Marriage-a lifelong bond!

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Has God’s standard for marriage changed over time?

We have to say NO because God is one and his law is one and eternal. The seventh commandment safeguards one man-one woman for life, reflecting his covenant with his bride, the church.

But some churches allow divorce and remarriage!

They cause their people to sin:

Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.” Jesus in Luke 16:18

And adulterers will NOT enter the kingdom of heaven (I Cor.6:9).

So why polygamy and allowing divorce in OT?

New International Bible Dictionary states regarding polygamy, ” It would seem that God left it to man to discover by experience that his original institution of monogamy was the proper relationship.” It always brought trouble of some kind. Moses SUFFERED the ungodly Israelites to divorce and remarry because of the hardness of their hearts, same could be said of divorce and remarriage laws in our land today, all of which will be followed by the ungodly and the backslidden church member. There will ALWAYS be consequences and suffering when the ideal is not followed but God’s standard for his people and for society has never changed. What Christ said about it stands as God’s standard for all time.

This leaflet needs shared widely especially in churches who use the Westminster  Confession as their creed.

http://hopeprc.org/resources/uploads/2016/03/The-Marriage-Bond-is-a-Lifelong-Bond.pdf

 

Pastoral Care among Teenagers

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Pastoral Care Among Teenagers

By Key Steven R, in Article

Protestant Reformed Standard Bearer Volume 69/1993  Issue: 11, 3/1/1993

PREVIOUS ARTICLE

Rev. Key is pastor of the Protestant Reformed Church of Randolph, Wisconsin.

As officebearers at this time in history we have much work cut out for us when it comes to necessary pastoral care among our youth. Let me add to that: It is important first of all that we take our calling seriously as overseers of the whole flock, including (I dare say, especially) our youth. Secondly, in this day when many scriptural principles are forsaken for theories of modern psychology, I would emphasize that we can only provide proper and profitable pastoral care by strict adherence to the principles of Scripture. But Scripture requires of pastors and elders especially that they provide spiritual direction and counsel for the youth of the church. That is not to overlook, and certainly not to exclude, the calling and responsibility that parents have toward the children God has placed within their own home. But we look now beyond the parental calling to that calling which is ours as officebearers, particularly as elders and pastors in churches with large numbers of young people.

Necessary Labors

Although all teenagers must go through the struggles and difficulties of adolescence and require careful instruction and leadership by home and church, there are a few who require the special attention of pastors and elders. And though their number be still small in comparison to the many young people in our churches, one wonders if we do not see an increase of such cases in our day. I think we do. It would stand to reason. Our young people today face open temptations that were not faced by us who are only one generation older.  The temptations were’ always there. Young people have always been tempted to rebel against authority figures -be it the temptation to defy the rules set down by parents, or teachers; or to get away with violating certain laws of the land. All generations have faced the temptations of alcohol abuse and fornication, to mention but two others. Peer pressure is as old as society itself. But in no other age have these temptations been so open and the attacks so violent against the innocency of Christian youth.  What was considered shameful just 20 years ago is now accepted matter-of-factly. Behavior that once was unacceptable even to unbelievers is now considered a part of growing up. To mention one example: some time ago I had an opportunity to work with two young men in their late teens, one of non-Christian background and the other nominally Christian. When these boys reached their middle teenage years, their parents actually encouraged them to go out and find an attractive girl with whom they could go to bed. They needed to find out what sex was all about. Now, you know that those parents had not been taught that in their youth. But the open fornication seen and accepted in our society has so influenced the thinking of people, even nominally Christian and church-going people, that they actually encourage their children to fornicate with the world!  Our young people can go into any number of gas stations and convenience stores or book stores, and see pornographic material displayed right in front of their eyes. The development of the VCR in the past ten years, and the proliferation of video stores, has put within the reach of our young people any number of reprobate movies. Sad to say, the watching of video-taped movies within the family rooms of Protestant Reformed homes has reportedly become quite widespread. Advertising and television programming makes illicit sex glamorous, and puts increased pressure on youth to “join the crowd and get in on the action” -whether that be drinking beer to attract handsome men or beautiful women, or buying clothing and automobiles way beyond our earthly means (and to the neglect of our support of God’s kingdom), or having sex outside the marriage bond.  Prosperity abounds in our day. This also has made a solid spiritual life all the more difficult for our young people. And when their parents set an example of running after every earthly idol and making a god out of pleasure (II Tim. 3:4), it is no wonder that with increasing numbers children are showing signs of deep-seated spiritual disease.  We point out another factor causing an increase in troubled youth. Our churches have not escaped the breakdown of the family structure that has reached epidemic proportions in our society. The sad fact is that there are in our churches more and more children that are being raised in single-parent situations, whose stable home life has been tom to pieces by the devastation of divorce.  All of these factors, in conjunction with the depravity of our natures, gives increase to the problems seen among our young people today. And the problems are real. It is easy as pastors and elders to bury our heads in the sand. After all, unless we have our finger firmly pressed against the pulse of our congregations, we will be the last to know about the sins with which our youth are struggling. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. But ignorance cannot address the issues properly or effectively.

