Being a Discerning Listener of the Preaching

expository-listening-ramey-2010It has been a few months since we posted from the book on listening carefully to the preaching of God’s Word. Let’s return to Expository Listening tonight by looking at some thoughts from the next chapter.

…In other words, like their evil master Satan, the appearance of false teachers is deceiving. They disguise themselves as true shepherds, pastors, teachers, elders, and leaders in the church.

If a hungry, ferocious wolf jumps the fence into a flock of sheep, all of them will notice and scatter. But if he walks through the gate impersonating a shepherd, it will be difficult for the sheep to tell it is a wolf. The only way the sheep can discern whether he is a shepherd or a wolf is by listening to his voice. Jesus said [here Ramey quotes John 10:2-5].

As one of Christ’s sheep, you need to have your ears trained to differentiate between the voice of a true shepherd and the voice of a stranger so you know whom to follow and whom to follow after. You must be able to recognize wolves when you hear them since they are disguised as Christian preachers and teachers, Christian authors, Christian counselors, Christian singers, etc., who are being used by Satan to deceive and devour Christ’s flock. It is both sad and scary that so many Christians today are naively following the voices of strangers and being led astray from the truth of God’s Word.

At this point the author shows how the same threats were found in Paul’s day and how he wrote to Timothy to instruct him in how to deal with these false teachers:

Paul urged Timothy to silence these false teachers by upholding the biblical truths they were seeking to undermine. In verses 3-11 of Paul’s first letter to the young pastor Timothy, he explains how to sift them out. What’s needed is a careful evaluation of the basis of their teaching, the result of their teaching, the focus of their teaching, and especially the gospel they are teaching. These are questions you can apply to any teacher you come across.

And these are the questions as he phrases them in the book:

  • Is their teaching based on the Word of God? Is it consistent with what the Scripture says?
  • Does their teaching produce growth in godliness? Is it unifying and edifying to the body of Christ?
  • Do they humbly seek to honor God and help others? Is it free of charge and free from financial appeal?
  • What is their gospel message? Do they explain it clearly and correctly? Is it works-based or God-glorifying grace?

Taken from chapter 5 of Ken Ramey’s book, Expository Listening: A Handbook for Hearing and Doing God’s Word , (Kress Biblical Resources, 2010). This chapter treats Paul’s instruction to Timothy in 1 Tim.1:3-7 and is titled “The Discerning Listener” (pp.69ff.).

Important admonitions and applications for all of us who hear the Word and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Shall we be more aware of our calling to be discerning listeners?

Itching Ear Epidemic

But this [a lack of solid biblical, expositional preaching] doesn’t seem to bother many churchgoers. In fact, if given the option between a systematic, verse-by-verse exposition of a book of the Bible or a more topical message where verses are plucked from all over Scripture and combined to create a special series on practical issues like marriage, parenting, sex, money, work, dating, stress, etc., most churchgoers would pick the topical series as their favorite because in their minds it in easier and more enjoyable to listen to and is seemingly more helpful to their everyday lives. This should come as no surprise since the charge Paul gave to Timothy was given with a view to the future when the church ‘will not endure sound doctrine, but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears fro the truth, and will turn aside to myths’ (2 Tim.4:3-4). We are living in that time period about which Paul warned Timothy.

There are lots of people in churches today who will not put up with sound, doctrinal preaching. They are intolerant of anyone who gets up behind a pulpit and preaches truth that confronts their sinful lifestyle or makes them feel uncomfortable. They flat-out refuse to sit there and listen. If they feel like the preacher is stepping on their toes, they either run him out of the church or find another church where the preacher strokes their ears and makes them leave church feeling good about themselves. They successfully insulate themselves from what they consider the offensive truths of the Bible by surrounding themselves with preachers who caress them rather than confront them, who tell them what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear. They evaluate preachers based not on whether their teaching lines up with the Scriptures, but on whether it tickles their fancies, scratches them where they itch, and satisfies their craving to always be encouraged and entertained. It seems most people these days prefer listening to light, uplifting, entertaining messages. If given the choice, they would rather hear fictional stories than biblical truths.

