FILTER BY:

A Christian school is not an elite institution where only the best, most successful students are accepted, nor is it a place populated by saints whose lives are untouched by the effects of sin.  A Christian school is a place full of sinners, who are perfectly designed by God and covered by the blood of Christ, but who still daily struggle with living in a sinful world with a sinful nature. As a teacher, it will be part of my job to recognize the struggles that each individual student faces and help them. Jesus instructed Peter to “feed my lambs” and “feed my sheep” (John 21:15–16); Jesus knows that his children are like sheep, prone to wander and in need of constant guidance and comfort. Though I too have the heart of a sheep, taking up the calling of teacher means that I also must help shepherd. As a teacher, I must reflect the mercy and kindness of Christ through awareness of and empathy for students’ struggles, patient counseling based on scripture, considerate teaching methods, and above all, prayer.

When I walk into a classroom and survey the room, I must see more than a group of high schoolers whom I need to instruct. The difficulties that each student faces will not necessarily be obvious, but each one of them is a unique human, created by God and placed in a specific situation with particular gifts and struggles, wrestling with the effects of sin in their lives. These effects can be wide-ranging, but they can all be devastating. Looking across a classroom full of students, there might be one grieving the death of a grandparent, parent, sibling, or close friend. Another might face bullying in the hallways or online; some might struggle with learning difficulties or self-image issues. Many of them may be wrestling with depression and anxiety. According to the National Institutes of Health, 13% of young people aged 12–17 experienced a major depressive episode in the last year (NIH 2017); if I have 25 students, that means three of them have likely been touched by depression. Another student might have an unstable family life: perhaps he or she has a single parent or is being torn between two homes in a divorce. Or maybe he or she has parents who are constantly fighting or a mother or father who simply does not make an effort to show them love. Another student could be dealing with an abuser in her home. And it is quite possible that any one of them could be dealing with many of these issues compounded together or be scarred from any one of these events happening years earlier in his life.

All these difficulties are not detached from the learning that happens in school. Students cannot simply drop these burdens at the door; they will carry them into the classroom, where these burdens can quickly lead to academic struggles. For one, these issues will likely lead to an inability to focus. Imagine trying to pay attention to a discussion on The Canterbury Tales when you know you will face a torrent of bullying in the hallways or the next time you open your phone. Imagine trying to remember the structure of DNA when your parents are not speaking to each other. Further, depression and anxiety can lead to dropping grades, a lack of motivation and interest in activities, anger, difficulty with relationships (which only compounds these problems), fatigue, and even physical pain such as headaches and stomachaches (McCarthy 2018). A home in turmoil interrupts the environment needed to do homework and further contributes to depression and anxiety. Research has shown that family structure is correlated with academic performance and attendance; in one study of high school seniors, students with divorced parents had on average a lower GPA and missed almost 60% more classes than those from an intact household (Ham 2003). Students will inevitably come to class bearing anger, grief, sadness, disappointment, or loneliness, on some or many days, and the effects of students’ struggles will manifest themselves in their classroom performance. As a prospective teacher, I need to be prepared to help address these issues.

When dealing with struggling students, the guiding principle must be to model the love of Christ. In his earthly ministry, Christ consistently reached out to the downcast and the outcasts, thereby giving instruction on how I can minister to students today. One important step to being an effective shepherd in the classroom is to cultivate awareness and empathy. Christ knew the heart of each person he encountered, but often he took time to ask them questions and lead them to see their own needs before providing a solution (consider, for example, the blind beggar in Luke 18:35–43 or the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:1–26). I, of course, do not know the hearts of my students, but it is essential for me to cultivate awareness of my students’ lives and ask meaningful questions to draw out their specific needs. Precisely because I do not know their hearts, I must not be quick to assume or to judge but be careful to listen, working to build trust so that students feel comfortable speaking with me. Maybe this means inviting students to come chat during lunchtime, or maybe just being present in the hallways at breaks and in between classes, not lost in preparing lessons or deep in conversation with other teachers about my hobbies. I must actively take interest in students’ activities outside the classroom and build relationships. Like Christ, this all must be done with humility, and I must show love, not just to the students whom I personally feel bad for but for those that are least deserving of mercy. Students that are struggling will most likely not be the most kind or fun to hang out with; they may be distanced and aloof; they may lash out in anger. But I must strive to reflect Christ, although I will do so imperfectly, to reach those who seem unreachable.

Cultivating awareness of and empathy for students may give me the opportunity to speak directly to students about their needs; in this case, the best counsel I can bring is the word of God. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). The word of God is applicable to any situation, and it is efficacious: “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple” (Ps. 19:7). There will be times when students need help beyond what I can provide, but one of the most powerful things that I can do for one of my students is to bring the promises of scripture to them. God’s word is more powerful than any logical suggestions or words of comfort that I can give from my own head. Just as I need Christ daily, I can point my students to their Savior, the Lord who “will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble” (Ps. 9:9).

In addition to bringing the word of God to struggling students, there are other practical things I can do in my classroom to help students that are struggling. In 1 Thessalonians 5:14, we read, “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.” I can support students who are “weak” due to physical or spiritual struggles through concrete changes to the way I teach and by being flexible. If I know a student is going through difficult circumstances, I can be accommodating in expectations for homework. “Be[ing] patient toward all men” in the classroom means that when a student is lagging in schoolwork, I take the time to consider his situation and extend him grace and forgiveness.

This text also speaks to those students who may simply be less academically gifted. God has given each of his children specific talents and specific roles in the body of the church (1 Cor. 12:12–27). This means that not everyone will excel in the classroom, but that does not mean I may ignore them. As a teacher I will be called to do what it takes to come alongside the weaker students to help them to understand as much as they are able. This is an essential component of my teaching education: learning strategies to ensure that students with learning disabilities are not left behind and various methodologies to address different types of learners. By cultivating patience and making adjustments to how I teach, I will aim to support the “weak” and ensure that each student knows his worth as a covenant child of God.

Finally, the most powerful thing that I can do to help struggling students is to pray. Just after the admonishment in 1 Thessalonians 5 to help the weak, we are further exhorted in verse 17 to “pray without ceasing.” Prayer is the means that God has ordained for us to communicate and fellowship with him, and thus through prayer I can bring my burdens and the burdens of my students before our sovereign Father. Through prayer I will be reminded that God is faithful and will keep his promises to his people: “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us” (1 John 5:14). By praying for the specific needs of specific students, I won’t be granted instant answers or solutions, but I will be reminded of God’s sovereignty over their lives, and I can ask God for the patience and love that I need to shepherd them. Moreover, I can pray with students; rather than simply telling them I will pray for them, we can come before God together and dwell on his promises to preserve his people and work all things for their good. We can pray confidently, knowing that my students and I, in all our struggles, are in God’s hands.

