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This article is written shortly after Calvin College’s Board of Trustees gave approval for the professors at Calvin to teach whatever they want to teach, even evolution.  This article is not intended to scorn or mock our mother church, nor is it our intent to directly debate that fateful report.  I only point to that as proof that the infallibility of God’s Word is under attack!  What a terrible thing!  God’s Word subjected: it must conform to man’s rationale.  The death knell of a church is when God’s Word is thrown out and humanism becomes the ruler in the church.  That church is dead.  As I stated, however, this article is not about the problems in the Christian Reformed Churches.

Do not think, for even one minute, that this cannot happen to us, Protestant Reformed Churches.  One of the problems that leads towards the doubting of God’s Word is already among us.  We must submit ourselves to the authority of God’s Word.  The problem is, that quite the opposite happens.  We try to subject God’s Word to our lives.  We use the Bible to justify our actions.  We try to hide behind Christian liberty.  We subject God’s Word to our actions, rationale, and even what we know to be fact.  God is much greater than that.  No mere man can fully understand God or His Word.  We have only a very small understanding.  God is beyond comprehension.

Take the case of evolution verses God’s Word.  Most scientists say evolution is not a theory.  They can conclusively prove, to man’s intellect, that species evolve.  They prove that due to the survival of the fittest, the world is what it is today.  How must the Christian respond to this?  Don’t forget, we are facing what the scientists call irrefutable proof.  We will be mocked to scorn if we come up with some “fairy tale” as they call the creation story.  We must respond with God’s Word.  That is the ultimate authority in our lives.  Do not rely on human rationale.  What it boils down to is this: who do we believe, God’s Word or man’s rationale?  Only by faith can we say that God’s Word is the only authority in our life.

The problem is, you see, that if we start to pick and choose what we want to believe in the Bible, the entire Bible crumbles into meaninglessness.  There is no authority in God’s Word.  If we say this or that text does not apply to us in our circumstances, we have destroyed all of God’s Word.   The Bible was written thousands of years ago.  Circumstances were so different back then.  It doesn’t apply to us the way it applied to them—right?  Dead Wrong!  If we believe that any part of the Bible is dated, obsolete, not applicable to us, untrue, or not inspired by God, then we have destroyed the authority and power of all of God’s Word.  If we deny anything in the Scripture from creation through the prophets, the virgin birth through Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection, and right on through the last chapter of Revelation, then God’s Word becomes only a fable.  The Bible stands as God’s Word, but if one part is destroyed or changed, it becomes meaningless.

Scripture itself proves that it is inspired by God.  II Peter 1:21, “For prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”  The creation is not a fable written by man.  It is God’s Word.  Does this Scripture apply to our life?  II Timothy 3:16, “ 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, throughly furnished unto all good works.”  God’s Word was not written to instruct the world, but rather, the man of God.  The world exists for the church.  The Word of God damns the wicked.  Do not expect to instruct the world out of the Word of God.  They will not listen.  God’s Word is instruction only for the elect.

The Scripture must be the only authority in our lives.  We must bow before what the Word of God tells us.  We believe, by faith, that all of Scripture is inspired and written by God through men.  When man, with all of his proof, tries to prove God’s Word wrong, do not try to make God’s Word fit man’s proof.  That will never be possible.  We must say that God is the only authority in our life.  Man is wrong.  In God and His Word is my strength and hope.i

We are in the last days. I know, you have heard that many times: your parents, teachers, and ministers are continually telling you that. Why are they trying to instill that thought into the forefront of your mind? Because the last days are upon us, and we are called to watch, to be vigilant, sober, and on the alert. The reason that it is so imperative for us to be on our guard is this: the devil is working right now, harder than ever before, trying to destroy the church of Jesus Christ. How is he doing that? The devil is far wiser than to attack us where we are on guard. He attacks us wherever and whenever we let our guard down. He lures us into a false sense of security. He lulls us to sleep.

I Thess. 5:2 & 3a puts it this way, “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them.” The devil wants nothing more than for us to let down our guard and to quit watching.