Addressing the Problem

When it comes to addressing the problems seen among our youth, not to be overlooked is the preventive care essential in maintaining spiritual health among our young people. Foremost in preventive care is the faithful preaching of the Word. It is no mere coincidence that in churches where the faithful preaching of the Word has fallen by the wayside, there are multitudes of young people who show the effects of spiritual malnutrition, or have already spiritually died.  Solid preaching has a twofold effect upon the church’s teenagers.  In the first place, such preaching bears the fruits of spiritual youth. It should not be necessary to expand upon this particular point among us. Let us remember, though, that God has ordained the faithful preaching of the gospel as the means of salvation and strengthening not only of adults, but children and young people. Those regenerated children who sit under faithful preaching having been taught by their parents the need for attentiveness, will themselves grow spiritually and show fruits of spirituality.  But in the second place, preaching which is faithful in its exposition of the Scriptures and the calling Christ has given the church also bears as fruit a strong family life in the church. Where a church has been blessed by sound preaching for any length of time, there will be found a church characterized by families that are faithful in their calling within the home. And when we speak about preventive pastoral care among young people, essential is a family life characterized by spiritual-mindedness and an openness to speak about spiritual things and to live in a spiritual way.  Additional preventive medicine is to be administered in our catechism classes. Ministers do well to use those classes not only for solid biblical instruction in doctrine, but also to try to build a rapport with the young people. Here is an area where a longer stay in a pastorate is beneficial – when a relationship can be established beginning already when the children are young. But even in a new pastorate, the minister can make catechism a place very beneficial toward building a healthy relationship with the youth of the church. Openness needs to be encouraged. In this setting, doctrine may be applied very particularly and discussion encouraged. Especially in areas where we do not have our own Christian high schools or where we have catechumens going to college, our youth run into particular difficulties either from a doctrinal point of view or in practice. If opportunity is given them to ask questions of a general nature at the end of the class, or if there is an open relationship between pastor (or elder) and young people, there may be an opportunity for conversation even after the conclusion of the catechism class. Finally, still in the area of preventive medicine, we ought not be hesitant as elders or pastors to establish friendships with the church’s young people. Establishing a friendship does not detract from the God ordained authoritative function of the office. Rather it puts the office in the best possible light and makes the exercise of the office all the more effective. When a teenager sees an elder as a friend who is truly spiritual, and who cares for him in all areas of his life, that teenager will have much appreciation for that officebearer of God. And such a relationship between an elder and a young person also has residual effects. It will be appreciated by godly parents, and noticed as well by the young person’s companions and friends – with whom you, as an elder, may have opportunity to build more relationships.  Cleland Boyd McAfee, in his book The Ruling Elder, published by the Presbyterian Board of Christian Education in 1931, wrote: When young people feel at home in the church, especially on the terms of real spiritual relationships, the strongest type of church develops…. In this relation to young people the session (consistory, SK) cannot be too watchful.”  It is a mistake to suppose that young people object to true spirituality. We must not be afraid to use the Scriptures in our labors with youth. At the same time, there is no age group more sensitive to and contemptuous toward inconsistency in religious practice, which they will quickly term “hypocrisy.” They may not be so quick to see it in themselves, but you may be sure they will see it in others, and especially officebearers, if it is there to see. Here, as in all our labors, a godly walk is essential.  When Peter wrote to the elders of the church (I Pet. 5:1-4), he did not pen an empty phrase, when he called us to be examples to the flock. And when the writer to the Hebrews calls Gods people to follow the faith of the elders, considering the end of their conversation (Heb. 13:7), the clear implication is that elders must set a good example for the flock. That godly example is of particular importance in our labors with young people, who, in all their striving for independence, are still looking to others for examples. True spirituality among officebearers will also serve as a good vaccine among the youth, provoking many unto good works and genuine Christian piety.  But administering preventive medicine is only part of the calling of the pastor and elder. There are cases that arise in any church where a young person suffers from a spiritual malady that is beyond the effects of preventive medicine. These cases must be treated not only by the pastor, but also by the elders of the church.

