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All the Scriptures witness with one accord of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, the wonder of God.

Sometimes even when we least expect it, the Word of God points us to the infinite significance of this wonder.

That is the case in the first chapter of the epistle to the Romans, vss. 3 and 4 where Paul writes, “Jesus Christ our Lord….declared to be the Son of God with power….by the resurrection from the dead.”

We do well to pause and read that statement again, in order to realize the full import of it.

You could pour the thought into other words by saying; Jesus Christ is powerfully set forth as the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead.

That is, Jesus Christ had made Himself known to us as the Son of God.  He did not merely announce it, but He declared it in a most powerful way.  He proved it, beyond a doubt, by rising from the dead.

How do I know then, that Jesus is the Son of God?  How do I know Him as my Lord?  What is the basis for my faith in Him?  Just this, that He proved it to me with power when He arose from the dead.

That is the great practical significance of the resurrection.  It includes all the riches of salvation for us.  For beholding the wonder of the resurrection we confess in faith, as Thomas did, “My Lord and my God!”

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He is risen!

That is the first fact that impresses us.

It was the good news that thrilled the hearts of the disciples on that eventful day of the resurrection, as the tidings passed from lip to lip.  “The Lord is risen.  Indeed He is!”

Despair had filled their hearts ever since those amazing happenings of the past Thursday night.  It had begun already in the upper room.  Judas had been dismissed from the Supper, after Jesus had openly declared that one of them would betray Him.  Then followed the warnings He had given them; to which they had turned a deaf ear.  Thereupon the events in the garden; into their sleep-dazed consciousness had penetrated some of the agony that had filled the soul of the Master.  Afterwards He had refused to defend Himself against the foe.  He had given Himself into their hands, allowing them to carry out all their evil intentions against Him.  He had been condemned to die.  And still He had offered no resistance.  As a spectacle He had hung on the cross; had died the shameful death of a criminal.  How deeply offended they had been by Him.

It had all looked so utterly hopeless.  How could He be what they professed Him to be, the Christ, the Son of the living God?  How could He ever establish the kingdom He had never grown weary of speaking about?  Others He had raised from the dead, but how could He raise Himself?  True enough, He had raised Lazarus, even after everyone had given up all hope, since he had been dead four days already.  But then Jesus was still alive.  Now He was counted among the dead.  And who had ever heard of a thing like that, that the dead raised the dead?  Can one who is swallowed up by the power of death overcome death?

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“But now is Christ risen from the dead.”

There can be no doubt about that.  The evidence is abundant.  We need only mention the vacated tomb that had been so carefully sealed and zealously guarded by the soldiers.  Pilate had laughed at the fears of the Jews when they had asked him for a guard for the dead.  Ironically he had said, “Seal it as sure as you can.”  Little did he realize the irony of putting a seal on the stone and a guard about the grave where the body of the Son of God was laid.

We can even add to that the witness of the angels.  None less than heavenly messengers were present to account for this wonder.  Who else would be a fit reporter of those things that eye cannot see, that ear cannot hear, and that never did enter into the heart of man: the things that belong so entirely to the sphere of the spiritual and the heavenly?

And, as if that were not sufficient proof, we can also produce the evidence of the grave clothes.  How could anyone move a corpse without disturbing the wrappings about it?  Can you rob a cocoon of its chrysalis without damaging the cocoon?

Or if anyone desires still more proof, the Lord appeared to His disciples some ten times after the resurrection and ascended to heaven before their eyes.

Death could not keep its prey.  He arose.

He proved, even as He had said, “I am the Resurrection and the Life.”

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What also impresses us is the fact that He arose victorious over death.  When He arose, death was completely swallowed up in victory.  Each appearance to His disciples was that much more evidence of that glorious fact.

At first the news of the resurrection seemed too fantastic to believe.  Some overwrought women were the first to say that they had seen Him.  Later other reports confirmed the fact, but no one was able to say where He had gone or where He could be found.  He had appeared to them most unexpectedly and as suddenly He had disappeared from their sight.  None had seen Him come, and no one had seen Him depart.  Later, He stood among them in the upper room, had even eaten in their presence, and had shown the nail holes in His hands and feet.  But how He had made His entrance into the room, no one knew, for the door was barred.  Nor did they know what happened to Him when they saw Him no more.  He had appeared to them at the Sea of Galilee, where He performed a miracle before their wondering gaze, and spoke very intimately with them.  Yet there had seemed to be a wide chasm that separated Him from them.  They had wanted to ask Him whether it was really He.  But when they tried to put the question, it seemed so foolish that they gave up the attempt.  They knew it was He.  It could not possibly be anyone else.

The whole solution to the difficulty lay in the fact, that He was risen, but changed.  He had not returned to this earthly existence, where men still walk under the shadow of death.  He had passed through the grave into eternal life.  It was the same Jesus, yet He had undergone a great change, for the mortal had put on immortality, and the corruptible had put on incorruption.  The earthy had become heavenly, and the natural was now spiritual.  In Him death was swallowed up in victory!

O glorious victory.  For it proves that He is Lord even over death.  What is impossible with man is possible with God.

Jesus Christ, powerfully proven to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead!

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Our Lord and our God.

He changed the Sabbath from the close of our week to its beginning.  Now we can begin each new week with His Sabbath.

He brought the church out of the dispensation of shadows into the dispensation of the fulfillment of the promise.

He poured forth His Spirit, whereby He came to dwell within us.

Everyone who is conscious of his sin and guilt, who hungers and thirsts after God, knows the power of the resurrected Christ in His own heart.  He knows that there is no other name under heaven whereby we can be saved.  For Christ was delivered over to the power of death, because of our transgressions.  He was raised again, because He had atoned for our sins and merited eternal salvation for us.  We are justified through His blood.

His Spirit is the life-giving Spirit of adoption that cries within us and causes us to cry, Abba, Father.  For He makes us sons and daughters, even heirs of salvation.

By faith we know Him as our Lord, Who is mighty to save.

He lives; we know He lives, for He lives within our hearts.

And we shall also live with Him.  For He shall change our vile bodies in the likeness of His glorious body by the same power whereby He subdues all things to Himself.

He gives the confession in our hearts whereby we say: My Lord and My God!

Declared to be the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead.

