In God We Trust – RFPA Blog

us-motto-in-godHere is another biblical and comforting perspective for us to take as we await the results of today’s election.

Rev. Joshua Engelsma, pastor of the Doon (IA) PRC penned this post, which appeared today on the blog of the Reformed Free Publishing Association.

We quote from the middle of the post; find the rest at the RFPA link above or below.

What are we as Christians to think as we stand in line to vote, as we sit around the computer monitor awaiting the results, as we go about our callings in the next days and weeks?

Remember, Christ is King! In Psalm 2:6, after describing the raging of the heathen, God says, “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.” That King is the risen and exalted Lord Jesus who rules over all things, both great and small, upon the earth. And he does so for his Zion, his church.

Our confidence is that King Jesus rules today over the election. What determines the outcome of the election is not the candidates and their campaign staff, not the Democratic or Republican parties, not even the American people. The King of kings governs this country and this election, and he will be the one to determine sovereignly who will occupy the oval office for the next four years.

King Jesus will rule over this election guided by the eternal counsel of God. His determining of the next President will serve the grand purpose of God in leading all things to the goal of his glory in his second coming, the judgment of the ungodly, and the salvation of the church.

Source: Reformed Free Publishing Association — In God We Trust

How Then Shall We Vote and Live?

patriotism-christianAs we face the end of our presidential election campaign in this country with our election tomorrow, Dr. Richard D. Phillips offers some good, practical counsel in the face of this unusual and unsettling campaign and election.

He points us to a political option to consider, but also to three important biblical principles to guide us as we vote and as we await the outcome of our national election. How then shall we vote and live? Consider his three points below.

This was posted last Friday, Nov.5, 2016 at the Reformation21 blog. For the complete article, follow the link below.

Whatever happens in next week’s national election, it is clear that Christians need to think about an entirely new paradigm when it comes to political engagement. Do we consider a third party that would be explicitly Christian (following the example of Abraham Kuyper in the Netherlands)? Such a course would have cons as well as pros, but perhaps the time has come to give it serious thought.

In the meantime, this unsettling election surely calls for believers to pause and reflect biblically. To this end, let me suggest 3 biblical principles that can inform not only our future paradigm but also our voting decisions in the coming national election:

  1. The Christian must trust in God, not in man. Psalm 118:8-9 says, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.” Armed with this faith, there is no reason for Christians to support ungodly men or women as a “necessary means” to our survival and success. We have a sovereign, almighty, covenant-keeping God who cares for us. Why would we disgrace that faith by selling our support to political candidates of either party who behave in a morally contemptuous manner? Here is the question the world wants to know about us: Who do we trust, in God or in princes?
  2. The Christian must aim for faithfulness, leaving the outcome to the Lord. This is not to say that Christians remain uninvolved in political or other public affairs. But being a Christian surely limits us from endorsing blatant sin and giving public support to grossly ungodly candidates. As Psalm 97:10 says, “O you who love the Lord, hate evil!” To this the pragmatists answer, “But the Supreme Court!” But the psalmist continues: “[The Lord] preserves the lives of his saints; he delivers them from the hand of the wicked.”
  3. The Christian must prize the name and reputation of Jesus and think first about the spread of his gospel message of salvation. From this perspective, government persecution is not the greatest evil we should fear. The church often flourishes spiritually when under oppression. But the church is always crippled by hypocrisy and betrayals of our message. Far above any fear we should have of secularist oppression, Christians should dread a compromise to the public integrity of our witness to Christ and his kingdom.

Source: A Political Paradigm Shift for Christians – Reformation21 Blog

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Calvin College in 1927 – Students & Professors

Through a Glass Lightly-TimmermanLast year in connection with history and archives features on Thursdays we began quoting from John J. Timmerman’s book Through a Glass Lightly (Eerdmans, 1987), where he describes the early years of education at Calvin College.

