FILTER BY:

If you ask me what, in our time, our people need above all in the first place, my answer is: Doctrine! If you ask me what they need in the second place, I say: Doctrine! If you ask me what they need in the third place, I say: Doctrine!

You say, that’s a bold statement. You tell me that I won’t find a ready ear for such a statement in our age which is intensely practical. And I am fully aware of it. Doctrine is not popular. Principles, fundamental truths are contraband. Most people say: we have had too much doctrine. We need practical stuff. Service is the watchword. Others say, more reservedly: we need truth, all right, but a re-statement of the truth. The tendency and the result of the latter is the same as that of the former. Doctrine is not popular.

Naturally, one asks himself the question: How must this doctrinal indigestion, this apathy, this positive aversion to fundamental principles, be explained? There are various causes. One tremendous cause is the spirit of the age. That powerful, undefinable but very real influence that imbues the general populace, invades literature and pulpits and finds a very ready response at a certain period, which we designate as the spirit of the times for want of a better expression. The spirit of the time is against doctrine. The leaders of the people are against doctrine. The air we inhale is against doctrine. We cannot help but be under the influence of the spirit of the age before we are fully aware of it. And so, we gradually wean away from doctrine and begin to speak as the spirit of the age speaks: No more doctrine, let us be up and doing!

But I want to be more concrete and stay nearer at home. It is not this difficult-to-describe spirit of the age which I want to blame today. There is another reason. Surely, there are many causes that combine to account for this miserable apathy to doctrine. But one of the causes is the loss of the thinking-cap. To this cause I want to call your attention a few moments:

  1. The Reality of this Loss
    II. The Deplorable Nature of this Loss
    III. What to do to Regain it
  2. You may be surprised to hear that the cap, such an insignificant thing as a cap, has always had great symbolical significance in popular language. Yet, this is a fact. To wear one’s cap on one ear, for instance, has always been symbolic of extreme nonchalance and indifference. To come with cap in hand expressed an attitude of respect and politeness over against superiors. The expression: “to set one’s cap” meant the same as to make a fool of somebody. And thus examples might be multiplied to show that in the language of the people the cap always had great symbolical meaning.

And so the language of the people coined the term: thinking-cap. The exact origin of the term we failed to find. But the meaning of the expression is quite generally known. And though I have no authorities to show for it, I venture to guess that the expression finds its origin in the custom to put on a certain peculiarly shaped, plain, round black cap, when one would sit down to do some serious thinking.

If this guess is at all right, you will find no difficulty in understanding the meaning of the expression. It does not symbolize the brains, it does not point to thinking capacity as such, for to put off the thinking-cap did not mean to lose one’s mind. If this were the case, the loss of the thinking-cap would signify something irretrievable. It would mean that our people, that especially our young people, that still more particularly our young men, had lost their ability to think. That, of course, would be deplorable in the extreme. One might, then, probably deliver a funeral oration on the thinking-cap. But it would be a loss that was decisive as death. It could never be restored. And I did not exactly mean to be so pessimistic today. I did not come to deliver funeral orations. No, I do not believe that our young men, and that more or less in general, our people are inferior to a former age in thinking capacity. If anything the contrary is true. There are bright and quick minds among our young people. Many indications there are of this fact. If there is only something that interests them, they are sufficiently bright-minded and quick-witted to grasp a thing. But the thinking-cap symbolizes rather the exercise of our thinking capacity than the capacity itself. If one wears his thinking-cap it signifies that he sets himself to do some serious, quiet, sound, deep, continuous thinking, to solve some problem, or to listen to the exposition of that solution by some one else. If one is without his thinking-cap, it signifies that he has no desire to exercise his brains, that he is mentally lazy, that the exponent of some difficult problem finds nobody home. And the loss of the thinking-cap stands for a general mental laziness. Now, I maintain that I have reason to think that the thinking-cap is lost especially among our young people. They are averse to do some straight and sound, some real and continuous thinking. They dislike to exercise their thinking capacity, especially in regard to subjects the acquiring of which does not yield immediate practical results in dollars and cents. Our young people are loath to think!

