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On Nov. 20, 1964, the last day of the third session of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council in Rome, the highest legislative and representative body of the Roman Catholic Church, by the overwhelming vote of 1893 to 99, approved of a document condemning “hatred and persecutions of Jews.” The controversial declaration, which absolved Jews of responsibility for the death of Christ, held that “Christ underwent His Passion and death freely, because of the sins of all men and out of infinite love.”

The declaration, approved by the Council Fathers stood in the most dramatic contrast to a theological tradition which has dominated Catholic thinking about Jews for 1900 years.  According to that Catholic tradition, God chose the Jewish people in the time of Abraham to serve as a preparatory stage for the coming of Jesus of Nazareth, His Son, and the establishment of the Catholic Church.  Once Christ came, all that was valuable and effective for human salvation was transferred from Judaism to the new Church.  The ancient alliance between God and Israel was voided and replaced by the new alliance between the Church and God.  The Jews, as the original Chosen People, should have been the first Christians, but they elected instead to repudiate Christ.  They did not accept his doctrine; they opposed him during his lifetime; they instigated his arrest; they clamored for his execution; they acquiesced in his crucifixion.  For these sins they were punished in three ways by God: they ceased to be the chosen people; they were blinded so that they could not see the truth of Christianity; they were dispersed among the nations, never to be reunited until the end of time when Christ will return to this world to judge the living and the dead.  At the end of time, they will be converted as a group, but until that day they will remain blinded, dispersed, and persecuted as a sign that God has entrusted salvation to the Church (Roman Catholic) alone, and that He punishes obduracy.

Roman Catholic believers drew a whole range of practical conclusions from these premises.  The Jews as a people—not only the Jews of Christ’s time—were guilty of having killed Christ, the God-man; theologically speaking, they were deicides.  Second, because they were cursed by God to remain dispersed among the nations until the end of time, the very existence of a Jewish State must be against God’s will, and Israel must, therefore, be doomed to extinction after a short while.  Third, the sufferings of the Jews were to be understood as part of their punishment for the crime of having rejected Christ and their original destiny.  Fourth, Judaism was a useless thing, an invalid method of worship, which had been rendered pointless by the advent of Christ.  And in the long history of Jewish-Christian relations more conclusions were frequently drawn.  The Jews were allied with the devil; they were always entering into conspiracies with freemasons, with communists, with atheists, with secularists, for the sole purpose of destroying the Church and wiping Christianity off the face of the earth.

The adoption by the council and the final signature of the Pope this fall signified the culmination of a bitterly intense struggle which started shortly after the accession of John XXIII to the Papal throne.  The Pope and Catholic Church now announce to the world that they have exonerated the Jews of deicide.

The Catholic world now claims it is not the Jew who is now on trial for the crucifixion of Christ but Christians who in vicious bigotry slay the spirit of Christ in their cruel hounding of innocent Jews.  Some people have claimed that the Church has officially, by signing the declaration of absolution, begged forgiveness from God and from Christians and from Jews.

And from the declaration signed in the fall it seems as though, by words, the Catholic Church has freed the Jews of guilt for Christ’s death.

Who then kills Christ now? Who stands in judgment for the crucifixion of the Lord? Who is to be condemned? According to the Catholics if the Jewish nation is no longer responsible then surely the Gentile nation cannot be.  And if the Gentile nation is free of guilt then we are certainly excluded.  And if we are excluded then the only ones left to blame is a handful of wicked people at the time of the crucifixion who were there at the cross and who condoned the crucifying of the Lord.

It is of course not difficult to see the error of the Catholic Church.  Their error lies not so much in the fact of freeing the Jewish nation from guilt but it lies more in the way of failure to condemn their own wicked selves.  And this is the error so prevalent in the even so-called Reformed Churches of today.

Who kills Christ now? The whole world was represented at Christ’s crucifixion.  The apostate Church was at the time of Jesus, represented by the leaders of the Jews, particularly the Jewish council, whose president was the high priest.  “And the governor said, why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.” Matt. 27:23.  The world-power was represented as it was represented by Pilate, the Roman governor.  “And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they desired,” … and “he delivered Jesus to their will.” Luke 23:24, 25.  There was the multitude gathered before the Praetorium.  They were the acquaintances of Jesus and the men who had witnessed his mighty works. “Then cried they again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas.  Now Barabbas was a robber.” John 18:40.

