New Year’s Thoughts: “…Rebellious people who must live in God’s presence.”

Yes, God’s children are rebellious until the day they die. But when they first recognize that Jesus is tugging at them, they know by that tugging that they are rebellious people who must live in God’s presence. Living with God! Above! in the Father’s house! Willingly! In one of the many rooms that Jesus will have already prepared!

But for now they are still living in that hidden Zion, in the house of God that constitutes the church. In sweet communion! Enfolded in that secret fellowship of the redeemed! No longer living along with the world, but dwelling with God!

Yet, how?

In such a way that the Lord of the house could freely throw open all the doors, could dismiss the watchmen, and could loosen all ties to it! But look, if the Lord God did that, as terrible as it is to admit this, then all God’s children who had not yet walked through the gates of death would scamper their way out of God’s holy dwelling and fall into ruin. They know they would!

And just because they know that, and because they find it so horrifying should they lose touch with their God, they don’t say, ‘O my Lord, I love you so much and am so confident of my situation that I know you are capable of overlooking everything and that I will still dwell in your presence!’ No, they say just the opposite: ‘O my God and Father continue to uphold me. Let your watchmen stay alert so that I do not slip away. Don’t loosen the bands of your everlasting love, for things are good only in your presence. Only with you are things wonderful! Glorious! But my own heart would mislead me and my fleshly appetites would kill me. Like a sheep, I have so often wandered off and looked around instead of staying with you as your child. Show me your favor. In your grace, favor me by living in my heart.’

The Savior hears that prayer!

And when he sees that we are rebellious and would like to flee from God but still want to live in fellowship with him, he comes with his reassuring promise:

I have determined for the people’s comfort
that even my conflicted children
will always live near to God [lines from a Dutch hymn].

Then he accomplishes it. He does what he promises. The outcome is that your rebellious soul is still living and keeps on living in the presence of your God.

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.290-91.

This particular meditation (#88 of Volume 1) is titled “Even the Rebellious Live in Your Presence” and is based on Psalm 68:18, “Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them.” The Dutch version (translated) has that last part as, “Yes, even the rebellious live in your presence, O Lord my God,” hence the title that Kuyper gave to the meditation.

Addressing a Generational Crisis: Tabletalk Magazine – October 2019

We are halfway through the month and we ought to introduce the October 2019 issue of Tabletalk, the monthly devotional magazine of Ligonier Ministries.  This month has a striking theme: “From Generation to Generation,” and the featured articles let the old speak to the young and the young to the old. It is a wonderful testimony to the unity of the church of Christ and the continuity of God’s covenant of grace.

Burk Parsons sets the tone and shows the need for this issue with his introduction, “The Divorce of Generations.” Here are some of his opening thoughts:

We are in a crisis, and it is one of the greatest crises we have ever encountered. While the world has always faced this issue in one way or another, the church has only begun to acknowledge the reality of it, and it is growing. This crisis is not merely one involving anti-establishment impulses or anti-tradition feelings that we have observed, off or on, throughout history. Nor is it simply a matter of typical teenage rebellion. Rather, it is a problem that has emerged in some ways in every age bracket.

This crisis, simply put, is the divorce of generations. Younger generations have divorced themselves from older generations, and older generations have all but given up on younger generations. While I am speaking generally, this crisis is the source of numerous other troubles in various contexts—the classroom, the workplace, the home, the state, the church, and the world. For when younger generations seek to sever all ties with older generations, the very fabric of civilization begins to rip apart. When younger men and women reject and repudiate the authority of older men and women, they are walking a path to their own demise.

That is why, in this issue, we have sought to publish articles that speak from generation to generation—from the older generation to the younger generation and from the younger to the older.

And the special articles definitely address this crisis in the church and covenant community. Let me give you a taste from each side, as we hear first from an older saint to a younger, and then the other way around. In Geoff Thomas’ address, he calls the young to “Take Sin Seriously,” pointing out powerfully for our benefit:

See the judgment of sin that fell on the Lord Jesus on Golgotha. What do the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit think of sin? Consider the end of the Son whom God the Father loves. There is no father more loving than the Father and no son more beloved than the Son. Yet, the Son bore our sins in His own body on the cross. The Son of God became the Lamb of God. He who knew no sin was made sin for us. But God the Father did not spare Him. There could not be a gram of compromise as far as sin was concerned. God did not restrain one stroke of His rod of justice in displaying how worthy of condemnation sin is. It pleased the Father to strike Christ dead. The Father lifted up His rod, and Christ took it on Himself—in our place.