You want evidence? I think I can produce it. Let me point you to some undeniable facts.

In the first place, there is the subject of reading. You pass thru our homes with the inquiry: what do our young people read? You will obtain various answers. Very few will answer you that they actually are interested in reading books that require some study. Religious books, doctrinal works, are hardly read at all. A good many will tell you that they read novels. Stories, preferably some very snappy detective story, they will read. And they read these without any critical judgment, merely for the sake of the temporary enjoyment they get out of it. And then, there is a large group that do not read at all. They have no time, they find no interest whatever in reading. And if you turn from the homes to our church and Sunday school libraries, you will obtain the same result. The vast majority of the books that are drawn are novels and romances. Books of a more substantial nature enjoy the solemn peace of oblivion. I find in this evidence that our young people have lost the thinking-cap.

Let me call your attention in the second place, to the character of the various programs that will “draw the crowd.” It has happened, that in the heat of the school fight last year, a well known speaker had prepared an address on the detestable school amendment, and had to return home without having delivered the lecture because there was no audience. You say that I am pointing to extreme cases? I beg to differ. The lecture course that is annually prepared by the Young Men’s League of Grand Rapids has degenerated into a course of entertainment. Short, snappy, twenty-minute speeches could be tolerated. But the main part of the program was of an entertaining rather than of an educational nature. And why was this course changed? Because the lectures drew no crowd! And why did they draw no crowd? Because the thinking-cap is lost!

Let me call your attention to the condition of our Young Men’s Societies. It is a general complaint that they do not flourish. Surely, for a social evening you can generally draw a full attendance and more. But for the regular meetings there is little or no interest. You can prepare programs, you may assign to each member his work weeks in advance. But generally, you find that the society decreases in membership in proportion as it lays more stress on the necessity of study and preparation. Why? Because the thinking-cap cannot be found!

I could continue for a while. I could call your attention to the things that do interest many of our young people. And it would be easy to show that they are generally things that require no wearing of the thinking-cap. But I will take for granted that I will meet with little serious opposition when I say that our time is characterized by a deplorable absence of the thinking-cap. Happily, there are others. There are happy exceptions. But I am speaking none too strongly when I say that the absence of the thinking-cap among the coming generations is rather general.

  1. Now, I said, that this loss of the thinking-cap is a deplorable loss. It is not a good riddance. It is not a loss that we can afford to forget. It is a deplorable loss. And I am going to tell you some of the reasons why particularly the loss of this cap is to be deplored.

The first reason I want to mention in this connection is that the thinking-cap and sound doctrine are most intimately connected. Doctrinal knowledge cannot be expected to flourish where the thinking-cap is wanting. I know that not all would agree with me today, when I emphasize that the loss of doctrinal knowledge is most deplorable. The cry that we must become less doctrinal and more practical is very loud in our time. And besides, there are a goodly number who identify in their minds doctrine and narrow-mindedness and who take pride in preaching the gospel of broad-mindedness. But in the first place, I would call your attention to the fact that to despise doctrine is to despise the work of God himself. Our God did not deem it sufficient to reveal to us a little gospel you might write on your thumb-nail, but gave us the entire Word, full of wisdom and knowledge, in order that we might know the whole counsel of God. And that Word emphasizes again and again that the church of Christ in the world must be founded in doctrine. In the second place, I deny the antithesis sometimes, in our day so often, postulated between doctrine and practical life. Surely, I admit that the church can and often did divorce its doctrine from life, so that it fell into the error of dead orthodoxy and cold intellectualism. But this is not to be blamed to doctrine as such, but rather to a wrong conception and defective application of it. Sound doctrine lies at the basis of life. It is indispensable to sound practice. Practical life soon runs wild if it is weaned from doctrine. And therefore, it is a mistake to cry: Less doctrine, more life. I would rather maintain that we must have both: more doctrine and more life, or that we will lose both life and doctrine. And as far as this so-called broad-mindedness is concerned, I have little respect for it. It generally signifies but little more than an obliteration of all lines of distinction, an aversion to positive and definite truth. And many of these broad-mindedness advocates are so narrow-minded that you could not crowd the narrow Reformed doctrine into their minds if they would want to receive it. And, therefore, I maintain that our need is not less, but more doctrine. But it is more than an accident that doctrinal knowledge and the thinking-cap go together. If the coming generation refuses to read, to study, to think, they will soon be strangers to the main principles of our Reformed faith. Our hour in catechetical instruction, a little instruction in the Sunday school, and the instruction in the sermon is not sufficient, will prove altogether inefficient if our young men do not set themselves to study and investigate. And, therefore, the loss of the thinking-cap is deplorable because it involves a loss of doctrinal knowledge.