Having not yet begun my calling as a teacher, I confess that I do not know exactly what awaits me in the classroom. Right now, I can only imagine the struggles my students and I will face. But today I can foster awareness and empathy for those around me; I can continue to grow in my knowledge of God’s word so that I can more effectively bring words of comfort. I can study teaching techniques for students with special needs, and I can grow in my personal prayer life. I know that none of these things will make me a perfect teacher, for I too am touched by sin and struggles, but I pray and trust that God will guide me as one of his sheep to help teach his flock.

 

Works Cited:

Claire McCarthy, “In Children and Teens, Depression Doesn’t Always Look like Sadness,” Harvard Health Blog, March 13, 2018, www.health.harvard.edu, https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/in-children-and-teens-depression-doesnt-always-look-like-sadness-2018031313472.

National Institutes of Health (NIH), “NIMH » Major Depression,” Major Depression Statistics, 2017, https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/major-depression.shtml#part_155031.

Barry D. Ham, “The Effects of Divorce on the Academic Achievement of High School Seniors,” Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, vol. 38, no. 3–4, Routledge, March 2003, 167–85. Taylor and Francis+NEJM, doi:10.1300/J087v38n03_09.

 

Originally published December 2020, Vol 79 No 12

I learned about many things in college: I had classes on ecosystems, statistical testing, and poetry, and I had many experiences that prepared me for adult life. After four years, I had passed all my college classes, but in reflection, I failed a class that was more important than all the coursework listed on my transcript. In college, God gave me many opportunities to witness, and I stayed silent. In this class, God confronted me with my fear of sharing the gospel and is now graciously convicting me of this essential calling. I hope that by reflecting on the excuses I have told myself, I can encourage all of us to do better in seizing the opportunities for personal witnessing that God puts in our lives.

 

  1. Other people will look down on me if I share my faith. It is easy to say, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ” in your head, but in everyday conversation, we so often stay silent about the gospel. When I was in college, I met many new people, but I was more concerned about my reputation than whether these people knew Jesus Christ. I was afraid that people would put me in the category of “narrow-minded, Bible-pounding evangelical,” and it would hurt any chance I had for becoming friends. While we do need to build relationships first to be effective at sharing the gospel, we can’t let this goal of friendship overshadow our calling carefully to speak the truth in love. Further, Jesus promises that we will be hated by some for sharing our faith (Matt. 10:16–25; John 15:18–27). But Jesus also promises, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matt. 5:10–12).

 

  1. In our post-modern culture, nobody cares about the truth anyway. When I entered college, I was more ready to debate doctrine than to share the basic message of our need for salvation in Christ, so I was discouraged by the lack of deep theological discussion and the attitude that everyone should “find their truth.” However, my discouragement quickly turned to pride and blinded me to individuals who were struggling and missing the spiritual “milk” of the promise of salvation in Christ by faith alone. Christ’s call for us is simple: Go into the world and preach the gospel to everyone (Mark 16:15). And no matter our cultural climate, Jesus promises that his sheep will hear his voice (John 10:27).

 

  1. The way I live is enough of a witness. It is true that how we act and speak is important. This might be the first step to getting someone’s attention, and if we do not walk as followers of Christ, no one will listen to our witness. But it can’t stop there. In college, I hoped that my roommates would notice my Sundays looked different than others’, but rarely would I ever tell them what I had heard in church. I prayed before every meal, but I almost never asked any of them to pray with me, or if I could pray for them. These simple words can make all the difference, and if we are truly thankful and dwelling regularly on what Jesus has done for us, they will begin to flow out naturally. Consider the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4): after Jesus revealed himself to her as the messiah, she did not just go about her life and hope that people would notice how she had changed; she testified to the entire town what she had heard, and “many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman” (John 4:39).

 

  1. I’m not good enough. In the last couple years since college, I have been having more conversations about the gospel with the people God has placed in my life. And as I have worked to set aside my fear and pride, I have been amazed by the hunger that people have for spiritual conversations. Now I am facing a new challenge: feeling completely inadequate to talk about God. I worry that I am going to say the wrong thing and end up turning someone away from faith. I struggle to know where to begin and what words to use. And so often this worry turns me to silence once again. But there is wonderful freedom in knowing that God is sovereign. Consider the absolute ridiculousness of thinking that you are going to “mess up” God’s plans. Yes, we are weak. Yes, we are sinners. But God has called us to evangelism, and this is how he is pleased to carry out his divine decree of election and reprobation. When we speak with others about all that God has done for us, we will make mistakes, but we will also grow in our trust in God and in our understanding and love of the truth.

 

Young people, young adults, whoever may be reading this, our God is powerful to work through our weak means to help bring his people into the church. In college you will have people sitting in your classes who are from countries where the gospel is not freely preached. In your jobs you will have co-workers that are mired in the troubles of the world and sin. In any interaction, at any time, God may be giving you an open door to speak about him. Pray that God will give you the strength to overcome your excuses and fears. Pray for the Holy Spirit to give you the words to use, and pray that he will work in their hearts. And our sovereign God will guide you and use you as he fulfills his grand plan to gather his church.

 

Originally published July 2020, Vol 79 No 7

After the minister says amen and the service ends, I usually pick up my purse, shuffle up the aisle to shake an elder’s hand, and then work my way out of the crowded narthex until I can reach the spot where I normally stand and catch up with my friends. A few weeks ago, something different happened. On my way out of the narthex, one of the women in my church struck up a conversation with me. It started with the usual polite small talk in which I answer questions about what I’m doing at college and if I have summer plans, but somewhere along the way—I’m not quite sure when—it became a lot more meaningful. She counseled me on discerning God’s will for the future, gave me the encouraging words I hardly knew I needed, and offered that I could call her anytime I needed to talk.

This is what being active in the church looks like, and this is God’s calling for the church. It may sound simple, but one of the most important parts of being active in the church is in the everyday: in our thoughtful, godly fellowship with our fellow church members after the church service and beyond.

