Being Protestant, Protesting Injustice, and Learning from John Bunyan

Teacher and author Douglas Bond had a significant post this week, pulling together thoughts about the ongoing protests against injustices in America, being a committed Protestant Christian, and his latest book project on John Bunyan. He has some powerful thoughts that help us evaluate the present crisis and keep proper perspective as believers.

Here are his opening paragraphs before he goes into some detail about his book on Bunyan. To finish reading his thoughts, visit the link at the end.

We’ve seen sustained protests in the streets of cities all across American, protests that have erupted into mayhem and violence, more evil, more injustice, and more death, including the death of a Black retired police officer, and a Black female on-duty police officer, both shot and killed by participants in the protests, ironically, protesting police violence against Black people.

I am unapologetically a Protestant Christian, finding my spiritual and theological roots in the Protestant Reformation. Did you notice the word protest in the word Protestant? In a fallen world filled with sin, falsehood, and injustice, there will be times when we must stand and protest. But when and how do Christians go about taking their stand, protesting against falsehood, injustice, and evil? I’ve been thinking a great deal about this in the last two months as I have been writing about the life of John Bunyan, a man who protested, took his stand against unjust laws and corrupt magistrates. What did he get for his protest? Threatened with deportation to the colonies or being stretched by the neck until dead. Determined to stop his unlicensed gospel preaching, his enemies unjustly threw him in jail for twelve long years.

Immersed in Bunyan’s history and life, as a writer the last seven weeks have been an absolute delight. I thought I loved John Bunyan before writing The Hobgoblins of John Bunyan, but now I love him to an incalculable degree. His entire life is an enactment of God’s way in the gospel: God chooses the foolish to confound the wise (I Cor 1), the younger brother over the elder, the things that are of no account and are mocked and scorned by the world–these are precious in the sight of our God and Savior.

That was Bunyan, a poor, peasant tinker, with little formal education, surrounded by the Puritan age, an age of great piety, of great learning and erudition, and of great literary accomplishment. And along comes humble Bunyan, his life transformed by the power of the gospel, and, undaunted, he preaches, and suffers, and writes, including penning the best-selling book of all time (next to the English Bible), never out of print since 1678 (ignore JK Rowling’s claim to have exceeded Bunyan; it took her seven books to his one; that’s not how it works).

Source: Being Protestant and Protesting Injustice

Our Lord is Risen and He Is with His Gathered Church

EasterMessageOn this Resurrection Sunday, as believers in Jesus Christ, we shout to one another and before the world , “But now is Christ risen from the dead!” And rejoicing in His victory over our sin, death, the grave and hell, we also shout, “O death, where is thy sting; O grave, where the victory? …thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor.15:20, 55,57).

For our Easter gospel comfort and hope in this world of trouble, unrest, and fear, when we cannot gather publicly for worship, we may profit from this wonderful message of Rev. C. Haak, “The Risen Lord and the Gathered Church.” Originally a special message for Easter on the Reformed Witness Hour, it was transcribed and printed in the Standard Bearer in 2009. You will find it most appropriate for these times. The risen Lord is in the midst of His church and to her He proclaims, “Peace be unto you.” Hallelujah!

Here’s an excerpt – be sure to go and read the rest of the article.

That is the thing that we must see on this day on which we remember the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. What we must remember is that it was the great concern of the risen Lord on His resurrection day that His church know that He is risen. He appeared to them, and through these appearances He brought them to see the wonder of the resurrection gospel. It came to something of a climax when He appeared to His disciples who were gathered on the resurrection night in the upper room. That is the passage that we find in Luke 24:36-46.

But remember the thought. The thought is this: that the Lord’s great concern was for His church. His church must have no doubt, no uncertainty, no misconception concerning the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the truth that you absolutely must know. And you must know what it means, that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. If you do not know that, your life is vain. If you do not know that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, you are yet in your sin. You are dead. If you do not know that Jesus Christ is risen, and if you do not know it in your heart, then in reality you are living your life only inches from the brink of hell.

This is the gospel: Christ is risen from the dead! And the call of the gospel is: Repent and believe. You as a teenager, you as a college student, you as an expectant mother, a husband or wife, a child—you need to know that Jesus Christ is risen. You must lay hold of that truth by faith.

I said, What a day that was when Jesus arose from the dead. But what a night it was, too, when Jesus’ disciples were gathered in the upper room, behind locked doors. They were discussing the events of the day. And what a discussion it was. There must have been great amazement. And there must have been also great misconception. For it is very plain that the disciples in the upper room that night were thinking in terms of the resurrection of Lazarus. The Lord had raised Lazarus from the dead and Lazarus had come back to this life. The disciples were convinced at this point that Jesus was not dead, that He was indeed risen. But they did not understand the resurrection. They thought that perhaps the Lord had cheated death, and that He had robbed the grave. They had all kinds of questions. Was He now some kind of spirit? Was it truly the Lord? Somehow He was raised. Somehow, perhaps, He was going to come back to them, and things would be like they were before that terrible weekend of the cross.

