Why Care about Doctrine? To Worship God Aright – Rev. B. Huizinga, March 15, 2018 “Standard Bearer”


The latest issue of the Standard Bearer is now available (March 15, 2018) and among its edifying articles is the second installment of Rev. Brian Huizinga’s little series titled “Why?” penned for the rubric “Taking Heed to the Doctrine.”

In these articles he is answering the question, ‘Why take heed to doctrine?” That is, as Reformed Christians who confess to believe the truths contained in the Word of God and summarized in the Reformed confessions, “why hold on to and pay attention to this doctrine?”

To this question he gives a six-pronged answer, the third of which we reference in this post. That third reply is “worship: because doctrine of the foundation for worship.” Here’s more of what he has to say about this reason for embracing sound doctrine:

The goal of all things is the worship of God. The redeemed church exists for God’s glory. Unlike the reprobate wicked whom God uses to glorify Himself in spite of their hatred for Him, and unlike the brute creation which gives glory to God without conscious awareness of it, believers in the church have an intellectual understanding of God by faith and willingly, consciously, and joyfully extol Him from the heart. But how can we arrive at an understanding of our covenant God apart from a careful study of His revelation to us in the doctrines (teachings) of the Bible? We must worship God in Spirit and in truth (John 4:24); therefore, doctrinal knowledge is a sine qua non for worship.

To put it differently, doctrine exists for the purpose of doxology and is necessary for doxology even as the foundation exists for the house and is necessary for the house. No doctrine means no doxology, and false doctrine tends to idolatry. We take heed to doctrine so that we might rightly know and then fittingly praise our God. 

…When a congregation of believing sinners is brought to stand under the shadow of the cross and see the eternal, unchangeable, particular, saving love of God through a faithfully explained, sensibly applied and dynamically delivered exposition of Scripture by a preacher who cries, “Behold your God!” hearts come alive in fruitful worship.

Who exclaims in doxology, “Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God…for of Him and through Him and to Him are all things to whom be glory forever, Amen!” (Rom. 11:33-36), but that blessed Jewish or Grecian soul that has sat spellbound at the feet of the holy apostle listening to him explain with careful doctrinal precision the righteousness of God that is revealed from faith to faith?

Who sings in doxology, “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory forever and ever, Amen!” (I Tim. 1:17), but that humble speck of dust who has first given himself to serious contemplation of the loaded doctrinal statement, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am chief,” (I Tim. 1:15) and made it his own?

Who cries in doxology, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of thy glory!” (Is. 6:3) and cries so loudly that the posts of the doors move (Is. 6:4), but that creature, heavenly or other, who has stood in the immediate presence of the enthroned God?

We take heed to doctrine. Why? It is the foundation of our worship. The church must take heed to sound doctrine, for only the foundation of sound doctrine – Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone – makes possible a fitly framed building of doxology to God. Orthodoxy! Orthodoxy not for the sake of orthodoxy; orthodoxy for the sake of doxology.

Precious food for our souls as we live in these doctrinally parched times. May our thirst for God lead us to hunger for His truth, so that we break forth in praise to Him.

March “Tabletalk”: Loving the Neighbor and Resisting the Spirit of Our Age

TT-March-2018We have not yet introduced the March 2018 issue of Tabletalk and tonight affords us the opportunity.

This month’s issue has as its theme “Loving Our Neighbors.” Editor Burk Parsons leads us into a good understanding of the subject and of our calling as Christians in his editorial “Enabled to Love.” Here is part of what he has to say:

Although we often hear about loving God, we don’t as often hear about loving our neighbor. And while we can certainly distinguish between these commandments, we cannot ultimately separate them, for we cannot claim to love God while at the same time hating our neighbor. If we truly love God, we will love our neighbor. What’s more, those who attempt to narrowly restrict the identity of who our neighbor is must remember that Jesus also said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:43–45). As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called not only to love our neighbor but to love our enemies, and sometimes they are one and the same. Just as our love for one another demonstrates that we are disciples of Christ (John 13:35), our love for our enemies demonstrates that we are sons of our Father. If we belong to the Lord, we will love the Lord, because He first loved us—enabling us to love Him and our neighbor to such a degree that we would pray for and speak the truth in love to our neighbor. We love our neighbor in the hope that he might know the truth of God and, by His grace, turn to the Lord in faith, believing the gospel as the Spirit enables him to love the Lord and his neighbor, even sinful, albeit justified, neighbors like us.

