PRC/RWH Archives – H. Hoeksema Christmas Message, December 23, 1945

The Reformed Witness Hour is a special radio ministry of First PRC in Grand Rapids, MI and supported broadly by the Protestant Reformed Churches in America. This past October, the RWH program celebrated its 75th anniversary (1941-2016).

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In the early years of the program, the RWH messages were recorded on glass records, which had been stored for years in First PRC (the images here are of some we have saved in the archives room – from the Dutch version of the RWH program used in the 40s and 50s).

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While we do have copies of the printed form of all the old RWH messages (in the PRC archives and in the Seminary library – cf. the image of the first page of HH’s message featured here), we do not have all the audio recordings, partly because the early ones were in this glass record form.

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A few years back, we sold the equipment that played these records but asked the buyer to help us convert these recordings to CDs. He has been working (slowly) to clean the records, restore them, and convert them.

hh-oldLast night at our RWH Committee meeting we had in hand the first sample of his efforts. And we believe we have been richly rewarded. The recording is amazingly clear and crisp. This first preserved audio message from the glass records is a message by Herman Hoeksema dated December 23, 1945. It is titled “The Meaning of Bethlehem” and is based on Luke 2:11.

I have uploaded the file and posted it on the PRC website under the audio sermons. You may find it here (as well as at the link with the title above). Enjoy and be edified by this part of our RWH history – newly preserved!

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God is the Lord: Implication #2 – H. Hoeksema

Knowing-God-and-Man -HHAnd here is implication #2 (see previous post) from Herman Hoeksema’s Oct.26, 1941 radio message broadcast on the Reformed Witness Hour, “God is the Lord”, treating the absolute Lordship (sovereignty) of God.

As we live in the conscious faith that God is the Lord, a second practical implication of his lordship is that we will be without fear and terror in the world, because we will live the tranquil assurance that all things must ‘work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose’ (Rom.8:28).

The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who manifested his love toward us in  the death of his Son and who surely will give us all things with him, is the Lord of all. He holds the reins. Whatever happens, he will surely save his church. As the church makes her voyage across the seas of the centuries, tempests may rage furiously, and the waves may rise mountain high, but we know that our God is Lord of the tempest and that the waves must do his bidding. In the world we may have to suffer tribulation, but God is the Lord of the tribulation, and we may even glory in it. The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us.

Therefore, we will not be afraid

Though hills amidst the sea be cast,
Though foaming waters roar,
Yea, though the mighty billows shake
The mountains on the shore.
(versification of Psalm 46:2,3 [from PRC Psalter])

Nor will we fear though the nations rage furiously, and though we hear of wars and rumors of wars; yes, though all hell break loose and all the powers of darkness set themselves against us, we will not be afraid but be of good cheer, for we know that we have a covenant with the only potentate and that we are of the party of the living God, who only does wondrous things. The Lord of hosts is his name (p.31-32 in Knowing God & Man, RFPA, 2006)

God is the Lord: Implication #1 – H. Hoeksema

In connection with the 75th anniversary of the Reformed Witness Hour this year (1941-2016), we have been posting some excerpts from various messages delivered on the program in the past, especially from the first series delivered by Herman Hoeksema, when he was pastor of First PRC in Grand Rapids, MI.

The third message to be broadcast on the RWH (“The Protestant Reformed Hour” as it was initially called) was “God is the Lord”, based on Deut.4:35 (“Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the LORD he is God; there is none else beside him.”).

Knowing-God-and-Man -HHBesides being published in individual leaflet form, this early message was later published by the RFPA in book form, along with the other messages in this series on the doctrine of God and another on the doctrine of man that followed it. That book is titled Knowing God & Man (Reformed Free Publishing Association, 2006).

Today we quote from the end of this radio message, where Hoeksema is giving two practical implications of the absolute Lordship (sovereignty) of God. Here is the first one (slightly edited):

First, if through the grace of the Lord Jesus we have been called out of darkness into his marvelous light, so that we again confess this lordship of the Most High, we will acknowledge him as our Lord in every department of life and have our delight in doing his will. Always and everywhere we will ask, ‘Lord, what will thou have us do?’