Dealing With Specific and Individual Problems

In such cases several things are worthy of note.  A relationship of trust is essential. And when I speak of a relationship of trust, I refer to the fact that the young man or young woman with whom we labor must have a trust toward us. There are some young people, especially those with serious problems, who will not allow a relationship of trust. But if there is to be positive fruit upon our labors with any individual, a relationship of trust must first be established. And crucial to such trust is the knowledge that we deal in confidentiality. In many cases it is necessary that a consistory be fully or partially informed about the labors with an individual. But where that is so, we had better be sure that such matters are kept within the walls of the consistory room. Woe to those elders or ministers who violate the trust of certain individuals by making private matters public and who spread confidential matters. Such an officebearer makes himself worthy of discipline and possibly even dismissal from the office.  Secondly, genuine spiritual concern and care for the individual must also be conveyed by us in our work with young people. This should be our constant attitude as officebearers. Nor should this be difficult, when we bear in mind the truth that Christ has given us the calling to work with those “which he hath purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). If Christ so loved His sheep, we who stand as His officebearers must love likewise. A young person who is caught in the snares of a sin or who is struggling spiritually is generally intimidated ‘by authority figures. That is especially true of men who are regarded as spiritual bulwarks. If such a young person is to hear us, he must see that we are not “out to get him,” but that we truly love him for Christ’s sake and desire his good.  We must also have a solid knowledge of the Scriptures, if we are to labor properly among troubled youth. This stands to reason. Our entire calling as officebearers is summarized in the calling to “bring the Word.” We must know our Bibles thoroughly, also searching them regularly to see what Word of God applies well to given situations and sins with which God’s young people struggle. But, more than bare knowledge, we must seek from God wisdom in how to apply the Scriptures to the given case with which we deal. Patrick Fairbairn, in his book Pastoral Theology, points out “that a pastor has often much more to do with those who seek advice from him regarding their soul’s interests than quote a few passages of Scripture and point their way to the Savior” (p. 286). Though the Scripture must serve as the foundation of all pastoral work, and must be our “tool for the trade,” that does not necessarily mean that we come with our Bibles in every situation with a passage to read and apply. Sometimes we have to be walking Bibles, simply applying the principles of Scripture, rather than quoting texts. But, in every case, searching questions need carefully to be asked, in order to provide sound spiritual guidance and instruction.  In this connection it should be added that pastors and elders need to work at and develop listening skills. It is always a danger that we speak too soon, thereby bypassing the real needs. Always we must listen carefully and seek to listen more. We must search for the deepest need. Then we apply the Word. Too often as elders and pastors we tend to deal only with the symptoms of a person’s problem. We try to correct the most obvious situation, and achieving that correction feel as if we have solved the problem. This is like giving an aspirin to a person with bone cancer. To use one illustration, when a young person’s church attendance falls off, and there is neglect of the, means of grace, we must not be hasty in focusing on that one problem. The neglect of the means of grace is always a symptom of a deeper spiritual problem. What is the deeper problem? Why the lack of desire to attend the house of God for worship? To fail to address the deeper problem is to become guilty of treating the symptoms, but neglecting the killer disease. To listen is an essential aspect of all pastoral work, but most necessary in dealing with youth.  Patience is another necessary virtue in pastoral care among teenagers. If you “blow up” in your dealings with a young person, you have just blown for good any opportunity to labor for his salvation. We must recognize that in most young people there is a certain level of immaturity and irresponsibility. This can become irritating at times. But in our care for such youth, our irritation must be suppressed. I do not mean to imply that with patience we must avoid all firm instruction and admonitions. Where there are particular sins, and a rejection of admonitions and instruction, there must be reproof given in a firm but loving manner. Patience must never prevent us from providing firm direction. But patience must be exercised with a view to the general weaknesses of youth. Immaturity and signs of irresponsibility must not anger us in a pastoral setting, so that it prevents us from dealing with the deeper issues. In addition, when we speak about patience, we must realize that the Spirit works in His children over a period of time and through consistent labors. We need patience also to wait upon the Lord, seeking His blessing upon our labors.  This, however, points to another need – that of consistency in our work Consistent labors must be given those young people in whom we observe particular problems.  It is a serious mistake, when there are concrete symptoms of spiritual illness or a sinful walk, that elders make an initial visit only to let the issue lie for several months. Though this matter reaches beyond our-work with wayward youth, it deserves emphasis. Our pastoral or disciplinary labors must be consistent and ongoing, until the person is completely restored or reveals unbelief and departs. I urge our elders to make regular and frequent visits in all cases where problems are evident. Such regular and frequent visits (at a very minimum once a month, while greater frequency is desirable in many cases) will prove to be the most effective and ultimately the least time-consuming way to do the work. A person who is walking in sin will often receive the elders of the church, if they visit only once a year or once every few months. Such a person can “put up with the elders for an hour,” if his receiving them “keeps them off his back” for another few months while he continues in his sin.  On the other hand, visits made regularly and frequently will convey to the person a sense of urgency and deep concern on the part of God’s officebearers. The effects of such consistent labor will be seen much more quickly than with inconsistent and infrequent visits. Either the person will be given by God to see the seriousness of his sin, and will be led by the Word to confess and turn from his sin in the sorrow of repentance; or he will soon refuse to see the elders that are frequently darkening his doorstep. The Word not received will become an irritant to him. For the welfare of the church I urge you elders: Bring the Word with frequency to those walking in sin or struggling with various problems.  Although such has been implied throughout this writing I want to emphasize the importance of elders becoming personally and directly involved in working with the youth of the church. The church in centuries past has recognized the importance of consistory’s laboring with the church’s youth. Article 44 of our Church Order, which speaks of the calling of the classical church visitors, requires them II to take heed whether the minister and consistory . . . properly promote as much as lies in them, through word and deed, the upbuilding of the congregation, in particular of the youth.” As a pastor I readily acknowledge that my calling is not only the pulpit ministry, but the pastoral ministry as well. Although, without question, the preaching of the Word must have the chief place in our labors as pastors, we also are called to follow the example of the apostle Paul, who ministered not only publicly, but from house to house (Acts 20:20). But let it be clearly understood, pastoral oversight is primarily the calling of the elders of the church. To you elders comes the calling of Acts 20:28, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” Not to be neglected in your pastoral oversight as elders are the youth of the church.  McAfee, in the book cited above, states that it can be most helpful in the consistory’s work with young people, that a fair number of young elders be brought into the consistory.  At the same time, he points out that an elder need not be young to have a strong relationship with the youth of the church. He writes, “In one church this natural friend of the young people was the senior elder, well in his eighties, but any young person would have gone to him as naturally with a suggestion for the session as if he had been a member of the Young People’s Society. A deeply spiritual life is not forbidding or restraining to others if it is warm and winsome” (op. cit., p. 163). At the same time, we must recognize that God gives different gifts to each of His chosen officebearers. Just as all pastors differ in gifts, so do elders. Where one elder is not as comfortable as another in caring for the afflicted, such will be the case also in caring for the youth of the church. At the same time, elders must be encouraged to develop in the labors of their office. The most difficult part of any difficult task is usually getting started. An elder who devotes himself to labors among the youth of the church will grow through those labors.  Fervent prayer is necessary in all our labors of a pastoral nature. This is a matter that can be emphasized in all areas of pastoral labor; but I will certainly emphasize it here. In dealing with difficulties among youth, and with particular individuals, you often will not know, at least initially, the problems which you must treat. For the most part, therefore, in the initial stages of working with an individual, you will not know what Scripture passages you might study in preparation for your meeting. Your preparation will be confined primarily to that of prayer. And let it be fervent prayer, prayer for wisdom, for patience, for knowledge, and for the presence of the Holy Spirit in your labors.  Finally, I must say something about laboring with rebellious and impenitent youth. The remedy of Christian discipline must, according to Scripture, be exercised also toward the young people of the church who are obstinate in their rebellion against God. That is the clear teaching of Deuteronomy 21:18-21.  There are those children of the church who, to our sorrow, do not walk in the way of Gods precepts, who reject all parental and pastoral care and instruction and show no impenitence for their sinful walk. Some of those are wayward only for a time; others go astray never to return to the shadow of the cross and the bosom of the church. We must not let our treatment of such young people be governed merely by our emotions and natural parental love. We must treat them with the love of God, which seeks God’s glory and walks in obedience to His Word and instruction. To the principle set forth in Deuteronomy 21:18-21 you and I must give heed and wholehearted obedience, lest the wrath of God rest upon us not only as families, but as a church.  The children whose example is set forth in Deuteronomy 21– young people stubborn in their sinful rebellion- are a great threat to the church’s welfare. By their carnal lives they influence other young people in the church. And if they are allowed to continue undisciplined in their rebelliousness, not only will they go to hell, but they will take the church (as an institute) with them! And although the emphasis in the text referred to is that of parental responsibility, there is clear instruction given also to the elders of the church. The elders are called to execute judgment according, to the law of God. I do not mean to imply that the elders in the New Testament church should execute God’s judgment by stoning. But they are still called to declare the sentence of death upon all who reject Christ and His Word and way. The judgment that they execute is the judgment rendered in Christian discipline, and especially by excommunication (cf. Matt. 16:19Matt. 18:15-18I Cor. 5II Thess. 3:14, 15).  After the elders have worked faithfully and have brought the Word of God to that young person, only to see the Word rejected and the heart hardened, the elders must cut off such a rebel from the church. Such discipline is, according to Gods inscrutable purpose, “the last remedy.” In certain cases God in mercy will use such discipline eventually to work repentance in the heart of him toward whom this remedy is applied. Do we love the church? Do we love the youth of the church? Then let us heed our calling in providing preventive medicine for all our youth, and surgical remedies of counseling and discipline in the individual cases where necessary. Negligence is far too prevalent today in these things. May God be pleased to use us for the strengthening of the church by the nurture of her youth.