Subsequent articles in the issue address who our neighbor is and why we should love him, loving ourselves, loving our family, loving the church, loving our communities, loving the unlovely, and Christ and the love of neighbor. Profitable subject, indeed.

It is, however, another rubric article that I wish to draw attention to this evening. Under the rubric “City on a Hill,” Matthew Roberts writes about “Resisting the Spirit of the Age.” In it he tackles the “new” religion of today’s secularists who claim to have freedom from religion. He shows that while they argue that they are free of all gods (especially the Christian one!) and all religious beliefs and practices, in reality they have simply taken another idol god and practice another false religion.

What follows is part of what he says by way of Christian response:

So, then, this is the spirit of our age. How are we to respond? In the same way, of course, that Christians in every age are called to respond to the reigning idols of their day. Let’s go back to Paul in Acts 17.

First, we must get God right (vv. 24–25, 29). The God of the Bible is the only, the true, the ultimate God. There are no fundamentals of human civilization deeper than Him. We must see the secular version of “freedom” not as our friend or a safeguard for our private religion, but as a false, invented deity to be decried and to be denied the worship it desires. There will be no defeating of identity politics and all the horrors of our secular age in any other way.

Second, we must get history right. The “progress” of “freedom” assumed by our age is an illusion and a lie. Rather, history is leading unstoppably from the resurrection of Christ to His return to judge the world (v. 31). The story of now is the story of the risen Christ calling people to turn from idols to serve the living and true God (1 Thess. 1:9–10). We live waiting for that day. We therefore need to lose our fear of persecution. It is to be expected for those who refuse to worship the idols of this age. But it will be temporary, and at its end is a crown of glory.

Third, we must get the gospel right. For too long, conservative Christians have presented the gospel as if it were an option, one of the ways in which those who hear us may exercise their (unquestioned) service of the god “freedom.” But the Bible never speaks in this way. Rather, God “commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). We don’t ask the world to give people permission to worship the Christian God; we proclaim to the world the imperative to worship the Christian God. And attached to that imperative is the promise of mercy to all who come to do so through Christ.

We resist the spirit of the age by refusing to worship the idols of the age. And we do this by trusting, obeying, and worshiping the one true God of this and every age, who has called us to know Him forever through His Son and by His Spirit.

This tied in well with our pastor’s sermon this morning on the first article of our Christian faith: “I believe in God the Father almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.” He explained the Heidelberg Catechism’s beautiful explanation of this truth in Lord’s Day 9:

Q. 26.  What believest thou when thou sayest, “I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth”?
A.  That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (who of nothing made heaven and earth, with all that is in them; who likewise upholds and governs the same by His eternal counsel and providence) is, for the sake of Christ His Son, my God and my Father;3 on whom I rely so entirely, that I have no doubt but He will provide me with all things necessary for soul and body; and further, that He will make whatever evils He sends upon me, in this valley of tears, turn out to my advantage; for He is able to do it, being Almighty God, and willing, being a faithful Father.

What a blessing of God’s grace to know and trust in this one true God, who has revealed Himself to us in His Word and in all His daily providences as our loving Father – for Christ Jesus’ sake!

Help and Hope for the Bullys and the Bullied – The March 2018 “Beacon Lights”

Anti-Bully BL-ad-2018

As we pointed out in a post a few weeks ago, the March 2018 issue of the Beacon Lights (the Protestant Reformed youth magazine) is devoted to the subject of bullying. Now that it is out and available, we can encourage you to get it and read it so as to benefit from its timely theme.

This is not an easy subject to treat. Not least of all, because it convicts all of us of the sins of bullying that we have committed. And that exposes us in the sins of hating our neighbor and of hating the God who made our neighbor, as the editor and other writers for this special issue point out.

But is there hope for us? And is there hope for those who have experienced the painful reality of this sin? Yes, indeed there is. And, as we might know, it is found alone in our Savior, Jesus Christ and in His sin-crushing, peace-making, love-producing cross.

