A Curse for Us: The Supreme Malediction

Galatians_3-13Today, on this Good Friday, this blog post was made on Ligonier’s website. It is worth re-posting here, as we remember and reflect on our Savior’s crucifixion, also in anticipation of Resurrection Sunday. Let us remember, there is no rejoicing on Easter without the cross of Christ on Friday.

The author is the late R.C. Sproul, and the writing is vintage R.C.

One image, one aspect, of the atonement has receded in our day almost into obscurity. We have been made aware of present-day attempts to preach a more gentle and kind gospel. In our effort to communicate the work of Christ more kindly we flee from any mention of a curse inflicted by God upon his Son. We shrink in horror from the words of the prophet Isaiah (chap. 53) that describe the ministry of the suffering servant of Israel and tells us that it pleased the Lord to bruise him. Can you take that in? Somehow the Father took pleasure in bruising the Son when he set before him that awful cup of divine wrath. How could the Father be pleased by bruising his Son were it not for his eternal purpose through that bruising to restore us as his children?

But there is the curse motif that seems utterly foreign to us, particularly in this time in history. When we speak today of the idea of curse, what do we think of? We think perhaps of a voodoo witch doctor that places pins in a doll made to replicate his enemy. We think of an occultist who is involved in witchcraft, putting spells and hexes upon people. The very word curse in our culture suggests some kind of superstition, but in biblical categories there is nothing superstitious about it.

The Hebrew Benediction

If you really want to understand what it meant to a Jew to be cursed, I think the simplest way is to look at the famous Hebrew benediction in the Old Testament, one which clergy often use as the concluding benediction in a church service:

“The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”
(Num. 6:24–26)

…We see in the benediction three stanzas with two elements in each one: “bless” and “keep”; “face shine” and “be gracious”; and “lift up the light of his countenance” and “give you peace.” For the Jew, to be blessed by God was to be bathed in the refulgent glory that emanates from his face. “The Lord bless you” means “the Lord make his face to shine upon you.” Is this not what Moses begged for on the mountain when he asked to see God? Yet God told him that no man can see him and live. So God carved out a niche in the rock and placed Moses in the cleft of it, and God allowed Moses to see a glimpse of his backward parts but not of his face.

…The Jews’ ultimate hope was the same hope that is given to us in the New Testament, the final eschatological hope of the beatific vision: “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). Don’t you want to see him? The hardest thing about being a Christian is serving a God you have never seen, which is why the Jew asked for that.

The Supreme Malediction

But my purpose here is not to explain the blessing of God but its polar opposite, its antithesis, which again can be seen in vivid contrast to the benediction. The supreme malediction would read something like this:

“May the Lord curse you and abandon you.
May the Lord keep you in darkness and give you only judgment without grace.
May the Lord turn his back upon you and remove his peace from you forever.”

When on the cross, not only was the Father’s justice satisfied by the atoning work of the Son, but in bearing our sins the Lamb of God removed our sins from us as far as the east is from the west. He did it by being cursed. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’” (Gal. 3:13). He who is the incarnation of the glory of God became the very incarnation of the divine curse.

Christ and Him Crucified – April “Tabletalk”

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The above is the fitting theme of this month’s Tabletalk devotional magazine – “Christ and Him Crucified.” And an edifying theological and practical reflection on the death of Christ the issue is.

Editor Burk Parsons gets it started with his passionate introduction titled “Theology of the Cross.” Here is part of what he says about the importance of this doctrine for Christians:

All professing Christians know that the cross is important, but we often fail to grasp the all-encompassing significance of it—that the cross is not only at the heart of our faith, but it encompasses the entire existence of our faith, our life, and our worship. In order for us to possess a proper theology of the cross, the reality of Christ and Him crucified must possess us in all that we believe and in all that we do. The cross should not just be at the top of our theological priority list; it should be at the center of all our theological priorities. If we become bored with the cross of Christ, and if we lose our astonishment of Christ and Him crucified, we will quickly begin to lose the entirety of Christian doctrine and practice.