 

Pastoral Care Among Teenagers

Pastoral Care Among Teenagers

By Key Steven R, in Standard Bearer Article

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Volume 69/1993  Issue: 11, 3/1/1993

PREVIOUS ARTICLE

Rev. Key is pastor of the Protestant Reformed Church of Randolph, Wisconsin.

As officebearers at this time in history we have much work cut out for us when it comes to necessary pastoral care among our youth. Let me add to that: It is important first of all that we take our calling seriously as overseers of the whole flock, including (I dare say, especially) our youth. Secondly, in this day when many scriptural principles are forsaken for theories of modern psychology, I would emphasize that we can only provide proper and profitable pastoral care by strict adherence to the principles of Scripture. But Scripture requires of pastors and elders especially that they provide spiritual direction and counsel for the youth of the church. That is not to overlook, and certainly not to exclude, the calling and responsibility that parents have toward the children God has placed within their own home. But we look now beyond the parental calling to that calling which is ours as officebearers, particularly as elders and pastors in churches with large numbers of young people.

Necessary Labors

Although all teenagers must go through the struggles and difficulties of adolescence and require careful instruction and leadership by home and church, there are a few who require the special attention of pastors and elders. And though their number be still small in comparison to the many young people in our churches, one wonders if we do not see an increase of such cases in our day. I think we do. It would stand to reason. Our young people today face open temptations that were not faced by us who are only one generation older.  The temptations were’ always there. Young people have always been tempted to rebel against authority figures -be it the temptation to defy the rules set down by parents, or teachers; or to get away with violating certain laws of the land. All generations have faced the temptations of alcohol abuse and fornication, to mention but two others. Peer pressure is as old as society itself. But in no other age have these temptations been so open and the attacks so violent against the innocency of Christian youth.  What was considered shameful just 20 years ago is now accepted matter-of-factly. Behavior that once was unacceptable even to unbelievers is now considered a part of growing up. To mention one example: some time ago I had an opportunity to work with two young men in their late teens, one of non-Christian background and the other nominally Christian. When these boys reached their middle teenage years, their parents actually encouraged them to go out and find an attractive girl with whom they could go to bed. They needed to find out what sex was all about. Now, you know that those parents had not been taught that in their youth. But the open fornication seen and accepted in our society has so influenced the thinking of people, even nominally Christian and church-going people, that they actually encourage their children to fornicate with the world!  Our young people can go into any number of gas stations and convenience stores or book stores, and see pornographic material displayed right in front of their eyes. The development of the VCR in the past ten years, and the proliferation of video stores, has put within the reach of our young people any number of reprobate movies. Sad to say, the watching of video-taped movies within the family rooms of Protestant Reformed homes has reportedly become quite widespread. Advertising and television programming makes illicit sex glamorous, and puts increased pressure on youth to “join the crowd and get in on the action” -whether that be drinking beer to attract handsome men or beautiful women, or buying clothing and automobiles way beyond our earthly means (and to the neglect of our support of God’s kingdom), or having sex outside the marriage bond.  Prosperity abounds in our day. This also has made a solid spiritual life all the more difficult for our young people. And when their parents set an example of running after every earthly idol and making a god out of pleasure (II Tim. 3:4), it is no wonder that with increasing numbers children are showing signs of deep-seated spiritual disease.  We point out another factor causing an increase in troubled youth. Our churches have not escaped the breakdown of the family structure that has reached epidemic proportions in our society. The sad fact is that there are in our churches more and more children that are being raised in single-parent situations, whose stable home life has been tom to pieces by the devastation of divorce.  All of these factors, in conjunction with the depravity of our natures, gives increase to the problems seen among our young people today. And the problems are real. It is easy as pastors and elders to bury our heads in the sand. After all, unless we have our finger firmly pressed against the pulse of our congregations, we will be the last to know about the sins with which our youth are struggling. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. But ignorance cannot address the issues properly or effectively.

