“Let the church… emphatically proclaim – always and everywhere – that God is God! H.Hoeksema

Blessed, indeed, are the people who know this God who is God blessed forever. It is true that God is God, and therefore he cannot be comprehended. The finite cannot comprehend the infinite; time cannot compass eternity. But there is a difference between knowledge and comprehension, and comprehension is not necessary for knowledge. Although in the very testimony that God is God the church confesses that God cannot be comprehended, she also proclaims that he is knowable, and that he is known. He is known because he has revealed himself. He has revealed himself not merely as god, but also as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who loves his church with an eternal and unfathomable love; who reconciles his people to himself, not imputing their trespasses to them; who delivers them from the power of sin and death; and who gives them life eternal in the knowledge of himself.

We know God in Christ Jesus our Lord, and not merely with our head, intellectually, as theology knows him; we also know him with our heart, spiritually, so that we taste that he is good and the overflowing fountain of all good. We know him and have fellowship with him, and we hear him tell us that we are his friends, his sons and daughters. We know him, and in this knowledge we have eternal life. “This is  life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3).

Let the church of Jesus Christ in the world clearly understand her calling and emphatically proclaim – always and everywhere – that God is God!

This is another quote from the very first message broadcast on the Reformed Witness Hour (celebrating 75 years in 2016!), “God is God”, based on Isaiah 43:12 (“Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, that I am God.”) and delivered by Rev. Herman Hoeksema, pastor of First PRC in Grand Rapids, MI.

Knowing-God-and-Man -HHBesides being published in individual leaflet form, this 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). The quote is taken from p.12.

More on Erasmus and His Greek NT – Trinitarian Bible Society

ErasmusPreviously this year we have commented on the fact that 2016 marks the 500th anniversary of the printing of Desiderius Erasmus’ (1466-1536) Greek New Testament, a significant event that was used by God to bring about and spread the great Reformation of the 16th century.

Issue #615 of the Quarterly Record published by the Trinitarian Bible Society contains a noteworthy article on Erasmus and his Greek NT by C.P. Hallihan. You may find the full version on their website at the link provided (pdf, which you may download).

Since this article was part of my Sunday reading yesterday, I post a segment of it here for your benefit.

The task in hand was to print Erasmus’s new version of the Latin Vulgate New Testament, supported in a parallel column by his newly compiled text of the Greek New Testament. The primary aim for Erasmus, remember, was to refurbish and reclaim the Latin text using the Greek as a plumb line to vindicate his Latin differences. His admirable labours in Greek manuscript gathering, comparing,
collating and editing into a continuous text never weaned him from his Latin text. Yes, the clear spring of literal meaning was to hand, to correct a long decayed text, but
Erasmus failed to see the real significance. His mother tongue was Dutch, yet he never
considered that need.

Compare Tyndale:
…at last I heard speak of Jesus, even then when the New Testament was first set forth by Erasmus; which when I understood to be eloquently done by him, being allured rather by the Latin than by the word of God (for at that time I knew not what it meant), I bought it… I chanced upon this sentence of St Paul (O most sweet and comfortable sentence to my soul!) in 1 Tim. 1, ‘it is a true saying, and worthy of all men to be embraced, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the chief and principal’.

Valla never came to that; I could wish to be more assured that Erasmus did. We rejoice that Tyndale did not settle to correct Wycliffe, but gave us his direct, engaging and still delightful rendering from Greek into English.

All the complaints that can be levelled against Erasmus’s 1516 New Testament have been made and made again from that day to this: too few manuscripts, over hasty
and careless print run, inadequate control of the printing process and proofing,
commercial pressure, and so on. They are all valid, owned and admitted to by Erasmus
himself from the beginning, and thus reedited and corrected through four further
editions. What else could such a ground breaker be? The complaining was just mud
thrown in the hope of avoiding the facts. After at least a thousand years, a new, truly living, version of the Word of God was available and accessible.

I could spend quite pleasing hours examining and explaining these complaints, bewailing the death of Aldus Manutius, the Venetian master of Greek printing of great beauty in 1515, so that Froben had the job instead, and the near comic confusion of texts and revisions at the printers in Basle where Erasmus was now stranded11 with a very limited manuscript collection. But these are all just excuses for dodging the consequences of the appearance of this Greek New Testament.

The Prayers of J. Calvin (28)

JCalvin1On this last Sunday of July 2016 we return to our series of posts on the prayers of John Calvin (see my previous Sunday posts in Nov./Dec., 2014, throughout 2015, and now in 2016), which follow his lectures on the OT prophecy of Jeremiah (Baker reprint, 1979).