It’s clear from scripture that God calls us to be active members in the church. In Matthew 25:14-30, we read Jesus’ parable of the talents. In this parable, a master gives a certain number of talents to each of his servants. The ones who use those talents to earn more for their master are rewarded, but the one who simply hoards his talent is rebuked for being slothful. We, too, have been given many gifts from the Lord, and every one of us is called to invest however much we have into the church so that it may grow and Christ may say to us “well done thou good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:21). We read again of these different gifts in I Corinthians 12, which emphasizes how each member of the body has an important role to play—this implies therefore that we are called to fill that role in the church.

We also see this clear calling to be active in the example of the early New Testament church. The book of Acts gives the beautiful account of the spread of the gospel after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. After Peter’s sermon on Pentecost, we read that three thousand people were baptized and, “They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). These new converts didn’t just go home after the sermon to tend their field and think about what they learned on their own; they continued steadfastly in fellowship. They ate meals together and prayed together. We go on to read of that same group selling and sharing their possessions in community (Acts 4:32–37), and they also used their abilities to serve the church. Some men were chosen as deacons (Acts 6:1–7). Others hosted gatherings of believers in their homes (Acts 12:12). Paul also often mentions specific saints for their service in the church at the end of his letters. For example, in Romans he says, “I commend unto you Phebe our sister…that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also” (Romans 16:1–2). Paul calls the church in Rome to be active in assisting members of the church and also points out that Phebe herself was active in helping to care for many Christians. Scripture makes clear that the flourishing, godly congregation is an active one, and that each member is uniquely equipped to contribute to that activity.

But what does this activity look like today in practical terms? When people talk about being active in the church, it’s easy to first think of roles and responsibilities: serving as an office bearer, leading a church committee or bible study, volunteering to make a meal, attending nursery, and so on. These are all excellent ways that we can, and must, be active in the church. However, we might think (maybe subconsciously) that the most active people are the ones who become ministers or teachers or maybe donate the most time and money to church causes. But you don’t have to be a hero with extraordinary gifts or abilities to be an active member of the church, and being an active member certainly can’t be tallied and ranked. For young people especially, it can be easy to excuse ourselves as being not ready for service. If being active is limited to filling these roles, than it must be something we do in the future. But in truth, being active starts by simply being a present and prepared member of the church.

Being present means that we engage in meaningful fellowship after the service. In the book of Hebrews, we read an exhortation to fellowship: “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24–25).  God commands us to gather together not just worship but also to encourage, admonish, and lift each other up that we may be stronger in our faith. This means we don’t rush out to our cars at the end of the sermon. This means that we don’t just talk to our friends about the huge homework assignment we have to finish or the latest basketball results. And this means we talk to more people than just our close friends at church. Something tells me that when the early church members in Jerusalem “continued steadfastly in fellowship,” they weren’t just talking about the weather. We are a body of believers, and we have a shared faith with every member of the church that can form the start of a conversation if we can just get the courage to actively pursue it.

Pursuing God-centered conversations with other members may be simple, but it does require preparation through prayer and devotions. How can we direct a conversation towards spiritual things if it’s not an important part of our own personal lives? If we spend the week in God’s word, then church services become the perfect place to share what we learned with our friends or maybe even discuss a question you came across. Further, if we know God’s word, then we are equipped for counsel when someone presents a struggle, and if we are active in prayer, then we can tell someone that we will pray for them about it…and actually do it. One of the most important ways we can be active in the church is through relationships with others, but that starts outside of the church service with a personal relationship with God.

Of course, like any service in the church, God has equipped some to be more able in this area than others, even with practice and preparation. Some of us are shy. Some of us may not be great at making conversation. But this brings us back to my earlier point: activity in the church isn’t rated or ranked. You do not have to be the extrovert that knows everyone and has a list of prayer concerns for every member of the church. But what if you challenged yourself to talk to just one new person? It doesn’t have to be a complete stranger; maybe it’s one of the men your father always talks to or someone a couple years younger than you that joined your young people’s group this year. Ask them how their week went and get past the initial “good how about you.” Next week, follow up with them on something they mentioned the previous week, and the next, talk to them about something that struck you from the sermon that morning. In a large congregation, one or two small interactions can have a big impact in tying all of us closer together.

There’s also a lot to be said for simply making yourself available. The Bible speaks of the importance of mentorship between the older men and women and the younger—another excellent way for us to be active members in fellowship (Titus 2). It can be difficult to know how to put this into practice, but I think that it starts with the meaningful conversations I’ve been emphasizing. Perhaps you feel intimidated by approaching a group of men or women that you don’t know. I imagine that many of them feel the same way about the groups of young people. What if we simply stood in a different part of church for a change without a friend or a phone and genuinely engaged in a conversation if someone approaches us? Once again, this can do wonders for encouraging the active mentorship the Bible commands.

I know from experience that all of this is easier said than done. In fact writing this makes me painfully aware of how little I practice this. I am guilty of standing with the same group of people at church every week and rarely talking about more than our daily lives. But I know that it can be done. I have been struck by a few people in my life, from friends to an office secretary at my college, who talk freely about their faith with others and offer to pray about difficult circumstances. It is this sort of conversation that freely flows from the mundane to the spiritual—depth that truly matters that we need to cultivate as active members of our church.

If we do this well, think of how this could impact our fellowship and growth as a church. The interactions founded on our shared faith will strengthen that foundation, and it seems inevitable that it will spill over into further activity as well. We would be better at praying with and for one another. We would be more active in applying the sermons to our lives. And if we embrace being active in everyday interactions, think of how welcoming our churches could be to visitors. Think of how this can flow into witnessing! In the book of Acts, just after reading of the fellowship of the early church, we read, “…the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47 ). This pattern continues throughout the New Testament as Paul writes of active congregations being a witness to the rest of the world. When the church is active, people notice, and the church grows.

After that conversation with the woman from my church, I felt more encouraged and content than I had in a long time. When I think about that and all the benefits that can come through active fellowship, I feel the joy that the apostles must have felt as the church in Jerusalem began to bloom. And so I’m trying to make small steps. I joined the women’s fellowship group at my church. I lingered in the narthex to talk to my aunt and ended up talking with a few other ladies. I’m walking along a different path after church and trying to say hello to people by name. Maybe next week I’ll approach someone I’ve never talked to before. And if you try to do this too, maybe we’ll find each other and realize how easy it can be to be active in spiritually focused fellowship.

Certainly we must all look for ways to be active using our specific talents to fill positions and roles in the church, but let us not neglect being active in this simple way as well. By being active in fellowship, we can grow stronger in our faith together in the communion of the saints, the way God designed the church to be.

