Preparing for Persecution (2)

Why is there persecution of Christian believers in the world?

The answer is the Antithesis (Gen.3:15, 1 Peter 5:9, Is. 63:9, Acts 9:4, John 15:20) There is a cosmic-wide war going on, centred on planet earth with God’s arch enemy Satan (and the seed of the serpent are all the reprobate wicked) versus Christ (the seed of the woman and all his elect sons and daughters i.e believers in every age), Satan’s henchmen the fallen angels and the reprobate wicked versus the elect angels and the righteous in Christ, the false church versus the true church, and on the human level the basic reason is because our lives and words testify against the wicked. Jesus stated that because he was hated his followers would be hated too (Matt.10:22).In the first Scriptural case of persecution Abel (Gen 4:3-15,Heb.11;4, I John 3:12, Amos 5:12) is murdered by his brother Cain because of jealousy and his corrupt religious practice (offering a bloodless sacrifice). Persecution can be traced throughout Scripture. Ultimately persecution will bring horrible judgement on the persecutors but it is part of the cup of iniquity that has to be full when Christ returns. (Gen.4:10-16, I John 3:12, Rev.6:10, Ps. 10:2, 94:5,23, 119:86, 161, Jer.17:18) conversely the persecution is part of the cup of suffering Christ’s church must fill up too. The very end times will bring unprecedented persecution on the church through Antichrist who will demand obedience (taking his mark) and worship from all on earth. The followers of Christ will not comply just as the three Hebrews declined when faced with being told to worship Nebuchadnezzar’s image. Antichrist will then persecute Gods people to death through which they shall be delivered just like the myriads burnt at the stake, hanged and mutilated by evil men in previous generations of history. Jesus warned his disciples that just as he would be hated and persecuted, so would they. David, a type of Christ, in a previous age complains about all who persecuted him including Saul and Absalom in many of the Psalms. We will see God’s reasons for decreeing persecution later.

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Running the Race

Always enjoyed running including cross country but it appears running days are over with a worn out right knee.

man and woman running near green leaf trees photo

Photo by mentatdgt on Pexels.com

 

Young Calvinists

I recently went to a cross country meet for Covenant Christian High School (Grand Rapids, MI). For those of you who don’t know much about the sport, it’s running a distance through grass (which can slow you down more than you think). For high schoolers it is a distance of 5 kilometers (3.1 miles). Needless to say, the weather is not always perfect. Rain or shine, sleet or snow, grass or mud, they run. I was even crazy enough to run on the team for two years through high school. I loved it even though some days were tough.  Attending the meet made me realize how much I missed that atmosphere.

I was reminded again why the Bible often compares the life of a Christian to that of a runner, and participation in this sport taught me a lot of lessons for everyday life. Cross country taught me how to set goals and…

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Importance of Doctrine

Beautiful article on the vital importance of faith and that our faith and Christian walk stand on Biblical doctrine.

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Doctrine

BLOG POST | October 29, 2018

The Hebrew word for doctrine means “to take, receive, seize”; then it means that which is received mentally: instruction. The Greek has a whole family of words relating to our topic: one means that which is taught; another refers to the one doing the teaching, the doctor or master; the verb form simply means to instruct or indoctrinate. The word doctrine appears fifty-two times in scripture, good evidence of its importance. Strikingly, when we read of doctrines in the plural the reference is always to strange doctrines, the doctrines of men, or the doctrines of devils. False doctrines are legion and contradictory, but true doctrine is one, for it has its unity in Jesus Christ.

The doctrine of God drops from heaven as rain (Deut. 32:2), it is pure and good (Job 11:4). The people were amazed at the teaching of Jesus, saying, “What thing is this? What new doctrine is this? For with authority commandeth he . . .” (Mark 1:27). But Jesus did not teach new doctrine; it was not his but the Father’s, and it agreed with the teaching of Moses (John 7:16–19). The children of God obey from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered unto them (Rom. 6:17). Since all scripture is given by inspiration of God, it has the primary profit of giving us doctrine (2 Tim. 3:16). Adding to the peril of the times in which we live is the fact that men “will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers; having itching ears” (2 Tim. 4:3). The purpose of God in giving ministers to the church is “that henceforth we be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine . . .” (Eph. 4:14). Of such central importance is the truth that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is come in the flesh that the denial of this is antichrist, and “if there come any unto you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed” (2 John 10).

