FILTER BY:

The public confession of my faith is one of the highest focal points in my life as a Christian believer. Until this day, I have always been a member of the church; how­ever, today I become a communicant mem­ber. This is a day of great joy, not only for myself but also for the parents, teachers, and ministers that have taught me over the past nineteen years. They now are seeing a part of the fruit of their many years of diligent Protestant Reformed instruction. While in their presence, I can almost sense this satisfaction arising from within them. Truly, one can see this is a day of great joy. To more fully understand this, we must look into the past to see how this all came about.

Back in the not too distant past, I was born unto God-fearing parents, which was just exactly how God predestined this to be. Shortly after I was born, I was pre­sented to my parents. After a short discus­sion with the doctors, my father and my mother commenced praying, not only thank­ing God for a healthy son: but also asking for the strength and courage they knew they would need in bringing me up in the truths of God’s Word.

They knew that this world was becoming increasingly more corrupt every day. I didn’t realize it then, but from the time I was small, prayer would become a chief part of my life. As I grew older and sat around the table at mealtime, the first word 1 was instructed to say was “Amen,” in its baby-abbreviated form.

After five years on earth, I was sent each day from my home to school. No, not any school, but to our own Protestant Reformed Christian School. Here I was compelled to memorize Bible texts and instructed in many subjects all somewhat dissimilar from each other, yet all centered around and upon God. I was also brought to church twice each Sunday for worship services and once each week for either catechism or Sunday School. God even saw to it that I might attend our own Protestant Reformed High School. For many years now, different min­isters, teachers, and the same dedicated parents have brought me up and instructed me in the paths that I should walk.

As I now reach the age of discretion, I can constantly feel Satan pressuring me to sin. I know he is constantly scheming and plotting various ways to pull me from these truths I have been instructed and brought up in. But God has seen fit to give me strength to fight him off; yet, I still fall from time to time. Now I can use that tremendous gift of prayer which God has so graciously bestowed upon his children. God, through Jesus Christ, has given me the faith to believe that I belong to Him.

Now, with no pressure from any of my instructors (ministers, teachers, and parents), I go before the congregation, in which God has given me a name and a place, to confess in their presence my faith in Christ. What joy I feel; it’s almost ecstasy; I feel on top of the whole world. Yet, I must constantly fight off the devil who has now become even more clever and de­vious than ever before. Amid my great joy, God places before me trials of my faith in addition to the devil’s temptations. I now find myself knocked from the top of the world into most lowly states. Now, more increasingly and fervently than ever, I find myself running to God in prayer, beseeching His help. His grace alone proves sufficient. He guides me through each trial, gives me strength to fight off the devil, and gives me grace to ask for forgiveness when I fail.

Truly one can see that Cod establishes His covenant in the line of continued gen­erations. Today and every day, I thank Him for my Christian upbringing, realizing that this instruction was basic to my present walk on this earth as a Christian.

 

No, we cannot see Him anymore.  It used to be that we could see Him in the body, when for a little more than thirty years He was in the flesh and blood of us, His children, and dwelt that way upon the face of this very earth whereon we dwell.

But that is no more.  And we may be thankful that it is not, you may rest assured of that!

Jesus, the Christ, is risen, not only, but also has ascended to His Father.  And we, who heard already n the garden the mighty Word of God to the serpent concerning the enmity which we experience as the sons of Adam who by a wonder of the grace of God are made to be the sons of God and heard also that Word casually stating that the bruising of the heel of the seed brings about the crushing of that serpent’s head, rejoice in that promise when we see that that Seed indeed has accomplished, can be assailed no more, dwells at the right hand of the Father as the advocate of all those that Father gave Him.  He is now exalted to the highest! Pre-eminent in the Kingdom of Jehovah our God, now, is Christ Jesus the Lord.  Our Lord. And our HEAD.

Young people: You who begin more and more to live and confess your faith in the God of the Scriptures, besides whom there is no God, and His Son: Consider the glory of the ascension of Jesus!