But there is more. This becoming estranged from sound Reformed doctrine among our young people will ultimately have to reflect upon the church as such. It will lower its doctrinal standard. It will cause a condition in which doctrinal instruction and doctrinal preaching will become gradually more difficult, ultimately impossible. For with the loss of the thinking-cap the element will be growing in the church that have lost their hold upon doctrine. It is not only that they dislike doctrine but they actually understand no more. When the preaching is doctrinal they fail to grasp it. They have no hold upon a doctrinal sermon. They leave the church without having been edified, for the simple reason that they have not understood the preaching of the Word. Their cry is for a different type of preaching. They like, they gradually demand topical rather than doctrinal and exegetical sermons. When the minister preaches on a live topic they can grasp it. When he expounds the Word to them they neither understand nor enjoy it. They begin to characterize the preaching as dry, intellectual, dead, impractical. And the minister will ultimately have to fall for this demand, for the simple reason that he must come down to the level of his audience. You may see the beginning of this tendency today, even in our own church. And, therefore, not only will doctrinal knowledge be lost among an ever-growing element in the church, but the preaching itself, the doctrinal standard of the church will have to be lowered to meet the wants of the people. The loss of the thinking-cap is, indeed, a deplorable loss.

In the third place, this loss will lead us back into the hierarchy of Roman Catholicism, in which the clergy know it all, and rule with undisputed sway, and the laity are the accursed mass that know not the law. This may seem strange at first, for it is exactly what we do not want. We are rather democratic in spirit. But the hard fact is no different. If our people wean away, too, from even a general knowledge of church government, the only element in the church that can judge about things ecclesiastical and doctrinal is the educated clergy. Even now you may hear it every once in a while that the people cannot judge about a certain matter. They are told that they must be silent. And this condition will grow upon us according as it becomes actually more true that the common laity have no knowledge of doctrine. If, however, they would have knowledge, so that they can take an active part and not let others do all the thinking and judging for them, they will need the thinking-cap. The loss of the thinking-cap leads to ecclesiastical hierarchy. Even as education is deemed indispensable for the democratic form of government, so sound knowledge is an indispensable requisite for the maintenance of the presbyterian form of government in the church. The loss of the thinking-cap is indeed deplorable.

And, lastly, this loss of the thinking-cap will weaken us in our fight against downright unbelief in the world. And we may expect that this fight is coming upon us more and more in the future. There was a time that the battle was one between protagonists of different doctrines within the church itself. It was a battle between Arminianism and Calvinism, between supra and infra. But the more the lines are drawn distinctly and sharply, the more these little battles will give way to the great battle that is coming between the world and God’s people, between faith and infidelity, between light and darkness. It will be a battle, not for this or that minor principle, but for the Word of God, for the very faith itself. But a mistake he makes who would now draw the conclusion that for this very reason we must cease to emphasize distinctive and minor principles, and only keep the large principles of Christianity in the broad sense. On the contrary, it is more than ever necessary that we emphasize and keep the truth in all its specific nature. We must not become less Reformed and more Christian, but more Reformed and stronger Christians. Otherwise we will be but poorly prepared and armored to defend ourselves against the oncoming tide of unbelief, and before we know it we will be swept off our feet by it. The loss of the thinking-cap is deplorable, because it will weaken the church in its battle with the forces of darkness.

