At present, there is one student in our Theological School. When there is such a small student body, then we have the unusual situation that follows, of having more professors and instructors, than we have students. Add to this number of teachers the eight members of the Theological School committee, and we have a total force of eleven men whose care is our one theological student. On this basis, it may be argued that this student will be the best trained student for the ministry than we have had in years. How can it be otherwise?
It must not be thought that our school will come to an end when this student graduates, for the want of any future students for the theological school. There are four men, at present, either at high school or at college, who plan to enter the theological school when they have completed their preparatory studies. One man will enter the school, the Lord willing, in September, 1957. These student prospects, though few in number, indicate two facts:
- that the Lord will ever provide His church with a ministry, and
- that our student body will continue to be small, for several years to come.
In all this, let us not forget the prayer, that the Lord establish His Word.
With a glance at the present situation that involves our school and its student body, this article is written. It seeks to encourage young men to study for the sacred ministry. There should be many more men who desire to study for the ministry, and plan to enter our school in order to prepare for future usefulness in the Lord’s vineyard. How great a cause for rejoicing is the fact that God leads a young man to study for the ministry. It is really the crowning result in lives that have enjoyed parental care, catechism instruction, Sunday School, and steady tuition from the pulpit.
The Bible reveals that God chooses His people to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth. The truth then must be taught, in order to arouse the conscience, enlighten the understanding, and subdue the will. Through a gradual process of the pouring of the truth into the mind and heart of those who hear the Word proclaimed, souls are renewed and made new creations in Christ Jesus. From this number, God calls a young man to proclaim the truth, as it is in Jesus, to others. He who is called cannot but proclaim the things that he has both seen and heard. Perhaps, among the young men who read this article, there is one whom God calls through His Word and Spirit, to proclaim the riches of Christ to poor lost sinners. It is only to these – not to the proud and haughty, and the self-satisfied – that the Gospel of salvation is preached. Not the haughty long for the word of reconciliation, but the humble. Will you be one who will bring this message of life to meek and hungry souls?
It is clear, then, how wise is the appointment of pastors, as a means to the conversion of sinners. The faithful pastor preaches the truth with all the variety and skillful adaptation which the different needs and varying conditions of his hearers require. He unfolds the claims of the Law; he describes the ruined state of the soul; he dwells on the beauty and loveliness of God; he announces the wrath of God against sin. Above all else, he exalts the unutterable love of God, which speaks of the sufferings and death of the Son of God in behalf of guilty sinners. Will you be one of these?
Nor is this all. He tries every argument that he can use and makes his touching appeals to the heart and the conscience of his auditors. Further, he recalls fugitive attention to neglected truths, and renews and deepens spiritual impressions by repetition of line upon line and precept upon precept. He reproves, rebukes, and exhorts, with all long-suffering and doctrine. Such methods as these that the preacher uses in the service of the Gospel, means that he who so serves must be well trained. Hence our Seminary has its proper place in the preparation of preachers. It is both a necessity, and a blessing. Will you plan to train at our school, if you want to study for the ministry?
The effect of regular and well-adapted instruction is great and beneficial to our churches, for him who is to prepare for the ministry, as well as for him who takes his place in the pew from Sabbath to Sabbath. In this way the Lord gathers His church, by the agency, in great part, of the pastoral office in its regular and quiet action. This is the Saviour’s plan. He hath instituted the office of pastor and teacher for the gathering of His Church. This Church is over the whole face of the globe, wherever He has provided a faithful preacher of Christ crucified – a preacher who is a vigilant pastor of the flock of God. Will you enlist in His service, under the banner of the Cross of Christ? May God so guide you and lead you into His service, if that be His will, and if you desire to be a minister of the Gospel.
The appearance of March brings many thoughts to mind: Springtime, with all its well-known botanical associations; the resurgence of new season energy out of winter’s doldrums; and the period of life that is youth, with everything that youth signifies.
For the Christian, perhaps, no thought connected with the return of spring each year is more significant than that in which he sees that spring speaks to him of the presence of the covenant God. Spring is a sign that the God of the covenant is present, providentially and omnipotently. The sign of spring is the reminder to the child of God, that the Lord of heaven and earth is He who made all things in heaven and earth; that calls the things that are not as if they were; that raises the dead, and brings life out of death. Always, God reveals Himself as the wonder-working God, who so works His power in nature, as to cause the natural to be a picture of the spiritual. The appearance of the spring flower, the budding of leaves on the trees, and the friendly warmth of the spring sun are creaturely reflections of the power and reality of God, and of His Truth. This is one reason why Jesus so often taught in parables. The natural was a picture of the spiritual.
Surely, to think of March is to think of spring; and to think of spring is to think of youth; particularly, youth as Covenant youth. We do not think, primarily, of the youth of the world. We have our eye on covenant youth; therefore, our youth. The world of carnal youth is one of spiritual darkness. The world of carnal youth is a world that lies in darkness, and all its ways are the ways of sin that leadeth unto death. But the world of covenant youth is a different world. It is different ethically and spiritually. The world of covenant youth is one of life in the Lord.