The editorial by new editor Dewey Engelsma, “Delivering the Helpless,” is as significant as his story that precedes it, “Murder on a School Bus.” Read the latter first and weep, for yourself and for those we have hurt in such a way. And then read this from Engelsma’s editorial:

Where then for relief, for the bullied, the bully, and bystander alike? For that we must look to the one of which Job was merely a type. And it is that someone greater that not only provides a perfect example of a holy life, but himself gives courage to the redeemed bystander, so that they no longer stand idly by, but jump up to the defense of the bullied person, and show “mercy and compassion every man to his brother” (Zech 7:9).

Where else for relief but the cross that stands at Calvary? At the foot of that cross three parties come together in peace at last, the bullied, the humbled oppressor, and the repentant bystander, all clinging to the One crucified. For it is the bullied child herself, the reed that was not broken, and the flax that was not extinguished, who finally by the grace of their Savior experienced “judgment unto victory” (Matt. 12:20). It is the bully himself who is transformed by God into a blessed peacemaker, and who now is at peace with his God through the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1).

And for you, the young person who doubts they have the strength to stand up for the bullied person? You are right. When God’s people rely on their own strength, “even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall” (Isa. 40:30). You don’t have the strength. You will fail time and time again. Until you finally find your strength in the Son of God, the Son who not only stood up for you, but gave himself for you (Gal. 2:20). This is the one who empowers you courageously to defend the weak and powerless, so that when you have against all odds delivered “him that had none to help him,” your victory cry will be, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:13).

In that light we can weep for joy, even as we seek the joy of those wounded spirits among us.

Shall we fight the sin and find the joy in Christ alone?


If you are not yet a subscriber, visit the Beacon Light’s subscription page where you will find information on how to become one. Now would be a good time to join the ranks of young (and old) Reformed readers.

Doing Theology to the Glory of God

TT-Feb-2018Today I did some final reading of the main articles in the February 2018 Tabletalk. The theme this month, as we pointed out earlier this month, is “Doing Theology,” a favorite subject and activity of Ligonier’s founder, Dr. R. C. Sproul, who passed away late last year.

Today I read the final article on this theme, “The Goal of Doing Theology” by Dr. Sinclair Ferguson. It too is a fine contribution to the subject, as Ferguson shows us plainly from the Word of God that we are called to do theology with one main purpose in view: the glory of our God – soli Deo gloria!

I’ve pulled a few of his thoughts together from the online version, which you may reference above to read the entire article. It will be to your profit to do so, even if you think you are not a theologian. Because, remember, as “R.C” liked to remind us, “everyone’s a theologian.”

…Theology is a joyful and glorious activity because it is ultimately about the glory and joy of our God. Its goal is that of the angels, indeed, of God Himself: this combination of glorifying and enjoying God, which is to the unbeliever the ultimate contradiction but for Christians the discovery of our destiny.

From there, Ferguson takes us to the letters of the apostle Paul, in particular, to Romans. Here is part of what he says about Paul’s perspective in this letter:

Next to the Lord Jesus, no one has embodied what this means more fully than the Apostle Paul. His thirteen letters (totaling a mere seventy pages in the Bible on my desk) turn out to be heavier than a man can lift, so densely packed are they with theology in all its forms. And the style? Soli Deo gloria.

Sit down for an hour with a concordance and look up the verses in Paul’s letters that contain the words “glory” and “glorify.” It will leave you breathless, at least metaphorically. The glory of God is the magnetic pole of his thinking. He had seen it in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6). And those who have seen this glory can never be satisfied unless they taste more of it, and think more clearly about it. Like a young man who has seen a “glory” in a young woman (1 Cor. 11:7), we long to know more, to meditate lovingly, and to describe eloquently. Theology is simply eloquence about God, called forth by His glory.

And, speaking about that marvelous section of Romans, chapters 9-11, he writes this:

These three chapters, then, are perhaps the headiest theology anywhere to be found in Paul’s letters. But what they reveal is that the doctrines of creation (from Him), providence (through Him), redemption (by Him), and final consummation (to Him) all are shaped by this one great end: the glory of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

From this Ferguson draws this fitting conclusion:

…There is a grandeur to this perspective because it makes sense of cosmic reality; it humbles and exalts us; it leads us to our true “end.” In Thomas Aquinas’ summary, theology teaches God, is taught by God, and leads to God. What more can we ask for if indeed the chief end of both men and angels is “to glorify God and to enjoy him forever”?