Thus by faith we will fight the good fight of faith so that we may be doers of the word. We will acknowledge him as Lord in our personal lives and ask for grace that we may walk as children of light, crucify our old natures, and walk in new and holy paths. We will ask for his will and for grace to do that will in our home life in the relationship of man and wife, of parent and child. We will insist that he be Lord in the schools where our children are instructed, so that they may be thoroughly furnished for every good work. We will confess that God is Lord in the spheres of industry and commerce, over the relationship of employer and employee.

In the church and in society, in the shop and in the office, in the home and on the street, in the city and in the state, always and everywhere, it shall be our earnest desire and endeavor to walk according to the confession that God is the Lord (p.31).

Reformation Day 2016: Luther’s Conversion and “Ein Feste Burg”

MLutherThe following is a reblog from my Oct.27, 2010 post on Martin Luther’s conversion, in his own words and in connection with his personal study of Romans 1:17. To that post I have added a video of some good Reformation music. Soli De Gloria!

From the website “Reformation Theology” comes this quote (also found in Roland Bainton’s classic biography of M.Luther, Here I Stand) in which Luther himself describes how he came to see the true gospel of sovereign grace, particularly the truth of justification by faith alone. As we reflect on the wonder of salvation that God works by His grace alone in Christ alone through faith alone, may we glory in the God who showed this truth to this humble servant and who restored it to the church in the 16th century. CJT

 

In the last 1,000 years, what came to be known as “the Tower Experience” of Martin Luther might well be the most significant event in the western world for all the ramifications which ensued. Here are Luther’s own words as he describes what happened as he was studying Romans 1:17 (and reading the insights of Augustine on this verse from a fairly obscure article he had written centuries before)- “For in it (the gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” – Rom 1:17

“I greatly longed to understand Paul’s epistle to the Romans and nothing stood in the way but that one expression “the righteousness of God,” because I took it to mean that righteousness whereby God is just and deals justly in punishing the unjust.

My situation was that, although an impeccable monk, I stood before God as a sinner troubled in conscience, and I had no confidence that my merit would assuage Him. Therefore I did not love a just angry God, but rather hated and murmured against Him. Yet I clung to the dear Paul and had a great yearning to know what he meant.

Night and day I pondered until I saw the connection between the righteousness of God and the statement that “the just shall live by faith.” Then I grasped that the righteousness of God is that righteousness by which through grace and sheer mercy God justifies us through faith. Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise. The whole of Scripture took on a new meaning, and whereas before “the righteousness of God” had filled me with hate, now it became to me inexpressibly sweet in greater love. This passage of Paul became to me a gate to heaven…” – Martin Luther

Our second Luther element today is a version of his classic “A Mighty Fortress”, sometimes also called “The Battle Hymn of the Reformation.” This arrangement is sung by the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge.

“On God our salvation must depend.” Peter M. Vermigli

ref-comm-scripture-romans-2016In the recently published Romans 9-16 commentary (New Testament VIII) in the series “Reformation Commentary on Scripture” (IVP Academic, 2016), the Italian Reformer Peter Martyr Vermigli is quoted (from his own commentary on Romans) in connection with Romans 11:1-4.

In a section headed with “God Causes, Enables and Completes Our Salvation,” this is what Vermigli states (slightly edited):

This should not be understood as simple knowledge, for even those who are damned are not hidden from God. Instead this knowledge has a connection with approval. And they are said to have been foreknown who have been received by God and whom he has separated from the rest as his people whom he will save. For this reason Augustine in his book On the Gift of Perseverance alters this verb ‘he has foreknown’ to ‘he has predestined.’

Those who want election to be dependent on foreseen works say that those whom God foreknew would believe and live godly lives are picked out. But these ideas have been refuted at length above, so instead let us hold the opposite understanding. We believe therefore that we accept God’s truth and live godly lives because we have been chosen, and not that we have been chosen because we will believe.

On God our salvation must depend; it does not even have its beginning from us. Christ said (as it is written in John): ‘Those you have given to me I have not lost.’ That is, if they do not hear me, if they perish, they are not those whom you have given me.