The Bible in many places speaks of watchmen on the walls. In that day they built huge walls around their cities. These walls kept the roving bands of the enemy away from the people. They kept the people safe. In order to insure the enemy did not climb or break down the walls, watchmen, or guards, were placed on the top of the wall. It was their duty to insure the residents of the city that they dwelt in peace and safety, and to warn the people when danger approached. The very same thing is true today in a spiritual sense. The elders of our churches represent those watchmen. They watch over the church, to insure that no false doctrine creeps in among the congregation. This is not, however, exclusively the elders’ calling. Each and every one of God’s people must be a watchman. We are watchmen over our lives. We are responsible for seeing that the enemy doesn’t creep into our own lives. The enemy is the devil and our own sinful flesh. The enemy uses many different forms. He is very tricky, or deceitful. Sometimes he comes to us through our friends, or through peer pressure, urging us to compromise the principles we believe in. If that is the case, part of our job as watchmen is to warn our friends that they have let the enemy into their city. A watchman must speak out when he sees something wrong. He must not keep silence when he sees the enemy within the city. He must warn the residents, lest they be caught unawares. Even so, we must urge our friends to watch.

What are we looking for when we watch? We are looking for warning signs that the devil is creeping into our lives. The devil is continually tempting us. Sometimes he is open, and we know it is he. This may come in the form of having your friends ask you to go to a movie or a bar with them. Don’t forget, that is Satan working on you. He is trying to make you forget that these are the last days and that we are to watch. The devil takes whatever our sinful nature wants to do and attacks us there again and again.
Usually the devil will not attack where we are watching. He knows that where we are watching and on guard, he will have difficulty entering our lives. The problem is, that when we watch one area in our lives, he attacks us somewhere else. The devil usually attacks where we are weakest. If we desire friends, he may attack through our friends. If we can be made to sin in our pursuit of material possessions, he will see to it that we have these items readily available. An impossible enemy to battle with? Sometimes it seems that way. Our sins overwhelm us and our souls are troubled. Are we really watching and guarding against the devil?

How should we be watching? In two words: THE BIBLE. God’s Word as He has revealed it to us through the preaching, through catechism, through our education, and even through the world around us. Bring your thoughts and questions to the Lord in prayer continually. God will surely reveal to us what is of Him and what is of the devil. God, through the blood of Christ, will forgive us when we stumble. In Him we have the assurance of victory. In this lifetime we have that victory only in a very small way; but in the glory to come, how great and final that victory will be!

Sometimes the devil chips away at our defenses little by little; so slowly and subtly that we can scarcely recognize it as such. He creeps into our lives, through our sinful flesh, almost unawares. He attacks us where and when we are weakest. Sharpen your watch! Stand fast against this wily adversary. Watch with all your heart and soul. Through our Lord Jesus Christ we will have the victory. He is our strength and fortress. In Him we trust. WATCH.

Ah yes, another Thanksgiving Day. A couple of days off from school, a huge meal, maybe some shopping, or just a nice little break of our routine. Is this what we are giving thanks for? Could it be for the many, many material blessings the Lord has given us? Why do we set aside one day each year to give thanks, and what are we giving thanks for?

Each year the world around us celebrates Thanksgiving. They are not quite sure who they are thanking, but they know what they are thankful for. They are thankful for their possessions, their health, and their wealth. In short, they are thankful only when they receive the things that they want. Does this characterize our thankfulness? Are we thankful especially when we get what we want?

Our thanksgiving must not rise out of anything as shallow as that. We would surely have no hope when the Lord sends adversity upon us. Our thanksgiving must rise from the joy in our hearts because God has called us, wretched sinners, out of the darkness of sin, into his marvelous light. We have not earned or deserved this — it is the gift of God. Through the suffering and death of Christ we are rescued from the hell of our sins. What a reason to give thanks! Material possessions should fade into obscurity in the light of God’s great gift: His son, Jesus Christ. It should not matter what we do or do not have. Riches, social position, clothes, and cars all are absolutely nothing when compared to salvation through Christ.

Is that what characterizes our Thanksgiving Day? One day set aside to truly thank God? It is not wrong to set aside one day to thank God in a special way. It would be wrong, however, to thank God on this day, and this day alone. Our very lives should be a Thanksgiving Day to God. The world should be able to see the joy in our souls bubbling forth. Our thanksgiving should show in everything we do. Then, no matter what the Lord sends us, we can give thanks.