Christ is the master, the teacher, the prophet sent from God. When he was but twelve years old he was found in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them and asking them questions; already then the people were astonished at his understanding and answers (Luke 2:46). Six other times we read that men were astonished at his doctrine, for he taught with authority and not as the scribes. Christ declares the Father whom no man hath seen (John 1:18); he makes known unto us all that he has heard of his Father (John 15:15); he was ordained to be our chief Prophet and Teacher to reveal to us fully the secret counsel and will of God concerning our redemption (Heidelberg Catechism, LD 12).

Because ministers are called by Christ in the service of his word, they are given to the church as pastors and teachers (Eph. 4:11); teaching or indoctrinating is an important aspect of their work. Thus, ministers are to give themselves to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine (1 Tim. 4:13); they are to take heed to themselves and the doctrine, by meditating upon these things and giving themselves wholly to them (1 Tim. 4:15–16). Those who labor in the word and doctrine are to be counted by the church as worthy of double honor (1 Tim. 5:17). Great care must be taken that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. (1 Tim. 6:1). Sound doctrine is able to convince the gainsayers (Titus 1:9). All the minister’s speech must be in harmony with sound doctrine (Titus 2:1, 7). And the elders must be apt to teach—doctrine (1 Tim. 3:2).

We are saved by doctrine, for by taking heed to and continuing in sound doctrine ministers save themselves and those that hear them (1 Tim. 4:16). Some will ask, “But are we not saved by faith in Christ?” Indeed. But who is Christ as to his person and natures? What does his anointing consist of, and what is his place in the covenant of grace? What was the nature of his death and resurrection? For whom did he suffer, die, and rise again? And what is this faith, and what does it hold for truth? Faith in the heart, embracing Jesus Christ the Lord as he is set forth, described, delineated in the doctrines of that word of God, that is able to make us wise unto salvation. To deny the importance of sound doctrine for our salvation is to fly in the face of the scriptures and show ourselves either ignorant or unappreciative of church history. Controversies raged between adherents of the doctrines of men and the doctrine of God; confessions were written which condemned heresies and set forth the orthodox faith. Today we are called upon to contend earnestly for that faith because the great matter of salvation depends on pure doctrine, and the greater matter of God’s glory is wrapped up in it. We must be of the mind that characterized the writer(s) of the Athanasian Creed when he wrote after the Arian controversy, “Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic (universal) Faith, which Faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.”

The doctrine of God our Savior, held to with iota-like precision, embraced with believing hearts, must be adorned with good works (Titus 2:10). Here Paul shows the foolishness of trying to separate doctrine and practice, or even preferring one above the other. Scripture is profitable for doctrine…that we may be thoroughly furnished unto every good work. Doctrine is the root and branch; good works are the fruit. And there is a harmony and inner consistency between the two. True doctrine is itself beautiful, for it reveals God in Christ! When that doctrine brings forth good works by the Spirit, what adornment that is! How God is praised by it!

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This article was written by Rev. Dale H. Kuiper, and published in the Standard Bearer (12/15/1992, Volume 69, Issue 6).

The Importance of Biblical Doctrine.

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The Importance of Doctrine

BLOG POST | October 22, 2018

Doctrine is not highly regarded anymore. In many evangelical churches there is such ignorance of doctrine that even the fundamentals of Christianity are not well understood. Even in churches that remain faithful in their teaching and preaching, there is often little interest in learning and understanding doctrine. The youth are, for the most part, bored by it, and their elders are content with a superficial knowledge of the doctrines of the Reformed faith.

Very often the symptom of this lack of doctrine is a constant agitation for more “practical” preaching and teaching along with a greater emphasis on liturgy and on the other parts of the worship service until the sermon is all but squeezed out. On the part of the preachers themselves, one finds less and less biblical exposition and more and more illustration, storytelling, and entertainment.

Symptomatic of doctrinal indifference in the private lives of God’s people is complete disinterest in reading good Reformed books and periodicals. In some cases these are purchased and not read; in others there is not sufficient interest even to purchase them. If any reading at all is done, it is superficial, mostly of the “how-to” variety. Almost nothing of substance is read, and most would consider a book of doctrine too deep even though their fathers and grandfathers, who had far less education, not only were able to read theology, but read it widely and well.

If the church and the lives of God’s people are to be rescued from superficiality, decline, and all the church troubles that afflict us today, there must be a return to doctrine. For proof we need look no further than the great Reformation of the sixteenth century. Above all, the Reformation was a return to doctrine—to the doctrines of justification by faith alone, of sovereign grace, of the church, and of the sacraments. Without an interest in or return to doctrine, we cannot even hope for revival and renewal in the church.

In 2 Timothy 3:16–17 the Word of God tells us that Scripture is profitable for many things, but for doctrine first of all. Indeed, if it does not first teach us doctrine, it is not profitable for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness. To all of these, doctrine is not only first, but also foundational.