We have been drawing especially of late from chapter five, “Golden Branches Among the Shadows,” where Timmerman describes in detail his own experience of life at Calvin as a student. Today we pick up where we left last time, as he gives us a glimpse of the college as a whole.

In 1927 seventeen professors taught 320 students in a college almost wholly supported by the Christian Reformed Church. Tuition was $100 a year for students from Grand Rapids, $75 for those from Paterson [New Jersey], and even less for those from more distant places. There were no scholarships, and student aid came in the form of pay for serving in the kitchen, sweeping floors, and shoveling coal. There were a few names like Yared, Washington, and Uhl, but the student body was overwhelmingly Dutch.

Professors taught fifteen hours a week. There were two professional offices, usually unoccupied, and counseling was nonexistent except when asked for. Professors prepared their studies at home, filled their briefcases with the results, emptied the contents out in class, and hurried back. The only professor’s home I was ever in was President R.B. Kuiper’s. He had a sense of humor; he invited some students who had pilfered applies in the dormitory over on a Sunday evening and gave them apples. Professors were much more distant than they are now, and the only really approachable professors I had were Dr. W.H. Jellema and Prof. H.J. VanAndel. The rest were not unfriendly; they were just aloof. On the whole, they practiced what Prof. Johannes Broene preached when he said, ‘The faculty is the heart of the college.’ It did indeed move the institution, but it did not move about with its students (pp.32-33).

“We live as those who are on a journey home.”

We are not citizens of this world trying to make our way to heaven; we are citizens of heaven trying to make out way through this world. That radical Christian insight can be life-changing. We are not to live so as to earn God’s love, inherit heaven, and purchase our salvation. All those are given to us as gifts; gifts bought by Jesus on the cross and handed over to us. We are to live as God’s redeemed, as heirs of heaven, and as citizens of another land: the Kingdom of God…. We live as those who are on a journey home; a home we know will have the lights on and the door open and our Father waiting for us when we arrive.

That means in all adversity our worship of God is joyful, our life is hopeful, our future is secure. There is nothing we can lose on earth that can rob us of the treasures God has given us and will give us.

The Landisfarne, via The Anglican Digest

Patches-of-Godlight-KaronFound in Patches of Godlight: Father Tim’s Favorite Quotes by Jan Karon (Penguin, 2001)

Published in: on February 21, 2016 at 11:22 PM  Comments (2)  

Rest Indeed – R.C. Sproul Jr.

Rest Indeed by R.C. Sproul Jr. | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

TT - Feb 2015As we close out this busy week of labor and anticipate our risen Lord’s day of rest tomorrow, R.C.Sproul, Jr. reminds us in the above-linked article from this month’s Tabletalk (on the theme of “Labor and Rest”) that our rest is not only related to our labor but also to the great battle in which we are engaged as God’s soldiers from day to day.

It is good to also be reminded of this spiritual aspect of our labor in this life, so that we may also be refreshed in the knowledge of our Lord’s victory over our spiritual foes. I appreciated what “R.C.” writes here, and I pray it is an encouragement to you too as we get ready to rest in our Savior.

Find the full article at the link above; here is a part of it (keep in mind he takes his thoughts from Psalm 23):

When we turn the Sabbath into a set of rules of what we are allowed and forbidden to do, I fear we miss the whole spirit of the day. The rest to which we are called is less resting from our day-to-day jobs than it is rest from the battle. We are able to rest because we know He has already won. Sabbath is the good cheer to which we are called, knowing He has already overcome the world (John 16:33).