Today we post a brief section from his twenty-seventh lecture and the prayer that concludes it (slightly edited). This lecture covers Jeremiah 7:5-11, which includes Calvin’s comments on 7:11, “Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the LORD”:

And he [God] adds, ‘In this house, which is called by my name,’ that is, which has been dedicated to Me; for to call God’s name on the Temple means nothing else but that the Temple was consecrated to Him, so that He was there worshiped.

When God is truly worshiped, they who seek Him find that He Himself is present by His grace and power. As then God commanded the Temple to be built for Him, that He might there be worshiped, He says His name was there called, that is, according to its first and sacred appointment.

Absurdly indeed did the Jews call on His name, for there was in them no religion, no piety: but according to God’s institution, His name was called upon the Temple, as He had consecrated it to Himself. Hence, God reminds them of the first institution, which was holy and ought to have continued inviolable: ‘Know ye not, that this place has been chosen by Me, that My name might there be invoked? Ye stand before Me in the holy place, and ye stand polluted; and though polluted, not with one kind of vices but My whole law has been violated by you and my Tables despised, yet yet stand!’

We hence see the design of the prophet: for he condemns the effrontery and frowardness of the Jews, because they thus dared to rush into God’s presence in all their pollutions (p.373).

And this is the prayer with which Calvin concludes this lecture:

Grant, Almighty God, that as Thou buildest not at this day a temple among us of wood and stones, and as the fullness of Thy Godhead dwells in Thine only-begotten Son, and as He by His power fills the whole world, and dwells in the midst of us, and even in us, – O grant, that we may not profane His sanctuary by our vices and sins, but so strive to consecrate ourselves to Thy service, that Thy name through His name may be continually glorified, until we shall at length be received into that eternal inheritance, where will appear to us openly, and face to face, that glory which we now see in the truth contained in Thy gospel. -Amen

Justin Martyr – Apology (2)

Twenty-first-century Christians can learn much from the lives and writings of the early believers and church fathers. Especially is this the case when it comes to facing persecution – and facing it biblically.

Justin-MartyrThe “Apology” (that is, defense of the faith and life of Christians) of Justin Martyr (c.100-c.165) is a model of Christian witness to the unbelieving world and the persecuting state. In the weeks and months ahead we plan to post some sections from his apologies (first and second). For links to his writings, visit this site.

This is taken from chapter four of Justin’s first apology:

CHAPTER IV — CHRISTIANS UNJUSTLY CONDEMNED FOR THEIR MERE NAME.

By the mere application of a name, nothing is decided, either good or evil, apart from the actions implied in the name; and indeed, so far at least as one may judge from the name we are accused of, we are most excellent people. But as we do not think it just to beg to be acquitted on account of the name, if we be convicted as evildoers, so, on the other hand, if we be found to have committed no offence, either in the matter of thus naming ourselves, or of our conduct as citizens, it is your part very earnestly to guard against incurring just punishment, by unjustly punishing those who are not convicted. For from a name neither praise nor punishment could reasonably spring, unless something excellent or base in action be proved.

And those among yourselves who are accused you do not punish before they are convicted; but in our case you receive the name as proof against us, and this although, so far as the name goes, you ought rather to punish our accusers. For we are accused of being Christians, and to hate what is excellent (Chrestian) is unjust.

Again, if any of the accused deny the name, and say that he is not a Christian, you acquit him, as having no evidence against him as a wrong-doer; but if any one acknowledge that he is a Christian, you punish him on account of this acknowledgment. Justice requires that you inquire into the life both of him who confesses and of him who denies, that by his deeds it may be apparent what kind of man each is.

For as some who have been taught by the Master, Christ, not to deny Him, give encouragement to others when they are put to the question, so in all probability do those who lead wicked lives give occasion to those who, without consideration, take upon them to accuse all the Christians of impiety and wickedness.

And this also is not right. For of philosophy, too, some assume the name and the garb who do nothing worthy of their profession; and you are well aware, that those of the ancients whose opinions and teachings were quite diverse, are yet all called by the one name of philosophers. And of these some taught atheism; and the poets who have flourished among you raise a laugh out of the uncleanness of Jupiter with his own children. And those who now adopt such instruction are not restrained by you; but, on the contrary, you bestow prizes and honours upon those who euphoniously insult the gods.

Justin Martyr – Apology (1)

Twenty-first-century Christians can learn much from the lives and writings of the early believers. Especially is this the case when it comes to facing persecution – and facing it biblically.

Justin-MartyrThe “Apology” (that is, defense of the faith and life of Christians) of Justin Martyr (c.100-c.165) is a model of Christian witness to the unbelieving world and the persecuting state. In the weeks and months ahead we plan to post some sections from his apologies (first and second). For links to his writings, visit this site.