You sense the glory of it already, do you not, even as we have alluded to it but once? That Jesus NOW ALREADY dwells in the presence of Jehovah our God is very significant for us.  It is significant because of what He IS! And He is the Head of the whole Church; He and those whom Father has given Him are ONE.  Understand then the glory: You and I are, in essence, with God, and we are there in peaceful communion with Him.  We are in principle there in that city which hath foundations, the which we seek in this earthly sojourn through faith.

Surely, you may contemplate, if you will, the course of the events of the history of this earth as they unfold from day to day.  You can and should read from Scripture itself concerning the lot which shall be the portion of the saints in days to come, particularly those days just before the appearance of the sign of the coming of the Son of God for the second time.  Days, they will be, according to God’s Word, in which were it not so that the days will be shortened, the very elect would fall.  These are awesome considerations to you and to me.  But to you and to me they will not matter; they will not discourage! For as we consider the we remember: Our Head NOW, at that very moment and always, dwells already in the heavens at the right hand of our Sovereign God!

There is more, much more of course, to the ascension which could be discussed.  Christ promised us these things in His Word, too.  He told us that He will make intercession for us continually.  He told us that He goes to prepare a place for us.  Both glorious, comforting truths for the saints in this life.  He also told us that He will not leave us comfortless, but that when He goes to the Father, He will send the Comforter.  And that Spirit of Pentecost, that Spirit of the resurrected, glorified and ascended Lord is intimately bound up here in the consideration of His Ascension.  According to His own Words, then, we see that we could not have that Spirit were He not to ascend to the Father.  There is much more and very important material, too, which we may discuss in this connection.  Our thought centers on the thought, however, that the Church of God principally dwells with God in glory NOW.

May the realization and understanding of this work of God in and through His Son be impressed upon you during this season and continuously, so that the richness of that “one-work” be a well-spring of praise and glorying in your hearts and lives.

We cannot see Him.  But the unshakable knowledge of his abode, afforded by His Spirit which He sent, and the conviction that he is our Head is the hope that makes never ashamed!

No, we cannot see Him. But we SHALL see Him!!

“Some twenty years ago an acorn dropped

Into a rocky ledge where limestone showed

A few white teeth and where the forest stopped

Before the red slash of a quarry road.

It had no business to be hatching there,

A skinny leg of green life on the bare,

Inhospitable ledge.  A week, no doubt,

Would see it shrivel up and starve itself,

A pinch of failure in a cup of stone.

But there it stands today upon its shelf, 

Its talons in the rock! I freely own

The whole thing baffles me, and I can show

Statistics proving that it’s couldn’t grow.”

 

The poem quoted above, “The Scrub Oak Tree” written by Herbert Merrill, is one that we believe is worthy of some attention beyond that of the simple message of the poem in the literal sense.  This poem, though outwardly speaking of a natural phenomenon, is characteristic of poetry which is utilized to convey deeper, more significant instruction and meaning than appears directly in the literal wording of the poem-text itself.  It is with respect to such a thought conveyed in the more subtle sense in this poem that we read it and utilize that thought for our discussion this time.

We suggest, first of all, that we can enjoy the author’s ability to present a setting in picturesque manner.  Probably rather commonplace, also, for who has not seen such evident futility, or something seemingly more futile, when we witness the countless situations into which the seeds of the trees round about us fall! We exactly want us to see at this point that WE, as children of God, see these things, and that WE characterize them as futile.

Secondly, we should notice that the power of life, natural existence so called, as God has infused that power into this universe, is marvelous indeed.  At this, we are at once reminded of the marvel of growth itself, even as it is manifested when viable seeds are cast into fertile lands! All these marvels are too much with us, it seems, for us to stand in awe and wonder at those mighty laws of God, infused and maintained continuously from creation forward, as they are evidenced in the world about us which we call nature.

We notice, also, the element in the story which points out life, in the seed.  We see the ecological situation which leads us with the author to conclude that there is no possibility of life to be expected from this seed in this place, but that death, rather, is the only end which can be expected for that tiny life resident therein, or to characterize it in his paraphrase: “A pinch of failure in a cup of stone.”

We notice, too, the standing, living, growing oak tree, with its talons in the rock! And because of the implications of that statement, which we purpose to show presently, there is mighty, awesome power called to mind in that sudden picture of the poem.