When we enter more fully into our rest, when we sit at His table, untouchable, victorious, are we not overcome with joy? Is it not true that our heads are anointed with oil, that our cups runneth over? Like soldiers who come home for rest and relaxation, we soldiers of the King are invited to go home, so that when we return to battle, we know where we are going. We drink deeply of His goodness so that we know that His goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives. We go back into the battle knowing, having been to and tasted the end of all things, that we will indeed dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

This is rest indeed because for six days a week we are at war indeed. The great irony, however, is that the more we rest, the more we battle. For it is our worship, our rest, our joy, and our peace that are the very weapons of our warfare. By joy, towers are toppled. By peace, ramparts are ruined. By singing forth the glory of His name, by heralding His glory, walls come tumbling down. We fight in peace because the war has already been won. We die in war because the peace has already been won. This is His kingdom that we seek.

Our Privileges as NT Believers: Members of an Assembly, a Family, and a Kingdom!

In Christ Alone - SFergusonIn his book In Christ Alone and chapter 33, “Privileges Bring Responsibilities”, Sinclair B. Ferguson has some wonderful thoughts about both our privileges and our responsibilities as NT Christians based on the passage in Hebrews 12:18-29. This week I plan to share some of these thoughts with you, beginning with these which relate to our worship today.

What are our privileges? They are truly amazing. ‘For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest…. But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering’ (Heb.12:18,22, ESV).

In the days of promises and shadows, believers came to an assembly convened at a mountain engulfed with a sense of awful judgment. By contrast, in the full blaze of light that has appeared in Christ, we have come to the abiding city of God, angels in festal gathering, the assembly of Christ, and the spirits of departed believers. Indeed, we have come to God Himself, not with Moses, but to Jesus. We have received the new covenant in His shed blood.

This is the assembly in which we gather for worship to hear the voice of Christ in His Word, to lift up our voices under His choral direction in praise, to share His trust in His Father, and to gather around Him as His brothers and sisters (cf. Heb.2:10-13). Consequently, this is also our family – composed of the redeemed from among all mankind and the elect among the angelic host. This is the kingdom in which our names are enrolled as citizens (12:23). It is a kingdom, unlike all the kingdoms and empires of this world, that cannot be shaken (12:27-28).

What riches are ours in these three dimensions of the life of grace! An assembly, a family, a kingdom! And they are already ours in Christ! Here and now our lives are punctuated by special visiting rights to heaven’s glory as we assemble with our fellow believers. We are brothers and sisters together – for Christ’s blood creates a deeper lineage than our genes. Thus, we have the full rights of family members and citizens in the city of God.

No wonder we should be grateful (12:28)!

C.Hansen’s Top 10 Theology Stories of 2014 – The Gospel Coalition

My Top 10 Theology Stories of 2014 | TGC | The Gospel Coalition.

Year in review-1I have learned to appreciate Collin Hansen’s (editorial director for the Gospel Coalition) annual list of a different nature – the top 10 theology stories of the year. Past years have shown a church world in turmoil for various reasons – doctrinal controversy, persecution, and sin within and without. 2014 revealed more of the same (Posted Dec.22, 2014).

Yet we believe that the church remains our Lord’s and that He is at work in the church, in the world, and in us to accomplish His master plan of ultimate redemption and renewal when He returns in glory, executes His righteous judgment, and makes all things new. May our remembrance of this year’s theological stories remind us of the goal of all things.

Here is Hansen’s introduction and one of the picks that was of particular interest to me. To see the rest of the stories that make his list, visit the “Gospel Coalition” link above.

I’m not satisfied with how we ascribe value to certain news stories over others. While social media direct us to stories that might have been overlooked in older newsrooms, these outlets and cable news lead us to obsess with certain stories and ignore others for no apparent reason. While news editors formerly acted as judge and jury for public knowledge, our mob mentality hardly produces better results. The trending hashtag does not necessarily reflect what’s most valuable in the kingdom of God. In fact, this fallen world threatens to distract us from from thinking about “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable” (Phil. 4:8).

As you’ll see in my list of top theology stories, I haven’t solved this problem. You may recognize these stories from your news feed, but you might arrange them in a different order or replace some altogether. I don’t claim unbiased perspective, and even if I did, past failings would betray me (see my lists from 20082009201020112012, and 2013).

