FILTER BY:

I.  What is Christian courtesy?

A.  What is courtesy?

1.  It is defined as curtsy or courteous behavior.

a.  Curtsy is an action which express­es deep respect by bodily action or gesture.

b.  Courteous behavior implies the state of having such manners as befit the court of a prince.

2.  However, today courtesy has spread out its meaning and it involves all sorts of man­ners which any man might have.

a.  It includes a graciously polite and respectful attitude towards the position or     feel­ings of others.

b.  These manners must be performed to all those about us whether they are superior to us or inferior.

B.  What then is Christian courtesy?

1.  Does it differ from secular courtesy?

a.  Do Christians perform more cour­teous actions?

b.  Do the Christian deeds of courtesy come from the heart and the secular deeds of courtesy are only done for outward show?

2.  How does courtesy become Christian?

a.  Is our courtesy Christian before we are regenerated?

b.  Can we really show a graciously polite and respectful attitude towards someone else’s position or feelings?

3.  Was Christ very courteous in His actions?

a.  What about His actions toward the scribes and Pharisees? (confer Matt. 23, Mark 7:5-13, Matt. 22:15-22)

b.  What about some of His actions to His own people and followers? (confer Luke 10:38-42, Matt. 15:21-28)

c.  Did not Christ show respect and was He not polite only to those who served Him?

d.  How must our courteous behavior be in comparison to Christ’s?

II.  What is the basis for our Christian courtesy?

A.  Must the Christian pattern his courtesy after the many manners of the secular realms?

1.  Must we confer with the books of prop­er behavior and courtesy?

2.  Must we base our courtesy upon the ideas and thought of Ann Landers or any other person who is an expert on proper behavior?

3.  Is it really important that the children learn proper deeds of courtesy while they are at home and in school?

B.  Rather we must believe that the child of God must go to the Bible in order to see how his behavior must be.

1. What does the Bible say?

a.  Concerning the bodily actions that we apply to courtesy or politeness the Bible has several instances where men performed courte­ous actions toward their friends or neighbors.

b.  Read Genesis 18:1-8 and see how Abraham was courteous.

c.  Read Genesis 19:1-3 and see how Lot was courteous.

d.  We also can read of rules for eating at a guest’s table, (confer Proverbs 23:1, Luke 10:8, I Corinthians 10:27)

e.  We can also read in the Bible the different ways of greeting each other and the dif­ferent salutations which are used, (confer Matt. 26:49, I Sam. 25:23, Mark 5:22, Gen. 19:2, Gen. 43:29, Luke 10:5, Ruth 2:4 and I Cor. 16:21)

f.  What must be our attitude towards all of these passages and is this enough that we do these outward acts only?

2.  There are also some good passages which might serve as good basis for all of our deeds of courtesy.

a.  We have Jesus’ words in Matthew 13:12.

b.  We have Jesus’ parable of the exal­tation of the humble in Luke 14:7-11.

c.  There are also Christ’s words in Matthew 5:38-47, which tell us to do good unto our neighbors and our enemies.

d.  There are Paul’s words in Galatians 6:9-10 where we are admonished to do good to all men.

e.  There are many more texts but these texts are good foundations for all of our deeds of courtesy.

3.But when all is said and done are not all of our acts of courtesy and politeness depen­dent upon the sum of the law and the prophets which Jesus gave to us in Matthew 22:37-40?

a.  If we are to show courtesy and respect toward others must we not first of all fear and love God?

b.  If we are to show courteous deeds to our neighbor must we not love him and esteem him better than ourselves (Phil. 2:3, Eph. 5:21, I Peter 5:5)?

c.  Read I Peter 3:8-17 and you will see that love first be present in a man if he is to show respect and do courtesy to others.

d.  Can we then do courteous things to others without loving that person, and also do the ungodly then perform true and genuine deeds of courtesy?

e.  Must we not be very careful to make sure that we examine our motives in our courteous actions?

III.  Now we must take a look at our own deeds and see whether we need improvement.

A.  What about our actions toward those with whom we come in contact?

1.  Do we as citizens show enough respect to our authorities?

a.  Do we respect our government because it is more powerful than we are or because we feel that it is instituted by God?

b.  Do we show enough respect to our parents, teachers, and ministers and how do we show courtesy to them?

2.  Does our courteous action to others proceed from a love and an esteeming of them as better and higher than we are?

a.  Do we show this courtesy to even our inferiors, i.e. younger brothers or sisters, friends that are not as talented, etc.?

b.  Or are our deeds done so that we look good and virtuous to others?

3.  Do we consider our courteous actions as good works which please God?

B.  What improvements can we make in our lives?

1.  Must we be more friendly to strangers?

a.  Do we do as we are commanded in Leviticus 19:34, “But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”

b.  Must we not work more on meeting and greeting strangers?

2.  Must we not show more respect to the elderly?

a.  I think that we as young people can visit the elderly more often.

b.  We can also go to them with ques­tions so that we might obtain some wisdom from them.