There are a few statements that involve the author, his commentary if you please, and that do not allow him to remain in the ranks of the observing-poets.  With the picture, he will instruct, or draw forth his lesson, and you will know a bit of the philosophy of the man.  Notice: “It had no business to be…”; “A week, no doubt, would see it shrivel…”; and “…and I can show statistics proving that…”. He also very forcefully interjects: “I freely own the whole thing baffles me.” All these statements are beyond the scope of the natural scene which the author holds before his reader.

Well, what about it for us in this discussion? First, I do not happen to know very much about Poet Merrill as a man.  For instance, I do not know if he professes himself to be a child of God or not.  I do not know from his pen elsewhere or that of any of his close acquaintances as to what was Merrill’s mood when he wrote this poem, nor for that matter, what his purpose was in writing it.  But the fact is that he has discovered for the child of God and committed to print in this form a beautiful truth, wrested from the physical, natural creation, which is a source of comfort continually to the saint in distress and affliction.  And that, by the way, is the perpetual state of ALL the saints historically, and not just some periodic happenstance of some of them.
That truth: That the saint is regenerated and called forth unto life in this world wherein it appears that everything is firmly and effectually set against him to his certain death as a child of God: his own depraved and corrupted mind, body and heart; the depraved and wicked counsels and enticements of the world round about him; and the devil himself and all his cohorts… it appears that all are effectually geared to his extinction as a saint on the earth.  There appears to be nothing according to which we might, even with the slimmest of hopes, anticipate that a child of God, a child of Light, a follower of the Words of Jesus, should ever LIVE and GROW as such a one in this world.  That is the point!

You as the young people of God also realize these things I am sure.  The outward aspect of life is so fundamental and so much an end in itself oftentimes that I fear we may take the view of those that Merrill paraphrases, for I contend they are not his views, when he concludes: “A pinch of failure in a cup of stone.”

We speak of you as those in whom God has implanted the new life. And we rejoice! But you say that you are small in number.  You are inexperienced in the trials that God places upon His saints in this life.  The way seems difficult, and if you look to the future it only appears that the path will become harsher, more painful for the flesh, and that your place on earth becomes increasingly smaller.  This world appears intolerable as it becomes more and more “inhospitable” and as the oppression by the mounting powers of Anti-Christ does and will witness that it is folly to walk after the ways of God.  Yes, all this comes and more.  All the “statistics” will allege that you cannot survive as the new-life, the wondrous planting of our Covenant God.

But let us assure you that these “statistics” are nought but godless lies against the mighty God of LIFE.  You will look to God’s Word, and there you, with an eye that is made clear and perceptive according to the power of faith, will see the long, continuous line of saints, who because of the reality of a sovereign grace given by Jehovah, stood in the midst of a sin-darkened and sin-cursed world with their talons in the rock!! They are the ones who have been established that they shall stand! Thus planted, thus established by God, they stand through every adversity.  And none can shake that planting of the Lord!

Covenant youth, as you are thus established, recognizing your dependence on Him and rejoicing in the work of your God, you shall never be moved!

You’re not alone, no matter how your friends take leave of you, in tribulation sore;

Nor when you take a stand that alienates the mass, to leave you standing with aught else but firm conviction, and that as based upon God’s Word.

Majorities can make you look a sorry sight…and, even though you’re right, it’s difficult for us, frail mortals that we be, to champion right in face of almost overwhelming opposition.

Young saint, the Lord has never promised you that your life’s way would be without these thorns, and many more.

And thus it is, in your life and in mine.

 

It’s difficult, we said, but stand for the right you shall!

And also, opposition to the right can only ever be an almost overwhelming force.

It never can be more than that!

It surely is sufficient for the saint to know that all the tribulation, all the scoffing, all the trials and the tears that you must suffer in the vale are but the loving chastening of His God, even when you stand, and by God’s grace, uphold the right!

Indeed, you know it cannot be a curse!

God, rather, purifies the ones He loves and to that process leads you in your way.

 

Majorities, you know, if measured by that number norm alone, are worthless.

