Fighting Temptation (1) – S.Ferguson

In Christ Alone - SFergusonIn the forty-sixth chapter of his book In Christ Alone, Sinclair Ferguson treats the subject of temptation, plainly and powerfully, under the title “An Anatomy of Temptation.” The content speaks specifically to men (although women face the same evils and often in the same ways), as Ferguson deals with two parallel passages: David’s fall into sin recorded in 2 Sam.11:2ff. and the “anatomy of temptation” described in James 1:14-15.

I found his entire treatment soul-searching and faith-building, as he warns us about the power of sin within and without. Here is what he says about the third stage of temptation:

Stage 3: Temptation conquers when unguarded inclinations meet opportunity.

Sometimes when we have strong sinful desires we lack the external opportunity to satisfy them. At other times, opportunities arise when our desires have been diverted to other pursuits. But we would be naive to confuse these situations with an ability to resist temptation at its full height. Then we need to be able to wield the Spirit’s sword.

David’s escape route could not have been clearer. The directions were written on his palace walls: ‘You shall not covet… your neighbor’s wife'; ‘You shall not steal'; ‘You shall not commit adultery'; ‘You shall not bear false witness'; ‘You shall not murder’ (Ex.20:13-17). But if he saw them, he was blind to their importance. Bathsheba was so near that she obscured all heavenly wisdom from his vision.

Third antidote: When inclinations to sin encounter opportunities, remember and keep the commandments. ‘Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble’ (Ps.119:165). Kindle ed.

Published in: on May 12, 2015 at 10:32 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Peace of Mind in the Daily Grind – M.Perman

Whats Best Next -PermanAs I continue to make my way through Matt Perman’s book What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done (Zondervan, 2014), I found chapter eight also to be edifying and encouraging. In this chapter Perman shows us how to be care (anxiety) free in the midst of life’s daily press of work, meetings, commitments, promises, etc. – all the while trying to remain as productive as we can (doing the best things in the best way, serving others and glorifying God – in case you forgot the “big picture”).

I like the title to this chapter: “Peace of Mind without Having Everything under Control.” And the dominant Scripture the author refers to in this section is Phil.4:6-7. Here’s a part of why this passage is good for us in striving to be productive and at-peace workers:

I find it helpful to keep an inventory of all my actions and projects. But I can’t always keep this up. What Paul teaches us here is that there is a way to have peace even when we can’t keep everything under control: coming to God in prayer with our anxieties.

This approach is not based on our own efforts. We let all our requests be made known to God in prayer, and then God gives us peace. We don’t have to keep a written inventory of our commitments, and we don’t even have to go through the process of negotiating the ones that are beyond us. We just lay them all out before God.

In other words, ongoing peace of mind comes through faith in Christ expressed in day-to-day life. This is the kind of peace that can endure even when everything is going haywire and we are simply unable to keep up with things. Why? Because it is not based on us. Just as we do good works from justification rather than for justification, we are also to do good works from peace rather than for peace.

With gospel-centered productivity, peace comes first, not second. The mistake we often make is to make peace of mind the result of things we do rather than the source. It is true that we can and should have a sense of satisfaction from our work, and  even from having our work defined. That’s part of how God made us.

…But as Christians, we are ultimately able to act from a sense of peace that comes independent of our ability to keep track of our work when circumstances (or energy levels) just make it impossible. And we are able to be more productive in this way because we are not tripped up by the anxiety of always having to get our system fully up to date through our own efforts (p.120).

Review of Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible – Prof.R.Cammenga

RHKJVBible-2014Prof.R.Cammenga, professor of Dogmatics and OT Studies at the Protestant Reformed Seminary, recently published a review of the newly released (October, 2014) Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible (see details below). This review ran in the most recent issue of our PRC Seminary Journal. He has also submitted a slightly revised version for the Standard Bearer, which I plan to run as soon as I can.

In the meantime, he has given me permission to post it here for the benefit of our readers. We thank him for this, and trust that you will find this Bible something worth investing in. Read on and see why!

I may also add the PRC Seminary bookstore is carrying this Study Bible and has special pricing on it. Call the Seminary or email Prof.Cammenga for details (cammenga@prca.org).

Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible, ed. Joel R. Beeke, Michael P. V. Barrett, and Gerald M. Bilkes (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2014). Pp. xix + 2234 (hard cover), $40.00. [Reviewed by Ronald L. Cammenga.]

Reformation Heritage Books is to be commended for one of their most recent publications, The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible. This new study Bible promises to be the leading study Bible of English-speaking Reformed Christians who treasure the King James Version.

