At the time of this writing, Stalingrad has withstood thirty days of constant and destructive siege. The big question that almost everyone is asking is, “Will the Russians be able to hold the city?” and “How long will they be able to continue in the face of such a terrible assault?”
Whether or not Stalingrad still stands when this article appears in print, no one dares to predict. But, already now, one thing has become plain and that is that the Russians would rather die than be conquered. There can be no doubt but what the cost in human lives is terrific not only on the part of Germany but of Russia as well. How a nation can continue fighting in the face of such a wholesale devastation is indeed surprising. It certainly doesn’t seem natural, or even possible. For one thing, it is plain that Russia has a vast amount of man-power. If this were not the case she would have been compelled to surrender already a long time ago. More than once we have heard that Russia is not receiving war materials as she should and as was promised her and that she has been holding the invading forces through sheer man-power, through human flesh. Another thing that has become evident is that Russia has prepared herself to meet the German attack in the city of Stalingrad. She knew that it was coming and so she prepared herself to resist to the last ditch at this spot. This, in a measure, accounts for Russia’s ability to stand at this time. However, the greatest factor in Russia’s resistance is undoubtedly her will to stand and rather to die than to be enslaved. Here is also an answer to the power of communism as a system of government. If the Russian people didn’t like it, they wouldn’t fight for it as they do. Simply “hate”, as such, is not a sufficient reason to explain Russia’s tremendous sacrifice in this war. France also hated Germany but she was not willing to pay the price that Russia is paying. We believe that Stalingrad’s defense is an indication of the power of communism.
Communism is more than a system of government.
It is atheistic Russia’s religion!
It is generally conceded that this war is being waged predominantly in the air and that it will be won and lost in the air. We admit that this sounds very reasonable. No one will deny that the airplane has become a dreadful instrument of destruction. Therefore it also stands to reason that the nation which is best able to wage an air-war and is most successful in its bombing raids, will win the war. That means also that the determining factor in the winning of the war will be that of wholesale destruction. The final outcome will not hinge on the ground battles, on hand to hand fighting or the destruction of armies, but on the destruction of property, of munitions factories, supplies, cities, and consequently of men, women and children.
Just imagine the awful power of destruction of a four ton bomb! That, we are told, is the latest size bomb being used by England in its raids on German property. Compare that with a giant firecracker which you used to set off on the fourth of July; that give you a faint idea of the power of such a bomb.
We may well ask, “Where will it end?”
Every so often we hear of a new secret weapon which will soon be used. And it seems that each is worse than the former.
Our Young Men
Many of our boys have already gone into the service. And there are many more who will go in the near future. There seems to be every reason to believe that before long those of eighteen and up will also be called. The general opinion seems to be that after the coming election, congress will pass a bill to call up all the young men within this age limit.
Whether or not this will be the case we do not know. However we do know that the Army has always been in favor of calling the men of this age. And we have also read that the only thing that has prevented it is the coming election. Nevertheless, just this morning I read that the President has stated that that would not be necessary.
What can a person believe?
We hope that the boys who are constantly being called up may experience that their strength is in the Lord; that they may also be found faithful.
Summary of a speech given by Rev. Hubert DeWolf reported by Miss Ruth Dykstra.
It is my duty to call your attention to things of a serious and spiritual nature. I will call your attention to the Christians hope. Notice the meaning, the object and source, and the certainty.
Hope is exclusively the possession of the child of God, it is not for the world, her hopes are vain dreams, mere wishes and desires. The hopes of the world are like bubbles that disintegrate when touched. This is because the world places its hope on the things, of this world. They all must end in death.
Man lies under the curse of God because of his sin, and God constantly makes foolish the wisdom of the world. We can see that in all things around us. What is there in the world that gives satisfaction? Nothing! Today the world is at the very brink of despair, nothing is working out as it should and as man hoped it would. Man lives in the terrible fear of atomic destruction and man is throwing himself into sinful pleasures with the slogan “what’s the use?”
In this hopeless world of sin and death, the Christian has a lively hope. Scripture speaks of hope from two points of view: objective and subjective.
Objective hope is the thing hoped for. The object of our hope is for our soul what an anchor is for a ship. Subjective hope is the activity of hope. Practically these two are never separated, the one implies the other. If I have hope it means that there is something to hope for and that I hope for it.