On a typical Sunday afternoon, my family eats dinner, has devotions, and eventually gathers in the living room to read. For many years, I spent this time doing written work or studying catechism, and afterwards, I would pick up whatever novel I had been reading during the week. Our coffee table almost always held a few copies of The Standard Bearer and Beacon Lights, but I never considered reading them until one day, with my parents’ encouragement, I read an article from Beacon Lights before switching to my regular reading. Though this reading began as something I was simply “supposed to” do, I grew to appreciate Beacon Lights for its relevance to my life and eventually became more interested in other Reformed reading. Beacon Lights is important to me because it helped me develop reading habits that continue to enrich my life as a Christian.

I believe that reading good, Reformed literature is an important part of growing as a believer. Words are an amazing gift from God that let us share ideas, express our faith, see God’s creation from new perspectives, and learn from God’s people throughout church history. Thousands of books, articles, and even blogs exist that can help us grow in our faith. Beacon Lights was my introduction to this world of Reformed reading. The articles are rarely intimidating in their language or topic. They do not shy away from difficult doctrinal concepts, yet also focus on applications to daily life. I remember reading articles about modesty, choosing a vocation, and dating, that helped me through high school. I enjoyed learning from the perspectives of ministers telling their stories of how they were called and from the perspective of elderly saints who lived during very different times, yet shared the same faith. When I found myself struggling to get into a regular habit of devotions, the daily devotionals helped keep me on track with a simple word of encouragement and reflection each day, and eventually, Beacon Lights became a place where I could share my own words with fellow believers. Because I began to read the approachable articles in Beacon Lights, I have begun to appreciate the other good writing by both our Protestant Reformed ministers and other Reformed writers that can help me grow in my faith.

Reading is a valuable resource to us, yet it seems that deep reading is not valued in society today. Most people and online publications emphasize quick reads that state the bottom line and take little time to digest.  How many times have you read the first paragraph of an online article and then clicked on another link before finishing it? Wouldn’t you rather watch a two minute video clip than read a whole news report? I know I often find myself starting to skim after the third paragraph even when the article is interesting to me. Brief articles and videos certainly have their place in effective communication, but it is still essential to read more deeply. If we apply the “too long, didn’t read” mentality to the many books and articles about Christian life and doctrine, we may lose the desire or even ability to learn from the resources that God has given us. Even more importantly, if we can’t take the time to read an article that analyzes and reflects on God’s word, how can we begin to uncover the beautiful truths of scripture by reading the Bible ourselves? It is difficult to make the time to read, but developing the habit of reading and reflecting deeply on God’s truths is crucial, maybe even more so with our busy schedules, and Beacon Lights is an excellent place to start.

There are still several copies of Beacon Lights on the coffee table in our living room, and I’ll admit, I haven’t read any of them cover to cover. However, I am grateful to this magazine for opening the door for me towards meaningful reading, and I know that I can pick up any copy and find a word of encouragement, reflection on scripture, or new perspective to apply to my daily life. I pray that God continues to provide the means to supply these words of guidance and develop the important place of reading in our lives as Christians.

Tell the Truth: The Whole Gospel to the Whole Person by Whole People by Will Metzger. Intervarsity Press, 2002; 259 pages

In Matthew 5 Christ calls the church to go into the world and “teach all nations.” As members of this church, it is our personal calling to witness to others, but it is easy for us as young people to excuse ourselves from this important duty. We may argue that we have no opportunities to witness, or we may settle for simply setting an example with our lifestyle. While being a godly example is certainly an excellent way to witness, God also calls for intentional action. Psalm 96:3 commands, “Declare his glory among the heathen, his glories among all people.” Witnessing can be an intimidating task, and the book Tell the Truth is an excellent guide in this difficult area.  Described as a “training manual on the Message and methods of God-centered witnessing,” Tell the Truth teaches clear, practical steps for witnessing in the doctrinally barren culture of our day.

Tell the Truth is written by Will Metzger, a campus minister at the University of Delaware. At this university, Metzger works with an evangelical group called Intervarsity Christian Fellowship that connects churches with college campuses. Although his evangelical views are not entirely scriptural, his personal experiences in evangelism give him valuable insight into the best practices for witnessing. I found his background particularly valuable in his understanding of the current culture of acceptance and diluted love that Christians face.

I attend a Christian college, and during my first year, I realized that the majority of people on campus did not have a Christianity based on scripture. I expected others to ask me about my beliefs and to debate issues like predestination and common grace. In reality, others smiled and nodded about my beliefs, then talked about how “refreshing” chapel was or just changed the topic. I found people who loved God but could care less about the details. I didn’t know how to lead people beyond their vague ideas about loving Jesus, let alone explain the gospel to someone who had never heard a sermon.

It was this atmosphere of indifference that led me to read Tell the Truth, and Metzger pinpoints it perfectly early on in his book. He analyzes how the culture today has created a “reduced” and “me-centered” gospel. He calls it “something far worse than secularism: a humanistic and relativistic worldview overlaid with a religious veneer” (145). He also notes that if we fall into the trap of this reduced gospel, evangelism becomes “nice people being nice to others in hopes that they will be nice to God, a compromised gospel with a mild god that exists to benefit me” (13). With statements such as these, Metzger demonstrates an accurate and clear perspective on the situation we face as witnesses.

The rest of Tell the Truth describes how to counteract this sinful world view and reduced gospel. He shows how our evangelism must convey a sense of urgency, a proper Christ-centered perspective, and the need for God’s grace. Much of Metzger’s witnessing instruction is centered on a five point summary of the gospel that follows a natural progression, showing God’s sovereignty, his standards, our failure and need for Christ, and the necessary response of thankful obedience. Although his summary certainly does not cover every aspect of God’s word, that is not the intent. Metzger presents this summary as a tool for teaching basic truths, giving examples and proof texts that support each point.

These five points are one of many ways that Metzger uses to teach a practical approach to witnessing. He gives concrete examples and organizes many of his points into charts and diagrams. He also lists excuses and difficulties that a Christian may face while witnessing and advises how to direct the conversation beyond them. Although some of his methods are reminiscent of the advertisement-like tracts you may find handed to you on a street corner, Metzger actually acknowledges the “forced’ nature of some witnessing and challenges readers to overcome our aversion to it. He suggests that this forced atmosphere may merely be a product of our fear of criticism and failure to put our call to witness into practice. Metzger challenges readers to speak God’s word at every opportunity, pointing out that our sinful pride is the only thing we stand to lose.