This is the first King James Version study Bible written from a distinctively Reformed perspective. There have been other King James Version study Bibles, but these study Bibles have been written from Arminian, Baptistic, or Dispensational perspectives. The outstanding example that comes to mind is the Scofield Study Bible. Now at long last there is a KJV study Bible whose editors are committed Reformed theologians. All of the editors are on the faculty of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. They all embrace the historic confessional doctrine of the divine inspiration of Scripture, and they all regard the Bible as the infallible and inerrant Word of God. General Editor Joel R. Beeke expresses this conviction in his “Welcome to the Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible.” He begins his “Welcome” by saying: “God has spoken, and His written Word is the Bible. In an age of uncertainty, this is good news. His Word is light in our darkness. You can know God and hear His voice today by reading the pages of His Book. Here is pure truth—truth you can trust…. These are the very words of God, breathed out by Him (II Tim. 3:16), given to us through the prophets and apostles as they were infallibly moved by the Spirit (II Pet. 1:21), and faithfully translated into English. All they say is true” (ix).

A good study Bible ought to do two things; The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible does both of them well. First, a good study Bible must aid its readers in understanding the Word of God. It must help its readers to know the meaning of what they have read. What is the meaning of the text, the verse, and the chapter? What is its meaning in its immediate context, in the context of the book in which it appears, and what is its meaning in the context of the whole rest of the Bible? The question that Philip asked the Ethiopian eunuch was, “Understandest thou what thou readest?” (Acts 8:30). The eunuch’s response was, “How can I, except some man should guide me?” (Acts 8:31). That is the purpose of a study Bible—to guide its readers into a proper understanding of what they have read.

But besides assisting its readers in understanding what they have read, a good study Bible ought also to assist its readers in applying the Word of God. Its purpose must be to indicate how a particular truth, how a certain doctrine, how this history or that event applies to Christians who are called to live for the Lord in the beginning of the twenty-first century. Not only the hearers (readers) of the Word, but the doers of the Word are blessed by God, according to James 1:22. A good study Bible ought to assist its readers in making the jump from the text to today. It ought to help in the movement from the Word in its first application to those to whom the Word was originally addressed to the Word as it applies to contemporary Christians facing the issues of our day. It ought to aid in bridging the gap between the first disciples of Christ living in Palestine under the rule of the Roman Caesars at the beginning of the New Testament times and Christ’s disciples living in our technologically advanced by morally degenerate age. As I said, The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible does both of these things well.

The text of this study Bible is the King James or Authorized Version of 1611. This, to begin with, is a laudable feature of this new study Bible. We are convinced that the Authorized Version of 1611 remains the best version available to English-speaking and English-reading Christians. Not only is it the most faithful translation, but it is based on the best manuscripts. After more than four hundred years, this version is still the preferred English version of the Bible, both for public worship and for personal and family worship, of a large segment of evangelical Christianity, including the Protestant Reformed Churches.

As a study Bible, The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible is` filled with all sorts of valuable aids. Those aids include more than fifty “In-Text Articles.” These articles are divided into seven main categories: The Doctrine of God, The Doctrine of Creation, The Doctrine of Sin, The Doctrine of Christ, The Doctrine of Salvation, The Doctrine of the Church, and The Doctrine of the Last Things. Included in these “In-Text Articles” are articles entitled: “The Only True God,” “God’s Foreknowledge,” “Creation and God’s Glory,” “”Angels,” “The Image of God,” “The Soul,” “The Fall of Man,” “Total Depravity,” “Human Responsibility,” “The Evil World,” “God’s Covenants,” “The Angel of the Lord,” “Christ’s Satisfaction of God’s Justice,” “Election,” “The Uses of the Moral Law,” “Justification by Faith Alone,” “Experiential Knowledge,” “Assurance of Salvation,” Perseverance of the Saints,” “Worship by the Word,” “World Missions,” “The Day of the Lord,” “Hell,” and “Heaven.”
Included in the front matter of the new study Bible is an article entitled “The King James Version: Its Tradition, Text, and Translation.” This article traces the history of the KJV, its tradition, and its text. The article includes not only a defense of the inspiration of the original manuscripts of Scripture, but also the work of God through His Spirit to preserve the text of Scripture throughout history both through copying and translation. This article also includes a good response to those who object to the use of the KJV because its language (vocabulary and syntax patterns) has become archaic. And this article defends the text upon which the KJV was based, as well as the accuracy and beauty of the translation.