Who kills Christ now? He was rejected and killed by all kinds of men.  Even one of his disciples betrayed Him for thirty pieces of silver.  Another swore and cursed rather than be accounted as one of his followers.  They all forsook Him.  Oh, how men hated Him!

But understand that we cannot view God’s word and God’s history as outsiders or spectators.  What was true in history is also true today.  This situation always arises wherever and whenever men come into contact with this same Jesus.  Whether it is Israel of old, the modern church of today, kings or common people, upright citizens or criminals, as mere men they surely have rejected Him.

Oh yes, the so-called church people and Christian of today will tell you they believe in the Christ and want others to believe on Him too.  But just as the Jews of old were looking not for the Christ that came, but for a Christ who would feed them earthly bread, so today the modern man and so-called Reformed churches look for a Christ after their own imagination—not the Christ of the scripture.  They want a Christ who loves everybody, or a Christ who would like you to come and accept His free offer, or a Christ who asks for your little part to do something.

You and I, as mere men, also reject Him.  By nature we also want to do something toward our salvation.  By nature we too reject the Son of God, and crucify Him afresh.  Our nature loves darkness rather than light.  We want to seek our own righteousness.

Why do we all by nature reject Christ? Why have we all by nature killed Christ? Simply because Christ is the Man of sorrows.  He came into the world to suffer for those whom the Father had given Him.  He came for our sin.  He came to bear our reproaches.  He laid himself humbled in dust in order to exalt the righteousness of God as the sole way of salvation.  This is why mere man rejects the Christ.  For, mere man hates God and His righteousness.  They seek salvation through their own power and hate Christ because He gives all the glory of salvation to the God whom they hate.

Then if all men by nature killed the Christ, how can there be any hope of our salvation? Grace. This wonder word changes mere man.  Carnal men are changed into spiritual children of God that have eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to seek after the living God.  With their ears they hear His voice.  With their hearts they seek after Him, hungering and thirsting for God’s righteousness.  With their hearts they feel shame and humiliation because of their sins.  But they by Grace turn to the cross with their spiritual eyes to find the way out of sin and death into the glorious fellowship of His resurrection.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10.

Then we too will bear reproach from the world. For by confessing His name in the midst of the world and proclaiming His word, and walking as children of the light we can expect to be rejected.  But we can in everything look forward to our final victory when we will glorify God’s name forever for so rich a salvation. We will join all those saints gone before us in the many mansions which are in His Father’s house, for if it were not so He would have told us.

“Tom looked like a bum when he came home for Christmas.  His clothes were filthy, he was wearing a mandarin beard and his hair hadn’t been cut since September.”

The above title and paragraph are quoted from an article from Harper’s magazine, written by J. Glenn Gray.  Mr. Gray is a professor at Colorado College and in his article discusses the searching of college students for the purpose of their existence.

The story of Tom is a familiar tale in newspapers, articles, and magazine about groups of students in various parts of the country and on several campuses of American colleges and universities.  Tom and those like him are superior students who have hitherto seemed anything but beatniks.  For years their parents have let them steer their own courses and supported them financially at some sacrifice.  What, then, are they rebelling against? Is this merely a ludicrous episode in their development or a sign of severe disorder? Their parents don’t know.

Nor can professors and university administrators shed much light o the moods and motivations of students in the sixties.  They have been baffled by the rioting at Berkeley last fall and other less publicized incidents elsewhere.

If a Tom had come home for Christmas 25 years ago in the same condition, his parents probably would have committed him to a different sort of institution.  What lies behind this change?

For one thing, today’s student is more affluent, more comfortably housed, and better equipped with the materials of scholarship than he was 25 years ago.  But his college life is also more impersonal and competitive, and less humane. It is harder for him to know his professors, the administration, or even his all too numerous fellow students. The student of today has become one of the crowd.