Tell the Truth contains some points with which we would disagree. Metzger’s book does include a defense of the doctrine of predestination, showing how sovereign grace is the only logical and comforting means to salvation. However, he does not specifically state this position until halfway through the book, and up until that point, I questioned where he stood on the issue. Metzger often uses the language of accepting Christ, the offer of salvation, and responding to Christ’s call, despite his insistence that man is totally depraved and God is sovereign. Also, he follows his defense of election with a promotion of common grace. He points out how reprobation can seem unfair when it comes to “kind old ladies” that are under God’s judgment, and he uses common grace as the explanation, citing it as “the source of human kindness” (122). In the midst of his practical, logical defense of God’s works, I was disappointed to find this section lacking in Reformed truth.

Although Tell the Truth is missing some parts of “the whole gospel,” I highly recommend it for the discerning reader. This book serves as an excellent resource of practical help in witnessing, especially for young people entering the challenging atmosphere of college. It also provides a needed nudge to those who find themselves in an environment with “no opportunities” to witness. I know that I will keep my copy on hand as a reminder and guide for fulfilling God’s command to tell his truth.

When I got my driver’s license two years ago, I considered buying a GPS. I have never been the best with directions, often relying on “turn left at the gas station” rather than “go north 6 miles.” I worried about getting lost, but looking back, I am glad I did not make the purchase.  A GPS bought two years ago would have lost much of its value by now. Roads and rest stops have changed, and now I could buy a single device that does much more than give directions. But soon that device too will be outdated. New technology is constantly refilling the shelves, leaving yesterday’s marvels in the dust. In contrast to these tools and devices, I have a guide for my spiritual life that remains trustworthy after 450 years: the Heidelberg Catechism. With its simple, orderly style, the Heidelberg Catechism provides a practical and personal guide in our ever-changing, truth-denying world.

According to Lord’s Day 7, faith is first “a certain knowledge, whereby I hold for truth all that God has revealed to us in his word.” In order to love and serve God, I must know him. To know God, I must read his revelation in scripture. Only the Bible is infallible and inspired, but the Heidelberg Catechism helps me understand scripture by laying out the essential doctrines of faith in a structured manner. It clearly summarizes the ideas taught by multiple verses throughout scripture, and scriptural proof lies behind every Lord’s Day. The truths taught in the Heidelberg Catechism form the foundation of my faith.

The Heidelberg Catechism is structured in order to teach me this crucial knowledge of God. From early childhood to adulthood, humans learn by asking questions. Anyone could attest to the fact that children love to ask, “Why?”  Or take the scientific method for example; step one is, “Ask a question.” With its question and answer style, the Heidelberg Catechism is uniquely fit for instruction.

Each article of the Catechism brings forth a new question that I may face, and each question logically follows the next.  For example, Q 20 asks if all men are saved in Christ. The answer is, “No, only those who are ingrafted into him, and receive all his benefits, by a true faith.” The next obvious question is, “What is true faith?”, and this is precisely the next question and answer given in Q&A 21. From question to question, Lord’s Day to Lord’s Day, the catechism follows a logical progression of questions and answers that lead me to a more complete knowledge of God.

In addition to the logical flow of questions, the overall structure of the Heidelberg catechism is orderly. The Catechism is divided into three main parts. The first convicts me as a sinner. The second gives me the comfort of salvation from this sin in Christ. The catechism teaches the blessings of our salvation through the articles of the Apostles’ Creed, explaining the role of each member of the Trinity. The second part also teaches me about the sacraments of baptism and The Lord’s supper as the means by which God confirms the promise of my salvation. The third part tells me how to live a life pleasing to God: the natural response to the salvation described in the second part. The third part also teaches the requirements of God’s law and the necessary parts of proper prayer. By teaching guilt, grace, and gratitude, the Heidelberg Catechism thoroughly sets forth the essentials of faith.

Another outstanding characteristic of the Heidelberg Catechism is its timelessness. The Catechism was first published in 1563 after a commission from Elector Frederick III (The Confessions and the Church Order of the PRC). Four hundred fifty years later, the truths it teaches remain applicable, and the style remains understandable. I think I can safely say that no other guide or tool made 450 years ago remains practical today. Although the Catechism certainly reflects the time period in which it was written (for example, the Roman Catholic practice of mass is dealt with extensively because it was a weighty issue at the time), the truth remains the same, and the priniciples presented can be continually applied to whatever new issues arise. The simple and beautiful instruction of the Heidelberg Catechsim has preserved the truth for 450 years, and Lord willing, it will continue to do so for many generations to come.

With its practical format and style, the Heidelberg Catechism provides an invaluable resource for teaching God’s word through the preaching. According to the Heidelberg Catechism, the Holy Spirit works faith in my heart “by the preaching of the gospel” ( Q&A 65). The Canons of Dordt also teach that God begins working his saving grace in me by the preaching (Canons 5.14). The Heidelberg Catechism provides an orderly approach to this essential preaching. By preaching one Lord’s Day each week, our churches can systematically go through all the necessary doctrines of scripture over a year or two.  In this way, the structure of the Heidelberg Catechism helps preserve the church in the doctrinal truths of scripture.

Without the Heidelberg Catechism and our other creeds, the church would be lost in the ambiguous atmosphere of the world today. Many churches today have lost their foundation because they have replaced doctrinal sermons with entertainment and “short messages” about Christ’s love. Of even greater concern are the postmodern movements that proudly declare that there is no absolute truth. The idea of a structured set of doctrine is almost unheard of in today’s culture, in which acceptance replaces morality, and tolerance is the greatest virtue.

The truths of scripture as they are clearly set forth by the Catechism are essential. Despite the ideas of the world today, the many questions of life must have only one answer, and they all can be found in scripture. The Heidelberg Catechism aids me in the search for and defense of this truth by setting forth the Biblical answers in an easy to understand and logical manner. I can find immense comfort knowing that I have the Catechism as a guide against the many false teachings of the world.

Clearly the Heidelberg Catechism helps provide the knowledge necessary to know God, but we also must remember that “the knowledge of faith is not simply a collection of facts which one cognizes, categorizes, and debates like armchair theology. The knowledge which is the Reformed faith is known and lived” (Smidstra). According to Q&A 21, true faith is also “an assured confidence, which the Holy Ghost works by the gospel in my heart.” I can know a lot about God and his works, but I also need to believe and confess these truths from my heart. The Heidelberg Catechism helps make this possible with its personal perspective.