Is that the controlling purpose and the driving principle of all our theologizing? If not, it is not worth anything – not for the here nor for the hereafter.

The Suffering Prophet – M. Schipper


The suffering Prophet must follow the prophetic Scripture as He treads the way of suffering—all the way to the cross!

And so, when He chooses Judas to betray Him, He was only walking precisely in the way the Father had mapped out for Him. Not only had the Lord God determined in His counsel the fact and the manner in which the Savior should suffer, but He had also prescribed in the Scriptures all the steps the Savior would have to follow as He descended as it were into the valley of suffering. This prescription the Redeemer had to follow in detail. Hence, the Scripture must be fulfilled!

Now it should be remembered that when David wrote by inspiration the history of his betrayal by Ahithophel he was at the same time reflecting on the suffering of Christ. And Christ, Who understood clearly that these Scriptures were the revelation of God’s counsel concerning Himself and His way of suffering, chose Judas as the betrayer, both to fulfill the Scripture and to enter into the depths of His suffering—also into that aspect of it as inflicted on Him by Judas Iscariot.

But why could not the Lord Jesus have been captured and crucified without a betrayal? Why must He be delivered into the hands of sinful men by a familiar friend?

The answer is: Judas’ sin is our sin!

We have lifted up the heel against our Friend, and that Friend is our Covenant God. Jesus must bear away in His suffering all our sin and make satisfaction for all our sin, also this sin. Let us not in pride condemn Judas, though he is to be condemned; but let us humble ourselves before the face of God and taste His salvation.

Now the suffering Prophet may prophecy to His disciples, and to us!

Almost a year before He had told them that one of them was a devil and would betray Him. But they had not understood. And it was well that they had not understood, for had they known they might have cast Judas from their midst. But now the Prophet must speak clearly so that the betrayer can also understand: “The Scripture must be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me.”

And the reason why they must know now is expressed in the verse following our text: “Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he.”

That ye may know that in spite of all that is about to take place, I am the Messiah; and that I am the One of Whom David did write in the Psalms. And that I am the One Who took your sins upon Me, also the sin of lifting up your heel against your Covenant Friend, the God of your salvation.

That ye may believe!

And believing, ye may be saved!

Taken from a Lenten meditation on John 13:18 and Psalm 41:9 by Marinus Schipper (then minister of the Word in SE PRC, Grand Rapids, MI) published in the February 15, 1969 issue of the Standard Bearer.

A Whole Issue on Bullying?! Yes, and Necessary – The March 2018 “Beacon Lights”

Anti-Bully BL-ad-2018

Soon the March 2018 issue of the Beacon Lights will be out (the Protestant Reformed youth magazine), and it is an entire issue devoted to the subject of bullying.

Yes, bullying, that subject which has received so much attention in the world about us and which is now also being confronted in the church of Christ and kingdom of God. Bullying, that hateful, shameful, powerful conduct that has such tragic consequences in the lives of children and young people – covenant, Christian children and young people too. Perhaps all the more so because it has been carried out by fellow professing covenant, Christian children and young people. Indeed, it is time for this conduct to be called out and confronted, confessed and killed – with the sword of the Spirit and the blood of Jesus.

Are we ready to face the sad sin of bullying?

In this special March issue you will read the subject introduced by managing editor Ryan Kregel. Part of what he has to say is this:

Today, the violence of bullying exists in homes and workplaces. Bullying happens in schools, public and Christian. Bullies come in all ages, male and female. Bullies use many means to accomplish their goal of dominating another person. Sometimes physical abuse is the method, whether a violent, even bloody assault at one time or the daily slapping, spitting, and tripping of the victim. Bullying is also manifest in words. Sometimes the victim endures a barrage of insults day after day. Other times the words are written in notes passed around the classroom, sent as text messages, scratched into the wall of the bathroom stall, or posted on social media. No matter their form, they are meant to hurt, cut down, and kill.