Far better, youth, it is to seek uncompromisingly the humble paths of truth, and though it seems you stand alone, despised by all, know this:

The Lord has said, of that same way, that few there be that find it!

He held that way in very high esteem!

 

God’s prophet, youthful saint, once thought he was alone.

But wondrously Jehovah showed him otherwise!

 

You stand in faith, and you commune with God to lead you in the right?

You fervently implore that all His glorious Word may be the guide for your life’s day, as, week by week, it quickly flies away?

You seek forgiveness for your sins, as human frailty and a nature all depraved would if possible almost obliterate the thought of God?

 

Remember this: It is the only God of all the earth and heavens that has begun the work in you!

It’s also He that made you stand and earnestly defend the truth and right, which work He surely finishes and vindicates His suffering saint!

 

You think that as you walk this straight and narrow way in 1966 your friends grow few and that the adversary mounts and mounts?

This may be true.

 

But when you walk with God, the vict’ry lies within your breast.

You’re NOT alone!!

“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.”  Colossians 3:15

This month the Church of God in the earth will be reminded of one of her duties, but more beautifully and significantly of one of her sacred privileges and joys, and that in the same instance, by focusing special attention on the aspect of her spiritual life called thanksgiving.  At least, we may say, this will be done in a special manner by the saints as they find themselves here in the Unites States of America.  The children of God will emphasize this aspect of their life in a particular way on November 25, 1965, the date which has been designated officially as Thanksgiving Day for this year.

You will notice, perhaps, that we have asserted, thrice thus far, that it is only the children of God who will and do give thanks.  We believe that this is pointedly the teaching of the Word of God, and that there are no exceptions to this in all the history of the world.  In which case, we consider here the nature of our giving thanks as an exclusive reality.

What is the giving of thanks first of all? It may be described as a spiritual activity of the saint, which is certainly is.  That is the actual rendering of the thanks.  The ascribing of praise and blessedness to God.  It is He, after all, who must receive all thanks! That aspect, we say, is certainly involved.  However, it is not central, although it is quite impossible to separate it from that which is central.  The essence of the heart, my dear young reader, is central, and the heart, as you know, manifests itself in expression.  The point here then is that the heart of man by nature cannot, will not, and does not give praise, give thanks, nor bless any other being than itself.  It is enmity against God, and not subject to Him or His laws.

The child of God, on the other hand, can and wills to and does ascribe all praise and blessedness to Jehovah his God.  That that reality exists is indeed a wonder, for we are of one mind when we confess that all of humanity by nature are Adam’s sinful sons.

If we consider the why of giving thanks, we see that Scripture certainly goes beyond the answer that we do so because God has commanded it.  His purpose is that through the loving adoration of His elected, redeemed children, He will glorify Himself, He will magnify His Name! But we do well to see that He draws such praise from His saints by and through the incomprehensibly glorious way of saving them from sin, its misery, from death! God determined that way, youth of God.  And when you experience that work, the core of your heart will be a well-spring of praise, thanks and glory.  Notice the text above, the chapter of which begins with the powerful premise: “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above…”; it continues with “… Christ, who is our life…”; and “ye have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him who created him…” You see, there has been wrought by God a complete change in our hearts! And that change is that we see and confess that we were heretofore, and also that in that heart has been placed beauteous praises of glorification and thankfulness to the Lord our God, for all that He is and for all that He has done.  What a change!

We said that the praise or thanksgiving is not just something that is commanded.  Concerning that further, we ought to realize that in the dispensation of grace, the prescribed conduct of the saint if forthcoming as the spontaneous love of heart, which at once is the implantation of God.  It is no longer the same as the fearful and dreading obedience of the Old Testament as under the law and without the reality of the Christ Who fulfilled all its precepts.  That law said: “Do this and thou shalt live.” But the law continually cursed the best of their deeds.  The law of love and liberty according to grace says: “My child, because you live, this you will surely do!”

You say, according to the testimony of the Spirit in your heart, that you are a child of God?  You say, according to that same testimony, that Christ died that shameful death on the cross in your behalf, and that in and through it you are redeemed? You say that in your heart you experience the “peace of God”?