 

Originally published March 1948 / Republished April 2021, Vol 80 No 4

Like an eaglet returning from its first long flight back to its nest high up on some towering cliff, so the first issue of Beacon Lights returns to the editor’s desk, breathless and excitedly happy over its warm reception.

It is true, this first appearance was not without its disappointments. The greatest of which was, no doubt, that the printer, for various reasons was two weeks late in placing the magazines in the mail and thereby definitely created havoc in all previously arranged schedules. Many societies had arranged their program in anticipation of a timely arrival of the magazine, which was but proper, only to meet with disappointment. We are more than sorry that this happened.

But the hearty reception soon banished every other thought. It so happened that the Fuller Ave. Young Men’s Society favored your editor with an invitation to be present at the meeting, which was of social nature, at which the first issue was given out. So also there first-hand information could be obtained on the first reaction of our young men, and, I must admit, it far exceeded my fondest hopes. There were expressions of approval, of surprise even, and no less of criticism.

Yes, even the criticism could warm any one’s heart. They show that our young people are not adopting this magazine as a foster-child which is forced upon them, but are receiving it as their very own, a product of their own efforts, and are not afraid to handle it, to eye it critically and to say exactly what they think of it.

There can be no doubt but that there is plenty of room for improvement, and suggestions are in order, for they can only mean the wellbeing of the paper. Many of you will notice already in this issue that your remarks have not been entirely ignored, nor will they be in the future.

Although it is still too early to accurately register the complete reaction to this new venture, no one will deny that the reception was very favorable.

You may be interested to know that every society in our denomination, with but few exceptions, has subscribed to this magazine before it made its appearance. Since then new subscriptions are still coming in, more will follow, and we are confident that soon all of our young people’s societies will be one hundred percent subscribers.

Already questions are being raised concerning the plans of the publication committee for the future.

Now that the Federation has its own periodical there is no one who wishes it an untimely death, but everyone is eager to see it prosper and become indispensable as it is invaluable in the societies and in the library of every one of our Protestant Reformed youth.

Having anticipated this question in the advance the publication committee has its answer ready, at least in part.

This committee has all but completed its task when the last issue appears next May. All that will still remain to be done is to give a detailed report of its work and offer suggestions for carrying on, that there need be no delay in the appearance of the first issue of the new year when the societies once more open their season next fall.

As to these first five months, the committee regards these as the trial period which will determine the future of the magazine. There can be no doubt any more but that it will have a future. Yet it will undergo some changes before we have the product our young men and young women want. During this period all our young people will certainly gain a growing appreciation for the paper, will see its good points and advantages, but will also have suggestions to offer for its improvement. These suggestions will be carefully listed for the publication committee in order to present to the next Convention the benefits of this experiment in the form of concrete proposals as to how this work should be carried on.

All of which means that the success of this magazine depends as much on you as upon anyone else. Make it your own. Read it to appreciate it; be free to offer suggestions for its improvement; urge other to read it.

The Publication Committee of the P.R.Y.P.F. takes great pleasure in introducing the first issue of our new periodical into your midst. It means to them the fruit of concentrated effort put forth during the last few months to make this paper possible, the removal of what seemed at times to be insurmountable barriers, the satisfaction of having reached a certain goal. But we realize that it means far more to all the members of the young people’s Federation. To you it is the first-fruits of the youthful, yet lively and ambitious organization it represents. Not 18 months ago the Federation was organized in South Holland, IL. Not 5 months ago the second annual Convention was held in Grand Rapids, MI. Today you have your own paper. And what this means toward filling the long-felt need in our young people’s societies can only be surmised.

A Stride Ahead

The appearance of this new periodical is in accordance with the mandate which the publication committee received at the last Convention. The Federation went on record as being in favor of developing a Federation paper and laid this matter in the hands of its previously appointed publication committee to be carried out. This, in turn, is in complete compliance with the adopted Constitution. This paper is mentioned as one of the anticipated means toward realizing its purpose. And that purpose, as you may know, is fourfold:

  1. To unite all Protestant Reformed Young People’s Societies so that they may work in close unity and secure a sense of solidarity.
  2. To seek the mutual edification of the members of this Federation and to strive for the development of talents as becomes Christian young people.
  3. To strive to maintain our specific Prot. Ref. character with a united front.
  4. To promote the welfare of the Prot. Ref. Churches in which we have a name and a place.

One stride toward realizing this purpose is made. And hereby Beacon Lights takes upon itself to serve this purpose.

The Name

Beacon Lights purposes to guide you on your course toward your goal. As an airplane pilot wings his way unhesitantly on his course by the sweeping rays of his beacon lights, so this paper designs to guide you on your way through this world of sin and darkness, that you may ever hold your course and unswervingly strive for your goal. Or, to use a more common, time-tried figure, as a ship at sea is in imminent danger of suffering shipwreck on some hidden shoal or treacherous rock unless the beacon lights guide it through the raging storm and murky blackness of the night, so Prot. Ref. youth must be warned of lurking heresies and threatening temptations which so easily beset them.

The young men of today are the leaders of tomorrow. The young women stand on the threshold of womanhood. Soon your place will be appointed you, wherever God may have planned to use you. And you must be ready. Whether that be in the home, or in the church, or even in the midst of the wicked world, equipped you must be, thoroughly furnished unto every good work!

Prot. Ref. young men and young women have an especially high calling. To them is entrusted the maintenance of their Reformed heritage, the truth of God’s Sovereign Grace, so commonly denied and consistently undermined in our time. That Truth cannot and may not perish from the earth, but must be carried on to the generations to come, even until the end.

May this periodical make its own contribution toward that high calling. May it actually be Beacon Lights for young Protestants.

Criticism Invited

Beacon Lights comes to you with no false pretenses. No one imagines that this is a finished product in the sense that the height of attainment has been reached. We would rather consider this the first efforts in “striving for the development of a Federation paper.” Practically, all those contributing toward this paper, with the exception of Rev. Hoeksema, are fledglings in the work and must still profit by their mistakes. Besides, we anticipate expanding the paper with more and better departments as time goes on. Therefore we invite your criticisms. The publication committee cannot receive a better token of appreciation for its untiring efforts than a large “come back” of remarks and criticism from all of our readers. Who knows but that we may soon be able to introduce the department of “Youth Speaks” in the succeeding issues.

