I appreciated the reminder in “Standin’ in the Need of Prayer” of the June 2006 Beacon Lights to pray for each other, with each other, and to bear one another’s burdens. Philippians 2:3b–4 says, “In lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”
However, there were several comments in that article that I disagreed with. First of all, the writer wants practical instruction from our pastors. Mr. Marvin Kamps in the pamphlet Heidelberg Catechism Preaching: Our Reformed Heritage speaks to that: “The whole of Scripture, not just some parts of it, are explicitly or implicitly doctrinal in content. Besides, all the so-called practical passages of God’s Word, which bring us directives for Christian living, are based clearly upon the doctrines and truth of God’s Holiness, our regeneration, and calling to walk in gratitude for the salvation freely received through the shed blood of Christ Jesus. Without right doctrine every practical directive for our life is then perverted and corrupted. We must have doctrinal preaching therefore, if we are going to have preaching at all. If one is opposed to biblical doctrine because it is doctrine, then he stands opposed to the Bible itself.”
Let’s pray that our God-given ministers will continue to preach the doctrinal truths of the Bible, giving us the meat of the Word. (See Hebrews 5:12–13.) II Timothy 4:2–4 warns “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
Secondly, the article said a lot about unity. By the end, I wondered if the writer implied that we should unite with other churches within a local religious community. To me church unity has to do with a unity of the truth as it is in Christ and revealed in the Bible. We must join ourselves to the true church that we must discern from the Word of God. Read Articles 28 and 29 of the Belgic Confession of Faith. They speak of this and the marks of the true church as opposed to others who call themselves ‘church’. Those others give more power and authority to themselves and rely more upon men than upon Christ.
Ephesians 4:1–16 beautifully describes why it is necessary to keep unity in the church. While facing temptations to disagree with each other, to make war with each other, and to separate from one another, the apostle Paul urges us to make every effort to “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (verse 3). Verses 4–6 gives the basis of this unity; one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God. Verses 14 and 15 calls us to spiritual maturity, “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.” We may not seek unity at the expense of the truth. Prov. 23:23a: “Buy the truth, and sell it not.” Unity may not mean joining oneself with other churches that are hostile to our distinctively Reformed doctrines.
And finally, the writer mentioned making simple changes instead of “clinging obstinately and unbiblically to tradition.” We must make sure that we do not want to replace our biblical Reformed traditions with traditions of men as Jesus and Paul warned against in Matt. 15:2ff, Mark 7:3ff, Gal. 1:14; and Col. 2:8 which says, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” We must remember that Satan is out there to destroy the truth that our Protestant Reformed Churches in America teach, a truth that has been battled for since the time of the Reformation. Jude verse 3 warns, “That ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” The writer of Hebrews warned in chapter 3:12–13, “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”
A recent sermon on our battle of faith by Rev. Doug Kuiper in Loveland, Colorado reminded me of this article and I asked his permission to quote a bit. “A tactic of our enemy, Satan, is to deceive. He does not come saying ‘I am Satan and I am out to destroy the church’. He does not come with his own banner and his own flag waving in front of him. But he comes deceptively. Through men and women in the church whom we have perhaps esteemed, he comes saying ‘Here is an idea that is worthy of consideration. Here is an idea that the church of Jesus Christ can tolerate. Oh, maybe the church never saw it before. Maybe it’s a little new, but you don’t have to fight against this.’ Such is Satan’s tactic. So be alert, watch, know the difference between the truth and the lie; know the difference between an ally and a foe.” And somewhat later Rev. Kuiper said, “When one comes to you and says ‘Let us reexamine the truths that are contained in the confessions and taught in the Scriptures,’ do not give up ground! I don’t mean that we should not examine the teachings of Scripture. And I don’t even mean we should blindly take everything that the church has taught in the past and not examine in our own souls whether it’s what we believe. But I mean, that the warrior who knows what he fights for, who knows his faith, need not constantly reexamine it, not if he has first become persuaded that it is the truth. So when one says ‘Well, let’s question this, let’s plant a doubt in your mind’, then the warrior stands firm. Are you ready to do that with regard to all the doctrines for which this church stands?”
Young people and young adults, Acts 2:40b “Save yourselves from this untoward generation!” Pray! You are the future church. You need to fight to keep doctrine in our preaching. You need to fight to keep the true marks of the church in place. You need to fight to keep the biblical Reformed traditions according to II Thessalonians 2:15, “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught.” Future children and grandchildren that God may give you have their spiritual lives at stake! Pray!
Along with prayer, we must be busy in spiritual exercises as Prof. Herman Hanko puts it on page 26 of his book When You Pray. “Regular attendance in the Lord’s house, discussion of Scripture with other saints, the reading of spiritual books, teaching our children the ways of the Lord and praying with them, visiting the sick and suffering, regular reading and studying of Scripture—these and other exercises are used by God to keep us spiritually strong.”
Parents! Grandparents! Let us fervently pray for our young people and young adults in their spiritual battles. Let us as parents never grow weary in teaching the wonderful, blessed truths of God’s word to our covenant children. Let us pray that the Lord of the harvest send forth laborers and not send a famine of His word as we may well deserve. “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD” (Amos 8:11). Let us pray that we as churches stand fast in the truth of Scripture and our Reformed creeds. Let us not take these precious truths for granted. We must fight the battle of faith! Let us return to our first love (Rev. 2:4)!