God may try us, send us poverty, or touch our lives with death. It may hurt us, but we can still give thanks through our tears, because our thanksgiving is based on something that cannot be taken away from us — the rock of Jesus Christ. Then we can pray with the apostle Paul, “Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift’’ (II Cor. 9:15).

The Lord has given unto us many material blessings. We probably have more than any generation in history. We must thank and praise the Lord for these gifts. We must use them to further honor and glorify God. But if material possessions alone comprises our Thanksgiving Day, what would happen if God would remove them tomorrow? We would be crushed. Daniel faced such a thing (Daniel 6). He had position and wealth in the kingdom. The king passed a law that all people must pray only to him for 30 days. Daniel knew he was facing certain death, yet he, “kneeled on his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God as he did aforetime” (verse 10). That is true thanksgiving. That is thanksgiving that arises from God’s unspeakable gift. Ephesians 5:20 charges us, “giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”.

We give thanks so imperfectly here on this earth. So often we give thanks for the wrong things for the wrong reasons. We must keep our minds and our lives based on God’s unspeakable gift to us. If we do that, we will be blessed on our Thanksgiving Day. We will have a very small foretaste of heaven. That is what heaven will be like: a perfect eternal Thanksgiving Day where we will thank and honor God. Base your Thanksgiving on God’s unspeakable gift.

THANKS BE TO GOD!

The world has this policy: if it feels good, do it! The results of this promiscuous lifestyle is headline news: teenage pregnancy, herpes, alcoholism, and the list goes on and on. The world are doers of whatever appeals to their wicked natures. The Christian is also, by nature, sinful. Do we, or can we, do whatever we feel like doing? Do we feel an urge to try everything at least once, maybe more if we like it?

James 1:22 states, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.’’ James is telling us that there is more to salvation than going to church twice every Sunday. Just because you are going to a Christian school doesn’t mean you are automatically saved. James says you must follow the instruction that you receive in church (and in the school which is an extension of the home). You must show by your walk, that wondrous gift of salvation that God has given you; otherwise, you are deceiving yourself.

Are you a hearer, or are you a hearer and a doer? James continues on in verses 23 & 24 and compares one that only hears God’s word to a person who looks in a mirror; that mirror being God’s word. The mirror of God’s word tells us what ugly, sinful creatures we are; but the hearer goes his way and forgets what an ugly sinner he saw.

A person that only hears the word and doesn’t walk obedient to that word is deceiving himself. He goes to church because it is required of him; perhaps he’d as soon stay home in bed, but to keep peace in the house, he will go to church. The word of God affects him only superficially; he thinks to himself, “Yes, I’m sinful, but I’m saved. That’s what I’m taught. My salvation is sure regardless of the sins I commit.” Then he goes merrily on his sinful, unrepentant way. He continues to go to movies, parties, and, in general, does whatever he pleases. Do not deceive yourselves, young people. Do not forget what answer 64 of the Heidelberg Catechism says, “For it is impossible that those who are implanted into Christ by a true faith, should not bring forth fruits of thankfulness.”

Do we bring forth fruits of thankfulness when we go to movies, or when we don’t want to bother ourselves with preparing for catechism and societies? No! We are deceiving ourselves. We must look into the mirror of God’s word and see what sinful creatures we are. We must ask God’s forgiveness and strive to lead a new and holy life. Col. 1:10 states, “That ye walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.”

But the world is filled with temptations that appeal to our flesh. The devil fills our minds with evil thoughts. So often we say, “We don’t have anything to do. We can’t do anything.” Sometimes, I think that we have this horrible misconception that we can’t have fun unless we are doing something that is sinful. What a wicked, wretched, abominable sin that would be. Get rid of that idea and see what James 1:25 has to say about the law of God, “But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continued therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”

First of all, notice that James calls the law, the perfect law of liberty. God’s law doesn’t put us in bondage so that we cannot do anything. No, it is the perfect law of liberty; it sets us free. Our sins are what put us in bondage. II Cor. 3:17 states, “Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. Rom. 8:21, “Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” Gal. 5:1 & 13 and many other passages teach us that sin is bondage; only in Christ are we set free. Remember that the next time you complain you have nothing to do and are using that as a justification for sinful deeds.