Following the front matter is the text of the study Bible itself. Every book of the Bible contains an introduction, which identifies the human writer(s) and date of the book, its theme and purpose, issues relating to translation, a synopsis of the book, and a general outline of the book. The study notes are at the bottom of every page. Every chapter begins with a chapter summary. The notes follow the chapter summaries, and although not every verse has notes connected to it, the vast majority of verses do. The notes are helpful, full of useful information. Sometimes the notes explain the meaning of words in the original Hebrew or Greek. At other times they reflect on the meaning of the text, or relate a text to its context. Cross-references are sometimes given. Old Testament prophecies fulfilled or New Testament fulfillments are noted. And many other things besides make up the content of the study notes.

One praiseworthy feature of The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible in this reviewer’s opinion is the use in all the articles, notes, and introductions of capital letters on the personal pronouns that refer to deity: “He,” “Him,” and “His,” including the personal reflexive pronoun, “Himself.” Reformation Heritage is not the only major publisher that retains this mark of deference when referring to deity; there are others. But, sadly, some publishers are allowing the Chicago Manual of Style the last word in Christian publishing and the conventions that are accepted in the world’s publications are made determinative in Christian publishing. These publishers are conforming, rather than transforming and reforming on this issue. Much like the use of “Thee,” “Thou,” and “Thine” in prayer, this is one way when using the written word that we can show special respect towards God; for that very reason, it ought to be retained. I would encourage readers to write their favorite publisher(s) on this matter and express this viewpoint, especially if they are one of the publishers that has recently abandoned this practice. Let them know how you, their customers, feel on this issue.

Of significance as a distinctive feature of The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible are the “Thoughts for Personal/Family Worship” at the conclusion of every chapter of the Bible. The fact that these thoughts and questions are designed for personal and family worship underscores an important use of Scripture in the Reformed and Presbyterian traditions. At the same time, it calls attention to a very important calling that Christian parents have, a calling that arises out of God’s gracious covenant with believers and the children of believers. It is a neglected calling in our day. That calling is to lead their families and children in the worship of God. It is the calling to rear up a family altar in the home, at which daily worship is brought to the Lord God. These thoughts and questions are designed to assist parents in making their daily family devotions profitable and God-glorifying. This is an altogether unique feature of this new study Bible, and something that sets it apart from other study Bibles. It may be hoped that this will facilitate parents in carrying out this important calling.

The text of the study Bible proper is followed by a significant section of back matter. Included, first of all, in this back matter is a section containing thirty-six one-page articles under the heading “How to Live as a Christian.” Among these are articles entitled “Coming to Christ,” “Experiencing Justification and Adoption,” “Growing in Sanctification,” “Assured and Persevering,” “Reading the Scriptures,” “Why and How We Pray,” “Worship and the Means of Grace,” “How We Regard Ourselves,” “The Fear of God,” “Living by the Ten Commandments,” “Godly Contentment,” “Self-Denial,” “How We Kill Pride,” “Coping with Criticism,” “Fighting Against Backsliding,” “Family Worship,” “Being A Christ-Like Husband,” “Being A Godly Wife,” “Raising Children in the Lord,” “Being a Christian Grand Parent,” “Serving God at Work,” “Using Leisure Time Well,” “Witnessing for Christ,” “Defending our Faith,” “Facing Sickness and Death,” “Living Positively,” and “Living for God’s Glory.”

“How to Live as a Christian” is followed by “Twenty Centuries of Church History.” One page is devoted to the history of each century of the New Testament from “First Century: Apostolic Foundations” through “The Sixteenth Century: Luther, Calvin, and the Reformation” to “The Twentieth Century: The Age of Paradoxes.” There is no question about it that there is in the church today widespread ignorance of the history of the church. There is little awareness of “the rock whence we are hewn,” little understanding of the significant doctrinal controversies through which God has led the church of the past. And along with that, little appreciation for the development in doctrine that has been the result of these controversies. For more than one reason the church of the present needs to have a good understanding of the church of the past.

Included next in the back matter of The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible is a section entitled “Creeds and Confessions.” The creeds and confessions that are included are, first of all, the ancient creeds: Apostles’ Creed, Nicene Creed, and Athanasian Creed. Included as well are the main Reformation creeds, in their two main families: the Three Forms of Unity (Belgic Confession of Faith, Heidelberg Catechism, and Canons of Dort) and the Westminster Standards (Westminster Confession, Westminster Larger and Shorter Catechisms). The creeds, too, are underappreciated in our day. This is a study Bible aimed at Reformed Christians. Among Reformed Christians the Reformed Creeds are authoritative. Reformed Christians regard the Reformed confessions as faithful summaries of the truths of the Word of God. We read the Scriptures from the perspective of the Reformed standards.