It is true that at the beginning of time the Devil was limited to the means by which he could present evil to our first parents. He only had an insignificant piece of fruit, and a few malicious lies which he could subtly use in order to cause Adam and Eve to fall. But with this little leverage he has acquired a vast supply of material things that are used by him today as means to the end of causing men to fall into deep sin. Over the years as man has invented many new things the Devil has used them to present evil. Evil today can appear in many shapes and forms before our eyes. All the inventions of men are good and profitable, but the Devil turns them around so that they serve him and present his perversities. The radio no longer is simply used for good music and sound words of the gospel, but it is crammed full of false advertisement, false ideas, and horrid music. So we today need to hear a strong word from the Scriptures concerning these appearances of evil.

We read this in one of Paul’s epistles which are loaded with sound admonitions given in love. In his 1st Thessalonians 5:22, we read the following: “Abstain from all appearances of Evil.” This concise admonition appears within a group of seven short admonitions which are very practical for our lives. Paul tells the saints that they must rejoice, pray without ceasing, give thanks, quench not the spirit, despise not prophesying, prove all things, and finally abstain from evil appearances. These all are given with the end result that we will be completely sanctified and that our body, soul, and spirit will be without blemish before God. These activities should take up all of our time in life if we truly sought to follow them.

Now in the first place we must see that Paul makes clear to us that evil is something which can be seen by us. Evil is not something that hides under a bushel and quietly sneaks up on us. Rather evil in this verse is something which we easily recognize. It is a thing which makes much noise. It is very perverse and ugly to our regenerated eyes. There is nothing pleasing in it. This is always the case for young people in this present day and age. If he can say that he does not see evil he must be very blind and deaf. Evil today parades itself noisily about in every marketplace. It loves the amplifiers of the musicians. It loves large groups of young persons so that it might be rowdy. It thrives in the large and crowded cities of America. The nature of evil is not just to stay cooped up in the chambers of man’s heart and brain. Rather if it begins as an evil motive it is not at peace until it becomes an evil action. An evil thought of hatred does not rest until it manifests itself as an evil deed of murder. Evil loves to show itself and it loves an audience.

In the second place Paul commands us to abstain from these various appearances of evil. This is a personal action of ours which must be done daily. There is not rest from this activity for us young people. We may see this activity of perversity today. We are not allowed to see as much evil as we can let alone to see how much we can do. We should strive to keep our mind, soul, and spirit in separation from evil. Now this is not isolation for that is impossibility and because there are some good things to be had out of life for the Christian. But it is a avoiding of evil appearances such as pornography, violence, disrespect for authority, and drunkenness. We must not dash to see these things but we should flee from them.

But finally in the third place we must not think that if we simply avoid evil we will be alright. No, this is not even the case in this admonition of Paul. Implied in this admonition is something positive which is always the case for the Christian. Not only must we avoid evil, but we by all means must fly after that which is good and pleasing in God’s eyes. Paul would want us to remember some of his other words which he penned in another one of his letters. In Philippians 4:8 Paul says “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” The Christian life is negative by being positive. If we love and do things which are good we will indeed avoid every appearance of evil.

I. What is it?

A. The biblical idea of witnessing.

1. It first of hall has a legal connotation to it.

a. To be an eye-witness to a certain transaction.

b. To be a witness to the selling of a certain piece of land.

c. To witness to the marriage of someone.

2. It means to testify to the truth of a certain fact.

a. To be in a court of law where we must testify to the innocenceor guiltiness of a defendant.

b. Jesus and Peter testified to their innocence and blamelessness before the Jews.

3. In the Bible it also carries the meaning of giving an answer to someone who asks us a question.

 a. Job answered to his friend, Bildad, when he claimed that Job’s troubles were related to one of his previous sins, (Job 9).

b. Stephen the deacon answered the Jews who accused him of saying blasphemous words against the temple and the law, (Acts 7).

 c. In these two instances notice their knowledge of the Bible, their concepts concerning God, and their sharp words, (How are these to be applied to our own witnessing today?).

B. So today witnessing for us, is:

1. To answer our questioners in a scriptural, experiential, and courteous manner.

a. Are our mannerisms important?

b. Or may we simply answer them who question us coldly with the  Bible?

2. In our answer we must testify to the truth of the Word of God for all of our own lives.

a. Is our walk before the world in our every-day affairs important  for this?

b. Must we strive more for a clearer and more definite understanding of the Bible?

 II. How must we witness?

A. Several hypothetical situations in which you might find yourself in the future.

1. A recent convert comes to you with questions about such things as:

 a. Predestination and man’s responsibility before God?

1) How do you harmonize the two?

2) How would you prove that they both are true from the Bible?

 b.  Give me several reasons why I should go to your church.

2. An ungodly man at work or school begins asking you about your Christianity:

a. Where would you begin to explain your Christian faith?

1) At Genesis One?

2) To follow the Apostle’s Creed and begin with God and who He is?