All this indicates the seriousness with which God views sin, and how inexpressible is all that God endured in order for pathetic folk like us to be delivered from iniquity. And you can shrug? You can nod and yet carry on sinning in deed and word and attitude and omission?

Unbeliever, Jesus Christ is everything sinners need. He can satisfy all your desires and can snap those mighty chains that attach you to sin. Christian, young and old alike, put to death remaining sin. Strangle it and give it not a breath. Starve it. Refuse to feed it with a single tidbit. Take sin seriously because you take the righteousness and blood of Christ seriously.

And then hear this younger voice from Joe Holland, as he pleads with the older to “be patient with us as we learn”:

But now I come to the hardest part: my request of you.

As the young and old stand on either side of this age gap, one of us must make the first move. I wish I could lay the burden on us both. But the pride, frailty, and instability of youth place us at a woeful disadvantage. Older saint, we need you to make the first move and keep pursuing us. We need you to seek, mentor, disciple, and love the younger Christians in our church. I’m asking you to be patient with younger Christians with a patience such as our Lord Jesus exemplified. When we act in pride, please patiently endure us. When we are slow to listen, please patiently tolerate us. When we are quick to speak, please patiently listen to us with a knowing smile that we’ll one day learn was pity mixed with grace. When we give you the look of resentment and dismissal, please patiently receive that insult and be ready to forgive us. Please patiently correct us, pray for us, and stand with us. If you don’t move first, if you don’t stay near us with a Christlike patience, then this gap will remain between us, to the detriment of us both.

Please, older Christian, be patient with us as we learn.

There is much to profit from in this unique issue. Make a point to read some articles before the month is out. Better yet, seek out an older saint or a younger saint at church and make an effort to listen and to speak. Yes, in that order.

Source: Latest Issue – October 2019

New Books Available for Review – Part 1

I am SO far behind on my book notices for the summer! So , while it is still summer, and I have a little time tonight, I acquaint you with three new titles from Reformation Trust (Ligonier). In the weeks ahead we’ll focus on some from Crossway and Reformation Heritage Books.

The first one is Final Word: Why We Need the Bible by Dr. John MacArthur (2019). This is the third in a series of titles on basic Christian themes (None Other: Discovering the God of the Bible [2017] and Good News: The Gospel of Jesus Christ [2018]). The publisher gives this summary of the latest in the series:

The Bible is under attack on all sides. Unbelievers denounce it as backward, narrow-minded, and intolerant, and even some professing Christians deny its truth to gain approval from the culture. With each assault, we hear echoes of the serpent’s question in the garden of Eden: “Did God really say?” Unfortunately, many believers don’t know how to answer these challenges and find their confidence in God’s Word shaken.

In Final Word: Why We Need the Bible, Dr. John MacArthur defends the trustworthiness of Scripture, with the goal of equipping the church to stand firm for the truth even when others abandon it. Only when God’s people recognize the Bible for what it is—God’s inerrant, authoritative Word—will they be able to fulfill their calling and carry the message of God’s salvation to the world.

In his opening chapter, “the Bible Is Under Attack,” MacArthur says this:

Without a doubt, the ground Satan most vigorously and continuously attacks these days is the trustworthiness of Scripture – its authority, sufficiency, inerrancy, integrity, and perspicuity. The battle for the truth is the battle for the Bible, and in this fight God’s people cannot flinch. Biblical truth is under relentless and endless assault. And like Luther and the heroes of the early Reformation, we must meet the enemy head-on and be willing to stand and fight for the truth, especially when others avoid or even abandon truth when it becomes controversial (p.2).

The other chapters in Final Word are:

  • The Bible Is Truth
  • The Bible Is Authoritative
  • The Bible Is the Catalyst of Spiritual Growth
  • The Bible Is Central to Faithful Ministry
  • The Bible Is Food for the Soul

The next two books cover the sacraments from a Reformed/Presbyterian perspective. Guy M. Richards has penned Baptism: Answers to Common Questions (2019) and Keith A. Mathison has written The Lord’s Supper: Answers to Common Questions (2019). Concerning the former, Reformation Trust gives this description:

When Jesus commanded His followers to go and make disciples of all nations, He instructed them to baptize those disciples in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Since baptism is a central part of life in the church, why has it been controversial and divisive among so many Christians?