The other article I point you to tonight is Dr. L. Michael Morales’ (Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary) “Expiation and Propitiation.” Perhaps that does not sound like the most exciting subject, but as he shows, you cannot grasp the meaning of Christ’s saving work by His suffering and death without these two terms. Both are rooted in the Old Testament sacrificial system and if you have never paid attention to these terms, now is a good time to learn them.

Morales’ entire article is profitable, but we quote from the end of it here:

Jesus fulfilled the Levitical system of sacrifice only because He offered Himself up to God on the cross as One who had fulfilled the law. In His tormented night of prayer in Gethsemane He had prayed, “My Father . . . not as I will, but as you will” (Matt. 26:39), and then He drank the cup of divine judgment as our blameless substitute. Jesus’ life of complete and loving devotion to God, offered up to the Father by the Spirit and through the cross—this is the assuaging of God’s wrath.

Because Jesus’ suffering was as a vicarious penal substitute, sinners can find rest for their souls. The impending thunderstorm of divine judgment that ever threatens us, overshadowing our vain attempts at happiness, cannot be dispelled by wishful thinking or misguided assertions. A Christian basks securely in the warm rays of the Father’s favor only because that storm of judgment has already broken in the full measure of its fury on the crucified Son of God. His shed blood cleanses us from our sins, removing our guilt from the sight of God. His wholehearted, law-keeping life offered up to God through the cross, even as He bore our penalty, rises to heaven as a pleasing aroma. Here, at last, the chief of sinners finds cause to boast in nothing at all except in the One who “loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph. 5:2).

To read this issue online, visit the Tabletalk website and browse the various articles. During this week in which we remember the passion of our Savior, you will feed your soul with good food from this issue.

“Everything Fulfilled”: Christ’s Suffering Perfectly Prophesied and Predetermined

For the Lord Jesus, prophecy thoroughly and uniquely presented his program of suffering. It was a program that with unwavering eye and absolute certainty he read, saw, and examined ahead of time. He grasped it all: the entire process of his suffering, shame, and death in all its vivid color and all its terrible contours. On those prophetic pages, he saw himself portrayed just as he would be – humiliated, oppressed, and broken.

…When he finally took every step on the way to the cross, when he waded through the torrent of his continuous suffering, when all the details and parts of this divine tragedy were complete, he drank the last drops from his cup of suffering. It was a cup whose carefully measured portion he accepted in fear. He did this all with the clearheaded awareness that then everything had been fulfilled. Then he gave up his spirit.

This is how it happened. This is the way it was predicted. Is this also how you confess and believe it?

In the counsel and foreknowledge of God, everything had been predetermined. This was true not only of suffering in general, but down to the smallest details of what would happen.

‘Predetermined,’ so that any appearance that as much as one moment, one derisive word, or one lash with whips in the life of the Son of Blessedness happened by the will of sinners simply doesn’t hold up.

‘Predetermined,’ so that you could never suppose that the powers of destruction overwhelmed what is sacred and holy on Golgotha, but so that you would understand that even the most terrible forces of destruction served to achieve God’s purposes.

‘Predetermined,’ so that instead of bewildering and confusing people, the cross of God’s Son would seal the truth of God’s Word to us.

‘Predetermined,’ not least of all, so that Christ himself, in experiencing everything that he did, would in effect undergo a thousand deaths before he died. In doing so with a clear head, that is, with morally grounded willpower and submissiveness and not in some stupor that flooded over him, he grappled with sufferings that he discerned ahead of time with sober clarity.

…And if that’s the case, and if you are convinced that Golgotha was at the center of God’s thinking already at the time of creation and covenant making, why do you still hold back? Why do you hold back when you know that this happened out of love and for the sake of your blessing? Why, when it couldn’t be any other way than that God the Father was involved with his Son’s suffering? Why, when all throughout his work of creating and giving life, he always had squarely in his sovereign vision the somber spectacle of the cross? Tell me, brothers and sisters, why do you still hesitate?

honey from the rock-ak-2018Taken from the new translation of Abraham Kuyper’s Honey from the Rock (Lexham Press, 2018; James A. De Jong, transl.), pp.58-59.

