Sept. 1, 2017 Standard Bearer: “Treasure”

With the new month comes the September 1, 2017 issue of the Standard Bearer (cf. cover and contents below).

SB-Sept1-2017-cover

One of the special features of this issue is the latest word study penned by Rev. William Langerak for the rubric “A Word Fitly Spoken.” This one is titled “Treasure,” and that’s what it is – a treasure of valuable gems mined from the holy Scriptures.

I can only give you a sample tonight, though I wish I could give the whole article. For that you will just have to subscribe, or wait for the online edition in a few months.

The fundamental truth about treasure is this: God is our treasure, and we, the church, are chosen to be His treasure (Ps. 135:4). Our God is an infinite store of life, righteousness, power, wisdom, grace, and mercy. The world and its fullness is His treasure (Ps. 50:12). He has treasuries of rain (Deut. 28:12), snow and hail (Job 38:22), wind (Ps. 135:7), darkness (Isa. 45:3), and food for the belly of man (Ps. 17:14). And yet to His church alone He says this: “If ye will obey my voice indeed and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine” (Exod. 1:11;19:5).

The fundamental attitude we must have toward treasure is this: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth where moth and rust doth corrupt and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matt. 6:19-21). Jesus taught this. It is essentially the command to believe and trust alone in Him, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:3).

Do we? Jesus, knowing both His rich beneficence in giving earthly treasure and our propensity to covet it even while trying to establish our own righteousness, said: “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me” (Matt. 19:21). Similarly, He likened the kingdom of heaven to treasure in a field, which when a man finds, he sells everything he has, and buys that field (Matt. 13:44)

If you would like to see other short biblical word studies like this, visit this page on the PRC website.

As you can see, the rest of the issue is packed with other gems (including a great book review!). You are encouraged to become a regular subscriber by visiting the SB webpage. There will find prices, information on how to sign up, and a free sample issue.

TODAY! 4-6 p.m. ET – Radio Interview with Prof. David J. Engelsma on “Gospel Truth of Justification”

You may have remembered and listened in on previous interviews Chris Arnzen of “Iron Sharpens Iron” has had with Prof. David Engelsma (emeritus professor, PRC Seminary) about his books. This afternoon (only 1 hour away from now!) Chris will conduct another live interview with Prof. Engelsma, this time about his newest book, Gospel Truth of Justification (RFPA, 2017).

Below is the notice that the RFPA put out this week and again today as a reminder:

On Friday, September 1, Prof. David J. Engelsma will be interviewed by Christopher Arnzen on his radio program “Iron Sharpens Iron” from 4-6 pm EST.

The subject will be his recent book, Gospel Truth of Justification. You can go to the website www.ironsharpensironradio.com and click on live stream to tune in and listen from any device. The program can also be listened to by phone (563)999-9206, following the prompts and press #3 for Christian Radio.

Be sure to tune in Friday!

Now that the live interview is done, if you would like to listen to the interview as recorded, Chris A. has generously allowed it to be posted. You find the mp3 file here.

Source: Reformed Free Publishing Association — Radio Interview with Prof. David J. Engelsma on Gospel Truth of Justification

Lost Latin Commentary on the Gospels Rediscovered after 1,500 years

This special story was posted at The Conversation last week (August 23, 2017, by Hugh Houghton) and caught my attention. Though it may not be exciting to many, it is to me, since anything from the realm of books is of interest – especially rare, lost treasures such as this Latin commentary from the fourth century.

And yes, you may find scanned images of this rare book online as well as an English translation of it now available (see links in the story below).

Below you will find the beginning of the story; read the rest and visit the links at the link at the end.

The earliest Latin commentary on the Gospels, lost for more than 1,500 years, has been rediscovered and made available in English for the first time. The extraordinary find, a work written by a bishop in northern Italy, Fortunatianus of Aquileia, dates back to the middle of the fourth century.

The biblical text of the manuscript is of particular significance, as it predates the standard Latin version known as the Vulgate and provides new evidence about the earliest form of the Gospels in Latin.

Despite references to this commentary in other ancient works, no copy was known to survive until Dr Lukas Dorfbauer, a researcher from the University of Salzburg, identified Fortunatianus’ text in an anonymous manuscript copied around the year 800 and held in Cologne Cathedral Library. The manuscripts of Cologne Cathedral Library were made available online in 2002.

Source: Lost Latin commentary on the Gospels rediscovered after 1,500 years thanks to digital technology

Reshaping Marriage, Reformation Style – “Refo Thursday”

On this Thursday, the last day of August, we bring to mind again the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. And we do so through another video clip from the Church History Institute, which they are sending out each Thursday this year – what they refer to as their “Refo Thursday,” “your weekly throwback to the Reformation.”