3) Or just use the New Testament?

 b. Or do you think that it would be a waste of your time and something which the minister or elder must do?

B. Two important texts which show us the manner of our witnessing:

1. Colossians 4:5&6, refer to them on your own.

a. Who are they that are without?

b. What does ’redeeming the time’ mean for us as Christian witnesses?

c. Understand the word ‘grace’ as the word ‘thanksgiving’

2. 1 Peter 3:15:

a. How do we witness with meekness and fear?

 b. Do we often witness with a haughty attitude?

C. Several important ingredients for witnessing:

1. We must believe what we are witnessing about to others.

2. We must know much about what we are testifying to.

3. We above all must live in such a way which would cause others to ask  us questions about our faith.

 III. For what purpose must we witness today?

A. Primarily for the glorification of god’s name.

1. Matthew 5:16, read on your own.

a. What is the light that we must shine?

b. What are our good works, (confer the Heidelberg Catechism L.D. XXXIII Question 91)?

2. Is our mistake of not witnessing enough due to the fact that we do not have this goal in mind?

B. Secondarily we must witness so that others may be gained to Christ and His Church.

1. This may even be to those who are very close to us.

a. The bible speaks of godly wives or husbands gaining their mates by their conversation, confer I Corinthians 7:16 and I Peter 3:1.

b. Young persons may do this to each other and to friends in the Christian schools which they attend.

1) We are admonished in the Bible to exhort one another whenever we fall into sin, Hebrews 3:13, 10:25.

2) Study Question and Answer 86 of the Heidelberg Catechism.

2. Is it wrong to have a longing to save sinners and to bring them back to the right way of holiness?

I. What is Christian courtesy?

A. What is courtesy?

1. It is defined as a curtsy or courteous behaviour.

a. Curtsy is an action which expresses deep respect by bodily action or gesture.

b. Courteous behavior implies the state of having such manners as befit the court of a prince.

2. However, today courtesy has spread out its meaning and it involves all sorts of manners which any man might have.

a. It includes a graciously polite and respectful attitude towards the position or feelings of others.

b. These manners must be performed to all those about us whether they are superior to us or inferior.

B. What then is Christian courtesy?

1. Does it differ from secular courtesy?

a. Do Christians perform more courteous actions?

b. Do the Christian deeds of courtesy come from the heart and the secular deeds of courtesy are only done for outward show?

2. How does courtesy become Christian?

a. Is our courtesy Christian before we are regenerated?

b. Can we really show a graciously polite and respectful attitude towards someone else’s position or feelings?

3. Was Christ very courteous in His actions?

a. What about His actions towards the scribes and Pharisees? (confer Matt. 23, Mark 7:5-13, Matt. 22:15-22)

b. What about some of His actions to His own people and followers? (confer Luke 10:38-42, Matt. 15:21-28)

c. Did not Christ show respect and was He not polite only to those who served Him?

d. How must our courteous behavior be in comparison to Christ’s?

II. What is the basis for our Christian courtesy?

A. Must the Christian pattern his courtesy after the many manners of the secular realms?

1. Must we confer with the books of proper behavior and courtesy?

2. Must we base our courtesy upon the ideas and thoughts of Ann Landers or any other person who is an expert on proper behavior?

3. Is it really important that the children learn the proper deeds of courtesy while they are at home and in school?

B. Rather we must believe that the child of God must go to the Bible in order to see how his behavior must be.

1. What does the Bible say?

a. Concerning the bodily actions that we apply to courtesy or politeness the Bible has several instances where men performed courteous actions toward their friends or neighbors.

b. Read Genesis 18:1-8 and see how Abraham was courteous.

c. Read Genesis 19:1-3 and see how Lot was courteous.

d. We also can read of rules for eating at a guest’s table. (confer Proverbs 23:1, Luke 10:8, I Corinthians 10:27)

e. We also can read in the Bible the different ways of greeting each other and the different salutations which are used. (confer Matt. 26:49, I Sam. 25:23, Mark 5:22, Gen. 19:2, Gen. 43:29, Luke 10:5, Ruth 2:4, and I Cor. 16:21)

f. What must be our attitude towards all of these passages and is this enough that we do these outward acts only?

2. There are also some good passages which might serve as good basis for all of our deeds of courtesy.

a. We have Jesus’ words in Matthew 13:12.

b. We have Jesus’ parable of the exaltation of the humble in Luke 14:7-11.

c. There are also Christ’s words in Matthew 5:28-47, which tell us to do good unto our neighbors and our enemies.

d. There are Paul’s words in Galatians 6:9-10 where we are admonished to do good to all men.

e. There are many more texts but these texts are good foundations for all of our deeds of courtesy.