Maybe you have witnessed bullying at school or elsewhere. You probably noticed that the victim didn’t go on the defensive because most victims do not. So did you do anything about it? Did you make their unspoken voice heard? Did you defend the victim or did you join in? Keep in mind that helping a victim of bullying must go further than just “telling off” the bully. Helping ought to include befriending the victim. Through this action we show an awareness of how we ourselves have been befriended by God through Jesus Christ.

From the editor, Dewey Engelsma, you will read about “Murder on a School Bus” and “Delivering the Helpless” (more on these in another post). You will also find articles on “The Offense of Cyberbullying” and “A Letter of Comfort for the Bullied Young Person.”

Yes, the sin of bullying is exposed in this BL issue. It is a painful matter.  But the marvelous mercy of God is also laid bare. Mercy that leads to confession and prayer for help. Mercy that forgives and heals. Mercy that makes us merciful to confront the bully and to help the helpless. As Mr. Kregel adds at the end of his introduction,

Thanks be to God that there is comfort for the
victim of bullying. God promises to “give his angels
charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways” (Ps.
91:11). He also says of the one in need of help, “He
shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be
with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honor
him” (v. 15).

BL-logoWatch for this issue, and when it comes read it carefully and prayerfully. If you are not yet a subscriber, visit the Beacon Light’s subscription page where you will find information on how to become one. Now would be a good time to join the ranks.

A Plea to Read – Reformed Perspective

…or, the story of a boy, a repairman, and the Truth This recent article (posted Feb.1, 2018) on the Reformed Perspective website follows well on the heels of my previous post about the importance of “doing theology.”

In it, Rev. William den Hollander makes a “plea to read” based on the point that we are all theologians. But our theology, he correctly points, is dependent on the sources we use. And that’s where reading comes in. Here’s the point he wants to get across:

So, if we’re all theologians then the important question is what kind of theologians are we going to be? You see, the problem with the atheist isn’t that he’s a theologian, it’s that his theology is coming from the wrong source. If we don’t study theology from the right sources – if we don’t allow our thoughts and words about God to be shaped by the right sources – then our theology is going to be shaped by the wrong sources. If we don’t consciously do theology – that is, if we don’t consciously train our minds in the knowledge of God – we’re going to end up basing our theology either on our own experiences and our own feelings or on whatever else we happen to be taking in.

Because we are reading. Maybe some of us – and I’m talking especially about my generation and younger – are reading more than ever. I’m thinking of social media. Don’t tell me you’re not a reader if you’re on Facebook or Twitter. Maybe those who only use Instagram, which focuses on pictures, can have a legitimate claim not to be readers, but the other social media users can’t. [1]

But the problem with only reading online, and not engaging in books, is that by its very nature the online world tends towards the superficial. Let’s think specifically of theology – of the study of God. If your thoughts are shaped by your reading of little quotes that someone decided to share, taken out of context, written by who knows who, or if all you read are the musings of someone who is just “feeling philosophical” (as the Facebook status often says) then you can’t expect anything but superficial knowledge.

That, I think, is the biggest danger with losing our interest in reading deeply and studying deeply the doctrines of God found in his Word. We end up with an overall superficiality in terms of our theology, what we know about God. Worse, we can rely more on our subjective experiences than the objective truth we find in God’s Word.

Important point, is it not? It applies to reading blogs like mine too, with its short quotations and references to what others say on a given subject. But I hope you know by now that the point of my blog is precisely to accomplish what den Hollander is pleading for – more and better (deeper) reading, especially when it comes to our theology – our study of (learning about) God!

So don’t just read; read longer and deeper, as well as wider. In the Word. And in the words of men who have studied the Word and reflected on it and want to teach us something more about our God. Be a theologian grounded in God’s own self-revelation.

To read the rest of den Hollander’s article, visit the RP link below.

Source: A PLEA TO READ – Reformed Perspective

Doing Theology – February 2018 “Tabletalk”

TT-Feb-2018The February 2018 Tabletalk is out, with this month’s issue being devoted to a favorite subject of its founder, Dr. R. C. Sproul. That subject is “Doing Theology,” and Sproul is referenced often in this issue, in particular, his book Everyone’s a Theologian.