If he has reached the age of reflection, today’s student is seeking above all to differentiate himself from the crowd.  Twenty-five years ago it was distinctive merely to be a college man.  Now he must struggle to be more than a grade-point average, an anonymous statistic with a college and home address.  Often he expresses this yearning for uniqueness in ways that parents, administrators, professors, and other outsiders consider illegitimate.  Well publicized are the bearded, sloppily dressed students, defiant of even minimal administrative regulations, studious enough, but incontinent in their demands for alcoholic and sexual freedoms, fiercely insistent on leading their own lives.

The desire for self-definition goes hand in hand with an inner need for a compelling authority to make freedom meaningful.  In the thirties, economic pressures for existence rescued from this dilemma.  In the forties there was the war, and afterward, the threat of the Bomb to distract attention from inner conflicts.  For some students in the sixties the civil-rights struggle has become a Cause, but has not reached the impact of the thirties or forties.

Lacking an embracing cause and a fervent ideology, the student’s search for a durable purpose is likely to become aggressive, extremist, at times despairing.  Paradoxical as it sounds, the real problem of the college youth is to discover some authority, both private and public, that will make possible authentic individuality.

How then do these students of today seek their so called “salvation”? They have resorted to what is known as Existentialism.  The Existentialist says, since God does not exist, there is no purpose, logic, or plan in the universe.  There is no essential human nature common to man.  Thus each individual creates his own essence or character in time by his own choice of interests and actions.

In colleges all over America, courses dealing with Existentialism are currently very popular.  Thousands of paperbacks on Existentialism are being sold from the newsstand.  Numerous books are being translated from German and French Existentialists.

Why this sudden emphasis?  Simply because Existentialism appeals to the situation.  Its deepest conviction is that through his choices each individual makes himself.  According to this metaphysical concept everyone determines his own course.  He can choose to be lost in the crowd.  Existentialists are against group activities.  To them “existence” literally means to “stand out from.”

Even the so called worldly men of today doubt that Existentialism can ultimately satisfy the search for authority.  The professors of the leading universities today claim that we must find a way to help these poor lost souls who are trying so hard to discover and know themselves.  The world is changing too fast they say and because of this incredible pace, it is a wonder that so many are sane and resilient.

So the modern professors send out a plea to all mankind—a plea for help.  Experienced professors must provide patient listening and attention to these students who are tomorrow’s citizens.  Because professors are busy with research, government contracts, and sabbatical travel, there has developed a rift between the generations and at the same time increases the sense of impersonality, discontinuity, and absence of community that makes college life less satisfying than it used to be.

Nowadays nearly everyone looks to education for salvation as once they looked to religion or to a political ideology.  To succeed in building the great society one must first resolve the doubt and bafflement about the validity and worth of that society and its existence.

Many of the harassed young men and women at schools today have not yet decided what sense, if any, their existence has.

It is not difficult for the Christian to see the wicked errors in not only the plight of the poor student of the world but also in the remedy put forth by students and professors.  In this we see another sign of the times for which we are commanded to watch and be not deceived.

The worldly man vainly seeks to find his answer here below.  If is good that we may know that no answer or satisfaction can ever be found aside from God.  We do not need to find a way out of a dilemma.  We belong to God and thus all satisfaction and peace are in Him.

But there is more of a lesson to us than merely recognizing that the wicked hate God.  As the wicked young person denies a decreed purpose for his existence, we sometimes too forget that God decrees and controls the lives of each of His creatures.  We only too often want to help God a little bit by adding some of our own works to faith.  Or we often pray for God’s will to eb done and under our breath whisper our own wants and wills.  Or we often complain because things don’t seem to be going our way.

Only through faith can we recognize not only the workers of iniquity but we can only then recognize our own weakness and sin.

But we know too that our sins are forgiven us in Christ Jesus and then we may prayerfully sing:

 

Ere into being I was brought

Thy eye did see, and in Thy thought

My life in all its perfect plan

Was ordered ere my days began.

 

Search me, O God, my heart discern,

Try me, my inmost thoughts to learn;

And lead me if in sin I stray,

To choose the everlasting way.

Peace on Earth?

“If the atom bomb should fall tomorrow on the world, it will be because you quarreled with your neighbor today.”