Hope is a spiritual power whereby the Christian reaches out and longs for the fulfillment of the promise of God. Hope consists of three things: Certainty, the assurance that it is mine, Expectation, living with a view to the day when, we shall receive our hope, and Longing, an intense desire to possess the hope, so that we live for the very purpose of possessing it.
The object of our hope is Salvation in the full sense of the word. We should be conscious of the fact that by nature we are sinful; but in the midst of the world and sin we stand sure in the hope of Christ. He made it real when He paid the debt of sin and put them to naught. Our hope is the fruit of the life of Christ in us. He delivers us from the temporal world with all its miseries, from this body that is bound by the fetters of time, from the power of death and corruption, and from death itself. To be perfectly holy and righteous, to live with God in His fellowship, to serve Him perfectly without sin. This hope is possible for us because our hope is not of the world nor fixed upon anything in this present world. The Christian alone has a real and lasting hope, fixed not in the temporal, but the eternal. He has an anchor grounded in the rock that is firm and sure. The Christians hope is anchored in Christ. Because of that anchor of hope the Christian remains unmoved in the midst of the world.
Do you have that hope? Then you have one of the most precious gifts one can possess, what can be compared with if? Though you gain the whole world and you don’t have hope you have nothing. Though you are a pauper, despised, hated and persecuted in the world you are an heir of eternal glory. Then also it will and must become evident in your life.
Hope maketh not ashamed. The object of the Christian’s hope is real, we cannot see it, but God has promised and His Word is true. He who hopes in Him does not hope in vain. Therefore we know, though all things that are seen testify against us, our hope shall be realized in the day of the revelation of Jesus Christ. Hope in Him therefore, walk in that hope, confess it, hold it fast, and know that you will never be put to shame. Do you know these things? Then happy are ye if ye do them.
There are not very many people who are not afraid of a lion. I’m sure that we would not open the door if we were aware of the presence of a vicious lion that was waiting there to devour us. And yet, from the spiritual point of view, we are in exactly that danger. There is a roaring lion, who continually walks about seeking to devour us. The apostle Peter warns us against this lion in I Peter 5:8. when he says, “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.’’
You will notice that the apostle uses figurative language when he speaks about the devil. He borrows a figure from the animal world and pictures to us the lion, the king of the beasts, as he goes about seeking his prey. This particular lion is a hungry one, for he seeks to devour. Therefore, as he goes about, he roars. On the one hand, his roaring is an indication of the fact that he is aware of his superior strength, while on the other hand, it is his purpose to frighten his victim by his roar in order that he may pounce upon him and devour him.
So also the devil walks about.
He is a roaring lion. No, he does not always manifest himself as such. He does not always appear as a roaring lion. Sometimes he comes as an angel of light and seems to have your best interests at heart. He is very friendly and “helpful’’ from all appearances, but actually he is all the while seeking to deceive and to lead you astray in order that he may catch you in his trap and devour you. Tear away his mask of “an angel of light” and you will discover this roaring lion in his true character. Always he is the lion that goes about to devour you, no matter how he may manifest himself.
At this time, in which the apostle was writing, the devil manifested himself in his true character. The people of God were suffering persecution at the hands of wicked Nero, emperor of the great Roman empire. Terrible indeed was the roar of this depraved tool of the devil. He had the Christians in his power; he tracked them down and hunted them out and ruthlessly persecuted and tortured them to death. The lion, the devil, was walking about seeking whom he might devour.
The apostle calls him our adversary. An adversary is one who opposes with the intention to do one harm. It is his purpose not merely to withstand but to destroy. Now, the devil is our adversary; his name, Satan, means literally, adversary or opponent. The name, Devil, means literally “slanderer, false-accuser”. The apostle therefore presents the devil to us in his true character. He is both devil and Satan; he falsely accuses and opposes.