Editor Burk Parsons introduces the issue  and its theme with his article “Doers, Not Hearers Only.” This is part of that introduction:

Doing theology means studying Scripture and studying the words of our faithful forefathers who faithfully studied Scripture. It means studying the historic creeds and confessions of the church, which serve as helpful summaries and explanations of what Scripture teaches. It means studying not only books on systematic theology but also biblical commentaries, as well as books on hermeneutics (the method of interpreting Scripture), church history, historical theology, and even Christian living (how to apply theology in all of life), for theology rightly understood is theology rightly applied in life. It also means studying theology as we sit under the ministry of the Word in our local churches, week in and week out, through worship, song, and the sacraments. For when we study theology, we are studying God, that we might rightly know, love, worship, and proclaim the triune God of Scripture, not the god of our own making.

The first featured article on the theme of the issue is “How Not to Do Theology” by associate editor Robert Rothwell. In the course of his article he distinguishes between solo Scriptura and sola Scriptura (notice the single vowel difference in the two solas):

To fail to recognize that we are actually doing theology all the time and especially when reading the Bible is one aspect of what it means to practice solo Scriptura. In essence, we may define solo Scriptura as the belief that we do not need the assistance of the church, the creeds, and teachers throughout history in order to rightly understand the Bible. The practitioner of solo Scriptura thinks that he is not bringing any preconceived notions to his study of the Bible. He believes that simply studying the Word of God on his own is sufficient to guide him into all truth.

Sola Scriptura, on the other hand, says that while the Bible is the only infallible authority for the church, believers actually need the help of subordinate, fallible authorities to understand divine revelation rightly. Creeds, theologians from the present and past, and one’s local church all provide useful guidance in understanding the Word of God. They provide a way for us to measure the accuracy of our private interpretations of Scripture. Christ has promised to be with His church and to guide His corporate people in the understanding of His truth (Matt. 28:20; Eph. 4:11–13). Among other things, that means that He does not speak in a code that only a few can understand, and He does not grant insight to us as individuals that He fails to give to other people. If we think we have discovered something new in Scripture, it is probably not true, and it is probably not a new error either.

As Protestants, we have to think carefully about the right of private interpretation and how we as individuals relate to the wisdom of the church. The story of the Reformation is sometimes told as a story of rugged individualism, of individuals who came to independent conclusions and who resisted error because they had the courage to stand for the truth when no one else would. Certainly, many of the Reformers reached points at which they felt as if no one was standing with them, but they also recognized that they were, in fact, not really teaching anything new. Martin Luther advocated for justification by faith alone and for Scripture as our only infallible authority, but others came to the same conclusions as he did independent of his work even though Luther’s personality shaped the Reformation decisively. And Luther and others came to these conclusions by recognizing that the final authority of Scripture does not mean other subordinate authorities have nothing to teach us. In fact, one of their criticisms of the Roman Catholic Church was that it is not catholic—universal—or ancient enough. The Reformers appealed to the church fathers, medieval theologians, and earlier creeds to show that it was the papacy that had struck out on its own, not the Reformers.

So are you a theologian? Indeed you (we) are! The question is, What kind of theologian are you and am I? Are we theologians whose foundation is the holy Scriptures, God’s only source of authoritative and infallible teaching? And are we theologians in the context of a church that holds to this inspired and infallible authority?

Of course, we also “do theology” in accordance with the historic creeds of Christ’s church. There’s an article on that too in this issue! So, we will also consider that aspect of our theology later this month.

For now, let’s get busy with our theology by reading and studying God’s holy Word!

How shall we respond to the sins of our land? – Prof. B. Gritters

SB-Jan15-2018-coverWe live in very wicked lands. Of course, we must not partake of their evils or we will perish with them. But how do we respond to these evils? Are we aware of the danger of a self-righteous anger very similar to the one we criticize in others? How should I, as a Christian respond?

I will begin by expressing to God sorrow for the sins of the nation of which I am a part. …I am a citizen of this land and thus guilty of her sins by corporate responsibility. We start there, humbling ourselves before God and confessing our nation’s sins. If righteous Daniel in Babylonian captivity could confess as his own the sins of Israel, of which he had no active and conscious part (Dan.9 is one of the most moving confessions in all of Scripture), citizens of a country do well to confess their guilt for the country’s sins.

