FILTER BY:

One of the goals of Christian fathers is to rear their children to the point of maturity, when he no longer is the controlling and ruling factor in their lives, but they control and rule their own lives through their own new man and the grace of God. In the book titled The Family by Palmer and Alexander, on page 94 and 95, they write:

“Last of all among parental provocations is the unwise retention of authority when it should gradually give way to persuasion. The youth of sixteen cannot be ruled as a boy of six years and the parent has missed his chance who is not able, quietly and by degrees, to substitute influence in the place of authority. Of course, wisdom and tact are required in effecting the change.”

Being an example is the key for a Christian fa­ther. Loud words, threats, strong verbal instruc­tion reaching demolition decibel levels only serve to drive your lovely children away.

As we get started in this article discussing Chris­tian fathers I will be directing my comments only to the father. I have been asked to keep my article narrow in scope. Much can and should be said of godly mothers, but we will leave that field for some­one else to cultivate and sow.

God has been pleased to place the fathers as the head of the home. God in so doing, has placed a staggering responsibility upon us, as well as a sa­cred trust. He has also given us a truly rich calling and equipped us with His Word and Spirit. Being a Christian father is a pleasure. The requisite of a godly example is a motivation to a sanctified walk. The Lord in His wisdom uses this walk as a path­way to help enter in at the strait gate.

In order to teach, you must be taught. In order to demand obedience, one must obey his own Lord. We who are or will be fathers, contemplate for a moment our calling. We must guard God’s sons and daughters from the enemy. Let us make sure we do not invite him into the home. Do not allow Satan to influence your offspring, but guard them with a vengeance! The temptations of the world are great. Equip them to do battle. Do not become unfocused and weak in your home, and do not allow the world to entice with its music or fornication on the tele­vision. Put away your music of ten or twenty years ago and demand a life of sanctification for yourself and your children. Live a life of living sacrifice even as Job, who prayed daily for his children. Jehovah will protect His teens from godlessness through quiet conversation, rules, discipline and discus­sions of why some temptations are just too great even to get close to them. Godly fathers put their arms around their children and explain why the sensitivity to even the appearance of evil is so im­portant. (I Thessalonians 5:22)

The value and importance of praise and en­couragement by a father must be recognized and exercised. Fathers must actively build a close and sweet relationship with their children. They should enjoy one another’s company. If children only hear commands and reprimands similar to the military, a father fails. If he gives his children firm direction in love, as well as encouraging words with fre­quency, God blesses. Scripture warns fathers of provoking their children to wrath. A father can be guilty in two ways. First, as a tyrant, and second, being inconsistent. Abraham Kuyper writes in his book, When Thou Sittest in Thine House, page 120:

“You can mirror God’s fatherhood in our own fatherhood before your children in a beautiful and striking way, but you can also do it in an unsightly and false way. Then arise those bitter conditions that you do not entice honor and love from your children, but rouse antagonism in them, strife between dislike of your person and the honor which they owe you as their father. The Holy Apostle calls this provoking one’s chil­dren. To demand you must honor me and mean­while give them occasion to despise you, or at least have no respect for you.”

Christian fathers cannot be selfish or walk in spiritual laziness without reaping grief and pain on himself and his children. Yet God is good to those who are faithful in His vineyard. The reward of a covenantal walk is a home filled with godly children and grandchildren united in one hope. Sons and daughters who communicate freely with their father, who respect and honor him, who love him, who forgive him of his faults do so because they know that their father desires to walk a sanc­tified life, and he had taught them to forgive by example. Fathers and would be fathers pray for the grace to be faithful examples.

______________________________________________________________________________

Bernie is a father of 6 children and a member of Grandville Protestant Reformed Church.

We have to picture the modern-day Pharisee in Jerusalem dressed in flowing robes, walking down the dusty streets, coming up upon us, raising his head, looking down his nose at us and saying, “Have you stolen today?” Of course our reply would be, “Oh no, rabbi. I have not taken any man’s property. I have not taken anything that is not mine.” Then compare that to us today. We have not shoplifted, we have not even stolen hours at work where we have been paid for non-productive things. Contrast that with the letter of the law versus the spirit of the law to not only not steal your neighbor’s possessions, but rather to even help him obtain possessions, to help all those and not hinder.

The 8th Commandment takes on a whole other connotation when you consider it from a very positive viewpoint, not just “thou shalt not steal”, but thou shalt promote thy brother’s welfare financially. Thou shalt love your neighbor for God’s sake and seek his welfare and be a good steward of all your own posses­sions. This commandment, “thou shalt not steal”, at first look does not always seem to apply to us. We are prone to say, “I do not shoplift or prowl around under the cover of darkness taking that which does not belong to me. This will be an easy commandment to follow”, we would say. But on closer look we will see a more encompassing rule for our living. The basic prin­ciple of the 8th Commandment is contentment with the earthly possessions the Lord has given, and the exercising of proper stewardship. The commandment now suddenly seems very difficult. It seems every dol­lar you make this week has to be handled wisely. You cannot even waste a few bucks! It also means you must try to help all your Christian friends and God’s poor. We quote Reverend Herman Hoeksema from The Triple Knowledge. “But remember: whatever form the sin of stealing may assume, the thief in principle is always the one who refuses to manage his earthly pos­sessions as a steward before the face of God. And even as a Christian steward acquires everything and man­ages everything with regard to his earthly possessions in the name, and before the face of God, and accord­ing to His precepts, so he also expects his reward from God alone.”