Learning from John Wycliffe: an Interview with Douglas Bond – Redeemed Reader

In connection with some suggested Reformation reading books for children earlier this month, I referenced church history teacher/writer Douglas Bond’s novel on John Knox titled The Thunder.

the-revolt-dbond-2016But his newest one is actually on a pre-Reformer – John Wycliffe. It’s title is The Revolt: a Novel in Wycliffe’s England (P&R, 2016; for teens 12-15), a book reviewed here on the Redeemed Reader website. The publisher gives this brief summary of the book:

As a secretary at the battle of Crécy, Hugh West’all has come close to death many times in his short career. But when he leaves the war behind to enter the stone halls of Oxford, he meets John of Wycliffe and soon embarks on a mission even more exciting—and perhaps just as dangerous. Using his scribe’s quill to translate the Bible into English, the language of the common people, Hugh begins to understand the beauty of the gospel as never before. But he and his friends are not safe. The corrupt and decadent church is planning to choke Wycliffe’s translation and silence him forever.

Since the Reformation began with the “revolt” of returning to the Word of God because the Bible had been returned to the people of God through its being translated anew into their languages, – including already by Wycliffe in the 14th century – it is worthwhile looking at this important pre-Reformation figure.

Redeemed Reader recently did an interview with the author on his new book on Wycliffe, including some thoughts on his translation work. From that section we post a few lines today as well.  Find the full text of the interview at the link below.

RR: You mention Bohemian scholars getting involved in Wycliffe’s translation work.  Were other scholars in Christendom becoming interested in Bible translation at this time, or was Wycliffe a true pioneer?

DB: Very good question. Wycliffe certainly was a pioneer in Bible translation, one of the greatest, but others had gone before him, even as far back as Patrick in Ireland who was translating parts of the Bible into Old Irish so he could communicate the gospel of Jesus to the tribes in Ireland, and the Venerable Bede in eight-century England was translating parts of Scripture into Anglo-Saxon even on his deathbed (see Hand of Vengeance). So there is a long history of God raising up scholars, evangelists, pastors, missionaries who were passionate about getting the Word of God in the language of the people.

But there is a great irony here. The established (Roman Catholic) church had created Latin into a sacred language and used it as a barrier to keep the people from hearing the Word of God in their own language.  The constructed doctrine of papal supremacy–that the pope interprets what the Bible says and tells you what it means—made it heretical and unnecessary for you to read the Bible in your own language. But here’s the Spirit’s ironic touché: Latin actually served to unite scholars and students from all over Europe. A student could go from Bohemia or any other language group in Europe to study in Oxford and you didn’t have to sit in a cubicle for months with headphones on doing language training. No need to learn Middle English for the Bohemian student or any other. You showed up day one for lectures and tutorials delivered all in Latin. Wycliffe exploited this and created a conduit for vernacular Bible translation all over Europe, really, all over the world. That’s my kind of hero.

Source: Learning from John Wycliffe: an Interview with Douglas Bond – Redeemed Reader

Luther and the Church – Rev. M. McGeown

sb-oct-2016-lutherWe return today to the annual special Reformation issue of the Standard Bearer (October 15, 2016).  This year’s special issue is entirely devoted to “Martin Luther, Reformer Convicted by Scripture.”

 

One of the articles focuses on Luther’s doctrine of the church. In “Luther and the Church” Rev. Martyn McGeown (missionary-pastor laboring in Limerick, Ireland) summarizes Luther’s ecclesiology, while recognizing that he was not a systematizer like Calvin.

For example, McGeown says this about Luther’s view of the unity of the church:

Luther did not deny, or even attack (as his opponents alleged) the unity of the church. Luther never intended to create a second church to rival the Roman church. Luther denied that the Roman church was the church. It was, and had become, a wicked, degenerate counterfeit of the true church. What Luther did (and what Calvin and the other Reformers did after him) in establishing congregations on the basis of the Word of God was to continue the one church of Jesus Christ. Luther’s close friend and ally, Philip Melanchthon, wrote in the Augsburg Confession, “It is sufficient for the true unity of the Christian church that the Gospel be preached in conformity with a pure understanding of it and that the sacraments be administered in accordance with the divine Word. It is not necessary for the true unity of the Christian church that ceremonies, instituted by men, should be observed uniformly in all places” (Article VII).