Every question and answer in the Catechism is worded as a personal confession. In Q&A 1, the Catechism does not say, “Christians belong unto their faithful savior Jesus Christ.” It says “I belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.” By using first person pronouns, the Heidelberg Catechism makes me apply each doctrine to my life personally so that the words come from my heart, not just my head.

The focus of the catechism is also personal. It is not just a cold list of doctrinal principles to be memorized.  Lord’s Day 1 could have begun with the hard, condemning truth of total depravity. Instead the Heidelberg Catechism begins with a comforting answer to the meaning and goal of my life: I belong to Christ, my Savior, and “without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head” (Q&A 1). From the first Lord’s Day to the last, the Catechism teaches the gospel, the “good news” of my salvation in Christ.

Another aspect of the personal nature of the Heidelberg Catechism is that it applies to me throughout my life. I distinctly remember the sound of tapping pens as I wrote out that week’s memorized Lord’s Days with my Heidelberg Catechism class. I had heard the Heidelberg Catechism preached every Sunday since I could first sit quietly in church, but it was then that the importance of the Catechism began to take shape in my mind. In class they were memorized answers, but as I mature, I grow in my understanding of the meaning and application of each Lord’s Day. Each new sermon and each new  year brings new meaning to the things taught in the Heidelberg Catechism. The Catechism provides comfort and understanding to every member of the church, from the children to the elderly.

Some could argue that the weekly preaching of the Catechism is repetitive, but each series on the Catechism provides a different perspective, and those listening find new ways to apply it to their ever-changing lives. Herman Hoeksema eloquently states this idea in the preface to his commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism, The Triple Knowledge. He says that when the Catechism is faithfully preached, “so that with every new series the preacher enters upon his task with new zeal…neither he nor his congregation ever grow weary of this form of doctrinal preaching, but rather grow in their appreciation of it and, of course, increase in their capacity to receive it”  (Hoeksema). The questions and answers of the Heidelberg Catechism are simple enough for a child to understand, yet deep enough to delve into for a lifetime.

The Heidelberg Catechism is a better guide and tool than any device or gadget this world can provide. Its order provides clarity. Its teachable instruction aids the preservation of doctrine, and its timeless truth and personal perspective lead me to confess my faith from the heart. Amid the turmoil of this life, the Heidelberg Catechism provides practical and personal instruction essential for faith and a godly life. As I go forward to college, the workplace, and the rest of my life, I am thankful that I have the orderly Heidelberg Catechism as my guide.

 

Works Cited

Hoeksema, Herman. The Triple Knowledge, Vol. 1. Grand Rapids: Reformed Free Publishing Association, 1970. Print.

Smidstra, Justin. “Walking by Faith (2).” 25 June 2013. Young Calvinists. web. 26 June 2013.

The Confessions and the Church Order of the Protestant Reformed Churches. Grandville, MI: Protestant Reformed Churches in America, 2005. Print.

“We are gathered here because within six months we hope to see covenant young men and young women, through the covenant faithfulness of their parents and friends, enter through the doors of Covenant Christian High to be taught the matters of their natural life by covenant blessings to be bestowed upon them, through this instruction, by our covenant God.” These were the opening words of Rev. Heys at the date-stone laying ceremony for Covenant Christian High School on April 20, 1968 (Doezema). To this day, these words hold true as hundreds of God’s covenant children have received the blessings of an education centered on God’s word at this school. Truly to appreciate this blessing, we must examine the history of Reformed education and see the hard work of the men and women who made the school possible. The establishment of Covenant Christian High School not only marked the end of a long struggle to establish true Reformed secondary education, but it was also the beginning of a school which has grown, strengthened, and remained a firm foundation for the education of God’s covenant young people for forty-three years.

To understand the purpose and benefit of Covenant Christian High School, we must first understand the importance of Reformed education. Proper education of God’s children is a command of God and a high calling to parents. Article 21 of the Church Order states “The consistories shall see to it that there are good Christian schools in which the parents have their children instructed according to the demands of the covenant.” Also, part of the baptismal vow is the parents’ promise to “see these children …instructed and brought up in the aforesaid doctrine, or help or cause them to be instructed therein, to the utmost of your power.” God establishes his covenant with the children of believers. In order to share in the covenant relationship of friendship with God, children must be brought up in the knowledge of God through an education that is centered on God’s word and the Reformed confessions. This education must not be limited to catechism and Sunday school. According to Professor David Engelsma, we cannot uphold this command and still send God’s children to worldly schools, “five days a week, six or seven hours a day, nine months a year, for some thirteen or more years of their life” (Engelsma). If we did not have Covenant Christian High School or any of our other Protestant Reformed schools, our churches would be filled with poorly educated members who question and change the principles of our churches (Engelsma).

Although our church fathers understood the need for good Reformed education, an important question came up. What is a “good” Christian school? In the years just after the Protestant Reformed churches were formed in 1924, members of the church continued to send their children to the schools of the Christian Reformed church. At first this was a good solution, since they were the best Christian schools available at the time, but as the years went by, church members began to question whether we needed our own PR schools alongside of the CR schools. Some believed that the schools were slowly moving away from the Reformed confessions, and so in the 1930’s a movement to establish our own Protestant Reformed schools began.

One of the main supporters of this movement was Rev. Herman Hoeksema. Even before the Protestant Reformed (PR) churches were established, Rev. Hoeksema preached about the high calling of Christian education, and as dangerous teachings began to creep into the schools, he began to express his concerns. In 1931 and 1932, Hoeksema wrote a series of 11 articles in the Standard Bearer in which he closely examined the Christian Reformed (CR) schools of the day and declared that they were a “failure”.  One of the issues that made the schools a failure was the lack of support from the parents for the Christian Reformed schools. This was caused especially by a movement to introduce religious education into public schools. With this in place, the CR schools would seem unnecessary and inferior. Hoeksema warned of mistaking a religious education for a Christian education. He believed that sending children to the Christian Reformed schools would still be better than a public school education. However, Hoeksema was not so much interested in the failure of support for the schools, but rather, the failure of the CR schools to remain true to the Reformed confessions. He argued that the schools that were established by Christian Reformed parents would eventually walk down the same erroneous path as the CR churches did in 1924. Another minister, Rev. George M. Ophoff, shared this opinion and wrote in the Standard Bearer in 1926 about his deep concern for the Christian schools of the day (Lubbers #3).