3. But when all is said and done are not all of our acts of courtesy and politeness dependent upon the sum of the law and the prophets which Jesus gave to us in Matthew 22:37-40?

a. If we are to show courtesy and respect towards others must we not first of all fear and love God?

b. If we are to show courteous deeds to our neighbor must we not love him and esteem him better than ourself (Phil. 2:3, Eph. 5:21, I Peter 5:5)?

c. Read I Peter 3:8-17 and you will see that love must first be present in a man if he is to show respect and do courtesy to others.

d. Can we then do courteous things to others without loving that person, and also do the ungodly then perform true and genuine deeds of courtesy?

e. Must we not be very careful to make sure that we examine our motives in our courteous actions?

 

III. Now we must take a look at our own deeds and see whether we need improvement.

A. What about our actions toward those with whom we come in contact with?

1. Do we as citizens show enough respect to our authorities?

a. Do we respect our government because it is more powerful than we are or because we feel that it is instituted by God?

b. Do we show enough respect to our parents, teachers, and ministers and how do we show courtesy to them?

2. Does our courteous action to others proceed from a love and an esteeming of them as better and higher than we are?

a. Do we show this courtesy to even our inferiors, i.e. younger brothers or sisters, friends that are not as talented, etc.?

b. Or are our deeds of courtesy done so that we look good and virtuous to others?

3. Do we consider our courteous actions as good works which please God?

B. What improvements can we make in our lives?

1. Must we be more friendly to strangers?

a. Do we do as we are commanded in Leviticus 19:34, “But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”

b. Must we not work more on meeting and greeting strangers?

2. Must we not show more respect to the elderly?

a. I think that we as young people can visit the elderly more often.

b. We can also go to them with questions so that we might obtain some wisdom from them.

In this present day and age, we tend to consider the world in which we live to be a totally depraved society, and rightfully so. We always see in the newspapers the stories of brutal slayings and the rebellious attitudes of many people today. We hear many reports of wars and at present we are hearing about the spreading conflict in Afghanistan. We are always hearing the cry of many citizens for their rights, and there are many oppressed people who are now rising up in rebellion. It is very clear in all these happenings that man is very self-centered and depraved. The present-day man, who is the product of every other generation of the human race, is indeed no better than the first generations of the human race. Even though man has developed and passed through many different ages, he still in the twentieth century maintains his original guilt and sin. Even though there have been many good teachers and leaders who were good examples to follow, present-day man is still self-centered. Even though there have been all types of social movements which were directed at the goal of changing man and making him better. There has been the Reformation, many different cultural Renaissances, the Scientific Revolution, the Enlightenment, and many others. Man felt that these movements could free man from his crudeness and primitiveness. However, man is yet totally depraved and in fact he is worse today than he was after the fall.

However, even though there yet remains the wickedness and baseness of man, there are some people who attempt to do good deeds for the betterment of the human race. There are those persons today even as there has been those in the past who give up many nice things and live a life of poverty and misery in order that they might make this world a better place to live. A few examples come to my mind. On December 10, 1979 in Oslo, Norway, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the 1868 Nobel Peace prize to the small old nun of Calcutta, India. This small frail nun was the sixty-nine year old lady known as Mother Teresa. She has indeed attempted to do many good things for the poor and the oppressed of India. She is known as the “angel of Calcutta” and the “saint of the gutter” because of her work of tending the poor and the sick in the sprawling slums of Calcutta. She is so concerned about the poor in India that when she was given more than $190,000 as a prize, she decided to give it all to the cause of building homes and hospitals for the poor and needy Indians. Instead of indulging in a huge feast and riotous living in Oslo, she has ordered $5,800 to be sent to India. This was the amount of money that was going to be spent for a banquet given in honor of her.  Mother Teresa is a Roman Catholic nun and so she spent much time in prayer during her stay Oslo. So, indeed, she is that type of person who has given herself for the sake of the poor and needy in the world.

Another example I have come across during my recent reading is a certain school teacher named Anne Hobbs. She is a school teacher who spent her entire career in the cold North Country of Alaska. She was nineteen when she went up to Alaska and she remained there throughout her life. She gave up a nice life in order that she might rescue the Eskimos there from the corruptions which the white man had introduced into that area. Even though this area is separated from the big centers of the world, it nevertheless has the pollution of the world of sin in it. Here there is self-centeredness and hatred. Here full-blooded Indians hate those who have both Indian and American blood in their veins. Anne did indeed attempt to change these evil Indians, and she went to help the poor and oppressed the Indians. She tried to help out the half breeds of the village whom the other inhabitants hate. She befriends a half breed named Fred Purdy and she adopts two half breed children. On account of these good deeds she is hated by the others. However, she persists in her desire to show kindness to these people and does not give in to the pressures of others. So it is very evident that this young lady attempted to do good works unto all those with whom she came in contact. All of this information I acquired from a book titled, Tisha.