A Word to the Parents

Although these introductory remarks are intended for the youth of our Churches who have called this periodical into existence. I am nevertheless certain that many parents would turn away from scanning these pages with a look of disappointment if no single word were addressed to them. Parents are vitally interested in the welfare of their children and believing parents are especially interested in their spiritual welfare. They want to know and have a right to know what their children are reading. Therefore, in the conviction that parents too will examine these pages I want to enlist your services. We need your support in this new undertaking. Not your financial support; in fact, we prefer that young people find ways and means to take care of their own financial obligations as much as possible and that they thereby develop a sense of responsibility. They will appreciate this paper far more if they realize that it has cost them some sacrifice. But we do need your moral support and your prayers. You can cooperate by maintaining an interest yourself and by fanning the flames of youthful enthusiasm. Discuss the contents with your children; remind them, if need be, to read and make use of it in their preparation for the society; give it your wholehearted support.

In Conclusion

Finally, we would urge all our readers to receive this periodical as your own. Read it and reread it, ponder upon its contents, turning them over in your mind to formulate your own opinions. Do not fail to use it before attending society in order that you may be prepared for the discussion. Discuss it with your friends and get them interested. Learn to use it to your best advantage. And, last but not least, make arrangements to preserve it for years to come.

And may God cause His blessings to rest upon these efforts for years to come and forevermore.

In the midst of wars and rumors of wars.

We can again expect as another Christmas season approaches that there will be an almost universal clamor for peace. Even while nations are locked in a malicious struggle for supremacy, and while others are feverishly preparing to enter the conflict at a moment’s notice, the prince of peace will be eulogized from many a platform and through many a loudspeaker. People will go on dreaming of a “war to end all war, and of a universal peace in which they will no longer use their aluminum for bombing planes and their steel for armament, but will “beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning-hooks.” They will tell you that peace can be acquired once for all by downing all dictatorial powers and restoring the freedom of democracy.

Be not deceived. Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes in divers places, famines, and pestilences. These are but the beginning of sorrows. The church will be persecuted and hated by all nations for Christ’s sake. The apostasy will be great, and antichrist will arise. All these things must come to pass, for the end is not yet.

And yet in the midst of all that, the angels’ song re-echoes: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace in the people of his good pleasure.”

Peace through conflict.

God has put enmity between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman.

Already the head of the serpent lies broken and bleeding under the heel of the captain of our salvation, who entered into our conflict, bore the burden of our guilt in the anguish of his soul in a pain-racked body, broke the power of our arch-enemy, the devil, and marched triumphantly through death, hell, and the grace, to be seated on the right hand of power in the highest heavens.

I know that my Redeemer liveth.

Already the Spirit of the risen Lord has raised us out of death into life, set his throne in our hearts, giving us peace with God through the blood of the cross, and daily equipping us to the battle of faith against all the powers of death that assail us.

Oh, why do the nations rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?

He shall dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. The Lord will hold them in derision.

The trumpet will sound, and the dead shall arise incorruptible. Death shall be swallowed up in victory in the new heavens and the new earth.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulders, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of peace.

Peace on earth, now and forever.

Peace, even in the face of warfare.

Whether you are a young man or a young woman at home, moving about in troublous times, in a world of unrest and confusion, full of doubts and fears, or whether you are a soldier in the training camp, threatened with the possibility of being called to the field of battle, that peace is your only vanguard.

Let not your heart be troubled.

Others may speak of a broken morale, may whisper of cowardly desertion, in sheer desperation may approach or even go over the brink of suicide, or sell their souls to dissipation and carcal lusts.

Be not disturbed, neither be dismayed. Peace Christ leaved with you, his peace he gives to you. A peace with God that passes all understanding, that assures us that all is well and that we may sagely commit our way into his keeping.

Faith is the victory that overcomes the world.

For unto you is born the Savior, who is Christ, the Lord. Glad tidings of great joy.

Glory to God in the highest!

Peace on earth!

Triumphant Easter, day of first-fruits, in which Christ arose as victor over sin, death and the grave.

Glorious ascension. for he went through the heavens to Father’s throne, where he was crowned with glory and honor to rule over the works of God’s hands.

Blessed Pentecost, feast of harvest, when he came to dwell with us in the Spirit, to bless us with all spiritual blessings from heaven and to take us unto himself that we may be where he is.

Without his ascent into heaven there could be no outpouring of the Spirit on Pentecost, no more than there could be an ascension without the resurrection from the grave. Nor could there be a resurrection unless it was preceded by the atoning death of the cross, no more than there could be a cross unless the Son of God came into the likeness of our sinful flesh, born of the virgin.

Christmas, Good Friday, Easter, Ascension Day and Pentecost are so many links in the chain of our salvation, filling our hearts with joy and praise to God.

Yet Ascension Day is a forgotten occasion. And Pentecost suffers the same lot.

Who would forget Christmas? If for no other reason than that the stores and display windows are decorated in festive array weeks in advance and carols are as popular as turkey on Thanksgiving. Even Good Friday gains recognition, and Easter vies with Christmas in growing popularity. But who bothers about Ascension Day or Pentecost?

Even in the church the interest waxes warm at Christmas time, for the story of the Christ-child never seems to lose its appeal. Also the passion weeks, climaxing in Good Friday, hold our attention to the suffering and death of the cross. And interest once more flames high on Easter as we follow the rapid flow of events on the amazing, glad day of the resurrection. But we need a special note on our memorandum pad to remind us of Ascension Day, and a similar note, twice underscored, not to forget Pentecost.

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Or is it because historical facts, which always have a special appeal to us, are somewhat lacking at these last two occasions? It is true that the story of Christ’s ascent into heaven is very brief. The historical facts of Jesus’ last appearance to his disciples on the mount. His final words, his being received up into heaven, so that a cloud received him out of their sight, and the sudden appearance of the angels and their message, are all soon told. And the known facts accompanying the outpouring of the Spirit are also few. There was the fact that it was Pentecost and the disciples were all with one accord met in one place awaiting the promise of the Spirit. There were the signs of the rushing, mighty wind, cloven tongues as of fire sitting upon each of them, and the speaking in various languages. There was the gathering of the multitude that had come together to investigate more closely into these things that were noised about, the speaking of the disciples to each in their own language, the reaction of the people and the sermon of Peter, followed by the conversion of about three thousand souls. More facts than could be mentioned about the resurrection. Yet, when we stop to think of it, do we have so many facts immediately connected with the birth of Christ that Christmas should take such a predominant place, even in the church? And even so, what do we have left if we have nothing but the historical facts of Christ’s birth and death and resurrection? What spiritual value lies in a mere story, if we lose ourselves in that? A story cannot save us, no more than it can fill our hearts with praise to God.

