ligonier’s free accompanying study guide.
 

And, finally, this month’s Tabletalk Magazine is devoted to the grand Reformation doctrine of justification by faith alone. In his editorial “Justified Now and Forever” introducing this theme, Burk Parsons states the following:

“The doctrine of justification is indeed simple, though we must not have a simplistic understanding of it. We are of course not justified by believing the doctrine of justification—we are justified through faith alone—but if we do not understand the doctrine rightly, we remain hard pressed to fulfill the covenant that God has made with us for our salvation. Further, we know that we are justified by faith alone and that our faith does not remain alone but bears fruit—our good works demonstrate that our faith is indeed genuine, but they never serve as the basis for our acceptance by God. Indeed, our justification isn’t theoretical—our sanctification proves it.

“According to Paul in Romans 1–3, if someone tries to be justified by the law, it is not simply by being a hearer of the law that he will be justified but only if he keeps the entirety of the law will he be justified by God in the end (see Rom. 2:12–16). Yet, we know that none of us is righteous and that none of us mere men can keep the entirety of the Law. But thanks be to God that we have been saved by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone. And make no mistake, we are indeed saved by works—Christ’s perfect works in keeping the entirety of the Law, not by our own works. That is why we can sing that the amazing grace that saved us will also lead us home, all by the regenerating, sustaining, and sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit.”

And Michael Reeves fine article on Justification and Assurance contains these powerful thoughts to inform and inspire every true Protestant:

“Justification by faith alone not only brings the joy that the Apostle Paul commands; it simultaneously humbles and emboldens those who cherish it.

“Through justification by faith alone, believers are awakened both to who God is and to who they are. Unlike how they once thought, they realize that He is great, glorious, merciful, and beautiful in His holiness—and they are not. As justification lifts up Christ the super-sufficient Savior, they are like Isaiah, whose vision of the Lord in glory, high and lifted up, caused him to cry: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (Isa. 6:5). Alternative gospels, where sin is a small problem and so Christ a small savior (or assistant), never have the same effect.

“The humility we learn through justification, glorying in Christ and not ourselves, turns out to be the wellspring of all spiritual health. When our eyes are opened to the love of God for us sinners, we let slip our masks. Condemned as sinners yet justified, we can begin to be honest about ourselves. Loved despite our unloveliness, we begin to love. Given peace with God, we begin to know an inner peace and joy. Shown the magnificence of God above all things, we become more resilient, trembling in wonder at God and not man.

“…The humility Luther found before the majesty and mercy of God was not gloomy or timid, forlorn or feeble. It was full-throated, joyous, and valiant.

“That is the stamp of the humility that is found in justification by faith alone. Captivated by the magnificence of God, such believers will not be so drawn to man-centered therapeutic religion. Under the radiance of His glory, they will not want to establish their own little empires. Their tiny achievements will seem petty, their feuds and personal agendas odious. He will loom large, making them bold to please God and not men. They will not dither or stammer with the gospel. But aware of their own redemption, they will share His meekness and gentleness, not breaking a bruised reed. They will be quick to serve, quick to bless, quick to repent, and quick to laugh at themselves, for their glory is not in themselves but in Christ. This is the happy integrity found through the lifting up of Christ in the good news of justification by faith alone.”

Published in: on October 11, 2021 at 9:07 PM  Leave a Comment  

Remembering Rev. J. Kortering’s Seminary Years, 1957-60

“Have you been at the seminary on Ivanrest recently? If so, you were greeted by a full-time receptionist. Just to your right, you would have seen an office for the registrar, one of whose duties is the calculating of cumulative grade-point averages and of the regular reporting of them to the students. Going then to your left, you would find yourself in a huge library. Exploring even further, you would find no fewer than five offices for professors—current, retiring, and recently elected.

“Now scroll back, if you will, to Jay Kortering’s seminary years 1957-1960. Classroom—last room on the north side of the west end of the single hall of Adams St. School. Library—non-existent. Registrar—what’s that? Students—one, Jay Kortering. Professors—Rev. H. Hoeksema and, till his incapacitating stroke in 1958, Rev. G.M. Ophoff. After that stroke, it was Revs. G. Vos, H. Hanko, and B. Woudenberg, for Dutch, Church History, and O.T. History, respectively, for one year, till Prof. H.C. Hoeksema arrived on the scene in 1959.

“What did Jay think of Rev. Hoeksema and Rev. Ophoff? In retrospect, he said, “old and tired.” But, also in retrospect, he remembers having much appreciated them both. Concerning Ophoff, for example: “I was pretty happy. We worked hard on Hebrew grammar. He couldn’t keep much straight, but in his old age he could sleep Hebrew, I think. So we worked nicely together—even though he couldn’t ever keep the every-day activities straight. If we had finished a unit, and the next day or so I had to have a test, I had to call him in the morning to remind him that I had a test.”

An internship had no part in Rev. Kortering’s seminary training. But he did have opportunity to bring “words of edification” in the churches during those three years. In the January 19, 1958 bulletin of Hope Church (Grand Rapids), there was this announcement: “The pastor is filling a classical appointment today in Kalamazoo. We welcome to our pulpit Student J. Kortering and Rev. G. Ophoff.” Nothing seems particu-larly noteworthy about that—till one takes note of the date. In January of 1958 student J. Kortering had been in seminary for…one semester.

“Frankly,” said Rev. Kortering years later, “I look back and think that I did not learn really good skills in the seminary training. If I look at the men today, I think, Oh my, oh my. I had nothing. I got caught in the transition.”

“And, thankfully,” he adds, “I made it.”

This excerpt from the memoriam of Rev. Jason Kortering was written by Don Doezema and was published in the October 1, 2021 issue of the Standard Bearer. It was also featured on the blog of the publisher, the RFPA, where you can read the entire article.

I was privileged and blessed to have Rev. Kortering as my pastor twice: once in Hope PRC-Grand Rapids, MI when I was in grade school, and then again in Grandville PRC after my wife and I were married. In spite of (or perhaps because of, in the Lord’s mysterious providence and plan?), his limited seminary training, he was one of the finest preachers and pastors I had. Along with hard work and earnest prayer, pastor Kortering was gifted with a wide and deep heart for God and His people and had such a passionate and compassionate way of delivering the gospel. God used him as a powerful influence in my life, and I remain personally grateful for his ministry.

Published in: on October 2, 2021 at 9:32 PM  Leave a Comment