Contentment is a tremendous gift of God to His children. The godless struggle with envy all their days. You are blessed with the harmony of desires, needs and the supplying of earthly things such as your meals, work, your good health, etc.

At the same time the Holy Spirit soothes our hearts and truly blesses us with peace of mind on all the extra things we do not need so we do not sinfully covet. The world is typified in a man like Donald Trump. He wanted it all desperately, had it all, and still lusted for more, and now he loses it all. “For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction. How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors.” (Psalm 73: vs. 3, 18, 19)

Young people, count your blessings, they are abundant. Contentment therefore is not a destination to arrive at but a lifelong journey for the elect, always struggling with unhappiness that the old nature pre­sents and what the new man places in proper perspec­tive.

Be on guard against positive mental attitude teachings that include that you can be all that you can be if you work hard enough. This philosophy includes writing goals and placing in the prominent spot and saying them aloud every day, morning and night, visualizing what you want, laboring toward these goals with all your being, usually material goals. Goals are good and necessary, but an improper emphasis on self and not service is what is wrong. Humanism and New Age ideas which emphasize self are filling today’s church. You probably have met these people in the workplace. God is blessing them because they live according to the Golden Rule and are so good to fellow man. They are earnest in their feelings that God blesses them because they are living so properly and the Devil is the root of anything bad in their life, anything that detours their drive.

What a pity, the worldly chase the elusive gift of contentment, the latest fashions, the designer series everything, the face lifts, divorcing the wife of twenty years, mother of their children, for a younger wife, the health clubs full of spandex and lycra, all for what?!

The contentment of the child of God is truly heav­en sent. The Great Shepherd leading us in rich and pleasant pastures, steering us away from the fast paced and selfish dangers of a self-indulgent society. Praise your God and thank the Bishop of your soul for caring for your every need, knowing what is best for you and your neighbor. Remember that our natures are such that we become tense with envy toward our fellow Christian’s successes, good fortune and fruit on their labors. We must recognize this sinful inclination and earnestly strive to charitably congratulate the Lord’s blessing upon their labor. May we promote each other’s welfare for truly we are our brother’s keeper.

Young people, I believe it’s time for us to take a hard look at what we assume is an acceptable behavior. The behavior I’m referring to is our looking up to and admiring the many and vari­ous pro athletes around the world today. After Magic Johnson announced that he had AIDS it seemed to stun not just everyone but even take some of the church by surprise. The reason that it would take most of the world by surprise is because we still view AIDS as a homosexual dis­ease and because Magic Johnson was the player with the big smile, puppy dog eyes and a person that was admired and attracted admirers easily. But we just don’t seem to understand the wicked lifestyle this man led and many others like him. We tape up his poster on our wall, in our lockers and wear a shirt with his face emblazoned on it. We do these things because he is an example and because we find his athletic prowess to be tremendous to say the least. But this same man, this same example, this same person that we look up to and admire is also the same man that goes to bed with many women, a man who lives in sin against the seventh commandment. A man that desecrated the Sabbath day, week in and week out. Yet how many of us don’t hold these types of sports figures in high esteem.

My ques­tion now is, are we separating ourselves from all their worldly attitudes? Or are we in some way having their lives and their cavalier attitude toward sin rub off some way on us? Does it always take some of the razor-sharp edge of sin­ning against our God? Does it in some way cause us to be less spiritually sensitive. In other words, are we adversely affected by them? Before you answer, put off all of the preconceived notions that, oh we just look at those guys as just good athletes, they’re not our personal friends. Put off the fact that everyone has posters and shirts and we think it is harmless. That may be the way I’m thinking is of course very provincial. No, before we do those things let us ask ourselves what do the words in the Bible mean that we are to be set apart. That we are to be in the world but not of it. Doesn’t it really mean that we shouldn’t iden­tify with these people as well as hanging their pictures and wearing shirts with their faces on them? Is this getting too close? That maybe it has an effect on us that we haven’t stopped to think about. Please do that before you just dis­card the fact you may not agree with me. We all struggle with many of the same temptations and the allurement of athletics. Possibly we have gone too far. Maybe this jolting revelation will cause us to look at the type of examples and role models that many of these men are. Many pro athletes are coming forward and saying they will be next to get AIDS. We need to remind our­selves that as children of God we must look upon athletics, both college and pro, as enter­tainment but to get any closer than that or to spend too much time with it is wrong. We’re not good stewards of our time obviously if we spend large amounts of time, if it causes our studies to suffer, causes us to stay up too late before going to God’s house. And certainly, the lure on the Sabbath Day is taking its toll. Can you imagine that we watch these men on the Sabbath Day even, and try to justify stealing God’s time. Eph­esians 5:15, 16 “See then that ye walk circum­spectly, not as fools, but as wise.” “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” May we put this to heart.