How can we be doers of the word and not hearers only? That is really the theme of the entire book of James: Doers of the Word. James 2:26 states, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” James 1:27, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” In and of ourselves we cannot do this; in fact, we have not the least desire to do this. It is only in and through God’s grace that we receive the ability to fight the battle of faith.

We must depend on God, not our own strength. In our own strength we will surely fail. In God’s strength we are assured of the victory. In and through God alone can we walk worthy of the Lord.

Matt. 6:19-21. “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” 

Young people, I ask you. where is your treasure? One of the greatest problems we face today is worldly-mindedness. Worldly-mindedness is seeking after earthly treasures and not the heavenly treasures. It is also a certain symptom of hypocrisy. We live in the world. We listen to the world’s music, go to the world’s movies, we drink and dance with the world, and we even let the world into our homes through the T.V. One could say we try to imitate the world. Do we really love the things of this world? Are they the treasures we are seeking after?

This passage speaks of treasures; both earthly and heavenly. What are these treasures? A treasure is something that we, at least in our own life, consider very precious and valuable. We think about it, we long for it, we desire it, we plan our very lives around obtaining it. Material possessions can be a treasure. Popularity, a good stereo, a boat, a house, or even a date can be treasures. Listen to what the word of God says about these treasures: “Where moth and rust doth corrupt and where thieves break through and steal.” Not only will these treasures corrupt themselves and pass away; they will corrupt your soul in the process. If we are seeking earthly treasures, our heart is upon earthly things. We become worldly-minded.

Worldly-mindedness is a terrible sin. Earlier I mentioned that it is a sure sign of hypocrisy. A hypocrite outwardly seems like a Christian. He regularly attends church and goes to a Christian school. He puts on a show. Inside of him, Christ and Christian living mean absolutely nothing. Worldly-mindedness is very similar. We make a casual outward show of Christianity, but God’s wonderful gift of salvation and Christian living seldom enter our thoughts. We desire instead, the things of this world. How horrible to seek after earthly treasures!

Again I ask You, where are your treasures? What do you seek after? Do you spend more time shooting hoops, or studying God’s Word? There is nothing wrong with shooting hoops, but, WHERE ARE YOUR PRIORITIES? Can you spend all evening watching T.V., and then sink into bed so exhausted that you skip personal devotions? Are you being a good witness when you go out to the movies or drinking? Where are your thoughts over the day, do you ever think about God and His wondrous gift of salvation; or is that the farthest thing from your mind? That is plain and simple – earthly treasures – worldly-mindedness. God’s Word says “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.’’ Sometimes I think we say to ourselves that our salvation is sure, it is not dependent on our works, therefore we can do anything we want. We can walk in the most terrible sins and it does not matter. Get that notion out of your head. Our works surely do not earn us our salvation, but with that goes answer 64 of the Heidelberg Catechism “for it is impossible that those, who are implanted into Christ by a true faith should not bring forth fruits of thankfulness.” Part of these “fruits of thankfulness” are laying up for yourselves treasures in heaven. These heavenly treasures will not rot or decay. You don’t have to worry about having someone steal them. You don’t have to park them diagonally in two parking spaces so no one nicks them. No one can ever take these treasures away from you. These treasures offer true happiness, peace, and contentment for your soul. A part of these treasures are good works and the giving of alms. We can amass these treasures through devotions and prayer. Scripture tells us to pray without ceasing: then our thoughts and desires will be turned to the Lord. Then His word will be precious and valuable to us. We will yearn and long to go to His House. We will be truly wealthy when we earnestly and sincerely seek after God. Where is your Treasure?

Psalm 61:2 “From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is high than I.”

The world is in such turmoil around us. War in the Middle East, terrorism, the arms race, crime waves, and general apathy. The people of the world are trying to out-do each other in wickedness. As we reach the end of one year and get ready for the next, it is human nature to wonder what the coming year holds for us. These must be discouraging times for those who think there is to be heaven on this earth. All this chaos and wickedness would overwhelm us, except for our comfort: our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

What beautiful, beautiful words, “Lead me to the rock that is higher than 1.” The Psalmist David wrote these words when his soul was distraught. His words should direct each of our thoughts back where they belong – on God. First of all, David says, “lead me”. That means we cannot attain this rock ourselves, but rather, God takes us by the hand and guides us to the rock.