He is first of all the adversary of God. Not in the sense that he actually possesses power over against the Lord. The devil is also a creature and possesses no power in himself; he is utterly dependent upon God for all his strength and he is not able to move except the Lord give him the power to do so. He is therefore not an opponent of God in the sense that he has power independent of God, so that he can set his power against the power of God. We must be careful that we do not subscribe to such a dualism which is nothing less than a denial of the omnipotence of God. But from the devil’s own personal point of view and from the point of view of God’s truth and righteousness, he is the adversary of God. He hates the living God and seeks to dethrone Him; yea, if it were possible, he would destroy God and usurp His place. Always he opposes the work of God. He sets his “no” over against God’s “yes” and his “yes” over-against God’s “no”. He has set himself to oppose the Lord in all His works and to put them to nought.
And because he is the adversary of God, he is also our adversary. He is the adversary of God’s people, not of the world. The world is his, the wicked are his servants; he therefore has no difficulty with a view to them. It is the people of God, the Church of Jesus Christ, that he seeks to destroy and devour. He hates them because of the testimony of God and of Christ in them. He does not hate them simply as people but he hates them because they are God’s people, witnesses of the living God who manifest His virtues as children of light in the midst of the world that lies in darkness. He goes about seeking to devour them. That does not mean that he is simply intent upon killing them for he cannot be satisfied with that; he purposes to destroy their souls, to draw them away from the Lord and bring them to hell. Not the body but the complete destruction of the soul is his chief interest.
Beware of that roaring lion!
You must not regard this danger lightly. You must not make fun of him and begin to play with him. He is very clever and deceitful; he is very strong. And he loves nothing more than that you will deny this, for then you will not regard your danger seriously and he will be the more able to pounce upon you and devour you. Be careful, for this devil is indeed very clever. He has so much wherewith he can entice and tempt you; all the pleasures and the treasures of the world are at his disposal. And he can make your unfaithfulness seem so innocent. He does not ask that you renounce your faith and deny the whole truth: he merely wants you to let it slip a trifle, to be a little more broad-minded. He does not attempt to make you go all the way immediately; he desires that you will take only one little step. First one step and then another, until finally without your realizing it, he has you where he wants you. But he is not only clever, he is also very strong. He can take away your life in this world impossible except you deny the faith and acknowledge him. And he will surely do that. Scripture tells us that in the last days there shall be terrible persecution. The devil will not rest; he walks about continually, always intent upon devouring the people of God.
Beware of the lion!
He is always near you. He is always watching you, ready, when you are least aware of him, to pounce upon you.
Therefore, be sober, be vigilant!
Watch and pray that you do not fall into temptation!
That people are basically all alike and that no matter where one goes, he meets the same kind of people that he meets at home, is a fact which undoubtedly most of us have discovered long ago. That was also our experience when we were in Canada; we met a good, many people there and found that no matter where you go you find that “people are people”. As far as our work was concerned, it meant that we met with especially two kinds of people; those who were interested in what we had to say and those who were not. And usually it did not take long to find out to which group a certain individual belonged. In respect to the first group there are especially two kinds. On the one hand, there are those who are quite liberal and “broadminded”, who do not care to concern themselves with any “fine points” of difference but assume that there are good people in every church, so that it doesn’t make much difference to which church one belongs. On the other hand there are those who are very “narrow” and bigoted beyond all hope, who because of personal or ecclesiastical prepossessions would not even dare to consider that their particular church could possibly be wrong in regard to any particular view. It stands to reason that when we came into contact with people like that, although we were cordially received by them, we nevertheless actually stood before a “closed door” as far as our real purpose was concerned. I suppose most of us have met people like that and we know therefore how little can be done with them simply because they permit others to do all their thinking for them and take no real, personal interest in the knowledge of the truth.
However, there were also some who were not merely interested in what we had to say but were willing to talk about the matter, desirous to know more and also deeply concerned about those things that concern the Church and the truth as it is confessed by her. We could be sure, when we contacted people like that, that our literature, which we left with them, would be read and that on our next visit there would be questions to be answered and problems to be discussed. And that meant that a beginning had been made. If only one can get the people to listen to him and to talk about the issues that are involved and to take a personal interest in the matter, he has gained a whole lot. It is a sad fact, but nevertheless true, which we have discovered in the past and are finding to be true at present, that the members of the church which cast us out simply are not interested. That simply means that we have no field. By a “field” I mean a place where we can settle and work with some definite prospect of positive fruit.
In this respect, we believe that Canada offers us a broad field.