Let’s take this opportunity to consider that we are God’s children, we who have been saved from the bondage of sin so we are no longer caught in this terrible trap as the world. Where they can only think sinful thoughts, can only do things that are selfish, can only do that which is self-glorifying and think nothing of using Sunday to be entertained with sports. We, who have been given that wonderful liberty from bondage of sin, are no longer tied to sin but that we are free to stop and examine what we are doing and to question are we indeed praising God in that which we are doing. Are we exalting His name? Or have we slowly subconsciously been drawn into the allurement of the world and maybe have made for ourselves examples which are improp­er? I ask both you as young people and also as parents to consider that we are getting too close to the world and its allurements when we clamor after these athletes. When we would cherish an autograph, a signature mind you! What is in a signature from a pro athlete? What’s in it for us really?

Step back and consider are these men and women who live godlessly. Are they good exam­ples for us? May we pursue the strengthening of God’s church, fleeing from every appearance of evil. After all what would Christ say and do?

Does your conscience speak? Are you troubled if you live as the world?

For one of God’s elect to live as the world is for sure a person who is disturbed and troubled. His life is like a spiritual schizophrenic; he is living two lives. His life is very difficult as he tries to remain under the yoke of darkness and the burden of guilt. To live the lie is a troubled existence. In fact, the beating your soul will take as it is kicked and punished by the world, will leave your soul without any joy or spiritual contentment; as a slave is beaten down before a wicked master.

Have you afflicted your soul in this way? Have you found pleasure in iniquity and carnality? Does your soul feel empty after frequenting worldly entertainment?

II Peter 2:7-8 illustrates how Lot’s soul was vexed by the evil in Sodom and Gommorah. “And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked. For the righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds.”

Lot grappled with the love of Sodom and Gomorrah to the point where he didn’t desire to leave its filth and had to be led out by the hand of angels.

We must take notice of how being active in sinful endeavors, no matter how small or carnally delicious, paves the way for the repeating of sin as the violation of God’s holy word intensifies.

You see, we are a clever people. We rationalize that by attending church faithfully and being active in the church, automatically justifies our sinful walk of life. Another common justification of ours is when we are younger we think that we will eventually walk through the door of spiritual maturity and through time arrive as a good-standing, sin sensitive member of God’s Church. How we love to deceive ourselves!

Let’s get angry with ourselves! Let’s have an holy anger at our sin and quit excusing ourselves by comparing our lives with that of others! Our walk is just between us and the Lord, so go and stand in His presence and in His light through prayer! Let God examine your soul and heart and live a sanctified life, hating sin for which we are so often clamoring. “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.” I Peter 2:1 This is not to say we must minimize our desire of fleshly things for it will always be a struggle, but the struggle will be made easier if we don’t vex our souls and love the liberty with which Christ has set us free. Find that inner peace that can only come from living a life of repentance and gratitude. We must worship God in all that we do and seek the peace, joy and contentment of Jerusalem rather than pleasures of sin of Sodom and Gomorrah. God blesses those of His people who walk a sanctified life and He only can and will give true meaning to the joy in our souls.

Jimmy Baker, Jerry Falwell, Oral Roberts and Jimmy Swaggart’s recent capture of headlines, threatening to either die or expose something they hadn’t already exposed. National news coverage and editorials written weekly for the last six months. It is time now, I think, for us to comment and compare.

The church today is known to the world primarily through television. What image does the worldly or unconverted individual have, when he thinks of church? Now don’t disregard the headline snatching, diamond flashing, chauffeured, madeup, glitzy evangelist. Don’t kid yourself. They have a tremendous impact! Decisions concerning the true church, represented by God’s people throughout the world, will be made based on perceptions obtained from these types of preachers. You will be judged as a “typical Christian” until they get to know you better. Collectively we will suffer some scorn and ridicule as the church.

How would you characterize today’s popular evangelists? Apart from flagrant sin, can you condemn their actions and methods? Scripture says to “Beware of false prophets which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits”. Matt. 7:15-16.

What a contrast we find between Christ, the prophets and preachers of old, and today’s evangelist. Naaman the great captain and ruler, was second only to the king of Syria. A rich man indeed. Elisha is not enamored with his wealth nor the opportunity to brush shoulders with the rich and powerful. No, he sends his servant to tell Naaman in order to heal his leprosy, to wash in the filthy Jordan River. Nothing fancy, just dip seven times in the dirty water. Simple and to the point. God’s powerful cleansing hand saves Naaman.

Earlier we see the Lord’s ambassador Elijah. A man that delivers the Almighty God’s decrees and judgements. A man who faces King Ahab and Queen Jezebel in the royal courts. And yet the Lord is pleased to have the ravens feed him. His water supply is the brook Cherith. He doesn’t own a fancy chariot, nor does he draw any attention to himself with expensive living and yet Jehovah speaks to him directly!