Addressing the Problem

When it comes to addressing the problems seen among our youth, not to be overlooked is the preventive care essential in maintaining spiritual health among our young people. Foremost in preventive care is the faithful preaching of the Word. It is no mere coincidence that in churches where the faithful preaching of the Word has fallen by the wayside, there are multitudes of young people who show the effects of spiritual malnutrition, or have already spiritually died.  Solid preaching has a twofold effect upon the church’s teenagers.  In the first place, such preaching bears the fruits of spiritual youth. It should not be necessary to expand upon this particular point among us. Let us remember, though, that God has ordained the faithful preaching of the gospel as the means of salvation and strengthening not only of adults, but children and young people. Those regenerated children who sit under faithful preaching having been taught by their parents the need for attentiveness, will themselves grow spiritually and show fruits of spirituality.  But in the second place, preaching which is faithful in its exposition of the Scriptures and the calling Christ has given the church also bears as fruit a strong family life in the church. Where a church has been blessed by sound preaching for any length of time, there will be found a church characterized by families that are faithful in their calling within the home. And when we speak about preventive pastoral care among young people, essential is a family life characterized by spiritual-mindedness and an openness to speak about spiritual things and to live in a spiritual way.  Additional preventive medicine is to be administered in our catechism classes. Ministers do well to use those classes not only for solid biblical instruction in doctrine, but also to try to build a rapport with the young people. Here is an area where a longer stay in a pastorate is beneficial – when a relationship can be established beginning already when the children are young. But even in a new pastorate, the minister can make catechism a place very beneficial toward building a healthy relationship with the youth of the church. Openness needs to be encouraged. In this setting, doctrine may be applied very particularly and discussion encouraged. Especially in areas where we do not have our own Christian high schools or where we have catechumens going to college, our youth run into particular difficulties either from a doctrinal point of view or in practice. If opportunity is given them to ask questions of a general nature at the end of the class, or if there is an open relationship between pastor (or elder) and young people, there may be an opportunity for conversation even after the conclusion of the catechism class. Finally, still in the area of preventive medicine, we ought not be hesitant as elders or pastors to establish friendships with the church’s young people. Establishing a friendship does not detract from the God ordained authoritative function of the office. Rather it puts the office in the best possible light and makes the exercise of the office all the more effective. When a teenager sees an elder as a friend who is truly spiritual, and who cares for him in all areas of his life, that teenager will have much appreciation for that officebearer of God. And such a relationship between an elder and a young person also has residual effects. It will be appreciated by godly parents, and noticed as well by the young person’s companions and friends – with whom you, as an elder, may have opportunity to build more relationships.  Cleland Boyd McAfee, in his book The Ruling Elder, published by the Presbyterian Board of Christian Education in 1931, wrote: When young people feel at home in the church, especially on the terms of real spiritual relationships, the strongest type of church develops…. In this relation to young people the session (consistory, SK) cannot be too watchful.”  It is a mistake to suppose that young people object to true spirituality. We must not be afraid to use the Scriptures in our labors with youth. At the same time, there is no age group more sensitive to and contemptuous toward inconsistency in religious practice, which they will quickly term “hypocrisy.” They may not be so quick to see it in themselves, but you may be sure they will see it in others, and especially officebearers, if it is there to see. Here, as in all our labors, a godly walk is essential.  When Peter wrote to the elders of the church (I Pet. 5:1-4), he did not pen an empty phrase, when he called us to be examples to the flock. And when the writer to the Hebrews calls Gods people to follow the faith of the elders, considering the end of their conversation (Heb. 13:7), the clear implication is that elders must set a good example for the flock. That godly example is of particular importance in our labors with young people, who, in all their striving for independence, are still looking to others for examples. True spirituality among officebearers will also serve as a good vaccine among the youth, provoking many unto good works and genuine Christian piety.  But administering preventive medicine is only part of the calling of the pastor and elder. There are cases that arise in any church where a young person suffers from a spiritual malady that is beyond the effects of preventive medicine. These cases must be treated not only by the pastor, but also by the elders of the church.