This particular meditation (#18) is based on Luke 18:31 and titled “Everything Fulfilled.” That text reads, “Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.”

You will see how Kuyper takes us from the power of God’s prophetic Word concerning the suffering and death of His Son to the deeper truth of His sovereign counsel concerning every detail of it. The program of Jesus’ passion was entirely predetermined in the plan of God! That’s how it could be prophesied in such detail and recorded with such precision in the Scriptures. And that for the salvation of His people – for our blessing! Rooted in God’s free mercy and love! Amazing grace!

A plan and a program that call for deep pondering, and even deeper praise. May we do that on the morrow, through Word and worship.

A Special Standard Bearer and Two Special Interviews on Dordt 400 *(Updated)

Today we feature two items in this post.

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The first is something archive assistant Bob Drnek found today while sorting through two large boxes containing PRC Foreign Mission Committee material (and that will be your only hint as to the source of what is to come). He pulled out copies of three issues of the Standard Bearer, translated in a foreign tongue and published as complete issues (cf. image above).

And, of course, he wondered what language they were in, so he came up and asked. I guessed one of two, based on a little knowledge of our mission history. But I will let you make a guess before revealing it. It was a nice find, and a good addition to our mission archives.

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*UPDATE: The translation is indeed into Burmese (confirmed by John VB of Hope PRC and Rev. J. Laning of the FMC). And the work, as supposed, was that of Rev. Titus, who continues to do some of this for his weekly “Sunday Digest.” Above is a picture of two other issues that he translated.

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The second item we feature today is notice of two special interviews to be held TOMORROW, Wednesday, April 3. Both Prof. Doug Kuiper and Prof. David Engelsma (PRC Seminary) are going to be interviewed on the live Internet program Iron Sharpens Iron.

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Host Chris Arntzen will interview Prof. Kuiper on the subject of his upcoming Dordt400 Conference speech, “The Doctrine of the Covenant in the Canons of Dordt,” while he will interview Prof. Engelsma on the subject of “The Great War: What Led to the Synod of Dordt?” 

These back-to-back interviews will take place Wednesday, April 3, from 4-6 pm (ET). Sounds like something you won’t want to miss!

*UPDATE: The audio file of these interviews are now available at the “Iron Sharpens Iron” website. You can listen to both interviews at this link.

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.

More on Dordt400: The PRC Seminary Conference, Dordt’s March Sessions, and “Grace and Assurance”

As the Reformed church world continues to mark the 400th anniversary of the great international Synod of Dordtrecht in the Netherlands (1618-19), we may note it here once more again. Dordt’s final session was on May 29, 1619, so we have a few months to remember and reflect.  Dordt-conf-flyer-speakers-colorFirst to note is the PRC Seminary’s Dordt400 Conference coming up in only a month – April 25-27. We hope you are planning to attend this significant event in Hudsonville, MI. The latest announcement serves as a powerful incentive:

Dordt400! April 25-27. Trinity PRC. The seminary-sponsored conference celebrating the 400th anniversary of the Great Synod is approaching! Please make plans to come to hear important speeches, see displays of 400-year-old artifacts from Dordt, learn the winners of the writing contest, and meet PRC friends coming from at least 10 different countries! Speakers are our seminary professors; Revs. B. Huizinga and W. Langerak; and Rev. A. Stewart (CPRC NI) and Rev. M. Shand (EPC Australia). Trinity PRC in Hudsonville, MI is our host. The conference will be live-streamed via Trinity’s website for those unable to attend. For more, see Dordt400.org.

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The second thing to note is closely related. Prof. Douglas Kuiper has been writing special posts for the Seminary conference blog. Of special note are the short summaries of Dordt’s sessions he has provided. Much of this detail is new to me, and my own appreciation for Dordt’s careful and diligent work in answering the Arminian errors has grown tremendously.