We have been able to contact only comparatively few of the immigrants because we had to limit our efforts to a few localities, both because of the time allotted us and because we believed that the only way to determine whether there was enough interest to warrant continued and permanent labor was to concentrate our attention on a few localities. The results were encouraging. Thus we felt that the Lord had given us an “open door” in more than one place. And I am sure that anyone else in our position would have felt the same about it. How could anyone feel otherwise when people not only expressed their desire to hear our preaching but on their own initiative made the necessary arrangements and willingly opened their homes in order that a service might be held? Not only that, but after they heard the preaching they desired that we would preach for them again.
Of course this does not mean that all these people were in perfect agreement with everything we said. We did not expect that. But the fact remains that they were keenly interested in what we had to say and desired to hear more. And that means that they did find much with which they agreed and that they are willing to be instructed on the basis of the Word of God. Moreover we found that we could discuss those points on which we did not see eye to eye. In this way we had opportunity to defend our views and to maintain them over against all contrary opinions. When that is the case it can only mean that there is work to be done.
Just what positive fruit our labors will have in Canada, we can confidently leave with the Lord. We certainly must not expect that we shall be able to organize churches where ever we go. But that the possibility of establishing churches there actually exists, we are confident. And we rejoice in the prospect that our truth will be confessed, maintained and propagated also in Canada. Pray that the Lord will make that possible for us.
Summary by Grace Theule
At the mass meeting of our seventh annual Young People’s Convention Tuesday evening, Aug. 19, l147, Rev. H. De Wolf spoke on the topic: Fellowship in Christ. It was the central theme of our Convention which emphasized the blessed fellowship God’s people really experience when they are of the same mind in the Lord. We must maintain Christian Unity. “Only by the grace of God in our hearts can we have Fellowship in Christ.” These were the opening words of Rev. De Wolf’s speech. Man does not establish Fellowship in Christ. Fellowship is born from within. If the life of Christ is in our hearts, we must, and do seek others who have Christ in their hearts. This work is spontaneous. It begins in God who works in our hearts, motivated by the living Christ. It is a spiritual fellowship. That fellowship is opposed to all that is of our sinful flesh. It is not conducive to that fellowship. Only in the way of sanctification, light, love, truth and knowledge in Christ and God’s Word, as it is proclaimed to us, and we study it, God applies it to our hearts and it becomes reality to us. “It is a spiritual reality.” It is also a blessed privilege; to know His will, and walk in His way. It is our peculiar privilege. We have “Fellowship” through that living word. When we desire His desire, we have a sanctified fellowship together. He has called us into His blessed knowledge. When we experience this blessed calling, we have tasted a little of heaven. We enjoy a little foretaste of heaven which God has prepared for His peculiar people. That life shall be perfectly revealed to us in the day of perfection. To know His will, walk in His way, is our peculiar privilege. “God has called you: Protestant Reformed young people, unto His fellowship.” One mind, one heart, one will, to stand fast in one spirit; striving together for the faith of the gospel, manifesting that Christ lives in you, that He may be glorified in all your life.
Wait a minute!
You ought to read this!
I know, you’ve heard so much about that subject that you are probably inclined to say, “That’s ancient history.” And, without realizing it, you are saying more than you intended to say. It certainly is “ancient history”, as old, I should say, as the human race itself. But don’t forget, that it is also very modern! It’s history, past and present. It’s history in the making.
One hears and reads a great deal today about juvenile delinquency, which, as someone has said, could perhaps better be called adult or parental delinquency. There is little doubt as to the truth of this. What else can one expect from homes that are broken by continual strife and wrecked by the evil of divorce, where children are left to shift for themselves without the proper parental discipline, supervision and guidance?
However, it is not from the mere general point of view that we wish to call attention to this evil. One can expect those things in the world where men have nothing but contempt for God’s commandments and are motivated by carnal, selfish desires in enmity to the living God. And although we as Christians bemoan this sad condition in the world, we nevertheless know that it must be so because of God’s judgments upon the ungodly. We know also that this condition shall steadily grow worse in the measure that the man of sin is revealed and the day of Christ approaches. If we could merely let the case rest there and wash our hands in innocence, if this condition existed only in the world and we could look down upon it from some exalted position with garments that were unspotted by this crime, we might assume an attitude of indignation in respect to the world and feel quite satisfied with ourselves.
