Teaching Our Children Love for the Church – Rev. A. denHartog

The latest issue of the Standard Bearer is now available, and the October 1, 2017 issue is indeed a special one.

For one thing, it marks the beginning of volume year 94. That’s correct, this issue marks the beginning of the 94th year of publication for this Reformed magazine. And the magazine, reflecting the conviction of its editors and writers, is as committed to promoting (truth) and protecting (from error) the Reformed faith as it was in 1924 when it began.

SB-Oct1-2017-cover

For another thing, this issue heralds a new look in the history of the magazine. With the leading of the publisher, the RFPA, the SB has undergone another redesign, and we trust you will appreciate and benefit from the new appearance and layout – complete with pictures of the writers!

Editor-in-chief Prof. R. Dykstra introduces the new volume year with these opening words:

With all thanks and praise to God, we begin the 94th year of printing the Standard Bearer. The first issue of the SB consisted of sixteen pages, containing nine articles and three poems. Four men made up the entire staff. I am more thankful than I can express that in the upcoming year the SB has a total of 38 different writers who have agreed to contribute articles – from two articles to ten or twelve. By God’s grace working in these men and women, the SB will continue to be a Reformed magazine devoted to defending and expounding the Reformed faith over against error.

One of the edifying articles found in the October 1 issue is listed on the cover – Rev. A. denHartog’s “Teaching Our Children Love for the Church” – penned for the Christian family rubric, “When Thou Sittest in Thine House.” Fittingly, on this Sunday night, we post this paragraph:

Teaching our children love for the church begins with teaching them the greatness, holiness, and truth of the God of the church.  The church is the place where God dwells in the midst of His people; He shows His glory and greatness and majesty there. He is such a great God who must be worshiped with fear and trembling and with holy reverence and awe. He is to be worshiped with joy and thanksgiving, praising Him for His great salvation of His people and their children.

Coming to church is not a form of entertainment similar to going to a concert or a sports event. Neither is it to be considered a boring ritual only engaged in out of necessity or mere formal tradition. We do well as parents when we prepare ourselves sincerely and prayerfully for the holy exercise of the worship of God. Because our children have the same sinful nature as we parents do, there will be times when our children go to church grudgingly, desiring rather to use the Lord’s Day for worldly pleasure and entertainment. This sinful attitude must be patiently and firmly resisted and driven from the sinful hearts of our children; certainly it must not be tolerated or made light of [p.18].

How Do We See and Savor the Glory of the Lord in the NT? By Reading (the Word)!

Reading-Bible-Supernaturally-Piper-2017So Paul has shifted our focus from the old covenant to the new – from the law of Moses to the gospel of Christ. From the veiled, temporary glory, to the unveiled, permanent glory. And his central point is that when the veil is lifted  – when the hardening and blindness are removed – we see the glory of the Lord. ‘We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed’ (2 Cor.3:18). …Seeing the glory of God was, and is, preeminent.

Recall [from the author’s previous points] that the point of contact with the glory of God was, at one time, supposed to be the reading of Moses (2 Cor.3:14-15). Reading! This was supposed to be the way the glory of God was seen. Has that changed? No. there has been no criticism or abandonment of this window we call ‘reading.’ So we may assume that the value of this window remains.

The difference is that once there was reading with a veil. Now there is reading with no veil. Once there was a window with a curtain, and now that curtain has been pulled aside. But the window of reading remains, as we saw in Ephesians 3:4. It remains God’s plan for the revelation of his glory. …’Beholding the glory of the Lord with unveiled face’ (2 Cor.3:18) happens through reading. This is true both for the Spirit-illumined reading of the old covenant as well as a reading (or hearing) of the gospel of Christ.

Quotation from Chapter 4, “Reading to See Supreme Worth and Beauty, Part 2” of John Piper’s new book Reading the Bible Supernaturally: Seeing and Savoring the Glory of God in Scripture (Crossway, 2017). In this chapter he is emphasizing and explaining this part of his “proposal,” ‘that we should always read his word in order to see this supreme worth and beauty.”

Patrolling for Verbal Pretenders

This Tuesday night post is going to be for our occasional “Word Wednesday” feature, something I’d like to get back into from time to time. This one comes from Grammar.com (dated August 1, 2017) and gets at those “words” that people use that masquerade as real ones.

