Prayers of the Reformers (19)

prayersofreformers-manschreckFor this fourth Sunday of the new year we post another prayer from the book Prayers of the Reformers, compiled by Clyde Manschreck and published by Muhlenberg Press (1958).

This is a prayer or hymn of Martin Luther and is taken from the section “A Calendar of Prayer.” The German title is “Es Wollt uns Gott genaedig sein,” taken from the first line.

You will find these words to be fitting for our worship today as well as for our life and labors in the week ahead.

May God unto us gracious be,
And grant to us His blessing;
Lord, show Thy face to us, through Thee
Eternal life possessing:
That all Thy work and will, O God,
To us may be revealed,
And Christ’s salvation spread abroad
To heathen lands unsealed,
And unto God convert them.

Thine over all shall be the praise
And thanks of every nation,
And all the world with joy shall raise
The voice of exultation.
For Thou the sceptre, Lord, dost wield
Sin to Thyself subjecting;
Thy Word, Thy people’s pasture-field,
And fence their feet protecting,Them in the way preserveth.

Thy fold, O God, shall bring to Thee
The praise of holy living;
Thy Word shall richly fruitful be,
And earth shall yield thanksgiving.
Bless us, O Father! bless, O Son!
Grant, Holy Ghost, Thy blessing!
Thee earth shall honor – Thee alone,
Thy fear all souls possessing.
Now let our hearts say, Amen.

Luther, 1524

This hymn has also been set to music by J.S. Bach, which you may find here along with a different English translation. For one version available on YouTube, see below.

Dr. Klaas Schilder and the PRC

The PRC Seminary’s 2017 Interim course ends today. Prof. R. Dykstra, by rotation, taught his course on the Schism of 1953, that tragic but necessary rupture that occurred in the PRC over the doctrine of the covenant of grace and the nature of salvation (conditional or unconditional; general or particular).

Much of that history involved Dr. Klaas Schilder (1890-1952) of the Netherlands, himself ousted from the State Church in the Netherlands in the 1944, following which he helped found the Liberated Churches that same year (Canadian Reformed and American Reformed in N. America).

Schilder was an opponent of common grace, which in part caused him to be befriended by Rev. Herman Hoeksema and prompted visits to the U.S. and conversations with PRC leaders in 1939 and 1947. However, on the doctrine of the covenant he and Hoeksema parted. Because of Schilder’s influence on many PRC ministers, his conditional theology was instrumental in the schism in 1953.

Prof. Dykstra gives out many handouts for his class on this history, both original and secondary sources. He (and his classes!) also enjoy visuals, including pictures. So I gathered what we had in the PRC archives, scanned them, and sent them to him for use in his PowerPoint presentations.

Today I share them with you as well, including a brand new one that came in this week from the T. Newhof family – thank you!

We will start with that one, since it is one of the largest and clearest pictures of Dr. K. Schilder that we have, and because it relates to the first visit he made to the U.S. and the PRC in 1939. It shows him sandwiched between Rev. George Lubbers (minister in Pella PRC at the time) and Rev. William Verhil (minister in First PRC, Edgerton, MN at the time) next to the old Doon PRC in Doon, IA.

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This is also a new one, compliments of Mark Hoeksema, showing his grandfather and grandmother (Rev. Herman Hoeksema) at a private picnic with Dr. K. Schilder.

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Dr. K. Schilder with Rev. Gerrit Vos in the mountains of S. California

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Dr. K. Schilder with Rev. A. Petter (minister in Bellflower, CA PRC at the time) at an outing at the Los Angeles, CA zoo.

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Dr. K. Schilder (just to the right of Rev. H. Hoeksema and Rev. G. Ophoff in the front) and PRC ministers and elders at the Theological Conference held at First PRC in Grand Rapids, MI on November 6, 1947.

In March of 1952 Dr. K. Schilder died suddenly, prompting this brief but warm memoriam in the Standard Bearer from the pen of the editor, Rev. Herman Hoeksema:

Early this morning, March 24, I received a telegram from my friend, Arnold Schildre at The Hague, informing me that his brother Klaas, the well-known Dr. K. Schilder had on the previous day, Sunday, March 23, passed into his eternal rest.

I was deeply shocked.

For although I certainly did not agree with him in regard to the question of the covenant and the promise, I nevertheless esteemed him for his work’s sake, esteemed him, too, as a highly gifted scholar, and, above all, as a brother in Christ.

And now Dr. Schilder is no more.

It would seem to us that his work was not finished.

Certainly, he himself cannot have been aware of the fact that his end was so near. At least, if we consider the very elaborate set-up of his work on the Heidelberg Catechism (he was writing) on the tenth Lord’s Day), he must have felt that he still had many years of labor before him.

