The true meaning of love.

This post concerns dating but much more.

I Corinthians 13 teaches that love is patient and not self-seeking. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres and never fails.

“Like the Corinthian Christians we have two styles of love to choose from-God’s or the world’s.”

As Christians we are to model God’s love to the watching world.

When dating we ought to model God’s love.

“All the world’s deception flow from the belief that love is primarily for the fulfillment and comfort of self.

Next we are told love is a feeling but our feelings by themselves don’t do others one bit of good.

Third we are told love is beyond our control, a passion.

For the person practicing the self-centred, feelings-governed, beyond-my-control love of the world, God’s definition can be as startling as an unexpected slap in the face.

God takes us to the foot of a tree on which a naked and bloodied man hangs and says, “This is love.”

God always defines love by pointing to his son.

Christ taught that love is not for the fulfillment of self but for the glory of God and the good of others.” ie love is God and others-centred.

Adapted with quotes from “I kissed dating goodbye” by Joshua Harris.

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Delight

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In Proverbs 8:30 we read “I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him;” Wisdom personified, who is Christ, always was and always will be the Father’s delight.This is reinforced in Isaiah 42:1 “Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.” Since the elect are in Christ, the church (Zion) is also God’s delight Isaiah 62:4 “Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.” God delights in his covenant bride and she delights in his salvation, Isaiah 61:10 “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.” Thus he delights in his church and in each of his children, Proverbs 11:20 “They that are of a froward heart are abomination to the LORD: but such as are upright in their way are his delight.” Proverbs 12:22 “Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight.” Our prayers delight him, Proverbs 15:8 “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright is his delight.” On our part, our fellow saints delight us, Psalm 16:3 “But to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight.” God himself of course delights us, Psalm 37:4 “Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” Finally we delight in his word and precepts, Psalm 112:1” Praise ye the LORD. Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD, that delighteth greatly in his commandments.” Christianity is a religion of mutual covenant delight between the triune God and his people.

 

God delights in the way of his saints!

Rev. Martin VanderWal
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Pastor of  Wingham Protestant Reformed Church, Wingham, Ontario, Canada.

Daily Meditation

30 January 2014″For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the wicked shall perish.” Psalm 1:6The first, little word of this verse tells us that we arrive at the root of this entire Psalm. This last verse is the reason for the blessedness of the man whose “delight is in the law of the Lord.” This last verse is also the reason why “the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, or sinners in the congregation of the righteous.”

No mere laws of nature are we meant to observe in operation here. Nor are we meant to speak merely of circumstances with their own outcome, only an unbreakable chain of cause and effect. Why is the righteous so blessed? Why is the righteous well compared to a tree planted by the rivers of water? Why is it that whatever he does shall prosper? “The Lord knoweth the way of the righteous.”

Why, in turn, are the ungodly “like the chaff which the wind driveth away,” so different in their end from the righteous? Why do the ungodly perish in their judgment, banished from the gathering of the righteous? God will not know them. “The way of the ungodly shall perish.”

What a stark difference we find in this last verse!

“The Lord knoweth the way of the righteous.”

What blessed knowledge this is! This is a knowledge of friendship and fellowship. The Lord studies that way. He delights to know it thoroughly and intimately. He delights in every step of the righteous in the way that they take. He delights in the meditations of their hearts. He delights in the conversations they hold. He delights in their labours. He rejoices to guide them and keep them, making each one “like a tree planted by the rivers of water.” He loves to make each one prosperous through the works of his hands.

His knowledge of that way is also by His own walk in it. He walks with the righteous in their way. He graces them with His own companionship and fellowship. Step by step, turn by turn, he constantly remains with them, blessing them with His loving friendship. He is near to them.

But the Lord’s knowledge goes even deeper and is more intimate. The Lord knows the way of the righteous because He Himself has set the righteous on it. In grace He has designed that way and the righteous who should walk in that way, from eternity. By His Spirit He turns His elect into that way of righteousness, and guides and keeps them on it. Without His work, they would only turn aside from it into every path of sin and evil. His knowledge is a knowledge of sovereign grace.