When you see the chart below and look at those imposters, I think we may have to confess that some of these may have worked their way into our vocabulary.

So now, being armed with good grammatical and verbal knowledge, we can “get real” and use the proper word in the right way at the right time.

Ready for your word patrol? Here we go!

Putting Out the Patrol for Made-Up Words

Estimates of English’s total word count vary, but linguists agree the number ranks near the top of the world’s vocabularies. A May GrammarBook newsletter article cited English as having as many as 300,000 distinctly usable words.

With so many residents in a vernacular, impostors posing as real words are bound to slip in. They start as mistakes but last long enough to wiggle into pockets of speech. Before long, they spread out, gaining confidence and popularity until they set their sights on the real prize: placement in a dictionary.

While casual conversation provides the most refuge for these con artists, their common usage still often lets them cross into composition’s more-managed domain.

Here are but a few made-up words we and our readers have singled out as guilty from the line-up of suspects:

 

Imposter: administrate (v)
Real Word: administer
Imposter: participator (n)
Real Word: participant
Imposter: commentate (v)
Real Word: comment
Imposter: preventative (adj)
Real Word: preventive
Imposter: orientate (v)
Real Word: orient
Imposter: supposably (adj, adv)
Real Word: supposedly
Imposter: conversate (v)
Real Word: converse
Imposter: undoutably (adj, adv)
Real Word: undoubtedly
Imposter: irregardless (adj, adv)
Real Word: regardless
Imposter: vice-a-versa (adv)
Real Word: vice versa
Imposter: exploitive (adj)
Real Word: exploitative
Imposter: whole nother (adj)
Real Words: another, whole other
Imposter: firstly (secondly, thirdly, etc.) (adv)
Real Word: first (second, third, etc.)
Imposter: incentivize (v)
Real Words: encourage, motivate, reward


A few of these invaders, such as irregardless and preventative, have already cleared the fence, crossed their covert tunnels, and arrived safely in dictionaries. That alone does not validate them, nor does it mean we should permit them into our writing.

You also probably noted several made-up words in the list include the suffix -ate. This is a common ploy some words will use to create more versions of themselves.

The suffix -ize operates much the same way. In addition to incentivize, keep an eye on words such as actualize, collectivize, intellectualize, and normalize. Some words, such as finalize, prioritize, memorize, and ostracize, need their three-letter caboose to deliver their meaning, but most -ize words are pitching tents where houses are built.

Made-up words present another call for us to lead the way in upholding concise, grammatical writing. By remaining vigilant, we can help halt the advance of the pretenders.

Source: Putting Out the Patrol for Made-Up Words – Grammar & Punctuation | The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Published in: on September 12, 2017 at 11:06 PM  Leave a Comment  

God: The Winner of Souls – September 2017 “Tabletalk”

The September 2017 issue of Tabletalk has been out for over a week now and it is time to introduce its theme and contents. Editor Burk Parsons introduces this issue on “Soul Winning” with his editorial “Rescuing Souls from Death.”

The first featured article is Dr. David Strain’s “God: The Winner of Souls,” in which he emphasizes that fundamental to our reason and motive for evangelizing is the truth that God is the One who saves sinners by His sovereign grace in Jesus Christ.

Here are a couple of paragraphs that bring that home – one at the beginning of the article and the other at the end:

Though we may not realize it, behind and before our “lisping, stammering tongues” ever manage to proclaim the good news about Jesus, before we can muster the courage to speak a word for Him, God Himself has been in hot pursuit of sinners to save. Few truths offer more encouragement to us in our efforts to share the gospel than this: God is the great winner of souls.

…So here is the liberating truth: God is the true and great soul winner. The Father purposed to save sinners in love, and so He sent His Son for us. The Son of God has loved us and given Himself for us. The same Spirit who rested upon Christ now gives life to dead sinners, uniting us to Christ, and He empowers us in turn to bear witness for Christ. When we realize these great truths, when we see that God is the Evangelist, evangelism will cease to be a fearful work, pursued in an effort to curry divine favor. Instead, it will become a joyful expression of gratitude and an outpouring of holy zeal that others might know the salvation that has been lavished upon us by Almighty God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Read the full article at the link below. And, by the way, Ligonier has made a new special website for Tabletalk, with more content and featured articles available online. Check it out when you visit the link below.

