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?

The Suffering Prophet – M. Schipper


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

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

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

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

The answer is: Judas’ sin is our sin!

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

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

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

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

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

That ye may believe!

And believing, ye may be saved!

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

Learning to Pray Our Father’s Prayer Book

And so we must learn to pray. The child learns to speak because his father speaks to him. He learns the speech of his father. So we learn to speak to God because God has spoken to us and speaks to us. By means of the speech of the Father in heaven his children learn to speak with him. Repeating God’s own words after him, we begin to pray to him. We ought to speak to God and he wants to hear us, not in the false and confused speech of our heart, but in the clear and pure speech which God has spoken to us in Jesus Christ.

God’s speech in Jesus Christ meets us in the Holy Scriptures. If we wish to pray with confidence and gladness, then the words of Holy Scripture will have to be the solid basis of our prayer. For here we know that Jesus Christ, the Word of God, teaches us to pray. The words which come from God become, then, the steps on which we find our way to God.

Psalms-prayer-book-BonhoefferQuoted from Psalms, The Prayer Book of the Bible by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Augsburg, 1974), a translation of Das Gebetbuch der Bibel (the 8th ed. published in Germany in 1966). These thoughts are found in the opening section, “Lord. Teach Us to Pray.”

This fine little volume I picked up in a local thrift store this week, and after reading a bit in it I decided it would make some good posts on prayer and on the book of Psalms. Look for these in the weeks and months ahead.

But before we leave it for now, we include this quotation of the author found on the back cover: “Wherever the Psalter is abandoned, an incomparable treasure vanishes from the Christian church. With its recovery will come unsuspected power.”

Trying to Understand the World without Reference to God and His Glory: “a pathetically parochial point of view” – J. Piper

…We live in such a pervasively secular culture that the air we breathe is godless. God is not part of the social consciousness. Christians, sad to say, absorb this. It combines with our own self-exalting bent, and we find ourselves slow to see the obvious – that God is a million times more important than man, and his glory is the ultimate meaning of all things.

The world thinks that because we can put a man on the moon and cure diseases and build skyscrapers and establish universities, therefore we can understand things without reference to God. But this is a pathetically parochial point of view. It is parochial because it assumes that the material universe is large and God is small. It is parochial because it thinks that being able to do things with matter, while being blind to God, is brilliant. But in fact, a moment’s reflection, in the bracing air of biblical God-centeredness, reminds us that when God is taken into account, the material universe is ‘an infinitely small part of universal existence.’

Those are the staggering words of Jonathan Edwards. To be impressed with the material universe and not be impressed with God is like being amazed at Buck Hill in Minnesota and bored at the Rockies of Colorado. If God wore a coat with pockets, he would carry the universe in one of them like a peanut. To ponder the meaning of that peanut, without reference to God’s majesty, is the work of a fool.

So, yes, the portrait of God in the Bible demands that we always read the Bible with the aim of seeing the glory of God. When Paul that ‘from him and through him and to him are all things’ (Rom.11:36), he did not mean ‘all things except the things in the Bible.’ He meant all things. And then he added, ‘To him be glory forever.’ Which means: it is God’s glory to be the beginning, middle, and end of all things. It is his glory to be the alpha and omega of all things – and every letter in between. And therefore his glory belongs to the meaning of all things. And would we not blaspheme to say that this glorious God is anything less than the ultimate meaning of all things?

Reading-Bible-Supernaturally-Piper-2017Quotation by John Piper, taken from Chapter 5, “Reading [the Bible] to See Supreme Worth and Beauty” in Reading the Bible Supernaturally: Seeing and Savoring the Glory of God in Scripture (Crossway, 2017), pp.89-90.

God’s Word: Our Heavenly Standard for All of Life

ps119105This meditation appeared yesterday from “Grace Gems” and makes a fitting post at the outset of this year. The one book we as Christians must read and retain more than any other is God’s Book, the holy Bible.

This is how Arthur W. Pink brings this home in this meditation:

A heavenly standard for the regulation of all our conduct

(Arthur Pink, “A Prosperous New Year”)

“Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth. You shall meditate on it day and night–so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” Joshua 1:8

“You shall meditate on it day and night.”
Only thus will its injunctions be fixed in the memory;
only thus shall we be able to ascertain our duty;
only thus shall we discern the rightful application of the Divine precepts to all the varied details of our daily lives.