ExpositoryListeningTaken from chapter 4 of Ken Ramey’s book, Expository Listening: A Handbook for Hearing and Doing God’s Word , (Kress Biblical Resources, 2010). This chapter treats Paul’s warning to Timothy in 2 Tim.4:1-4 and is titled “The Itching Ear Epidemic” (pp.51ff.). In it the author speaks both to preachers and to listeners.

in light of what Ramey writes here, we may examine ourselves concerning our own propensity for “itching ears.” Have we been affected by this epidemic found in the churches about us? May God give us a hunger for the pure preaching of the gospel according to His Word and make us faithful listeners of such spiritual food.

Harrowing Your Heart to Hear God’s Word Preached

Jeremiah 4:3 – “For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.”

“Harrowing Your Heart to Hear” (Chap.3 in Expository Listening: A Handbook for Hearing and Doing God’s Word by Ken Ramey (Kress Biblical Resources, 2010), pp.35-49. We are currently taking time to read and draw on some of the author’s good thoughts concerning our calling to listen believingly to God’s Word proclaimed.

ExpositoryListeningIn this third chapter Ramey points to specific ways to ward off hardness of heart that leads to dullness in listening to and receiving God’s preached Word. Here are the points he mentions:

  • Read and meditate on God’s Word every day
  • Pray throughout the week
  • Confess your sin
  • Reduce your media intake
  • Plan ahead, and schedule your week around the ministry of the Word
  • Be consistent in church attendance
  • Go to church with a humble, teachable, expectant heart
  • Worship with all your heart
  • Fight off distractions
  • Listen with diligent discernment
  • Preparation of the heart and soul

Now, let’s consider a few quotations to help us for Sunday’s messages:

Reading the Word on a daily basis will develop in you a healthy appetite for God’s Word. You can’t expect to come to church on Sunday with a hunger for God’s Word if you haven’t been feeding on it throughout the week.

…You need to pray for the preacher. Pray that the preacher would preach with great liberty and boldness and clarity (Eph.6:19-20; Col.4:3-4); that God’s Word would run rapidly, transforming people’s lives for His glory (2 Thess.3:1); that God’s Spirit would empower the preacher and use him to help you grow in your understanding of God and His Word and accomplish His purpose in your life and the life of the church.

One of the simplest, most effective ways to prepare your heart for the preaching of God’s Word is to spend some time on Saturday night or Sunday morning to prayerfully examine your life and humble confess your sins to God. David’s example of confession in Psalm 51 serves as a practical path to follow in getting your heart right before God.

Listening demands a great deal of concentration and self-discipline. Augustine said, ‘To proclaim the Word of truth as well as to listen to it is hard work…. Thus, let us exert ourselves in listening.’ Jay Adams writes, ‘Many today drift into church with their minds turned off, slouch in the pew, and expect the preacher to do the rest. Examine yourself, brother or sister: have you been guilty of becoming a Sunday morning version of the couch potato?’

When you fail to plan ahead, Sunday morning ends up becoming a chaotic crisis, and by the time you get to church, you are frustrated and frazzled and your heart is in no condition to receive the Word. But when you plan well and are able to arrive in a relaxed, leisurely way, you will be in a much more receptive frame of mind.

Come to church with a spirit of anticipation, fully expecting God to speak to you through His Word in ways that will make a lasting difference in your life. …It should be that you can’t wait to see what you’re going to learn and how God is going to use His Word to convict you, correct you, comfort you, and change you.

It is required of those that hear the Word preached that they attend upon it with diligence, preparation and prayer; examine what they hear by the Scriptures; receive the truth with faith, love, meekness, and readiness of mind, as the Word of God; meditate and confer of it; hide it in their hearts, and bring forth the fruit of it in their lives. (Westminster Confession Larger Catechism)

The Amazing Cross: The Judgment of the World – H. Hoeksema

AmazingCross-HHProtestant Reformed pastor, seminary professor, and founder Herman Hoeksema had the custom of preaching special series of sermons during the Lenten season. Some were preached in First PRC where he served a long ministry and others he specially prepared for the radio broadcasts of the Reformed Witness Hour. Many of these were later published in written form.

