Theologians Who Love the Scriptures – K. Kapic

little-book-theologians-kapicIn the final chapter of his edifying little book, A Little Book for New Theologians (and those not so new), Kelly Kapic ends his study of theology and worship with a wonderful chapter titled “Love of Scripture.”

Here he fittingly shows us the place the inscripturated Word of God must have in our lives as the people of God, whether we are trained theologians or amateur ones. One of his closing points is this:

We must never forget that the purpose of the words is to draw us to the Word and thus into the embrace of the triune God. As people who grow to cherish and delight in the sacred writings, we must never forget their fundamental purpose: that we might know the true God and respond to him in repentance and faith, being drawn into communion with him. Strangely – but not surprisingly to any of us who end up professionally handling the Scriptures on a daily basis – there is always the danger to make the Scriptures an end in and of themselves.

And then the author relates the story of Jesus’ “heated discussion” with the Jews over his authority in connection with his practices on the sabbath day (John 5). He ends up admonishing them concerning the truth that the Scriptures (Moses and the entire OT) pointed to Him and, therefore, they ought to have believed on Him (cf. Jn.5:39-40). Whereupon Kapic concludes with application to ourselves:

Jesus here reminds us that the words of Scripture are alive, not because they are intrinsically magical but because by God’s Spirit they reveal the living Word and draw us to the triune God. To study the words but never encounter the Word is not to miss something. It is to miss everything! Studying the Bible alone, therefore, does not make one a good theologian.

What then? This:

The sacred Scriptures are sacred because, by God’s Spirit, these chosen means reveal God to us and draw us to himself. Here our idols are smashed and our worship is directed to the Creator Lord whose beauty and love is always worthy of our praise. If the Scriptures do not take us to a fuller and richer worship of the triune God, then we have missed the purpose of the written Word. But empowered by God’s Spirit and with a genuine thirst to receive his grace and know his mind, we can search the Scriptures like the Bereans, confident that here the Word is revealed once for all; here is the means by which we can know and live to God, and by this source we can test the claims made about him (Acts 17:11). [pp.117-119]

Shall we make that our deliberate and distinctive purpose as we study theology in the light of God’s holy Word?

God’s Work through the Means of Grace: It’s All So Ordinary

Means-of-Grace-3The following are theologian Michael Horton’s further thoughts on being content with God’s “ordinary” means of grace for the Christian’s faith and life:

‘Expect a miracle!’ That’s good counsel if there is a promise in Scripture to back it up. The problem today is that many Christians are not looking for God’s miraculous activity where he has promised it, namely, through his ordinary means of grace. Through these means, he has pledged to raise us from spiritual death, to forgive sins, to assure us of God’s favor, and to conform us to Christ’s image.

…Typically, we identify ‘acts of God’ with the big stuff: earthquakes, hurricanes, and parting seas. Or perhaps a better way of putting it: we identify the big stuff with what can be measured and recognized as an obvious miraculous intervention by God. Millions of people around the world will turn out for a prosperity evangelist’s promise of signs and wonders. But how many of us think that God’s greatest signs and wonders are being done every week through the ordinary means of preaching, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper?

…If our God is so keen to work in and through the ordinary, maybe we should rethink the way we confine him to the theatrical spectacles, whether the pageantry of the Mass or the carefully staged crusade. It takes no honor away from God that he uses ordinary – even physical – means to bring about extraordinary results. On the contrary, it underscores the comprehensive breadth of his sovereignty over, in, and within creation as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

To be content with Christ’s kingdom is to be satisfied also with his ordinary means of grace.

…Just as we wouldn’t have expected to find the Creator of the universe in a feeding trough of a barn in some obscure village, much less hanging, bloody, on a Roman cross, we do not expect to find him delivering his extraordinary gifts in such human places and in such humble ways as human speech [preaching], a bath [baptism], and a meal [the Lord’s supper]. This can’t be right, we reason. We need signs and wonders to know that God is with us. Yet it is only because God has promised to meet us in the humble and ordinary places, to deliver his inheritance, that we are content to receive him in these ways.