The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible’s back matter concludes with Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s (1813-1843) famous Calendar for Reading Through the Word of God in a Year. I often handed out this schedule or other similar schedules to my congregation at the beginning of a new year when I was in the active pastorate. Having a plan to follow both facilitates and serves as an incentive, I have found, to accomplish the goal of reading through the entire Bible in a year’s time. Following the schedule for reading through the Bible in a year, The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible includes a list of biblical weights and measures, biblical currency and a “Concordance to the Old and New Testaments.” The new study Bible concludes with several color maps of the Near East and the Holy Land throughout the eras covered by the history of the Bible.

Here and there this writer found things with which he did not agree, or improvements that could be made. The article entitled “God’s Covenants” (83) is somewhat confusing and flawed. The Old Testament berith does not mean “agreement.” That is not its root meaning and that is not its use. The article, and several notes throughout the Bible, articulates the erroneous position that includes more than only the elect in the covenant of grace. The articles and notes also make plain the commitment of the editors to the erroneous theology of the well-meant gospel offer. Any church history article that surveys the nineteenth century and makes no mention of the Afscheiding of 1834 and the Doleantie of 1886 is guilty of serious oversights, especially in a Bible that is published by a group that has its roots in the Dutch Reformed Tradition. The article on “Total Depravity” contends that man’s total depravity is mitigated by “the kindness of God,” so that men are not “as wicked as they could be” (1060). Neither is the description of total depravity as penetrating as it could be, the natural man being “so corrupt that [he is] wholly incapable of doing any good and inclined to all wickedness” (Heidelberg Catechism, Q. 8).

It is my conviction that the “Thoughts for Personal/Family Worship” could be greatly improved. For one thing, they involve ordinarily a too length introduction to the question or observation that is going to be made. For another, the thoughts and questions are too often over the heads of all but the theologically astute. Parents need to be equipped with questions for their children and young people. It is especially from parents with younger children that I hear of the struggles to make family devotions profitable. The questions overall could be simplified, and the younger children should be targeted in many more of the questions than they are. And there are other criticisms of varying importance that could be made.

But I do not want too severely to criticize, lest my criticisms detract from my overwhelming support for The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible. This ought to be the study Bible used in our homes, the study Bible used for our personal and family devotions. We have used it in our home for our family devotions over the last several months. And my wife and I are both of the opinion that it is the best that we have yet seen. I would like to encourage the pastors to give this Bible as a wedding gift to the couples at whose marriages they officiate. It also makes for a wonderful gift on any occasion, including upcoming high school and college graduation.

What helps to encourage its use is that it is eminently affordable. Reformation Heritage Books is obviously doing everything it can to place this Bible in the hands of the people. The cost of this new study Bible varies, depending on the binding. From the basic hardcover, which serves well as a family Bible, to the more expensive fine, soft leather bindings, The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible is reasonably priced. The publisher has made sure that no one will be able to say that they are not using the new study Bible because they cannot afford it.

The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible is available directly from Reformation Heritage Books. The interested reader can consult their website and order directly from the publisher. In the Grand Rapids area, the new study Bible is available at Reformed Book Outlet, the Protestant Reformed Theological Seminary bookstore, and the Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary bookstore, as well as the Christian bookstores throughout the area.
I highly recommended The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible!

The Prayers of J.Calvin (18)

JCalvinPic1On this Sunday night we continue our posts on the prayers of John Calvin (see my previous Sunday posts in Nov./Dec., 2014 and now in 2015), which follow his lectures on the OT prophecy of Jeremiah (Baker reprint, 1979). Tonight we post a brief section from his seventeenth lecture and the prayer that concludes it.

This lecture covers Jeremiah 4:23-30, which includes Calvin’s commentary on v.27, “For thus hath the Lord said, The whole land shall be desolate; yet will I not make a full end.” Here is what he says on this passage:

I indeed allow that God’s threatenings cannot avail for our salvation, unless connected with the promise of pardon, so that being raised up by the hope of salvation we may flee to him: for as long as we deem God inexorable, we shun every access to him; and thus despair drives us into a rage like that of fiends. Hence it is that the reprobate rage so much against God, and make a great clamour: and they would willingly thrust him from his throne.

It is therefore necessary that a hope of salvation should be set before us, so that we may be touched with repentance: and as this promise is perpetual, whatever may happen, even if earth and heaven were mixed together, and ruin on every side were filling us with dread, we must still remember that there will be ever some remnant according to the passages we have referred to in the first and tenth chapters of Isaiah (pp.241-42).