The more I am regulated by the Divine Rule–the more I shall be preserved from the mistakes and follies which characterize those who follow a course of self-pleasing. But in order to do God’s commandments, I must be conversant with them; and in order to perceive their breadth and specific application unto any problem or decision confronting me, I must “meditate on it day and night.” Meditation stands to reading–as mastication does to eating. Spiritual prosperity eludes the slothful and careless.

“That you may be careful to do everything written in it.” This must be the dominating motive and object. God’s Word is to be appropriated and masticated–fed and meditated upon–not for the purpose of understanding its prophecies, or obtaining an insight into its mysteries–but in order to learn God’s will for myself, and having learned it–to conform thereunto. God’s Word is given to us chiefly–not to gratify curiosity or to entertain our imagination–but as “a lamp to our feet–and a light unto our path” (Psalm 119:105) in this dark world. It is a Rule for us to walk by–it is a heavenly standard for the regulation of all our conduct. It points out the things to be avoided–the things which would harm us. It tells of the things to be followed and practiced–the things which are for our good and our peace. It contains not only good advice–but is clothed with Divine authority, commanding implicit and unqualified obedience.


In that connection, at the beginning of the year it is also good to have a good Bible reading plan in place. Perhaps you are continuing or carrying over a plan from 2017; that is good; stay on it. But if you are looking to start fresh this new year, Ligonier Ministries has some good helps to get you started.

Theistic Evolution vs. the Word of God: An Article and a Book

This part Saturday (Nov.18, 2017), as part of its “Saturday Series” on significant books World magazine posted an article by Elizabeth Handford titled “Evolution vs. the Bible,” in which this pastor’s wife, mother and grandmother, licensed pilot, and Bible teacher takes on noted Christian theistic evolutionist, Dr. Francis Collins, director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health and founder of BioLogos, a Christian scientific think-tank.

Collins also wrote an influential book, as Marvin Olasky, World’s editor-in-chief explains:

After she [Elizabeth H.] read Francis Collins’ The Language of God (Free Press, 2006) and saw how it undercuts the inerrancy of Scripture, she carefully examined its premises and evidence and sent me the essay that follows. It’s important, because 10 years after publication the paperback edition of The Language of God is still ranks in the top 10 of Amazon’s “Science & Religion” category. Please read Elizabeth’s essay and think hard.

Today we post part of Handford’s important article, as we believe it strikes at the heart of the “debate” on the origins “question” among professing Christians and churches. That heart is the authority and accuracy of the Bible as God’s inspired, infallible Word. The entire essay is worth your read (not very long), but we pick it up in the middle, where Handford states this:

If a reader of Scripture can decide for himself what is true and what can be ignored, he is setting himself as arbiter over the Scriptures. He becomes the decider of truth. This is indefensible if the Bible is truly God’s inerrant Word. Scripture is not “of any private interpretation.”

This puts Collins in an ambiguous position. If a number of individuals began the human race, as he believes, then Adam and Eve are myths. But that puts in doubt New Testament Scripture that have serious theological implications. Chapter 5 of Romans asks, “How could the death of one man, Jesus, pay for the sins of the world?” The answer? “Because sin, and death, came into the world by one man, Adam” (Romans 5:13-21). If Adam did not exist, then all the Scriptures that refer to him (Genesis 5; 1 Chronicles 1:2; Job 42; Luke 3; First Corinthians 15; 2 Timothy 2; and Jude) must be stricken from our Bibles.

…The issue here is not which scientific theory on the origins of life is correct. Our focus is only to show that the inerrant, verbally inspired Word of God cannot be reinterpreted simply to make it fit any theory of science.

In her closing paragraphs, Handford puts the cap and crown on her basic argument:

…Francis Collins yearns for a safe place for perplexed Christians to find answers for their questions concerning Biblical truth and science. I also yearn for a safe place for people to express their doubts and get sure answers. But there is no “safe place” anywhere if human being must carry the burden of deciding which parts of Scripture are true and which are not. Thank God, He has given us His Holy Word, without error of any kind, trustworthy far beyond what our puny minds can understand.

