WIMTBR – Love for Christ’s Church – Prof.B. Gritters

SB-Oct1-2015-coverThe first issue of Standard Bearer volume year 92 is now available (October 1, 2015), and in it Prof.B. Gritters returns to continue his series of editorials on “What It Means to be Reformed” (WIMTBR, #8).

This time he begins to address the third “C” of the Reformed faith – “Church”, emphasizing the Reformed believer’s love for the church of Jesus Christ. This editorial is titled “The Church: My Chief Joy,” based in part on Ps.137:6 (and Psalter #379).

This is a portion of his description of that love for the church:

A Reformed believer’s love for the church reflects a profound reality: Christ, who loves the church with a profound love, lives in the believer. That is, Christ creates that love in the believer when Christ Himself comes to live in him. Christ said, ‘I will build my church’ (Matt.16:18, and now Christ in us responds: ‘Build her!’ Christ says, ‘I love her well’ (Psalter #368, from Ps.132); and Christ in us says, ‘We also love her!’

Our love grows when we read Christ’s word in Ephesians that God exalted Him over all things to, or for the sake of, the church (Eph.1:22,23). ‘From heaven he came and sought her.’ Now, in heaven, He governs all things for the church’s sake! As Ephesians teaches ecclesiology – the church’s blessedness, election, redemption, unity, holiness – it reaches one of its pinnacles when chapter four explains why Christ gave gifts to men: for the edifying of the church.

The entire Scripture teaches the importance of the church, ending in Revelation’s letters to the seven churches. And if there remains any question whether a Christian ought to love the church above his chief joy, the question will fade when he understands that, when Christ returns, He does so in order to marry this church and love her forever (Rev.19:7ff.; 21:2).

For more on what is in this Oct.1 issue, see the cover image here (click on it to enlarge). For subscription information, visit the “SB” homepage.

A “Deceased” PRC – But With Visible, Living Fruit

That is how a former member of a now-disbanded PRC church described her. Yes, perhaps this congregation is “deceased”. But I can tell you, she still has visible, living fruit – a testimony to the work of our risen, living Lord and His life-giving Spirit! And this man is one of them!

I have some pictures to share with you of this congregation’s building at the time that she purchased it. All for the low price of $65,000, including a parsonage and Sunday School building! A Dutch deal! Except that the congregation was not much Dutch.


Can you guess which PRC this was? And what was the year in which she made this purchase? And maybe some of the members?

Ok, you get one hint. Here’s a special Seminary guest who is working on a history of this congregation and whom I am assisting with some archival resources. Yes, we DO have a lot of the congregation’s history preserved in our PRC archives. But we can always add more – pictures too! Because I noticed we don’t have many.


A PRC history researcher and writer.

Published in: on October 1, 2015 at 4:40 PM  Comments (8)  

“Imagine the activity, the upheavals, the changes, the disruptions that would ensue if all Christians obediently put into actual practice the will of Christ!” – A. Kuyper

PracticeofGodliness-AKuyper-1948-2We conclude today our use of Dr. Abraham Kuyper’s thoughts on our calling in the church as Reformed Christians from his translated work The Practice of Godliness.

All of these quotes have been from the first section of this work, titled “The Christian Warfare”, where the fifth chapter describes that battle as it takes place in the church of Jesus Christ. This final quotation is also under the sub-heading “obedience.”

     By nature we crave freedom. We say, ‘I shall be master of my fate!’ and ‘I shall do as I please.’ We chafe under rules and laws. Hence we also protest that the church must not interfere with individual self-expression.

And by nature we are also inclined to slothfulness. It is so much more pleasant to sit idle than to exert ourselves! We love our ease.

Imagine the activity, the upheavals, the changes, the disruptions that would ensue if all Christians obediently put into actual practice the will of Christ! We admire the men of old who gave their all and dared to risk their very lives. But our admiration seldom produces willingness to part with our own earthly possessions.

The craving for freedom, plus the distaste for exertion and danger, make it easy for us to accept the teaching: ‘Sit still and see what the Lord will do.’

But we should be up and doing. And the Word says, ‘Whatsoever your hand findeth to do, do it with all your might.’ And, ‘All who would live godly lives shall suffer persecution.’

May He, before whom we humbly confess our own guilt and for whose Name and honor we have striven also in the writing of these essays, use our words to open the eyes of many to their calling as members of the church of Jesus Christ.

Dr. Abraham Kuyper in The Practice of Godliness, (translated and edited by Marian M. Schoolland; Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1948), p.62.