But can we?
We know only too well that we can’t. The evidence is too convincing to be easily denied. No one can deny that this evil exists also in the sphere of the church of Jesus Christ. I am not thinking now of such exceptional instances where “Christian” young people are hauled into court and charged with this crime. Nor am I thinking at the moment of those “Christian” parents who are remiss in their duty and through their own delinquency are the cause of the delinquency of their children. One might say a whole lot about that and the parents who read this may certainly take it to heart. But since I am writing in a magazine that is intended especially for Christian young people, I may limit my remarks on this subject to them.
Webster defines delinquency as “failure, omission or violation of duty; transgression of law”. A delinquent, therefore, is one who is “failing in duty; offending by neglect or violation of duty or of law.” But why not call it by its right name? Delinquency is sin! In fact, one may say that all sin is essentially delinquency because it is a “missing of the mark”, a failure on our part to give to God that honor and glory which is due Him, an offense against His holiness, a transgression of His law. This, however, does not preclude the possibility of speaking of delinquency as a particular manifestation of sin, as distinguished from the delinquency of sin in general. Considered within the scope of our present discussion, we may say, therefore, that there is, among the many sins that characterize our walk of life, the particular sin of delinquency. Although the term is in itself contradictory for lack of a better term, we may speak of “Christian delinquency”. By this term we mean to refer to our neglect of duty as it pertains to the religious and spiritual exercises which God requires of us within the sphere of the church. In this respect, there is first of all that gross form of delinquency by which we fail to attend the service on the Lord’s Day or “skip” the hour of catechism and thus neglect the means of grace. When this is done willfully, such an individual becomes a liar and practices the lie in respect to his parents, who assume that he attends, in respect to the church, which requires that he attend and thus also in respect to God to Whom he must give an account. (In this connection, parents do well to make sure not only that son or daughter leave at the proper time, but also that he has prepared himself and that he has actually attended, lest they unawares contribute to this delinquency of their child by their neglect or by a proud presupposition that their Jane or Johnny wouldn’t do such a thing.) However, I am not, at the moment, interested in that type of delinquent. I am glad that I may say that this miserable delinquent is an exception. I want to speak to you, who, I feel assured, also condemn such willful “skipping” and neglect of duty. Isn’t it possible that, while we condemn delinquency in others, we ourselves are guilty of it in some other form perhaps? Are we not guilty of that same sin when we allow some form of selfish pleasure to keep us from attending our class? Do we not choose, in such instances, for our own carnal and temporal pleasure rather than the service and blessing of God? And does not this same thing hold for us when we permit ourselves to be caught up in the spirit of this pleasure-mad world so that we have no time for our membership in some society that serves for mutual edification? But suppose that you can justly point to the record to prove that you faithfully attend both catechism class and society meetings, does that absolve you of all contamination of this evil? True, you have then avoided every external form of delinquency. But have you avoided its real stain? Delinquency is not first of all a matter of external form, but an internal reality in the heart. Is it therefore not true that you are guilty of delinquency when you do not prepare yourself properly for such spiritual exercises or when you do not give attendance to the instruction that is given? Then, although you have avoided the form, you, nevertheless, practice the same lie in your heart before God. And when year after year you faithfully attend catechism and in every physical and intellectual respect have become an adult, but fail to become one spiritually and fail to take an adult position through confession of your faith, are you not a delinquent? Must not the church conclude that you have failed to realize the end which God has in view in the instruction you have received?
We could write a great deal more on this subject, but space will not permit; nor is that really necessary, if you have understood the point in question.
Instead of looking at others, let us ask a question of ourselves: am I, perhaps, in spite of all appearances, a delinquent?
Remember that delinquency is a tool of the devil!
May God deliver us from it!