You would think that the forerunner of Christ, he who preached the need of a Redeemer would certainly be worthy of fine apparel and to live and dine on the best this earth can offer. But no! John the Baptist lives on locust and honey. Dwells in the wilderness and wears a coat of camel’s hair. He who bears the good news of the Son of God and is a contemporary with Him, is clothed with humility.

Compare Christ’s manner of preaching and miracle working with that of the electronic ministers. He was pleased to surround Himself with the unlearned, sought out the infirmed and healed in the most basic manner. To heal a blind man he spits on the ground, mind you, and places the mud on the blind eyes and instructs to wash in the pool of Siloam.

A far cry from Rolls-Royce automobiles, crystal cathedrals, lavish homes, hobnobbing with the worldly rich and famous, building earthly empires and holding showy rallies.

Would our Lord, if here today be found in flamboyant affluence or simplistic austerity? Be found in expensive suits and diamond rings or dressed as a simple Nazerene?

Be comforted with the words of I Corinthians 1: “Not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. . . And base things of the world and things which are despised, hath God chosen.”

The temptation for us to bask in the glow of wealth is real. We like the finer things of life. Our affluence is a danger. The true church prospers when money is in short supply. When it is difficult make ends meet and sacrifices are many. Our attention is drawn to things spiritual and not distracted with earthly pleasures. Solomon prayed in Proverbs 30:8 & 9 “Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full and deny Thee and say Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain”.

Let us not forget our great God, rather diligently pray and work toward contentment. Finding our joy and spiritual strength in the preaching from faithful dividers of God’s Word. What a rich blessing we hold to have humble preachers of the Word, not looking for national spotlight. Not trying to make a name or place in the religious world today. Content to be in a tiny denomination but holding the truth firmly and boldly proclaiming pure doctrine. Seeking praise of God rather than men.

God created time for this creation and for the creature, namely man. Because God created an orderly creation and governs it with time, we are bound to work within the framework of time. All that we do, have done, or project to accomplish, is measured by time. The Lord started the clock of the universe at creation. He subjects man to the divine timetable. We know through His Word when time began, and know that it will end with the Second Coming of Christ. After our Lord’s return we will not need time, nor will we yield to the effects of it. Time, being a creature, will itself be “destroyed”. But, on this side of glory we must use time in a sanctified manner.

God, being the creator of time, is also the exactor of it. Time is given us by the Lord to use to the glory of His holy name. We can liken it to the parables of the talents. The ruler in the parable giveth his servants talents for a period of time and travels. Upon his return he reckons with them, demanding to know if they were diligent with the use thereof. The Lord has given us an allotment of time at our birth and exacts it from us when we are laid in the grave. Job 7:1, “Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth? Are not his days also like the days of an hireling?” Our days and months here below are numbered. Each must be accounted for to our Ruler. In our youth so often we feel as though there is no end of life; little reason to be concerned with stewardship of our time. We seem to have such an abundance of it.

Let us remember that all of our time is given by the Lord to magnify and extol His name. Now let us ask the question, “Why must we be so concerned with the use of time in our youth?” Romans 14:7, 8, answers this question: “For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.” Also, Lord’s Day I of the Heidelberg Catechism explains that we are not our own, but belong to our faithful Savior Jesus Christ.

You are elected to serve. Oh, what an assuring thought in a troubled and anxious world. God has chosen you to serve Him now and forever in glory. Lord’s Day I ends with this comforting thought, “He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto Him.” Your desire, then, is rooted in thankfulness to your creator, and not just a demand or obligation that you must begrudgingly fulfill. The Lord’s command to deny one’s self foolish pleasure and husband our time is welcomed by our soul, but challenged and ridiculed by our old man of sin.

We, by nature, are like the Athenians to whom Apostle Paul preached. They lived for themselves. There was no sacrifice of their time for our God; only squandering of it. We read in Acts 17:21, “(For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)”. We, too, must struggle with the temptation of using our time for ourselves, giving no regard or asking of ourselves, “am I busying myself with things earthly or things heavenly?”

We must be spiritually ambitious, using our time to learn of and to praise God for the great work of salvation. This means that we must set aside time to discuss, time to read, time to spiritually build on the foundation of faith given us. Busy yourself with spiritual matters. Question your use of time with regard to recreation.

To neglect your spiritual life is to be lazy concerning time. Proverbs 24:30, 31, “I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down.” Now, you may ask, “Isn’t this too difficult? Aren’t we being asked to sacrifice more than is necessary? Would Christ demand this? After all, my time is precious.”  All we need to do is to look to the rich young ruler. Christ demanded all his possessions in order that he be considered a follower of Jesus.