One such collection of Lenten sermons is titled The Amazing Cross, first published by William B. Eerdmans in 1943. Last year the RFPA republished it, and tonight we feature it for our first Lenten season post. Here is the publisher’s promo for the book:

“The vicarious suffering of the Lord must occupy a central place in the consciousness of faith and in the preaching of the gospel. On the death and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ depends all of salvation.”

So states the author of these powerful meditations on the passion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, giving us all the reason we need to read them and digest them, to believe on the Christ presented in them and magnify the God of our salvation whose work is set forth in them.

Take up and read, and be led to feed on Christ crucified and raised!

The book is divided into two main sections, reflecting two series of sermons “HH” preached. The first series is called “Amazing Judgment,” while the second  bears the name “Amazing Obedience.” Tonight we quote from the first sermon of that first part, which is titled “The Judgment of the World” and based on John 12:31 – “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.”

This is part of the author’s explanation of the “amazing judgment” of Christ’s cross:

Thus it had to be. As men view the events of this world, what was historically the world’s trial of Jesus was in reality God’s trial of the world. What was to all appearances the condemnation of the Son of man by the tribunal of the world was in deepest reality the condemnation of the world before the tribunal of the Judge of heaven and earth. Two thousand years ago, or more definitely speaking in the ‘hour’ of Jesus, in that brief period when the Christ of God was tried, condemned, and crucified by the rulers of this world, the world very really stood in judgment before God and was tried and condemned.

True, there will come a final day, a day of the revelation of the righteous judgment of God when all the implications in the judgment of the cross will be publicly verified and exposed. But that does not alter the fact that in a very real sense the judgment of the world has already become a fact through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. We must understand and believe this truth. The world is already and irrevocably condemned. The prince of this world has already been utterly cast out. In the midst of this condemned world with its deposed prince, we must take shelter by faith in the shadow of the cross and take hold of the justifying power of the resurrection, so that we may be saved. [pp5-6]

You may also be interested to know that the RFPA has also just republished another similar volume by Hoeksema – The Royal Sufferer. Perhaps a future post can reference that wonderful book as well. I think you are able to judge that these make for marvelous reading profit in this time of year.

A Theology of Listening (to the Preaching of the Word) – K. Ramey

This  [that is, that the Bible is the inspired, reliable Word of God] also means when a preacher faithfully preaches the Bible, it is God speaking and not the preacher (John 14:24; Acts 13:7,44). By virtue of the fact that God is the one who spoke it, we should listen and obey.

It’s His Word.

Just like a child should listen to and obey what their parents say for no other reason than it is the right things to do because of who they are (Eph.6:1-2), we should listen to and obey what our heavenly Father has said because of who He is. God’s Word is an expression of all that He is. He spoke forth His Word so that we know about His glory, His love, His grace, His mercy, His power, His wrath, His justice, His goodness, His faithfulness, etc. God’s character is inherent in His Word (cf. Ps.138:2). What makes the Bible so dynamic and gives it the ability to dissect our hearts with such precision and so accurately discern every aspect of our lives is because it is the Word of the all-powerful, all-knowing God (Heb.4:12-13). Whenever we are exposed to the Word of God we are in essence being exposed to God Himself (1 Cor.14:24-25). That alone should be enough to motivate us to honor and obey the Word of God.

ExpositoryListeningTaken from Expository Listening: A Handbook for Hearing and Doing God’s Word by Ken Ramey (Kress Biblical Resources, 2010), Chapter 1 – “Biblical Audiology: A Theology of Listening.” We touched on the introduction in our first post. In the months ahead I plan to draw on some of the author’s good thoughts concerning our calling to listen believingly to God’s Word proclaimed.

The End of Another Seminary Semester (Dec. 2018), a New PRT Journal Issue, and Updated Addition Work Pics!

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(Today was the official beginning of the winter season (Dec.21), though it is not quite this wintery looking currently. This was taken during last year’s winter.)