What is this rock that is higher than I? What is our refuge in this stormy world around us? Where can we find rest on our pilgrimage here below? The rock is God’s power and promise – that rock is our Saviour, Jesus Christ. That is where we are to flee. That must be our comfort.

We get so caught up in our day-to-day living. We have to earn a living, we have so much homework, or we are so busy doing this and that, and we forget we are totally dependent on God for everything. Anxieties mount, tensions build, and stress is a word we hear a lot about today. Through all of this cuts the Psalmist’s words, “Lead me to the rock that is higher than I’’. That rock is where I can be out of the reach of my troubles. That rock offers peace: the assurance of my salvation. Lead us there, O Lord, for in and of ourselves we will flounder.

Sin can rob us of the assurance of our salvation. Sin can, for a time, control our lives. Then, especially, we are distraught. Life has no meaning. Our very soul is overwhelmed within us. God often troubles us so that we do turn to him. Then God jars us into realizing that we are to rely on him, and him alone. Turn to the Lord in all things. “Trust in the Lord with all thy heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” Proverbs 3:5.

How does God lead us to that rock? God doesn’t mysteriously pick us up, and suddenly our troubles are over. No, God has means that he has established. Those means are, first of all, the preaching of the word. That is our comfort. We must feast upon his word through the mouth of His servant, the minister. The other of the means God uses is our personal devotions. We cannot ignore these means and then expect to be lead to the rock for comfort. Only through the preaching and prayer can we expect to be lead to the rock.

Our lives must be centered on the rock. All other things must be subservient. That rock will be a shelter from the troubles that surround us. When we stand on the rock, all of our troubles will pale. That rock is our shield from the world. Lead me to that rock that is higher than I.

The world has this policy: if it feels good, do it! The results of this promiscuous lifestyle is headline news: NlU3, teenage pregnancy, herpes, alcoholism, and the list goes on and on. The world are doers of whatever appeals to their wicked natures. The Christian is also, by nature, sinful. Do we, or can we, do whatever we feel like doing?  Do we feel an urge to try everything at least once, maybe more if we like it?

James 1:22 states, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” James is telling us that there is more to salvation than going to church twice every Sunday. Just because you are going to a Christian school doesn’t mean you are automatically saved. James says you must follow the instruction that you receive in church (and in the school which is an extension of the home). You must show by your walk, that wondrous gift of salvation that God has given you; otherwise, you are deceiving yourself.

Are you a hearer, or are you a hearer and a doer? James continues on in verses 23 & 24 and compares one that only hears God’s word to a person who looks in a mirror; that mirror being God’s word. The mirror of God’s word tells us what ugly, sinful creatures we are; but the hearer goes his way and forgets what an ugly sinner he saw.

A person that only hears the word and doesn’t walk obedient to that word is deceiving himself. He goes to church because it is required of him; perhaps he’d as soon stay home in bed, but to keep peace in the house, he will go to church. The word of God affects him only superficially; he thinks to himself, “Yes, I’m sinful, but I’m saved. That’s what I’m taught. My salvation is sure regardless of the sins I commit. ” Then he goes merrily on his sinful, unrepentant way. He continues to go to movies, parties, and, in general, does whatever he pleases. Do not deceive yourselves, young people. Do not forget what answer 64 of the Heidelberg Catechism says, “For it is impossible that those who are implanted into Christ by a true faith, should not bring forth fruits of thankfulness.”

Do we bring forth fruits of thankfulness when we go to movies, or when we don’t want to bother ourselves with preparing for catechism and societies? No! We are deceiving ourselves. We must look into the mirror of God’s word and see what sinful creatures we are. We must ask God’s forgiveness and strive to lead a new and holy life. Col. 1:10 states, “That ye walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God. ”

But the world is filled with temptations that appeal to our flesh. The devil fills our minds with evil thoughts. So often we say. “We don’t have anything to do. We can’t do anything.” Sometimes. I think that we have this horrible misconception that we can’t have fun unless we are doing something that is sinful. What a wicked, wretched, abominable sin that would be. Get rid of that idea and see what James 1:25 has to say about the law of God, “But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”

First of all, notice that James calls the law, the perfect law of liberty. God’s law doesn’t put us in bondage so that we cannot do anything. No, it is the perfect law of liberty; it sets us free. Our sins are what put us in bondage. I1 Cor. 3:17 states, “Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. Rom. 8:21, “Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. ” Gal. 5:1 & 13 and many other passages teach us that sin is bondage; only in Christ are we set free. Remember that the next time you complain you have nothing to do and are using that as a justification for sinful deeds.