CNN will not be showing up at a church that is simply trusting God to do extraordinary things through his ordinary means of grace delivered by ordinary servants. But God will. Week after week. These means of grace and the ordinary fellowship of the saints that nurtures and guides us throughout our life may seem frail, but they are jars that carry a rich treasure: Christ with all his saving benefits.

ordinary-MHorton-2014Taken from chapter 7 of Michael Horton’s Or-di-nary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World (Zondervan, 2014), which I am currently making my way through. The chapter is simply titled “Contentment.” The paragraphs I have quoted are found on pp.139-49.

Horton’s words leave us with some questions: Are we content with God’s ordinary means of grace? And if so, are we using them as He intends?

400th Anniversary of the Great Synod of Dordt, 1618-19

2018-19 marks the 400th anniversary of the Synod of Dordt held in the Netherlands in the city of Dordtrecht over parts of 1618-1619.


This synod of the Reformed Churches is known as the “Great Synod,” in part because of the great work that it did: condemning the errors of  Arminianism while setting forth the positive concensus of the Reformed churches on five main points of doctrine (the “Canons of Dordt”, as they are known); adopting editions of the other two major confessions of the Reformed churches – the Belgic Confession (1562) and the Heidelberg Catechism (1563) to form with the “Canons” the “Three Forms of Unity” as doctrinal standards in the Reformed churches; and approving a new translation of the Bible – the Dutch Staten Bible.

For this reason, the Synod of Dordt was also great in significance, which is why we will spend time this year reviewing its work and referencing resources that are being produced about it and events that are being held to commemorate it.

Just last week Ligonier did a feature on the Synod of Dordt on its “Renewing Your Mind” program. The twenty-five-minute program had Dr. Robert Godfrey presenting a church history lecture on the history and basic work of the “Great Synod.” It is worth your time to listen to this broadcast as we begin our own commemoration of this significant church gathering (use the link provided here to listen).

In addition, you may find an important overview of the Synod of Dordt on the PRCA website, where I will also be adding more related articles this year. Prof. H. Hanko has a fine article titled “The Synod of Dordt.” You are encouraged to read that as part of our own instruction and inspiration.

Later this year the Standard Bearer hopes to publish a special issue on the Synod. Look for that at the time of our annual Reformation issue this Fall!


“How was church today?” Ordinary is “quite extraordinary indeed.” – M. Horton

ordinary-MHorton-2014I continue to read Michael Horton’s Or-di-nary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World (Zondervan, 2014), taking in chapter 4 today – “The Next  Big Thing.” In this chapter Horton takes on the contemporary church’s craving for the new and novel, while ignoring and shunning God’s ordinary means of grace for His church and people.

Toward the end of the chapter the author has a section headed by those words “How was church today?” Here’s what he has to say in response to that common question raised in our day:

…In most times and places of the church, this would have been an unlikely question. In fact, the hearer might have been confused. Why? Because it’s like asking how the meals at home have been this week or asking a farmer how the crops did this week. ‘How was the sermon” ‘Was it a good service?’ Same blank stare from the ancestors. In those days, churches didn’t have to be rockin’ it, nobody expected the preacher to hit it out of the park, and the service was, well, a service.

Now, that doesn’t mean that what happens at church through these ordinary means in ordinary services of ordinary churches on ordinary weeks is itself ordinary. What happens is quite extraordinary indeed. First and foremost, God shows up. He judges and justifies, draws sinners and gathers his sheep to his Son by his Word and Spirit. He unites them to Christ, bathes them and feeds them, teaches and tends them along their pilgrim way. He expands his empire even as he deepens it. It is through this divinely ordained event that ‘the powers of the age to come’ penetrate into the darkest crevices of this passing evil age (Heb 6:3-6).

Which leads Horton to add these thoughts:

So one way people might have responded in times past, at least in churches of the Reformation, would have been something like these expressions: ‘Well, it was one more nail in the coffin of the old Adam’ or ‘God absolved me’ or maybe something as simple as, ‘It’s been good to understand the Gospel of John a little better over these past few months.’ [p.83]

How will we answer that question after we have been to our “ordinary” houses of worship and prayer tomorrow? May we realize again how “quite extraordinary” God’s good way of feeding us and caring for us in His church is.

PRC Seminary Reformation 500 Conference This Weekend! Come and Join Us! *(Updated!)

ref-500-1The PRC Seminary, with help from Faith PRC’s Evangelism Committee, is holding a special two-day 500th anniversary Reformation conference for this weekend, October 27-28 at Faith PRC in Jenison, MI.