And then follows this prayer:

Grant, Almighty God, that though we are torpid in our vices, we may yet be attentive to these examples of thy wrath, by which thou designest to warn us, so that we may learn by the misery of others to fear thee: and may we be also attentive to those threatenings, by which thou drawest us to thee, as thou failest to allure us by thy kindness: and may we, in the meantime, feel assured that thou wilt ever be propitious and merciful to all miserable sinners, who will from the heart seek thee and sincerely and unfeignedly repent; so that we may contend with our vices, and with real effort strive to deliver ourselves from those snares of Satan which he ever spreads for us, in order that we may more freely devote ourselves altogether to thee, and take such delight in thy righteousness, that our object and aim through the whole course of our life may be to please thee, and to render our services approved in Christ Jesus our Lord. –Amen (p.248).

Forgiveness and Life in the Church of Christ – H.Hoeksema

Our pastor will be preaching on the truth of the believer’s confession of the forgiveness of sins as found in the Apostles’ Creed (Art.10) and explained by the Heidelberg Catechism in Q&A 56. In his commentary on the HC, Herman Hoeksema has this to say about the connection between our confession of forgiveness and our confession of the holy catholic church, the communion of saints (Art.9 in the AC):

In the fellowship of the Church, and, therefore, in the communion of saints, the believer lays hold upon this blessing, and makes this confession. This is the connection between the article concerning the Church and that concerning the forgiveness of sins.

Outside of the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, there are no spiritual benefits, the forgiveness of sins cannot be appropriated. If, for some reason, the believer severs himself as far as his conscious life is concerned, from that communion, the first effect of this error is always that he lacks the joy of forgiveness. Perhaps, for a time, he lives in hatred over against some of the brethren; or he envinces an unforgiving spirit; or he seeks the friendship of the world; or he lives in whatever other sin may sever his fellowship with the saints, and disturb the exercise of the communion of saints: in that state of separation from the body of believers, he forfeits the forgiveness of sins (p.88).

And then, after demonstrating this from several passages of Scripture, Hoeksema explains this relation further at the end of this treatment:

Nor is it difficult to understand why this relation between our living in the communion of saints and in the joy of forgiveness exists, and is so inseparable that the one cannot be enjoyed without the other.

It is never in our own power to lay hold on the forgiveness of sins. That we are sorry for sin, repent, seek forgiveness, and obtain it, is the work of Christ Himself. By His Spirit and grace He works the true sorrow after God in our hearts. By that Spirit, He brings us to repentance, leads us to the cross, and assures us of redemption, even the forgiveness of sins in His blood. But that Spirit, on Whose constant indwelling and operation our appropriation of the forgiveness of sins continuously depends, is the Spirit of Christ, and, therefore, the Spirit of the body, that is, the Church. For there is one Lord, and one Spirit, and that one Spirit dwells in the one body. He does not dwell in you or in me, individually, apart from the body, but in the body as a whole, and, in the individual believers, only in fellowship with the body. Hence, outside of that body the Spirit does not operate to bestow the blessings of salvation upon men. If, therefore, through some sin, the believer separates himself from the body, and does not live in the communion of saints, he immediately forfeits the forgiveness of sins.

And as he loses the forgiveness of sins, he necessarily forfeits all the blessings and joy of salvation; for the remission of sins… is basic for all other benefits in Christ.

The article concerning the forgiveness of sins, therefore, occupies a most proper place in the Apostolicum.

By its very position, we are exhorted to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace! (pp.89-90).

Triple-Knowledge-HHoeksemaTaken from volume V, Abundant Mercy of Hoeksema’s The Triple Knowledge (Wm.B. Eerdmans, 1949) and now reprinted by the RFPA in the same ten volume format (2015).

The Great Michigan Earthquake of 2015 | Michigan in Pictures

The Great Michigan Earthquake of 2015 | Michigan in Pictures.

You probably heard by now about our little earthquake last Saturday, May 2. I was on the road heading back home from the local hardware store, so I felt and noticed nothing. But when I got home, my youngest son was quite excited to relate to me what he heard and felt!

He said, “I think we just had a small earthquake. There was a loud noise like a helicopter going over the house, and then the whole house shook for a few seconds.” He went outside to see what it might be, but there was no other evidence of it being anything but that.

And within minutes, the social media lit up with the reports of similar experiences. And shortly thereafter, it was confirmed that West Michigan did indeed have an earthquake! And even though it was a minor one, people were caught off-guard and expressed fear. Yes, the acts of God (not “mother nature”) tend to do that. Especially if you do not fear Him with the fear of awe and love.