But the Lord took him out of his busy sphere of labor and pronounced it finished, nevertheless.

May the Lord comfort the bereaved family, with whom we express our heartfelt sympathy.

And may He teach us so to number our days that we apply our hearts unto wisdom.

H.H.

Why I Became a Minister – Cornelius Hanko

chankoOur PRC archives post is a day late this week, but I want to get it in. This one features Rev. Cornelius Hanko, 1907-2005 (father of Prof. Herman Hanko), former minister of the Word in the PRC.

At various times in the Beacon Lights, the PR young peoples’ magazine, articles were penned by ministers and seminary students, in which they reflected on their call to the ministry and/or on their seminary experiences. Recently, Kevin Rau (my library/archives assistant) found several of these, which he photocopied for the archive files of these ministers.

Among these articles was one by Rev. C. Hanko, which appeared in the February 1978 issue (unfortunately the BL archives do not go back that far as yet). Today we quote from a portion of this article for your benefit (which I have slightly edited).

It was shortly after the split of 1924, in the spring of 1925 that I approached Rev. Herman Hoeksema with the suggestion that I would like to attend our seminary, which was to open in June, as soon as the other schools closed for the season. His first remark was that there were others who had expressed the same desire, but that there were no churches for us to serve.

I informed him that I had always had a strong desire to become [a] missionary rather than [a] minister. You see, for years we had brought our nickels and dimes to Sunday School for the Rehoboth mission [CRC mission work]. A few times Rev. J. W. Brink had come to our Eastern Avenue congregation, the calling church, to tell us about his labors there. Besides, I had heard and read about mission work in the Sudan, in Newfoundland, and many other places, all of which intrigued me very much. So, as a matter of course, I informed Rev. Hoeksema of this desire, upon which he responded that our churches would need missionaries also. So again the Lord opened the way for me to prepare for the ministry.

The next four years were difficult years. Of the twelve [students] that began, only three finished the course. Often we had to take our lessons and prepare them in some home in Iowa, preaching on Sunday and studying during the week. There was such a shortage of supply, that during the years I was in seminary, I never was able to take my final examinations with the other students; but, except for the classical exam, always took them by myself after returning from the churches. We received practical training as well as education from books (pp15-16).

Published in: on January 13, 2017 at 6:52 AM  Leave a Comment  

Luther and the Reformation (1) – The Ninety-Five Theses

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This year being the 500th anniversary of the great Reformation (1517-2017) – its origin notably marked by Martin Luther’s posting of his Ninety-Five Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517 – we intend to do a series of posts throughout the year on some of the major works of Luther.

luther-theses-1And what better place to start than the Ninety-Five Theses themselves. For today, we simply refer you, first of all, to a few of them as found at the link above (and in many other places), prefaced by Luther’s purpose in posting them.

Out of love for the truth and from desire to elucidate it, the Reverend Father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and Sacred Theology, and ordinary lecturer therein at Wittenberg, intends to defend the following statements and to dispute on them in that place. Therefore he asks that those who cannot be present and dispute with him orally shall do so in their absence by letter. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.

I have selected these points of debate (theses) in particular:

 1. When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, “Repent” (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.

2. This word cannot be understood as referring to the sacrament of penance, that is, confession and satisfaction, as administered by the clergy.

3. Yet it does not mean solely inner repentance; such inner repentance is worthless unless it produces various outward mortification of the flesh.

4. The penalty of sin remains as long as the hatred of self (that is, true inner repentance), namely till our entrance into the kingdom of heaven.

27. They preach only human doctrines who say that as soon as the money clinks into the money chest, the soul flies out of purgatory.

28. It is certain that when money clinks in the money chest, greed and avarice can be increased; but when the church intercedes, the result is in the hands of God alone.

32. Those who believe that they can be certain of their salvation because they have indulgence letters will be eternally damned, together with their teachers.

33. Men must especially be on guard against those who say that the pope’s pardons are that inestimable gift of God by which man is reconciled to him.

34. For the graces of indulgences are concerned only with the penalties of sacramental satisfaction established by man.

35. They who teach that contrition is not necessary on the part of those who intend to buy souls out of purgatory or to buy confessional privileges preach unchristian doctrine.

36. Any truly repentant Christian has a right to full remission of penalty and guilt, even without indulgence letters.

37. Any true Christian, whether living or dead, participates in all the blessings of Christ and the church; and this is granted him by God, even without indulgence letters.