Another example of this type of human being is that well-liked leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope John Paul II. From his recent visit to the U.S. of A., it is evident that he is a man who attempts to do good things for every tribe and tongue on the earth. He prayed with, he performed masses to, and he admonished many different types of Americans. He went to both the poor and the rich, the leaders and the citizens, the employers and the employees. Many Catholics who were in the presence of the great father, exclaimed that this was the closest that they had been to heaven and to God. One Catholic said that “He (John Paul) makes me think that the world and the people in it are not as bad as they seem.” It was evident also that he does put into practice some Christian principles. He is indeed very different from the long line of popes which have preceded him. However, he does in no wise compare to the godly life of Peter, whom the Roman Catholics consider to be the original father or pope.

Thus, it is very evident that man today attempts to do good works. It would seem that because of his total depravity man would have nothing to do with that which is good and virtuous. However, man does attempt to find what is good and he tries to do it. Why then would a wicked man try to do this? Well, in the first place he wants other men to do unto him as he does unto them. if a man gives another man help when that person is in need, he wants that person to return that good deed to him when he is in need also. It is just the case for man today s it was for the Pharisees whom Jesus rebukes in Luke 14:12-14. In that text Jesus says that it is wrong to invite guests who will more than likely invite you back to their house. That is what the Pharisees have been known to do and so Jesus rebuked them. He tells them that they should rather invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind. This is why we many times do good things to those around us. We will be friends only to those who return favors. Once a person is not friendly to us we will cut him out of our lives and say all manner of evil against that person. Our good deeds are quite different from Jesus’ good deeds which He did to many of the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind. Man as he is naturally, is indeed very self-centered, and he attempts to perform good works for selfish reasons.

In the second place, man attempts to do good works because he wants to prove himself, to his neighbor, and to God that he is indeed not so bad after all. He wants to show to all of society that he is a virtuous man and that he does indeed conform to a code of moral laws. He is not very honest with himself and his neighbor. This is indeed the way every human being is. It is much nicer and easier to say and think that there is something which is worthy of praise in himself. We as human beings cannot stand admitting to ourselves, and to our neighbors, and especially to God that we are sinners. Man, however, knows that things are very different. He knows that he has broken God’s law, and that he has not served God’s law demands and he knows that he cannot keep it, and he knows that he does not want to keep it. So it is very evident that all the so-called good works of man are really not good, but they are only to be counted as filthy rags. it is very true today even as it was during the time of Noah that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart is only evil continually.

Therefore, if these praise-worthy works of men are not to be considered good works, then what are good works? In order to get a good answer for this question let us turn to the Bible. In order for us to get a good summary of what the Bible says concerning good works, it is proper and beneficial to turn to two of the Creeds of the Church which are based on the Scriptures. Let us first of all look at the Westminster Confession of Faith, and we will then find the definition of good works in the sixteenth chapter. This chapter gives the definition as follows:

“Good works are only such as God hath commanded in His holy Word, and not such as, without the arrant thereof, are devised by men, out of blind zeal, or upon any pretence of good intention. These good works, done in obedience to God’s commandments, are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith: and by them believers manifest their thankfulness, strengthen their assurance, edify their brethren, adorn the profession of the gospel, stop the mouths of the adversaries, and glorify God, whose workmanship they are, created in Christ Jesus thereunto, that, having their fruit unto holiness, they may have the end, eternal life.”

In the second place, we must look at the Heidelberg Catechism. In Lord’s Day XXXIII, Question and Answer ninety-one, the definition is given that good works are “only those which proceed from a true faith, are performed according to the law of God, and to his glory; and not such as are founded on our imagination, or the institutions of men.” These two definitions are indeed good and they are very scriptural. This is so because if one reads these two creeds, he will find that almost every clause which is written down is backed by a proof from the Bible.

Now the, if all the so-called good works of Mother Teresa, Anne Hobbs, Pope John Paul II, and many others are compared to the elements of good works according to these two definitions, what is the conclusion? It is indeed true that after they have been weighed in the balances they are found wanting and they in no wise can be considered good works. And also in the second place, if we compare many of our works which we consider to be good, we will see that they are indeed short of the mark which the Scriptures set for works to be good. These works are not done in obedience to God’s law, but they are only done in accord with man’s laws. They are not evidences of a true and living faith, but they only show that we have a feeling of love and concern for others for selfish reasons. They indeed are not aimed at showing thankfulness to God, and they are not directed at God’s glorification. Rather, all these great attempts are only done so that we men may acquire the praise and adoration of men. We only attempt to do good works because we want to be liked by others. We could care less about God’s glory or showing thankfulness to God. We also have the idea ground deeply into our hearts and minds that if we do these good works then God will be well pleased and He will give unto us salvation because of our works.

What therefore must our conclusion be to all these attempts to do good works? Should we avoid doing the things which Mother Teresa, Anne Hobbs, Pope John Paul II and others have done? Should we just be satisfied with the conclusion that all these deeds are only vain and no praise at all? Should we then settle comfortably into our own little church and put in the required time which that church demands? God forbid! But rather we must see as James says in his general epistle that “faith without works is dead also.” We must indeed be just as zealous for good works as the early New Testamental Church was. We must want to thank and praise God in all our good works. When we teach and learn the word of God, we must desire to thank and glorify God. When we give help to those in time of need, we must do it because we have faith and because we want God’s name glorified. Then and only then can we classify our works as being truly good ones.