Dealing With Specific and Individual Problems

In such cases several things are worthy of note.  A relationship of trust is essential. And when I speak of a relationship of trust, I refer to the fact that the young man or young woman with whom we labor must have a trust toward us. There are some young people, especially those with serious problems, who will not allow a relationship of trust. But if there is to be positive fruit upon our labors with any individual, a relationship of trust must first be established. And crucial to such trust is the knowledge that we deal in confidentiality. In many cases it is necessary that a consistory be fully or partially informed about the labors with an individual. But where that is so, we had better be sure that such matters are kept within the walls of the consistory room. Woe to those elders or ministers who violate the trust of certain individuals by making private matters public and who spread confidential matters. Such an officebearer makes himself worthy of discipline and possibly even dismissal from the office.  Secondly, genuine spiritual concern and care for the individual must also be conveyed by us in our work with young people. This should be our constant attitude as officebearers. Nor should this be difficult, when we bear in mind the truth that Christ has given us the calling to work with those “which he hath purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). If Christ so loved His sheep, we who stand as His officebearers must love likewise. A young person who is caught in the snares of a sin or who is struggling spiritually is generally intimidated ‘by authority figures. That is especially true of men who are regarded as spiritual bulwarks. If such a young person is to hear us, he must see that we are not “out to get him,” but that we truly love him for Christ’s sake and desire his good.  We must also have a solid knowledge of the Scriptures, if we are to labor properly among troubled youth. This stands to reason. Our entire calling as officebearers is summarized in the calling to “bring the Word.” We must know our Bibles thoroughly, also searching them regularly to see what Word of God applies well to given situations and sins with which God’s young people struggle. But, more than bare knowledge, we must seek from God wisdom in how to apply the Scriptures to the given case with which we deal. Patrick Fairbairn, in his book Pastoral Theology, points out “that a pastor has often much more to do with those who seek advice from him regarding their soul’s interests than quote a few passages of Scripture and point their way to the Savior” (p. 286). Though the Scripture must serve as the foundation of all pastoral work, and must be our “tool for the trade,” that does not necessarily mean that we come with our Bibles in every situation with a passage to read and apply. Sometimes we have to be walking Bibles, simply applying the principles of Scripture, rather than quoting texts. But, in every case, searching questions need carefully to be asked, in order to provide sound spiritual guidance and instruction.  In this connection it should be added that pastors and elders need to work at and develop listening skills. It is always a danger that we speak too soon, thereby bypassing the real needs. Always we must listen carefully and seek to listen more. We must search for the deepest need. Then we apply the Word. Too often as elders and pastors we tend to deal only with the symptoms of a person’s problem. We try to correct the most obvious situation, and achieving that correction feel as if we have solved the problem. This is like giving an aspirin to a person with bone cancer. To use one illustration, when a young person’s church attendance falls off, and there is neglect of the, means of grace, we must not be hasty in focusing on that one problem. The neglect of the means of grace is always a symptom of a deeper spiritual problem. What is the deeper problem? Why the lack of desire to attend the house of God for worship? To fail to address the deeper problem is to become guilty of treating the symptoms, but neglecting the killer disease. To listen is an essential aspect of all pastoral work, but most necessary in dealing with youth.  Patience is another necessary virtue in pastoral care among teenagers. If you “blow up” in your dealings with a young person, you have just blown for good any opportunity to labor for his salvation. We must recognize that in most young people there is a certain level of immaturity and irresponsibility. This can become irritating at times. But in our care for such youth, our irritation must be suppressed. I do not mean to imply that with patience we must avoid all firm instruction and admonitions. Where there are particular sins, and a rejection of admonitions and instruction, there must be reproof given in a firm but loving manner. Patience must never prevent us from providing firm direction. But patience must be exercised with a view to the general weaknesses of youth. Immaturity and signs of irresponsibility must not anger us in a pastoral setting, so that it prevents us from dealing with the deeper issues. In addition, when we speak about patience, we must realize that the Spirit works in His children over a period of time and through consistent labors. We need patience also to wait upon the Lord, seeking His blessing upon our labors.  This, however, points to another need – that of consistency in our work Consistent labors must be given those young people in whom we observe particular problems.  It is a serious mistake, when there are concrete symptoms of spiritual illness or a sinful walk, that elders make an initial visit only to let the issue lie for several months. Though this matter reaches beyond our-work with wayward youth, it deserves emphasis. Our pastoral or disciplinary labors must be consistent and ongoing, until the person is completely restored or reveals unbelief and departs. I urge our elders to make regular and frequent visits in all cases where problems are evident. Such regular and frequent visits (at a very minimum once a month, while greater frequency is desirable in many cases) will prove to be the most effective and ultimately the least time-consuming way to do the work. A person who is walking in sin will often receive the elders of the church, if they visit only once a year or once every few months. Such a person can “put up with the elders for an hour,” if his receiving them “keeps them off his back” for another few months while he continues in his sin.  On the other hand, visits made regularly and frequently will convey to the person a sense of urgency and deep concern on the part of God’s officebearers. The effects of such consistent labor will be seen much more quickly than with inconsistent and infrequent visits. Either the person will be given by God to see the seriousness of his sin, and will be led by the Word to confess and turn from his sin in the sorrow of repentance; or he will soon refuse to see the elders that are frequently darkening his doorstep. The Word not received will become an irritant to him. For the welfare of the church I urge you elders: Bring the Word with frequency to those walking in sin or struggling with various problems.  Although such has been implied throughout this writing I want to emphasize the importance of elders becoming personally and directly involved in working with the youth of the church. The church in centuries past has recognized the importance of consistory’s laboring with the church’s youth. Article 44 of our Church Order, which speaks of the calling of the classical church visitors, requires them II to take heed whether the minister and consistory . . . properly promote as much as lies in them, through word and deed, the upbuilding of the congregation, in particular of the youth.” As a pastor I readily acknowledge that my calling is not only the pulpit ministry, but the pastoral ministry as well. Although, without question, the preaching of the Word must have the chief place in our labors as pastors, we also are called to follow the example of the apostle Paul, who ministered not only publicly, but from house to house (Acts 20:20). But let it be clearly understood, pastoral oversight is primarily the calling of the elders of the church. To you elders comes the calling of Acts 20:28, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” Not to be neglected in your pastoral oversight as elders are the youth of the church.  McAfee, in the book cited above, states that it can be most helpful in the consistory’s work with young people, that a fair number of young elders be brought into the consistory.  At the same time, he points out that an elder need not be young to have a strong relationship with the youth of the church. He writes, “In one church this natural friend of the young people was the senior elder, well in his eighties, but any young person would have gone to him as naturally with a suggestion for the session as if he had been a member of the Young People’s Society. A deeply spiritual life is not forbidding or restraining to others if it is warm and winsome” (op. cit., p. 163). At the same time, we must recognize that God gives different gifts to each of His chosen officebearers. Just as all pastors differ in gifts, so do elders. Where one elder is not as comfortable as another in caring for the afflicted, such will be the case also in caring for the youth of the church. At the same time, elders must be encouraged to develop in the labors of their office. The most difficult part of any difficult task is usually getting started. An elder who devotes himself to labors among the youth of the church will grow through those labors.  Fervent prayer is necessary in all our labors of a pastoral nature. This is a matter that can be emphasized in all areas of pastoral labor; but I will certainly emphasize it here. In dealing with difficulties among youth, and with particular individuals, you often will not know, at least initially, the problems which you must treat. For the most part, therefore, in the initial stages of working with an individual, you will not know what Scripture passages you might study in preparation for your meeting. Your preparation will be confined primarily to that of prayer. And let it be fervent prayer, prayer for wisdom, for patience, for knowledge, and for the presence of the Holy Spirit in your labors.  Finally, I must say something about laboring with rebellious and impenitent youth. The remedy of Christian discipline must, according to Scripture, be exercised also toward the young people of the church who are obstinate in their rebellion against God. That is the clear teaching of Deuteronomy 21:18-21.  There are those children of the church who, to our sorrow, do not walk in the way of Gods precepts, who reject all parental and pastoral care and instruction and show no impenitence for their sinful walk. Some of those are wayward only for a time; others go astray never to return to the shadow of the cross and the bosom of the church. We must not let our treatment of such young people be governed merely by our emotions and natural parental love. We must treat them with the love of God, which seeks God’s glory and walks in obedience to His Word and instruction. To the principle set forth in Deuteronomy 21:18-21 you and I must give heed and wholehearted obedience, lest the wrath of God rest upon us not only as families, but as a church.  The children whose example is set forth in Deuteronomy 21– young people stubborn in their sinful rebellion- are a great threat to the church’s welfare. By their carnal lives they influence other young people in the church. And if they are allowed to continue undisciplined in their rebelliousness, not only will they go to hell, but they will take the church (as an institute) with them! And although the emphasis in the text referred to is that of parental responsibility, there is clear instruction given also to the elders of the church. The elders are called to execute judgment according, to the law of God. I do not mean to imply that the elders in the New Testament church should execute God’s judgment by stoning. But they are still called to declare the sentence of death upon all who reject Christ and His Word and way. The judgment that they execute is the judgment rendered in Christian discipline, and especially by excommunication (cf. Matt. 16:19Matt. 18:15-18I Cor. 5II Thess. 3:14, 15).  After the elders have worked faithfully and have brought the Word of God to that young person, only to see the Word rejected and the heart hardened, the elders must cut off such a rebel from the church. Such discipline is, according to Gods inscrutable purpose, “the last remedy.” In certain cases God in mercy will use such discipline eventually to work repentance in the heart of him toward whom this remedy is applied. Do we love the church? Do we love the youth of the church? Then let us heed our calling in providing preventive medicine for all our youth, and surgical remedies of counseling and discipline in the individual cases where necessary. Negligence is far too prevalent today in these things. May God be pleased to use us for the strengthening of the church by the nurture of her youth.