The facts of the case seem to be that there is some natural appeal to the historical events connected with Christ’s life on earth. That appeal we fail to find in the ascent into heaven and the outpouring of the Spirit. Yet if we lose ourselves in that natural appeal, Christ’s birth, suffering, death and resurrection cannot have any real significance for us. Nor will we look forward in anticipation toward the commemoration of Ascension Day and Pentecost.

The shepherds found more than a mere babe in the manger. They found the promised Messiah, the Saviour, born in poverty and shame to bring glory to God and peace on earth in the people of his good pleasure. When Jesus died on the cross the disciples lost more than a friend and master, for they confessed him to be the Christ, the Son of the living God. When he died they seemed to have lost all for time and eternity. Therefore the glad clay of the resurrection left Mary Magdalene without her Rabboni, but enriched her and all the true disciples with the hope of an eternal and blessed reunion in Father’s house with its many mansions. The resurrected Lord has gone into heaven, whither he now dwells and rules over all things, whither he blesses us with all spiritual and eternal blessings in the Spirit, and whence we expect him in that day when he will change our vile bodies into the likeness of his glorious body. Christ in heaven means more to us than his presence on earth could ever mean. Besides, he is busily engaged in preparing a place for us there, and preparing us for that place, that we may be where he is. And he will take us unto himself in a perfect and eternal reunion in glory.

Of that we are assured through his Spirit in our hearts. Triumphant Easter.

Glorious Ascension.

Blessed Pentecost.

Scene One

A magnificent edifice of the most modern construction, adorned with the last word in modern furnishing.

A large, steaming, golden brown turkey graces the center of the dining room table, set off by two candlesticks and surrounded with heavy silverware and costly china.

Two bright-eyed children sit at opposite sides of the table, while father and mother take their respective places at opposite ends. Sweet potatoes, vegetables of various kinds, jams, jellies, and cranberry sauce, all help to round out the meal.

“Mother, we’ve had a very good year, stocks are climbing, business is good, everything we have undertaken was marked by success. We have much to be thankful for.”

Would it be speaking out of turn to suggest with all due reticence that Lazarus lies at the gate, cold, hungry, dirty and full of festering sores?

Thou Fool!

Scene Two

A simple yet attractive home, neat and well kept, bespeaking a man of moderate means.

On the table stands a platter with the remains of a check or two, while the greasy faces of happy children protrude out of a towel snugly tied about their necks.

Father is speaking: “Conditions are much better than a year ago; prices may be steadily climbing but wages are also on the incline, and there is ample work for anyone who cares to work. We’ve acted accordingly; given to the church, to benevolent organizations and other needy causes.”

With that thought in mind he turns unto himself and says, “Lord, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, I…, I…, I…

But it remained for another to be justified rather than he.

Scene Three

A small cottage which has withstood the spring rains, the drought of summer and the frost of winter for many seasons.

The threshold is worn, the door creaks on its hinges, the furnishings in the room speak of years of service.

At the old, round table near the window sits an old woman, the light shining on her silvered hair, tightly drawn back from a care-worn, wrinkled face.

No abundance here; no happy feasting. Her husband has gone on before her, and left her to bide the time in her simplicity and loneliness. But man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.

Someone had very thoughtfully brought her a plate of chicken broth, which having been emptied, is now pushed aside, while she folds her hands over her Bible.

The Book lies open at the sixty-second Psalm; the silence of the room seems to take up the words:

My soul in silence waits for God;
My Savior He has proved;
He only is my Rock and Tower;
I never shall be moved.

As smoke from the incense, this prayer mingles with the prayers of all saints and fills the Sanctuary where angels worship.

 My honor is secure with God,
My Savior He is known;
My refuge and my Rock of strength
Are found in God alone.

 For God has spoken o’re and o’re
And unto me has shown;
That saving power and lasting strength
Belong to Him alone.

Who has not repeatedly read the well-known words of the preacher, remember now thy creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have pleasure in them?

But in these times we are inclined to ask, could days ever be more evil than those experienced by our present day youth? Youth is the time for care-free enjoyment of innocent pleasure, for matching strength and skill in games and sports, for dreaming and planning for the future. But youth seems hardly the time for the serious business of warfare, for living in constant dread and fear, breathing the smoke of gun powder, smelling the stench of human blood, manipulating the machinery of destruction and bloodshed; for sitting at home wondering why the letters of their lovers are so long in coming, filled with grave fears about what the future may bring. From the point of view of youthful ideals and joy of living, youth is experiencing evil days. Can days ever be more evil than these?

Yet: Remember now thy creator. The admonition is as timely now as ever, or, if that were possible, even more so. Remember thy creator.

Thy creator is God, the living God, beside whom there is and can be no other. He is the eternal one, immutable, all-wise, almighty, always and at the same time present everywhere, the standard of all good and the God of infinite perfections.

In him we live and move and have our being. For even as he once by the word of his power called the things that were not as though they were, so he also formed each one of us. He gave us our being, brought us into existence, made us what we are in his own time and according to his eternal purpose. He alone determined the time and place of our birth, our parents, our station in life, and even all that befalls us in each moment of our earthly existence. He does it all in the unfolding of the counsel of his infinite wisdom.