…So consider my list an admittedly foolhardy attempt—written from the vantage point of an American who subscribes to The Gospel Coalition’s confessional statement—to discern the most important theology stories of 2014. Consider it an opportunity to reflect on whether your priorities align with God’s and a challenge to spread good news in a world that seeks peace but finds none apart from Jesus Christ.

8. Debate over justification and sanctification reaches breaking point.

Can someone be too focused on the gospel? Of course not. Unless “gospel” becomes shorthand for privileging certain biblical teachings and isolating them from others. Then again, Paul told the Corinthians that the matters of “first importance” are Jesus’s death for sins and resurrection (1 Cor. 15:3–4). Shouldn’t those priorities dictate how we read the rest of the Bible? This hermeneutical tension didn’t suddenly leap from the biblical text in 2014, but as co-founders Don Carson and Tim Keller noted with regard to recent changes at TGC, the debate over the relationship between justification and sanctification became “increasingly strident” this year with charges of legalism and antinomianism. They said, “Recently it became clear that the dispute was becoming increasingly sharp and divisive rather than moving toward greater unity.” How do Christians find that unity? Perhaps futher debate will resolve the outstanding issues. But we must all first humble ourselves before the God of the Bible and each other to live out the grace we so fervently preach.

The Rise of ISIS – Rev.D.Holstege (Nov.1 “Standard Bearer”)

StandardBearerIn the newest issue of The Standard Bearer (November 1, 2014) we find a timely and significant commentary by Rev.Daniel Holstege (First PRC, Holland, MI) on the rise of the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” (ISIS). To introduce this issue, we give you a part of his article today.

But is there any significance to the rise of ISIS and the ongoing Middle East conflict? After all, we are not postmillennialists either, who discard these wars as signs of Christ’s coming, who dream of a world that is getting better and better, who close their eyes to reality and look for a golden age of Christian history over the whole world.

No, the rise of ISIS and the wars in the Middle East are clear signs of the coming of Christ. Jesus said to His disciples that in the whole period prior to His second coming, “Ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass: but the end is not yet” (Matt. 24:6). Christ sits at God’s right hand now and opens the seven seals. He opens the second seal too. This is what John then sees: “And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword” (Rev. 6:4). Christ sovereignly rules over all wars. He causes nation to rise against nation in order to prevent, until the proper time, the antichristian kingdom from achieving world dominion and peace. He prevents this in order that His Church might do her work of preaching the gospel in all nations and training up her children in the fear of the Lord, until the full number of the elect is gathered. According to Rev. Herman Hoeksema, if the red horse did not run, if there were no wars, “the kingdom of Antichrist would reach the height of its development prematurely,” and it “would naturally leave no standing room for the true church of God on earth. It would persecute and, if possible, destroy the kingdom of God in the world” (Behold He Cometh, p. 214).

The rise of ISIS and this new war is a means Christ is using to prevent that premature development of the kingdom of the Beast and to give His Church time to finish her work in the world.

If you desire to receive this Reformed magazine, visit the “SB” website for information on subscriptions, including digital formats.

Book Alert! The Coming of Zion’s Redeemer

Coming_of_Zion_s_Redeemer -LgI was excited to find in my mailbox at church Sunday the latest offering from the Reformed Free Publishing Association – an important and significant new commentary on the last three prophecies of the OT. The 527 page book is authored by Rev.Ronald Hanko and carries the title, The Coming of Zion’s Redeemer: The Prophecies of Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi (Jenison, MI: RFPA, 2014). The author is a Protestant Reformed pastor, ordained since 1979 and currently serving the Lynden, WA congregation.