Scripture emphasizes the importance of doctrine in other ways. We learn from John 17:3 that the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ is eternal life. Nothing is more important than that. Doctrine, properly taught, understood, and believed, is that knowledge of God and of his Son. Scripture teaches nothing else. “Search the scriptures,” Jesus says, “for they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39).

Let us, then, give heed to doctrine. It is the province not only of the theologians but of every one who desires life eternal. Let us not set doctrine aside in the interest of more “practical” matters, but understand that doctrine reproves, corrects, and teaches the way of righteousness. Above all, it brings us face-to-face with the living God himself, in whom we live and move and have our being. To be without doctrine is to be without God.

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This excerpt was taken from the introduction of Doctrine according to Godliness, written by Ronald Hanko.

Rejoicing in the Lord

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” Habakkuk 3:18

“Rejoice in the Lord alway” Phil.4:4

Marriage, the earthly symbol of Christ’s communion with his church, is always a time of rejoicing.

“In the Word of the Lord, the essential Word of the Lord, the Lord Jesus Christ; in his person, the greatness and glory of it; in his offices, as Prophet, Priest, and King, the only Mediator and Saviour; in his relations, as head and husband, father, brother, friend; in his fullness, grace, and righteousness; in his spiritual presence, and comfortable communion with him, which may be expected in a remarkable manner after the above day of trouble is over; and in his personal appearance, which will shortly be, and when his tabernacle will be with men on earth: I will joy in the God of my salvation; in Christ, who is God, and so able to save his people; to make everything he did and suffered in human nature effectual and available to them; to supply all their needs, and to keep what they commit unto him, and to preserve them safe to his kingdom and glory: and who also joy in the salvation of their God, or which he is the author of, both temporal and spiritual, especially the latter; which is so great and glorious in itself, so suitable to their case, so complete and perfect, and makes so much for the glory of all the divine perfections, and is all of free grace, and lasts for ever: this salvation is peculiar to the people of God; it is theirs, and theirs only; it is brought and applied to them by the Spirit, and which they appropriate to themselves under his witness; and salvation and deliverance from all enemies, as a matter and ground of joy; and the enjoyment of Gospel privileges in the full extent of them; the word and ordinances in their power and purity; and the presence of Christ in them.”

Adapted from John Gill

A wise reprover

Excerpts from our recent church bulletin:

The Wise Reprover (2)

Brian D. Dykstra

 

Proverbs 25:12: “As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear.”

The reproof of Elihu in the book of Job turned out much better than that in Jeremiah 43:1-7. As you know, Job was a very wealthy man. However, he lost everything—everything!—in one day and soon he was afflicted with terribly painful sores. Job was miserable. He had three friends come to comfort him. These friends claim that all this evil came upon Job because he must have committed some awful sin for which God is justly punishing him. Job denies his friends’ charges. Job says that he is not a sinner. Well, he knows that he has sinned but he certainly is not guilty of the dreadful sins of which his friends are accusing him. He has not done anything, in his judgment, to bring God’s awful wrath upon him.

The conversation between Job and his three friends goes back and forth. Job cannot convince his friends that he is innocent and the friends cannot convince Job that he is guilty. Job even expresses the desire that God would appear before him in some way because he would like to have the opportunity to ask God some questions. Through all of this, Elihu sat silently listening to this conversation. He was the youngest man there and felt the older men should speak first.

The talk among the other four men was over. They had nothing more to say. Elihu could no longer keep silent. Elihu reproves Job because he justified himself rather than God. He then reproves Job’s friends because they continued to condemn Job without having any evidence that he had done the dreadful things of which they accused him.

Elihu’s words in Job 33:12-13 are really the answer to Job’s horrible afflictions and losses. Elihu points out two essential truths. First, God is greater than man. Secondly, God does not give account of any of His matters. This means God can do whatever He pleases because He is great. The Almighty is under no obligation to explain to us why He does what He does. It’s none of our business.

Job and his friends have no protest to make about what Elihu has said. They know Elihu is right. God then appears to Job and speaks to him. Jehovah points out He is almighty, wise and can do whatever He wishes. At the end of the book of Job, it is important to note that God tells Job to offer sacrifices for the sinful speech of his three friends but He requires no sacrifice for what Elihu had said. God must have approved of Elihu’s reproof.

What can we learn about what makes a good reprover from Jeremiah and Elihu? Neither of them were upset because the sin they witnessed was a personal insult to them. They did not give reproof to vent their own personal anger. They did not speak because they felt this would clear their good name or soothe their troubled conscience of the sins they had witnessed. These reprovers saw sin as an affront to God. They wanted these sins to be put away because sin prevents a right understanding of God and a proper walk with the Lord.