Here are a few recent samples of his description of the Synod’s work during this month of March, only in 1619:

Session 110: Tuesday, March 12 PM
Synod read the last of the judgments regarding the first article of the Remonstrants–those of the deputies from Drenthe and from the Walloon churches.

Synod then turned to the judgments of the various delegations regarding the second article of the Remonstrants, which pertained to the extent and effectiveness of Christ’s work. Synod read the judgments of the delegations from Great Britain, the Palatinate, Hesse, and Switzerland. The last three delegations stated that when Scripture says Christ died for all, it means He died for the elect, not for every individual. For the elect, they added, His death effectively saved.

The delegates from Great Britain did not touch on this point. These delegates had realized earlier (session 74) that they were not agreed among themselves on the interpretation of their own creed, the Thirty-Nine Articles. This realization led them to ask advice from the Archbishop of Canterbury. He responded that the British delegates should not speak more specifically than did the Thirty-Nine Articles.

Session 118: Monday, March 18 AM
The Synod of Dordt had been in session for four full months. Due to sickness and other circumstances, the delegates from Brandenburg had never arrived (see session 3). At session 118, Synod received a letter from the Marquis of Brandenberg explaining the absence of his delegates. Convinced that Synod’s response to the Remonstrants would conform to the Reformed confessions, the Marquis asked Synod to send him its final judgment so that the clergy in his realm might sign it. The Acts of Synod do not indicate how Synod responded to this letter.

Synod continued to read the judgments of the various delegations regarding the third and fourth articles of the Remonstrants. At this session Synod read the judgments of the delegates from South Holland, North Holland, Zeeland, and Utrecht.

Grace_and_Assurance_mcgeown-2018Third, and finally, we reference again the new RFPA publication, Grace and Assurance: The Message of the Canons of Dordt, written by Rev. Martyn McGeown, missionary-pastor laboring in Limerick Reformed Fellowship.

Tonight we take a quotation from the author’s treatment of Article 5 of the Second Head of doctrine, where Dordt is linking the preaching of God’s salvation promise to the effectual, atoning death of His Son, Jesus Christ. After showing that God’s promise of salvation is particular (for elect believers only) and unconditional (without dependency on the actions of the sinner), McGeown shows that God wills that this gospel promise be widely preached – in contrast to what the Arminians claimed was possible for the truly Reformed.

This particular, unconditional promise must be preached. The heirs of God’s promise, the elect, must some to hear of it. Notice how the Canons explain this: ‘This promise…ought to be declared and published to all nations, and to all persons promiscuously and without distinction.’ The promise of particular, but the preaching is promiscuous, general or unrestricted. With the promise a second truth must be preached, which is the command or the call: ‘This promise, together with the command to repent and believe, ought to be declared and published’ (emphasis added). The promise is particular, but the preaching with the command or call to repent and believe is promiscuous, general or unrestricted. This is the response of Dordt to hyper-Calvinism, which is the belief and practice that the gospel should not be preached promiscuously, but only to the elect or to supposedly sensible sinners. Those who show signs of regeneration or receptivity to the truth are, in the minds of hyper-Calvinists, sensible sinners. To none other will a hyper-Calvinist issue the command or call to repent and believe. [pp.166-67]

There’s more, of course, to this answer, but you can see what Dordt’s basic reply was. And that answer still needs to be sounded plainly, because there is so much confusion and error concerning the call of the gospel, and not only from the side of the hyper-Calvinists. Those who claim the free or well-meant offer with its two-track theology need also hear Dordt’s clear statements.

We encourage all who love the Reformed faith to read and benefit from McGeown’s Grace and Assurance.

The Prayers of Jesus: As a Child of the Covenant

prayers-jesus-jones-2019A brand new book I requested and received from Crossway publishers carries a unique title and contains a special focus – The Prayers of Jesus – with the subtitle Listening to and Learning from Our Savior (2019; 221 pp.). The author is Mark Jones, pastor of Faith Vancouver Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Vancouver, B.C.