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Today marked the last official day of the first semester at the PRC Seminary. It was exam week, and while no exams were actually held today (Friday), students had papers to finish and turn in today. And thus, another semester comes to a close.

Although, it may be noted that one specially blessed student still has a Hebrew grammar exam to take Christmas Eve morning. It seems a certain registrar forgot to put that on the schedule (which, in his [own flimsy] defense, was full at the time! [as if he couldn’t have moved things around if he had thought of it!]), and a certain Hebrew professor is now in Singapore, far from the very Singaporean student he taught! So now said registrar must administer the exam to the student Monday morning (as if the latter deserves to be “punished” for the miscue of the former!). No worries, as we say, all are happy and content. Or should we say, will be happy and content Monday around 11 AM. 🙂

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The end of another semester is always a bit sobering. We stand amazed at how quickly 15 weeks of classes go by. And yet there was marvelous Reformed instruction given again by the faculty, and growth in grace and knowledge and gifts on the part of the students. Our two seniors (Jacob M. and Matt K.) were mostly absent from us (and yet they mysteriously seemed to appear in time for our “Friday brat/burger” lunch), busily engaged in the work of their internships, getting a taste of the “real” life and labors of a church pastor. It was obvious they loved the experience and are being made ready for the grand goal. Soon they will return for their final semester (where did those four years go?!). Humbling, all of it.

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Our new professor (D. Kuiper) is working quickly toward the goal of his advanced learning too, starting to write his main thesis for his ThM degree through Calvin Seminary. Next fall, Lord willing, he will begin teaching some of his courses.

sem-secr-sharonk-fall-2018-2.jpgA new secretary moved in mid-semester (Sharon K.), to take the place of our beloved Mrs. J. Doezema, who has only “retired” to less work (“just” the manifold denominational labors she is involved with, and the Standard Bearer). But grace was given to both ladies to take up and to carry on, and the transition has been as smooth as it could be. We praise God.

PRTJ-Fall-2018-cover

We were also able to produce our 103rd PR Theological Journal – Volume 52, No.1 (Fall 2018). As you will see from the cover, it is  another fine blend of Reformed scholarship and practical theology, with articles and book reviews to benefit preachers, teachers, students, and laymen. The pdf may be found here; the print copies came in today and will be mailed out or delivered next week. If you would like to be added to our mailing list to receive the PRTJ (free!), contact the seminary at 616-531-1490 or seminarysecretary@prca.org.

God is good. His grace is abundant, and therefore amazing. We see His hand guiding us for good in all things, and we give humble thanks to Him for another semester. Remember us in prayer, even as we remember you.

I include here a few other pictures taken throughout the semester, with a few notes for each. Enjoy!

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We are blessed by many visitors during the semester, sometimes from faraway places, such as Singapore.

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Our final Friday lunch was delicious burgers from Sheldon Meats (Tim B., who keeps us well supplied – thank you, Tim and Kate!)

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Once again, I was personally blessed by the help of Kevin R. and Elijah R. in the library.

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Once again the sem (and pre-sem) student ping-pong team showed itself highly competitive, winning 50% of its games.

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And in the animal realm, a red fox made a rare appearance one night when our janitor was here. He was able to capture a quick shot of it for all of us to enjoy.

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Finally, we note that, while Pres. D. Trump is having trouble getting his border wall built, the new seminary addition’s walls made good progress this week, thanks to some mild weather and Bouwkamp Masonry. The new archives and offices are taking shape!

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Merry Christmas from all of us at the seminary! May the joy and peace of our sovereign Savior be yours in this season of the year.

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

 

Expository Listening – Introduction

As a representative of the King of kings, preachers have been given the responsibility and authority to boldly herald forth what God has said in His Word. But the hearers have a responsibility too, one that’s equally pressing: They must engage themselves as wholehearted, blood-earnest listeners who respond to the call of God on all mankind; ‘Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth; for the LORD speaks’ (Isa.1:2).