Also, the daily devotions continue on the doctrines and practices restored to the church at the time of the great Reformation. This month they are on “The Reformation of Worship.” Want a sample of what they are like? Here’s part of the devotional for Sept.1:

Often when we think of the Protestant Reformation and what it accomplished, we focus on the doctrinal reforms related to such topics as divine grace, justification, and the authority of Scripture. This association of doctrinal reform with the Reformation is, of course, good and proper, for the Reformers were concerned to conform Christian doctrine to the teaching of God’s Word. However, the Reformers understood that there could be no true doctrinal reform without a corresponding reform of the church’s worship. In fact, in The Necessity of Reforming the Church, written to Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, John Calvin listed the reform of Christian worship first in his explanation of why the Reformation was necessary. Our worship and our theology are inextricably linked.

Source: God: The Winner of Souls

Theology and Worship: Reflexive Relation – A. McGrath

Finally, we must emphasize the link between theology and worship. Theology has done its job well when it leaves us on our knees, adoring the mystery that lies at the heart of the Christian faith. There is a sense in which worship provides a context and offers a corrective to theology.

Worship provides a context for theology in that it represents a vigorous reassertion of the majesty and glory of God. It reminds us of the greater reality behind the ideas and language that theology can be overconcerned with getting right. When theology becomes dull and stale, worship can rejuvenate it: worship is the fiery crucible of joy in which theology can reconnect with its true object. In this way worship corrects inadequate conceptions of theology, especially those which treat theology simply as a set of ideas.

Yet theology can also act as a corrective to worship. Worship can too easily be seen as a purely human activity, capable of enhancement and adjustment by appropriate techniques. But true worship is not improved by whipping up the emotions or turning up the music; rather it is enhanced and authenticated by reflecting on who God is and thus naturally yearning to respond in praise and adoration [p.42].

PassionateIntellectbookTaken from Chapter 2, “Mere Theology; The Landscape of Faith 2”, in Alister McGrath’s book The Passionate Intellect: Christian Faith and the Discipleship of the Mind (IVP, 2010), a book I picked for review a few years ago and picked up again to continue reading.

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A Little Book with Large Theology

little-book-theologians-kapicA small theology book I recently came on is Kelly M. Kapic’s A Little Book for New Theologians: Why and How to Study Theology (IVP Academic, 2012). While the book is little, the theology found in it is large. I referenced it a few weeks ago and do so again today.

I appreciated these thoughts at the end of chapter 3, “Theology as Pilgrimage”:

It is vital to recognize that one should not give up on theology because of our limitations, for our confidence ultimately rests on God, not on ourselves. In this sense we recognize and delight in the axiom drawn from the brilliant medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas: ‘Theology is taught by God, teaches of God and leads to God’ (Theologia a Deo docetur, Deum docet, et ad Deum ducit). All good and faithful theology comes from God, who is the ultimate theologian – the only one who can, without weakness or misunderstanding, speak of himself.

And then, after pointing us to Jesus Christ, “God’s great self-revelation” and the one in whom alone true knowledge of God is found (Kapic quotes Jesus’ words in Matt.11:27), he says,

Clearly, ‘knowing’ in this context is not merely referring to cognitive assent. Our call is to come, to gaze at Christ, to hear his word and to respond in faith and love. Here theology and worship come together: we are answering the call of our heavenly Father to speak words from the basis of an intimate knowledge of the Word, which is possible only by the gift of the Spirit. Theology is wrapped up in this response to God’s call. Hence, it is to be faith-full: faith is always required for genuine theology. We rightly respond to God’s revelation when our words about God, whether many or few, are placed into the matrix of worship. When we see the relationship between theology and worship we are moved beyond intellectual curiosity to an engaged encounter with the living God [pp.36-37].

Book Alert! “Knowing God in the Last Days” – M. Hoeksema

KnowingGod_2_Peter_MH-2017Just in time for the start of Bible study season, the Reformed Free Publishing Association has published a new commentary on the NT book of 2 Peter called Knowing God in the Last Days: Commentary on 2 Peter (2017, 96 pp., hardcover).

The author is Mark H. Hoeksema, who was trained in the PRC Seminary and served in two pastorates in the Midwest U.S. Hoeksema is also the author of several Bible new study guides published by the RFPA, specifically on the books of Acts, Romans, and James.