What, then, is God’s reward to His elect as they struggle to serve Him with their time? As you busy yourself with the Word, the promise given in II Timothy 3 is that it will “make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” God blesses you with spiritual discernment. He anchors you firmly in the truth of His Word. You will not be ignorant in these days of great apostacy. No, you will know the proper pathway to follow in this day of heretical attacks against the infallibility of Scripture. In your personal life, the Holy Spirit bolsters you against doubt and despair. As the winds and waves of temptation buffet, you will not be moved. We enjoy the safe harbor of God’s loving hand protecting us until the end of our time here on this earth.

Psalm 90:12  “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”

God created time for this creation and for the creature, namely man. Because God created an orderly creation and governs it with time, we are bound to work within the framework of time. All that we do, have done, or project to accomplish, is measured by time. The Lord started the clock of the universe at creation. He subjects man to the divine timetable. We know through His Word when time began, and know that it will end with the Second Coming of Christ. After our Lord’s return we will not need time, nor will we yield to the effects of it. Time, being a creature, will itself be “destroyed”. But, on this side of glory we must use time in a sanctified manner.

God, being the creator of time, is also the exactor of it. Time is given us by the Lord to use to the glory of His holy name. We can liken it to the parables of the talents. The ruler in the parable giveth his servants talents for a period of time and travels. Upon his return he reckons with them, demanding to know if they were diligent with the use thereof. The Lord has given us an allotment of time at our birth and exacts it from us when we are laid in the grave. Job 7:1, “Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth? Are not his days also like the days of an hireling?” Our days and months here below are numbered. Each must be accounted for to our Ruler. In our youth so often we feel as though there is no end of life; little reason to be concerned with stewardship of our time. We seem to have such an abundance of it.

Let us remember that all of our time is given by the Lord to magnify and extol His name. Now let us ask the question, “Why must we be so concerned with the use of time in our youth?” Romans 14:7, 8, answers this question: “For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.” Also, Lord’s Day I of the Heidelberg Catechism explains that we are not our own, but belong to our faithful Savior Jesus Christ.

You are elected to serve. Oh, what an assuring thought in a troubled and anxious world. God has chosen you to serve Him now and forever in glory. Lord’s Day I ends with this comforting thought, “He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto Him. ” Your desire, then, is rooted in thankfulness to your creator, and not just a demand or obligation that you must begrudgingly fulfill. The Lord’s command to deny one’s self foolish pleasure and husband our time is welcomed by our soul, but challenged and ridiculed by our old man of sin.

We, by nature, are like the Athenians to whom Apostle Paul preached. They lived for themselves. There was no sacrifice of their time for our God; only squandering of it. We read in Acts 17:21, “(For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)”. We, too, must struggle with the temptation of using our time for ourselves, giving no regard or asking of ourselves, “am I busying myself with things earthly or things heavenly?”

We must be spiritually ambitious, using our time to learn of and to praise God for the great work of salvation. This means that we must set aside time to discuss, time to read, time to spiritually build on the foundation of faith given us. Busy yourself with spiritual matters. Question your use of time with regard to recreation.

To neglect your spiritual life is to be lazy concerning time. Proverbs 24:30, 31, “I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down.” Now, you may ask, “Isn’t this too difficult? Aren’t we being asked to sacrifice more than is necessary? Would Christ demand this? After all, my time is precious.” All we need to do is to look to the rich young ruler. Christ demanded all his possessions in order that he be considered a follower of Jesus.

What, then, is God’s reward to His elect as they struggle to serve Him with their time? As you busy yourself with the Word, the promise given in I1 Timothy 3 is that it will “make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” God blesses you with spiritual discernment. He anchors you firmly in the truth of His Word. You will not be ignorant in these days of great apostacy. No, you will know the proper pathway to follow in this day of heretical attacks against the infallibility of Scripture. In your personal life, the Holy Spirit bolsters you against doubt and despair. As the winds and waves of temptation buffet, you will not be moved. We enjoy the safe harbor of God’s loving hand protecting us until the end of our time here on this earth.

 

Psalm 90:12 “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”

As we consider this enjoyable and pleasant time of life, the first premise we must establish is an all-important and encompassing one. We must date only those who love the Lord. If through dating we find our mate we will be joined together in one faith, one hope, and one doctrine. We will have unity in our God. Therefore, before the end of dating, Protestant Reformed young people will desire to and should only marry mates who confess and love the doctrines of Scripture as we hold to them in our Protestant Reformed Churches. I hope this strikes you as a thought provoking statement. One that limits you to dating a believer and limits your marrying a believer who holds the truth as you do.

We must remember that normally dating is not an end in itself. Dating is ultimately the ground work of getting married. I realize that in your early dating years you are not consciously contemplating marrying the one with whom you spend some time. But God has created us as people who are attracted to the opposite sex with view to us marrying and living together as a rule as a family, with children being born into the covenant. The Lord ordained marriage for the establishing and fun ring of His church. We do well to bear this in mind and to realize that dating leads to marriage, which leads to a blessed state of serving God as a picture of Christ our husband loving us His bride the church.

Because of our desire to date and eventually to marry, let’s discuss a few qualifications for the elect child of God to follow.