Then, we will ask what active part we have played in the sins of the nation. In what do we participate? In its sexual sin? On television, in video games, on the Internet, in books? In what way do we approve of or find pleasure in its violence? What part of the lie do we willingly partake in by judging rashly, or believing every word we hear in the politically conservative news? Does our use of social media always comport with the call to speak the truth in love?

And what of our own sinful nature? Full of corruption of every sort, with the potential of sin of every kind, burning with lusts no different than those of any unbeliever, we confess that we are evil, born in sin. We are, in our nature, so corrupt that we are wholly incapable of performing any good and inclined to all wickedness. We confess this with sincerity, and deepest humility and shame.

We see the flood ready to overwhelm us.

By faith, though, we do not despair. Certainly, we do not look with self-righteous pride at everyone else, but with shame at our own sins and sinfulness. And then we flee from this destructive flood to Jesus Christ and to His church, the ‘ark’ where is safety.

Quoted from the closing portion of the editorial of Prof. B. Gritters in the January 15, 2018 issue of the Standard Bearer. The title of this article is “What has happened to the United States?” Look for more on this in the issues to come (Feb.1 and Feb.15).

What Are We Afraid Of? – M.Smethurst

TT-Jan-2018Today before our worship services I did some more reading in the new issue of Tabletalk (January 2018), which is built around the theme of “Fearing God.”

The first main feature article is by Matt Smethurst and is titled “What Are We Afraid Of?” The author does an excellent job of analyzing our human fears and pointing us to the one whom we ought truly to fear.

Tonight we pull a few choice sections from this article to give us some good, spiritually healthy food for thought, both negative and positive.

First, the negative:

The achievements of modern life—medicinal, technological, and otherwise—have given us an ever-increasing sense of control. Actually, more than a sense. We really do enjoy more control over more aspects of life than ever before in history. We’re so accustomed to a convenient, custom-designed, there’s-an-app-for-that quality of life that we’re more shocked when things are hard than when they’re easy.

Without realizing it, this increasing sense of control can begin to feel natural, intuitive, right. Not a gift, mind you—a right. And we start to believe that if we can simply manage our fears, they will never master us.

We are wrong, and we are miserable.

But it’s even worse. Addicted to what we can control, we extend the borders of our kingdom into realms we can’t control. We try to control circumstances, but trials rudely show up uninvited. We try to control people, but they don’t stick to our wonderful plan for their lives. We try to control our future, but He who sits in the heavens always seems to laugh (Ps. 2:4).

And now consider this positive instruction:

So what is the answer to our dilemma? How can we disentangle ourselves from the fears that won’t leave us alone? One answer is the doctrine of inerrancy. Yes, inerrancy. Simply put, if your Bible is not wholly true, then you should be terrified. Why? Because if your Bible is not wholly true, then you have no reason to trust that the One in charge of your life is both great and good.

I’m so grateful that my college campus minister, Dan Flynn, loved to emphasize these twin truths from Scripture. “God can and God cares,” he would say. I didn’t quite realize it at the time, but in those simple words he was distinguishing biblical Christianity from every religion on the market. Protestant liberalism, for example, offers a God who is good but not great. He cares, but He can’t. He’s a nice buddy, an experienced life coach, even a world-class psychotherapist, but ultimately He’s just “the man upstairs.” Meanwhile, other religions such as Islam offer the opposite: a God who is great but not entirely good. A God who can, but perhaps doesn’t care.

But when we open our Bibles, something unprecedented happens. It’s stunning, really. We encounter a living Lord who is both great and good, sovereign and kind, who can and who cares.

If God were only good, I would go to bed frightened. How could I worship someone who, bless His heart, means well and is doing His best? But I would likewise go to bed frightened if He were only sovereign. What assurance is there in knowing He’s mighty if He’s not merciful? What comfort is there in a deity who doesn’t care about us?

Strikes home, doesn’t it? What are you and what am I afraid of? What we cannot control. And who has it all under control? Our sovereign, loving Lord. Isn’t it time to stop being afraid and to start fearing the Lord?