In Baptism: Answers to Common Questions, Dr. Guy M. Richard tackles the key questions people have about baptism: What does it mean? Is it necessary for salvation? Who should be baptized, and how should we baptize them? As he searches the Scriptures, Dr. Richard helps us think through what the Bible teaches about baptism and encourages us to deal graciously with our brothers and sisters in Christ even when we disagree.

The author (a PCA minister who is assistant professor of theology at Reformed Theological Seminary in Atlanta) spends many pages on the question of who should be baptized, defending the Reformed position that children of believers ought to be and answering various Baptist arguments against. This is worthwhile material in knowing and defending the historic Reformed and biblical view.

Concerning the second book on the Lord’s Supper, the publisher states this:

As Jesus was celebrating His final Passover meal, He made some bold statements. First, He took the bread and said, “This is my body.” Then He took the cup, saying, “This is my blood.” Next, He commanded the disciples to eat and drink in remembrance of Him.

What did Jesus mean? Do the bread and wine literally become His body and blood? What happens when Christians take the Lord’s Supper?

In The Lord’s Supper: Answers to Common Questions, Dr. Keith A. Mathison walks through these questions and several others to help us better understand this sacrament. Far from being an empty ritual, the Lord’s Supper is a means of grace, a source of spiritual nourishment, and true communion with Christ and His church.

If you want to hear the author give his reasons why he thinks this book will benefit the church and Christians, then watch this video.

If you are interested in reading and reviewing any of these titles, please send me a note. The book is yours to keep – and others will benefit from your reading of it.

Reconciled by Grace – H. Hoeksema

2Cor2-19… be ye reconciled to God. -II Corinthians 5:20

The first part of the marvelous work of salvation to which we now call your attention is that of reconciliation. That we are saved by grace means, first of all, that we are reconciled by grace. In the wondrous work of salvation God reveals Himself as the Reconciler, full of grace and truth, rich in lovingkindness and tender mercies.

…First of all, reconciliation is the restoration of an existing relationship, whether of love, or friendship, partnership, or some other alliance. The actual existence of such a relationship is presupposed in reconciliation. This is true among men. You do not reconcile strangers. There is no bond between them; there never was; and, therefore, no bond between them can be restored. One may speak of reconciling man and wife, between whom exists the sacred bond of matrimony, when they drifted apart for some reason; or of the reconciliation of friends that are at variance for a time; or of the servant to his master, or the subject to his king. Always a relation or bond of friendship and love is understood. The same is true of God’s work of reconciliation. It presupposes the eternal covenant relation of love and friendship into which God entered with His people, a relation that is rooted in His eternal purpose of election. That covenant relation can never be destroyed for the simple reason that it rests wholly in God. God loves His people with an eternal, unchangeable love. He never ceases to love them. No matter what they may do or become, He still loves them. Though their sins be as scarlet, and though they be red as crimson, He loves them still, and will restore them to His favor and fellowship. He may be angry with His people in righteous wrath for a moment, but even in His anger He loves them. He is like a husband that loves and remains faithful to his wife, no matter how often she may play the adulteress; or like the father who, no matter how grievously his son may sin against him, still loves that son and will receive him whenever he may return. If this were not so, how could God be the Reconciler? Reconciliation is an act of infinite love, of unlimited grace, of abundant mercy. God loved His people when they were enemies. Reconciliation presupposes the eternal covenant relation of God with His people that rests in God, the I Am, the Faithful and True!

Secondly, reconciliation implies that the parties to be reconciled are at variance through some fault on the part of either or of both parties. The relationship is disturbed for a time. It cannot properly function because something intervened that makes the exercise of friendship and love impossible. There is separation. One of the parties in the matrimonial covenant was unfaithful, committed adultery; the son sinned against his father and lives in that sin; the friend offended his friend. The same is true of the relationship between God and His people. He created them in His image and took them into His blessed covenant in Adam. For Adam was the friend of God, clothed with righteousness, the object of God’s favor. He knew his God and was known of Him. He loved his God and was loved by Him. He walked and talked with God and was blessed by Him. But in and through Adam the whole human race, and with the human race God’s own elect, violated the covenant relationship. They sinned and became guilty, the objects of God’s righteous wrath, foolish and corrupt, enemies of God. And as they are in their sin and death, they cannot be and function as God’s covenant friends. Because of sin they are alienated, and they have forfeited the right to God’s favor and love. The covenant relationship has been violated and disturbed. God is terribly angry with His people in their sin, and they are in themselves worthy of death and damnation!