As the title reveals, this is a study of the prayers of our Lord as contained in the Bible. And where would you start in considering these prayers? To what passage would you turn first? Before you answer those questions, consider that the author begins with a solid, Reformed introductory chapter on Christology. That’s right – a biblical, historical, and confessional study of the doctrine of Christ.

Why?, you ask. Because we cannot properly understand the prayers of Jesus without understanding who it was that prayed them and how He could pray them. We refer, of course, to the fact that Jesus prayed to His Father as the One who is fully man while also being fully God. Did our Lord need to pray, or did He pray only to give us an example of how to pray? Jones establishes the truth that Jesus, the eternal Son of God come in our full humanity, prayed out of his own deep need for all the graces His life and mission required. That opening chapter is vital for grasping the rest of the book on Jesus’ actual prayers.

But now, back to those prayers. What is the first passage you would turn to find Jesus’ prayers in the Bible? Something in the New Testament? No doubt, that is where most of us would go. But then we would miss His earlier prayers. The author properly takes us to the Psalms, and specifically Psalm 22:9-10 (look it up – his chapter heading is “Jesus Prayed from His Mother’s Breasts”). And what he emphasizes from the perspective of this Psalm is that Jesus learned to pray as a child of the covenant, indeed, as the Son of the covenant. With this in view, Jones ends his treatment of this prayer of Jesus with these paragraphs:

Our Lord came into this world with the graces needed to live out his calling as the Son of God. As such, he had not only the abilities to live in constant communion with God, but also the identity that he was someone peculiar: the God-man. Such abilities and awareness, coupled with the Father’s resolve to have his Son know him, provide us with the proper context for the prayers of Jesus and why his life was lived in constant communion with his heavenly Father. Furnished with the Spirit, his life was constant Trinitarian activity: the Son communing with the Father in the power of the Spirit. Just as he first called upon the Lord by the power of the Spirit working upon his human nature, so his last words were calling upon the Lord by the Spirit (Luke 23:46; Heb.9:14).

And he closes with this application:

We should note the importance of starting well in life: it is easier to develop patterns and habits at an early age than to pick up those habits later in life for the first time. For some this is not possible, due to their circumstances (e.g., growing up in a non-Christian household). But in believing households, children must therefore be taught to pray, by faith, as early as possible and as frequently as they are able. In Scripture there are patterns for us to follow, words for us to use to help us in our prayers. God does not expect his own Son to be left alone to figure out how to pray. Thus, he certainly would not leave us to ourselves in so important a spiritual discipline.

If one of our readers is interested in reviewing this book for the Standard Bearer (of which I am book review editor for the rubric “Bring the Books”), contact me here or by email. The review should be brief – and the book is yours if you write it.

The Gospel Cure for Dishonor of God and Neighbor

Into our second week of this month, it is time to get acquainted with the February issue of Tabletalk, Ligonier ministry’s monthly devotional magazine. The theme this time is “Honor,” perhaps one we might dismiss lightly; but we ought not, as the twelve special articles developing this theme demonstrate. Those special articles treat such subjects as “What is Honor?”, “Honoring Marriage,” “Honoring Parents,”The Blessing of Honor,” and “What If Honor Is Lost Altogether?”

Burk Parsons gives us a “foretaste” of honor’s importance in his sobering editorial “The Disappearance of Honor.” Here is some of what he has to communicate:

It should not surprise us that many young people are leaving and despising the church when their parents have long dishonored weekly congregational Lord’s Day worship, dishonored their own membership vows to the church, and dishonored their elders, pastors, and fellow congregants. Nor should it surprise us how many who profess faith in Christ have such little regard for the sacred Word of God when so many pastors have exchanged the preaching of the Word of God in season and out of season for watered-down, attractional, sociocultural, pop-psychological anecdotes and stories combined with ear-tickling, emotionalistic entertainment. Such preaching honors only the pastor and not the God of Scripture. Although honor may be rapidly disappearing in the world, we must never let it disappear from our hearts, homes, or churches that we might always honor everyone (1 Peter 2:17) and honor our Lord whose honor will not be mocked.