III. But the question that is of prime importance is still to be answered. It is: What can be done to restore that valuable thinking-cap?

In answer to this question, I would say in the first place: our young men must simply put that cap on again. In connection with this first point, the remark must be repeated which Prof. Kuiper made in The Banner years ago, when he discussed the necessity of Americanizing our churches: The only way to do it is to do it. And to urge you to do it, I have attempted to show you the importance of the thinking-cap and the deplorableness of its absence. You must fight the battle against the desire and tendency to spend all your spare time in seeking enjoyment rather than education. You must begin to read, to read more than novels, to study books of a more substantial nature. You must patronize with your presence programs of an intellectual and educational character rather than socials and banquets. They must become possible again. And they will become possible once more if you show your interest. This may, at first, be a difficult battle to fight. The lost interest will naturally only gradually return. But the longer you fight the battle, the more the old interest will be quickened. The more you study, the more intimately you will become acquainted with the doctrine of the church, the finer your hold will become upon that doctrine, the deeper and livelier your interest will be. And, therefore, if you must admit the importance of the thinking-cap, put it on again. The only way to do it is to do it!

In the second place, our leaders, ministers and otherwise, that would lead our young men in the right direction, must not too easily lend their ear to the cry for less doctrine. Rather must they emphasize the necessity of doctrine, and, therefore, the necessity of the thinking-cap. We must have doctrinal preaching. We must continue to emphasize the necessity of catechetical instruction. We must continue to emphasize the necessity of preparing for catechism. We must urge our young people to read, to investigate. In short, they that would lead our young men must not be carried away with the stream and follow the line of least resistance. But they must lead them in the direction of sound and full doctrinal knowledge.

In the third place, our societies and leagues must not be allured to follow the tendency of the time. Too often this is done. In order to increase or maintain the membership of the society the programs are often spoiled. Members that are not prepared when they should be, and when they have no legal excuse to offer, are excused and tolerated nevertheless. The result is, that the programs are frequently not carried out or are carried out very defectively. This must not be done. It is for the interest of the very life of the society that every member takes an active interest. It is better to have a smaller and stronger society in which every member is prepared in time, than to have the entire society degenerate because of the negligence of some members. The same is true of the League. The course pursued last winter is detrimental. Because lectures and educational programs attracted no crowd, it was decided to change the programs and offer programs chiefly of an entertaining nature. This catering to a wrong tendency is fatal. For those that do like something more substantial receive nothing, and those that absolutely refuse to put on the thinking-cap were followed. If our young people are to regain the thinking-cap, if they are to set themselves to serious study and investigation once more, it is necessary that we offer them something that necessitates its use.

There are other things that might be mentioned in this connection. But my time is more than taken. I will close with returning to my first remark: the only way to do it is to do it. Ultimately, all will depend upon the attitude of our young men themselves. Read, study, investigate, get away from that craving for amusement and nothing but enjoyment. For, your position in the church, the position of the church itself in the world, the establishment of God’s covenant, the glory of our covenant God are at stake! Let us wake up to the importance of sound doctrine, to the realization of putting on our thinking-caps again, and let us stand shoulder to shoulder in our battle for clear, definite, strong and full Reformed truth!

It is striking to note that this was written in 1921, just shortly before this “Thinking Cap” spoken of was needed by so many in a most significant way in 1924. Now 70 years later, with added temptations such as unprecedented material wealth, television, and entertainment, this is again a reminder to be diligent.