Thirdly, if the disrupted relationship of friendship and love is to be restored, the cause of the disruption must be removed. Among men this may take place through repentance and confession on the part of the party that had offended, and by the promise on his part henceforth to be faithful to the relationship that was violated, and through forgiveness on the part of the one that was offended. An adulterous wife may return to her husband in heartfelt sorrow, and be received by him; and if the woman gives proof of her repentance and renewed faithfulness, the reconciliation is accomplished. The prodigal son returns to his father in dust and ashes, confesses his sin and unworthiness, and his father restores him to his place in the home. But with God this is different. He cannot deny Himself. He cannot permit His holy law to be trampled under foot with impunity. He cannot simply forgive and forget. If the sinner’s relation to Him is to be restored, the cause of the separation must actually be removed, so that it is no more. But how can sin be removed? How can the guilt of sin be blotted out? How can the guilty become righteous? How can the object of God’s wrath be restored to His favor? There is one, and only one way: that of perfect satisfaction! The sinner must atone for his sin. And atonement for sin consists in perfectly satisfying the justice of God!

But of what does this atonement consist? What can so satisfy the justice of God that the sinner’s guilt is blotted out and that he is declared righteous before God? Again, there is only one answer: the sinner must freely, voluntarily, motivated by the love of God and true sorrow for his sin, bear the punishment of sin, eternal death! Mark you well, he must not merely bear the punishment and suffer eternal death, he must do so willingly; the bearing of the punishment must be an act of all his soul, and mind, and will, and heart, and strength.

…Now it is at once evident that the mere sinner can never do this. As far as he is concerned, the case is hopeless. No good works, supposing that he could perform them, will ever atone for his sin: for he is obliged to do them in the first place; and as no man can pay a back debt by paying his current bills, so man cannot atone by doing good works. But the case with the sinner is much worse. He is dead in sin. He cannot do any good before God. He stands in enmity against God, and his nature is so corrupt that he loves the darkness rather than light. He is not at all concerned about the righteousness of God. How then could he possibly bring the sacrifice that would atone for his sin? Even if he would, he could not possibly bear the punishment of eternal death, and finish it, so that he would live. But he will not seek God. He does not care to be reconciled with God. It is clear then that his case is hopeless, and that, if he must reconcile himself to God, he will never be restored to God’s favor. Reconciliation cannot be of man; it must be of God. It cannot be by works; it must be by grace!

And this is exactly the wonder of reconciliation: God reconciled us unto Himself while we were yet sinners! God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself. Never change this truth into something different. Never say that Christ reconciled God to us, and us to God. That would make of Christ a third party between God and us. And although it is certainly true that Christ in His human nature is the Mediator of God and man, this Mediator is entirely of God! Nay, He is God Himself, the Son of God, begotten of the Father eternally, Who is eternally in the Father’s bosom, God of God in human flesh! In Him the strong arm of the God of our salvation reaches down into our death, in order to remove the cause of our estrangement from Him, and to restore and raise to a higher, heavenly, eternal level the covenant of friendship between Him and us.

That is the meaning of the cross: God reconciled us to Himself through the death of His Son! There God was reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them. There God Himself, through His Son in the flesh, satisfied His own justice. The Son of God brought the sacrifice that was required to blot out the guilt of sin and to clothe us with an everlasting righteousness. He could do so, because He was the holy child Jesus, the Lamb without blemish, and the zeal of God’s house consumed Him. He could and did willingIy, from the motive of the love of God, descend into lowest hell, to suffer the punishment of sin, to bear the wrath of God to the very end. He stood in the place of judgment, and on Him all the vials of God’s wrath against sin were poured out. And when He cried out, “It is finished!” He had completed His sacrifice, removed sin, obtained righteousness, a fact which God sealed when He raised Him from the dead. And He was able to bring this sacrifice as an atonement for the sin of all His people. For God had appointed Him to be the head of His church, representing them. For them He died. And, because it is not mere man, but the Son of God Who died on the cross, His death is abundantly sufficient to blot out the guilt of all His own!