Each year, forty days after the celebration of Easter, the church celebrates Ascension Day, commemorating the ascension of Christ from this earth to His heavenly abode.

We have the Easter season behind us. That season is greatly known in the world about us. Whether we know anything of the meaning of that season, is hard to see in the world. But of Ascension Day, you hear very little. Even we are, in some ways, like the world. It isn’t easy to forget Christmas, Good Friday, or Easter; but Ascension Day or Pentecost could easily slip by and be forgotten.

Why should this be? Ascension Day is just as important as any of the other days. Without the ascension of our Lord, His work of salvation would not be complete. For without His ascending into heaven, there would not be the outpouring of the Spirit on Pentecost.

The event of the ascension of Christ Jesus into heaven is not mentioned in detail as the other events of Christ. The event is mentioned in Mark 16:19, “So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven and sat on the right hand of God.” In Luke 24:50, 51 we read, “And he led them out as far as Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.” In Acts 1:9-11 we have a more detailed testimony of the ascension, where we read, “And when he had spoken these words, while they beheld, he was taken up, and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”

In these verses we have a testimony of the ascension when it happened. There are many places that tell us of the ascension, and Christ many times told those that were listening, of His ascension. As we have it in John 16:7, “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you: but if I depart, I will send him unto you.”

What are the implications of the ascension for the Christian, as he is in this world? We have an answer for this in Lord’s Day XVIII in question and answer 49, where we have a threefold benefit from the ascension of Christ. In answer to the question, “Of what advantage to us is Christ’s ascension into heaven?” First, he is our advocate in the presence of his father in heaven; Christ is our advocate in heaven for his people in this sinful world. By Christ’s work of atonement, we are made clean before the Father. The Father is delighted with the work of Christ as our Advocate, so that He may show His everlasting mercy and eternal love to us his chosen people, by the forgiveness of our sins.

The second advantage is “that we have our flesh in heaven as a sure pledge that He, as the Head, will also take up to himself, us, his members.” Christ took upon Himself our human body and soul in the human nature. That human nature was unfit to enter into heavenly glory. It was of this earth, corrupt through sin. We did not have the right to be delivered from that corrupt nature. That nature Christ took upon Himself without sin. Christ suffered all that was required to satisfy God’s justice, so that we could be righteous, and have the right to heavenly glory. Christ as our Head took our flesh into glory so that all that was His, may be ours. Then His ascension is our ascension. He is ascended up on high, so that we have the right to follow him.

The third advantage is “that he sends us his Spirit as an earnest, by whose power we ‘seek the things which are above; where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God, and not things on the earth.’”  This is a great advantage of the ascension. By the ascension of Christ, He sent the Spirit on Pentecost, so that we may be partakers of the heavenly life. We are delivered from the earth, earthy. We, by the Spirit, long for those things that are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. We are sojourners and strangers in the earth and, as Christians, we must declare plainly that we seek a better country.

Dear Fellows:

This is the month in which we have a day of thanksgiving as a nation. Annually at this time of year the president of our country issues a Thanksgiving Day proclamation, calling upon everyone to give thanks unto the Lord for benefits and mercies received. We understand by this that all men have received blessings and mercies from the Lord and are able to give thanks unto Him from Whom is every good and perfect gift. Where do we read of this in scripture that all men have received gracious beneficence and therefore are called to give thanks?

Man is called to give thanks to His Lord. But what man must do, and what he can do, are two different things. The teaching that all men have received blessings and mercies of the Lord and are able to give thanks unto Jehovah is not a truth of Scripture. Only the people of God are able to give thanks and they are able to give thanks unto God always. The only thing that can keep us and does keep us from giving thanks unto the Lord is the spiritual condition of our own heart and life and never anything outside of us.

As a former serviceman this is one day of the year that I found was observed in the service by a big meal prepared for the men in the service. The tables are overflowing with food, more than we can eat. Is this the way in which we have to give thanks? Does thanksgiving mean that when I have plenty, and do not have any misfortune, that then I can give thanks unto the Lord? When I have to suffer misfortune or someone in my family is very ill, is it then that I am not expected to give thanks and observe this day of Thanksgiving?

No, this cannot be the meaning of thanksgiving. Not to us who are the children of God; sorrow and worldly misfortune and the giving of thanks do not exclude each other. We can see what this means when we look at Habakkuk 3:17-18, “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.”

What an amazing Word of God? With all the sorrowing mentioned in the text, the child of God can still rejoice in the Lord. He will rejoice. He does not say that he will bear the present affliction, nor does he say that he will not murmur or rebel when there are these things about him, but he will rejoice! He will not wait until the times are better and there is no affliction on any side, but he will rejoice now. This is wonderful for the Christian, for he has the victory regardless of the difficulties that trouble him.