He created us in His image to be his friend-servants in the midst of the world. How true it is, that by our natural birth we came into this world altogether polluted and corrupt, dead in sin, unfit and unworthy to serve him. But he has recreated us with the life of regeneration according the image of Christ Jesus. He has called us out of darkness unto light, that we may confess his name and tell his praises as his prophets, may crucify our old sinful nature and devote ourselves to him in love as his priests, and may fight the battle of faith against sin, assured that the victory is ours, as his kings in this world. Remember thy God, thy creator. “For thus saith the Lord, that created thee, O Jacob (his chosen), and he that formed thee, O Israel (his people), Fear not! For I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name! Thou art mine! When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee, and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest through the fire thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee” (Isaiah 43:1, 2). How could it be otherwise? God prepares the rushing torrents of deep rivers of water and the flaming fires that billow and roar. He leads his people into the angry waves and into the raging flames. Yet they are as safe as Daniel was in the lion’s den. “Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night, nor for the arrow that flieth by day, nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness, nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand, but it shall not come nigh thee.” For God never forsakes his people. He tries us to purify us as in the refiner’s fire. The master-builder is shaping us, chip by chip, into stones for his glorious temple. We are being fitted for our place in his church either here on earth, or finally surely in glory. We may lose a pal, a friend, a lover or husband in the battlefield; we may suffer bodily injury or even lose our lives, but in all these things we are more than conquerors. We finally lose all…our youth, our friends, our dear ones, our own life…to receive all things with Christ in the mansions above.

Remember now.

This does not mean that we should bring him into remembrance occasionally as fancy or necessity dictates. God is not a servant, who can be slighted and scorned, yet called in when we are driven to an extremity. To remember him is to keep him in continual remembrance every moment of our lives, to have him always before us in every circumstance that each day may produce, to always be conscious of his sovereign nearness, his guiding providence, his tender care. With the Lord at our right hand, we shall never fear.

Looking at it from that aspect, the present days of youth are not so evil after all. In fact, they are not evil at all, for if God be for us, nothing can be against us. No anxious care, no bursting shell, no hissing bullet, no earthly loss, no, not even death itself can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.

But evil days are those days when we shall say that we have no pleasure in those things. When we have reached the end of the road and we sit down by the smoldering embers of a wasted life, worn and broken, our dreams blasted, our vain hopes shattered. We had tried to drink to the full the intoxicating pleasures of the flesh, had striven to gain this world, only to lose everything. Like a dog we ran the treadmill, and gained nothing. We are forced to admit, vanity of vanities, all in this life, apart from God, is vanity.

When our life is wasted and spent it will prove impossible, actually too late to remember the creator.

Remember Him now, young man, young woman! And the evil days will never come, nor will the years draw nigh when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in him. “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree, he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age.” Our creator is forming us into a building for eternity.

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter. Fear God, and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil.

To that Christian youth answers: By thy grace we will!

Editor’s Note: The next chapters in our story relate the background to and the history of the origin of the Protestant Reformed Churches. It is obvious from the length of the chapters that these events were earthshaking for the teenager, Neal Hanko. He treats these matters in depth and with passion; very little editorial comment is needed.

Eastern Avenue CRC still stands as a well preserved edifice, a reminder of better days, in a very unkempt neighborhood with shabby, deteriorated houses and run down, boarded up stores. It is difficult to imagine that sixty or seventy years ago this was a very neat and clean environment occupied almost entirely by Dutch folk, who still spoke and worshipped in their native tongue.

These Dutch folk who had come from the Netherlands during the 19th century were mainly of the Secession (Afscheiding) of 1834 or of the Separation (Doleantie) of 1886. Both parties knew their doctrinal position and were determined to maintain it over against each other. In their visits together they often discussed such issues as infra and supra-lapsarianism, mediate and immediate regeneration, the conditional covenant, presupposed regeneration and temporal and eternal justification (Would that we could discover similar conversations on doctrine in our day).

Many of the ministers of the Secession preached a general, well-meant offer of salvation to all who hear the Word. They argued that, although God must work faith and conversion, man from his aspect must believe and repent. Therefore it can be said that God offers his salvation to all, even with a sincere pleading, upon the condition that man repents and believes. As a result they no longer spoke of eternal predestination, first denying divine reprobation and then election.

Those of the Doleantie followed Kuyper in their teaching, including his presumptive regeneration and common grace theories. They strove for a synthesis, seeking a harmony between the church and the world, sometimes referred to as “spanning the gap between Jerusalem and Athens.” This was plainly a denial of the antithesis.

Our minister, Rev. Groen, had been with us for 18 years. He was a follower of Kuyper and among the most liberal of the ministers in the CRC. Besides being a Janssen man (see below), he was known to defend woman’s suffrage and the labor union, both of which at that time were still strongly opposed by most of the members. After his retirement, we were vacant for 1½ years. But there were still many in the congregation who had recognized the false teaching of Rev. Groen and were ready to accept a minister like Rev. Hoeksema, who was known for his strong convictions to the truth.

Herman Hoeksema trained for the ministry at Calvin Seminary. It was during this time that he met and heard Rev. Henry Danhof, a staunch defender of the Reformed truth, preach. In 1919 Rev. Danhof gave a paper at the ministers’ conference under the heading “De Idd Van het Genade Verbond,” The Idea of the Covenant of Grace”, in which he rather extensively described the covenant as a relationship of friendship between God and his people in Christ. Rev. Hoeksema in later years was to develop this truth far more fully, a most fundamental truth of Scripture and cherished by us as our heritage.

After he graduated, Rev. Hoeksema became minister in Holland, MI. We as members of the Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church made our first acquaintance with him when he preached for us during our vacancy in 1919. He declined many calls while he was in Holland. But a year after making our acquaintance, he accepted our call. He remained with us for many years, even until the Lord took him to glory. Little did he or we realize the trials and blessings that would follow in and after the birth of the Protestant Reformed Churches.

At that time I was a lad in my teens, and now after many years I can look back with a deep sense of gratitude to God that I knew Rev. Hoeksema as my pastor, as my theological instructor and, above all, as my spiritual father. He caused me to see the errors into which the church at that time had fallen and he instructed me in the blessed truth of God’s sovereign grace, especially as that is revealed to us in God’s covenant.

There were changes that took place in the congregation when Rev. Hoeksema took up the shepherd staff among us. For years catechism teaching and sick visiting had been left to the elders. When Rev. Hoeksema took charge he was determined to take all the catechism classes, some of the societies and also a lion’s share of the sick visiting. In fact, he was very unhappy with the instruction that had been given to the youth of the church, which was often nothing more than a telling of the Bible story with a moral applied.

For the first time in my life I had a minister for my catechism teacher. Rev. Hoeksema stepped into the room that first evening, looked about with his sharp, piercing eyes and brought us immediately to quiet attention. He insisted not only on order in the classroom, but also that we know our lesson and give him our full attention.