The details of the event may be found on the poster below. A special website has also been created for the conference, which you may find at .

Here’s the latest bulletin announcement that was sent out:

HERE WE STAND, the seminary sponsored weekend conference celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation is now at hand. The first speech is at 4:00 on Friday, October 27 with additional speeches at 7:00 and 8:15. The conference will continue on Saturday morning. The speeches will be delivered by our three professors [Profs. R. Cammenga, R. Dykstra, and B. Gritters] and Rev. M. McGeown [missionary-pastor of Limerick Reformed Fellowship, Ireland], Rev. David Torlach [pastor in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Australia], and Rev. S. Key [PRC pastor in Loveland, CO].

Talk to your neighbors and friends and join us at Faith PRC for this important event. The conference will be live-streamed on the Internet for those who are not able to attend in person.


At the conference there will also be books for sale by the Reformed Free Publishing Association and Gary Vander Schaaf (lots of great deals on books!) and special displays of Seminary library books – new and rare – on the Reformation (There may also be a special PRC archive item on display!). In addition, the Reformed Witness Hour will have a special table featuring its ministry.



We hope you make plans to attend this significant event! Set aside time this weekend to join us as we celebrate God’s great work in the sixteenth century of reforming His church according to His Word.


It’s been a great conference so far! Come out this Saturday morning for more edifying and inspiring messages, good books, and blessed fellowship!

First 2017 “Standard Bearer” Special Reformation Issue

The October 15, 2017 issue of the Standard Bearer is now in print and being mailed, and it is our annual special Reformation issue, marking the 500th anniversary of the great Protestant Reformation (1517-2017).


The articles in this special Reformation issue reflect “the heritage of the Reformation,” that is, the special truths of the gospel that were restored to the church of Jesus Christ through the various brave and bold Reformers God raised up in the sixteenth century.

From the front cover of the issue you can see some of the topics treated. And from the table of contents posted below, you can see the rest of the important subjects covered in this issue.

You may have noted that I wrote “first” special issue in my heading. That is because we have also planned and will publish a second special issue on the Reformation this year. The November 1, 2017 issue will be “The Heritage of the Reformation” part 2. That too will have a variety of articles on the important truths and practices restored to the church according to the Word of God. Look for that issue in a few weeks!


For today, we take a quotation from Prof. D. Engelsma’s article on the controversy over the bondage of the will, a subject of vital concern to the Reformers. Lord willing, we hope to feature another article from this issue as well.

The truth of the bondage of the will, including its being fundamental to the gospel of grace, has its urgent application to churches and professing Christians in AD 2017, the 500th anniversary of the Reformation of 1517. The doctrine is not a petrified mummy safely sealed up in an ancient ecclesiastical museum. It is not a truth to which hypocritical ministers and church members can pay lip service when this is convenient for them (as in the 500th anniversary year of the Reformation, although even then the bondage is usually not one of the topics of their celebrations), while effectively denying it in their synodical decisions, in their preaching, in their writings, by their church membership, and by their ostracism and slander of churches and theologians whose only offence is an uncompromising confession of the bondage of the will.

First, applied to the heart of the elect believer, this truth assures him of his salvation in that his willing of God and the good by a true faith carries with itself the assurance that he is saved. His will is free, and it is free because it has been freed by the grace of God in Jesus Christ. Therefore, he will glorify God on account of his salvation.

Second, confession of the bondage of the will is a fundamental mark of a true church. Confession of the bondage of the will is an essential element of the proclamation of the gospel of grace, and the true church proclaims, confesses, and defends the gospel of grace—the gospel of salvation by grace alone, without the will and works of the saved sinner.

Third, confession and defense of the alleged free will of the natural, unsaved, man, which purportedly cooperates with grace and upon which grace depends, are the mark of an apostate, false church. In our ecumenical age, God’s people need to know this, and to act accordingly.

Why the Reformation Still Matters

The October 2017 issue of Tabletalk (Ligonier Ministries’ monthly magazine), without surprise or embarrassment, features a tribute to the 500th anniversary of the great Protestant Reformation (1517-2017). And we are glad they did.