To give reason for their disapproval of the CR schools, both Rev. Ophoff and Rev. Hoeksema individually critiqued the six principles of the Christian Reformed schools as published in July 1925. Although their critique is too lengthy to include in great detail, the general conclusion was that these principles were vague and subtly supported heretical ideas such as common grace, free will, and Pelagianism (Lubbers #3). After critiquing each point, Rev. Hoeksema wrote his own six points of Reformed education that would properly “regulate the instruction, discipline, and administration of truly Christian schools” (Lubbers #1). Hoeksema’s points are more specific, accurate, and hold firmly to the Reformed confessions (See chart below). It is a testimony to their completeness and agreement with the confessions that Hoeksema’s six points are still used as the basis for all of our Protestant Reformed School societies today.

After seeing the problems with the CR schools, Hoeksema at first encouraged believers to reform the schools according to the specific principles he established in these six points. However, he soon saw that this was impossible due to the common grace movement and the strong influence of other heretical ideas (Lubbers #2). He then began to promote the necessity of forming our own Protestant Reformed Schools. He said that our position should be that “wherever and whenever the Lord makes it possible, or opens the way, Protestant Reformed people should establish and maintain their own schools” (Hoeksema).

Through the work of these ministers and other believers who promoted the establishment of our own Protestant Reformed Schools, God was working to bring about the establishment of CCHS. But before our high school was established in West Michigan, God worked in the believers on the other side of the country to establish the very first Protestant Reformed school. In 1934, First Reformed Christian School began in the basement of the PR church in Redlands. Sadly, after many years of success, the existence of the school ended during the 1953 controversy. However, in 1975, a new society was formed and established Hope Christian School in Redlands once again. Regardless of its early struggles, this school served as a stepping stone towards establishing the other PR schools (Dykstra).

While the PR school in Redlands was busy developing, the believers in West Michigan began to take the first tentative steps towards establishing their own school. On Feb. 5, 1937, a group of men met in the basement of First Church of Grand Rapids and made the decision to start a society for establishing a high school.  A few months later, the Protestant Reformed Society for High School education was created. Immediately this group of men began to gather information about the requirements for establishing a high school, but as they learned more over the years, their goal gradually shifted to building an elementary school instead. In a meeting on April 18, 1941, the Protestant Reformed Society for High School education disbanded, and a new society was formed without the specific goal of a high school (Doezema). Through the work of this new society, Adams Christian elementary school opened on Sept. 6, 1950 as a PR elementary school (Dykstra).

Adams Christian School faithfully served the great purpose of educating God’s young children in the fear of his name, but a huge problem remained: the Reformed foundation established in the elementary school was not built upon after the students graduated. Once they graduated, children of believers had to go to other schools that did not support the Reformed viewpoint of the PR churches. It was no mistake that the original society’s goal was to establish a high school. Many believed that the need for a high school was much greater than that of an elementary school, including Rev. Hoeksema. He pleaded for a high school, saying that, “the age when our boys and girls attend high school is the period in their life when they begin to reflect, to think for themselves, when, more than in the years of their childhood, they are able to imbibe and understand definite principles and doctrines, when it is of utmost importance, that…they are guided in the right direction” (Doezema). God’s young people need an education in their high school years that is “based on and permeated with the distinctive doctrines of the Reformed faith as set forth in the Reformed confessions” (Engelsma). With this great need in mind, our Reformed fathers set out once again to establish a high school.

In the late 1950’s the Society for Protestant Reformed Education was established at a meeting in Southwest PRC. Just a few years later, in 1963, the society purchased 10 acres of land near Hope school and church (Doezema). But before the high school could open, the church members had to raise the money for it! The operating budget for the first year was set at $58,931. However, the fundraising goal for the first year was only $38,000. Today, we can almost laugh at how small this amount seems, but back then, raising that amount of money was a monumental task. To achieve this lofty goal, a group of men formed a fundraising group that became known as the “Father Marchers”. They held a walk-a-thon type fundraiser and also performed a “10,000 minute drive” in which 100 father marchers devoted 100 minutes each to calling people for donations. Through these fundraisers and many generous donations, they were able to exceed the $38,000 goal. This group also continued to raise funds for the next few years and basically became the first fundraising committee of Covenant Christian High School (Date box packet).

Finally, after many years of planning and prayers, construction began in 1968 on the first Protestant Reformed high school. The date-stone laying ceremony was held on April 20, and in the fall of that same year, Covenant Christian High School opened its doors to about 60 students in 10th and 11th grade. There were originally six teachers, working under the administrator, Mr. Roland Peterson (Doezema). The school was equipped with one overhead projector, copier, and typewriter (all very advanced at the time). The society also had purchased microscopes, records, tapes, textbooks, and about 400 books to start the school’s library (date box packet). With all these resources, Covenant Christian became the academically sound and firmly Reformed high school that Hoeksema, Ophoff and hundreds of believers had prayed for.

God continued to uphold our high school, and over the years it grew and developed under his gracious hand. In 1969, just a year after Covenant opened, a senior class was added, bringing the total enrollment to 106 students (Dykstra).  Also, from 1971 to 2008 there were several additions made to the school:

(Covenant Christian High School)

 

Not only did CCHS grow over the years, but many new Protestant Reformed schools were also established in West Michigan, Wisconsin, Colorado, Minnesota, Iowa, and Illinois, including another high school. In addition, many of our churches that do not have a PR school today are working to establish their own schools. All of these schools and developments provide the wonderful blessing of a firm education based on God’s word for his covenant children.

Today, in 2011, Covenant Christian School has 227 students, fourteen full time and three part time teachers, academic advisors, counselors, and a library media specialist. Even more amazing, right now the loud noises of construction can be heard outside the school as Covenant undergoes yet another development. Lord willing, in fall of 2012 Covenant will finally add a freshman class, bringing the total enrollment to about 350 students. With these new students will come many changes to the school. Currently being added to the building are six new classrooms, two science labs, additional office space, a larger teacher lounge, locker rooms, and a larger academic support room (Covenant Christian High School). What a gracious God we have that our small school can grow and develop so much!