In the pages ahead, we will explore God’s call to listen. …After all, if you are like most Christians, you listen to at least one or two sermons a week. Let’s say you came to Christ at age ten [the author does not share our Reformed covenantal perspective, but his point is still valid] and you live to be seventy-five. If you average two sermons a week, you will listen to over seven thousand sermons during the course of your life. And at the end of your life you will stand before God and give an account for every sermon you heard. On that day, God will essentially ask you, ‘How was your life changed as a result of the thousands of times you have heard My Word preached?’ So we see that it is vital that you are ever welcoming the Word of God and diligently seeking to put what you hear into practice, thus proving ‘yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves’ (James 1:22). [NASB]

At the beginning of this introductory chapter the author referenced the Thessalonian Christians who had this testimony of the apostle Paul concerning how they listened to the preaching he brought them: “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” (I Thess.2:13) He returns to this at the end of this chapter:

The Thessalonians understood this supernatural dynamic [the “dynamic duo of faithful herald and fervent listeners”] and it caused them to have a great appreciation and affection for the preached Word. They loved to listen to Paul preach. They could be truly described as preaching enthusiasts, preaching fanatics even. Augustine urged his congregation to attend preaching with ‘burning thirst and fervent hearts.’

…My desire within these pages is to create congregations that share this passion to honor God by being discerning hearers of His Word, diligent doers of His Word, and devoted lovers of His Word, preaching fanatics even, who come to church like a thirsty man craving something to drink and whose hearts fervently long to hear the Word preached because they know that in it God speaks to them.

expository-listening-ramey-2010Taken from Expository Listening: A Handbook for Hearing and Doing God’s Word by Ken Ramey (Kress Biblical Resources, 2010), the “Introduction: Welcoming the Word.” In the months ahead I plan to draw on some of the author’s good thoughts concerning our calling to listen believingly to God’s Word proclaimed.

This section begins with these words from the Puritan Thomas Watson: “When we come to the Word preached, we come to a matter of the highest importance, therefore we should stir up ourselves and hear with the greatest devotion.”

PRC Archives: Voices from the Past – Rev. George M. Ophoff

GMOphoffFor our PRC archives post for this Thursday we turn to a voice from the past – Rev. George M. Ophoff, one of the founding fathers of the PRC.

Not only did Ophoff serve as minister of two PRC congregations and as professor in the PRC seminary for 35 years, but he was also a voluminous writer for the Standard Bearer.

Prof. Doug Kuiper, one of our new professors in the PRC Seminary, recently started a bibliography of Ophoff’s writings in the PR Theological Journal.  In the last issue (Spring 2018) he writes that Ophoff penned over 1100 articles for the SB. Many of these were in the area of OT studies, Ophoff’s specialty in the seminary.

Tonight we give you just a little sample of his manifold writings in that magazine, with this article for the rubric “Day of Shadows,” on Isaiah 49:13ff. titled “God’s Love for Zion.” (slightly edited)

God so loved Zion, His people, that He graved their likeness on the very palms of His hands, upon that side of His hands that always faces Him, so that, as the text declares, His people are always before Him, before His very eyes. Not once in all eternity, does He take His eyes off them. They are before Him ever. And the beauty of their likeness is His eternal joy and refreshment. And mark, you, He graved them upon the palms of His hand, indelibly inscribed them upon the tablet of His mind and heart.

You, too, have the likeness of that boy of yours in the armed forces written in your heart, and, so it seems to you now, indelibly so. It seems to you now that though you live to be a thousand years, time could not re­move, blot out, efface that inscription. But be assured that, as the centuries rolled by, the form and visage of that son, that now stands out so clearly in your mind, would grow dimmer and dimmer and eventually fade altogether. No, we do not have our children en­graved in our hearts, indelibly inscribed. But God has. Zion is indeed engraved on His palms, indelibly inscribed in His heart and mind, and all eternity can­not remove, blot out that inscription. So He loves His people. They may forget, yet will not I forget thee, behold, I have graven thee in the palms of my hands. From everlasting was Zion before Him, His everlas­ting joy and refreshment. For Zion, God’s chosen people, are beautiful.