And we read in the Scriptures that “as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.” Suddenly the Lord Jesus Christ stood in their midst, the doors being locked. And there was a response of terror among them.

But before we go to that response of terror, I want to point out to you again this fact that Jesus stood in the midst of them. The Lord is concerned about His church. He has come—where? Well, He has come into the midst of His church. He has come into the midst of those who loved Him and were talking about Him—those who believed, by the grace of God, that He was the Messiah, those whose faith was all wrapped up in Him. The Lord does not come to the disinterested. The Lord does not come to the indifferent one, who sits in church and does not really care today about this gospel. The Lord does not come to them. But He comes to those in whom grace has provoked a profound living interest in Him, to those who on this day desire that the light of the resurrection shine upon their souls. The Lord comes into His church.

If you desire to listen to another edifying Easter gospel message, you are encouraged to hear Rev. R. Kleyn expound 1 Cor.15:20 under the title “Now Is Christ Risen.” It is today’s message on the Reformed Witness Hour.

“His God, his God—he [David] cannot live without his God.” ~ C.H. Spurgeon on Psalm 42

Psalm42One of our seminary students (Matt Koerner) told me this week that he had read some precious quotes from a sermon of Charles Spurgeon on Psalm 42 recently. I asked him to share them with me and yesterday he did. So tonight I share the fruits of his labors with you.

He found them especially relevant for the times in which we find ourselves at present, when, with our full worship of God and fellowship with His people hindered, we find ourselves, like David, panting after the Lord. May these words be a blessing to you as they were to him, and to me.

The hart pants after the waterbrooks, and David pants after his God, the living God. I do not find him expressing a single word of regret as to his absence from his throne. Probably he wrote this Psalm when he had been expelled from his country by his ungrateful son, Absalom; but he does not say, ‘My soul panteth after my royalties and the splendour of the kingdom of Judah;’ no, not a word of it; he lets the baubles go, he gives up these uneasy pomps, content to let all go for ever if he may but find his God. Well may we let the chaff go if we retain the wheat…[David’s] one sigh is for his God, the God of his life, his exceeding joy. When shall he come and appear before God? When shall he join in the assembly and keep holyday? This one grief, like a huge mountain-torrent, swept away all minor streams, absorbing themselves into its own rush and volume; like an avalanche, which binds the snow-masses to itself as it descends, so his one desire concentrated all the vehemence and force of his nature. His God, his God—he cannot live without his God. He cries for him as a lost child for its father; as a bleating lamb he will not be content till he finds his parent.

In the margin of your Bibles you have, ‘As the hart brayeth after the waterbrooks;’ it lifts up its voice; it is usually so silent, so all but dumb, but now it begins to bray in awful agony after the waterbrooks. So the believer hath a desire which forceth itself into expression. That expression may often be inarticulate, he may have groanings which cannot be uttered, and they are all the deeper for being unutterable; they are all the more sincere and deep, because language may not be able to describe them. In the Psalm before us, you find that David expressed his desire in prayers, and then, if these did not suffice, in tears, and then he turned to prayers again. The child of God will so continue to cry, and pray, and seek, and weep; nor will he be satisfied till by all manner of ways he has expressed before his God the insatiable longing of his thirsty spirit.

After showing that the cause for this longing of David’s was partly rooted in his past and partly in his present experience, Spurgeon said it was also partly rooted in his future hope:

Hope thou in God,’ saith he, ‘for I shall yet praise him.’ He panted after his God, because he had a keen perception that peaceful times would yet return to him…God will appear to his people; he cannot forsake them. ‘Can a woman forsake her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I never forget thee.’ It is not possible that he who counts the stars, and calls them all by names, should pass over one of his elect, his called, his adopted people. Be of good cheer, then, thou shipwrecked one; though each billow should be angrier than the former, and drown thee deeper in distress, yet the arm of God is not shortened that it cannot save, neither is his ear heavy that it cannot hear. Look thou forward to better times, and looking forward, let thy pantings and thy longings increase. May God give thee a hunger because there is a banquet; may he give a thirst because there are flagons of which thou mayst drink. May he give thee great desires, for if thou openest thy mouth ever so wide he will certainly fill it.

“We cannot doubt that through him we may now surmount all worry, fear and dread….” ~ J. Calvin

crucifiedandrisencover-JCalvin-2020Moreover, since we have to struggle with such dread [of death, which is “as it were the pit of hell, expressive of God’s wrath.”], we need to know that our Lord Jesus Christ made provision for all our fears, and that even in the midst of death we can still come before God with our heads held high.