And so the gospel is the ministry of reconciliation. It proclaims that reconciliation is an accomplished fact: the elect are surely reconciled to God. He reconciled us! We are reconciled by grace, by pure, free, sovereign grace! And it is He, too, Who sends out the word of reconciliation. For He gave unto the apostles the ministry of reconciliation, and put the very word of reconciliation in their very hearts, so that they had the power and authority to speak in the name of God the Reconciler, and so that they became ambassadors of Christ, as though God did beseech us by them: “Be ye reconciled to God!” (II Corinthians 5: 18-20) This word of reconciliation is still proclaimed among us, from the Scriptures, and through His own ministry of the Word by the preachers He Himself sends unto us.

Be ye reconciled to God!

wonderofgrace-hhTaken from chapter chapter 3, “Reconciled by Grace,” in The Wonder of Grace by Herman Hoeksema (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1944), pp.26-33. This work has now been republished by the Reformed Free Publishing Association.

A Word to Fathers on Father’s Day


On this Sabbath Day, in which we give special remembrance to the calling and blessing of fathers, I call your attention to the Word of God in Psalm 103:13:  “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.”  This verse from the holy Scriptures goes right to the heart of what it means to be a father.  It expresses it in one word:  pity.  A father pities his children.

…Now, that truth of Jehovah’s fatherly pity must be seen in a Christian father.  For the pattern of all of our life is to be holy as God is holy, that is, to pattern our life after God.  For instance, in marriage we must live as God lives with His bride, the church.  Therefore, as fathers, we must seek to conform our earthly parenting and fathering to His heavenly fathering and parenting.  God says, “I have shown My pity to you as My son.  I am your perfect example.  As I have pitied, so you are to pity your children.”  You must cultivate a relationship with your children in which you seek to reflect the fatherly pity of God.

Yes, that means for sure that as a father you are called to meet their earthly needs.  You are to fill their bellies.  You are to clothe their backs.  You are to put a roof over their heads.  And, yes, leave them an inheritance.  But what a horrible thing if that is what fathering means to you—if it is nothing more than that—if you do not prayerfully create a climate of spiritual warmth in your home, of tenderness and pity and affection for your child.  You must be as God, filled with tender pity and affection and compassion in Christ for your child.  Do not say, “Oh, that pity stuff is for wimps.”  Oh, no.  As a father you are to reveal the pity of God.  That means that you must not allow coldness, distance, ill-will, resentment to be the atmosphere of your home.  If you allow that to be the atmosphere of your home between you and your child, if you are guilty of those things, if you are guilty of the abuse of your child, if you are guilty of harboring resentments and ill-will and distance and coldness toward them, you are being ungodly.  You are not as God!

This is the question with which we must confront ourselves as Christian fathers today:  Would you want God to be the kind of parent to you that you are to your children?  Fathers, you and I are confronted by that question today in God’s Word.  Would you want your children to conceive of God’s heart as they conceive of your heart?  That is serious business.  You say, “I never thought about that when I got married.  I never thought about that when I started to have children.  You mean to say to me, pastor, that all of my child’s concepts of God are also to be based upon what they see in me as a father?”  I answer you, “Yes.  That is the teaching of God’s Word.”  That is why we tremble.  That is why we need to be on our knees before God.  That is why we need the holy Scriptures.  That is why we need the faithful church of Jesus Christ to instruct us.  And that is why we need one another in the house of the Lord.  We must work together as men of God, that we might be fathers in Christ.

That is why you need, as a man of God, a husband, father, to know more of your God—more and more of Him.  What will our children think of their heavenly Father?  Much of the answer is to be found in you, especially in those formative, pre-school years.  Oh, we are not perfect.  That is why repentance is so necessary in our lives before our children.  But, you see, if we resent those children; if in our frustration we slap them across the face; if we do not use wise, consistent, biblical discipline applied to the seat of their pants; if instead we rant and we yell and we call them names and we have no time for our kids — if that is the way we go about things and brush it off as insignificant and we go on in those patterns of life, then we are being ungodly.  What will that little boy, that little girl, think when you teach them to fold their hands and pray, “Our Father who art in heaven”?  How will they have the courage to look to heaven and believe that they are precious to their heavenly Father?  That means that you must rear your child conscientiously, principally, from the Word of God.  You must seek to be conformed to the pattern of your heavenly Father.