This is taken from chapter three of Justin’s first apology:

CHAPTER III — CLAIM OF JUDICIAL INVESTIGATION.

But lest any one think that this is an unreasonable and reckless utterance, we demand that the charges against the Christians be investigated, and that, if these be substantiated, they be punished as they deserve; [or rather, indeed, we ourselves will punish them.] But if no one can convict us of anything, true reason forbids you, for the sake of a wicked rumour, to wrong blameless men, and indeed rather yourselves, who think fit to direct affairs, not by judgment, but by passion. And every sober-minded person will declare this to be the only fair and equitable adjustment, namely, that the subjects render an unexceptional account of their own life and doctrine; and that, on the other hand, the rulers should give their decision in obedience, not to violence and tyranny, but to piety and philosophy. For thus would both rulers and ruled reap benefit. For even one of the ancients somewhere said, “Unless both rulers and ruled philosophize, it is impossible to make states blessed.” It is our task, therefore, to afford to all an opportunity of inspecting our life and teachings, lest, on account of those who are accustomed to be ignorant of our affairs, we should incur the penalty due to them for mental blindness; and it is your business, when you hear us, to be found, as reason demands, good judges. For if, when ye have learned the truth, you do not what is just, you will be before God without excuse.

New and Notable Books (July 2016) – T.Challies

Calvin-Institutes-Gordon-2016To add to our book lists this week, we include this post of pastor Tim Challies from this past Monday (July 4, 2016). In it he highlights some of the new titles that are available for your reading pleasure and spiritual growth.

It is a fine variety of books – the second one here (on the history of Calvin’s Institutes) was recently added to the Seminary library. The Ephesians commentary is one I will be getting soon.

Here are Challies’ introductory words:

When it comes to good books, we are spoiled. We have access to more good books than previous generations could have even dreamed of. That is true whether we want to read Christian Living books or read deep, academic works. Here is a round-up of some of the new and notables that have come across my desk in the past few weeks.

And here are the first two on his list; visit the link below to catch the rest.

Ephesians by Richard Phillips (A Mentor Expository Commentary). Richard Phillips has written some key volumes in the Reformed Expository Commentary series—Hebrews and John—and both have been of the highest quality. There is no reason to think his volume on Ephesians in the Mentor Expository Commentary will be any different and, in fact, with comes with commendations by Derek Thomas, Guy Waters and others. Thomas says it “easily rises to the top of recommendable books on Ephesians.” Here’s hoping it quickly makes its way to Logos. (Learn more or buy it at Amazon)

John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion: A Biography by Bruce Gordon. The publisher says this: “John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion is a defining book of the Reformation and a pillar of Protestant theology. First published in Latin in 1536 and in Calvin’s native French in 1541, the Institutes argues for the majesty of God and for justification by faith alone. The book decisively shaped Calvinism as a major religious and intellectual force in Europe and throughout the world. Here, Bruce Gordon provides an essential biography of Calvin’s influential and enduring theological masterpiece, tracing the diverse ways it has been read and interpreted from Calvin’s time to today.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon)

Source: New and Notable Books (July 2016)

And if you don’t do some reading this summer, this will be my reaction (compliments of Calvinist Cartoons):

No-read-shock

There, now you have your Friday Fun item too.:)

Prayers of the Reformers (17)

prayersofreformers-manschreckFor this first Lord’s Day in July we post two more prayers from the book Prayers of the Reformers, compiled by Clyde Manschreck and published by Muhlenberg Press (1958).

The first is taken from the section “Prayers for Spiritual Growth, Courage, and Strength” while the second is from that of “Prayers for All Sorts and Conditions.” (I have slightly edited them). Both are fitting for our worship today and for our work and walk in the week to come.

That God may uphold us (Matt.26:57-75)

O merciful God, preserve our hearts from pride, from vainglory, and from shameful covetousness: Give us grace to abide in Thy holy vocation, and to be thankful for Thy grace; that, the fall of thy apostle being always before our eyes, we may walk in Thy fear before Thee. For if we stand, we must take heed that we fall not, neither despise those that as yet do not stand.

Make us to continue in Thy grace; for nothing have we, saving only that which we have received of Thee. And if of weakness O Lord,we fall, put Thy hand under us, O Lord, and suffer us not to despair in sin; but cause us with repentance and sorrow for our offense to resort unto Thee.

O keep us, that we neither despair nor betray Thy dearly beloved Son, whom Thou through Thy gospel dost send unto us, for without Him is no safeguard, only eternal death and damnation. From which keep us, good Lord, for Thy mercies’ sake. Amen.