In stark contrast is the way of the ungodly. Their way is completely set apart from the way of the righteous. So far apart is it, that Scripture is completely silent about the Lord’s knowledge of that way. So abhorrent and loathsome is their way, that the Lord will not know it. He is turned from it. All the Lord’s knowledge identified with the way of the righteous is wholly absent from the way of the ungodly.

Instead, “the way of the ungodly shall perish.” They shall walk in their way. They shall carry on in their lives, their homes and businesses. As they carry on, they may certainly increase in riches and honour among men. They may bask in the glow of men’s praises for their accomplishments. But the end is near: the way of the ungodly shall perish. It shall perish under the wrath of God against them. The word used by the Hebrew refers to the destruction not of annihilation, but of complete desolation and loss. It is the destructive power of hell, the place to which the way of the ungodly always leads, one way with one end.

There is then only one way for us to take. One way to follow, one way to which we must cling. One way for us to seek God’s grace to keep it. The way of blessing, the way of delight in the law of the Lord. The way He knows. May that way be ours today!

Prince of the power of the air.

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“ Prince of the power of the air” is a name given to Satan in Ephesians 2:2 . What on earth does it mean?   I think John Gill gives a good explanation in his commentary. ….” which is not to be understood of any supposed power the devil has over the air, by divine permission, to raise winds, but of a posse, or body of devils, who have their residence in the air…that the air is full of demons: now there is a prince who is at the head of these, called Beelzebub, the prince of devils, or the lord of a fly, for the devils under him are as so many flies in the air, (Matthew 12:24) and by the Jews called  “the prince of spirits”; and is here styled, the Spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience; by which spirit is meant, not the lesser devils that are under the prince, nor the spirit of the world which comes from him, and is not of God; but Satan himself, who is a spirit, and an evil, and an unclean one; and who operates powerfully in unbelievers, for they are meant by children of disobedience, or unbelief, and over these Satan has great influence, especially the reprobate part of them; whose minds he blinds, and whose hearts he fills, and puts it into them to do the worst of crimes; and indeed, he has great power over the elect themselves, while in unbelief, and leads them captive at his will; and these may be said in their unregeneracy to walk after him, when they imitate him, and do his lusts, and comply with what he suggests, dictates to them, or tempts them to.”  But thank God he  translated us into the kingdom of his son.

Prayer and fasting

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Notes from CPRC Bible Study  Tues Jan 28th with Rev Garry Eriks

Background reading click

This is Standard Bearer Vol 81,Issue 17 article by Rev. Ron Hanko.

  1. Is fasting demanded of a Christian today? (Matt.9:14-17, 6:16-18)?

Fasting is not commanded but it is clear from Christ’s words that he assumed his followers would do it after his ascension. The new wineskins is the thankful knowledge that the Saviour has come and redeemed us and will come again, whereas the old wineskins represent  the longing for and looking forward to the suffering saviour to come. Hanko goes as far as to say it is a spiritual duty and a necessity.

2. What is fasting? (is it dieting, giving up beef for a day, not eating or drinking)? Consider the different ways it was practiced in the Bible.

 

First mention is Exodus 24:18 when Moses was up Mount Sinai for forty days, then arguably Joshua 7:6 when the Israelites had been defeated at Ai. Then The Israelites after the outrage at Gibeah when slaughtered by the Benjamites in Judges 20:26. We have other examples of individuals with David, II Samuel 12:16,21 and Daniel 9:3 and 10:2,3. We have  groups after Saul’s death I Sam.31:13,II Sam.1:12, Esther and the Jews in Esther 4:3,15, before the return to Jerusalem with Ezra 8:21, of a whole city Nineveh Jonah 3:5 and of the nation of Judah under Jehoshaphat in II Chron.20:3. There were set times (Zech. 8:19). In the New Testament we have Christ in the wilderness in Matthew 4, Cornelius in Acts 10:30, the church leaders at Antioch Acts 13:2 and in other towns of Asia Minor in Acts 14:23, Paul on numerous occasions as per  II Cor.6:5 and 11:27.