Earlier I mentioned that you should only marry those who confess the doctrines of Scripture as you hold to them as a Protestant Reformed believ­er. My reason is to establish a spiritual bond with whom you date, a bond of common beliefs in doctrine and a unified world life view. In order to be happy together you two must confess the same God, having Scripture as your foundation, common rule and guiding light. If you do not believe the same or are not actively working toward this, it is impossible to be dating harmoniously before the Lord. All of your other common interests, likes and dislikes of a secular and general nature are of little consequence. Your like faith is of utmost and primary importance. Look around you in the world and in the church – is there any sure foundation other than our common love and devotion to our Lord? Only as spiritual brothers and sisters can we live in harmony and confidence.

If you date outside of your denom­ination you must strive to be one in doctrine, one in interpretation of Scripture, and one in walk. So prior to marriage you confess the same doctrine held by your Protestant Reformed Church. Doctrine which dates back to the early church and the apostles. Doctrine which has withstood storms of controversy during the time of the Reformers. Now the modern winds of change blow and give new direction to the church world today. Only by God’s grace can we remain true to His Word. Be prayerfully careful who you date. In this way you will marry a mate who confesses Jehovah as you do.

What is the purpose for dating? Isn’t it to get better acquainted, to grow in affection for one another? Dating is a lovely time. A time when you mature in responsibility and inde­pendence. You feel as though the whole world lies before you waiting to be discovered through the two of you. As you date you constantly seek for your partner’s happiness. It’s a time of sharing. A time of discussing all your interests and values.

Be sure to hold nothing back. As the two of you fall into love, remember how sweet it is to care for someone more than anything, even your father and mother. Remember too, to contin­ue that devotion into marriage. Work hard toward retaining the new and fresh air of togetherness. If you think dating is a wonderful place to be, wait till you arrive on the path of marriage, it truly is a continuation and growing of commitment and love.

The joys of dating may never, nor should ever be marred with using one another for sinful lust. You will find that a great temptation exists as you two get to know each other intimately.

Be on your guard. Be on guard especially of the temptation of wanting to be liked, so that you as a young lady will give up your morals for a special young man’s affection. If you think sex will attract a guy, you’re right! But if you think it will keep him, you’re dead wrong. He will love you for your personality, not your body. God de­mands purity. We must serve Him with a chaste walk and conversation. Christ­ian young men remember that as a man God has placed you in the leadership role even in dating. You may not tempt a young lady into immorality. As the leader, you must show that you are spiritually mature enough for marriage by leading in all aspects of dating life and godly walk. Too often young men look at worldly girls, as well as Christian girls, as a challenge to see if they can overcome the girls’ reluctance to sin through their ability to charm. Rather lead to the path of Christian enjoyment and not the devil’s playground.

Because your dating years are so special, enjoy them. You will always look back to them as pleasant, carefree days. Serve God in your dating life and pray with King David in Psalm 19, verse 13, “Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.’’

I feel that as Protestant Reformed young people we need to delve into the doctrine of God’s grace and the doctrine of total depravity. We must be aware of how it is distorted by “common grace”. To do this, I am going to quote considerably from our Reformed fathers.

Today, the Arminian view of common grace has saturated nearly every church and congregation. Who is not affected by it? Name the churches today who have not departed from the Biblical principles of God’s grace. Which synods have not adopted this heresy officially? Take notice of this! Think about it! Discuss it! Today’s church world is corrupted by these false, unbiblical teachings to the hurt of God’s people in them. This is very, very serious for us as God’s elect. It means that God’s people must struggle with sin and false teachings within the nominal church, to the point that they have an extremely difficult reality to face. Where is the pure gospel preached?

After the Reformation, God was pleased to spread once again the pure gospel throughout the world. The truth blossomed and was held in high esteem. John Calvin emphasized God’s sovereignty over man’s will, man’s complete dependency upon God for regeneration and saving grace. But apostasy is an ongoing activity which has since progressed nearly every­where again. The flower withers.

How then does this affect us as elect people of God? It should startle us into realizing that we must be discern­ing individuals. To have before our minds’ eyes the differences of doctrine and walk examined by God’s measure­ment – His Word.

Apostasy and heresy work slowly and at times almost hidden from immediate view. One hundred years ago many churches were basically Reformed in their view of man’s will and the sovereignty of God. Now we hear exclusively of the free offer of salvation and man’s ability to choose without regeneration by the Holy Spirit.

Hence, we find ourselves quite alone in this world – maintaining doctrines which not only are scoffed at, but are even declared unbiblical and cruel. In this connection, let’s study common grace and the dangers associa­ted with it. Also, let us observe and condemn teachings which profane God and glorify man. May we refute errors to magnify God’s name and live out of thankfulness to our Creator.

Jacob Arminius is the 16th century Dutch theologian who introduced com­mon grace and the free will of man to the Reformed Churches. Dr. Abraham Kuyper is the Dutch theologian ac­countable for developing the theory of common grace. Dr. Kuyper, who lived from 1837 to 1920, established himself as a giant of a scholar, theologian, and politician. But it was to the hurt of the Reformed Churches that he developed and propagated his world and life view of common grace.