Grand Rapids, Michigan
In the absence of your regular correspondent, I have been asked to write this letter. I’m glad to have this opportunity to write you, although I have been pondering for some time just what I ought to write about. To write about home and the things that happen at home is well-nigh impossible seeing that you men come from so many different places. That probably isn’t necessary anyway, since the folks at home undoubtedly keep you pretty well posted on what is taking place. It is much better therefore that I write about some subject that concerns all of us as Christians and as brothers of the same faith. I don’t know whether you men think a great deal about the reason for things being as they are; perhaps you just accept the circumstances as they are and make the best of them without giving much thought to the reason why they exist. Nevertheless I can hardly imagine that you men who are thousands of miles from home, as some of you are, never think about the conditions that have served to bring you there. But, no matter how that may be, whether you are from home or only a short distance, I think it is a good thing to give these things some thought. The one thing that always strikes me, that becomes evident over and over again in the history of the world, is the foolishness of the wisdom of man. Man in his wisdom boasts great things and promises much but never seems able to realize his ideals. He may go a long ways but inevitably falls short of the goal. Scripture tells us that God makes foolish the wisdom of the world. We see that again in our day. They cry, “Peace”! and there is no peace. And there isn’t really any prospect of peace, even tho men still vainly speak of its possibility. If there were, you fellow’s wouldn’t be where you are right now: you wouldn’t be needed. If we ever needed any testimony apart from the Word of God itself that that Word is true, (which we don’t because we live by faith, we believe that Word regardless of the appearance of things) we have it in the things that happen before our very eyes. God’s Word tells us that there is no peace for the wicked and all the events of this present time loudly proclaim that fact. And it all shows how foolish man really is because he casts that Word of God far from him and blindly butts his head against the solid wall of God’s Word in a vain effort to accomplish his purpose.
And what a testimony this is to us who, by the grace of God, believe!
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! May you experience that in all your way and may the peace of God, which the world cannot know, dwell in your heart.
Yours in the Lord,
Rev. H. De Wolf
Always to do the will of God, to turn neither to the right nor to the left, to be immoveable, to maintain the right and denounce the wrong, to fight without faltering, to shine as a light in the midst of darkness, to speak the truth in love but fearlessly, to follow without flinching, to suffer and never be overcome.
Always to do the will of God without regard to the consequences…..
That is steadfastness!
There seems to be so little of that in the life of the Christian in our day and age. Perhaps that has always been the case. We are inclined to think it was when we remember the history of Israel in the Old Dispensation, as well as some examples in the New. Still, it seems to us as if it is worse in our day than it was in the past. And undoubtedly it is. For Scripture teaches us that there is a development in sin. And especially does the Word of God declare to us that in the last days the love of many will wax cold and many shall depart from the way of truth, so much so in fact that our Lord Himself raises the significant question whether, when the Son of Man shall come again, He will yet find faith?
We are living in those last days.
The signs of the times are becoming more and more manifest. We clearly behold them. Not the least among these is the conspicuous absence of true steadfastness. The unrest and instability, which characterizes the whole world today in almost every sphere, makes itself felt also in the church. Also spiritually we experience the repercussions.
How apparently simple it is today to leave the church in which we have been indoctrinated for almost any carnal reason!
When the way becomes too narrow because of the obstacles of sin and the oppression of the power of darkness, it is but a simple matter to build another bridge that links it with the broad way of the world! And how easy it is, when we circumvent the difficulty and walk on the broad way, to tell ourselves that is well and to ease our conscience with the carnally satisfying but false excuse that necessity demanded it! “We have to live, don’t we? We have to eat, so what else could we do?”
You could die!
Yes, of course, that is the extreme; but not the impossible.
Perhaps someday it will actually be a question whether we shall eat and live in the earth or whether we shall starve and die! And then, as now, it shall be a question of steadfastness.
And then, as now, there shall be O so many reasons why we should not be steadfast. But they shall all be carnal! And if now we are so soon moved by reasons of carnal interest, what can we expect if and when God casts us into the midst of the fire of trial? If now the slightest wind of opposition makes us fear and tremble and we falter in the way, what shall we do when the storm comes? If now the lust for carnal things can so easily turn us out of the way, what shall we do when it becomes a matter of necessity? If now our desire for “butter” results in such a lack of steadfastness, what will we do when it becomes a question of “bread”?
Always to do the will of God, regardless of the results!
Easy? Yes, when the way is smooth, when the sky is without a cloud, when opposition is unknown, when scorn and reproach are not experienced and we pass unnoticed through the world. Easy it is then because it requires no suffering, no denial, no blood. Easy because there is no experience of a need for steadfastness.
