Salt and Light in This World: Maintaining Our Distinctiveness | July 2022 Tabletalk

The July issue of Tabletalk focuses on the theme of the believer’s calling to be salt and light (Matt.5:13-16). Multiple articles address this theme from various perspectives, including that idea we know as the antithesis – the call to be spiritually separate and distinct from the world about us. Two articles speak to this, the first of which I reference here – Tom Ascol’s “Maintaining Our Distinctiveness.” He has good comments, particularly about the church’s corporate witness to the world with regard to sin.

Here is part of what he writes; find the rest at the link provided, as well as the other articles in this edifying issue.

“At the heart of this responsibility is our duty to live as faithful children of God who accurately commend His saving grace in Christ and reflect His character to the world. “As he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’ ” (1 Peter 1:15–16). This is every individual Christian’s calling, and it is the calling of every church.

“In fact, all the Scriptures cited above are in the plural. The call to holiness belongs not only to individual believers but also to local congregations. When a church fails to fulfill this calling, it undermines the very good news of salvation that it proclaims and dishonors the name of Jesus Christ.

“The church in Corinth learned this the hard way when it allowed scandalous sin to go uncorrected in its membership. Its spiritual apathy about the Lord’s reputation brought an Apostolic rebuke:

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. (1 Cor. 5:1–2)

“The Corinthian believers undoubtedly thought they were being loving and nonjudgmental in the presence of this scandalous sin among their members. They were proud of their tolerance when they should have been grieved over the outbreak of such sin among them. In the rest of the chapter, Paul corrects their faulty thinking about sin, tolerance, and holiness.

“When a church tolerates unrepentant sin within its membership, it demonstrates a lack of love for the one who is sinning, for the unconverted, and for God.

A church is the context in which individual Christians are taught, strengthened, and encouraged to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ. Brothers and sisters who know and love us help us overcome the inevitable idiosyncrasies that attend every believer, as well as resist the regular temptations that plague us all. They help us live in faith and repentance.

“When this kind of mutual care and encouragement is commonplace in a church, the power of the gospel is put on display to unbelievers. The truth of our message is given credibility by the character of our lives, thus providing a powerful apologetic for the gospel.”

Source: Maintaining Our Distinctiveness | Tabletalk

Published in: on July 23, 2022 at 10:15 PM  Leave a Comment  

PRC Archives Feature – Photo Fun

It has been some time since we posted a PRC archives item, so today let’s take some time to enjoy a new photo that I just received last evening.

A friend (I will leave her name out since it may tip you off) gave me this photo in a bag of miscellaneous items at Prof. D. Kuiper’s PRC History class last evening. It is a picture I have not seen previously and that we did not have for our archives. Clearly it relates to radio work, so that is your tip. I believe the man on the left will be an easy guess for some of you. But that man on the right… (I have a name on the back!), well, you just have fun with that.

And then the location of this recording session too. I have my guess, but it may be wrong. Let’s see how you do and what kind of help we get.

Happy Thursday – PRC archives day!

And, by the way, I have been setting up a PRC archives table at Prof. Kuiper’s PRC history class at SW-PRC (Wyoming, MI). On display I have had related books, pamphlets, documents, and pictures. If you haven’t joined us yet, please do on August 10,17, and 24 – the three remaining classes!

If you have missed the first three, visit the link to our YouTube channel and watch them at your convenience.

Published in: on July 21, 2022 at 9:55 AM  Leave a Comment  

The Bookshelf: You Could Look It Up – The Value of Reference Works

See the source image

This interesting and instructive article passed through my emails this week, “The Bookshelf” being a regular feature of Public Discourse (an organization that publishes many profitable articles online, mostly from a conservative Roman Catholic perspective, though there are Protestants who write also).

In this ode to reference works, the author extols the virtues and value of these special books often viewed as relics of the past. But, as he demonstrates, they have continued significance, and ought to be preserved and used by today’s serious-minded reader.

I give you Franck’s opening paragraphs, encouraging you to use the link below to read the rest. You will be profited.

As far back as I can remember, my childhood home had an Encyclopedia Britannica, a late 1950s revision of its fourteenth edition, which came in its own wooden two-shelf bookcase, with a deep slot in the back that held a massive atlas. My siblings and I all used it when working on our homework, and it was a ready resource for idle browsing when one was bored or hadn’t decided what book to read next.

I suppose Britannica began my fondness for reference books—that and the Random House Dictionary my parents bought when it came out in 1966. I now have that dictionary, though the Britannica I rather sorrowfully let go after my parents passed away. In my home office today, I have one bookcase mostly filled with reference books of various descriptions—on language, history, philosophy, religion, law, and politics.

Why bother with the books? Can’t we just look up everything online nowadays, thanks to Google and Wikipedia? Not really—or perhaps not just yet—in part thanks to copyrights and paywalls. Google and other search engines often yield bizarre results, requiring the exercise of some prior knowledge and judgment to tell the wheat from the chaff. And Wikipedia, which I use frequently, is difficult to trust on anything beyond bare facts (and even those are sometimes wrong). If you want to know the date of the battle of Blenheim, fine. But if you want a reliable understanding of the War of the Spanish Succession of which it was a part, not so much. For that I would turn to the brief entry in George C. Kohn’s Dictionary of Wars. For non-paywalled online resources on specific subjects, the one that comes most readily to mind for exceeding its print rivals in expertise and comprehensiveness is the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. But in general I still find reference books hard to beat.

Source: The Bookshelf: You Could Look It Up – Public Discourse

Published in: on July 16, 2022 at 6:46 AM  Leave a Comment  

How Can We Become Better Listeners to Sermons?

“When Paul preached in Berea, Luke describes their response this way: ‘They received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so’ (Acts 17:11).

“There is a duty to preach well and there is a duty to listen well. For this reason, I sometimes pray publicly before the sermon the words found in the collection of the martyr Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556) for the second Sunday of Advent:

Blessed Lord, which hast caused all holy Scripture to be written for our learning: grant us that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them; that by patience and comfort of thy holy word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our savior, Jesus Christ.

“To rightly read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest, we must be good listeners. ..Nothing is more encouraging to a preacher than to see all eyes looking in his direction and a stillness in which one can hear the proverbial pin drop.

“How can we become better listeners to sermons? Allow me to make some suggestions.

“Listen with an expectation that God is addressing you. He will be teaching you and correcting you. Peter exhorts preachers in the early church to preach with authority: ‘Whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God’ (1 Peter 4:11). Equally, listeners should listen in a manner that suggests God is speaking through this sermon. ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant hears” (1 Samuel 3:9-10).

Listen intelligently. The Bereans checked whether what was said was in accord with their general understanding of the rest of Scripture. That does not imply an overly critical spirit. Rather, it suggests a mind that is active, concentrating on what is being said, following the thought process from one sentence to the next. It is helps, take notes for consideration again at a later time. Most importantly, listen to see if what is being said actually comes out of the text.

Listen for the ‘so what’ aspect of the sermon. As James exhorts, ‘Be doers of the word, and not hearers only’ (James 1:22). Remember that Jesus warns of those who hear the Word but immediately forget it. The seed sown in good soil ‘are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience’ (Luke 8:15).”

Taken from the new book by Derek W. H. Thomas, Let Us Worship: Why We Worship the Way We Do (Ligonier Ministries, 2021), pp.58-59.

As we prepare the hear God’s Word proclaimed again tomorrow, may we have that humble and diligent spirit of the Bereans – eager to listen and careful to digest.

Published in: on July 9, 2022 at 10:11 PM  Leave a Comment