The foregoing quotation was made by the Revered Father Dominique Georges Pire, a Belgian priest, who received the Novel Peace Prize in 1958, and who has since founded The Heart Open to the World, a nondenominational organization dedicated to teaching young people of all nations how to live together in peace.

The article in which Pire’s quotation is found is in the January 1965 issue of one of our nation’s leading magazines. Along with Pire, the author of the article approached four other of the world’s, so called, most distinguished and knowledgeable spokesmen for peace—all winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, which honors those who, according to the broad specifications for the award, “have done the most or best to promote brotherhood among nations…”

They are Sir Norman Angell, author and journalist, who received the prize in 1933; Lord John Boyd Orr, internationally known nutritionist and agricultural scientist who was the first head of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, the prize winner in 1949; the Revered Pire; Philip Noel-Baker, educator and former high official of the British Government, who was the winner of the prize in 1959; and the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the latest recipient of the prize.

The Nobel Peace Prize winners were asked several questions on the subject of peace. Paraphrased in brief below, are some of their answers.

On what do you pin your hopes for world peace?

Father Pire:

There is a hope for peace in the future because there is the existence of certain qualities that I have encountered all over the world. One of these qualities is goodness. Despite the fact that we live in a harsh world, I dare to affirm that man is fundamentally good. And all men have wishes which are in common. One of these wishes is their yearning for peace. Peace will not come until after tomorrow. But we must struggle for peace today.

Angell:

Peace can be achieved only when rival political doctrines are marked by toleration. We are beginning to realize that we cannot survive a third world war. Nations must learn to live at peace with one another and then and only then can we hope for peace.

Orr:

My hopes for peace are based mainly on three things. First is the rapidly increasing number of those in international organizations working for world unity and peace. Secondly there is the growth of international trade which shows that agreements can be reached among nations. My third basis for hope lies in the rapid increase of tourism. People are finding that foreigners, who are bad, really are instead people like themselves with the same wishes and fears.

Noel-Baker:

What makes me most optimistic is the preamble to the test ban treaty and the speeches of the late President Kennedy and former Premier Khrushchev made about it

Dr. King:

The greatest hope for world peace today may well be the realization on the part of people all over the world and the leaders of the nations of the world that war is futile. In short, there must be a peaceful coexistence or there will be co-annihilation.

What evidence is there to show that religion has ever been or in the future could be effective in promoting peace and good will among men?

Dr. King:

All the great religions of the world have always sought to promote peace and good will among men. In their ethical systems love is always the center. The central message has always been peace and good will among men. But sad it is that too many adherents of a particular faith have only creeds for religion and follow not this pattern for a walk of life.

If brotherhood is to become a reality, religion must somehow get into the thick of the battle and influence the minds of men and women to be true to their ethical insights. But I am sure that if the religions of the world are to bring about peace they must rise to the level of not fighting among themselves. There is a need for individual religions to realize that God has revealed Himself through all religions and that there is some truth in all. And no religion should permit itself to be so arrogant that it fails to see that God has not left Himself without a witness, even though it may be in another religion.

Noel-Baker:

The influence of the later Pope John, of Pope Paul, and of the Protestant leaders shows how important it is in bringing nations to accept the ideas and policies on which peace depends.

And further comments:

Angell:

There can be no permanent peace, no security against nuclear annihilation, save by the creation of a workable world government.

Boyd Orr:

If governments, instead of collaborating for war, would begin to collaborate in developing the vast potential wealth of the earth, mankind would enter a wonderful new age of economic prosperity and of peace and friendship between nations.

And finally again Father Pire:

If the atom bomb should fall tomorrow on the world, it will be because you quarreled with your neighbor today.

These above quotations are bold, brazen, wicked statements you say? As Protestant Reformed Young People I am sure we all agree to that fact. We cannot look, work, or pray for peace here on earth you say? Surely we agree with that. The desire and prayer for earthly peace is not in harmony with the will of God. We know that the purpose of God is to bring about His kingdom in the way of wars and rumors of war. For thus saith the Lord to His people in Matt. 24:4-8: “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of war: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes in diverse places. All these things are the beginning of sorrows.”

