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I LOVE GOD BECAUSE . . .

Because? Only because He First loved me. That truth is fundamental and essential in our confession to true faith.

This time of year we are surrounded by all the clamor of the world as the holidays come upon us. In fact, so great is that clamor that even many of God’s children are caught up in it. It’s Christmas time and everyone loves everyone else. How exciting . . . and yet . . . how false. Christmas dashes in upon us before we can even declare ourselves ready and is suddenly gone. We give a sigh of relief that the hustle and tension are finally over. But we don’t seem very alarmed that we really spent little if any time meditating about the measureless love of God revealed in the birth of the Christ-child.

That’s so old! It really doesn’t take much time to think about it! Or . . . does it? The more you search into it the more you realize how little you do know. Yes, the fact of that love is older than time itself, for it is from all eternity. But the beauty of it is experienced and renewed from generation to generation.

God’s love toward us — those are really very deep and thought-provoking words. So much so that men have written books on it!

So carelessly do we live before God that we even come to think of ourselves as not such a bad guy after all. Where is the sinner, who for a short time at least, is sincerely sorry for his sins and lives in perfection the rest of his life? The Scriptures and the catechism tell us that we daily increase our sins.

God commands us to love Him with all of our heart, mind, body, soul, and strength. We may comfort ourselves with our own image of God but that doesn’t change God. His demand is obedience in perfection. Even in spite of the Armenian idea that by free will you seek out and choose God — God does not save man as long as, there is the possibility that man can merit and bring about his own salvation.

We must see ourselves just as we are — rotten with sin all the way through. As long as we hold any idea that we are at least a tiny bit good, then do we deny the sovereignty of God, seek glory for ourselves, and say that our salvation is not really a hopeless situation in view of our sin.

When we humbly confess that our salvation is completely of God, then are we spiritually ready to grow in knowledge and rejoice. We must see how impossible it is for us to love God in the perfection He demands and deserves. Then do we see how that through doing the impossible God becomes revealed as God who really is God. The self-revelation of God and His glory is the purpose of all His works, even the work of redemption.

Now that we are confessing how impossible it is to do anything of ourselves to please God, are we ready to learn such things as:

  1. Christ must be one of us in human nature and not merely appear to be so, because God demands that the same human nature which sinned must make satisfaction.
  2. The Christ mediator must be man, perfectly righteous, without the sin of Adam, and all of His life and death must be perfectly committed to the living God.
  3. Through Christ, the God-man, God purposed to reveal Himself and to realize His everlasting covenant and thus to glorify His holy name in the highest possible degree.

Now you have begun but only a small beginning. You have not arrived at or finished learning about God just because you have been schooled in it all your life and think that now you know enough. As long as you make pride your companion you will have a stumbling block. Set it aside in repentance and you will be lifted up to singing and rejoicing over the measureless love of God toward His people.

The world will never be honest and tell you what Christmas really is, but God will. He tells us that it is His love toward His people revealed in the birth of His only begotten Son.

Keep your pride and become stagnant like swampy water. Or . . . by grace set it

aside and rejoice in a real and true Christmas. May God bless you and strengthen you as you seek the true meaning of Christmas in Him.

To God be the glory alone and forever. Amen.

No, I am not 3 years old, but Easter, 1968, will be my third year with you, the Protestant Reformed Churches of America.

In some ways I feel as if I’ve already been here for years and years. But when questions arise and I must struggle to find answers to them I think . . . ‘Has it been 3 years already that I have been a member of a Protestant Reformed Church? How can it be when I still know so little?

Easter carries many marks each year. Usually the land has begun to show signs of life, the birds can be heard any time of the day, the sunshine is warmer, the school season is close to an end, and you will find that the unfolding mystery of it all will give you a jaunty, happy step. This and much more is associated with this time of year. Everything from the mystery of life returning to the land to the church bells that ring across America to beckon your presence within the church sanctuary.

I would like to do something different today. I would like you to come with me and let’s turn back to some pages in my life. Only 5 years will be just fine. This is Easter morning, 1963, at 9 a.m. So come, grasp my hand, for we must haste to church. As we enter the door numerous people gather around us, shake hands, pat you on the back, quiz you as to your church home and that you are very welcome to return, thrust a pen in your hand so that you can sign the guest register, then shake your hand some more. How do you like that for a warm welcome!

I am a teenage Sunday School teacher so you will soon become aware of numerous teens sitting all around us when we go in to sit down. This morning there will be no classes. Instead, the Sunday School will present a program. Suddenly it is 10:45 and everyone is dismissed. Such a lovely program wasn’t it!

How everyone reassembles to prepare for the 11:00 a.m. morning worship services, today is Easter so we’ll not only have some favorites sung by the congregation but also be favored by special numbers from the choir and individuals. Before we know it 11:45 has arrived. All quiets down because now the sermon begins. Suddenly the noon whistle blows from the nearby fire station and everyone begins to look at watches and shift around restlessly. Come on, pastor! We have places to go today and dinner to fix yet! Two minutes after 12 we close in prayer and depart. Oh, well, only fifteen minutes today. Usually it’s about twenty- thirty minutes though!

After more hand shaking, smiles, and chatter you are invited to this evening’s service. It will consist of a cantata by the choir and a brief Bible reading by the pastor.

Yes, that was only 5 years ago! How different it will be this Easter, Lord willing. When I walk through the church doors the only one to greet me will be an usher. He will lead me to my seat among a congregation that is peacefully silent, even the children. Services will be conducted as usual with the greatest length of time centered around the preaching of the word. The sermon will probably deal in some way with the resurrection doctrinally and conclude with an application of comfort to God’s people.

The departure after services will have some hustle and chatter with a dispersing into a group here and there in front of the church. Some groups will be discussing the sermon just heard and some will busy themselves with everyday happenings. Coffee dates are made and everyone goes their way.

Quite a contrast isn’t it! Ask me —’Do you miss it? isn’t it a rather harsh change? Wouldn’t you feel more at ease to return? Don’t you find the people cold? Isn’t the preaching hard to understand?’

By the grace of God I can answer no to all of these and other such similar questions. This is where 1 find my home, my joy, and spiritual growth in big and small ways. The only thing I find that really sets me back on my heels is that enormous mountain of unlearned truths of God’s word. My background left me completely unprepared for this challenge. I did not go to a Christian school. I had no catechism, church life was regular but shallow, and home life had almost no Bible use or conversation at all. But discouraged I am not, for one thing I continually learn anew, my God will never leave me nor forsake me but will lead me one step at a time.

Protestant Reformed young people, I wish to tell you this. My prayers go with you that as you reach adulthood and take over the responsibilities of the church and home, do not be awed and led away by the shaking hand, friendly smile, and pat on the back. That is really all they have to give you.

Do not ever be ashamed of your Reformed heritage. Instead, cherish it, defend it, and seek with all of your heart to continue in it: by the grace of God. Great is your heritage and great your responsibility toward it, but remember, our God is greater than these. He will both keep you and establish you, even in your generations.

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 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 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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Tennessee Young People’s Retreat 2021

The 2021 Tennessee young people’s retreat was held August 9 to 13 by Providence, Hudsonville, Unity, and First (Holland) Protestant Reformed Churches. The retreat took place at Eagle Rock Retreat Center in the city of Tallassee. It was about an eleven-hour drive, give or take a bit due to stops for food and restrooms. Though […]

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