 

Secondly, we may point you to B.B. Warfield’s fine essay, “The Ninety-Five Theses in Their Theological Significance” (found in free digital form at Monergism.com). Below is a paragraph found in the early part of that work describing the significance of Luther’s theses:

The significance of the Theses as a Reformation act emerges thus in this: that they are a bold, an astonishingly bold, and a powerful, an astonishingly powerful, assertion of the evangelical doctrine of salvation, embodied in a searching, well-compacted, and thoroughly wrought-out refutation of the sacerdotal conception, as the underlying foundation on which the edifice of the indulgence traffic was raised. This is what Walther Köhler means when he declares that we must recognize this as the fundamental idea of Luther’s Theses: “the emancipation of the believer from the tutelage of the ecclesiastical institute”; and adds, “Thus God advances for him into the foreground; He alone is Lord of death and life; and to the Church falls the modest role of agent of God on earth – only there and nowhere else.” “The most far-reaching consequences flowed from this,” he continues; “Luther smote the Pope on his crown and simply obliterated his high pretensions with reference to the salvation of souls in this world and the next, and in their place set God and the soul in a personal communion which in its whole intercourse bears the stamp of interiorness and spirituality.” Julius Köstlin puts the whole matter with his accustomed clearness and balance – though with a little wider reference than the Theses themselves – when he describes the advance in Luther’s testimony marked by the indulgence controversy thus: “As he had up to this time proclaimed salvation in Christ through faith, in opposition to all human merit, so he now proclaims it also in opposition to an external human ecclesiasticism and priesthood, whose acts are represented as conditioning the imparting of salvation itself, and as in and of themselves, even without faith, effecting salvation for those in whose interests they are performed.

Unto Us a Child Is Born – J. Calvin

Christmas-2015For this fourth and final Sunday in December – Christmas Day – we post an excerpt from a sermon of John Calvin (1509-1564) found in the book Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas (ed. Nancy Guthrie; Crossway, 2008).

The title is “Unto Us a Child Is Born” and is based on Isaiah 9:6-7. Here are a few of Calvin’s thoughts on this glorious OT gospel passage:

He is called Mighty God for the same reason that in Isaiah 7:14 he was called Immanuel. If in Christ we find nothing but human flesh and nature, our glorying will be foolish and vain, and our hope will rest on an uncertain and insecure foundation. But if he shows himself to be to us God, even the Mighty God, we may rely on him with safety.

It is good for us that he is called strong or mighty because our contest is with the devil, death, and sin (see Eph.6:12), enemies too powerful and strong, by whom we would be vanquished immediately if Christ’s strength had not made us invincible.

Thus we learn from this title that there is in Christ abundance of protection for defending our salvation, so that we desire nothing beyond him; he is God, who is pleased to show himself strong on our behalf.

This application may be regarded as the key to this and similar passages, leading us to distinguish between Christ’s mysterious essence and the power by which he has revealed himself to us (pp.74-75).

“Refo Thursday”: Pope calls Luther a “wild boar”

120-calvin-ch-magThe Christian History Institute (which also publishes the magazine Christian History – issue #120 is about Calvin and the Reformation – cf. image here) has a special post each week featuring various aspects of the Reformation.

It is called “Refo Thursday” (“your weekly throwback to the Reformation” [in their words] – connected to the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017), and usually features a quote from one of the major Reformers and a brief video on an aspect of Reformation history.

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Today’s post looks at Luther’s hymn writing as well as the papal bull that excommunicated him from the Roman Catholic Church for the statements Luther made in his 95 theses. I post the image they allow you to share and the video.

You may also sign up for the “Refo Thursday” at the link provided here. And, I might add, there you will also find plenty of other videos you may watch from these past Thursday posts.

New Books Alert! Corrupting the Word of God and Called to Watch for Christ’s Return (RFPA)

As 2016 comes to a close, the RFPA (Reformed Free Publishing Association) has just released two new books: Corrupting the Word of God: The History of the Well-Meant Offer, by Herman Hanko and Mark Hoeksema (hardcover, 272 pp., $24.95); and Called to Watch for Christ’s Return, by Rev. Martyn McGeown (paper, 304 pp. $14.95).

corrupting_word-hh-2016Concerning the first title, the publisher has this summary information:

Does the eternal, unchangeable, all-powerful, and sovereign God really have a temporal, changeable and weak desire to save those whom he has unconditionally reprobated (Rom. 9:22), for whom the Son did not die (John 12:31) and whom the Holy Spirit will not regenerate, sanctify or glorify (John 3:8)?

Pelagianism, semi-Pelagianism, Roman Catholicism, Lutheranism, Anabaptism, Arminianism, Amyraldism, and Marrowism say yes to the well-meant offer of the gospel. The biblical, Augustinian, Reformed, and creedal position is no!

Emeritus professor of church history, Herman Hanko, guides us through fascinating doctrinal controversies in the early, Reformation and modern eras of the church, taking us to North Africa, Switzerland, France, England, Scotland, the Netherlands, and America, and emphasizing the teaching of the great theologians, such as Augustine and John Calvin, on God’s particular grace, which is always irresistible and never fails or is frustrated.