Then you will indeed give thanks! The eyes of the faithful ones who are thus disposed acknowledge the wisdom of all the ways wherein it pleases our Lord to lead us, whether in health or sickness, prosperity or want, tranquility or controversy; in any way in which He leads, we know and believe its wisdom, and we give thanks, yea we shall give thanks to the endless praise of His blessed Name!

And as to the source of that thanksgiving, let us not presume that we add to the glory of our God, shall we? The concluding lines in a hymn we heard once phrase it rather fittingly we believe, concerning that very question:

“Thine were the songs, no gift of mine.

Thou gavest them me.

I but return Thee what is and ever shall be Thine!”

Do you give thanks this Thanksgiving Day season?

Ah, Lord God! Teach us Thy ways today!

Teach us Thy ways in brilliance of glad jubilation, but also

Teach us Thy ways in deepest, darkest mourning;

For we have been bereaved!

 

Eternal God! Teach us Thy ways today!

Teach us the glorious essence of Thyself

That we behold Thee, as our God, in changeless splendor unsurpassed;

For by Thee we are bereaved!

 

Ah, Gracious God! Teach us Thy ways today!

Teach us what safe retreat Thou art with drawing, undergirding, everlasting arms, and

Teach us there to know Thy peace and fix our sight on Thee

In times we mourn, bereaved!

 

Comforting God! Teach us Thy ways today!

Teach us to view Thee build Thy Church from age to age on Truth, and

Teach us by Thy grace to love it, serve it, and confess it well, cost what it may

E’en though we be bereaved!

 

Jehovah God! Teach us Thy ways today!

Teach us as youth to follow paths and creeds so well defined from Scripture’s page, and

Teach us to venerate the heritage of Truth which Thou hast given Thy Church on earth through     man ordained

Of whom we are bereaved!

We have heard the above charge hurled against the Protestant Reformed Churches in America so often that perhaps we ought to take a second look at it. We have no right, of course, to disregard all that is said contrary to our convictions without providing basic refutation to the allegations that are lodged against us. This, however, is a far cry from affirming that the charges which are so often heaped upon the Church of God are themselves worthy of an answer. Such are often encountered when those that oppose you in any given variance discover that it is virtually impossible to do so upon a sound basis, and therefore resort instead to waging an attack on your person or on a view which they at once identify as being yours, but erroneously so. Obviously, in such a case we might consider that the charge warrants no answer, because of the evident ill-motivation. As a general rule, however, it is well to “consider and refute”, and in all instances where possible, as we affirmed in our March editorial according to I Peter 3:15, “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”

We notice that the charge here is not against any doctrine. That is rather important. Its specific doctrines characterize the church denomination. They are its distinguishing banners. That is why it is so fundamentally important for you as youth to know Protestant Reformed doctrine; the point being that if you are to confess the doctrine, it is obviously pivotal that you know and understand that which you confess. That for two important reasons: 1) Your confession virtually ceases to be a confession in the instance in which you are ignorant of, its contents, that is, as far as its being a living confession is concerned, and 2) You are called upon in life to defend that confession which you believe and affirm that the Lord has committed upon you, and it goes without saying that we cannot defend those things of which he has little or no knowledge. In that connection, is it your desire and purpose to study and learn our doctrines so that you may become firm and unshakable in them in the days of tribulation that lie ahead? But the fact is that here, that is, contained in the above charge is no attack on the doctrine. Not directly that is.

What have we then? Do we see the evidence, in this charge, of a pained and unrelenting conscience that will allow no forgetting of a banished band, who under a leadership provided by God continues steadfastly in the line of the Calvin Reformation, as thoroughly substantiated doctrines, because they are supported by the infallible Word of God itself? You know. That tiny, narrow-minded church that was given an Ophoff and a Hoeksema for its leadership, among others. We profess that these men were given and equipped by God Himself for the work which He had set before them within the sphere of the Protestant Reformed Church. Such is certainly evident, also, in that which they were given to perform in that sphere. Is the charge brought forth, then, because of their inability to single out a doctrinal flaw according to the Word, by suggesting that we all blindly follow the “say so” of one man?