Always to do the will of God!
No, my friend, that is not easy. Nay, it is impossible! Fire and storm will prove that to be so. For we ourselves are weak and carnal. In us there is no steadfastness, no power to accomplish it. That we must realize first of all. We must not seek it in ourselves; it is not there.
It makes me think of only one, Jesus Christ, my Lord!
Yes, He was steadfast, steadfast unto death!
And looking unto Him by faith, it is and shall be realized by His grace in us.
Scripture repeatedly admonishes and exhorts us to serve the Lord.
The very fact that the Word of God always exhorts us to do this implies a fact which we cannot very well escape or ignore. It implies that we don’t do that and are not of ourselves inclined to do that. Scripture paints a very black picture when it describes the natural man to us. And we have only to consider our daily experiences to realize that all that Scripture says of us, as we are by nature, is true. There is so little of that which is pleasing to God in our lives even after we have received His grace and confess that we are Christians. Every passing day teaches us over and over again how far we actually are from what we should be. We have all kinds of good intentions and resolves but so very little of the finished product. We arise in the morning with a heart full of purpose, only to find when the evening comes that we have miserably failed. Yes, indeed, we may be glad when there is such a purpose in us even though we weep over its fiasco. For that purpose, that desire to do, is not of us but has been given us of grace.
And yet, how little there is even of such holy resolve to serve the Lord! It is at best very spasmodic. It seems to be a matter of “now and then” rather than “always”. And we find that it is necessary for us to fix the thought in our mind through conscious application, although we would desire it to be spontaneous. We have to be told and we have to tell ourselves over and over again, “Serve the Lord!” We know that if this is not done we are going to drift along upon the current of our natural inclination and desires. And if God by His grace would not intervene to run our skiff aground so that we repent and turn anew unto Him, it would surely capsize and cast us down to hell.
What a commentary our life really is on the incompetency of the natural heart to serve the Lord! How necessary it is for us to hear that word: “Serve the Lord with gladness!”
To serve Him implies that we acknowledge that He is God, the Sovereign Lord, the sole Possessor of all things. That to Him is due all praise and glory and honor. To serve Him means to bow before Him in deep humility and contrition of heart, to confess His name, to do His will, to love His law and do His commandments, to glorify Him in all our life. To serve Him means that He is the object of all our thinking, willing and working; so that we know no other good and seek no good apart from Him. To serve the Lord means to live unto Him as by His grace we live out of Him through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Serve Him with gladness!
Be joyful in the Lord!
And why shouldn’t we serve the Lord with gladness and rejoice in the God of our salvation? We have every reason to do that and no reason at all not to do it! Has He not delivered us from all our sins and removed all our guilt? Has He not liberated us from the bondage and power of sin into the glorious liberty of the children of God? Has He not called us out of the terrible darkness of our natural corruption into the marvelous light of His grace and salvation? Are not His blessed promises many and precious? For He has said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee, and He assures us that nothing is able to separate us from the love of God which is in Jesus Christ our Lord; that He causes all things to work together for good to those that love Him, so that when God is for us nothing can be against us: that in Jesus Christ we are more than conquerors and with Him shall live forever.
Shall we not then serve the Lord with gladness?!
Is there any good, is there any joy in anything else?
Surely all that is not of Him is vain and all that glitters in the world is not true gold. Pity the wretch who seeks himself and attempts to satisfy his soul with the husks of worldly things, with riches and honor and pleasure. For all his works are sin and he shall surely be destroyed!
And being by His grace delivered from this all we sing:
How great the goodness kept in store
For those who fear Thee and adore
In meek humility;
How great the deeds with mercy fraught
Which openly Thy hand hath wrought
For those that trust in Thee.
Ye saints, Jehovah love and serve.
For He the faithful will preserve,
And shield from men of pride;
Be strong and let your hearts be brave,
All ye that wait for Him to save,
In God the Lord confide.
Jim and Hank, as they were affectionately called by the rest of the family, were brothers and two boys more alike you would probably never find. Being the sons of a farmer, they were typical outdoors boys with all the interest and unbounded enthusiasm which any normal lad possesses. Especially did they love the sport of fishing. And since there was a good stream not very far from the house, it was to be expected that they would seek opportunity to indulge in their favorite pastime. And, naturally, there existed a spirit of keen competition between the two, both with a view to who could catch the most as well as the largest fish.