…If, then, we have no hope of life when we come before the heavenly Judge, we are sure to be rejected by him. He will not acknowledge us but will disown us, even though we make profession of the Christian faith. We can only await the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ if we are persuaded and convinced that he so battled with the terrors of death as to free us from them and to win for us the victory. And although we will always struggle to be conscious of our weaknesses, to turn to God for help and to be continually made to confess our sins so that God alone is seen to be righteous, we can nevertheless be sure that Jesus Christ has fought for us and gained the victory, not for himself but for us. We cannot doubt that through him we may now surmount all worry, fear and dread, and call upon God, certain that he will always receive us with outstretched arm.

It is important that we remember this. We should be clear that there is nothing speculative about the message that our Lord Jesus suffered the awful terrors of death, and that he deliberately stood surety for us before our Judge, so that, because of the battle he fought, we today may triumph over all our infirmities and may persistently call upon God’s name, never doubting that he will answer us and will always be ready in his goodness to receive us to himself. Thus we will pass through life and death, through fire and water, knowing that our Lord Jesus did not fight in vain but gives the victory to all who come to him in faith. That, in sum, is what we need to bear in mind.

Taken from the first sermon of John Calvin, “No Sorrow Like His Sorrow,” in the newly published collection of his sermons on Matthew 26-28 titled Crucified and Risen (Banner of Truth, 2020) “newly translated from the French of 1558 by Robert White.”

This particular quote shows just how relevant the gospel of Christ crucified is, no matter the place or time or circumstance. Faith in this Christ of the cross and empty tomb frees us from fear of death and gives us hope in the life to come.

One also cannot fail to note how pastoral Calvin was in his preaching. He truly ministered the Word to God’s people, convicting them of God’s truth and comforting them with the good news in Christ Jesus.

This will be a collection of sermons you will want to obtain. It makes for fine reading in this time of year.

PRC Archives – H. Hoeksema’s Inaugural Sermons 100 Years Ago Today


Today is leap day in this leap year of 2020. And this date of February 29 marks a significant event that relates to Protestant Reformed history (though the PRCA would not be officially formed until five years later): the 100th anniversary of the proclamation of the inaugural sermons of Herman Hoeksema after he was ordained as minister of the Word in Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church.


These sermons (two of them, one in Dutch, one in English) were soon published under the title of one of the messages, “Ik Wil Dat, Gij Weet” (“I will that you know”) en “I’ll Cry” by J. Hoorn, a publisher on Eastern Ave. in Grand Rapids, MI (see photo above).


The Dutch sermon that was published (morning service) was based on Colossians 2:1-3, the opening words of which text form the title (“I would that ye knew” KJV). The English sermon that was published (evening service) was based on Isaiah 40:6-8, as you will see from the above first page.


Both of these sermons were featured in a fairly recent issue of the PR Theological Journal (April 2013, vol.46, #2, pp.80-109), including the first translation into English of that first sermon. The editor of the PRTJ introduced this featured article in these words:

Recently Miss Agatha Lubbers, long-time educator in the Protestant Reformed Christian schools, came into possession of a booklet containing the two sermons preached by Rev. Herman Hoeksema on the first Sunday after his installation as minister of the Word and sacraments in the Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. One of these inaugural sermons was in Dutch and the other in English. She immediately took it upon herself to translate the Dutch sermon. Struck by its message, as well as by the accompanying English sermon, she brought them to me. We gave the Dutch sermon to Mr. Marvin Kamps. Having read Miss Lubbers’ translation, Mr. Kamps produced his own, which we include in this issue of PRTJ. The sermons are stirring! They encapsulate Hoeksema’s entire ministry. And they serve as a powerful reminder to the Reformed minister today concerning the nature of his calling. You will want to read both sermons.

And Miss Lubbers (my high school church history teacher among other things!) provided her own introduction to these “HH” sermons:

It was on Tuesday, February 24, 1920 that the late Rev. Herman Hoeksema, one of the “founders” and theological leaders of the Protestant Reformed Churches in America, was installed as minister of the gospel in the Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church (at that time generally called the Eastern Avenue Christelijk Gereformeerde Kerk). Rev. Herman Hoeksema, a young, vigorous, and industrious 34-year-old man, who had been ordained in the 14th Street Christian Reformed Church of Holland in 1915, received and accepted the call to be the pastor of Eastern Avenue.

Rev. Hoeksema reports in one of his writings that he had been very busy in Holland. In Holland he had established himself as a minister who loved the gospel and who was an exciting preacher. It is perhaps worthy of note that during those years he served as a member of the Board of Trustees of Calvin College (Curatorium) and was the main speaker at the dedication in 1915 of the new Calvin College Building on Franklin Street campus. He was also a regular contributor to the Banner.

Rev. Herman Hoeksema was installed in Eastern Avenue CRC to take the place of Rev. J. Groen. The building is still standing today on the same site, though with some changes. The congregation is reported to have consisted of approximately 450 families. Rev. Hoeksema, in his first Sunday morning service, called upon the Lord and the Consistory “to help him in the work of this large congregation.” It was reported that the work of catechism instruction and the leading of Bible study societies had been largely neglected.