For his inaugural sermon, Rev. Hoeksema preached in Dutch on Colossians 2:1, “For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you.” In the evening he preached in English on Isaiah 40:5-8, “And the voice said Cry, and I said, What shall I cry…?”

He concluded this sermon by saying: “Thus I conceive of my task in your midst. To this task I pledged myself when I first entered the ministry of the Word. And therefore in His name we assume this task of delivering this twofold message. We will proclaim that all flesh is as grass. We will witness against the attempts of human strength. And we will maintain that the Word of our God and it alone stands for evermore.”

It soon became evident to the majority in the congregation that they now heard a type of preaching which was quite different from what had previously been proclaimed. Rev. Hoeksema was not only a great orator, a forceful speaker who spoke with conviction, but he was also a meticulous exegete, whose exposition of the Scriptures was clear and concise. Even the common folk who had had little education could understand and be edified by his strongly doctrinal preaching.

There was an awakening in the church. There was an eagerness to hear the preaching of the Word. Finally, the congregation was hearing the sound preaching of the Word, and was being spiritually fed. This was food and drink for which our souls had yearned while we walked for many years in a dry and thirsty land. God had indeed sent us a man for that time.

But there was also a new emphasis. The new minister laid a strong emphasis upon the sovereignty of God. God, not man, stood on the foreground in his sermons. There was a new emphasis on the doctrine of predestination, a truth that was rarely heard in the past. And there was no less a strong emphasis on the antithesis, the marked, spiritual difference between the church and the world. And along with this there was an emphatic denial of the teaching of common grace. Practically the whole congregation had assumed that common grace was an accepted doctrine in the church. The fact that it was being denied in the preaching raised many an eyebrow, as if to ask, “What strange thing is this that we hear?”

The men’s society was the first to take action. They approached their new minister and asked him to explain to them this whole matter of common grace. He invited them over to his home for an evening, furnished coffee and cigars and explained his position, patiently answering their questions. Not all were convinced, but from that time on my father was a staunch supporter of Hoeksema. My mother, who had been raised in the doctrines of the Secession could never quite accept these new views. She actually remained a follower of De Cock until the day she died. But she did enjoy Rev. Hoeksema’s preaching.

In the context of these ongoing doctrinal discussions in Eastern Ave., four professors from Calvin College presented a protest against Prof. Ralph Janssen, accusing him of error in his instruction. This professor had studied in Germany under modern theologians and had imbibed much of their modern teachings. He had denied the infallibility of the Scriptures, and denied the miracles. But since these four professors served a protest against their colleague with very few grounds and had not spoken with him about his erroneous teaching, Synod dropped the matter.

Not content with this, the professors appealed to the churches. They, and four ministers, including Rev. Danhof and Rev. Hoeksema, wrote a pamphlet entitled, “Waar het in de Zaak Janssen om Gaat,” “What the Janssen Case Is All About.”

The Curatorium of the Theological School appointed a committee of seven, three of whom favored Prof. Janssen and his teachings and four who opposed him. This committee met, but Dr. Janssen refused to cooperate with them. In the meantime, Rev. Hoeksema made an intensive study of the student notes, and since he was editor of the rubric, “Our Doctrine,” in The Banner, he wrote there condemning Janssen’s errors. The committee finally went to Synod with a majority and minority report. At the Synod of 1922 Prof. Janssen’s teachings were condemned and he was deposed from office. On the surface of things, it seemed as if the cause of truth and righteousness had prevailed. But that was not the end of the matter.

Editor’s Note: World War I (1914-1918) was sparked by the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand at Sarajevo. It seemed all the nations of the world were divided into two camps. The Allied powers were led by Britain and France and the Central powers were led by Germany. After a few months of hard fighting across Western Europe, the battle line remained stationary for almost three years until America entered the war on the side of Britain and France. America entered the war in answer to Germany’s policy of unrestricted submarine warfare. Rev. Hanko recounts his experiences in wartime Grand Rapids.

In 1914 there were rumblings of war in Europe. Soon England, France and Germany were engaged in an all-out war.

There was that long spell when the two armies in the trenches had reached a stalemate. Neither side made significant progress. Possibly it was like the time before Christ returns when the whole world is engaged in the final battle of Armageddon, but neither side dares unleash its lethal weapons.

People in our community hoped that America would stay out of the war. That was especially true in our home since my father was definitely pro-German, as could be expected when one considers his background. But then came the sinking of the Lusitania,1 and we were as involved as all the rest.

Strong propaganda encouraged patriotism, much more so than in World War II. The Germans were described as beasts, far less than human. Even the churches allowed themselves to become involved by stressing that God was on the side of the Allies. Dr. Beets2 would tell how the Germans sent poison gas into the trenches of the Allies and God turned the wind about so that the gas came right back at them. On Election Day he gave a radio speech on Genesis 3:9, “And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Adam, where art thou?” He raised the question in the sermon, “Adam, where art thou on Election Day?” Children especially were aroused to patriotism with all kinds of ditties, sayings and songs.

On one occasion, Rev. Hoeksema was asked to make a speech encouraging the buying of Liberty bonds. The common consensus was that he would refuse, or if he did speak he would oppose the whole idea. When he spoke, some took tomatoes and eggs with them to throw at him. He made a strong defense of submission and obedience to those who are in authority, thus silencing his critics.

This over zealous patriotism was what brought another form of trouble to Rev. Hoeksema, minister in Fourteenth St. CRC in Holland, Michigan, when he refused to have the American flag in the church. His argument was that the church of Jesus Christ was not at war with the Germans, particularly not with the believers in Germany. The people threatened to tar and feather him, and later he was assured that this would have happened if he had not warned them that he was protecting himself with a gun. This gun was still lying loaded in the drawer next to his bed when he went to Pine Rest almost fifty years later.

A minister in Sully, Iowa was sought for something unpatriotic that he had said from the pulpit. He had to flee into the cornfields, and meanwhile his church was set afire.

In Iowa, no minister was allowed to preach in Dutch, unless this sermon was repeated word for word in English. An interpreter sat by to see whether this was done accurately.

In that kind of atmosphere the young men hastened to enlist for the service, or else waited eagerly for the draft. Anyone not in the service was considered a slacker or a “no good”. My brother Fred was rejected because of poor eyesight, but he would have done anything to get into the army. The girls wanted a “soldier boy,” and looked with scorn upon any one not in the service.