From all these instances we gather:

a)      It may be personal and secret (as Christ instructed) or it may involve others , church, church leaders, friends or even the nation.

b)      It varied in how strict it was. Daniel and his three friends just abstained from rich food but at another time and in the case of Moses and Christ they ate nothing at all but drunk water.

c)       It may have lasted a day (Day of atonement, under Samuel I Sam.7:6) most likely evening till next evening, three weeks (Daniel) or 40 days (Christ).

d)      How often?  It may be regular as is our giving and praying (Matthew 6) or occasional (see point  2)

3. What is the purpose of fasting? What do we learn from it? We must do it for the right reasons.

Everything in the physical world teaches us spiritual lessons. God has made our bodies need food but as he states in Deuteronomy 8:3 we are taught that we need spiritual food even more, and that the spiritual food is the word of God, namely Christ (John 6:53-58) who is represented by the manna Israel were given. It is right and good to be hungry physically and spiritually (Psalm 42). Job esteemed God’s word above even his food. Food can be an idol. The giver must be esteemed more than the gift.

Another fundamental truth taught in Scripture is that we are to fast from sin and selfishness and give to others Isaiah 58:6,7.

The instances leading to fasting in Scripture are:

a)      To afflict the soul, show sorrow and repentance Nehemiah 9:1,Psalm 69:10, Joel 2:12.

b)      To express ardent desire Psalm 35:13, Neh.1:4, Cornelius.

c)       When an important decision was to be made eg choice of disciples, installing elders, commissioning missionaries (Acts 13:2 etc)

d)      To spend time in prayer  I Cor.7:5

e)      When national disaster was a threat in war or pestilence (Jehoshaphat).

4. Wrong reasons for fasting.

Pride , works righteousness, ritual  and ostentation as with the Pharisee in Luke 18:12

For selfish reasons, “ pressurize God “ or twist his arm, manipulate him or  cause strife as in Isaiah 58:3-6.

The nastiest instance was Jezebel’s call to fast that ended in Naboth’s death (I Kings 21).

To diet or lose weight.

The heart has to be right. We fast with an eye to God and his glory.

5. Why is fasting associated with prayer? What is their relationship?

All prayer is the expression of need and dependence on God. It is also a sacrifice as it takes time, effort and self-denial ie it is a battle with our flesh. Fasting is prayer’s twin because in a  similar way it humbles the flesh, shows where our priorities lie, increases our alertness and weans us from the world.

To make the opportunity to pray and fast we may need to be off work (or do it on the Lord’s Day) and abstain from other pleasures including marital sex. Those who are weak and have chronic illness may well have to forego the rigours of this discipline. Fasting does make us weak (Psalm 109:24) and it is a good idea to drink perhaps orange juice, rather than water for a few calories during the fast.

6. Spiritual dangers.

Pride and vainglory-hence the need generally to keep it secret. But it’s good to do it with your spouse.

Thinking that you merit with God or deserve answers. All our merit is in Christ and we are heard for his sake.

7. Are there times in our lives or in the life of the church when it might be good to practice fasting and prayer? (Note that the word fasting was mentioned alongside prayer in the PRCA Church Order Article 66 in bygone days!)

When making major decisions eg appointment of pastor, elders or missionaries.

When  great spiritual or physical danger threatens eg persecution, major sin or scandal in the church.

National emergency (government would call this)

 

 

 

 

Hyssop

Psalm 51:7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

How?

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Hyssop, a plant, the dry stems and leaves of which would absorb blood and allow it to be sprinkled was used to be dipped in the blood of the atoning sacrifice and sprinkled on the people to purify them.

Hebrews 9:19 For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people,
9:20 Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you.9:21 Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry.9:22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.

The same hyssop was used to dip in the blood of the Passover Lamb and sprinkled on the doorposts of each Israelite house in the first Passover in Israel’s redemption

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Exodus 12:21 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover.12:22 And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the basin; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning.12:23 For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.12:24 And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever.

What does this teach us NT believers? Well to me it clearly speaks of the blood of sprinkling that saves us I Peter 1:2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. Thus sprinkling as the proper mode of baptism AND whole families were covered by that blood on the doorposts, hence family and infant baptism!

 

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The reality signified is of course the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on God’s elect and covenant people of all ages in the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost.

 

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Adaptation

Evolution is the hypothesis that all animal life over millions of years evolved to produce every present species on the planet by natural selection and mutation. It has never been and never will be proven.  The study of  natural history is one of an amazing range of animals and plants all uniquely adapted to their habitat and their place in the ecological system.