Covenant youth, which is the youth that we are interested in, centrally and principally, is the youth of the seed of the church. This church is the church of our Lord Jesus Christ. This youth is the elect in its tender and formative years. This youth is the youth, that – even in this early stage of life – fights the good fight of faith. It is a youth engaged in the struggle of faith that it fights, in the spring time of its years. The characteristics of covenant youth are: it is not swallowed up by the philosophy of the world; it does not seek its pleasures in the things below; and it is not carried away by the temptation and sin of the world. Against such a way of life, covenant youth is constantly engaged in a struggle – a struggle of faith against the spiritual foes of darkness. All covenant youth must engage the foe in the battle of faith.
This struggle, in which covenant youth engages, is fought in the arena of youth’s own problems and needs; problems and needs peculiar to this period in life. This arena is the battle ground where covenant youth learns to use its spiritual weapons of the knowledge of the Word and the Sacraments; the habit of faithful attendance at church, catechism class, and society; and the totality of Christian experience learned in church, home, and Christian school. When covenant youth emerges from the noise of the tumult of the battle of faith fought during youth’s years, then it is ready, in the power of faith, to serve the ranks of the servants of God engaged in the main Battle of Life. And so life goes on.
But it is not always easy for covenant youth to see and understand the struggle of faith, in its own period and in the period that youth will grow into; namely, adulthood. Youth does not always see the struggle because it stands in its ivory tower of the School. While in this tower, youth may be protected from the struggle of life, rather than exposed to it. Those who do experience life’s struggles, are those who have ventured forth from the tower. These are the ones who have tasted the privilege their parents enjoy, in sending them to Christian School, even if it means self-denial to do it. These are ones who, themselves, have worked to pay their tuition, either in part, or all of it, by dint of honest industry and self-reliance. These are the ones who have seen that the spiritual labor of the church in preaching, catechism, society, and Sunday School, is expended, through the years, to prepare them for their place in the ranks of soldiers of Christ, under the banner of the Cross. These are the ones who understand that they are being trained to maintain the Thesis, which is God; and to oppose the Anti-Thesis, all that which is opposed to God. These are the ones who follow in the footsteps of the wise man of old, who wrote: “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh…” (Eccles. 12:1)
God calls His children, the boys and girls of covenant youth, to fight the good fight of faith all through their lives. It begins in youth, and it continues in youth. It is fought by the boys and girls of covenant youth who, after completing their primary and secondary schooling, look ahead to their next calling in life. For some youth, there is further schooling in college or university. Here, the struggle continues. Now it is fought on academic levels in the various fields of knowledge, and human learning, and science. On this level, the struggle of faith meets the foe in textbook and classroom. This struggle calls for a thorough grounding in the principles of the undoubted catholic Christian faith as it is confessed in the Twelve Articles of the Apostle’s Creed.
To another of our covenant youth, it is given to him to fight the good fight of faith serving in the armed forces of our country, on land, sea, or in the air. Here, the struggle of faith continues on the level of the life and administration of the military might of our country. In the midst of the philosophy of power, covenant youth testifies of the God of salvation who hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty. When the young man of our youth is faced with the question of whether or not to enlist, let him proceed with caution, and not plunge himself into the services. Let the Lord guide him in his own way and means.
To another of youth, it falls to his lot to seek employment in business or industry. Again, he is called to the struggle of faith. In job-hunting, the foe presents himself in the form of the powerful labor unions that either prevent the youth from obtaining employment, or attempt to seek him to compromise. In this endeavor, he must serve the Lord with distinction.
To the girls of our covenant youth, their lot may fall in the area of further schooling, job-hunting, or home-making. In higher education, her foe is the same one that meets the young man. So also with the level of job-hunting or career employment. Here too, our girls may be faced with the same obstruction in their pathway as the young man of faith. That obstruction is that of the worldly labor union. Our girls are being forced day by day into jobs, or career positions, that are not controlled by labor unions. And the range of such jobs and careers gets smaller, year by year.
Another area of life, where our girls and young women must maintain the struggle of faith, is that of home-making. Our girls know not what the future holds for them in life. The Lord takes care of that. To some, he sends God-fearing young men to be their life-partners; to others he does not. Here, as in other areas of life, God is on His throne.
What should our young ladies do? They should follow principles of good advice. Some principles are: (1) Trust in God, and pray to Him about these important matters; (2) Confide in the parents; they have gone along this same road years before, and they know of the many pitfalls youth may plunge into; (3) Keep company with boys who are Protestant Reformed, God-fearing boys whenever this is possible. (4) If the boys are not our boys, then keep company with those who are God-fearing, who are really interested in the truth of the Scriptures. Do not encourage companionship of worldly boys. Avoid them. (5) Seek, primarily, holiness in the Lord. Holiness will beget happiness.
Moses was a very learned, as well as a very wise, man. He had a vast knowledge of life, and all its component parts. Moreover, he was the greatest of the prophets. He said: “So teach us to number our days, that we apply our hearts unto wisdom.” This is sound advice. Let it guide us in the struggle of faith.