My mother lived in fear that at some time or another my father would explode against all this fanaticism and find himself in jail. She must have done a lot of praying for him, for he had a very hot temper.

Almost every home had a flag in the window with a blue star for each son in the service. If the young man was killed in action, the blue star was replaced with a gold star. In those days the immediate family was not the first to be notified. But every daily paper carried a list of the casualties that had been reported. Two of my sisters were engaged to boys in the service. As soon as they came home from work they took up the paper to check the list. Whenever a letter came they were ecstatic, but soon realized that it had taken a week or more for this letter to reach them. Much could have happened since the writing of the letter.

For a number of weeks in the winter of 1917, schools and churches were closed because of a coal shortage. The authorities maintained that so much coal was being shipped across the sea there was not sufficient for public gathering places.

Because of this closing of churches and schools, a few of the neighbors would come into our kitchen for “church” on Sunday mornings. My dad would conduct the service and read a sermon. Thereupon we would all enjoy a cup of coffee and a piece of cake.

We were all put on ration. Sugar was so scarce that we kids would go around the neighborhood stores in the hope of picking up a pound or two. We could purchase flour only if a like amount of a substitute was also purchased. We bought flour by the hundred pound sack, because my father used flour for paste in hanging wallpaper. So a hundred pound sack of flour brought along with it a hundred pounds of corn meal, oatmeal, or the like. We had corn meal for breakfast and corn meal for lunch. We ate corn meal mush, corn meal muffins, and corn meal bread. We were so tired of eating corn meal that we thought we would never want to see it again.

And then, to make matters worse, the influenza epidemic hit in the winter of 1918-1919.3 Once more schools and churches were closed for six weeks. Almost no one went to work. Nearly every home had one or more sick with the flu. Doctors could not keep up with the calls that came in. They worked day and night. But the worst of all was that they knew no cure. They tried the usual medicines, and they tried the most caustic medicines, all to no avail. Hundreds died. Funeral services were held outside. Very few went to the cemetery.

A little girl in our neighborhood died also. Her coffin was placed by the front window for the neighbors to see. The minister preached the funeral sermon out on the street.

A gloom hung over all. Everyone wondered, “Will it strike us next?” There were some homes where the whole family was stricken, and one home where there were five deaths. My future mother-in-law, Mrs. Griffioen, gave birth to a child in a room shut off by sheets while others in the family had the flu.

Ministers were in a quandary as to what to do. Rev. Groen was so afraid of catching the flu that he refused to visit any one. Rev. Jonker of Dennis Avenue CRC was out almost day and night visiting the sick. He would place a ladder next to an upstairs window, in order to visit someone upstairs. He wore himself out to a point where he could hardly preach. The consistory allowed him to preach old sermons for awhile.

Our family was spared. We sat at home, trying to seek a bit of entertainment amongst ourselves. But sitting home day after day can grow very wearisome. I remember walking along Wealthy Street, just to get out, but the streets were void of pedestrians. It was “like a painted ship upon a painted ocean.” It hardly seemed real. The break came on Sunday when we had our home service in the morning. To prevent further spreading of the sickness, no more than seven people were allowed to meet together; but we did invite in a few neighbors. These were times when prayer was no longer a mere formality, but a cry of the anxious soul pleading for the sick and bereaved.

As the nation struggled to deal with this public health disaster, it also had to contend with sick and crippled men returning from the front. One political cartoon showed two large millstones with people being poured in at the top and mangled corpses dropping out of the sides. Over it stood the caption: “Will war never cease, will peace never come?”

But actually the war was grinding to a close. On November 6 we received a false report of the armistice. The country went wild, absolutely berserk. Young and old sought to give expression to the release of their tensions. Schools closed, shops closed. An unofficial holiday was called. Since there was no radio or television to turn to, everyone awaited eagerly the next special edition of the paper, for us The Grand Rapids Press. It seemed as if the whole city poured down town to get the latest news as it came out.

We boys went to the Press office, bought ten or twenty papers and sold them on the streets. Although the price was three cents, almost no one bothered to ask for change. People were ready to give a nickel or a dime just to obtain the very latest news. An unorganized parade ran along Monroe Avenue. Some trucks carried effigies of Kaiser Bill4 being hanged. Others gave expression to their joy in other ways. But there were no thanks given to the Almighty except in the churches.

Three days later, on November 11, 1918, when the true report of the armistice came through, people had little energy left to celebrate again.

When the boys came home there was a grand parade down town. They came in full uniform, metal hats and all. The churches had special welcomes. In Eastern Avenue CRC, we had a program with a band, saw various drills with guns and bayonets, heard bugle calls, and finished off with ice cream and cake.

There were many of our young men who did not return. Even for those who did, life was not easy. These boy soldiers had undergone anxious hours and terrifying experiences. Some had fallen for the French lassies.

My sister Sena noticed that her boyfriend was cold and aloof. On Memorial Day they sat together on the lawn. He had no desire to go anywhere. In their letters they had addressed each other as “Hubby” and “Wifey,” but there was no more of that. In fact, after a few weeks he told her that he was not interested in her any more. I saw her dropping his letters one by one into the stove to be burned. Later he married a French girl.

My sister Henrietta was also planning to get married to her boyfriend from Byron Center. One Sunday afternoon she was visiting at the home of his parents. Henrietta and her fiancé were not getting along. His father called him outside and said, “It is better to separate in peace than to live together in trouble.”

These girls had waited at least three years for their wedding day. They had used their spare time to fill their hope chests. And now all their dreams were shattered.

Sena soon met and married Charles Van Dyken. But for Henrietta the situation looked very precarious. She was 28 years old by this time. Her hopes of getting married were almost nil. She knew a fellow on our street who was nothing more than a bum. She started going with him, much to the chagrin of my parents. My mother was very insistent saying, “If you marry him you need not step into this house again.” She did give him up, but she said to our mother, “If I’m an old maid it will be your fault;” to which my mother responded, “I would rather have that on my conscience than see you marry that bum.”

Not very long after, Henrietta’s girlhood sweetheart, Rich Helder, appeared on the scene. He also had been in the war. In fact, he had stood in line while one after another was called to go out to meet the enemy. He would have been the next, but no more were needed. Those men never returned. One night, he sat in a barn which was struck by a bomb. He and his buddies wondered how they had escaped alive.