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When I saw these baby Chinese alligators on TV last night on a beautiful documentary on “Wild China” this is what I thought. Some caring Chinese woman rears them from the egg till they are able to be released and fend for themselves as they are an endangered species. For as they say in China, “We will eat everything that has legs except a table and everything that has wings except a plane!”

In his prayer at CPRC this morning Rev Stewart spoke of the glory of Christ by whom are all things adapted (as creator of them) and for whom are all things (as to their purpose in glorifying him). When God wanted to teach Job deep lessons about his dealings with him he pointed to his work in creation. Surely God’s people should be students of nature. Psalm 111:2 “The works of the LORD are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein.”

So what does this have to teach us his people?  It means we are made and adapted for a specific purpose too. Psalm 139:16 “Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written (even the days that were ordained for me), which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.” Ephesians 2:10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” You and I in our family, work, leisure and especially our churches and the wider body of Christ, have been made and fashioned and our days so fashioned by who our parents were, our education, our experiences, to make us exactly adapted for our usefulness in glorifying Christ. Through our lifetimes his purposes will be revealed and by his grace we will obediently fulfill them. 

Biblical Self-Esteem

CHRISTIAN SELF-ESTEEM
A proper self-esteem extends to the body of a Christian as well as the soul. Besides that, as a believer, I know that God in His sovereignty has so arranged my life in all its circumstances that all that I am and everything that belongs to my place and circumstances has been determined in that love of God for me so that I need not be discontented about any aspect of my circumstances. Every believer must know or evaluate himself or herself this way. You may not deny these things. Believing the gospel, you must believe these things about yourself. And this is why we may and must love ourselves. When Jesus says that the second commandment of the law, like to the first, is this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” clearly He implies that we do love and esteem ourselves. -Prof. David J. Engelsma