It is evident that all these things must come to pass before the coming of the Lord in Glory. When we, therefore, desire that God’s kingdom should come then we must needs pray for wars and rumors of wars to come to pass, because we know that Christ’s Kingdom is coming only through this way.

Certainly there is no difficulty in seeing the folly of praying or desiring peace form war and destruction. From little on we have heard from the pulpit, from catechism, in the school, and in the home that a child of God does not pray and cannot pray for earthly peace.

But is this the end? Do we just say these five Nobel Peace prize winners are wrong because they do not understand that you cannot pray for earthly peace?

No! There is more wrong than the mere incapability to pray for peace on earth. The fundamental evil of these men’s theories is that no one can pray for peace without having peace in his own heart. There is only one kind of peace and that is the peace which only the child of God has in his heart. It is the peace which only the elect sinner has and which only can be given by God through His Son Jesus Christ.

In Matt. 5:9 we read, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”

Moses received commandment of God to speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, “On this wise shall ye bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: the Lord make His Face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: the Lord lift up His Countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.” Numbers 6:23-26. And so throughout the ages and unto us too, God blesses His people and only His people.

And why then are not men like King, Baker, Angell, Orr, and Pire peacemakers, although they profess to be? Simply because they seek peace without the Cross of Christ. God said: There is no peace, saith the Lord to the wicked.

But wicked man continues to build its foundations for peace. It continues to call its peace conferences through religious organizations, political organizations, and brotherhood organizations, or whatever it may be. But all their works are vain and futile. In Judges 6:24 we read, “God is peace.” All peace finds its source in God. There is peace and harmony in God Himself as the Covenant God lives in harmony as Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

Through the sin of Adam, man lost his peaceful life in Paradise, and the world has continued in sin through the ages culminating now in the last days in manifestations of war and unrest.

But the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, our Lord, came to earth. We were dead in sin, destruction, enmity, strife, war, but Christ through the cross annihilated all the war in His children by His blood on the cross.

Now we too as Christ’s children can strive for peace. Oh, we do no act as reformers or good workers. We suddenly don’t preach from street corners or call revival meetings to proclaim that we wish to reform the world.

But we now are peacemakers because we continually fight against the old man of sin which is in us. We do not let our hearts be troubled nor are we afraid. Christ is for us, who can be against us? Our hearts are at peace because we know we are God’s children.

We know then that there is a people of peace. And so too we can hope for a land of peace: the New Jerusalem. It is the city of peace. The city which God has prepared as His throne in the heavens is the place where God dwells. Herein lies our hope for peace. Christ is even now coming on the clouds of heaven to take us home to be with Him, where we will live to glorify God forever in that eternal land of peace.

In this so-called “missile age” in which we live today, one finds that the world seems to become smaller and smaller as the ease of communication becomes less difficult. Time no longer holds the same meaning which it did a hundred years ago. It is now possible to breakfast in London, lunch in New York, and dine in Los Angeles all in the same day, and the busy world hardly seems at all impressed, as the great wonders of God are to them only matter-of-fact daily happenings of the age.

So often we young people too forget that the wonders of the day are sent from God. We are so easily swept along with the rushing tide of the wicked and become complacent in our thoughts. Of course we know that all things are from God and of course we acknowledge that all things come from His hand, but how often do we feel day by day that assurance that we belong to Christ and Christ is God’s and therefore all things are ours? How often do we heed the signs of the times and recognize that Christ is coming on the clouds of heaven? Or do we often pass over as the world, with our matter-of-fact attitude and fail to diligently watch for all the possible signs of His coming?

Easily recognizable for the Christian are the signs which we read of in the Bible: Matthew 24:6-7 “And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.” Never before has there been a time as ripe for the coming of the antichrist as today with all that wicked talk of amalgamation of the churches. Then too there are the signs of apostasy in high places. But there are other signs of the times that are not so easily recognizable or are easily passed over in this busy world.