And when he ends his article, McGeown brings up Luther’s love for the church:

Finally, Luther loved the church. His great grief was to see what he called the Babylonian Captivity of the church, and his great desire was to see the church restored to her biblical foundations. Above all, Luther saw himself not as a mighty Reformer, or even as a great spiritual leader, but as a humble, yett thankful, member of the church:

I want to be and remain in the church and little flock of the faint-hearted, the feeble, and the ailing, who feel and recognize the wretchedness of their sins, who believe in the forgiveness of sins, and who suffer persecution for the sake of the Word which they confess and teach purely and without adulteration.”1

That, too, is our thankful confession. We love the church, for in the church we find Christ.

1 Cited by Eugene F. Klug in “Luther on the Church” (Concordia Theological Quarterly [St Louis, Missouri, volume 47, Number 3, July 1983]).

Special Book/Resource Offers for Reformation Week 2016

Reformation-GeneralLooking to build your personal or family library with some good Reformation resources this time of year? This is a good time to do so, and especially this week.

First, Ligonier Ministries is having a special on Reformation resources each day this week, starting today. Here is the little blurb that goes with the week’s specials:

October 31, 2016, will mark the 499th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. To celebrate, during “Reformation Week” we will be sharing various resource offers. Stay tuned to the blog each day this week for the latest Reformation Week links to redeem these offers.

Now follow this link to get at these deals – and be sure to check back each day. Resource Offers: Reformation Week 2016

reformation-nichols-2007Second, Tim Challies called attention to some good Kindle deals on Reformation titles this morning. You will want to watch his site this week as well. Here are a few from his list along with a link to his site.

luther-scarr-2016Third, in children’s books, Reformation Heritage Books has just released the latest title in their “Christian Biographies for Young Readers” series, and it is another fine one from the pen of Simonetta Carr, this time on Martin Luther. Here is the publisher’s description and table of contents ($14 for hardcover, illustrated):

Five hundred years ago, a monk named Martin Luther wrote ninety-five questions, hoping to start a discussion about sin and repentance at the University of Wittenberg in Germany. In a few months those questions had stirred the nation; a few years later, the continent. Today we know that those questions changed the course of both the Western church and world history. In this volume for children, Simonetta Carr tells the compelling story of this father of the Protestant Reformation, tracing his quest for peace with God, his lifelong heroic stand for God’s truth, and his family life and numerous accomplishments. The Reformer’s greatest accomplishment, she writes, “has been his uncompromising emphasis on the free promise of the gospel.”

Table of Contents:

Introduction

1. From Law Student to Monk

2. Looking for Peace with God

3. A Powerful List

4. A Reluctant Rebel

5. Starting a Reformation

6. Raising a Family

7. Ready to Die in the Lord

Time Line

Did You Know?

If you don’t have Carr’s title on John Calvin from this series, now would be a good time to add that one too (also $14).

I might also add that Monergism.com has a large Reformation section with a wide variety of resources – articles, mp3s, even pictures. It is worth your time to browse there and find something of interest. And, if I haven’t mentioned this lately, be sure to check out their free ebook section, in alphabetical order by author (all 365 of them!).

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Out of the Depths I Cry to Thee – Martin Luther

quote-i-have-no-use-for-cranks-who-despise-music-because-it-is-a-gift-of-god-music-drives-martin-luther-95-6-0681Martin Luther brought reformation to the church not only through his translation of the Bible into German and by his preaching of the gospel, but also by his composition of music for the people of God to sing. He is the author of numerous hymns, some of which are based directly on the Psalms.

One such is this one written on the basis of Psalm 130, for which he wrote both the lyrics and the melody (1523-24). The website from which this is taken includes this interesting background to the hymn.