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These are the aspects of a proper, positive, Christian self-esteem. First, as a believer, I may and must know myself to be chosen by God and, therefore, as precious to God. God has loved me from eternity. Second, as a believer, I may and must know myself as redeemed, not with silver or gold, but with the precious blood of God’s own Son in our flesh, and, therefore, as precious to the Lord Jesus Christ. Third, as a believer, I know myself as regenerated and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. I am, therefore, a new creature in Christ. I possess the life of the risen Jesus Christ Himself. I am the temple of God. The image of God bas been restored in me. Nothing less than this belongs to the proper Christian self-image. Fourth, as a believer, I am justified by faith and, therefore, am accepted of God. I am not guilty; and I am not worthy of hell or of any condemnation. Fifth, as a believer, I have been adopted by God and, therefore, am a son of the God of heaven and earth and am heir of all things. I am no child of the devil. Sixth, as a believer, I am sanctified and, therefore, am actually good with the pure, spotless goodness of the Holy Spirit. And my walk, my life, as the apostle says so plainly in the first couple of chapters of I Peter, is an excellent, noble walk and life in the world. Seventh, as a believer, I am destined for glory, soul, but also body. A proper self-esteem extends to the body of a Christian as well as the soul. Besides that, as a believer, I know that God in His sovereignty has so arranged my life in all its circumstances that all that I am and everything that belongs to my place and circumstances has been determined in that love of God for me so that I need not be discontented about any aspect of my circumstances. Every believer must know or evaluate himself or herself this way. You may not deny these things. Believing the gospel, you must believe these things about yourself. And this is why we may and must love ourselves. When Jesus says that the second commandment of the law, like to the first, is this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” clearly He implies that we do love and esteem ourselves. This proper Christian self-esteem makes the self-esteem of a Rogers or a Schuller ridiculous in comparison. I reject the self-esteem of Robert Schuller because that does not exalt me nearly highly enough. That is miserably poor in comparison with the honor and the excellency that are the believer’s in the gospel of Jesus Christ. But this proper self-esteem comes out of the gospel. This self-esteem, then, is not pride, but humble, thankful acceptance in faith of the goodness of God to us. This self-esteem is not natural, but that which is ours in Christ. This self-esteem is not a self-esteem that denies sin, but a self-esteem that is rooted in Christ’s victory over sin and in Christ’s covering of sin. Because this self-esteem comes out of the gospel, I prefer not to define proper Christian self-esteem as my own regard of myself as good and as my own affirmation of myself. Rather, I would define proper Christian self-esteem this way: Proper Christian self-esteem is God’s regard of me as good and beloved. It is God’s judgment of me in the gospel as forgiven and as adopted as His son. It is God’s acceptance of me in mercy. And it is my thankful, humble reception of that verdict and acceptance and esteem of God in a true faith. Is self-esteem proper for a Christian? Yes. And it is important. But it must be the self-esteem that the gospel gives. And the way to have this self-esteem is always to be believing the gospel. This self-esteem, then, is proper only for the Christian. The topic that was given me puts it exactly correctly, “Is good self-esteem proper for Christians?” And it is proper for Christians only because of what Christians are by grace, and not by nature. Proper self-esteem is important. The Bible gives us this self-esteem. The Bible calls us elect. The Bible assures us of our redemption. The Bible reminds us that we are children of God with an excellent walk in the midst of the ugliness and shamefulness of the world. The Bible wants us to know that we are different from the corrupt and God-denying world and that our walk is different from that dark walk. Besides, if one lacks this proper self-esteem, he or she will be swallowed up in doubt, in self-hatred, and in fear, so that his or her Christian life is crippled, if it is not hindered altogether. With this proper, positive self-esteem obtained from the gospel, the believer even has a proper “possibility-thinking.” The apostle writes in Philippians 4 (and this holds true for every Christian) “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me,” referring, of course, to all of those things that belong to the Christian calling and life. There can be an improper self-esteem among Christians in the church. Sometimes, for example, there are church members who despise and hate themselves for their sins, or for some particular sin in the past, or for some especially vile passion that is working within them. They despise and hate themselves for these sins as though these sins were not forgiven and as though the cross of Christ was not sufficient to blot out those sins. Then these poor, miserable people live without the peace and the comfort of the gospel. Or there may be members in the church who have a contempt for themselves because they are earthly failures – failures as human beings count failures. They are down on themselves because they are not smart enough, or because they are not rich enough, or because they are not handsome enough, or because they are not athletic enough. This is not true, Christian humility. This is not the self-abasement that is proper and healthy. Theirs is a definitely improper self-image. This points out that the church must be very careful to teach a proper self-esteem. The church must preach sin; but it must also preach pardon and the overcoming of sin by the blood and Spirit of Jesus Christ. It is not only the pulpit that can make serious mistakes here, with destructive consequences in the lives of certain members of the church. But also the saints themselves can be at fault here. God’s people, we, the members of the congregation, must be careful not to inculcate upon other members of the church a destructive, improper self-image by our attitudes. We must not leave the impression with each other that what really counts, even in the Christian life, is earthly success. Nor may we show the attitude that some who have fallen into even a gross, public sin have to carry the stigma of that gross, public sin forever, even when they have repented and been forgiven. There is still, sometimes, the tendency to pin the scarlet letter on the Hester Prynnes in the fellowship of the church. Parents must guard against leaving the impression with our children that what really matters with us is their intelligence, their looks, their popularity, their athletic prowess, and their earthly success. What we are teaching them then is something that is contradicted by the gospel we believe. We are teaching them that we accept them on the basis of their works. This is contrary to the gospel of justification and acceptance by faith in Jesus Christ alone. Then we are busy raising proud children who can perform these works, or despairing children who find themselves unable to accomplish these works. We must be clear in our own minds, and we must clearly show to our children, that what ultimately matters with us is that they are covenant children in very deed, adopted children of God who believe in Jesus Christ for salvation and who walk, imperfectly, but victoriously in obedience to the commandments of God. Also when we discipline our children, we must be very careful to show them that our anger is against their sin or against them on account of their sin and not against their person as such. Then we do not say such things to them, even under extreme provocation, as, “You rotten, evil child, you.” And when we are disciplining, we are also showing the way out from sin and shame, which is the way of repentance, so that immediately we receive them back again into our fellowship. I only mention in passing, that it is also possible that husbands and wives, even in the church, rather than to build each other up, can live with each other wickedly so that, I will not say they destroy the other’s self-esteem (you cannot do that to a child of God – God’s word is victorious) nevertheless, they can tear at each other’s self-esteem and damage it dreadfully. Prof. David J. Engelsma
http://www.prca.org/pamphlets/pamphlet_57.html