The article ended last time where it was shown that the loss of the Thinking Cap involves a loss of doctrinal knowledge, this being the first reason why it is a deplorable loss.

 

But there is more. This becoming estranged from sound Reformed doctrine among our young people, will ultimately have to reflect upon the church as such. It will lower its doctrinal standard. It will cause a condition in which doctrinal instruction and doctrinal preaching will become gradually more difficult, ultimately impossible. For with the loss of the thinking-cap the element will be growing in the church that have lost their hold upon doctrine. It is not only that they dislike doctrine but they actually understand no more. When the preaching is doctrinal they fail to grasp it. They have no hold upon a doctrinal sermon. They leave the church without having been edified, for the simple reason that they have not understood the preaching of the Word. Their cry is for a different type of preaching. They like, they gradually demand topical rather than doctrinal and exegetical sermons. When the minister preaches on a live topic they can grasp it. When he expounds the Word to them they neither understand nor enjoy it. They begin to characterize the preaching as dry, intellectual, dead, impractical. And the minister will ultimately have to fall for this demand, for the simple reason that he must come down to the level of his audience. You may see the beginning of this tendency today, even in our own church. And, therefore, not only will doctrinal knowledge be lost among an ever-growing element in the church, but the preaching itself, the doctrinal standard of the church will have to be lowered to meet the wants of the people. The loss of the thing-cap is, indeed, a deplorable loss.

In the third place, this loss will lead us back into the hierarchy of Roman Catholicism, in which the clergy know it all, and rule with undisputed sway, and the laity are the accursed mass that know not the law. This may seem strange at first, for it is exactly what we do not want. We are rather democratic in spirit. But the hard fact is no different. If our people wean away, too, from even a general knowledge of church government, the only element in the church that can judge about things ecclesiastical and doctrinal is the educated clergy. Even now you may hear it every once in a while that the people cannot judge about a certain matter. They are told that they must be silent. And this condition will grow upon us according as it becomes actually more true that the common laity have no knowledge of doctrine. If, however, they would have knowledge, so that they can take an active part and not let others do all the thinking and judging for them, they will need the thinking-cap. The loss of the thinking-cap leads to ecclesiastical hierarchy. Even as education is deemed indispensable for the democratic form of government, so sound knowledge is an indispensable requisite for the maintenance of the Presbyterian form of government in the church. The loss of the thinking-cap is indeed deplorable.

And, lastly, this loss of the thinking-cap will weaken us in our fight against downright unbelief in the world. And we may expect that this fight is coming upon us more and more in the future. There was a time that the battle was one between protagonists of different doctrines within the church itself. It was a battle between Arminianism and Calvinism, between supra and infra. But the more the lines are drawn distinctly and sharply, the more these little battles will give way to the great battle that is coming between the world and God’s people, between faith and infidelity, between light and darkness. It will be a battle, not for this or that minor principle, but for the Word of God, for the very faith itself. But a mistake he makes who would now draw the conclusion that for this very reason we must cease to emphasize distinctive and minor principles, and only keep the large principles of Christianity in the broad sense. On the contrary, it is more than ever necessary that we emphasize and keep the truth in all its specific nature. We must not become less Reformed and more Christian, but more Reformed and stronger Christians. Otherwise we will be but poorly prepared and armored to defend ourselves against the oncoming tide of unbelief and before we know it we will be swept off our feet by it. The loss of the thinking-cap is deplorable, because it will weaken the church in its battle with the forces of darkness.

 

III. But the question that is of prime importance is still to be answered. It is: What can be done to restore that valuable thinking cap?