[This] is a ver­sion of Psalm cxxx, which Lu­ther called a Paul­ine Psalm, and great­ly loved. He took spe­cial pains with his ver­sion. It was sung on May 9, 1525, at the fun­er­al of Fried­rich the Wise, in the Court Church at Wit­ten­berg. The people of Halle sang it with tears in their eyes as the great Re­form­er’s cof­fin passed through their ci­ty on the way to the grave at Wit­ten­berg. It is wov­en into the re­li­gious life of Ger­ma­ny.

In 1530, dur­ing the Di­et of Aug­sburg, Lu­ther’s heart was oft­en sore trou­bled, but he would say, ‘Come, let us de­fy the de­vil and praise God by sing­ing a hymn.’ Then he would be­gin, ‘Out of the depths I cry to Thee.’ It was sung at his fun­er­al.

Below is the hymn itself. At the link below you will find the tune to play with it.

Out of the Depths I Cry to Thee

Out of the depths I cry to Thee;
Lord, hear me, I implore Thee!
Bend down Thy gracious ear to me;
I lay my sins before Thee.
If Thou rememberest each misdeed,
If each should have its rightful meed,
Who may abide Thy presence?

Thou grantest pardon through Thy love;
Thy grace alone availeth;
Our works could ne’er our guilt remove;
Yea, e’en the best life faileth.
For none may boast himself of aught,
But must confess Thy grace hath wrought
Whate’er in him is worthy.

And thus my hope is in the Lord,
And not in my own merit;
I rest upon His faithful Word
To them of contrite spirit.
That He is merciful and just,
Here is my comfort and my trust;
His help I wait with patience.

Source: Out of the Depths I Cry to Thee

J. Calvin’s Doctrine of Scripture – D.Kuiper

sola_scriptura_small01One of the featured articles on the PRC website this month focuses on John Calvin’s doctrine of the holy Scripture. It was originally written for the special Reformation issue of the Oct.15, 1993 Standard Bearer and was penned by Rev. Dale Kuiper (1935-2014), then pastor of SE PRC in Grand Rapids, MI.

For this Saturday night we quote a part of this important and profitable article, encouraging you to read all of it at the link provided above. Or you may find the link to its original source here (and while there, you will see the other articles related to the theme of the Reformation’s doctrine of Scripture in that special issue).

In chapter seven [of his Institutes] Calvin teaches that unless the authority of Scripture is firmly established, doubts will flourish in them in the mind and there will be a lack of reverence for the Word. “But since we are not favoured with daily oracles from heaven, and since it is only in the Scriptures that the Lord hath been pleased to preserve his truth in perpetual remembrance, it obtains the same complete credit and authority with believers, when they are satisfied of its divine origin, as if they heard the very words pronounced by God himself” (p. 85) He calls it a pernicious error that the Scriptures derive their authority and weight by the suffrages of the church, or that the church decides what reverence is due the Scriptures, and what books comprise the canon.

Calvin destroys the argument that the Scriptures depend on the church’s decisions by quoting Ephesians 2:20, where we read that the church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets. If the foundation of the church is Scripture, Scripture precedes the existence of the church, and the church cannot exist without Scripture. How, then, can she be the judge of them? “Wherefore, when the church receives it, and seals it with her suffrage, she does not authenticate a thing otherwise dubious or controvertible; but knowing it to be the truth of her God, performs a duty of piety, by treating it with immediate veneration” (p. 87).

…Calvin insists that the principal proof for the authority of the Bible is derived from the character of the Divine Speaker. “The prophets and apostles boast not of their own genius, or any of those talents which conciliate the faith of the hearers; nor do they insist on arguments from reason; but bring forward the sacred name of God, to compel the submission of the whole world” (p. 89). He immediately adds that “the testimony of the Spirit is superior to all reason. For as God alone is a sufficient witness of himself in his own word, so also the word will never gain credit in the hearts of men, till it be confirmed by the internal testimony of the Spirit” (p. 90). What must we think of Calvinists who wonder at the nature and extent of biblical authority in the twentieth century? Why appoint committees to study such a question? It is faithless conniving against the fundamental principle of the Reformation.