On this historic date, it would be worth your while to read these sermons. They will make for edifying reading on this last day of the week – and great preparation for the Lord’s Day tomorrow. Want a taste of one of these sermons? Here you go:

Everywhere Holy Scripture lays heavy emphasis on this growth in knowledge. Really, there is no better proof of the intent of God as regards His relation to His people, than the existence of sacred Scripture itself. Indeed, Scripture does not merely offer a limited, very narrow revelation of the God of our salvation. It does not inform us only of the fact that there is in the blood of Christ reconciliation with God for our souls. It does not present, that which men in our day regard as sufficient, a gospel on a postage-stamp-sized sticker. But Scripture reveals to us the full counsel of God, it gives us insight into the full redemptive plan of deliverance, and it presents to us all the treasures of the wisdom and knowledge of God. And there can be no two ways about it, that God the Lord absolutely has not bestowed in His wisdom this Bible so that we should let it lie ignored, or so that we can choose to take from it what pleases us and at the same time leave be what does not suit our taste; but God gave it to us so that we should submit to the whole of the Bible, so that we should appropriate the whole of the revelation of God, and so that in this way we should mature in the knowledge of God, who is life.

Time and again Scripture lays emphasis on that fact. In the Old Testament the complaint is made that the Lord’s people perish for a lack of knowledge. In the new dispensation the apostles proclaimed the full, rich Christ, and Paul preaches the whole counsel of God. The church is admonished not to loiter in the first principles but go on to perfection. She must know what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height of the love of God. She must grow up into the knowledge and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. For, of course, this is eternal life, that they may know thee, the one true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

Nota bene: I wish to thank current church history teacher at Covenant Christian HS, Mr. Dan Van Uffelen, for reminding me of this anniversary and encouraging me to make this post today, as well as for the pictures he provided. And yes, we do have original copies of these published sermons in the PRC archives.

January 15, 2020 Standard Bearer – A Fitting Meditation

SB-Jan15-2020 (3)

The latest issue of the The Standard Bearer has been published and distributed (including digitally). The January 15, 2020 issue is loaded with a variety of articles sure to satisfy the reader. Besides regular rubrics there are also special articles on prison ministry in California by one PRC’s Evangelism Committee and on the organization of a new congregation in the West Michigan area – Unity PRC in Byron Center.

Prof. R. Dykstra continues his series of editorials on the Canons of Dordt and the covenant, demonstrating this time that the promise of the gospel is particular – not for all who hear it, but for the believer only, chosen in Christ from before the foundation of the world. The covenant is always rooted in God’s sovereign, free decree of election – such is his theme throughout this series.

There is also a powerful article by Mrs. M. Laning on communication in marriage (perhaps we’ll return to that in a future post). Must reading for all married couples and engaged couples and those dating for marriage.

Missionary-pastor D. Kleyn (the Philippines) begins a series on “Reformed versus Arminian Missions,” significant in his context but certainly in the U.S. and any country.

The article I wish to highlight this time, however, is the Meditation by Rev. M. DeVries (recently emeritus). He has a fitting text and thoughts for us as we begin the new year and watch new officebearers come into office. His text is the familiar Acts20:28 passage, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood;” and his theme is “Taking Heed to the Flock.”

Our elders, deacons, and pastors have an indispensable mission from the Great Shepherd of the sheep: to care for His flock on earth until He returns. Nothing could be more important than feeding them, leading them, protecting them, rescuing them, and preparing them for their eternal pasture. And yet sometimes we slight the work of these men, because they are mere men, even sheep like we are. Our sins and weaknesses are theirs too, and so we can lack respect and submission to their care for us. But that ought not be. Besides the mandate of their Good Shepherd, it is their nature as sheep that qualifies them to serve as under-shepherds.

Rev. DeVries speaks to this in this article and reminds us of our need for these godly leaders. Consider this section from his meditation:

The purpose of this taking heed to the flock is “to feed the church of God.” The word used here for “feed” is a broader term that has the same root as the word for “flock.” It means to tend a flock, to shepherd. It includes the idea of oversight and guidance. The elders are not only to watch over the flock, but they are to provide for it. The elders must be ready always to exhort, instruct, comfort, and guide the sheep. To do this, the elders must know the members of the congregation – their character, their problems, their needs. They must know and guard against the enemies of the flock. They must see that the congregation is fed with proper spiritual food, that only the pure doctrine is preached and taught, the whole counsel of God. They as shepherds must guide the congregation, sometimes by admonition, always by example. They must endeavor to keep the sheep upon the straight and narrow way. All this care of the church of God must be done with patience, out of the motive of love.