In answer to this question, I would say in the first place: our young men must simply put that cap on again. In connection with this first point, the remark must be repeated which Prof. Kuiper made in “The Banner” years ago, when he discussed the necessity of Americanizing our churches: The only way to do it is to do it. And to urge you to do it, I have attempted to show you the importance of the thinking-cap and the deplorableness of its absence. You must fight the battle against the desire and tendency to spend all your spare time in seeking enjoyment rather than education. You must begin to read, to read more than novels, to study books of a more substantial nature. You must patronize with your presence programs of an intellectual and educational character rather than socials and banquets. They must become possible again. And they will become possible once more if you show your interest. This may, at first, be a difficult battle to fight. The lost interest will naturally only gradually return. But the longer you fight the battle, the more the old interest will be quickened. The more you study, the more intimately you will become acquainted with the doctrine of the church, the finer your hold will become upon that doctrine, the deeper and livelier your interest will be. And, therefore, if you must admit the importance of the thinking-cap, put it on again. The only way to do it is to do it!

In the second place, our leaders, ministers and otherwise, that would lead our young men in the right direction, must not too easily lend their ear to the cry for less doctrine. Rather must they emphasize the necessity of doctrine, and, therefore, the necessity of the thinking- cap. We must have doctrinal preaching. We must continue to emphasize the necessity of catechetical instruction. We must continue to emphasize the necessity of preparing for catechism. We must urge our young people to read, to investigate. In short, they that would lead our young men must not be carried away with the stream and follow the line of least resistance. But they must lead them in the direction of sound and full doctrinal knowledge.

In the third place, our societies and leagues must not be allured to follow the tendency of the time. Too often this is done. In order to increase or maintain the membership of the society the programs are often spoiled. Members that are not prepared when they should be, and when they have no legal excuse to offer, are excused and tolerated nevertheless. The result is, that the programs are frequently not carried out or are carried out very defectively. This must not be done. It is for this interest of the very life of the society that every member takes an active interest. It is better to have a smaller and stronger society in which every member is prepared in time, than to have the entire society degenerate because of the negligence of some members. The same is true of the League. The course pursued last winter is detrimemtal. Because lectures and educational programs attracted no crowd, it was decided to change the programs and offer programs chiefly of an entertaining nature. This catering to a wrong tendency is fatal. For those that do like something more substantial receive nothing, and those that absolutely refuse to put on the thinking-cap were followed. If our young people are to regain the thinking- cap, if they are to set themselves to serious study and investigation once more, it is necessary that we offer them something that necessitates its use.

There are other things that might be mentioned in this connection. But my time is more than taken. I will close with returning to my first remark: the only way to do it is to do it. Ultimately, all will depend upon the attitude of our young men themselves. Read, study, investigate, get away from that craving for amusement and nothing but enjoyment. For, your position in the church the position of the church itself in the world, the establishment of God’s covenant, the glory of our covenant God are at stake! Let us wake up to the importance of sound doctrine, to the realization of putting on our think­ing-caps again, and let us stand shoulder to shoulder in our battle for clear, definite, strong and full Reformed truth! ❖

 

Recently, one of our staff did some extra work and obtained a very interesting article. It was the address given at the second annual convention of Young Men’ s Societies in 1921, and quite pertinent for today.

It is reprinted from “The Young Calvinist,” published by the American Federation of Reformed Young Men’s Societies, and used by permission.

The speaker? A young pastor named Herman Hoeksema.

 

If you ask me what, in our time, our people need above all in the first place, my answer is: Doctrine! If you ask me what they need in the second place, I say: Doctrine! If you ask me what they need in the third place, I say: Doctrine!

You say, that’s a bold statement. You tell me that I won’t find a ready ear for such a statement in our age which is intensely practical. And I am fully aware of it. Doctrine is not popular. Principles, fundamental truths are contraband. Most people say: we have had too much doctrine. We need practical stuff. Service, is the watchword. Others say, more reservedly: we need truth, all right, but a restatement of the truth. The tendency and the result of the latter is the same as that of the former. Doctrine is not popular.