Invariably, the New Year season is the one in which we take mental inventory of the past, noting those facts and events that stand out in our memories; reviewing sad or pleasant experiences; and remembering what was significant. Following hard on the heels of the review of the past is the inevitable tendency to look ahead; to look to the coming year with hope and wonder. Next, we find ourselves taking part in that age-old custom of making resolutions for the new year – resolutions we know we shall never keep, because we are still in the body of sin and death. (Rom. 7:18). The question then arises: “Isn’t a review of the past year helpful to us?” Indeed.
Much blessing can come from a review of the significant and the insignificant in our past life, in the past year. In all our way, the child of God sees the Lord’s hand in all that has transpired. In all situations of life’s pattern, the believer – the young or old – sees that God is unfolding before his eyes, the roll of His counsel concerning His revelation; that He directs all our way. When we see, by the eye of faith, that we have been in God’s way in the past, and that we are in God’s way in the present, and that we shall be in His way in the future, then the knowledge of this fact gives stability to Christian living. Without this stability, life would be chaotic.
It is especially in the church life of our young people that the hand of God is evident. God has wondrously marked the past year with signs of His ever-abiding presence in our midst. This fact we experience; of this fact, we are confident. It is indeed an inspiring past; it speaks clearly of faith in God; it tells of dedication to His truth in a church situation which made for great self-denial. Friendships long established were broken – although young people who easily make friends, found new ones; church life was disturbed, so that young people’s societies felt the impact of the denominational changes; even homes were divided over the church issues. In some of our churches, young people’s societies were constituted all over again. In all this change and disturbance, the evidence of the past year is one of continuing fidelity. In this, there is cause for rejoicing. God is in our midst. The story of our witness in the past year is one of faithfulness. Let us never forget, that the history of the past year, as that history affects us as young people, is a history of God’s own work. He it is, Who is faithful; He has preserved us; He has kept alive His witness to His truth in us. It is all His work. This fact constitutes our chief joy.
This fact has its own significance, for three reasons: First, when the history of denominational witness, generally, in the twentieth century has been one of growing Arminianism, our young people have remained faithful to our Truth. One has only to think of the growing “Youth for Christ” movement, and the Billy Graham campaigns. Even some churches that are in name, Reformed, are swept away with this rushing tide. Secondly, it is significant, that an age that is characteristic for its modernism in doctrine and life, sees these two rushing streams, Arminianism and Modernism, running side by side, in one river-bed. There is a reason for this: Arminianism is the fountain of Modernism. Thirdly, it is significant that an age that is characteristic for its re-interpretation of denominational doctrinal standards in the light of spreading Arminianism, has also seen a re-interpretation of the Three Forms of Unity in the light of the doctrinal position of the Liberated Churches of the Netherlands. So powerful an influence was this Liberated interpretation of the Three Forms of Unity, that it swept the thinking of a whole segment of the Protestant Reformed Churches, of ministers and people, in its swelling tide.
To stem this tide of false doctrine that would re-interpret the Three Forms of Unity, the Protestant Reformed Churches drew up a doctrinal statement of tremendous spiritual depth and insight: the well-known Declaration of Principles. It is well, for all our young people, as a new year resolution, to re-read this marvelous statement of what our churches believe concerning God’s Covenant and Promise. (This Declaration is printed in the “Standard Bearer.” Your pastor will show you where it is.) Because words mean what they say, our ministers and people have declared what the Three Forms of Unity say, in connection with this very important truth. Thus, in a review of the past, we find a satisfaction in the history we have made, and we give thanks to God.
It is also our task to evaluate the present, and live in the present, in the fear of the Lord. God directed our way in the past; what does He desire of us for the present? We can make our question very concrete. Since our way through the past is His doing, what place must our churches serve in the current church scene? Is there a place for our churches? This question is not hard to answer. The answer is emphatically, “Yes.” For that matter, our churches occupy a more important place amongst the large number of Protestant churches and denominations, than it ever has before – yea, even though its number is small. Small, oh so small, as to have a voice hardly above a whisper (in the eyes of the church world). Yet, our churches occupy a position of tremendous importance. Why? Because, in our churches, we have the Truth. That fact alone is all-significant. In that fact lies the deepest reason for our existence. Were it not for the fact that we have The Truth, then we might just as well join the growing inter-church union movement that has its logical conclusion in one super church. But this we cannot do; we feel that immediately. On the basis that God has called us into existence in 1924, and reaffirmed our existence in 1953, we know that God has a labor for us to perform. That is our labor for the present.
But there are voices among those that have separated from us, that also speak of their right of existence. Do they have one? Young people, do not be confused. Those have a right of existence in the church world scene – particularly the Reformed church world scene – who uphold, defend, and proclaim the truth of the covenant and promise of God as it is defined and declared in the Declaration of Principles. We are the only ones who have the Truth as it is set forth in that document. God gave it to us. It is that truth that we are called upon to preserve in the present.
As for the future? Let us leave the future to God. As He has preserved us in the past, He will continue in the future; that is our comfort. We may do no more, no less, than leave it in His hands. Because He gave us a labor to perform in the past, He will also give us work to do, in His service, for the future.
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