One of the featured articles I have chosen to highlight in this post is the one by David W. Hall – “Honoring God.” As he shows, this is where all honor begins and ends. Read and reflect on these thoughts, and then read more to strengthen yourself in the duty to “show honor to whom honor is due,” beginning with the Great Sovereign of heaven and earth.

Romans 1:21 vividly depicts what happens when honor disappears. This clear verse is a mirror that shows what honor is and what it is not and how honoring God is tied to our essential moral fabric. Yes, morality begins with theology. Though the dishonorable retain some spiritual sense, Paul, in fleshing out the doctrine of total depravity, lists some of the consequences of dishonoring God, including not giving thanks, becoming “futile in their thinking,” and having “their foolish hearts . . . darkened.”

Note that verse’s three degenerative components. First, not honoring God is compared to not giving thanks. Thanks is the expressed gratitude for another. Honor, thus, is a more comprehensive concept than gratitude. Nonetheless, they are united here. Failing to give God thanks often, sincerely, and regularly reveals that one does not, practically speaking, view God as one’s superior.

A second consequence is that when one fails the “Honor-God-by-Thanking Test,” things neither remain neutral nor improve. Indeed, failing to honor God negatively affects one’s cognition; one’s very thinking becomes futile or dysfunctional. Disobeying God by dishonoring Him leads to systemic deterioration.

Third, not only one’s mind but one’s heart and emotions become blurred, confused, and darkened. Once again, something as basic as honor, if absent, harms our rationality and emotions.

The only cure is found in Romans 1:16. The gospel is the power of God that changes us from self-absorbed egotists into those who want instead to exalt and honor our Sovereign.

Should there be a recovery of honor, we might find increasing order, flowering humility, and revived civility. Maybe, rather than exalting ourselves to be like the Most High (Isa. 14), we can excel in giving honor to those whom we are called to honor—and, above all, to God.

To continue reading this article, visit the link below. To read more in the issue, visit the Tabletalk link above.

Source: Honoring God

How Can I Hear the Word Preached? Only Through the Holy Spirit!

The moment we are born again, it’s as if we are given a new set of hearing aids or a new pair of glasses that enable us to hear and see in God’s Word what we couldn’t before. From then on, not only are we able to comprehend what God has said, but the Holy Spirit who now indwells us also convicts us about what God’s Word says and convinces us of it, as well as conforming our lives to it. That’s why whenever we are exposed to the Word of God, we need to remember to ask the Spirit to illumine our minds and hearts so that we understand what it means and how it applies. Who better to ask to help us accurately interpret and practically implement the Word than the one who inspired it in the first place?

So we can’t hear and obey the Word of God without the regenerating and illuminating of the Holy Spirit. Remarkably, we don’t receive the Holy Spirit unless we receive Jesus Christ, and we can’t receive Jesus Christ unless we receive the Word of God, and we won’t receive the Word of God unless the Holy Spirit opens up our ears to hear.

…So while it’s true that our ability to hear the word of Christ is the link between the revelation of God and the salvation of your soul, it’s equally true that we are completely dependent on God’s sovereignty for the outcome. Sometimes God sends forth His Word for the purpose of hardening and damning people rather than softening , saving, and sanctifying them (Isa.55:10-11; 2 Cor.2:15-17). That’s why we must urgently cry out to Him to open our ears so we can hear and heed His Word (Isa.50:4-5), particularly in light of the fact that our very life and eternal destiny hinge on it. [pp.20-21]

expository-listening-ramey-2010Taken 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 and last time looked at another of the principles he sets forth in this first chapter. The quotation in this post comes from the section treating the third principle: “God grants us the ability to listen to and obey Him by His Holy Spirit, whom we receive through faith in Jesus Christ.” (p.19)

In the months ahead we will continue to draw on some of the author’s good thoughts concerning our calling to listen believingly to God’s Word proclaimed – an activity by which we receive God’s grace in Christ while also being entirely dependent on that grace to receive the Word and Christ found in it, as the above quotation makes plain.