I will rejoice in the Lord, and leap for joy in the God of my salvation. This means that God will be my joy. My rejoicing will not be in the things of this earth. How then would the afflicted and troubled child of God ever be able to rejoice and give thanks? I will rejoice in the Lord Who is the God of my salvation. He has taken away my sins and shed His love abroad in my heart, and so has filled my heart with unspeakable joy, in knowing that the present distress is only for a time, and they all work together to realize the glory which the Lord has laid away for me.

Dear Fellows:

Here it is! Another month for the Beacon Lights, and there isn’t a letter from you fellows to be placed on its pages. We are hoping that there will be a lot of letters from you fellows, so that the Military Mail Bag will be what it is supposed to be. I hope we will hear from you in the coming month. The letters will be gladly received from you, so please sit down and write a little something!

I would like to write something on what we have in Ephesians 5:15-17: “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise but understanding what the will of the Lord is.”

Especially of what we have in the 15th verse we would like to write about. Since the young men have to leave the Christian home, and be away from the guiding hand of the Christian parent, they are on their own in what way they have to walk. They have to walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise. They have to walk prayerfully and carefully lest they fall into sin. That you must be ever on the watch for temptations that surround you, that you may not lose your foothold and fall into sin.

Temptations are on all sides of us, and we need to take heed of this admonition when we are in the service, where we are away from home. We do not have the guiding hand of God-fearing parents and of Christian brethren and sisters. Instead of this, you are surrounded by evil companions, who would lead you in ways of sin and evil. Evil there is – the wicked world can produce all kinds of evil and especially in the service can it be seen that the world is full of wickedness.

Therefore, you must take heed to your own way. You must walk carefully. From step to step you must be sure of your footing so that you do not stumble and fall. You must put your foot down sure, so that you will not fall. You as a Christian soldier are walking on a dangerous trail and are called upon to exercise caution, self-denial, and self-control. You have need of the Word of God as a lamp unto your feet and a light upon your path.

Then you will walk not as fools, but as wise. A fool is one who only lives for the present. The motto of the fool is, let us eat, drink, and be merry. He does not look at the reality of life and death. He does not see the relationship between the temporal and the eternal, the earthly and the heavenly. He seeks the things which are below in order that he may satisfy the lusts of the flesh.

Do not walk as the fool walks – that would lead you to destruction. But walk as wise. A wise man sees all of the things of God. By His grace he is able to walk as the wise. Walk the way of eternal life and joy, and peace, which no man can take away because it is made sure. Ever do we need to have a word of prayer on our lips, so that we will be safely led, and we will be led in the path of righteousness.

Everett Buiter

R.R. 2, Box 120

Tinley Park, Illinois.

Hello Fellows:

“He that walketh with wise men shall be wise, but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” Proverbs 13:20

In the book of Proverbs we find the wise sayings of God to guide us in our walk in this life.

This text from Proverbs shows how important it is that we choose the right companions. It does this by directing our attention to the result of the correct choice of companionship. On the one hand, if we choose to have companionship with the wise we shall be wise.

Where can we find these wise men? There are few. The wise way to walk is the narrow way. It is the way of the regenerated man with the new life, the life implanted in us by the Spirit. So we should be wise and choose our companions in that way.

In the service where can you find a companion like this? There be few. This means many times we have to walk alone in life; will have to find companionship with ourselves. To be wise is to walk the narrow way in all of our doings even if it be going it alone.

On the other hand, companionship with fools is destruction. Our choice of companionship with fools means we do not have any of the life of regeneration within us to direct us in the wise choice of the right course in life.

All of us have according to the flesh the temptation to choose the way of the fool. The fool’s way is easy and it is the broad way. The way of the unregenerated man is the way of sinful flesh. And it is the way that leads to destruction; a way in which a regenerated man is not found to walk because he is turned by the Spirit into the narrow way of life.

The way of wise men, the way of life in Christ, is a way in which we can let our light shine. All of our life, in walking and in talking, we must be able to witness to those not on the way of life. We are to point them to their folly and the end of their way.

Experience in life shows us that the ungodly and profane life is the usual walk of man. The Christian life is different and unusual. The narrow way, the way of life and happiness in the Lord, is our way to walk in this life. The companions we choose are an important part of this walk. Let us seek wisely for companionship.

 

Here’s a welcome letter from Dwight Monsma of Grand Rapids, himself a contributing editor to Beacon Lights. Nice to hear from you, sir!

 

United States Army Hospital

Fort Knox, Kentucky

July 8, 1954

Dear Friends,

I know that it is high time that I take time out to write a line or two to Beacon Lights. I experience that I like to read letters from other fellas in the service and I also realize that it takes letters to fill our Military Mail Bag department. I have really fallen down on my duty, so here goes.

I was inducted into the army nearly a year ago and by the time this issue hits the streets, I will be able to say that I am over the hump. For me this past year has seemed very short. I think that my first few days at the induction center at Ft. Knox and my ten to twelve weeks at Camp Pickett, Virginia seemed proportionally much longer to me than the rest of this year.