The issue is packed with informative and inspiring articles on this indispensable movement, and you are encouraged to read them for your personal benefit this month and beyond. Here is a sampling of the main articles:

  1. The Power of the Gospel – Editor Burk Parsons
  2. Luther and His Significance – Stephen J. Nichols
  3.  Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide – Guy P. Waters
  4. The Geography of the Reformation – Ryan Reeves
  5. The Women of the Reformation – Rececca VanDoodewaard
  6. Continuing the Reformation – W. Robert Godfrey
  7. The Ninety-Five Theses (the final article has all 95 as set down by Luther himself)

For today, I reference the first main article, “Why the Reformation Still Matters” by Michael Reeves. I post a few sections from the beginning and the end of his article, for these give answer to his own implied question. Find the rest at the link below, where you will also find the other articles.

Last year, on October 31, Pope Francis announced that after five hundred years, Protestants and Catholics now “have the opportunity to mend a critical moment of our history by moving beyond the controversies and disagreements that have often prevented us from understanding one another.” From that, it sounds as if the Reformation was an unfortunate and unnecessary squabble over trifles, a childish outburst that we can all put behind us now that we have grown up.

But tell that to Martin Luther, who felt such liberation and joy at his rediscovery of justification by faith alone that he wrote, “I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates.” Tell that to William Tyndale, who found it such “merry, glad and joyful tidings” that it made him “sing, dance, and leap for joy.” Tell it to Thomas Bilney, who found it gave him “a marvellous comfort and quietness, insomuch that my bruised bones leaped for joy.” Clearly, those first Reformers didn’t think they were picking a juvenile fight; as they saw it, they had discovered glad tidings of great joy.

And this is the end of Reeves’ thoughts:

Now is not a time to be shy about justification or the supreme authority of the Scriptures that proclaim it. Justification by faith alone is no relic of the history books; it remains today as the only message of ultimate liberation, the message with the deepest power to make humans unfurl and flourish. It gives assurance before our holy God and turns sinners who attempt to buy God off into saints who love and fear Him.

And oh what opportunities we have today for spreading this good news! Five hundred years ago, Gutenberg’s recent invention of the printing press meant that the light of the gospel could spread at a speed never before witnessed. Tyndale’s Bibles and Luther’s tracts could go out by the thousands. Today, digital technology has given us another Gutenberg moment, and the same message can now be spread at speeds Luther could never have imagined.

Both the needs and the opportunities are as great as they were five hundred years ago—in fact, they are greater. Let us then take courage from the faithfulness of the Reformers and hold the same wonderful gospel high, for it has lost none of its glory or its power to dispel our darkness.

Source: Why the Reformation Still Matters

 RFPA Annual Meeting, Sept.28, 2017 : Important Speech and Ministry Updates

Thursday night, Sept.28, 2017, is a special night for the Reformed Free Publishing Association (RFPA). This is the date of their annual meeting, which involves reports on the business aspect of their work, including both the book publishing side and the Standard Bearer magazine side.

But far more is planned than just this. A special speech will be given by Prof. David J. Engelsma – a speech related to the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and to his recent book on justification by faith alone, one of the cardinal gospel truths recovered during the Reformation.

Below are some of the details; find more at the RFPA link below, including a link to that significant new book on justification. You are strongly encouraged to attend this meeting and speech.

But if you cannot, the RFPA has made it known that “the meeting will be live-streamed for those of you who are not able to attend or who live out of state. Visit to listen in!”

*UPDATE: The RFPA has now released the video recording of the meeting, which you may watch below.

RFPA annual meeting –
“After 500 Years: What about James on Justification?”

Plan to attend the RFPA annual meeting THIS WEEK!

At the annual meeting of the Reformed Free Publishing Association this coming Thursday, September 28 at 7:30 pm, Prof. David J. Engelsma will speak on “After 500 Years: What about James on Justification?” He will not only show the harmony of James 2 on the one hand and of Romans 3-5 and Galatians on the other hand, but he will also demonstrate that James 2 itself convincingly proves that it does not compromise the Reformation’s gospel truth of justification by faith alone.

The lecture will develop the truth of justification set forth in the speaker’s recent book commemorating and defending the Reformation of the church in this, the 500th anniversary of that glorious event, Gospel Truth of Justification: Proclaimed, Defended, Developed (Reformed Free Publishing Association, 2017).