We are thankful that this earthquake was not more serious and that there appeared to be little if any damage done. O, there were some humorous stories about Michigan’s determination to rebuild because some yard furniture fell over.

But “Michigan in Pictures” did a feature on it this past Monday (use the link above), complete with its own humorous picture. What is interesting is that the blog has links to facts about Michigan’s earthquakes.

So, read on. And live without fear by fearing the One Who ought to be. For His Son is coming too (Matt.24:7). And then the earth will be shaken like never before (Heb.12:26-27). So that a new heaven and earth can be made. In that one righteousness will dwell (2 Pet.3:13).

The Reformed American and Rev. Henry Danhof

For our PRC archive item this week we are going back to our “mother church”, the Christian Reformed Church and to a series of articles one of her pastors wrote. The name of that minister was Rev. Henry Danhof. You recognize that name, right? Yes, he was indeed one of the founding fathers of the PRC, along with Rev. Herman Hoeksema and Rev. George Ophoff. And here is the story of his writings that I came across this week.

One of the old publications of a group within the Christian Reformed Church is known as “The Reformed American”. Except that that is the English translation. It was in reality a Dutch periodical, designed especially for those in the CRC who were hanging on to the Dutch language and needed (wanted?!) a publication in the “mother tongue.”

The magazine was titled De Gereformeerde Amerikaan and was published by the Consortium (partnership or association) der Gereformeerde Amerikaan. From the cover posted below you will discern some familiar CRC names – leading professors and ministers at the time (click on the image to enlarge). We have a full set of these in the Seminary library, dating back to 1897! This week while searching for a much-needed copy of a Dutch book among all the Dutch material reserved in the Seminary basement, I found some loose copies of “The Reformed American”, starting with the year 1911 (I just had to scan that back cover too, since the ads are as inviting as the articles. OK, who can tell us about the “Holland Furnace Co.”?).

Reformed American-March-1915-cover

Naturally, I had to browse through them (which is always rewarding in one way or another!), and that’s when I saw the reference to Rev.H.Danhof. In Jaargang XIX (volume 19), dated Maart, 1915 (you can figure that one out!) Rev.H. Danhof began a five-part series of articles under the title “De Zelfbenaming van Christus.” I have scanned the last two pages here for you, with his name at the end.

But now, here is your challenge: what was Rev.Danhof writing about in this series? In other words, give me the meaning (translation) of the title. And beyond that, he has one name of Christ in particular in view – what is that name (See, I even give you a hint!)? And here is another one: that name is found on the pages I post here. Have fun! get out those Dutch dictionaries! Or ask grandpa and grandma! :)

Reformed American-March-1915-inside-HDanhofI do have some other questions though: I wonder if these articles have ever been translated. And if so, where might they be? But, regardless, do these early writings give any hints where Rev.Danhof would end up in the common grace controversy in 1924? I’m curious. Are you too?

Common Grace and the Gospel (and H.Hoeksema) – C.Van Til

CommonGrace&Gospel-CVanTilDid you know that P&R Publishing recently republished Cornelius Van Til’s book Common Grace and the Gospel? First published in 1972, this second edition contains the full text of the first edition but with added foreword and annotations by K.Scott Oliphint. This too is a “new” title in the PRC Seminary library (We also have the first edition – and with good reason – keep reading!).

Van Tils’ book is a significant work on common grace and was widely recognized as such when it was first published. And we suspect that with the recent rise in interest in the doctrine because of the renewed interest in Abraham Kuyper (especially by the neo-Calvinists and “new Calvinists” – the “young, restless, and Reformed” crowd), the publisher saw the need for this new edition. And we may guess that it will have a wide reception.

If you are unfamiliar with the author, you will find this information about him on the P&R website:

Cornelius Van Til (1895–1987) was born in Grootegast, the Netherlands, and immigrated with his family to America in 1905. He attended Calvin College and Calvin Seminary before completing his studies at Princeton Theological Seminary and Princeton University with the ThM and PhD degrees. Drawn to the pastorate, Van Til spent one year in the ministry before taking a leave of absence to teach apologetics at Princeton Seminary. When the seminary reorganized, he was persuaded to join the faculty of the newly founded Westminster Theological Seminary. He remained there as professor of apologetics until his retirement in 1975. Van Til wrote more than twenty books, in addition to more than thirty syllabi. Among his best-known titles are The Defense of the Faith, A Christian Theory of Knowledge, and An Introduction to Systematic Theology.