Taken from the message, “A Father’s Pity,” based on Psalm 103:13 and delivered on the Reformed Witness Hour program for June 15, 2014 by Rev. Carl Haak. You may find the audio version here.

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.”

“By Grace Alone” – A Blessed Summary Song of the Five Points of Calvinism


Tonight the teachers and students of Heritage Christian School (where we have several grandchildren) gave a marvelous program of music and readings (Scripture and Reformed confessions) centered on the theme TULIP, the Five Points of Calvinism.

While all the songs were fitting, there was one that stood out, perhaps in part because the lyrics were new to me and also because they so completely captured the doctrines of grace, as we often call them. The title of the song is “By Grace Alone,” and it was sung to the tune “Melita,” (also known as the “Navy hymn”) perhaps most commonly known as the hymn “Almighty Father, Strong to Save,” but also found in the PRC Psalter (#232 – “Expectancy of Grace” – based on Psalm 85).

I found the words on several websites; one said the author is unknown, while another gave as the author Rev. Paul Treick. If someone can help sort that out, it would be appreciated. UPDATE: Rev. Paul Treick has left a comment and confirmed that he is the author is this song. Thank you – and thank you for the precious song! (August 2021)

While the 5th and 6th grade-choir did not sing all of the stanzas of “By Grace Alone”, I post them here in complete form. You will readily see why they so faithfully present the truths of Calvinism.

By Grace Alone author unknown

Thou art our God, and we thy race
Elected by thy sovereign grace.
Not by the works which we have done
But by the cross our vict’ry’s won,
Oh keep this truth within my heart,
That from it I may ne’er depart.

By nature we depraved did dwell
Under thy curse–deserving hell–
Sinful, corrupt in every part,
Not one pure motive in our heart.
Hadst thou not looked on us in grace,
We would remain a perished race.

In love eternal thou did chose
To save thy sheep; their bonds to loose,
No good did we within us have
To claim thy gracious plan to save.
Elected by thy grace alone;
Holy to stand before thy throne.

Incarnate did thy Son appear–
A sacrifice–a Lamb most pure;
To make atonement for his sheep
And perfectly thy will to keep.
Now cleansed from sin and righteous, we
Are sons and heirs eternally!

The blood of Christ by grace supplied
Was by thy Spirit’s pow’r applied.
Thy Spirit we could not resist,
Who breathed new life into our breast.
Our souls alive, which once were dead,
Sing praise to Christ, the Lord, our Head!

With all thy saints we are preserved
To enter heav’n–a place reserved.
Secure we’re kept within thy care,
Lest we be lost to Satan’s snare.
Oh Sovereign God, all praise to thee
For our salvation, full and free!

This hymn of thanks, Oh Lord we bring;
For by thy grace alone we sing.
Employ our lives in every sphere,
Thy law to keep; thy Name to fear,
“By grace alone”–this doctrine pure–
Our only comfort doth secure.

Review Copy: The Affectionate Theology of Richard Sibbes – Mark Dever

Another new title from Reformation Trust (book publishing arm of Ligonier Ministries) that I recently received for review is the latest in the series “A Long Line of Godly Men.” This particular volume is by pastor and author Mark Dever (Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, D.C.) and titled The Affectionate Theology of Richard Sibbes (2018; 192pp. hardcover).

The publisher gives this brief summary on its website:

In a time of political turmoil and religious upheaval, Richard Sibbes sought to consistently apply the riches of Reformation theology to his hearers’ lives. He emphasized the security of God’s covenant, the call for assurance of salvation, and the place of the heart in the Christian life. In The Affectionate Theology of Richard Sibbes, Dr. Mark Dever gives readers a penetrating look into the life and theology of this fascinating figure.

This book is part of the Long Line of Godly Men Profile series edited by Dr. Steven J. Lawson, which includes biographies on such people as John CalvinJonathan EdwardsJohn KnoxMartyn Lloyd-JonesMartin LutherJohn OwenCharles SpurgeonWilliam TyndaleIsaac Watts, and George Whitefield. The complete set is also available.