We ought to have an answer to that questionable charge. And it ought to be a good one. We have an answer, Protestant Reformed youth! And it is a good one. Our characterization of our answer in that way is not the epitome of conceit. Rather, it is a humble confession. The reason for that is: God Himself gave us the answer.

A one-man church? Indeed! We will give different content to the charge as it is according to truth…and then let the charge stand! It is a fact that our doctrines embrace that one Man among men, as He is revealed unto us in the Scriptures, the Son of the Living God. In those doctrines is nurtured an unqualified assent to what-ever He declares. That one Man is the Christ, Who, having come to do the will of His Father and accomplished it all, is now exalted at the right hand of God. He is that Son of God who came to gather all the sheep that Father gave Him, and effectually He gathers them, everyone! That is who He is. He is not the beggar of varying hues, who is so loudly heralded by so many other churches today. He is not the “loves all—hates none” man who is palmed off as being the Son of God. He is not the helpless “almighty” that is frustrated by the freewill of mighty carnal man. He is rather the efficacious one. The one in whose hands the keys of the Kingdom eternally rest.

THAT Man has the pre-eminence!

No, we are not super-Reformed. Neither are we hyper-Calvinists. Rather, we believe that the concept of the Sovereignty of God is an attribute which permeates His entire being, so that His justice shines forth as He, without consulting the puny minds of men, sends the Savior Who also bears the sword!

THAT Man we love. He is the very Son of God who redeems the elect Church. And alone by the grace of God do we have the assurance that we are and forever shall remain living members of that glorious body.

That is our answer to such a charge.

Contact with and exposure to controversies as youth of the covenant of God are inevitable experiences in that glorious state into which that youth has been called and placed. The surety of this encounter obtains also with respect to adults, of course, who are by no virtue of their own also placed into that relation of friendship with the Living God. We stress at this point, however, that reality as it pertains to you, the Protestant Reformed youth. In fact, because you are somewhat younger and lack much of the knowledge and understanding at this time, which your parents have received through the years, it may be said that controversy is a more difficult experience for you than for them. But this does not mean that you have not experienced controversy or that you have little knowledge of some of it characteristics. In the actual experience of your life, it involves much more than the above “contact with and exposure to controversy,” does it not? Perhaps it is more accurate and significant to say that the Protestant Reformed youth of today becomes, ipso facto, quite directly involved in such controversy.

We must assume certain premises at this time. First, you are the children of God who are then the friends of God. Secondly, therefore you know Him in your soul, and you love Him and His Word. Thirdly, then you are also desirous to witness (speak and live) in accord with His Revelation and contrary to all that may oppose it. These things must be remembered in our present considerations.

Controversy, we have said, is inevitable. But what is controversy? It may be defined, generally and for our consideration here, as a discussion of argumentive opposition to a given thought or concept, especially in the doctrines of our view of God, His revelation, and our life in this world. Or, the word and life view of the Protestant Reformed faith, if you please, comes under dispute and attack, either from within or from without, and then in a healthy and vigorous church, controversy arises.

And Scripture teaches us that such will be the case. First, the openly godless always flout the cause of Christ in the midst of the world. Secondly, there are within (the sphere of) the militant church the “fifth columnist,” the Judas, the enemy within the gate, who are, though in the church, not truly of it. In due season, of course, this element is always exposed and made manifest. Finally, there is within the hearts of each of us, according to that old nature of sin and the flesh, opposition to the very doctrines which we hold dear and of which we testify that they are the faithful interpretations of the Holy Scriptures of God.

Therefore, we can conclude that where there is no controversy concerning the principles of the faith, there also we find little or no evidence of those principles, but rather a sickly unanimity which must and does lead to spiritual ruin. (cf. John 15:18-27)

This, however, is not a plea for controversy. We do not and may not desire controversy for its own sake! Rather, we purpose to warn against the deadly spirit of apathy which oftentimes prevails in the presence of controversy. Further, we purpose to encourage Zion’s youth to be vigilant and valiant soldiers, enjoined to be witnesses of the heritage which God has committed to our trust.