This particular video, sent out on August 10, celebrates the Reformation’s reform of marriage, including Martin Luther’s wonderful union with Katherine von Bora. On this day of my own thirty-ninth wedding anniversary to my lovely bride (August 31, 1978!), this post seems appropriate. Verna and I are personally grateful to the Reformers for restoring this aspect of the Christian life to its biblical foundation!

The article that goes with it – “The Reformation of Marriage” – includes these paragraphs at the beginning:

It is a remarkable fact that none of the leading Protestant reformers ended up a bachelor—Luther, Zwingli and Calvin all married in the course of the Reformation. It is remarkable because the prevailing late medieval ideal was that one should not marry in order to devote full attention to serving God. The same ideal prevailed for women. St. Jerome, writing in the fourth century, even offered a kind of algorithm for measuring one’s devotion to God. He assigned a spiritual value of 100 to virginity, but to marriage he assigned a paltry spiritual value of 30. The message was clear: if you really loved God, you would remain a bachelor or bachelorette.

The Reformation is most often identified with theological debates, whether over  justification by faith alone, predestination, or the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. However, it can be argued that the most enduring consequence of the Reformation was not theological developments, but the transformation of the institution of marriage. By 1520, just three years after the 95 Theses, Luther publically renounced clerical celibacy in his famous pamphlet, To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation.

Read the rest of the article at the link provided, and be sure to watch this video and many others that make up this informative and interesting series. You can sign up to receive the “Refo Thursday” posts each week at the CHI website.

A Little Book with Large Theology

little-book-theologians-kapicA small theology book I recently came on is Kelly M. Kapic’s A Little Book for New Theologians: Why and How to Study Theology (IVP Academic, 2012). While the book is little, the theology found in it is large. I referenced it a few weeks ago and do so again today.

I appreciated these thoughts at the end of chapter 3, “Theology as Pilgrimage”:

It is vital to recognize that one should not give up on theology because of our limitations, for our confidence ultimately rests on God, not on ourselves. In this sense we recognize and delight in the axiom drawn from the brilliant medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas: ‘Theology is taught by God, teaches of God and leads to God’ (Theologia a Deo docetur, Deum docet, et ad Deum ducit). All good and faithful theology comes from God, who is the ultimate theologian – the only one who can, without weakness or misunderstanding, speak of himself.

And then, after pointing us to Jesus Christ, “God’s great self-revelation” and the one in whom alone true knowledge of God is found (Kapic quotes Jesus’ words in Matt.11:27), he says,

Clearly, ‘knowing’ in this context is not merely referring to cognitive assent. Our call is to come, to gaze at Christ, to hear his word and to respond in faith and love. Here theology and worship come together: we are answering the call of our heavenly Father to speak words from the basis of an intimate knowledge of the Word, which is possible only by the gift of the Spirit. Theology is wrapped up in this response to God’s call. Hence, it is to be faith-full: faith is always required for genuine theology. We rightly respond to God’s revelation when our words about God, whether many or few, are placed into the matrix of worship. When we see the relationship between theology and worship we are moved beyond intellectual curiosity to an engaged encounter with the living God [pp.36-37].

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

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

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

The publisher provides this description of the book:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Mind Matters (4): In Knowing God’s Will for You – J. Stott

How then are you to decide this major question? [Stott has used the example of whom to marry in connection with using your mind to know the will of God]. There is only one possible answer, namely, by using the mind and the common sense which God has given you. Certainly you will pray for God’s guidance. And if you are wise, you will ask the advice of your parents and of other mature people who know you well. But ultimately you must make up your mind, trusting that God will guide you through your own mental processes.

From which point Stott takes us to a specific Bible passage as proof:

There is good scriptural warrant for this use of the mind in Psalm 32:8-9. These two verses need to be read together and supply a fine example of the balance of the Bible. Verse 8 contains a pledge of divine guidance: ‘I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.’ It is, in fact, a threefold promise: ‘I will instruct you, I will teach you, I will guide you.’ But verse 9  immediately adds: ‘Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, else it will not keep with you.’

In other words, although God promises to guide us, we must not expect him to do so in the way in which we guide horses and mules. He will not use a bit and bridle with us. For we are not horses or mules; we are human beings. We have understanding, which horses and mules have not. It is, then, through the use of our own understanding, enlightened by Scripture and prayer and the counsel of friends, that God will lead us into a knowledge of his particular will for us.

mind-matters-stottTaken from Your Mind Matters: The Place of the Mind in the Christian Life (Inter-Varsity Press, 1972) by John R. W. Stott, pp.44-45.

Do the Psalms Have An Order and Structure? ~ R. Godfrey (Plus, a New Psalter App!)

Learning-love-psalms-Godfrey-2017I continue to receive rich benefit from reading through the brief but packed chapters of W. Robert Godfrey’s new book Learning to Love the Psalms (Reformation Trust, 2017).