As for contents, the chapter titles are as follows:

  1. Introduction
  2. Formative Context
  3. Sibbes and Conformity
  4. The Contentious Age
  5. Predestination, Covenant, and Conversion
  6. The Centrality of the Heart
  7. Assurance of Salvation
  8. The Role of Conscience
  9. Postscript: The Significance of Sibbes for Puritan Studies

As you will see, there are typical Puritan theology subjects treated here, but also a significant chapter on Sibbes’ teaching on election and reprobation, covenant theology, and conversion – always relevant matters to Reformed Christians.

Also on the website linked below you can read a sample chapter.

If you are interested in reviewing this work for the Standard Bearer or for the PR Theological Journal, let me know and the book is yours.

Source: The Affectionate Theology of Richard Sibbes: Mark Dever – Hardcover, Book | Ligonier Ministries Store

Published in: on September 12, 2018 at 11:08 PM  Leave a Comment  

The Law’s Function in the Covenant – Rev. R. Hanko

We have shown from Galatians 3:17-21 that the law was given as part of the covenant of God and that it still remains part of the covenant. This is to say, of course, that the law and grace are not against each other. The law is not against the covenant or its promises (v.21). We have also shown that in the covenant the law has the function, first, of discovering sin (vv.19,24). With this few would disagree.

But that is not the only function of the law as ‘the book of the covenant’ (Ex.24:7). In the covenant the law also functions as a guide for the thankful obedience that Christians are called to live as God’s covenant people.

Because of this function of the law, the believer calls the law ‘a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path’ (Psalm 119:105; Prov.6:23). It is a sure and safe guide along life’s pathway.

For this reason the law is also called ‘the perfect law of liberty’ and ‘the royal law’ (James 1:25; James 2:8,12). This royal law is not a new law but the ten commandments, as we see from James 2:8,11. As the royal law of liberty, given by the King of kings, it defines and sets boundaries to our liberty, thus keeping our liberty in Christ from becoming licentiousness (Gal.5:13,14).

…It is the law, therefore, that gives structure and order to the life of God’s covenant people. It defines their relationship to him so that he is glorified by their life. The law is able to do this because it reveals the nature and attributes of God and so shows us the nature of a God-glorifying life.

The law does not bring men into a covenant relationship with God, nor does it give the necessary grace to live a God-glorifying life. This they have from Christ (Gal.3:24). Nevertheless, it is still the book of the covenant, revealing how God’s covenant people may please him and be thankful to him, in word as well as in deed.

This is not to deny, however, that the believer’s relationship to the law has been changed by the coming of Christ. He is no longer under the law but under grace.

doctrine-godliness-rhanko-2004Quoted from Doctrine according to Godliness: A Primer of Reformed Doctrine by Rev. Ronald Hanko (Reformed Free Publishing Association, 2004), pp.177-78. This is a section of “Part 4: The Covenant and Salvation”, where Hanko treats the doctrine of salvation (soteriology), doing so in connection with the covenant of grace.

Covenant Christian High Turns 50


This year Covenant Christian High School in Grand Rapids, MI turns 50 (1968-2018) and this weekend the covenant community behind the school (mainly Protestant Reformed parents and grandparents) will celebrate. Being a graduate of this blessed institution (Class of 1976!), I am personally grateful for the Christian secondary education I received from our godly teachers.

A special program is planned for this evening (Friday, April 27) at Fair Haven Church in Hudsonville, MI, beginning at 7:00 p.m. Tomorrow (Saturday, April 28) there will be an open house at the school from 1:00-5:00 p.m. We hope you are planning to attend these significant events!


A special edition of the “Covenant Courier” has been published, which highlights the history and the development of the school during these 50 years of existence. On Covenant CHS’s website you will find a link to this entire issue (also provided above).



And on Covenant’s website you will also find a link to an online album of pictures of life and labor at CHHS by the decades. That makes for great memories, besides being quite entertaining! Did we really look that bad in the ’70s?!

The above photos are taken from the Fifteenth anniversary booklet of CCHS (1968-1983), a copy of which is found in the PRC archives and in our seminary library’s vertical files. The first photo marks the laying of the “date stone” on April 20, 1968, which includes “a small copper box containing many items of historical interest on how the society and building originated” (p.6). The second photo shows Rev. John Heys giving a speech on Psalm 103:17,18 at this ceremony.

We join with Covenant’s community in thanking our faithful God for providing and preserving this important Christian school for 50 years. May He continue to bless it and use it in the formation of covenant young people.