 

Gender Options in the Bathroom

Sensible and thoroughly Biblical approach to the transgender lobby.untitled

Young Calvinists

A couple years ago I wrote a piece called “Facebook Gender Options.” The topic of that piece was the move by Facebook that gave more gender options to its users beyond male and female. Facebook provided fifty six gender options to be exact. Facebook intended this move to be inclusive of every variant gender identity or “questioning” person under the sun. A person who is “questioning” is confused as to whether they are gay or transgender and  as to who they are and where they should be headed. Gender differences have expanded in these two short years since that piece was written. Now in many places a man who identifies as a woman or vice-versa has the right to use the bathroom consistent with their gender identity. In other words, if a man feels like he is a woman he has a right to use the bathroom or locker room consistent with what he feels he is on…

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Anglican Church in Canada accepts same-sex “marriage”

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Wilberforce Director Dr Joe Boot, who is based in Canada, has commented on the ACC’s acceptance of same-sex ‘marriage’, saying that in doing so, it has effectively “signed its own death warrant”. Joe expresses sadness, and concludes: “The only churches that continue to grow, flourish and win people from all walks of life are those that remain faithful to God, to Scripture and to the eternal truths of the gospel – truths set forth so powerfully in the marriage covenant.”

Marriage and the Covenant

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Beautiful article by Rev. Steven Key of Loveland PRC showing how our earthly marriages are meant to reflect the mysterious relationship between Christ and his bride, the church. In both there has to be the initiatory and on-going self-giving love of the husband as he seeks to perfect the inner beauty of his bride and of course she responds in loving submission.

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Union and Communion

Union and Communion

Subtitle-Intimacy in Christ

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The title of this blog comes from Hudson Taylor’s excellent commentary on the Song of Solomon. He was the founder of the China Inland Mission and instrumental in seeing hundreds of workers sent to the Far East. He takes the view of many, that this book has a literal and allegorical meaning. At face value it is a love song between Solomon and his Shulamite wife but by the Spirit is speaks of the love of Christ for his bride, the church.

The mystery of Christ and the church was revealed to Paul and explained in Ephesians. God ordained marriage between one man and one woman for life to reflect His love for His church in Christ. Ever since Eden and until the new Paradise of Heaven and Earth, God has dwelt with his covenant people, like a husband and wife, and the fact that people are allowed to be part of the covenant in the Trinity shows how close a bond this is. Christ explains that it is a mutual indwelling in John 17:20-23 into which all God’s elect by eternal decree and the power of grace in regeneration become partakers and which ultimately will be consummated body and soul on the last day when bride and bridegroom come together nothing hindering.