Apathy is a want of feeling, a lack of passion, emotion, excitement and interest. It is an almost total indifference to what normally appeals to our interest. Apathy is the “So what?”, the “Don’t bother me!”, the “I’m not concerned!” over against the inroads of darkness into the sphere of the church on earth and its attacks on our heritage, namely the TRUTH which has been committed to our trust. Apathy is the “easy” road. Apathy is sickly. Apathy is deadly! Unchecked, apathy always destroys its proponents.

Remember: Apathy is symptomatic.

You will and must engage in controversy in this life. The “easy”, “peaceful”, and “go along with the majority” road is one which is strictly condemned in the Word. However, we may not and we cannot be engaged in such controversy fruitfully if our attitudes are basically apathetic. When the principles of the faith are controverted, it is axiomatic that you as the youth of the Protestant Reformed Churches have an interest, become excited, and become passionate in the matter, which involves your God, His revelation, His Truth, because He has so revealed those things in your souls. The converse of apathy, in addition to interest and zeal, is based on knowledge and awareness! That knowledge and awareness is given through diligent study of the Word, prayerful meditation, and devotion to the Lord, all wrought through His grace in your hearts. A glory is yours, Protestant Reformed youth! God has given the brilliance of His light. Read of that glory in Isaiah 60, beginning:

“Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.”

We believe that such is peculiarly ours, do we not? (I do not say exclusively). Then when (not if) you are attacked for your beliefs, your concepts, and your doctrines, may you take comfort and joy, and may you receive strength for the conflict from His who along is able to sustain:

“…and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” I Peter 3:14, 15.

This is the year of our Lord, 1965. It has come upon the earth, in spite of the worldling’s vain attempts to obliterate the knowledge of this fact from his mind. Naturally, he desires to have no cognizance of such a thing as that! The fact that he has come through another year, in reality, means that he has participated, for one more such span of time, in “vanity and vexation of spirit” to the hilt. And now he has to be reminded of that once more, not only, but also that another year hastens upon him at the departing of the old! His key? False merriment and drunken oblivion.

We repeat: This is the year of our Lord, 1965. When you take such a designation upon your lips, youthful saint, you indeed make a confession. You, as a child of our God, do. It is not so that you here make confession simply by using these words without care, of course. But, is that the way in which you use words and especially those that involve the King of the whole earth? We think not.

That year is upon us. And, you know, it seems filled to the brim with uncertainties and the fear-instilling unknown. But what a mighty confidence you set forth when you actively and meaningfully call it the year of our Lord! No, not now in the sense commonly employed to denote a given span after the birth of Jesus. There, too, of course, we have the expression and confession that He Has Come! But as Christian youth we should and do consider that this year in all of its scope belongs to and is of the Lord. The covenant youth of the Church of Christ Jesus should reckon, in this connection and to the peace of their souls, that the Lord our God is the absolutely Sovereign One, Who works His Work in the earth for His sake and to that end for the everlasting good of His children. Always He does that. Always He governs all things for the sure gathering of His chosen, His Church. And if you, in your contemplation of the future, think that you can conceive of an event that would not answer to that purpose for His Church in the midst of the world, you may be sure that such an event shall never transpire.

The sanctified heart of the Psalmist understood this and whether in faithful anticipation or in joyous retrospect, he glories in the truth: “Thou crownest the year with thy goodness…” (Psalm 65:11a). Humble trust in the Lord is certainly one trait evinced by the saint, the youthful saint also, as together we traverse this weary scene with our God. It is important to remember this, covenant youth, as we embark upon the seas of this new year.

In love and with limitless power, our sovereign God, working all things from the beginning according to HIS PURPOSE, cares for you. Do you believe that? Do you KNOW that in the experience of your soul? Do you, as you look forward into this year, rest in the beautiful assurance given to the Zion of God in Isaiah 50:16 where your God comforts: “Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.”?

We mentioned earlier that this year, even the year of our Lord-1965, seems to be filled with uncertainties and unknowns. What a list we think we could compile! But this is not, in reality, so at all. For ALL things are known and purposed by our God and even though we experience betimes the reality spoken of in Isaiah 55:9 and in our flesh struggle with the truth: “…as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts”, we also most assuredly shall experience, in a life of trust and consecration to our God in 1965 as in the past, the blessedness: “…ye shall go out with joy and be led forth with peace.”