How can we be doers of the word and not hearers only? That is really the theme of the entire book of James: Doers of the Word. James 2:26 states, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” James 1:27, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” In and of ourselves we cannot do this; in fact, we have not the least desire to do this.  It is only in and through God’s grace that we receive the ability to fight the battle of faith.

We must depend on God, not our own strength.  In our own strength we will surely fail.  In God’s strength we are assured of the victory.  In and through God alone can we walk worthy of the Lord.

The Beacon Lights staff asked me to write an article on the communion of the saints. I was glad to oblige for we all need to be reminded about this aspect of our lives. As Christians, why is it so vital to have communion of the saints? It is one way in which we express our gratitude to God for that work of salvation which He has performed in us.

It would be helpful if we first defined what the communion of the saints is. According to I John 1:3, communion of the saints is fellowship that the saints have with God and Christ, and with fellow saints. This fellowship is rooted in Christ’s love towards us. Without Christ’s love, there is no communion of the saints. Communion of the saints is putting the brother or sister’s welfare ahead of our own. We care nothing for ourselves.  Our love for Christ is bubbling over. We want our fellow saints to exper­ience that love. This love for our fellow saints can take many forms. It may be helping a brother through a trial God has placed upon him. It may be just a kind word.

We probably have little trouble expressing the communion of saints within our own small circle of friends, but when we must show our love towards others, not in that circle, we shy away from that. Gal. 6:2-3 states, “Bear ye one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.” This text points out that it is our duty as Christians to help and give assistance to other Christian brethren as circum­stances may require. It is our duty to help not just those we want to help, but all Christians.

What does this help consist of? First of all, pray for your fellow Christians and their needs. Bring their needs before the throne of grace. Give your assistance and support whether it be in a spiritual matter or if the brother has a physical need. Help to build up your fellow Christian so that he too, fully experiences the grace of God. So often we are so concerned with ourselves and our own selfish desires, that we forget all about our brother and his needs. Help him to fill his needs.

Too often, we try to build our own selves up by pulling our brother down. We seem to think that by making him look bad, we will look better to others. We do this by ignoring those who aren’t in our little clique! Or worse, we destroy someone’s reputation by talk­ing behind his back; we tell lies and half-truths that make it impossible to have Christian fellowship with that person. Even the truth should remain untold if it is damaging to someone.

Scripture is filled with passages that teach us how to treat one another. Romans 12:10 states, “Be ye kindly affectioned one to another with bro­therly love; in honour preferring one another.” Phil. 2:3 says, “Let each esteem other better than themselves.” So then we are to view our fellow Christians in love; not as someone who is odd or weird, not even as one who is our equal, but as someone who is better than we. We must always seek to build him up. We must never destroy our brother by ignoring him or his needs. So often we see only what we want to see, help only those we want to help, and fellowship only with those we want to fellowship with. That is not right. God commands us to love one another.

Christian fellowship with one an­other must be an important part of our lives. A good starting point is to belong to societies and be an active member. Well, you say, society is a real drag. Why? Only because you get out of it exactly what you put in. If you don’t prepare and participate, how can you possibly expect to get anything out of society. Societies are not to entertain us. but rather, to help one another grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord.

James 1:19-20 gives us an excell­ent guide on our relationship to our brother. It states, “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.”

Remember those words when you are dealing with other Christians. Remember that we are all part of one body: the body of Christ.

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accus­ers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”  II Timothy 3: 1 – 5

The apostle Paul wrote this letter to instruct Timothy, who was at that time a young minister. In this chapter, Paul is warning Timothy about the signs of the times. We also must take note of these perilous times in which we live. It is clear that the danger of which Paul warns Timothy is not from without the church, but from within. Paul does not warn of violent persecu­tion, but rather of those people who have a form of godliness. They call themselves Christians. They are in the church.