In dealing with the historical perspective of God’s absolutely sovereign grace versus the well-meant offer, this book fills a gap in the literature, and does so in a way that is warm and easily understood.

This title is a significant contribution to the study of the controversial subject of the free offer of the gospel. Often misunderstood (by unsuspecting novices in the faith) and frequently misrepresented (as being truly biblical and Reformed!), the free offer (or well-meant offer) has an infamous history in the church of Christ, carrying such theological “baggage” as a universal love of God, a general will of God for the salvation of all men, a universal atonement of Christ, and a grace for all in the preaching of the gospel – all of which stand opposed by the historic biblical and Reformed faith.

Hanko and Hoeksema demonstrate from the main periods of church history along with its controversies, as well as from the church fathers, that the common teaching of the free offer is unorthodox, to be rejected by all who love the doctrines of sovereign, particular, saving grace.

Theologian, pastor, and layman alike will benefit from this important historical study. The book is enhanced by the final chapter giving the reader closing “analysis and positive statement” on the nature of saving grace and the preaching of the gospel. And the reader is further benefited by the “select annotated bibliography” provided by Rev. Angus Stewart (pastor of Covenant PRC in Ballymena, N. Ireland).

called_to_watch-mm-2016Concerning the second title (Called to Watch), the RFPA has this description:

A few days before Jesus gave his life on the cross, his disciples asked, “What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matt. 24:3). Christ responded with the Olivet Discourse, a detailed teaching on the doctrine of the last things.

We need to understand the signs of Christ’s coming for our comfort as we look for “that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).

Christ had two concerns. First, his disciples must know the signs of his coming, which are footsteps of his approach. But Christ is not satisfied with mere “sign-gazing,” which can lead to speculation and idle, foolish living. He did not give signs to satisfy our curiosities, but so that we will be ready for him when he returns. Therefore, Christ’s second concern was the readiness of his disciples, which is expressed in his urgent and repeated warnings to watch for his coming in light of the signs.

Watch, pray, and serve the Lord with an eye to the signs of his return!

This book by a new author fills an important gap in the fields of biblical exposition and theology, especially from a solid Reformed, amillennial perspective. This book will properly explain our Lord’s instruction in Matthew 24, thus giving you right thinking about the end of the world and its signs, while also kindling a godly hope in your soul for the glorious return of our Savior.

Since this book is not a book club title, be sure to visit the RFPA’s website for ordering information. And, if you join the book club, you will receive the discount on this title and on all new titles. And while there ordering your copy, order one for that friend or family member too – just in time for the Christmas season!

Source: Reformed Free Publishing Association — Corrupting the Word of God

The Maiden Mary – M. Luther

come-jesus-guthrie-2008For this second Sunday in December we post an excerpt from a sermon of Martin Luther (1483-1546) found in the book Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas (ed. Nancy Guthrie; Crossway, 2008).

The title is “The Maiden Mary” and is based on Luke 1:26-33 (and is, in fact, adapted from Martin Luther’s Christmas Book, ed. by Roland Bainton, 1948). There are plenty of gems in this little meditation. Here are a few:

The angel greeted Mary and said, ‘Hail, Mary, full of grace.’ That is the Latin rendering, which unhappily has been taken over literally into German. Tell me, is this good German? Would any German say you are full of grace? I have translated it, ‘Thou gracious one,’ but if I were really to write German I would say, ‘God bless you, dear Mary – liebe Maria,’ for any German knows that this word liebe comes right from the heart.

…To this poor maiden marvelous things were announced: that she should be the mother of the All Highest, whose name should be the Son of God. He wold be a King and of his kingdom there would be no end. It took a mighty reach of faith to believe that this baby would play such a role. Well might Mary have said, ‘Who am I, little worm, that I should bear a King?’ She might have doubted, but she shut her eyes and trusted in God who could bring all things to pass, even though common sense were against it; and because she believed, God did to her as he had said.

…The virgin birth is a mere trifle for God; that God should become man is a greater miracle; but most amazing of all is that this maiden should credit the announcement that she, rather than some other virgin, had been chosen to be the mother of God. …Had she not believed, she could not have conceived. She held fast to the word of the angel because she had become a new creature. Even so must we be transformed and renewed in heart from day to day. Otherwise Christ is born in vain.

…Truly it is marvelous in our eyes that God should place a little child in the lap of a virgin and that all our blessedness should lie in him. And this Child belongs to all mankind. God feeds the whole world through a Babe nursing at Mary’s breast. This must be our daily exercise: to be transformed into Christ, being nourished by this food. Then will the heart be suffused with all joy and will be strong and confident against every assault (pp.25-27)

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)