I must admit that my basic training was very easy. This is perhaps due to the fact that it was Medical basic and therefore was light. There were many so-called medical class periods interspersed in this ten-week cycle too.

In the early part of November ’53, I was shipped to Ft. Sam Houston, Texas where I attended the Medical Field Service School. Our particular school was concerned with dental laboratory work. It was a sixteen-week course and thus took almost all winter. It really seems strange to me that I had no winter this year. Here we lived in wonderful quarters but were also subject to rigorous inspections. It was a good experience though, to be able to see that part of the country. During my stay here I was able to travel through much of Texas and also went into Mexico.

Late in March, I was shipped to Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C. This supposedly was a permanent assignment, but it only lasted a month. I was to work in the Central Dental Lab there. I appreciated the opportunity to be in the nation’s capital for a month though. During my stay there I was able to attend the Christian Reformed Church there and made many friends. Besides, there were many familiar faces from Grand Rapids there on Sundays.

For the last two months I have been working in the dental lab here at Ft. Knox. At least I am doing the work which the army prepared me for and it is a very good job to have while in the service. Up to just a few days ago I have been working in the lab making dentures of all kinds. Last week the Colonel, who is the boss around here, ‘asked’ me to work in the office as a sort of receptionist. I do not like this job too well, but it is becoming easier now that I am on to the ropes a little.

On weekends I hardly feel like a soldier – perhaps that is why I have not written sooner. Ft. Knox is close enough to Grand Rapids to travel back and forth during the weekend. I have done this since I have been down here. I really dread going to an Army chapel service again. I’m usually quite sleepy on Mondays, but it is worth all of it. Perhaps I can manage to attend the convention this year if all goes well.

Sincerely,

Pvt. Dwight Monsma

Hello Fellows,

Again it is time to bring something for the Military Mail Bag section in the Beacon Lights. We have a letter for you to read and enjoy. May they keep coming in, so that it can be better for me to fill these pages, and bring something interesting for our readers to read.

Here is the letter that we have for our section in the Beacon Lights. It is from Gerald Cnossen.

**********

 

March 18, 1954

Chorwon, Korea

Dear Friends,

I just received my first edition of the Beacon Lights. And was very happy to get it. I looked at the Military Mail Bag and see it is rather empty, so I thought now I’m going to sit down and write a line and help get that thing filled up.

I have been in Korea now for ten months, a couple of more weeks and I will be away from home for one year, but I am thankful the time has gone as fast as it did and now I’m looking forward to that day I can go home again, and if the Lord willing I will go home next month.  I’m really counting the days now, and looking forward to seeing my wife and loved ones again. The 40th division is supposed to leave Korea in mid-May, at first I thought I would go home with the division but a new list came down, and they have me down for April, so I will go before the division goes. I’m glad of that because I will get home so much faster.

I’m down in a place called Chorwon now. The city of Chorwon isn’t far from here, but it’s all bombed out and there is no one living there. Just beyond the city is Joe Chimp and he seems to be pretty quiet now too. I have been in the front lines ever since I’ve been in Korea. But it isn’t bad at all as long as Joe stays over there. I don’t think it would be healthy here if he started something, because this is the Gateway to Seoul.

We have it good here now, we have a quonset hut for a mess hall, and we live in squad tents with a floor and two stoves. We also have a quonset hut for a day room. I attend service every Sunday I can, but there are times I’m on duty and can’t make it.

I have a pretty good job now, I was in a rifle platoon at first. I carried a B.A.R. but I got this deal in communications while we were up on Sand Bag Castle, and I really like it. I operate the switch and radios and run the generator for our electric lights. We keep busy, but don’t have much to do lately, because we plan on moving out of here soon. We have to have a parade by Seoul. We’re going to move off line, and I hope to leave from there.

I sure can’t kick about the weather we had this winter, it only got around zero a few times and we had 4 inches of snow at the most, the days are getting warmer now, but the nights are cold.

I guess that’s it for now, I hope I can soon return to the good old U.S.A., but at the Lord’s appointed time only.

Your Christian Friend,

 Cpl. Jerry Cnossen

**********

 

Cpl. Gerald Cnossen, US 55317040

Co. C, 224 Inf. Reg., 40th Div.

APO 6, c/o P.M. San Francisco, Calif.

 

Thank you Jerry for your letter. I hope you are home by the time you see this article in the Beacon Lights. The last place that I was in Korea was close to Chorwon, so I was close to the same area that you were, and know a little about the country where you were.

In the last Beacon Lights I wrote about a city and I notice that the name of the city was misspelled. It should have been Nara instead of Nora. This is the close of another month’s servicemen section, and we hope you fellows will write us a letter as soon as possible, so this page can be good and full next time.

 

Military Mail Bag

Everett Buiter

R.R. 2, Box 120

Tinley Park, Illinois.

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Editorial, November 2021: Catechism Season

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Tennessee Young People’s Retreat 2021

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