One of these recognizable signs of the times has to do with the above mentioned aspect of communication. Today as never before in the world, communication is essential. People who cannot speak the same language cannot communicate with one another. The lack of communication between two nations can set off a nuclear war and thus cause the destruction of half of the people of the world. What can a nation hope to achieve politically within the own boundary limits of its citizens if those citizens are unable to communicate with one another? Needless to say, absolute chaos would result. How much more true then, is this when communication is lacking among members of the United Nations? The world can easily see that there can be no hope of uniting the nations unless there is a common ground of communication between people, nation, and race. Furthermore, how can the so-called Christian nations possibly hope to spread their religion of democracy to the heathen nations whose religion is communism?

So wicked man strives to maintain himself and freedom in the world. He looks for a way whereby all nations may unite, where the entire world may be one for the cause of freedom. To achieve that end man must learn to communicate with his fellowman. So the world for some three-quarters of a century has worked and strived to find some means whereby he can communicate—to build a tower that will reach to heaven as the Babel of old. The whole wicked world desires one language, one nation, one world, one man, and NO GOD. Wicked man with all his power works to develop his own wicked ends. In the January 11, 1965 issue of one of our national newspapers there was an article which dealt with this means to communicate. The article referred to “Esperanto,” the international language—“the language of hope.” Although for seventy-five years Esperanto has failed in its purpose to gain one world through communication, it is now believed that there may be a new breakthrough as Esperanto “looks like a natural for the jet age.” The article goes on to say that the proliferation of new nations, scientific knowledge, world trade and travel demand a language that is easy to learn, and yet has a rich and supple vocabulary. Language barriers are getting higher at the very time that the world’s business demands that they be lowered. Esperanto can supposedly be learned in about one-fourth the time it takes to learn any other language. Yet, the vocabulary of Esperanto is full. Shakespeare’s plays and Einstein’s theories have been translated into Esperanto. Esperanto is taught in the schools of thirty-two countries, from the United States to the U.S.S. R. International companies like Philips Electric of Holland and Fiat motors of Italy print their brochures in Esperanto. Communist China uses it in its propaganda broadcasts. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) give financial support to the publication of so-called great works, such as Dante’s Divine Comedy, into Esperanto. Esperanto is one of the languages used in the official introductory guide to the New York World’s Fair.

Why is there all this new emphases on the creation of Esperanto as a world language? Simply because wicked man, like wicked man through the ages wants himself to be the all powerful creature. He wants to forget that there is a God and he wants one great glorious happy world where he and his children may forever do as they please.

Oh, but the world forgets that story of Babel. They forget that God’s hand deferred the completion of that tower. It forgets that all of its power comes from God alone. The world will not acknowledge that Christ is coming again. The wicked hate God and also hate His people. Thus they think they will be able to create a world of one communication.

We as Christians, by God’s grace, can discern these signs of the times. We prayerfully ask that God may show us through His Spirit what He would have us do that all glory may be His.

But there is more than merely discerning a sign from the world’s desire to be one in language. We do not place value in communications of the heathen or in any communications which lack speaking of God’s glory and honor. Thus, the one world language which the world so hopes to achieve is all in vain. How can there be any true speaking apart from that what one Christian achieves with another? The fellowship of Christian believers is the only true fellowship or communication. In all our walk of life we are called to take heed and depart from all language which is not of God. Only with other people of God can we have true language fellowship. We know then that we have nothing in common with those who are not God’s children and who speak not the language of the truth of God. We do not feel at home with the wicked who defame our Father’s name, as our conversation is not and cannot be one in Christ Jesus.

Thus in all our conversation may we so conduct ourselves that others may see in us that we are not one with the world but that our communication is with those things that are of the heavenly. May God give us the grace to discern the signs of the times and to walk according to His love and Spirit, to conduct ourselves in heavenly conversation.

A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.
Proverbs

We are saved by grace only, without the work or cooperation of man, or we are not saved at all.

Rev. H. Hoeksema
The Wonder of Grace

HOLIDAY REFLECTIONS
The question must always come at last,
What have you left when Christmas is past?
When the glitter of tinsel and wreath are gone,
What have you left when the day moves on?

Christian young people, what have we left?

Once again another Christmas season has past by into eternity. The most festive and celebrated event of the year has ended amid the helter-skelter of a busy, mad rushing world. The glitter and tinsel decorations have been removed. The well-known Christmas carols are no longer heard. The cards which were sent with their “Merry Christmas” and “Happy New Year” greetings for the season have been discarded. The loud sound of the cash register’s ring in the store of the town’s main street has quieted. American people have already spent their yearly six billion dollars for the Christmas season. The dining and feasting are over and the churches have finished with the yearly Christmas program.