O, by nature, apart from Christ, God’s people are not beautiful. By nature they are a people ugly, vile, guilty, condemnable and ill deserving, dead in trespasses and sins. It is certainly not God’s people as they are by nature that He graved in the palms of His hand, indelibly inscribed on His heart and mind. How could it be? Can the holy and the righteous God delight in an ugly picture? Certainly He cannot. Nay, it is not God’s people as they are by nature that He has eternally inscribed in His heart and in His palms, but Zion, chosen and beloved in Christ and by virtue thereof everlastingly clothed with the righteousness of her Savior and thus guilt­less and holy in Christ. It is this Zion that is God’s eternal delight. It is this Zion that God has engraved in the palms of His hands, mark you once more, in the palms of His hands.

God, it is true, has no hands and arms like a man. But the hand of God is His power to save His people and to complete their redemption. God’s people in this world, are saved to be sure, being set in heaven with Christ. But though saved, they have but a small beginning of true obedience. But God can and will realize in His people, in full, the fruits of Christ’s atonement and conform them whol­ly according to the likeness of Christ, thus according to the likeness of that image of Zion that He has engraved on the very palms of His hands.

For more on Rev. Ophoff, you may find a series on him in the SB by Prof. Herman Hanko, beginning with this article.

Blessed Are the Meek – Rev. C. Haak

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This week’s message on the Reformed Witness Hour radio/Internet program (Sunday, June 17, 2018) was “Blessed Are the Meek” by Rev. C. Haak, pastor of Georgetown PRC.  Radio pastor Haak is currently doing a series on the Beatitudes found in Matthew 5:3-12, and this past Sunday he spoke on the third one as recorded in Matt.5:5, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.”

The audio file of the message is linked above on the PRC website and it may also be found on the RWH’s website and on her Sermonaudio channel.

Tonight I post a portion of the transcription of the message, finding it fitting for our reflection today.

 Meekness is the result, it is the fruit, of being poor in spirit and of knowing what it is to mourn before God.  It makes one receptive in his heart before God.  In one word:  meekness is the absence of pride.  A meek heart is the antithesis, the opposite of pride.  It is the opposite of stubbornness and fierceness and vengefulness.  Meekness is the dethroning of sinful pride and making us now teachable of God, gentle toward one another, submissive to God, confident and strong in God and in His faithful love to me.

Not only does one not assert himself, but he also sees the sin of that.  A meek person does not glory in himself.  He is not always interested in himself.  He is not watching always after his own interest.  He is not always on the defensive.  He is not always saying, “What about me?”

Beloved, by nature, we spend our whole life watching out for ourselves.  We worry about ourselves and what others are going to say about us.  We talk to ourselves.  We say, “You’re having a hard time.  Too bad people don’t understand you.  How wonderful I am and if only people would give me a chance.”  That is pride.  The meek are self-emptied people.  They are not defending the citadel of me.  They are lowly before God.  They are ready to leave everything in the hands of God, to leave themselves, their rights, their cause, their whole life, in the hand of God.  Meek.

This meekness will be seen in the attitude that we carry.  The fruit of meekness is, first of all, seen in an attitude toward God, an attitude of submission and quietness.  How often do we not struggle with the sovereign ways and the sovereign will of God?  I am not talking, now, of accepting our sinful ways or being indifferent.  But I am referring to the fact that God sovereignly appoints my portion in this life.  He arranges my life, personally and in my family, and economically, in all the details of my life.  Very often we struggle with that.  We find it very hard to be submissive to the way and to the will of God.  That is our pride.

Meekness, now, is submission, submission to the great God of heaven.  And, thus, meekness is strength!  The meek person is strong because he knows that God is holding him up.  We read in Psalm 147, “The LORD lifteth up the meek:  he casteth the wicked down to the ground.”  In meekness we are able to bear God’s chastenings in quietness and hope.  We are able to do that with a meek and a quiet spirit.  There is an example of this in the Bible.  I bring to your memory the high priest called Aaron.  Aaron’s two sons had been killed by God for offering strange incense in the tabernacle.  They had worshiped God in a manner that He had not prescribed.  And God consumed them in fire.  God, then, told Moses to tell Aaron that Aaron could not mourn over his sons.  He had to submit, in his grief, to the hand of God.  And Aaron did.  Now Aaron was far from perfect.  The Bible makes that plain.  The Scriptures tell us of all of his faults.  Yet God gave to Aaron a meekness.  He suffered quietly before God.