Elders are able to feed the flock of God because they are elders – they hold an office. They represent Christ. They are given the right to feed the church of God in Christ’s name. The power and authority to feed the church of God rests then in the Word. In so far as they speak their own word they have no power and authority to perform their labors. Christ places elders in the church with the express purpose of speaking His Word to His people. That Word is in itself a ruling, a feeding, a guiding power for the sheep.

Thus, by the Word of Christ the elders feed the church of God. That means that in all of their work they must come with the Word! When they have to admonish those who behave themselves disorderly, they must come with the admonitions of Scripture. When they visit the sick or the sorrowing, they come with words of comfort from the Scriptures. In all their care of the flock they must do so with the Word. Only as they do come with the Word do they fulfill their office. Only by the Word of God can the elders feed the church of God. That implies too that as flock, and as sheep of the flock, we must receive the elders when they come with the Word.

Considering that weighty calling of our officebearers, are we praying for them? Are we submitting ourselves to them and receiving the Word they bring us, publicly in the worship service and privately in the hospital or home?

Tomorrow we have the chance to show our love for Christ our Shepherd by feeding on the Word they bring us. That is our safety, even our salvation, worked by Christ through them.

Listening Like Your Life Depends on It

expository-listening-ramey-2010Such is the title to the concluding chapter of Ken Ramey’s book, Expository Listening: A Handbook for Hearing and Doing God’s Word , (Kress Biblical Resources, 2010; pp.103ff.). This final section stresses the vital importance of how we listen to God’s Word preached from the viewpoint of Jesus’ closing words to the Sermon on the Mount (Matt.7:24-27).

To remind us of Jesus’ words in that spiritual lesson, let’s put those words in front of us:

Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:

And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:

And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

In this light, Ramey makes these comments:

Ask yourself, ‘What could possibly be more relevant than knowing that both those how preach and those who listen must give an account to Christ when He returns?’ At the final judgment, the listeners will stand alongside the preachers and be held accountable for the part they played in the preaching of God’s Word (2 Tim.4:1-3). God’s Word itself will be the solemn standard by which both preachers and hearers will be judged (John 12:47-48). While the preachers are judged by the sermons they preached, the listeners will be judged by the sermons they heard.

…Therefore, whenever you sit under the preaching of God’s Word, what should be in the forefront of your mind is that fearful day when you will be judged based on how receptive and responsive you were to what you heard. …what you do with what God has said in His Word determines not only what kind of life you have here on earth, but also where you will spend eternity. That is the bottom line of the Sermon on the Mount. …Jesus concluded His famous sermon by calling on all those who were listening to act on what He had told them. He challenged them to put into practice everything He had just preached.

…Jesus gave a closing illustration that contrasted two types of builders: a wise builder and a foolish builder. These two builders exemplify the two ways people respond to Christ’s words. The wise builder represents those people who hear and obey His Word, and the foolish builder represents those people who hear but disobey His Word. All of us are in the process of building a house, that is to say, living our lives. We are all like one of these two builders. What kind of builder we are will determine how our life ends up.  How we build has eternal consequences – it will lead to either eternal salvation or eternal damnation. Heaven and hell are on the line when it comes to listening to God’s Word.

And Ramey closes with a quote from Puritan David Clarkson, which ends this subject with utmost solemnity:

Hearing is the provision made for the soul’s eternal well-being, its everlasting welfare depends on it; if you fail here, your souls perish without remedy. For salvation comes by faith and faith comes by hearing. It is an act of eternal consequence. According to our hearing, so shall the state of our souls be to eternity.

Which leads the author to end the book with this sentence: “So listen to every sermon in light of eternity, because every sermon is truly a matter of life and death.”

Shall we not pray for God’s mercy and grace as we listen to the Word today and every Lord’s day?

New Additions to the PRC Seminary Library – 3rd Quarter 2019 (2)


In this post we finish the list of significant additions to the library of the PRC Seminary in the third quarter of this year (June-Sept. 2019). Earlier this week we posted the first part of the list; in this one we list those titles added in the areas of theology, practical theology, and philosophy.

As you will notice, many valuable books were added in this last quarter also. And while these titles are primarily for the work and studies of our faculty, students, and visitors, there are certainly resources here that are useful for our readers. Perhaps some of the books here will encourage you to make it your read, and even to add it to your library or your church’s library. That would make me an even happier librarian! 🙂

Don’t forget our motto: Read more and read better!