Since sexual intercourse is one of the functions of the marriage state, I often wondered how it relates to the spiritual union between Christ and the church. There is no doubt that Christ’s desire (in Solomon) is body and soul for his bride (Song 7:10). He is deeply attracted in love to her and wants to become one with her. We know there will be no sex in heaven because the real union will have supplanted it BUT meantime the ecstasy of sexual pleasure in the one flesh union is a reflection of the spiritual excitement and joy that Christ and his church experience mutually. What could be more intimate than knowing your husband or wife (in Biblical terms that means sexually)? Precisely this! If you knew his or her intimate thoughts, desires and motives then there would be absolutely no excuse for any misunderstanding between you, would there? But that is precisely how it is with us. Our divine Lord knows all we think (Psalm 139) and to the extent that we study Scripture, listen to good preaching, read good Reformed books and assimilate and apply the word, we will know God’s thoughts too (though in no way near the detail he knows ours!)

It is worth remembering that sin in the fall, at the instigation of Satan brought separation between man and God, between man and man and between man’s soul and body (death). All these divisions are healed by God’s covenant love and eternal decree in Christ, the goal of which is the union of all things in creation, human, animal and material under his headship (Colossians 1:20-22). So union and communion are God’s ultimate purpose for all creation!

 

Open letter to all members of the Church of Scotland who profess to love Jesus Christ.

Dear Editor (Scotsman),

Perhaps this topic has been “done to death” but fearing for the future of family and friends I know still a part of this rotten institution I append this letter..

Open letter to all members of the Church of Scotland who profess to love Jesus Christ.

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“Western society is now in this last stage of its ungodliness and of the outpouring upon it of the wrath of God, as the developments promoting homosexuality make plain to everyone. At this time of abounding lawlessness and of dreadful divine wrath, Reformed theologians, churches (including yours-JK), and schools make common cause with the world of ungodly men and women to work by a common grace of God on behalf of the Christianizing of this depraved, rebellious, perishing world!”*

Christ predicted the love of many of his professed followers would grow cold (Matthew 24:12). Paul wrote that at the end there would be a great falling away from truth in the church that would prepare for the coming of Antichrist (II Thessalonians 2:3). Do you not realise that by staying in a church that not only promotes women in office, second marriages after divorce and now allows practising sodomites to hold pastoral office, you are sinning against the Lord whom you profess died for you? God’s word to you is clear, “Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,” (II Corinthians 6:17). If you do not, then you run the risk of apostatizing like your church and ending up unable to repent and being lost eternally as spelled out in Hebrews 6:6. Your church has lost one of the marks of a true church which is the exercise of Biblical church discipline which is why you must seek another! You are like the frog in the water that is ever getting hotter, which if it does not hop out will surely die!

Yours sincerely,

Dr Julian Kennedy, Covenant Protestant Reformed Church, Ballymena (elder in Church of Scotland 1980-1993)

  • From “Christianizing the World-Reformed Calling or Ecclesiastical Suicide” by Professor David J. Engelsma, Reformed Free Publishing Association, 2016.

The Promise is to you AND to your children.

 

Why is infant baptism Scriptural?

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In Acts when Peter preached to the assembled crowds of Jews and proselytes he commanded them in God’s name to repent and believe but he added a promise, the promise of sovereign salvation to all God would call, both them AND their children.

Since the beginning of time God has been fulfilling his covenant promises to be a God to his people AND their seed. God saves IN THE LINE OF GENERATIONS. Abraham was promised this in Genesis 17:7 (the seminal promise) and the promised land (of heaven) was included for his seed (Gen.32:13).

This unconditional promise to be a God to his elect AND their seed is repeated throughout Scripture (Deut. 1:8, 4:37,11:9). He even promises more specifically to circumcise the heart of the children of God’s people (Deut.30:6) which is salvation! Identical promise in Isaiah 44:3!

David was promised the same. Now we know that in the case of both Abraham and David the promised elect SEED was Christ BUT the verses equally apply to all of their elect seed! (II Sam.22:51).

David repeatedly speaks of these promises in the Psalms (18:50, 37:26, 89:4, 29, 36). Note these promises are eternal because they encompass eternal salvation. The whole point of covenant marriage is to bring forth covenant (elect)godly seed (Mal.2:15). In the New Testament the elect children of believers are called holy (I Cor.7:14) and Reformed churches baptise the children of at least one believing parent because of God’s promises and the fact he never rescinded the command to give the sign of the covenant (ONE EVERLASTING COVENANT) whether circumcision or baptism, to the children of believers. So you ought to see that infant or family baptism, when at least one parent believes (Acts 16:31), is firmly rooted in Scripture and it’s promises.

Protestant Reformed Baptismal Form

 

Luther on the Christian Life (8)

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Every calling is equally holy when the believer carries it out for the glory of God.

Young Calvinists

In the last chapter of Luther on the Christian Life, Truman explores Luther’s theology of vocation and family life. Luther’s thought on these areas of the Christian life was truly groundbreaking. Luther’s understanding of vocation, i.e., calling was groundbreaking because he denied the accepted opinion of his day that there are spiritually higher and lower callings in life. The common opinion of the day said that the calling of a civil ruler or officebearer in the church is inherently better and more holy than the ordinary callings that most of God’s people pursue in this life. To be a magistrate was better than being a farmer. To be an officebearer or monk was holier than being a shopkeeper or milkmaid. Luther strongly opposed this idea. In Luther’s view, every calling that accords with God’s law constitutes a holy calling  and can be done for the glory of God. The idea that certain vocations are more holy…

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