In this work Van Til does indeed interact with A.Kuyper’s view of common grace as set forth in his De Gemeene Gratie (3 vols, 1902 – a work now being translated and published in English for the first time.). But, of special interest to our PRC readers, Van Til also interacts with Herman Hoeksema and the PRC. In fact, in the initial chapter on Kuyper’s view of common grace, Van Til brings up the Three Points of Common Grace adopted in 1924 by the Christian Reformed Church and mentions Hoeksema’s opposition to this Kuyperian form of the doctrine:

Kuyper’s statement of the doctrine of common grace has not gone unchallenged. In a number of pamphlets and books, as well as in a monthly magazine, The Standard Bearer, the Rev. Herman Hoeksema, the Rev. Henry Danhof and others have vigorously denied the existence of any form of common grace.

Hoeksema and Danhof argue that it is inconceivable that God should be in any sense, and at any point, graciously inclined to those who are not His elect. The wicked do, to be sure, receive gifts from God. But rain and sunshine are not, as such, evidences of God’s favor (p.25).

And Van Til continues to treat Hoeksema’s views on this doctrine throughout the book (a quick glance at the index will tell you he does so in over twenty places).

But Van Til also has a special chapter (8) on Hoeksema and his Reformed Dogmatics, which makes for good reading. While acknowledging the power of Hoeksema’s preaching and agreeing with some of his theology, Van Til is critical of “HH’s” defense of particular grace over against common grace. This is how chapter 8 ends:

There is, of course, much else in Hoeksema’s work that could be discussed with profit. There is, indeed, much very valuable material in his work. We have, however, used our space to deal with what was most important to him.

With all our great admiration for Hoeksema as a preacher and as a teacher of theology, we must, nonetheless, maintain that however true he was to the idea of the sovereignty of the grace of God, he did not advance its proper form of expression in his works on theology (p.252).

As you can see, you would do well to read Van Til on this significant doctrine, especially as he deals with Kuyper and Hoeksema. And now, you have a new edition with which to do that.

M.Luther on the Genesis Account of Creation – W.VanDoodewaard

One of the new books purchased for and now processed for use by patrons of the PRC Seminary library is the title The Quest for the Historical Adam: Genesis, Hermeneutics, and Human Origins (Reformation Heritage, 2015). This significant study by Dr. William VanDoodewaard, professor of church history at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, MI, is a survey of historical theology and ecclesiastical interpretation of the Bible’s account of creation, particularly the creation of man (Adam).

This is the description the publisher provides:

Was Adam really a historical person, and can we trust the biblical story of human origins? Or is the story of Eden simply a metaphor, leaving scientists the job to correctly reconstruct the truth of how humanity began? Although the church currently faces these pressing questions—exacerbated as they are by scientific and philosophical developments of our age—we must not think that they are completely new. In The Quest for the Historical Adam, William VanDoodewaard recovers and assesses the teaching of those who have gone before us, providing a historical survey of Genesis commentary on human origins from the patristic era to the present. Reacquainting the reader with a long line of theologians, exegetes, and thinkers, VanDoodewaard traces the roots, development, and, at times, disappearance of hermeneutical approaches and exegetical insights relevant to discussions on human origins. This survey not only informs us of how we came to this point in the conversation but also equips us to recognize the significance of the various alternatives on human origins.

And here is the Table of Contents, which gives you some idea of what the author covers and how he handles the vast material:

Introduction

  1. Finding Adam and His Origin in Scripture
  2. The Patristic and Medieval Quest for Adam
  3. Adam in the Reformation and Post-Reformation Eras
  4. Adam in the Enlightenment Era
  5. Adam in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries
  6. The Quest for Adam: From the 1950s to the Present
  7. What Difference Does It Make?

Epilogue: Literal Genesis and Science?

For my purposes today, I give you a couple of quote from that third chapter, which treats the view of the church during the period of the Reformation and post-Reformation periods. VanDoodewaard points to an important shift that was taking place in the way the church interpreted Scripture, moving from an allegorical approach (which characterized the Medieval period) to a literal approach. And VanDoodewaard takes us to none other than the father of the Reformation, Martin Luther, as the first to make this important shift (while also acknowledging W.Tyndale’s contribution).

So our quotes today are ones VanDoodewaard has from Luther, showing plainly where this church father stood on the issue of the historicity of Genesis and the accuracy of its record. In this first one Luther is describing God’s works as set forth in Genesis 1 and 2:

These, then, are all historical facts. This is something to which I carefully call attention, lest the wary reader be led astray by the authority of the fathers, who give up the idea that this is history and look for allegories. For this reason I like Lyra and rank him among the best, because throughout he carefully adheres to, and concerns himself with, the historical account. Nevertheless, he allows himself to be swayed by the authority of the fathers and occasionally, because of their example, turns away from the real meaning to silly allegories (p.52 – taken from Luther’s Lectures on Genesis).