It was not long after their reunion that the two of them were married. I am sure that my sister’s strong attachment to Mother was due to the fact that Mother had kept her from a foolish marriage.

These war years were hard ones for the family, but a much more difficult battle was coming. This one would be fought in the church.

Footnotes

1The Lusitania was a British liner that was carrying many American passengers. It was sunk by a German submarine in May of 1915. Over a thousand lives were lost. This incident was the immediate cause for America entering the war on the side of the Allies.

2Dr. Beets was a Christian Reformed minister and secretary of missions.

3The flu epidemic referred to here was actually a pandemic of the Spanish influenza which killed more people than the fighting of World War I.

4Kaiser Bill refers to the Germany’s ruler at the time of World War I.

Editor’s Note: Rev. Hanko began school when Christian education was in its infancy. Nevertheless, the education he received was a superior one, equipping him for his life’s work as a pastor.

On a Saturday afternoon in the latter part of January, 1912. My sister Sena washed me and got me ready for a shopping spree. This involved going to the Wiersma’s store on Logan Street to buy the necessary equipment for starting school. Barrels containing kerosene, molasses, boxes of cookies, cases of candy, a balance scale with various weights, and every other object that might attract a neighborhood customer stood around. We bought a slate, slate pencils and a pencil box. Proudly, I walked home with my new possessions eager for Monday and the start of a new adventure.

On Monday morning I ventured off to Sigsbee Street between Diamond and Eureka where the old, brown, wooden, four-room schoolhouse stood serving the lower grades. It had double seats for two children to occupy, a blackboard, a crude wooden floor, and a straight-laced teacher, who wore her hair in a bun and dresses touching the floor. At Diamond and Baxter stood a white brick building that housed the upper grades.

In those early years the teachers had no more than an eighth grade education. It was some time later that a high school education was required to teach, and still later that a college degree was demanded.

I went off every Monday morning with a nickel a week, which was carefully checked on the tuition sheet. Since I was the fifth one of the family going to school, my tuition was cheaper than the other students.

Since I started in February, instead of the usual September enrollment, I was placed in the first grade. This made me virtually the youngest in the class, and required that I plug along a bit harder to keep up.

The school board expected that the small children had not learned English at home, so the first semester was in Dutch. I hardly needed that because I had an older brother and sisters who spoke English. Our lessons were written on the blackboard and copied on the slates. Whenever a lesson was complete a pan of water was passed around the room for everyone to wash his or her slate. You can imagine what a confusion that created, when some twenty or thirty children were blowing and puffing and swinging their slates in the aisle to hasten the drying process.

We did pass on quite soon from slates to pencil and paper. The teacher taught reading by showing us a large picture with identifying words printed underneath. The class stood in front of the room and pronounced the words. Spelling words were written on the blackboard and we were required to write them a number of times. A test would determine how well we had done.

At recess time a pail of water with a dipper was set on the porch to quench our thirst. The janitor stood by with his knife to sharpen the pencils that needed attention. His left thumb was black from holding the lead of the pencil against it.

I can well recall that when we arrived in the fourth grade the first word of our spelling lesson was “geranium.” That floored me. I decided that if that were the first word I would never make the grade. But somehow I did.

One day, one of the boys and I were playing by the back fence of the school grounds. Sigsbee Street was up a hill from Logan Street; the chicken coop in the back yard of Logan Street was below the school grounds. First we watched the chickens. Then the notion arose to throw stones at the chickens. This was a pleasant past time. Not that we were always successful in hitting a chicken or a rooster, but when we did the bird would become quite perturbed. We were so occupied in our sport that we did not notice a big fellow from that house climbing up the wall until he was almost to the top. I raced off and instead of mingling with the other kids, I hid behind the school door where I was soon discovered and brought to the teacher. I do not recall what punishment I received, but it was likely a number of slaps on the hand with the ever present ruler.

While I was still in the primary grades, the school moved from Sigsbee to Baxter Street. A new section of red brick was added to the school, so that all the grades were now in one school. We all “helped” to move, some carrying waste baskets with supplies, others carrying other paraphernalia, until we had arrived at our “new school.” The father of Tom and Sid Newhof bought the old building and made it into a barn in the back of their lot. In front, Tom built a house for himself.

In 1920 I graduated from the eighth grade in Baxter school. In those days a writing diploma was given to those who by the time of their graduation had finished in an acceptable manner all the lessons in the Palmer Method book. I was near the top of my class.

But that did not mean much the next semester when I went to Grand Rapids Christian High School at the corner of Madison Avenue and Franklin Street. Earlier, the old Calvin Seminary building occupied that corner. Since a new building had been erected at Franklin and Giddings, large enough to include the college for instruction in the fine arts, this old building at Madison Ave. was no longer in use and became the home for the Christian high school.

As it happened there were three hundred students enrolled in the high school that first semester, far more than had been anticipated. The result was a tremendous shortage of teachers and seats in the classroom. When the class met young teenagers were lined up along the walls. Besides, there was no teacher prepared for teaching Algebra and Latin even though these courses were offered.

Substitute teachers were brought in from time to time, but very few students got hold of the basics of algebra and Latin. Nearly the whole class, except for those whose parents had been able to help them through, took the course over again. By the second semester everything was far better organized, except that the assembly room was used for a study room, and had so many students gathered there, that the disturbance was not conducive to quiet study.

In many ways these were happy years. The high school was more than a mile from our home, but we usually enjoyed the walk since it was not uncommon to meet other students on the way. We made many new acquaintances, so that the days and weeks slipped swiftly by.

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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Judah: A Story of Redemption

This article was originally presented as a speech at a Protestant Reformed mini convention held at Quaker Haven Camp in August 2021.   The story of Judah is one of the most beautiful in the Bible. We often overlook this history because it is nestled in the middle of the story of Joseph. All the […]

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Author Interview: “Through Many Dangers”

M. Kuiper, Through Many Dangers (Jenison: Reformed Free Publishing Association, 2021)   Through Many Dangers is a work of Christian, historical fiction that has just been released this summer by the RFPA. The book is written especially for young people and details the story of a group of Dutch Reformed boys who serve in the […]

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