Proverbs tells us a reprover must be wise. Jeremiah knew the spiritual condition of the Jews with whom he was dealing. Elihu let the others speak first so he could properly understand the situation. For us, we need to know whom we reprove. Some reproof needs to be strong, while with other friends we can speak gently. We cannot be hasty in our judgment of others but must make sure we have a good understanding of the matter. We must also be wise to know the proper time to give reproof. Some reproof must be given immediately, while sometimes it is better to wait. For a reprover to be as valuable as gold, he must be wise.

God also tells us in this Proverb that the person being reproved must have an obedient ear. The Jews reproved by Jeremiah did not obey reproof. They disobeyed and went forward in their own stubborn, rebellious way to their own destruction. The ears of Job and his three friends were obedient to Elihu. They did not protest nor give an angry response. They responded with submissive silence. This led to sacrifices being offered and forgiveness being granted.

Receiving reproof properly is not what we do by nature. We take offense. Who are you to tell me what to do or tell me I am wrong! Our natural reaction is to become angry and defend ourselves. The old man of sin in each of us does not take it well when we are told we have sinned. This has been my experience for many years almost without exception-JK

An obedient ear to reproof is hard to find. I am thankful as a teacher in a Christian school that when I have had to take a student aside and have a little talk, it usually goes well. Part of that could be the student’s recognition of authority. What I pray is that this is proof of the response to God’s Word by one who is redeemed by God. What we also need as a Christian community of believers is to react properly to reproof when the reprover is our equal or, harder yet, holds a position lower than our own.

The greatest and wisest reprover is our Lord Jesus Christ who died for our sins. When someone gives us reproof based on the Bible, they are really bringing the Word of Christ to us. We also read in John 16 that the Spirit comes to do exactly that!-JK. We have to listen to the minister when he preaches because he brings and applies Christ’s Word to our lives and hearts. In catechism class, you are being taught Christ’s Word. The history of the Old and New Testaments give us instruction in a godly life. Disobedience brings the anger of God, while obedience results in covenant fellowship with Christ. Finally, Christ gives us reproof when we read the Bible, the Word of God. This is the instruction of Paul in II Timothy 3:16-17, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

Exultant Praise

Yes he alone is worthy and his glory he will give to no other.

Young Calvinists

God chose us before He formed the creation. He separated us out from all those whom He would create and proclaimed that He would be our God and we would be His people. He loves us now even though we daily reject the guidelines He has given us and turn instead to our old chains. What a great God we serve! Why would God choose to love us, miserable people that we are? Our great God chose to love us so that we would see His wonders and praise Him for His glorious grace.[1] We will then praise Him who He is and what He has done for us.

What a glorious God He is! God is the King of Creation. He is sovereign over all things, and has predetermined all of history to serve His own divine will. Not only is He the original being, the Creator of…

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What Will Your Legacy Be?

So I challenge you: What legacy are you leaving behind? Are you leaving a legacy that will long outlive you and be felt in subsequent generations? Will your legacy impact your immediate family, local believers, unbelievers, or even the body of Christ around the world?

A strong spiritual legacy doesn’t just happen by accident. Be intentional about what kind of legacy you want to leave behind. Let how you spend your time and money speak clearly to what that legacy will be. If you have children and grandchildren, pour into them. Spend time with them. Engage in meaningful, spiritual conversations. Encourage them; share your story; offer wisdom; always point them to Christ and God’s Word.

Too many grandparents waste the precious years they have with their grandchildren. Instead of recognising that their race is not yet finished, they leave the spiritual instruction of their grandchildren completely up to the child’s parents or church and instead focus solely on building memories or retirement. But God doesn’t say age 65 is when our race is run! We have a calling to declare God’s works to our children and their children (Deuteronomy 4:9). You have a unique perspective and wisdom you can pass along to encourage the next generation. Don’t waste your latter years!

What will your legacy be?

A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children. (Proverbs 13:22)

Ken Ham (Answers in Genesis)

Are you growing in the Knowledge of God?

“It becomes one who is called to be a soldier, to excel in the art of war. It
becomes a mariner, to excel in the art of navigation. It becomes a physician, to
excel in the knowledge of those things which pertain to the art of physic. So it
becomes all such as profess to be Christians, and to devote themselves to the
practice of Christianity, to endeavour to excel in the knowledge of divinity.

Jonathan Edwards

https://www.biblesnet.com/Jonathan%20Edwards%20Christian%20Knowledge.pdf