The second quote relates specifically to God’s creation of Adam and Eve as recorded in Genesis 1. Here again is Luther:

Here our opinion is supported: that the six days were truly six natural days, because here Moses says that Adam and Eve were created on the sixth day. One may not use sophistries with reference to this text. But concerning the order of creation he will state in the following chapter that Eve was created sometime after Adam, not like Adam, from a clod of earth, but from his rib, which God took out of the side of Adam while he slept. These are all works of time, that is works that require time. They were not performed in one moment; neither were these acts: that God brings to Adam every animal and there was none found like him, etc. These are acts requiring time, and they were performed on the sixth day. Here Moses touches on them briefly by anticipation. Later on he will explain them at greater length (p.53).

May 1, 2015 Standard Bearer: Second Helvetic Confession on Holy Scripture – Prof.R.Cammenga

SB-May-1-2015The May 1, 2015 issue of the Standard Bearer, the semi-monthly Reformed magazine published by the RFPA (rfpa.org), is now published and being distributed. This issue too contains a variety of edifying articles – from a meditation on Ps.55:22, to another editorial on “What It Means to Be Reformed”, to matters “all around us” of interest to Christians, to an article on raising children in a covenant home – and an important book review (By Faith Alone).

One of the new series of articles is on the historic Reformed confession, the Second Helvetic (Swiss) Confession. In this issue Prof.R.Cammenga begins to treat the specific articles of this creed, starting with Art.1 on the doctrine of holy Scripture. Today, I take a brief quote from this article to show you how significant a confession this is and why you and I ought to become better acquainted with it.

First, Prof.Cammenga quotes from the first article itself, which reads this way:

We believe and confess the canonical Scriptures of the holy prophets and apostles of both Testaments to be the true Word of God, and to have sufficient authority of themselves, not of men.  For God himself spoke to the fathers, prophets, apostles, and still speaks to us through the Holy Scriptures.

And in this Holy Scripture, the universal Church of Christ has the most complete exposition of all that pertains to a saving faith, and also to the framing of a life acceptable to God; and in this respect it is expressly commanded by God that nothing be either added to or taken from the same.

Then he adds this opening commentary:

The Second Helvetic Confession begins its exposition of the Reformed faith with the doctrine of Scripture.  This is altogether proper.  This is necessary.  Everything depends on one’s view of Scripture.  More than anything else, this is what distinguishes the Reformed faith.  What distinguished the Reformed faith at the time of the Reformation was its view of Scripture. This is what set the Reformed apart from the Roman Catholics, on the one hand, and the Anabaptists and enthusiasts, on the other hand.   Both Rome and the Anabaptists erred in their view of Scripture. That aberrant view of Scripture affected everything.  And as different as they were from each other, both Rome and the Anabaptists were alike in that they denied the sufficiency of Scripture, that in Scripture “the Church of Christ has the most complete exposition of all that pertains to a saving faith, and also to the framing of a life acceptable to God.”  Rome denied the sufficiency of Scripture by adding to Scripture, as an equal authority alongside of Scripture, tradition. That tradition consisted of the writings of the church fathers, the decisions of the church councils, and the Apocrypha.  The Anabaptists denied the sufficiency of Scripture by adding direct revelations and immediate promptings of the Spirit.  The Reformers said, “A plague on both your houses.”  And they affirmed the sole authority and complete sufficiency of Holy Scripture, with appeal to Revelation 22:18 and 19, where “it is expressly commanded by God that nothing be either added to or taken from” the Word of God.

And finally, he makes this application to us today:

Still today, this is the issue and still today this is what distinguishes the Reformed faith, at least the Reformed faith properly understood.  Scripture alone is the arbiter of truth.  Scripture alone is the authority for faith and life.  Scripture alone is determinative in the life of the church, both the local congregation and the broader assemblies.  And Scripture is determinative for the walk of the individual believer in the midst of the world. The method employed by Bullinger in the Second Helvetic Confession of beginning with the doctrine of Scripture is the distinctively Reformed method.  All the truth that we confess and that is summarized in the confession is revealed in Holy Scripture.  The Reformed view of Scripture is that it is “the true Word of God.”  Fundamental to the Reformed faith is its view of Scripture.

To receive a sample of this Reformed magazine, or to subscribe, visit this SB page on the RFPA website.

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