All of us need humility of mind and heart, admitting that we are fallen human beings without the capacity to understand all God is. “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8-9, NKJV).

True science and the Bible do not conflict. They cannot conflict. We simply do not yet know enough science to discern the answers. Meanwhile, we can trust our great and holy God to teach us everything we need to know about this wonderful world. After all, He created it simply by His command. He sustains it (Hebrews 1:3). He knows how it all fits together. We can trust His infinite wisdom and goodness.

I simply want to add, well said, Elizabeth.

In this connection, I also point out a new book on this vital subject. Crossway has just released Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Critique, edited by J. P.Moreland, Stephen C. Meyer, Christopher Shaw, Ann K. Gauger, and Wayne Grudem (2017, 1008 pp.). The publisher gives this description:

The debate about biological origins continues to be hotly contested within the Christian church. Prominent organizations such as Biologos (USA) and Faraday Institute (UK) insist that Christians must yield to an unassailable scientific consensus in favor of contemporary evolutionary theory and modify traditional biblical ideas about the creation of life accordingly. They promote a view known as “theistic evolution” or “evolutionary creation.” They argue that God used—albeit in an undetectable way—evolutionary mechanisms to produce all forms of life. This book contests this proposal. Featuring two dozen highly credentialed scientists, philosophers, and theologians from Europe and North America, this volume provides the most comprehensive critique of theistic evolution yet produced. It documents evidential, logical, and theological problems with theistic evolution, opening the door to scientific and theological alternatives—making the book essential reading for understanding this worldview-shaping issue.

The comprehensive table of contents is available at the Crossway link above, which you are encouraged to consider.

I have received a review copy, which I am eager to see one of our science specialists examine and review – either for the PRC Seminary’s Journal or for the Standard Bearer. Contact me if you are interested.

The Reformation Printer: Robert Estienne (1503–1559) | Desiring God

Today’s Desiring God Reformation 500 post (Day 24 of the “Here We Stand” series on Reformation heroes) is about a unique contributor to the Reformation cause – the Protestant printer Robert Estienne.

We know how significant printing was for the spread of the Reformation gospel – the printing of the Bible as well as the minor and major works of the Reformers.

But we should also remember that it took those who were sympathetic to and supporters of the Protestant cause to be willing to risk their lives to publish Reformation literature, especially the Word of God. Estienne was one of those whom God raised up. And what a work he did as God’s servant!

Below are a few snippets of this focus on Estienne the Protestant printer, penned by Matt Crutchmer (I added the image of Calvin’s Institutes). Read or listen to the rest of this important story at the link below.

Estienne was not only a significant printer on the Continent during the early- to mid-sixteenth century, but he was a scholar of the Bible and classical literature as well. While working in Paris during the rule of King Francis I, such was his skill that Estienne was named “Royal Typographer”: the king’s printer in Hebrew and Latin in 1539, and then the king’s printer in Greek in 1542.

…In Geneva, now openly supporting the Protestant movement, Estienne set up his press and became the printer par excellence of the Reformation cause. His 1553 French Bible continued the Reformation emphasis on lay reading of Scripture in vernacular languages, and his editions of Calvin’s Institutes and Commentaries, with other Protestant writings, all served the growing movement in its desire to hear clearly and be governed by the Scriptures.

The 1559 edition of the Institutes was “the most comprehensive summary of Protestant doctrine during the Reformation” (John Calvin’s “Institutes”, 219), and arguably the most important volume to arise in the Reformation, as evidenced by its translation into six (perhaps seven) other languages by 1624. Estienne’s edition, effortless to read and beautiful even by today’s standards, played a large role in the growth of Reformation churches during the sixteenth century.

Source: The Ink: Robert Estienne (1503–1559)The Ink | Desiring God

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.

W. Tyndale and His English Translation of the Bible

W.TyndaleTyndale has been described as a polemicist, a propagandist, a political reformer, a moralist, a theologian, an enemy of the Church [that is, the Roman Catholic Church], and yet his first thoughts are those of the translator, the laborer-craftsman. His first complaint is about the Word of God being sealed shut. ‘They have taken away the key of knowledge and beggared the people,’ he said. Translation is primal cause for Tyndale.