Dogmatics, Biblical Theology, Historical Theology

  • Doing Theology with the Reformers / Gerald L. Bray. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2019.
  • Luther’s Works: Volume 56 – Sermons III / Martin Luther, 1483-1546. ; Benjamin T.G. Mayes. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing, 2018.
  • Luther’s Outlaw God: Volume 1: Hiddenness, Evil, and Predestination / Steven D. Paulson; Paul Rorem. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2018.
  • Theoretical-Practical Theology: Faith in the Triune God / Peter van Mastricht, 1630- 1706; Todd M. Rester, Transl.; Joel R. Beeke. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage
    Books, 2019.
  • Reading the Decree: Exegesis, Election and Christology in Calvin and Barth / David Gibson; Ian A. McFarland; Ivor Davidson; John Webster. London; New York: T & T
    Clark, 2009. (T & T Clark Studies In Systematic Theology)
  • The Soteriology of James Ussher: The Act and Object of Saving Faith / Richard Snoddy. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2014 (Oxford Studies in Historical Theology)
  • The Works of William Perkins: Volume 7 – Reformed Catholic, Problem of the Forged Catholicism, Warning Against Idolatry / William Perkins, 1558-1602; Derek Thomas;
    Joel R. Beeke, editor. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2019.
  • Resourcing Theological Anthropology: A Constructive Account of Humanity in the Light of Christ / Marc Cortez. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2017.
  • Rethinking Holiness: A Theological Introduction / Bernie A. Van De Walle. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2017.
  • Awakening the Evangelical Mind: An Intellectual History of the Neo-Evangelical Movement / Owen Strachan; Albert R. Jr. Mohler. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015.
  • The Beauty and Glory of the Last Things / Joel R. Beeke; Michael P. V. Barrett; David Strain. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2019.
  • What Jesus Demands from the World / John Piper. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2006.
  • Reformed Ecclesiology in an Age of Denominationalism / Philippus J. Hoedemaker, 1839-1910; Ruben Alvarado, Transl. Alten, the Netherlands: Pantocrator Press/ Wordbridge Publishing, 1904/2019.

Picture of The Doctrine of the Spirituality of the Church in the Ecclesiology of Charles Hodge

  • The Doctrine of the Spirituality of the Church in the Ecclesiology of Charles Hodge /
    Alan D. Strange. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2017 (Reformed Academic
  • God with Us and for Us: Papers Read at the 2017 Westminster Conference / Stephen Clark; Guy Davies; Andrew Young. London: The Westminster Conference, 2017 (including articles on Arminius and the Synod of Dordt).
  • Sovereign Grace o’er Sin Abounding: Papers Read at the 2018 Westminster Conference /Paul Wells; Geoff. Thomas; J. Philip Arthur. London: The Westminster Conference, 2018.
  • Possessed by God: A New Testament Theology of Sanctification and Holiness / David Peterson. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Apollos; InterVarsity Press, c1995 (New Studies in Biblical Theology), vol. 1
  • Five Festal Garments: Christian Reflections on the Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther / Barry G. Webb; Donald A. Carson. Downers Grove, IL: Apollos/InterVarsity Press, 2000 (New Studies in Biblical Theology), vol. 10
  • New Covenant Theology: Weighed and Found Wanting / Kevin McGrane; Peter Naylor. Essex, England: The Gospel Magazine Trust, 2018.
  • Total Church: A Radical Reshaping Around Gospel and Community / Tim Chester;
    Steve Timmis. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, c2008.

Philosophy, Logic, Ethics

  • The Christian Philosophy of Herman Dooyeweerd: Volume I – The Transcendental
    Critique of Theoretical Thought / Pierre Marcel, 1910-1992. ; Colin Wright, Transl. (1st English) Aalten, the Netherlands: Wordbridge Publishing, 2013.
  • The Christian Philosophy of Herman Dooyeweerd: Volume II – The General Theory of the Law-Spheres / Pierre Marcel, 1910-1992. ; Colin Wright, Transl. (1st English)
    Aalten, the Netherlands: Wordbridge Publishing, 2013.

Practical Theology (1) – Christian Living, Ethics, Family, Marriage, Missions, Prayer

  • Reformed Ethics / Herman Bavinck, 1854-1921; John Bolt, editor; Dirk van Keulen.
    Grand Rapids: Baker Publishing Group, 2019 (vol.1)
  • Beyond Authority and Submission: Women and Men in Marriage, Church, and Society / Rachel Green Miller; Aimee Byrd. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2019.
  • Kemp: The Story of John R. and Mabel Kempers, Founders of the Reformed Church in America Mission in Chiapas, Mexico / Pablo Alberto Deiros. Grand Rapids, MI : William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2016 (The Historical Series of the Reformed Church in America) v. 86
  • Not Forsaken: A Story of Life After Abuse / Jennifer M. (Michelle) Greenberg; Russell Moore. Good Book Company, 2019.