The publisher provides this description of the book:

Knowing God in the Last Days is an explanation of the general epistle of Peter to the early New Testament church. The primary theme of the letter is the knowledge of God, a concept that occurs many times and in various contexts throughout the book. This short epistle contains a wealth of instruction for the church today.

The secondary theme of 2 Peter is the application of the knowledge of God to the last days in which we live. Especially in his third chapter, Peter reveals to the church the knowledge of God as it relates to the end times.

Based on exegesis of the Greek text, this commentary gives clarity of explanation to God’s people regarding necessary and important aspects of today’s Christian life. May all who read be edified.

The “Foreword” is penned by his current pastor, Rev. Nathan Decker, who, among other things, gives this profit of the title:

Its value lies in its brevity. There is certainly a place in the lives of God’s people for longer and deeper commentaries on each book of the Bible, and many have been written. Such it not this volume. Instead, it is concise and to the point, briefly explaining 2 Peter verse by verse. The commentary will be excellent for a quick read to grasp the book as a whole in its general themes, for a needed reference to understand a particular section, for the family to read aloud around the dinner table for family worship, or for believers in a Bible study to generate thoughts and discussions on this portion of God’s word.

As an example of the books contents, we quote part of the author’s exposition of chap.1:21, “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”

By way of a positive contrast, Peter teaches that holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. This is one of the clearest proofs that can be found for the inspiration of scripture. It is also the death of all compromise of this doctrine. Contrary to the teaching of many, including some purportedly Reformed theologians, there is not a primary author (God) of scripture and a secondary author (man). Nor is there a divine factor and a human factor in the speaking and writing of prophecy. Rather, the Holy Spirit is the one and only author of all scripture, while men are the writers, the instruments whom God is pleased to use to produce his word (Belgic Confession 3).

These men are called holy not because they are personally perfect, but because God has sanctified and prepared them to write the scriptures. Thus they are men from God, that is, they were sent from God, and they spoke and wrote from God. It is the Holy Spirit who moved these men as the wind carries a ship along, a descriptive figure that explains inspiration. [p.39]

Your Mind Matters (4): In Knowing God’s Will for You – J. Stott

How then are you to decide this major question? [Stott has used the example of whom to marry in connection with using your mind to know the will of God]. There is only one possible answer, namely, by using the mind and the common sense which God has given you. Certainly you will pray for God’s guidance. And if you are wise, you will ask the advice of your parents and of other mature people who know you well. But ultimately you must make up your mind, trusting that God will guide you through your own mental processes.

From which point Stott takes us to a specific Bible passage as proof:

There is good scriptural warrant for this use of the mind in Psalm 32:8-9. These two verses need to be read together and supply a fine example of the balance of the Bible. Verse 8 contains a pledge of divine guidance: ‘I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.’ It is, in fact, a threefold promise: ‘I will instruct you, I will teach you, I will guide you.’ But verse 9  immediately adds: ‘Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, else it will not keep with you.’

In other words, although God promises to guide us, we must not expect him to do so in the way in which we guide horses and mules. He will not use a bit and bridle with us. For we are not horses or mules; we are human beings. We have understanding, which horses and mules have not. It is, then, through the use of our own understanding, enlightened by Scripture and prayer and the counsel of friends, that God will lead us into a knowledge of his particular will for us.

mind-matters-stottTaken from Your Mind Matters: The Place of the Mind in the Christian Life (Inter-Varsity Press, 1972) by John R. W. Stott, pp.44-45.

Do the Psalms Have An Order and Structure? ~ R. Godfrey (Plus, a New Psalter App!)

Learning-love-psalms-Godfrey-2017I continue to receive rich benefit from reading through the brief but packed chapters of W. Robert Godfrey’s new book Learning to Love the Psalms (Reformation Trust, 2017).

In chapter 7 (“Broader Structures in the Psalter”) the author raises the questions, “Is the book of Psalms as a whole largely random in its order? Is it just an anthology of poems that would mean just the same if the poems were in an entirely different arrangement?”

Based on his personal reading and study of the Psalms as well as on the insights of others, Godfrey has come to see a definite structure and order to the Psalms. Besides the common division of the Psalter into five books (Book 1: Psalms 1-41; Book 2: Psalms 42-72); Book 3: Psalms 73-89; Book 4: Psalms 90-106; Book 5: ;Psalms 107-150), he makes four main points about this structure.