“You simply obey. You are not less zealous, but more; not less constant, but more persevering.” – A.Kuyper

PracticeofGodliness-AKuyper-1948-2Once more we pick up where we left off last time in Abraham Kuyper’s translated work The Practice of Godliness, the first section titled “The Christian Warfare”, where the fifth chapter describes that battle as it takes place in the church of Jesus Christ. This next quotation is under the sub-heading “obedience.”

     Then, too, it no longer matters if there are no immediate results upon your efforts and protests against evil [in the church]. That makes no difference at all.

For you realize that you have no right or claim to a model church. You acknowledge yourself a humble sinner whose imperfections add to the corruption of the church.

Whether you live to see the church sink deeper into the mire, or to see it lifted to higher planes makes no difference. You are in duty bound to defend her against her enemies all the days of your life, with all of God’s children.

You obey. God bids you labor in His vineyard, and you do so with all the strength He gives you. He bids you not to sit with the scoffers and the ungodly, and you separate yourself from them. He bids you resist the onslaughts of evil upon His house, and you resist them.

When you have learned thus to obey, the battle for the Lord goes on without pause, yet calmly and steadily. It is a labor that looks not upon the results.

You are no longer striving for what you want or deem necessary; you are not impatient, not wearied with complaining or unmanned by disappointment. You simply obey. You are not less zealous, but more; not less constant, but more persevering.

And God, who is merciful, will crown your efforts, in home and heart and church, with His blessing.

Dr. Abraham Kuyper in The Practice of Godliness, (translated and edited by Marian M. Schoolland; Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1948), p.61.

“Each must ask himself: Does my zeal for the church flow from my inner battle against sin and Satan?” – A.Kuyper

PracticeofGodliness-AKuyper-1948-2Continuing where we left off last time, we quote again from Dutch theologian and churchman Abraham Kuyper on “fighting the good fight” as members of the church of Jesus Christ:

     The battle for the Lord must begin within ourselves; only then can it kindle outward and be sincerely waged with equal fervor against enemies all around.

Our impassioned battle cry must ever be: Friend or enemy! All that is from the Evil One is your enemy, everywhere and in all forms – in your flesh, in your thoughts, in your very virtues, in the disrupted social conditions, in the schools – lower as well as higher – in your homes, and also in the church of your Lord.

Are you zealous for the church with great enthusiasm, while neglecting the evils which creep into your home, your friendships, your social life, and worst of all neglecting to fight your own personal spiritual battles? Then you are living a lie.

To ‘war the warfare of the Lord’ and to ‘keep the watch of the house of the Lord’ is to battle in every sphere, in every manner, in all relationships; every moment, always and everywhere standing against Satan, always and everywhere and in everything on the side of God.

Many will be ashamed upon reading this, even as our own soul bows in shame at the writing.

For who of us would dare say that his own hands are clean for the battle?

But let that not dishearten! For we must feel ashamed. God’s Word must bring upon us, again and again, a conviction of sin that burns as a fire into our very inmost being.

Only let us take care that our principles remain founded upon the true foundation.

If we fight for the church of God and neglect the evil within our own hearts, however men may attempt to justify such action, we incur the judgment of God.

When we acknowledge our own guilt, acknowledge the justice of the accusation against our false zeal, then pardon is assured us. And the Lord our God will lead us on.

Each must ask himself: Does my zeal for the church flow from my inner battle against sin and Satan?

He who truly takes up the fight against sin and Satan in his own heart and in his personal life, must necessarily fight sin and Satan in the church also.

He who looks on unconcernedly while untruth and sin grow rampant within the church of his Lord is also weak, half-hearted and sickly in his own spiritual battle.

The good fight must be fought in every sphere. In the church and without. Wherever the shadow of Satan falls, the soldier of the Lord is called to prompt action.

Dr. Abraham Kuyper in the chapter titled “The Church of Jesus Christ” (and the section headed by “Fighting the Good Fight”), found in The Practice of Godliness, (translated and edited by Marian M. Schoolland; Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1948), pp.59-60.

Persecution: What the Future Holds – Owen Strachan

What the Future Holds by Owen Strachan | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

TT-August-2015The fourth featured article in the August issue of Tabletalk on the theme of persecution is written by Dr. Owen Strachan, associate professor of Christian theology and church history at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY and president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

Dr. Strachan addresses “What the Future Holds” in his article, and he presents a very realistic picture of what Christians can expect in this country. He lays out four main points, all of which are worth reading and contemplating.

What I really appreciated, however, was the way in which Strachan closed out his thoughts. These words especially, it seems to me, are worth our careful pondering.