…The second fruit of meekness is our attitude toward others.  Meekness makes us the most approachable persons on earth.  Not bristling in pride, not sharp, cruel, spiteful.  It is the meek in Christ with whom you feel a great kinship.  Meekness attracts others.  Meekness is mildness of manner, gentleness, harmlessness.  Remember what we read in Matthew 11:28.   The Lord said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden.”  Why?  “For I am meek and lowly in heart.  You are safe with Me,” said Jesus.  “Because I am meek, you may come to Me.  I’m not dangerous.  You may set your heart upon Me.”

Still more.  In meekness, we will bear patiently the insults and the injuries that we receive at the hands of others.  In meekness we will not become inflamed, vindictive.  In meekness we will not assume a demeaning attitude toward those who differ with us.  We will not show ourselves to have a harsh, censorious temperament.  We will not enjoy finding fault in others.  Meekness will be seen in gentleness, humility, and patience.  It is the absence of retaliation.  It is the absence of paying back.  It is the absence of saying, “They’re gonna get theirs.”  No, it is longsuffering and patient, especially when we suffer wrongfully.  Then we will be meek.  Listen to Galatians 6:1.   “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”  The Word of God is saying that only a spirit of meekness qualifies you to deal with another who may be embittered and resentful, to deal with someone who has fallen away.  You can deal with such a person only in the spirit of meekness.  Meekness means that you are emptied of yourself.  You are dependent upon and submissive to God.  You are gentle and you are teachable.  Blessed are the meek, said Jesus, for they shall inherit the earth.

Don’t forget the Facebook page of the RWH!

Does God Call You to Be a Teacher or a Minister? ~ Prof. R. Dykstra, April 15, 2018 Standard Bearer

sb-logo-rfpaThe latest issue of the Reformed magazine, the Standard Bearer, is now out (April 15, 2018), and once again it is packed with edifying content.

In this issue are articles by Rev. M. DeVries on Ps.61:2 (a meditation), by D. Doezema on the vision of Ezekiel in chapter 16, by Prof. R. Cammenga on the sufficiency of Scripture, by Rev. R. Kleyn on remembering the Lord’s Day (the 4th commandment as taught by the Heidelberg Catechism), by Rev. J. Laning on the believer’s heavenly life in Christ alone, and by Rev. J. Mahtani on our calling to relate to other Christians who belong to the universal (catholic) church of Christ.

There is also an editorial by Prof. R. Dykstra, part of a mini-series he is doing on the idea of Christian vocation. This particular article hones in on two very special callings God gives to some of His people – that of Christian school teacher and that of gospel minister. In addressing the need for young people to face the questions, “Does God call me to teach in a Christian school? Does God call me to preach the gospel?” Prof. Dykstra points them to four spiritual qualifications and to three natural abilities they ought to find in themselves as they face God’s call.

Tonight we post a portion of his editorial, focusing in on two of the four spiritual qualifications he mentions. It is our prayer that this editorial will stir up serious consideration of these gifts and of God’s call to these special labors in His church and kingdom.

Second, prospective teachers and preacher must find in themselves a genuine love for God’s people, particularly the youth. This brotherly love enjoined on all Christians truly desires the good of God’s people, and truly desires to help them as he is able. Do you have this yearning to give your time, abilities, and heart – to give yourself –  for the good of sinful saints? Then perhaps you have the call to be a teacher or a minister.

Closely related, since both teaching and ministry are positions of service, the desire to serve must also be part of your spiritual makeup. Self-promotion has no place in these vocations. The proud must stay far away. Despite what you might imagine, God does not need you, no matter how gifted you may be. Ultimately, under God’s judgment, the proud will fail, for God’s people cannot abide such pride, and God will not tolerate it. A desire to serve, coupled with humility and meekness, these are the spiritual virtues found in godly, effective, beloved teachers and ministers.