Yes, when Christmas arrives, our country outdoes itself in celebration. Many people also outdo themselves to make Christmas a festive season. Many make Christmas a season for well-wishing and for complete enjoyment. When Christmas comes everyone wears a happy holiday smile. Man speaks of “Peace on Earth” and even of putting “Christ back into Christmas”.

But, alas, when Christmas is past, man still lives in the same hopeless world. He still has the same problems to face. The world problems are the same. The radio, which only days ago played the Christmas carols and proclaimed peace to all mankind, just now is telling about wars and rumors of wars all over the world, of murder and theft and of failures of the U.N. Bills are collected from those who were yesterday hypocritically wished a “Merry Christmas”. It’s the same old world. Those magnificent lights and decorations, those beautiful cards of greeting, yesterday’s carol singing and yesterday’s discourse about peace on earth is over. It all hasn’t brought much change. The world bought presents for far more than they could afford. The host of lovely cards has changed to a mass of unpaid bills. Man ate more than was proper yesterday and many people have little left than a hangover when Christmas is past.

It was a phantom—the whole Christmas spirit was a beautiful colored blown-up bubble and now that bubble has burst. Nothing is left of the bubble but the air which was inside and that too has blown away.

It seems now a more appropriate question to ask not, “What the world has left when Christmas is past”, but, “What the world does not have when Christmas is past”. Although the world may change the joy of Christmas, by their celebrations, it often possesses a superficial religion, which subtly hides God’s gift to His people, by proclaiming Christ as a gift for all mankind only to be accepted. Or man speaks of the little baby Jesus who came to earth to become the best man that ever lived and we must only follow his teaching and world will become unselfish and loving.

Oh, how hopeless and vain and wicked is the modern Christmas celebration.

Christmas is past and what have we left Christian young people? Was our Christmas a bubble which burst at the seasons end? Have we outdone ourselves to buy glitter and tinsel? Have we overemphasized the presents and given our often hypocritical reaction of acting pleased with a gift when really we didn’t care for it at all? Was all our emphasis upon celebrating, on decorations, dining and feasting?

Then it is doubtful whether we Christian young people have much left when Christmas is past. Except that we too will have the same world, the same problems to face and no peace upon earth.

In this world of imagination, hypocrisy and hilarity which completely surrounds God’s people, it is sometimes difficult to keep our balance. How did you and your family fare at Christmas? Now that Christmas is past, did Christmas mean anything? Did it leave you something real, something that has been of benefit, something that strengthened you and yours in the faith? Did it leave you with that outlook of faith and hope in this present world?

The Christian’s answer to the question, “What do I have left at Christmas?” is only, “That what I did to God’s honor and glory”. If we look back over the past season to see what we did to God’s honor and glory we must needs admit that we have failed miserably. Of ourselves we have nothing left after Christmas and hopelessness and despair overcome us.

But God sent the Holy Spirit and He so works in our hearts, that we have everything left when Christmas is past. We have a strengthened faith, new courage and increased hope.

We as Christians have seen another Christmas ebb away into eternity. What is left for us to be joyful in? Unto us a Savior is born!! That is what we have left after Christmas. Christmas is past and the Christian again visited Bethlehem and saw the babe in swaddling clothes. We saw our own misery in the wicked celebrations of the world and understand that we are rich in our rejoicing in Christ. We have our hope left. We know that Christ was crucified. We know He is in glory. He is coming back. Then when temptations come and we hear of unrest and sadness in the world we do not become discouraged but rest in the fact that God sends all these things for the building of His church and for the honor of His name.

Christ was not sent merely for the assurance of our faith but for the glory of the Father who sent Him. Therefore, our hope after Christmas lies ahead to the time when God’s name will be fully realized in glory.

Yes, we as Christian young people do have something left. Christmas is past and we are one year closer to that salvation which is promised us in Christ Jesus.