There will be no retreat of the church. We will never stop witnessing unto life. We will never cease to minister the gospel. We will not forget the holy Apostles. We remember how they welcomed the jail cell, the Roman prison ship, the hair-raising tribunal. In any and all settings, they preached Christ. They went so far as to believe that God had not only permitted such moments, but had appointed them for His glory (Acts 5:41). They saw suffering with Christ as a privilege, much as this challenges our material sensibilities. We must not forget that if the church is unsettled, it is not by accident. It is by divine design, and it will be used for divine purposes.

While we live, like the priests of old in fallen Jerusalem, we may weep (Ezra 3:11–13). We cannot forget the millions of babies driven into the afterlife at abortion clinics. We cannot erase the suffering felt in fatherless homes and families detonated by selfish sin and bitter divorce. We cannot help but think back to past days, happy days, that celebrated the good of religious people and did not seek their undoing. All these trends speak to fallenness. All of them deserve our tears.

We will weep. But we will also dry our eyes. We will rise to our feet. Whether in a gated community, a busy city, a tense workroom, a chilly playgroup, or a prison cell, we will never cease to speak and to minister the gospel. The gospel was not made for quiet days and easy questions. It was made for the toughest stuff, the worst of times, the hardest of circumstances.

What does the future hold? The future will bring suffering. The days will be evil, as they have been (Eph. 5:16). But the future is bright, because God is real. The church must take heart. We have a living Lord. When history concludes, we will reign with unbroken bodies in a world of love. We will worship the Lamb of God, slain from before the foundation of the earth. There is no life like this life. There is no hope like this hope. There is no God like our God.

“…There can be no true zeal for the church without spiritual warfare against sin.” – A.Kuyper

Fight we must, constantly, without rest. Every child of God is a soldier of Jesus Christ, called as were the Levites of old to war the warfare of the Lord. And every office bearer must know that as he takes office he enters into that warfare.

It is a warfare for God, against Satan. It is a participation in the war which God himself wages against Satan, and which God’s holy angels wage against Satan’s angel-hosts. The war of the world against the King of glory. The war of the spirit against the flesh.  War within us and without. War which emanates from God and is directed against the might of Satan, the world, death, sin, deceit, and the lusts of the flesh.

Therefore it is a war of every one who is anointed with the Holy Spirit. He must fight with Christ, for Christ, and under the leadership of Christ.

…It is evident, then, that there can be no true zeal for the church without spiritual warfare against sin.

Zeal for the church, however pious it may appear to be, is abominable hypocrisy if it goes hand in hand with neglect of spiritual warfare against such enemies of God as lying, uncleanness, self-righteousness, cold-heartedness.

Some there are who pretend to be faithful watchmen upon Zion’s walls but harbor such sins in their own hearts, or overlook them in their children and fellow-church members.

They are unfaithful.

For they allow the enemy free play within. They cry out against the danger of the wolf howling outside the walls, while a pack of wolves is busily devouring the sheep within!

This is not real devotion to the cause of Christ. Nor does it reveal true faith.

PracticeofGodliness-AKuyper-1948-2Dr. Abraham Kuyper in the chapter titled “The Church of Jesus Christ” (and the section headed by “Fighting the Good Fight”), found in The Practice of Godliness, (translated and edited by Marian M. Schoolland; Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1948), pp.57-58.

Persecution around the World – Dave Furman

Persecution around the World by Dave Furman | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

TT-August-2015The third featured article on persecution in the August Tabletalk is pastor Dave Furman’s. His article focuses on the worldwide persecution taking place currently, including in his own country of Dubai, where he is serving as pastor.

After describing a case very close to his church, Furman broadens his scope, pointing out concrete ways in which Christians are experiencing persecution throughout the world.

Part of his article is headed by the words “Our Hope in Persecution”, and it is from that section that I quote today. Referencing 1 Peter 4:13-14, Furman makes the following comforting comments:

There is blessing for the persecuted and there is cause for rejoicing.

We have hope in persecution because we are made for another place. We are “citizens” of heaven (Phil. 3:20). We are by nature strangers, foreigners, and even exiles in this world (1 Peter 1:1). Our eternal passport is not Kenyan, Indian, Filipino, or Canadian. In God’s kingdom, we no longer receive our identities from the place we were born, but from the place into which we were born again for all eternity. This is why the world doesn’t feel like home. This is why we face persecution: we’re of another place.

Fellow Christian, a day is coming when there will be no more sickness and death. No more imprisonments and slander. We will not suffer the anxiety of car bombs or kidnappings. The downtrodden and depressed will sing of their never-ending gladness in Jesus. God will dwell among us forever.