For our purposes today we quote his fourth point, “the most important,” in his estimation:

…The development of the Psalter is not simply a growing emphasis on psalms of praise. Many types of psalms appear in each of the books. Still, in broad terms, we can see a movement in the Psalter. Book One has many psalms that speak of distress on the part of the king and his people yet manifest confidence and praise even in the face of distress. Book Two links that confidence particularly to God’s king, who upholds God’s ways and God’s people in God’s city. Book Three, however, is dominated by a crisis in the kingship of Israel, a kingship that seems to have failed. Book Four presents comfort for king and people in the God who created the world and who made a covenant with Israel at Sinai. Book Five then lifts the praise of king and people to new heights.

Consequently, Godfrey lays out this form of the Psalms this way:

Book One: The King’s Confidence in God’s Care
Book Two: The King’s Commitment to God’s Kingdom
Book Three: The King’s Crisis over God’s Promises
Book Four: The King’s Comfort in God’s Faithfulness
Book Five: The King’s Celebration of God’s Salvation [pp.41-42]

It would be helpful for us to think about and “test” this structure of the Psalms in our own reading and study of this important section of God’s Word. What do you find to be true? And how is this order helpful to you?

Psalter-app-DV-2017On another related matter, I want to make you aware of a new app for the PRC Psalter – the songbook used in the PRC based on the book of Psalms. Jonathan Vermeer, a member of our Hope PRC, has developed this fine tool for use on your Android device (laptop, tablet, smartphone). The app includes lyrics and tunes to all of our Psalter numbers and links to the Psalms themselves (Bible Gateway). Plus, it has a special “night mode” setting for use in the dark (as, for example, for campfire singing).

You will find it in the Google Play store at this link. Check it out – I have it on my phone and love it!

The death of reading is threatening the soul

This well-written online article appeared at The Washington Post on July 21, 2017, and was penned by popular Christian author Philip Yancey. Following the recent lead of other avid readers and writers, Yancey too laments the loss of “deep reading” in his own life, the loss of which, he says, endangers the soul, especially for Christians.

Below are a few paragraphs from his thoughts on this important subject (find the full article at the link at the end). I reference this article along with others like it, not simply to mourn the loss of good reading habits among Christians, but to encourage us to think think seriously about this matter and then inspire us to change our habits so that we may read more and better.

May you too, as I have, profit from Yancey’s lament. Don’t be sad; rejoice at the opportunities before you and get reading!

My crisis consists in the fact that I am describing my past, not my present. I used to read three books a week. One year I devoted an evening each week to read all of Shakespeare’s plays (Okay, due to interruptions it actually took me two years). Another year I read the major works of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. But I am reading many fewer books these days, and even fewer of the kinds of books that require hard work.

The Internet and social media have trained my brain to read a paragraph or two, and then start looking around. When I read an online article from the Atlantic or the New Yorker, after a few paragraphs I glance over at the slide bar to judge the article’s length. My mind strays, and I find myself clicking on the sidebars and the underlined links. Soon I’m over at CNN.com reading Donald Trump’s latest tweets and details of the latest terrorist attack, or perhaps checking tomorrow’s weather.

So what can we do to overcome this? Here are some more thoughts, from a positive perspective:

…Charles Chu calculates that at an average reading speed of 400 words per minute, it would take 417 hours in a year to read 200 books—less than the 608 hours the average American spends on social media, or the 1,642 hours watching TV. “Here’s the simple truth behind reading a lot of books,” says Quartz: “It’s not that hard. We have all the time we need. The scary part—the part we all ignore—is that we are too addicted, too weak, and too distracted to do what we all know is important.”

Willpower alone is not enough, he says. We need to construct what he calls “a fortress of habits.” I like that image. Recently I checked author Annie Dillard’s website, in which she states, “I can no longer travel, can’t meet with strangers, can’t sign books but will sign labels with SASE, can’t write by request, and can’t answer letters. I’ve got to read and concentrate. Why? Beats me.” Now that’s a fortress.

I’ve concluded that a commitment to reading is an ongoing battle, somewhat like the battle against the seduction of Internet pornography. We have to build a fortress with walls strong enough to withstand the temptations of that powerful dopamine rush while also providing shelter for an environment that allows deep reading to flourish. Christians especially need that sheltering space, for quiet meditation is one of the most important spiritual disciplines.

Source: The death of reading is threatening the soul