THE CHARISMATIC MOVEMENT

“And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;” Mark 16:17

In the last three or four years, hundreds of ministers and thousands of laymen in nearly every Protestant denomination in the United States have been taking part in a rapidly growing movement called the Charismatic Renewal, from the word “charism”, meaning “a special divine or spiritual gift…conferred upon a believer as an evidence of…divine grace.”

The persons who take part in this movement claim to have experienced a variety of supernatural phenomena, ranging from prophetic visions to miraculous cures for the sick. But the most extreme of such phenomena is the sudden outpouring of prayer in unknown languages. This is known as “glossolalia”, or the speaking in tongues.

A Presbyterian minister, for example, claims to have received a divine revelation from God of just three words. Later he claims he was able to break forth into a whole new language. It was nothing he had done, he states, God gave him a divine revelation.

This Charismatic Movement began on a small scale in 1956. Soon it spread rapidly to California and since 1960, has been gathering velocity, establishing itself in every state and even appearing in England and on the European Continent. College students have been caught up in the advance of this movement. Students at the Theological Seminaries of Yale, Dartmouth and Princeton are now praying in unknown tongues.

The speaking of tongues is not really a new phenomenon. The advocates of those praying in tongues, years ago were expelled from certain churches, whereupon the Pentecostal churches were established. One of the aspects of the current revival, however, is the way the glossolalia movement has entered into the Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Congregational, as well as many of the so called Reformed Churches. It now includes more than 40 separate denominations.

The adherents of the Charismatic Movement support their beliefs by the Bible—specifically in the second chapter of the Book of Acts: “And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh and you sons and your daughters shall prophesy.”

The linguists of today are puzzled by this tongue speaking phenomenon. Often when a charismatic person is called upon to speak in a tongue, another member of the group will interpret the message. However, the more skeptical members of the group have grave difficulty in making sense out of the glossolalia. Research for a report on the movement reproduced tape recordings among which was a Baptist minister’s prayer in an unknown tongue: “Sala ka taiyestsa. Sai chung tung chave dieva zandali…” Conclusions to the study of certain recordings were that these guttural sounds were highly improbable of being a human language.

The charismatics claim that since the central theme of Christianity is that Jesus Christ is alive and is all-powerful, the church must proclaim Him. The leaders of this movement claim in the time of the apostles, the ability to speak in tongues on Pentecost was sent because the early church needed supernatural gifts for the emergency of the Apostolic generation. So, now too, they claim is a time precarious for Christianity. Because they believe the ending of an era is come, all possible effort must be made to bring down the powerful pagan movements and proclaim Jesus Christ.

Surely in the early history of the church the apostles and disciples of Christ received the ability to speak in tongues. “And they were filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Acts 2:4. We also know that all things are possible with God and what happened in the times of the early church can also happen again. However, we as Christian young people have one calling. And that one calling is to glorify God. And, antithetically, we thereby are called to reject all that which is repugnant to the glory of our God in regard to this present matter of speaking in tongues, and in regard to all things contrary to God’s glory.

In I John 4:1 and 3 we read, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world…And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already it is in the world.” And in Matthew 24:23-24, we find: “Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or, there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”

One who claims to have received the power from heaven to speak unto men with tongues, but who on the other hand speaks of the glory of man and not of God, has not the Spirit of God. For, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophesy…and have not love, I am nothing.” I Corinthians 13:1, 2.

To seek the love of God, the cause of His kingdom and the glory of His name is our calling. And God, who has chosen us as His elect people, keeps us in His care. He has put into our hearts the desire that His name may be glorified, and the desire to pray for strength to discern the way of His truth. He has sent Christ His Son for our salvation and His glory.

Only then through His grace and spirit do we as young people thank God for His love and spirit of guidance. And only through His Spirit can we know our calling: “But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober and watch unto prayer.” I Peter 4:7.

Editor’ Note: This article marks the first contribution of Miss Hilda G. Meelker to Beacon Lights. Miss Meelker will be co-editor with Miss Agatha Lubbers of the column “Critique”. We welcome her to our staff and pray that God will use her contributions to our edification and blessing so that His may be the glory. Miss Meelker is a member of the Hope Prot. Ref. Church of Redland, California. R.D.D.

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