The gospel is good news for the persecuted because there is nothing we can do to lose God’s grip on our lives. Peter says, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit” (1 Peter 3:18). The gospel is not about getting you to heaven—it’s about getting you to God. The good news of the gospel is that we get God. I’ve often heard R.C. Sproul say that a better way to describe the doctrine of perseverance of the saints is to say the “preservation of the saints.” God won’t stop short of bringing us home. Even though our bodies might be destroyed on this earth, God will keep us to the end. We can entrust our souls to the living God of the universe (1 Peter 4:19). Our inheritance is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for us by God Himself. It is guarded through God’s power (1:3–4).

As persecution increases – including here in the U.S., it is good for us to remember these truths.

Prayers of the Reformers (3) – Calvin and Coverdale

prayersofreformers-manschreckThe following two prayers I came across today while browsing further through the wonderful collection of prayers titled, Prayers of the Reformers, compiled by Clyde Manschreck and published by Muhlenberg Press in 1958 (for the previous post on this, visit this page).

I was looking for some that would tie in with the quote from Abraham Kuyper in my previous post. You will be able to see how the following two prayers relate to Kuyper’s comments about working and waiting in connection with the return of our Lord.

The first is a prayer of John Calvin, and given the title “For the growth of the church” by the editor:

Grant, almighty God, since thou dost try the faith of thy people by many tests, that they may obtain strength from the unconquered fortitude of thy Holy Spirit. May we constantly march under thy standard, even to the end, and never succumb to any temptation. May we join intelligence with zeal in building up thy church. As each of us is endowed with superior gifts, so may he strive for the edification of his brethren with greater boldness, manliness, and fervor, while he endeavors to add numbers to the cause. And should the number diminish, yet may some seed always remain, until abundant produce shall flow forth from it, and such fruitfulness arise as shall cause thy name to be glorified throughout the world, in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The second is a prayer of Miles Coverdale, and headed by the words “For steadfastness in vocation”:

O Lord Jesus Christ, our Shield and Protector, grant us grace steadfastly to continue in our holy vocation, and to abide in thy service; that through no tediousness or sloth may we shrink or cease from the fervency of good works and holy exercises; that we, being always ready with watching and prayer, may steadfastly stand, and with a constant mind despise all bodily provocations, showing patience in adversity, not fearing the slanderers and despiteful words of the world; that in the only eternal wealth we may set all our trust, and never go back from the cross for wealth or woe; but that under the same banner, through true patience, meekness, and obedience, we may finish our life with a blessed end. Amen.

A History of Persecution – George Grant – August “Tabletalk”

A History of Persecution by George Grant | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

TT-August-2015This month’s issue of Tabletalk centers on the theme of persecution – persecution against Christians and the Christian church.

The second main article on this subject covers the history of persecution, and is written by Dr. George Grant, pastor of Parish Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Franklin, TN. I found this broad treatment to be profitable and provide you the link to it here on the Ligonier website.

Here are a few paragraphs from Grant’s article:

The horrific ruthlessness of ISIS, the brazen cruelty of Boko Haram, the obsessive repression of the North Korean Juche, the vicious terrorism of al-Qaeda—I confess that when confronted with the persecution of my Christian brothers and sisters around the world in recent days, I am shocked. But I know I shouldn’t be. Long ago, the Apostle Paul asserted, “All those who desire to live godly lives will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12). There is no way around it. Persecution is inevitable.

Throughout church history, believers have suffered persecution and obscurity. They have been beaten, ridiculed, defrocked, and defamed. They have suffered poverty, isolation, betrayal, and disgrace. They have been hounded, harassed, and murdered. The heroes of the faith have always been those who sacrificed their lives, fortunes, and reputations for the sake of the gospel. Indeed, persecution and martyrdom have been among the church’s highest callings and greatest honors.

In the first three centuries of the church, from Nero to Diocletian, Roman imperial and provincial persecutions were fierce. Tradition tells us of gladiators in the Colosseum, lions in the Circus Maximus, and staked pyres in the Forum as threatening the earliest believers. They were forced into a precarious, often secretive existence, living on the margins of society and meeting in catacombs, caverns, and copse (thicket of trees) hideaways. Yet they persevered. As Tertullian quipped, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”

I also appreciated this section at the end of the article, where Grant treats how Christians must respond to persecution:

Merciful service in the face of suffering is “often the glue that holds together the varied fragments of the confessing church,” Romanian pastor Josef Tson says. It affords the church “strong bonds of unity, compassion, and tenderheartedness,” Russian evangelist Georgi Vins says. “In the face of tyranny, oppression, and humiliation, the church has no option but to be the church,” Croatian pastor Josep Kulacik asserts. “Disguised as evil, persecution comes to us as an ultimate manifestation of God’s good providence,” Bosnian Christian leader Frizof Gemielic says, “because it provokes us toward a new-found dependence upon His grace, upon His Word, and upon His people. It is in that sense a paradoxical blessing perhaps even more profound than prosperity.”


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