Practical Theology (2) – Church Government/Leadership, Counseling, Pastoral Ministry, Preaching, Sermons, Worship

  • Preaching: A Biblical Theology / Jason C. (Jason Curtis) Meyer; John Piper. Wheaton,
    IL: Crossway, 2013.
  • Preaching and Teaching the Last Things: Old Testament Eschatology for the Life of the Church / Walter C. Kaiser. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2011.
  • Preaching the Psalms: Unlocking the Unsearchable Riches of David’s Treasury / Steven J. Lawson; Hughes Oliphant Old. Darlington: EP Books, 2014.
  • The Pastor Theologian: Resurrecting an Ancient Vision / Gerald Hiestand; Todd A.
    Wilson; Timothy George. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015.
  • Faithful Endurance: The Joy of Shepherding People for a Lifetime / Collin Hansen,
    editor; Jeff Robinson; David M. Carson. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2019.
  • The Pastor’s Justification: Applying the Work of Christ in Your Life and Ministry / Jared C. Wilson. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013.
  • A Glad Obedience: Why and What We Sing / Walter Brueggemann; John D. Witvliet.
    Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2019.
  • The Care of Souls: Cultivating a Pastor’s Heart / Harold L. Senkbeil; Michael Horton.
    Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2019.
  • From the Lord and “The Best Reformed Churches”: A Study of the Eucharistic Liturgy in the English Puritan and Separatist Traditions, 1550-1633 / Bryan D. Spinks. Roma: C.L.V.-Edizioni liturgiche, 1984 (Bibliotheca “Ephemerides Liturgicae.” Subsidia) vol.33
  • Freedom or Order? : The Eucharistic Liturgy in English Congregationalism, 1645-1980 / Bryan D. Spinks; Geoffrey Cuming. Allison Park, PA: Pickwick, 1984 (companion volume to previous title).
  • Liturgy in the Reformed Tradition / Oepke Noordmans, 1871-1956; Ruben Alvarado, Transl. Aalten, the Netherlands: Pantocrator Press/ Wordbridge Publishing, 2018.
  • Hidden Evil: A Biblical and Pastoral Response to Domestic Abuse / Eryl W. Davies.
    Ross-shire, Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 2019.

Misc. (Apologetics, Culture, Education, Music, Politics, Science, Work, World Religions, etc.)

  • Reforming Apologetics: Retrieving the Classic Reformed Approach to Defending the
    Faith / J. V. Fesko. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2019.
  • Contend: Defending the Faith in a Fallen World / Aaron Armstrong. Adelphi, MD:
    Cruciform Press, 2012.
  • The Problem of Poverty / Abraham Kuyper, 1837-1920; James W. Skillen. Sioux Center, IA: Dordt College Press, 2011.
  • The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age /Simon Schama. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988.
  • Good Arguments: Making Your Case in Writing and Public Speaking / Richard A. Jr.
    Holland. ; Benjamin K. Forrest. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2017.


Denominational Resources

  • Acts of Synod of the Christian Reformed Church: 2019 / Christian Reformed Church in North America; Steven R. Timmermans, Executive Director. Grand Rapids, MI: Board of Publications of the Christian Reformed Church, 2019.
  • Acts of Synod and Yearbook of the Protestant Reformed Churches in America: 2019 /
    Ronald Van Overloop, Stated Clerk; Don Doezema. Grand Rapids, MI: Protestant
    Reformed Churches in America, 2019.
  • 2018 Directory of the United Reformed Churches in North America: Twentieth-second Annual Edition / Jody Luth; Synod of the United Reformed Churches in North America. Grandville, MI: Reformed Fellowship Inc., 2018.

How Can We Encourage Our Pastors? Show Them Loving Kindness

Earlier this month we pointed out that October is designated as “Pastor Appreciation Month,” and we referenced a new book written by Christopher Ash called The Book Your Pastor Wishes You Would Read (but is too embarrassed to ask) (The Good Book Company, 2019). At the end of that post we mentioned that Ash calls attention to “seven virtues of church members that impact our pastors.” In this post we want to return to those and draw special attention to one of them.

Those seven virtues that, when displayed by church members, give godly pastors encouragement in, excitement for, and energy for their labors are as follows (I give them just as the author does):

  1. Daily repentance and eager faith [here he has in mind the core traits of a true Christian]
  2. Committed belonging [here is is talking about how we live faithfully in the church]
  3. Open honesty [by this he means living without pretense and being open toward the man who is called to care for you]
  4. Thoughtful watchfulness [here he has in mind helping your pastor grow and maintain his personal spiritual life . Interestingly, the first thing he mentions specifically is giving him time (and money!) to read. But I’ll pass on that one this time. But please, do it!]
  5. Loving Kindness [this is the one I’ll come back to]
  6. High expectations [here he means holding your pastor to the highest standard while also letting him be human – like you!]
  7. Zealous submission [put yourself under his ministry and show you submit to the Great Shepherd he serves and shows]

Now, let’s come back to #5 – Loving kindness. Why? Because it may seem so obvious (shall we be mean and cruel to Christ’s shepherds?!), and yet it is so easy to miss. Because, yes, people can be and are sometimes UN-kind to their pastors, and that includes you and me. Here are some worthwhile thoughts about what practicing loving kindness toward our pastors will mean to them.

Kindness is a powerful and beautiful expression of the love of Christ. …There is no doubt in my mind that churches that show kindness will have still better pastors as a result; for it is only natural that their pastors will return to their pastoral leadership with a fresh determination to love and care for, to teach and to preach to, and to pray for these who have loved them so.