Are these last days and perilous times upon us? It is clear, looking at the world, that they are. We only have to glance at the newspaper to find that all of these signs about which Paul writes are commonplace in the world. Most of these signs are considered normal, acceptable behavior by the world. In fact, Paul had described, for the most part, what the world around us is like today.

We don’t have to look at the world though. Look at the church. Look at our own lives. Does this list describe us? Do we love some of these sins which Paul lists: lovers of our own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphem­ers, disobedient to parents? If so, then we have a real problem. We are not walking separately from the world. We cannot expect God’s blessing upon us when we walk in unrepented sin. Does this list describe us? If so, these are the last days and these are perilous times.

Are we lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God? Do sports come before catechism in your life? Do we come unprepared to society because our social life is too busy? Perhaps we can skip a few Sunday services to vacation: after all, we need rest. We try to justify our sins, but there is no justification for sin, only repentance. If God does not come first in our lives, then we are lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. If we would rather watch T.V. all night, listen to worldly music, or go to the movies, then something is spiritually wrong with us. God is not foremost in our lives. These are perilous times, and the end is near.

Paul refers to people who have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof (verse 5). He refers to people who call themselves Christians, who are baptized, probably go to church, catechism, and Christian schools; how­ever their walk does not show Christ­ianity. They do whatever they please. They do not show repentance, but rather continue in the sinful ways. Paul says, “From such turn away.” Do not “hang around” with these kinds of people. Tell them they are sinning, but don’t count them as your friends. Certainly we see people like this around us.  These are the last days, and these are perilous times.

What makes these times so peril­ous? The devil is very clever. He is working harder than ever, but he is not making a frontal assault on us. The government is not bothering us, we are not suffering severe persecution, nor are our lives in danger. In fact, we live pretty comfortable lives. The devil is attacking us where we are weakest: from within. The devil is lulling us into a false security. Everything is going fine, or so it seems. But gradually we are being rocked to sleep. It isn’t happening overnight, but little by little, we are losing our spiritual sensitivity. Our sins don’t bother us quite as much. More and more our sins are considered normal, acceptable behavior. We are becoming more tolerant of the world and of sin. This cannot be. They are our enemies. We must fight. Our lives must be a continual struggle against all sin. Do not compromise the most important thing in your life for a night out on the town. The devil knows what you, by nature, want. He makes it so available to us: so easy to get. Just a turn of a dial gets the radio or T.V. on. Fight him, continually.

James 4:7 & 8 says, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.” This means if you give in to the devil and your own sinful flesh, the next time the devil tempts you, you will give in that much easier. Gradually you become insensitive to a sin. Your conscience no longer bothers you. That is when you hear yourself make comments like, “I know I shouldn’t be doing it, but it isn’t hurting anyone, and besides, everybody else is doing it.” That is not resisting the devil. If you try to resist the devil in and of your own strength, you will fail. Only in and through God’s strength can we over­come.

Resisting the devil is, first of all hearing and living what we hear preached to us every Sunday. That is most important. Study your catechism and prepare for society. Do not let worldly cares push spiritual priorities out of your life. Learn and love God’s word. We must leave plenty of time, in our busy lives for our own personal devotions. Our lives must revolve around our gratitude for our faith and salvation. That is resisting the devil. When you do that, then he will flee from you.

Then also, you will draw nigh to God. You will become more aware of your salvation. You will be prepared for these last, perilous days that are upon us. You will have to struggle, but the victory is sure. God will protect us in these perilous times in which we live.

Another school and society year is upon us. We are all undoubtedly delighted for this opportunity to study God and His creation. We can hardly wait to talk to our friends about spiritual matters, to discuss God’s Word, to exchange views of the greatness of God, and to listen and learn about God’s plan for the church. After all, this is what enthusiasm is all about, isn’t it?

Sadly, this probably is not the prevalent attitude. We have a lot of wrong reasons to enjoy the new learning year. Our thoughts are not centered on God, but rather on our social life. Is that girl going to notice me? Will that guy ask me out? Whose clothes have all the appropriate labels stuck on them? These are questions that really do not matter. We are sinning when we seek first the things of this world.