The establishment of Covenant Christian High School marked the end of a long struggle to establish true Reformed secondary education, but it also was the beginning of a school that has grown, strengthened, and remained a firm foundation for the education of God’s covenant young people for forty-three years. God was working throughout these years, from the early conflicts with the CR schools to the laying of the school’s foundation to the development of the school. He has graciously enabled us to fulfill his calling of covenant education through this high school and the many other Protestant Reformed schools across the country. There is no telling where we would be if we did not have CCHS to give the future members of the church a firmly Reformed education, and there is no telling where God will lead the school next, but we can be assured that God will continue to preserve his young people in firmly Reformed doctrine.

 

(

The Six Points of the CR Schools Rev. Hoeksema’s Six Points
1. The Bible is the Book of books. By virtue of its divine organic inspiration (II Pet. 1:21) it is unique among all books. The Bible is not only the infallible rule of faith and conduct, but also the infallible guide of truth and righteousness. All school administration, instruction, and discipline should be motivated by biblical principles. 1. The Bible is from beginning to end the written Word of God, given by infallible inspiration. All school administration, instruction, and discipline shall be based on it and permeated by its teaching, for we acknowledge that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.
2. God is triune (Matt. 3:16, 17). He is the Creator of all that is, the Sustainer of all that exists, and the ultimate end of all things (Rom. 11:36). God who is transcendent (Is. 40) and immanent (Ps. 139) is the absolute loving Sovereign over all (Dan. 4:31); men should seek to do His will on earth as it is done in heaven.

 

2. God, who created and sustains all things and governs them according to his sovereign counsel; who is triune and, as such, lives an eternal covenant-life of friendship in infinite perfection; from eternity chose and in time forms a people unto himself, to stand in covenant-relationship unto him in Christ Jesus their Lord, that they might walk in all good works which he ordained for them, and in all their life in the world should be to the praise of his glory, children of light in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.
3. Man is a fallen creature (Gen. 3). Though depraved man is nevertheless an image bearer of God (Eph. 2:5), and through restraining grace he is able to do civil good (Rom. 2:14). Though lost in sin, man can be saved through faith in Christ (John 3:16); and through restoring grace, in principle, is able to do spiritual good (I John 3:9).

 

3. From a fallen and wholly depraved human race, and in the midst of a world that lieth in darkness, a crooked and perverse generation, God saves his elect, establishing his covenant with them and their children in the line of continued generations, forming them by his sovereign grace in Christ into a people of himself, that they might be his friends, and, living in every sphere of life from the principle of regeneration through faith, they should show forth his praises and walk as children of light in the world.
4. The world is steeped in sin. All aspects of life, individual and family, social and political, industrial and economic, even the animal world, nature, and things inanimate, show the mars and scars, the subversions and perversions of sin (Rom. 8:22). The virtue, order, and beauty which is still present in the world is a manifestation of God’s goodness (Matt. 5:45).

 

4. In the midst of and in distinction from the evil world that lieth in darkness and is perverse in all its ways because of sin, it is the calling of the people of God to live by grace from the principle of regeneration according to the will of God in every sphere of life, individual, family, social, industrial, political, and ecclesiastical, so that they may be children of light in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. Hence they insist that all education, that must prepare their children for such an all-sided Christian walk in the world, shall be adapted to this purpose.
5. The all-embracing objective of the school is to promote the glory of our covenant God: (a) by seeking in humble dependence upon God to equip the pupil for his supreme task, namely, to realize himself as God’s image-bearer (II Tim. 3:17); and (b) by seeking in the same dependence upon God to reconstitute the sin-perverted world by realizing God’s kingdom in all spheres and phases of life (Matt. 6:33). This is possible at least in principle through Christ, who is not only the Creator (as the Logos) but also the Recreator (John 1). 5. It is the objective of the Christian school to furnish the pupil with an education which in all its branches is rooted in the principle of the fear of God as the beginning of wisdom; and thus to co-labor, in its own proper domain, alongside of and in distinction from the home and the church, to equip the pupil with that knowledge and wisdom which is necessary in order that he may be able to walk in the midst of the world worthy of the vocation wherewith God calls his people, and that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
6. In determining the Course of Study to be offered, in preparing the lesson material, in giving the daily instruction, the above purpose shall be consciously present as the all-embracing objective. To accomplish this great task, the teacher must have the fear of God in his heart and the determination to live it out in his profession; and he must utilize to the full whatever light God’s Special Revelation sheds upon the various realms of human knowledge. 6. In determining the Course of Study of the Christian school the principles heretofore set forth should be adopted as a basis for the entire curriculum. And of the teacher, upon whom rests the responsible task of carrying out this course of study, it shall be required that he present a testimonial from a Reformed Normal School. It shall also be required of him that he express full and wholehearted agreement with the basic principles heretofore set forth and that he declare his purpose to make of the teaching profession no stepping-stone but his life-task.

(qtd. in Lubbers)

 

Works Cited

“Cornerstone Date Box Packet.” 1968.

Covenant Christian High School. 2009. December 2011 <http://www.covenantchristianhs.org/index.php>.

Doezema, Donald. “Covenant Christian High School.” 1 December 1980. The Standard Bearer. 5 December 2011 <http://sb.rfpa.org/index2.cfm?mode=narrow&volume=57&issue=585&article=5807&book=0&search=Establishment%20of%20Covenant%20Christian%20High%20School&page=1&chapter=0&text_search=0>.

Dykstra, Professor Russell. “Protestant Reformed Schools.” Our Goodly Heritage Preserved. The Protestant Reformed Churches in America, 2000. 88-114.

Engelsma, Prof. David. “So Built We the Wall.” 1 October 2001. The Standard Bearer. December <http://sb.rfpa.org/index2.cfm?mode=narrow&volume=78&issue=105&article=646&book=0&search=Establishment%20of%20Protestant%20Reformed%20Schools&page=1&chapter=0&text_search=0>.

Hoeksema, Prof. H.C. “Protestant Reformed Education A Continuing Calling.” 1 February 1966. The Standard Bearer. November 2011 <http://sb.rfpa.org/index2.cfm?mode=narrow&volume=42&issue=900&article=9271&book=0&search=Establishment%20of%20Protestant%20Reformed%20Schools&page=2&chapter=0&text_search=0>.

Lubbers, Agatha. “Establishing Schools to Provide Reformed-Covenant Education (series: 1-9).” 15 November 1998. The Standard Bearer. November 2011 <http://sb.rfpa.org/index2.cfm?mode=narrow&volume=75&issue=167&article=1280&book=0&search=Establishment%20of%20Protestant%20Reformed%20Schools&page=1&chapter=0&text_search=0>.

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 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 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