[Attributed to Miles Coverdale, 1488-1569]

For disciples of Christ
“Seal the teaching among my disciples” (Isaiah 8:16).

O Lord God, we see that a horrible darkness and ignorance of Thy Word will come, that many men will forsake Christ and faith and true prayer and genuine worship, even as it has happened in the past. We grieve to think of the state of Thy church.

But, O God, we humbly beseech Thee never to allow the true faith which Thou hast delivered to us to perish among us. Preserve Thy faith that it may be delivered pure and uncorrupted to our posterity.

We beseech Thee, seal Thy law in us, lest we pervert Thy Word, or twist its natural and true meaning with some sinister interpretation, as has happened in the past and happens even now.

Confirm our hearts with Thy Holy Spirit, that Thy truth may shine in us, that through our ministry Thy truth may proceed pure and uncorrupted to those who will come after us. Amen.

[Attributed to Philip Melanchthon, 1497-1560]

William Tyndale and His Significance – Dr.S. Lawson

As we prepare to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the great Reformation next year, it is good to recall the variety of men whom God used to restore His Word to the church and the church to His Word. One such man was William Tyndale (c.1494-1536) through whom God gave us the Bible in English.

In this brief video, Dr. Steve Lawson stops to visit Tyndale’s statue in London and points to its significance for Reformation history and for subsequent history.

God is God: A Fire in the Church’s Bones – H.Hoeksema

In connection with the 75th anniversary of the Reformed Witness Hour this year, we plan to post some excerpts from various messages delivered on the program in the past.

The very first message broadcast on the RWH (“The Protestant Reformed Hour” as it was initially called) was “God is God”, based on Isaiah 43:12 (“Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, that I am God.”) and delivered by Rev. Herman Hoeksema, pastor of First PRC in Grand Rapids, MI.

Knowing-God-and-Man -HHBesides being published in individual leaflet form, this 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 post this paragraph from that first radio message in this published form – a powerful word for the church today. At his point in his message, Hoeksema is explaining what it means that the church is a witness to the truth that God is God.

For the church to be witness of this implies not only that the church hears and believes the word of God and professes nothing about God of herself, but it also means that the church speaks and that her speech is strictly a testimony. The church is called to speak. She is under authority to speak. She has no choice in the matter, for God has chosen and ordained her for this very purpose. She has neither the alternative whether to speak or not to speak, nor the choice of what shall be the content of her speech. Always she must say, ‘God is God.’ The church cannot refrain from speaking, because the divine calling she has is irresistible. When God directs his omnipotent word to the church, saying, ‘Ye are my witnesses,’ the word becomes a fire in her bones, an overwhelming power that impels the church to speak. This is the reason the church institutes the ministry of the word wherever she comes to manifestation in the world. She must proclaim that God is God. The character and form of her speech is that of a testimony, for she witnesses of the word of God that she hears (p.8).

Calvin and the Book – Essays on the Reformation and the Printed Word

Calvin&book-SpierlingOne of the recent additions to the PRC Seminary library is a collection of essays given at the 2013 Calvin Studies Colloquium held at Princeton Seminary, published under the title Calvin and the Book: The Evolution of the Printed Word in Reformed Protestantism (Vandenhoek & Ruprecht, 2015), part of the series “Refo500 Academic Studies.”

The collection is a fascinating study of the power of the printed page as it was used and developed by the Reformers. To give you a sample of the content, I take a small portion from the first chapter, an essay by Andrew Pettegree titled “Calvin and Luther as Men of the Book.”

Calvin and Luther were both men of the book. The connection between print and the Reformation is so scored into our consciousness that we do not always recognize how profound were the challenges required by the print revolution, on the part of authors, readers, and producers.

…[Luther and Calvin] both showed a profound grasp of how the industry functioned, and what the author could most effectively contribute. Both intervened directly to create the industrial infrastructure necessary to sustain their respective movements. Both adapted their writing style to the requirements of the new book world.

So this paper is about book professionals: the men who printed, published, and distributed the books of Wittenberg and Geneva, but also the two celebrated authors who worked closely with them. It is a story that has not been wholly told, partly because it involves processes that are in some way foreign to us: an attention to artifact and medium, rather than simply context and text. Luther and Calvin did what was necessary to make all this work, rather against the grain of their character in both cases; Luther, a conservative academic in middle years; Calvin, by nature a scholarly aesthetic. They had a pragmatism which matched their inspiration. This adaptability is not to be underestimated, or indeed despised. Luther and Calvin were both consummate professionals (pp.17-19).

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