In the “Foreword”, former parishioner Joel Sugg, provides this perspective of this new commentary:

The full commentary on each book may be read with great profit by virtue of the author’s trained, experienced, and studied insights. Three perspectives stand out: first, a living picture of Judah in the generation following the return from the Babylonian captivity with her special charge to reform true worship of God; next, a sharp delineation of the truth that these ancient prophecies especially have direct and significant application to us as the church today; and finally, a humble bowing in living fearfulness before the one only true God of heaven and earth, Jehovah of the scriptures, who sovereignly carries out his absolute rule over all to its culmination in the unconditional, covenantal salvation of his church, all to his own honor and glory alone (vii).

And the author provides this overview of these three prophecies in his “Introduction”:

The three prophecies of Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi form a unit, not only because these three and they alone are the prophets of the restoration, that is, of Judah’s return from exile in Babylon, but also because they have the same general theme and purpose. That one great purpose is the preparation of God’s covenant people for the coming of Christ.

..Thus these prophecies continue to be of value to the covenant people of God, for the church is still waiting for the realization of God’s promises concerning the coming of Messiah, promises that will not be entirely fulfilled until he returns at the end of the ages. Though the types and shadows of the Old Testament have already vanished, the people of God must still be reminded to lift up their heads and see that their redemption draws near (Luke 21:28). They need to look away from a perishing world and be watching and waiting for the coming of a kingdom that will never be moved (xi).

It should be evident that this commentary would make for a fine addition to your Reformed home library and/or church library. And with Bible study season here, this volume will be an excellent guide through an oft-neglected and frequently misinterpreted portion of God’s Word.

Visit the RFPA website for details on obtaining your copy. And think about joining the book club to receive these new titles automatically, so as to build a solid Reformed library that will benefit you and your family for years to come.

*P.S. If any of our readers are interested in receiving a review copy of this book for the Standard Bearer, let me know and I will obtain one for you. Thanks!

J.Calvin on Psalm 149: “…Praise is their continued exercise.”

JCalvinPic1To benefit further from the Word of God in Psalm 149, we also post here the comments of the great Reformer John Calvin on vss.1 and 2. It may be noted that Calvin places this Psalm in the post-exile period of Israel’s history, that is, after the return from captivity. Keep that in mind as you also profit from his thoughts.

 1. Sing to Jehovah a new song.

The object, I think, of the Psalmist, is to encourage them to expect the full and complete deliverance, some prelude of which had been suddenly and unexpectedly given in the permission to return. As the Church was not fully restored at once, but was with difficulty and only after a long period brought to a state of vigor, comfort such as this was much needed. The Spirit of God would also furnish a remedy for evils which were afterwards to break out; for the Church had scarcely begun to respire when it was again harassed with various evils, and oppressed by the cruel tyranny of Antiochus, which was followed up by a dreadful dispersion.

The Psalmist had good reason therefore for animating the godly to look forward for the full accomplishment of the mercy of God, that they might be persuaded of divine protection until such time as the Messiah should arise who would gather all Israel. He calls this a new song, as we have noticed elsewhere, to distinguish it from those with which the saints commonly and daily praised God, for praise is their continued exercise.

It follows that he speaks of some rare and unusual benefit, demanding signal and particular thanksgiving. And I am disposed to think that whoever may have been the author of the Psalm, he alludes to that passage in Isaiah, (Isaiah 42:10,) “Sing unto the Lord a new song,” when he speaks of the future restoration of the Church, and the eternal kingdom of Christ.

 

2. Let Israel rejoice in his Maker.

He insists upon the same point, that the Lord’s people should rest firmly persuaded that their family had not been chosen out in vain from the rest of the world, but that God would be mindful of his covenant, and not allow the mercies which he had extended to them to fail or become extinct. Although they had been temporarily deprived of the inheritance of the land of Canaan, which was the pledge of their adoption, the Psalmist calls God their Maker, and king of the sons of Zion, to remind them that when adopted to a pre-eminency above other nations, this was a species of new creation.

So in Psalm 45:6, the Israelites are called “the work of God’s hands,” not merely because they were like other men created by him, but because he had formed them anew, and distinguished them with a new honor, that, of being separated front the whole human race.