I Kissed Dating Goodbye

 

 

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 Book Review

Author: Joshua Harris. Multnomah Books 2003 (2nd Ed) paperback 215 pages
ISBN 1-59052-135-8. £8.99 (UK)
I really believe that many believers, and dare I add pastors, elders and parents have missed out by not knowing about or reading this refreshing book on relationships between the sexes. It is revolutionary for those who think that the world’s way of dating is the only way to find a mate. I do also believe that in Reformed churches too many just accept dating, albeit with modifications, as the norm.
Joshua Harris, a young single man of only 21 when he first wrote the book, using excellent illustrative true stories from his own life and that of others alongside wise Biblical principles to guide the young person through the minefield of boy-girl attraction and courtship towards marriage. Having been “blown up “ himself a few times he wisely decided he was doing it all wrong, kissed dating goodbye and went as far as precluding even kissing his potential life partner till the day of commitment! Now that is radical!
The fact is, many Christian young people through ignorance and selfishness are living in sinful relationships with the opposite sex that are frankly a bad witness and highly displeasing to God. Dating is a dangerous game in which most lose the battle against sexual temptation, violating brothers’ and sisters’ purity and hurting them in the process especially in the likely event of an eventual break up.
His thesis is that the whole attitude and aim of young people must be Christ-centred and not relationship-centred. We must aim to please our Saviour and love our brethren and the opposite sex with true Christian love which means doing what is best for them! He states, “ I’ve come to realize that while friendships with the opposite sex are great, I have no business asking for a girl’s heart and exclusive affections if I’m not ready to consider marriage.” Love, he reminds us, is expressed in self-control, patience and is not self-seeking. The world’s deception is that love exists primarily for the fulfilment and comfort of self and that it’s a feeling, beyond our control. In contrast, God’s love is found at the foot of a tree on which a naked, bloodied man hangs and dies. God defines love by always pointing to his son. God teaches us that love is for his glory and the good of others and Harris says by applying these truths he found real joy. He uncovered the peace and power that came from purity. He exposes the heart of dating, “We date because we want to enjoy the emotional and physical benefits of intimacy without the responsibility of real commitment.” Dating, he rightly states, grew out of a culture that celebrates self-centredness and immorality. Marriage is the God-given covenant binding commitment in which a man and woman having made a public promise to love each other for life, can then enjoy the deepest intimacy. “God’s true love clashes with dating as we know it.” He goes further saying that dating doesn’t really prepare us for marriage but rather it can be a training ground for divorce! Short-term relationships are not practice for lifelong commitment. He lists the dangers of dating which include a dangerous exclusivity and artificiality rather than real life context togetherness which courtship can foster.
He majors on the positives of the single life and pursuing God’s kingdom while trusting him for our spouse. He clearly states that only the commitment of marriage gives two people the right to express themselves sexually to each other. He rightly advises pursuing friendships and fellowship in church until the time you are ready for marriage. In this situation he says we must understand the difference between friendship and intimacy, be inclusive, prioritize same-sex friendships and serve others rather than seek empty entertainment. Prepare by deepening relationships with family, others of same sex, being a good steward of finances and practicing parenthood and life skills. He gives good advice as to what to look for in a potential spouse and guidance as to when it is right to go beyond friendship and move into serious courtship. He emphasizes the need to set and abide by the highest standards in courtship. At the end of the book he mentions the sequel entitled “Boy meets girl” which he says will major on courtship and it is highly instructive that since he wrote the first book he himself has moved through all the steps and actually married and has two children. I look forward to reading it and seeing what he proposes is the Biblical alternative to dating. It’s also worth noting he also has written “Sex is not the problem lust is” which is another on my “to read “list. Can I heartily recommend this to all single youth in the Reformed churches, to parents with teenagers coming to this juncture in their lives, and to all who are involved in the pastoral care of young people. I, for one, believe Reformed young people should “kiss dating goodbye”.

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