We hope to see you there for this timely speech!

Location details:
Southwest Protestant Reformed Church
4875 Ivanrest Ave SW
Wyoming MI 49418

Source: Reformed Free Publishing Association — This week is the RFPA annual meeting – “After 500 Years: What about Ja

Luther, Bold Reformer: Uncompromising in the Truth

bold-reformer-steeleOne of the easier reads I am taking in during this year of celebrating the 500th anniversary of the great Reformation is Bold Reformer: Celebrating the Gospel-Centered Convictions of Martin Luther by David S. Steele (Kindle version).

In chapter three, “Bold Reformers Refuse to Compromise the Truth,” Steele points us to the history of Luther before the Diet of Worms, where he famously said on April 18, 1521,

“Unless I am convinced by the testimony of Scripture or by clear reason (for I trust neither pope nor council alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have cited, for my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since to act against one’s conscience is neither safe nor right. I cannot do otherwise. Here I stand, may God help me.”

Here are a few of the author’s comments on Luther’s boldness before this conference:

Martin Luther understood the paralyzing effects of compromise. He saw how compromise slithered its way into the fabric of the church and began to devour the gospel, verse-by-verse and line-by-line. He witnessed how compromise in the priesthood eroded the integrity of the church from the inside out. Luther’s pilgrimage to Rome awakened him to the compromise that plagued the church…. He watched with horror as the church he loved grew more and more like the world.

Luther battled sin like every other fallen man. Yet, he maintained a posture that served his generation well and continues to reverberate throughout the halls of church history. So Luther learned a valuable lesson in the sixteenth century: Bold reformers refuse to compromise the truth.

Toward the end of this chapter, as he calls today’s church members to be bold reformers, Steele references Herman Bavinck, writing,

Herman Bavinck rightly identifies such a person, a theologian who bears the marks of a bold reformer: ‘Bound by revelation, taking seriously the confessions of the church, a theologian must appropriate the Christian faith personally. This is a liberating reality; it made it possible for heroic figures such as Martin Luther to stand up to false teaching and misconduct in the church. We must obey God rather than men.’

Worship of God Alone through Christ Alone

The August 2017 issue of the Standard Bearer is now available, and in it Prof. R. Cammenga (PRC Seminary) continues his exposition of the Second Helvetic Confession (written by Reformer Heinrich Bullinger) with treatment of chapter 5a, where the creed sets forth the Protestant Christian truth concerning worship through Christ alone as the saints’ only Mediator.


On this August 13 Lord’s Day we quote a portion of this confession and Prof. Cammenga’s exposition, as relevant for us today as when it was composed (1562/64).

Christ Alone

God alone is to be invoked through the mediation of Christ alone. In all crises and trials of our life we call upon him alone, and that by the mediation of our only mediator and intercessor, Jesus Christ. For we have been explicitly commanded, “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me” (Ps. 50:15). Moreover, we have a most generous promise from the Lord Who said, “Whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he will give it you” (John 16:23), and, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). And since it is written, “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?” (Rom. 10:4), and since we do believe in God alone, we assuredly call upon him alone, and we do so through Christ. For as the apostle says, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (I Tim. 2:5), “And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (I John 2:1).

God alone is to be worshipped. But God is to be worshipped through the only Mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ alone is the Mediator: solus Christus. Only in the name of and through the Lord Jesus Christ may men approach God in worship. All worship of God apart from Jesus Christ, all worship of God while invoking other mediators, be they saints, angels, or the virgin Mary, is damnable worship.

God alone through Christ alone—that was the gospel of the Reformation. And that is the gospel for all time and in every age and among all peoples. This is the distinctiveness of the Christian faith. This is the reason on account of which Christianity that is true to Christ cannot accommodate the false religions. The gospel is never Christ and, but is always Christ alone. Christ is the Way to the Father, and there is no other way to the Father. Christ is the way to the Father because He alone is the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). Jesus Christ is “our only mediator and intercessor” with the triune God. He alone is our “advocate with the Father.”

May our worship of the heavenly Father this day reflect this part of confession as Protestant Christians. May we seek the one true God through His only Mediator, our Lord Jesus Christ.

You may find the Second Helvetic Confession in ebook form on Monergism’s website here.