We are continually sinning. We have such an easy time justifying our sins. After all, we cannot attain perfection in this life, so we don’t really try. We go carelessly on our sinful way. We casually mock the teachers God has placed in authority over us, even making jokes about them. We forget to listen to God’s word- “Let every soul be subject to the higher powers.’’ God is not mocked. Aren’t we trying to do just that? Why must we continue in these sins? God’s judgment rests upon those who refuse to repent.

We go to the movies and to drinking parties and casually brush these sins aside saying, well, I know I’m sinning, but we have to do something. We can’t be perfect all the time. We will straighten out later. Yet scripture says that a drunkard cannot enter the kingdom of heaven: it’s that simple. Why can’t we understand that? Why can’t we live what scripture says? James 1:23 commands “Be ye doers of the Word and not hearers only.”

We willingly spend all night in front of the T.V. set and let our minds be rotted with that worthless, mindless, godless drivel; but let a teacher lay a couple of hours of homework on us, and listen to us scream. When is the last night that you studied God’s word all evening? What is wrong with us? Are we becoming like the church at Ephesus that lost her first love? (Rev. 2) Doctrinally that church was strong, they defended the truth, and they did good works. Yet because they had lost their first love, God said He would remove their candlestick out of their place except they repented. Have we lost our first love for the truth, and for covenant instruction?

What kind of music do we listen to? Is it God-glorifying? Does it spiritually refresh and nourish us? At roller-skating parties, what do we want to hear? Is it the worst possible popular hits? Oh, we can usually justify ourselves. We are good at that. God doesn’t require that, but He does require repentance.

The world around us is very tempting and very sinful. It looks and feels like such fun. The world says, if it feels good, do it. Wanting to do something is justification for doing it. We also are guilty of this. I felt like doing it so I did it. “It isn’t wrong” we say. We have no idea what it is to deny ourselves. We do and we get whatever we want. We forget that as Christians we are to deny ourselves. We hide our true motives under the broad category of Christian liberty. Mark 8:34, “Who­soever will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” Are we disciples, followers of Christ? Then deny yourself the pleas­ures and lusts of this world.

Just because we go to church twice on Sunday, attend society, and go to Christian schools is no guarantee of heaven. God commands us to walk as Christians. Not just when we want to, or when those in authority are around, but all the time. We are spiritually harming ourselves when we do not. We often say, just like the children of Israel, the people of God are we, the people of God; and go on our sinful way giving no more than a passing thought to our sin. This is a terrible attitude. God says repent.

Repentance is a godly sorrow for our sins. This involves more than tacking on “Forgive us our sins” at the end of our prayer. Our sins should bother us so much that we cannot fall asleep at night because of them – so that finally with tears streaming down our faces, we go before the throne of grace saying, forgive, oh Lord, forgive this wretched man that I am. We must hate our sin, not desire to continue in it. Only then do we come to a realization of our forgiveness: then we can find peace with our God.

We have to learn that it is possible to have good, clean, God-glorifying fun without joining in the world’s sins. We seem to think at times that the only way to have fun is to sin. We had better forget that notion. Does this mean that we have to sit around all the time studying the Bible? No, but we should do a whole lot more of that than we do. We have to realize that being a Christian is hard work.

In Matt. 25:14-30 Jesus instructs us in the parable of the talents. In it we learn that we have a responsibility to use the gifts God gives us to the best of our ability and to God’s glory. Further, we learn that Christ, the master, gives His people work to do. Christ leaves none of His people idle. We are to work for the glory of God and for the good of our fellow Christians. We are not to take the gifts God has given unto us, and hide them, or even just preserve them, but rather, we must develop them. This is our calling in our spiritual lives, and our calling as students.

Your teachers will help you devel­op your talents. Give the teachers your full respect. They have devoted their lives to the cause of covenant educa­tion. They are not perfect, but bear with their weaknesses. Listen to what they have to say. God has placed them over you for a reason.

God commands us in II Timothy 2:15, “Study to show thyself approv­ed”. This involves work. Being a Christian is not something that just mysteriously happens. It must involve a lot of hard work on our part. Do not neglect your personal devotions. We have to do things that by nature we don’t want to do. The only way we will ever do them is through God’s strength in us. The only way to receive the strength is through the preaching and diligent study. Only then can we say with the apostle Paul, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteous­ness.

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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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