Dr. A. Kuyper had two types of grace; “particular” grace and “com­mon” grace. Particular grace is a saving grace only for the elect. Common grace is a favor which God used to enlighten and uphold fallen man as a cultural being. Dr. Kuyper’s view, as taken from his book. Lectures on Calvinism delivered at Princeton University, held to “particular grace by which God, maintaining the life of the world, relaxes the curse which rests upon it. arrests its process of corrup­tion, and thus allows the untrampled development of our life in which to glorify Himself as Creator.”

Dr. Kuyper, in his lecture on Calvinism and Art, attributes his view of common grace to Calvin, and I quote, “Calvinism has taught us that all liberal arts are gifts which God imparts promiscuously to believers and unbelievers, yea, that, as history shows, these gifts have flourished even in a larger measure outside the holy circle.” . . . “But if, at the hand of experience and history, you become persuaded that the highest art-instincts are natural gifts, and hence belong to those excellent graces which, in spite of sin, by virtue of common grace, have continued to shine in human nature, it plainly follows that art can inspire both believers and unbelievers, and that God remains sovereign to impart it in His good pleasure, alike to heathen and to Christian nations.”

Calvin’s views concerning total depravity, as quoted from Calvin’s Institutes, pages 270 and 272:

“And, indeed, that common opinion which they have taken from Augustine pleases me: that the natural gifts were corrupted in man through sin, but that his supernatural gifts were stripped

from him. For by the latter clause they understand the light of faith as well as righteousness, which would be suffic­ient to attain heavenly life and eternal bliss. Therefore, withdrawing from the Kingdom of God, he is at the same time deprived of spiritual gifts, with which he had been furnished for the hope of eternal salvation. From this it follows that he is so banished from the Kingdom of God that all qualities belonging to the blessed life of the soul have been extinguished in him. until he recovers them through the grace of regeneration. Among these are faith, love of God, charity toward neighbor, zeal for holiness and for righteous­ness.”

“. . . Therefore, to perceive more clearly how far the mind can proceed in any matter according to the degree of its ability, we must here set forth a distinction. This then, is the distinc­tion: that there is one kind of understanding of earthly things; anoth­er of heavenly. I call “earthly things” those which do not pertain to God or His Kingdom, to true justice or to the blessedness of the future life; but which have their significance and relationship with regard to the present life and are, in a sense, confined within its bounds. I call “heavenly things” the pure knowledge of God, the nature of true righteousness, and the mysteries of the Heavenly Kingdom. The first class includes government, household management, all mechanical skills, and the liberal arts. In the second are the knowledge of God and of His will, and the rule by which we conform our lives to it.”

According to Rev. H. Hoeksema, in his book The Protestant Reformed Churches, Dr. A. Kuyper’s chief purpose for developing the theory of common grace was to explain that there was a positively good development of the human race even though man was in a fallen state and totally depraved. Dr. Kuyper developed a grace that all unregenerate men received an antidote to the poison of sin at the time of Adam’s fall in Paradise. Dr. Kuyper believed that man became totally depraved, but through God’s adminis­tering the antidote of common grace, God saved man and all mankind from terrifying chaos and an explosion, as it were, of barbaric savagery. He taught that Adam through sin lost not only the image of God, but also physical capacities and would have ended in being a brute, or a devil, without common grace. He defined the fall from God’s grace as a fundamental change of man’s substance. We quoted Rev. H. Hoeksema from his pamphlet The Christian and Culture, “that sin did not and could not change man ESSENTIALLY. It is absurd to say that except for the influence of “common grace’’ man would have changed into a devil. Sin is ethical moral in nature and could not change the essence of man.’’ That is that man is still very human in all his being and abilities. He is not changed physically into an animal. He has the same human characteristics, thinking, willing, rational being. What has changed then? Rev. Hoeksema writes in his Reformed Dogmatics, pg. 209, “Man was originally created so he actually possessed the image of God. These virtues are usually distinguished as true knowledge of God, righteous­ness, and holiness, and all three are often expressed in the one term, man’s original righteousness.”

This, man has lost! He is now absolutely corrupt, wills only sin, and apart from conversion, is a slave to it.

What does man in the fallen state retain? Let’s quote The Canons, Article 4 of the 3rd and 4th Heads of Doctrine: “There remain, however, in man since the fall, the glimmerings of natural light, whereby he retains some know­ledge of God, of natural things, and of the differences between good and evil, and discovers some regard for virtue, good order in society, and for maintain­ing an orderly external deportment. But so far is the light of nature from being sufficient to bring him to a saving knowledge of God, and to true conversion, that he is incapable of using it aright even in things natural and civil. Nay, further, this light, such as it is, man in various ways renders wholly polluted, and holds it in unrighteousness, by doing which he becomes inexcusable before God.”