[Then follows this quotation from the prologue to Tyndale’s 1526 New Testament in English.]

I have here translated, brethren and sisters most dear and tenderly beloved in Christ, the new Testament for your spiritual edifying, consolatio0n, and solace: Exhorting instantly and beseeching those that are better seen in the tongues than I, and that have higher gifts of grace to interpret the sense of scripture and meaning of the spirit than I, to consider and ponder my labor, and that with the spirit of meekness. And if they perceive in any places that I have not attained the very sense of the tongue, or meaning of scripture, or have not given the right English word, that they put to their hands to amend it, remembering that so is their duty to do. For we have not received the gifts of God for ourselves only, or for to hide them, but for to bestow them unto the honoring of God and Christ, and edifying of the congregation, which is the body of Christ.

Which leads the author to conclude:

This is not the voice of hostility [some have charged that Tyndale’s translation work arose out of anger and hostility toward the church at that time]. The warmth is evident. The humility is evident. He applies his text with meekness and sincerity. He is not shouting. He does not command nor does he please. He reasons. He appeals.

In 2017, as we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the great Reformation, we thank God for this bold yet humble Reformer too, and for his wonderful work of translating the Bible into our tongue.

tyndale-teemsTaken from David Teems’ Tyndale:the Man Who Gave God an English Voice (Thomas Nelson, 2012; Kindle ed., pp.53-54).

Book Alert! “Knowing God in the Last Days” – M. Hoeksema

KnowingGod_2_Peter_MH-2017Just in time for the start of Bible study season, the Reformed Free Publishing Association has published a new commentary on the NT book of 2 Peter called Knowing God in the Last Days: Commentary on 2 Peter (2017, 96 pp., hardcover).

The author is Mark H. Hoeksema, who was trained in the PRC Seminary and served in two pastorates in the Midwest U.S. Hoeksema is also the author of several Bible new study guides published by the RFPA, specifically on the books of Acts, Romans, and James.

The publisher provides this description of the book:

Knowing God in the Last Days is an explanation of the general epistle of Peter to the early New Testament church. The primary theme of the letter is the knowledge of God, a concept that occurs many times and in various contexts throughout the book. This short epistle contains a wealth of instruction for the church today.

The secondary theme of 2 Peter is the application of the knowledge of God to the last days in which we live. Especially in his third chapter, Peter reveals to the church the knowledge of God as it relates to the end times.

Based on exegesis of the Greek text, this commentary gives clarity of explanation to God’s people regarding necessary and important aspects of today’s Christian life. May all who read be edified.

The “Foreword” is penned by his current pastor, Rev. Nathan Decker, who, among other things, gives this profit of the title:

Its value lies in its brevity. There is certainly a place in the lives of God’s people for longer and deeper commentaries on each book of the Bible, and many have been written. Such it not this volume. Instead, it is concise and to the point, briefly explaining 2 Peter verse by verse. The commentary will be excellent for a quick read to grasp the book as a whole in its general themes, for a needed reference to understand a particular section, for the family to read aloud around the dinner table for family worship, or for believers in a Bible study to generate thoughts and discussions on this portion of God’s word.

As an example of the books contents, we quote part of the author’s exposition of chap.1:21, “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”

By way of a positive contrast, Peter teaches that holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. This is one of the clearest proofs that can be found for the inspiration of scripture. It is also the death of all compromise of this doctrine. Contrary to the teaching of many, including some purportedly Reformed theologians, there is not a primary author (God) of scripture and a secondary author (man). Nor is there a divine factor and a human factor in the speaking and writing of prophecy. Rather, the Holy Spirit is the one and only author of all scripture, while men are the writers, the instruments whom God is pleased to use to produce his word (Belgic Confession 3).

These men are called holy not because they are personally perfect, but because God has sanctified and prepared them to write the scriptures. Thus they are men from God, that is, they were sent from God, and they spoke and wrote from God. It is the Holy Spirit who moved these men as the wind carries a ship along, a descriptive figure that explains inspiration. [p.39]