In chapter 7 (“Broader Structures in the Psalter”) the author raises the questions, “Is the book of Psalms as a whole largely random in its order? Is it just an anthology of poems that would mean just the same if the poems were in an entirely different arrangement?”

Based on his personal reading and study of the Psalms as well as on the insights of others, Godfrey has come to see a definite structure and order to the Psalms. Besides the common division of the Psalter into five books (Book 1: Psalms 1-41; Book 2: Psalms 42-72); Book 3: Psalms 73-89; Book 4: Psalms 90-106; Book 5: ;Psalms 107-150), he makes four main points about this structure.

For our purposes today we quote his fourth point, “the most important,” in his estimation:

…The development of the Psalter is not simply a growing emphasis on psalms of praise. Many types of psalms appear in each of the books. Still, in broad terms, we can see a movement in the Psalter. Book One has many psalms that speak of distress on the part of the king and his people yet manifest confidence and praise even in the face of distress. Book Two links that confidence particularly to God’s king, who upholds God’s ways and God’s people in God’s city. Book Three, however, is dominated by a crisis in the kingship of Israel, a kingship that seems to have failed. Book Four presents comfort for king and people in the God who created the world and who made a covenant with Israel at Sinai. Book Five then lifts the praise of king and people to new heights.

Consequently, Godfrey lays out this form of the Psalms this way:

Book One: The King’s Confidence in God’s Care
Book Two: The King’s Commitment to God’s Kingdom
Book Three: The King’s Crisis over God’s Promises
Book Four: The King’s Comfort in God’s Faithfulness
Book Five: The King’s Celebration of God’s Salvation [pp.41-42]

It would be helpful for us to think about and “test” this structure of the Psalms in our own reading and study of this important section of God’s Word. What do you find to be true? And how is this order helpful to you?

Psalter-app-DV-2017On another related matter, I want to make you aware of a new app for the PRC Psalter – the songbook used in the PRC based on the book of Psalms. Jonathan Vermeer, a member of our Hope PRC, has developed this fine tool for use on your Android device (laptop, tablet, smartphone). The app includes lyrics and tunes to all of our Psalter numbers and links to the Psalms themselves (Bible Gateway). Plus, it has a special “night mode” setting for use in the dark (as, for example, for campfire singing).

You will find it in the Google Play store at this link. Check it out – I have it on my phone and love it!

2017 in light of “1984” (the book, that is) – G. Orwell

This past week at a quartet practice (Voices of Victory), we were discussing the current events in our country, particularly the “progressives'” attempt to erase U.S. history through the destruction of monuments and the rewriting of history books. It was then that one of our members pointed out a powerful quotation he had seen that day from George Orwell’s book 1984.

This is what he had seen posted:

Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.

Certainly has a strikingly familiar ring to it, does it not?

There is, of course, also a biblical perspective on these times:

And because iniquity [lawlessness] shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. (Matt.24:12)

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. (2 Tim.3:1-5)

Which means, we are called to live in hope of the coming of our great Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, with eager waiting and careful watching:

And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. (Luke 21:34-36)

The Rare-Book Thief Who Looted College Libraries in the ’80s – Atlas Obscura

Our post today may not be a very funny “Friday Fun” item, but it sure is strange and interesting.

Read on about the man who eluded librarians, library security, and police for years, stealing nearly half a million dollars worth of rare books from college and seminary libraries, wiping away marks of previous ownership, and reselling them to unsuspecting booksellers.

Below is the beginning of this tale of library-book terror, followed by a picture of one of the 19th-century travel books the clever cleptomaniac confiscated.

On the evening of December 7, 1981, Dianne Melnychuk, serials librarian at the Haas Library at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, noticed an unfamiliar gray-haired man of early middle age lingering around the card catalog near her desk. He had attempted to appear inconspicuous by way of nondescript, almost slovenly dress, but at almost six-and-a-half feet tall, with a 225-pound frame, he stood out.

Something about him rang a bell. Melnychuk discreetly followed him up to the sixth level of the stacks, and carefully observed him from the end of a row of shelving. In spite of the glasses he wore that evening, his face clicked in her memory.

A little later the article tells us more about this infamous book thief and how he plied his trade:

Far from casual, James Shinn’s approach was premeditated. It is believed that he would compile a “want list” of valuable books by reading library journals to find titles of value. Next, he would scan the National Union Catalog to determine which libraries held the desired items. He made an extensive study of library security techniques that allowed him to accumulate tools and tricks to avoid them. And he rarely bothered with a book valued under $300.

To finish reading this fascinating story, visit the link below.

Source: The Rare-Book Thief Who Looted College Libraries in the ’80s – Atlas Obscura

Published in: on August 25, 2017 at 4:02 PM  Leave a Comment