Now we have man as a rational, moral creature. Able to live and work on this earth. To be busy with commerce, industry, and the arts. Let’s quote from the Reformed Dogmatics, pg. 271; “With these small remnants he can do no good. On the contrary, they belong to the capital which he possesses in order to be able to sin. If he did not possess these small rem­nants, if it were true that in this fall he lost everything that belonged to his moral nature, if he lost his intellect and will themselves, he could not be a sinner and could never be held accountable for the deed of sin! Through these small remnants of natural light he retained some know­ledge of God.’’   . .“He knows that God is; he knows also somewhat who He is; he is conscious of the fact that this God, as He is, must be thanked and glorified.”

It is absolutely essential for us to remember that man is totally depraved by nature. Dead to all things spiritual instilling within him a glimmering of and godly. Common grace bridges the chasm between the unregenerate man and the hearing of the gospel by God’s grace.

To be continued.

The Critique article on “Loving Your Wife for Christ’s Sake” was very nice for the most part. Except the paragraph where the wife is referred to as the weaker vessel. As for wives not being able to handle stress as their husbands do or “too large a mental burden”, Hogwash! Time and again the Bible compares great pain to that of the travail of a woman. The dictionary defines travail as the pains of childbirth or intense pain, agony. The agony in turn is defined as great mental or physical pain. A woman suffers great stress and mental burden once she becomes pregnant (worrying if she will carry to term, or if her baby will be born normal and healthy), during childbirth (travail), and while she is raising the children of her husband. God cursed the woman for her part of the sin in the garden with sorrow and travail; but, I believe, He also gave her grace to be strong in spirit as well as physically to bear this curse. God created woman for man as a help meet both physically (which God limited; making her “fragile, delicate like a flower”) and mentally (which God did not limit). Physically she cannot lift as great a weight as a man can; but mentally she can lift the same weight stresses and burdens. If God limited her so she is not always the best help for her husband physically, then God must have made her especially men­tally strong to be a help meet to her husband in times of stress and burden. A wife can only help her husband bear his stresses and large mental burdens.

Mrs. R. Huizenga

 

 

 

In reply to a Wisconsin reader who thought my statement (June/July Issue, 1984) of husbands protecting their wives from too much of a mental burden was “Hogwash!’’:

I am sorry not to have made myself clear enough. In the article I wrote, “She is the weaker vessel, not inferior, second rate, or in any way a lesser person.” God has spoken in I Peter 3:7 that she is the weaker vessel, and I believe that applies both mentally and physically.

Can she carry a large mental burden? Absolutely! I cannot agree more. In all her labors, pregnancies as you mentioned, rearing of children, caring for her husband and children whether healthy or sick, she has a heavy load. That was my point – she has enough stress, so don’t put any more on her. The tone of my article was for the husband to love his wife by fulfilling his God-given task. This task involves helping with the children, teaching catechism, Sunday School, helping with school work. He must handle his money wisely so his wife need not worry, and generally live in such a way that he doesn’t give her too large a mental burden. He must shoulder all of his own responsibility!

Thank you for your response,

Bernie Kamps

The Christian is placed in many different circumstances while on this earth. Some are characterized by hardships and trials, and others are full of joy and peace. How should the Christian respond? Throughout the Bible there are numerous times where God’s people sang in response to their various circumstances. Singing in response to God’s ordering […]

Continue reading

The book of Proverbs was written by King Solomon to his young adult son. Solomon’s purpose in writing Proverbs was “that the generation to come might know them [God’s wonderful works]…that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments” (Ps. 78:6–7). Throughout the book, Solomon […]

Continue reading

The group of churches that John writes to in this trio of epistles had recently experienced a split because of doctrinal controversy. We do not know the exact content of the error that these false teachers were spreading, but it is apparent from John’s writing that their teaching somehow denied the truth of the incarnation—that […]

Continue reading

Jael: An Example of Christian Warfare

This article was originally presented as a speech at a Protestant Reformed mini convention held at Quaker Haven Camp in August 2021. Jael lived during the era of the judges. Deborah the prophetess was the judge who served Israel at the time of Jael. During this time, the Canaanites under the rule of king Jabin […]

Continue reading

Indiana Mini Convention Review 2021

One of this year’s “mini conventions” was hosted by Grace and Grandville Protestant Reformed Churches at Quaker Haven Camp. Located just over two hours away in northern Indiana, the camp was a perfect fit for the 120 kids and 15 chaperones who attended. A total of twelve different churches were represented: Byron Center, Faith, First […]

Continue reading

Editorial, November 2021: Catechism Season

At the point that this edition of Beacon Lights arrives in the homes of our subscribers, most young people in the Protestant Reformed Churches will have been sitting under the catechism instruction of their pastor or elders for more than a month. If our readers are honest, that observation probably comes with a (quiet) sigh […]

Continue reading

Tennessee Young People’s Retreat 2021

The 2021 Tennessee young people’s retreat was held August 9 to 13 by Providence, Hudsonville, Unity, and First (Holland) Protestant Reformed Churches. The retreat took place at Eagle Rock Retreat Center in the city of Tallassee. It was about an eleven-hour drive, give or take a bit due to stops for food and restrooms. Though […]

Continue reading