But living on the farm also had its drawbacks, at least as far as the boys were concerned. Because on a farm there are always a number of chores to be done, and, of course, as the boys grew older, more and more chores for them to do. It was therefore not at all strange that Father found himself face to face with a serious problem. The boys, in their eagerness to be off to the stream, were not attending to their duties and often left their work undone or did it unsatisfactorily. Something had to be done about it. It wasn’t that the boys didn’t know what was required of them, for they had been told time and again. But it seemed as though talking did not good. Nor did the boys really mean to be negligent about their work. They just didn’t have the right conception of things. All that work seemed so unnecessary and fishing was a lot of fun; moreover, there was always plenty of work to do, so much in fact that it never really seemed to be done, and what did it get you? To them work was nothing but drudgery and to be avoided whenever possible.
Now, since talking did but very little good, the father of the boys decided on a plan whereby he would be able to demonstrate very practically the error of their conception and at the same time give them some positive instruction. There was one thing both boys wanted very much and that was a new fishing rod. So, without their knowledge, Father bought a rod and hid it in the wagon under the corn that was to be fed to the hogs. This was one of the chores which had been given to the boys. It was also the one thing about which they had a great deal of dispute as to which one of them would do it. Each always tried to find some excuse so that the other one would have to do it. It was Hank who finally uncovered the rod. Picking it up, he ran to his father. “Whose is it?” he asked. “Yours”, was the reply. By this time Jim had appeared on the scene. Where did Hank get the rod and how come Hank got a rod and he didn’t? So Father explained. It might have been Jim’s if he had not always sought to avoid his duty. Not that Hank was any better because he did the same thing. But now since Hank had found it, he might keep it. “You see,” Father said, “every work has its purpose and therefore also its reward. And you never know what that reward may be until you do the work and do it well. Just because you cannot see that reward does not mean that it is not there. Now because you see this reward, Jim, you wish that you had done that chore. Now, I don’t want to leave the impression that everything you do will have some material reward, for that is not true. What I want you boys to understand is that the doing of a work and doing it well is a reward in itself. For, whatever we do, no matter how unimportant it may seem, we must do it as unto the Lord. That means that we do it because the Lord requires it of us. And when we do it in that way, the Lord will bless our labors and He will bless us. Yes, and oftentimes He gives us an unexpected blessing in a most unexpected way. So you see, it isn’t a question of whether we like to do a thing or whether we can see that it is going to pay off; it’s a question of whether we are going to do what the Lord gives us to do as doing it unto Him. And then when we have done it that way, we leave the fruit of it to Him knowing that He is going to use it according to His purpose in such a way that we will be blessed through the doing of it. I hope this incident has helped you boys to understand this. How about it?”
Yes, they saw the point; they understood it very clearly.
“Well, I’m glad you have learned the lesson and I hope you will remember it all your life,” concluded Father as he turned away to continue his chores. “And by the way, Jim,” he added with a wink, “if you’ll look behind the door of the tool shed, I wouldn’t be surprised, but what you’ll find something there.”
As we worked our way through the middle chapters of Genesis in December, we saw the Lord establish a covenant relationship with Abraham and his descendants and give them prosperity in the land of Canaan. But in these final chapters of Genesis, God providentially uses the dramatic events of Joseph’s life to guide the family […]
Who am I? What is my purpose on this earth? Why is everything the way that it is? These are the kinds of questions that often trouble young people as they become more independent from their parents, enter the world of college or career, and make major life decisions such as choosing a spouse, a […]
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 […]
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 […]
As we examined the first eleven chapters of Genesis last month, we took note of the fact that the book of Genesis is theological, meaning it helps us to grow in our knowledge of God. In addition, we noted that the book of Genesis is historical, meaning that the events chronicled in it are the […]
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 […]
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 […]
Although it’s been a couple of months since we’ve been immersed in news coming from Japan about the 2020/2021 Olympic games, it’s still worth considering how these events are understood in the modern worldview of our country. The “Top Story of the Day” on Monday, August 9 (at least according to my newsfeed), was how […]
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 […]
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 […]