A Few More Dordt 400 Items

We have a few more remaining Dordt 400 items to bring to your attention in this post.

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First, we want to point out that a personal friend and friend of the PRC has specially commissioned replicas of the original Synod of Dordt medallions given to the delegates. You may find these for sale at the Dort Store for $179 for the set, and we hope to have some of these sets available at the PRC Seminary’s Dordt 400 Conference coming up in April. We have been given a set as a gift and have it on display currently in our rare book case at the seminary.

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Here is the information on the medallions found on the website:

Presenting the Limited Edition of the prestigious Dort Medallions presented in antique gold to the international delegates and in antique silver to the Dutch domestic delegates of the Great Synod of Dordrecht 1618-1619.

The unknown 17th Century artist depicts with startling detail the iconic Synod itself on the obverse side with Mount Zion on the reverse.

The historic medallions professionally minted according to the exact Dordrecht specifications of the expansive 58.5mm in diameter (4mm/90g).

Includes premium velvet burgundy showcase with a Certificate of Authenticity explaining the unique history and exquisite detail of the medallions awarded the esteemed divines of the august assembly meeting from November 13, 1618 to May 9, 1619.

At that special Dort 400 website you will also find some books related to the “great Synod” and its work.

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Second, we want to point our readers once again to the special PRC Seminary Dordt 400 website. Here you will find information on the upcoming conference (April 25-27), which is introduced in these words:

The Synod of Dordt, held 400 years ago in the Netherlands was monumental in the history of Christianity.  The very truths that God had restored to His church only 100 years earlier in the Reformation—the doctrines of grace—were being threatened again, by another denial of grace. But this time by men from within the Reformed churches themselves. The separate existence of Reformed churches from the Roman Catholic Church was explained by Rome’s denial of grace. The new betrayal of grace came in a form different than Rome’s. It mutated (as the lie always does) to appear more acceptable to undiscerning Christians and their generations. But the mutated form of the lie was the same lie, the lie that man contributes to his salvation. Grace was “no more grace” (Romans 11:6).

The Synod and Canons of Dordt exposed that lie for what it was, and confessed biblical truth about grace—what today are sometimes called the “Five Points of Calvinism.” These Canons are the 400-year-old fruit of God’s work preserving His true church in the world.

jbogerman-dordtAnd at that site you will also find a highly profitable blog, where the story of God’s work through the Synod is being retold in fascinating detail. Sign up to receive the posts and don’t miss out on the story of God’s amazing grace preserving the truth of His amazing sovereign grace.

As a sample, here’s a portion of the latest post – “The Expulsion of the Arminians”:

The Synod was growing frustrated with the Remonstrants. The Acts helps us understand why (see the category “400 Years Ago” in this blogsite): the Remonstrants would not directly answer questions put to them; they tried to divert the discussion to other matters; and they repeatedly referred to the Synod as a conference, viewing themselves as equals with the delegates. They would not submit to the Synod or cooperate with its investigation into their views.

At the momentous 57th session, on January 14, 1619, the matter came to a head: President Johannes Bogerman expelled the Remonstrants from the Synod.

Bogerman’s Speech
His expulsion speech is not recorded in the official Acts, but several eyewitness accounts exist. He told them (I quote from Gerard Brandt, The History of the Reformation and other Ecclesiastical Transactions in and about the Low-Countries [London: T. Wood, 1722], 3:151-152):

“The Synod has treated you with all gentleness, mildness, friendliness, patience, forbearance, and long-suffering, plainly, sincerely, honestly, and kindly; but all the returns made by you have been nothing but base artifices, cheats, and lies. . . . All your actions have ever been full of tricks, deceits, and equivocations. . . . [S]ince your obstinacy has been very great and complicated, and has discovered itself even in opposition to the Resolutions of the Synod, and of the supreme Powers, care will be taken to inform all Christendom of it, and you shall find that the Church wants [lacks] no spiritual weapons for punishing you. . . . I therefore dismiss you in the name of the Lords Commissioners, and of this Synod: Be gone.”