If we show no kindness to our pastors, God still calls them to love, to care, to preach, to pray, and to do all their pastoral work towards us in the spirit of the Lord Jesus – who loved those who were his enemies and gave himself for them on the cross. But our pastors are not the Lord Jesus, and it is a normal and natural dynamic that if we demonstrate kindness to them, it is easier for them to give themselves gladly in caring for us.

A little farther on he writes,

…perhaps the most significant things in a pastor’s work are not so easily measurable – the labouring in prayer, the time-consuming and emotionally draining visits, the weeping with those who weep, the showing of the kindness of Christ to men and women as our pastors hold out to us the word of life. We want our pastors to be kind. But the opposite is also true: our kindness counts with them. We must never underestimate the significance of our simple, practical, loving kindness to our pastors.

And then at the end, he includes these penetrating words [yes, let them sink in!]:

One hindrance to kindness is the feeling that our pastors and their families ought to be living lives of sacrificial service to Christ. I have known churches that worry that, if they are too soft with them, their pastors may become lazy or soft in their discipleship. This – if we do feel it – is perverse. Certainly, they ought to be taking up the cross daily, saying no to self, and living lives of sacrifice for Jesus and his gospel. But so ought we and every disciple. It is one thing to make sacrifices for oneself; it’s quite another to seek to impose sacrifices on others.

What level of loving kindness are you showing to your pastor and his family? What can we do to increase that? Let’s commit to showing them the kindness of God that we ourselves have received, and in that way too encourage them in their labors.

Published in: on October 23, 2019 at 10:53 PM  Leave a Comment  

Motivating Our Pastors to Joy in Their Work

October is “Pastor Appreciation” month, and though some may view this as another contrived calendar event (a “Hallmark holiday, if you will”), I believe it warrants some attention.

We should know how difficult the life and labors of our pastors is. We should be aware of how they spend themselves for the ministry, working hard and long to prepare gospel messages each week, caring for the sick and weak, leading Bible studies, teaching catechism, chairing church meetings, etc. And they are also real people, with real marriages, real families, and real needs themselves. Your struggles and mine are also theirs. Do you get discouraged in your work? So do they. Do you get down about how well you are doing in life? So do they. Do you worry about your children and parents and fellow saints? So do they. Do you fight sin daily and find the constant battle not worth it sometimes? Do you want to give up and give in? So do they.  Do you wrestle with doubts and fears about your spouse, your family, the church? So do they.

And yet they encourage us and motivate us in our life and work. What a blessing their preaching and pastoral care is to us! They lift us up and pick us up and lead us on, week after week. We need them and their faithful labors. And they need us too. We need to motivate them and help lift them up too!

A book I pulled out of the seminary library today with this in mind speaks to this powerfully. Christopher Ash as written a wonderful little book called The Book Your Pastor Wishes You Would Read (but is too embarrassed to ask) (The Good Book Company, 2019). In his second chapter titled “Why Would You Want to Care for Your Pastor?” Ash references Heb.13:17, which reads: “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” (KJV) He then goes on to write this:

Just look at those last two words: ‘to you.’ I can see that making their work a joy would be good for them, and that if it is a burden, it will be tough for them. But for us?! How so?

Answer: unless there is at least some whisper of joy in their hearts as they do their work, some spring of gladness in their step, they will never persevere to the end. And – and this is the point – it is we who will suffer. Instead of being well taught – faithfully preached to with insight and depth – instead of being patiently prayed for, instead of having our souls guarded from evil, instead of being lovingly equipped, instead of being well led in our churches, we will be harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd, at the mercy of all kinds of destructive evil. And our churches will be shallow places of immaturity and instability, at the mercy of every whim of cultural pressure or theological oddity.

It is therefore in our own interests, to say nothing of love for the pastor, that we should make their work a joy and not simply a heavy and gloomy burden. If you and I truly grasp the extent to which healthy pastoral oversight is a team effort – a two-way dynamic in which we , as church members, play as critical a part as our pastors – then, and only then, will we be urgently motivated to learn the better to care for them. You and I have it in our power to demotivate our pastors, so that they are gradually ground down into a slough of despond from which they will be utterly unable to do us any good at all. But we also have it in our power so to cheer them up, so to put a spring in their step, that they will gladly do for us all that we hope and pray. [pp.32-33]

From there he lays out “seven virtues that we as church members can learn, and that can make our pastor’s work a joy.” (p.33) In a future post this month we can reference those seven virtues.

For now, let’s ask ourselves: What am I doing to make my pastor’s work in my church a joy, in the midst of all the difficulties, discouragements, and disappointments he faces? Shall we start with caring about him in our hearts and bringing his needs to the throne of the Great Shepherd whom he represents and under whom he labors?


Published in: on October 9, 2019 at 10:59 PM  Comments (1)