Because the absolutely Sovereign God so speaks to you, all terror and anxiety is utterly banished from your soul.

May God so bless you as soldiers of His Cross, who, though young, manfully engage in the battles of the militant Church throughout this year, 1965.

Protestant Reformed Young People, have you ever stopped to consider your brethren and sisters in the Lord, who are found in distant lands and whose circumstances of life differ markedly from your own? We know, of course, that they are there, for we are told plainly in the Word that God continues to gather His chosen ones from every nation and kindred and tribe and tongue. It is not therefore very unreasonable to assume that He also has His youth in these foreign places. And we know, too, that their lot in life differs from your own, as it pertains to their physical existence; it differs, not only, but it differs rather radically.

Perhaps a brief contemplation of this circumstance will be beneficial for us at this season of thanksgiving. Why do you give thanks? Because you have received many blessings in this life, such as copious amounts of food, clothing, shelter, health, physical peace in which to sojourn, etc? Is that the real essence of the basis for your thanksgiving? Think then for a moment of that brother or sister who in an entirely contrary circumstance in this life also must contemplate the possibility and reason for giving thanks. It doesn’t work so well, that way, does it? And yet we know that all of God’s children here in this life have reason for continued thanksgiving to their God. It is apparent that thanksgiving does not arise because of things.

You and that youthful saint who experiences the opposite of all the luxury which you may here enjoy do not, therefore, have things in common. Evidently there is some other matter, some other consideration, some other factor that enables the two of you to both raise shouts and songs of thanks, in this season and throughout the whole year and every year of your life.

Where does thanksgiving arise? Perhaps this question will assist us in our contemplation. Thanksgiving proceeds from the heart. Now we know that the heart of man apart from God is evil and corrupt entirely and vaunts itself over against others and against God. But we speak here of the heart of the youthful saints and they are not hearts that are apart from God!

Rather, they are the hearts into which has been instilled the fear of the Lord God. Hearts, they are too, which have been given the love of God. This is not just a vague and meaningless statement, covenant youth. Rather, it is pregnant with significance. For it is that love of God which determines the entire outlook and manifestation of that heart. For example, it also determines what regard that heart will maintain for its brother in the household of faith. If there is no love of God in the Scriptural sense of the word, then there is no love for the brother manifest whatever. Remember that, when you consider the reason for your thanksgiving in this season. And if there is no love of the brother in Christ, it will quite naturally follow that there is no real love of God either and any semblance of thanksgiving is a mere mockery of man.

Further, whether our hearts are the recipients of the love of God in all its working power also determines the manner in which we view all the earthly and physical circumstances which confront us in our lives here below. Then imagine for a moment the situation in which we would receive not the list of “good things” mentioned before, but their exact opposites. Then what?
IN and WITH those things, the child of God, let me repeat that, the child of God will give thanks! God has so worked in and changed his heart that he sees his sojourn (and meaning abounds in that term, too¬) as the way prescribed by his God. He sees that in essence a heritage is his! To him is committed the unwavering conviction that his God is an absolute Sovereign, who works all things according to His good pleasure. So, too, does he view his own circumstance in this weary world of woes. But more than that, (and here arrives a point which we must all consider carefully as we give thanks) he also renders thanksgiving to the Mighty God even FOR all those things. Yes, FOR them. That will at once rule out all thought simple of being thankful IN them as a sort of “in-spite-of-it-all-response”. The saint is given to see that these very things which seemingly work against him are indeed prescribed for and work (effect) his good. The saint sees, confesses and knows the Sovereignty of our God.

And you, Protestant Reformed Youth, know this too. It is held before you almost at every turn of your way. Give thanks for this heritage which it has pleased that same Sovereign One to reveal confessionally in our midst. Indeed, maintain that confession with all at your command.

And manifest, by all means, manifest the renewed character of your heart in all your spheres in a life which is evidently thanksgiving to your Maker.

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

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

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

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Jael: An Example of Christian Warfare

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

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Indiana Mini Convention Review 2021

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

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Editorial, November 2021: Catechism Season

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

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