Naturally, one asks himself the question: How must this doctrinal indigestion, this apathy, this positive aversion to fundamental principles, be explained? There are various causes. One tremendous cause is the spirit of the age. That powerful, undefinable but very real influence that imbues the general populace, invades literature and pulpits and finds a very ready response at a certain period, which we designate as the spirit of the times for want of a better expression. The spirit of the time is against doctrine. The leaders of the people are against doctrine. The air we inhale is against doctrine. We cannot help but under the influence of the spirit of the age before we are fully aware of it. And so, we gradually wean away from doctrine and begin to speak as the spirit of the age speaks: No more doctrine, let us be up and doing!

But I want to be more concrete and stay nearer at home. It is not this difficult-to-describe spirit of the age which I want to blame today. There is another reason. Surely, there are many causes that combine to account for this miserable apathy to doctrine. But one of the causes is the loss of the thinking-cap. To this cause I want to call your attention a few moments:

I. The Reality of this Loss

II. The Deplorable Nature of this Loss

III.  What to do to Regain it

I. You may be surprised to hear that the cap, such an insignificant thing as a cap, has always had great symbolical significance in popular language. Yet, this is a fact. To wear one’s cap on one ear, for instance, has always been symbolic of extreme nonchalance and indifference. To come with cap in hand expressed an attitude of respect and politeness over against superiors. The expression: “to set one’s cap” meant the same as to make a fool of somebody. And thus, examples might be multiplied to show that in the language of the people the cap always had great symbolical meaning.

And so, the language of the people coined the term: thinking-cap. The exact origin of the term we failed to find. But the meaning of the expression is quite generally known. And though I have no authorities to show for it, I venture to guess that the expression finds its origin in the custom to put on a certain peculiarly shaped, plain, round black cap, when on would sit down to do some serious thinking.

If this guess is at all right, you will find no difficulty in understanding the meaning of the expression. It does not symbolize the brains, it does not point to thinking capacity as such, for to put off the thinking-cap did not mean to lose one’s mind. If this were the case, the loss of the thinking-cap would signify something irretrievable. It would mean that our people, that, especially our young people, that still more particularly our young men, had lost their ability to think. That, of course, would be deplorable in the extreme. One might, then, probably deliver a funeral oration on the thinking-cap. But it would be a loss that was decisive as death. It could never be restored. And I did not exactly mean to be so pessimistic today. I did not come to deliver funeral orations. No, I do not believe that our young men, and that more or less in general, our people are inferior to a former age in thinking capacity. If anything, the contrary is true. There are bright and quick minds among our young people. Many indications there are of this fact. If there is only something that interests them, they are sufficiently bright-minded and quick-witted to grasp a thing. But the thinking-cap symbolizes rather the exercise of our thinking capacity than the capacity itself. If one wears his thinking-cap it signifies that he sets himself to do some serious, quiet, sound, deep, continuous thinking, to solve some problem, or to listen to the exposition of that solution by someone else. If one is without his thinking-cap, it signifies that he has no desire to exercise his brains, that he is mentally lazy, that the exponent of some difficult problem finds nobody home. And the loss of the thinking-cap stands for a general mental laziness. Now, I maintain that I have reason to think that the thinking-cap is lost especially among our young people. They are averse to do some straight and sound, some real and continuous thinking. They dislike to exercise their thinking capacity, especially in regard to subjects the acquiring of which does not yield immediate practical results in dollars and cents. Our young people are loath to think!

You want evidence? I think I can produce it. Let me point you to some undeniable facts.

In the first place, there is the subject of reading. You pass through our homes with the inquiry: what do our young people read? You will obtain various answers. Very few will answer you that they actually are interested in reading books that require some study. Religious books, doctrinal works, are hardly read at all. A good many will tell you that they read novels. Stories, preferably some very snappy detective story, they will read. And they read these without any critical judgment, merely for the sake of the temporary enjoyment they get out of it. And then, there is a large group that do not read at all. They have no time, they find no interest whatever in reading. And if you turn from the homes to our church- and Sunday school libraries, you will obtain the same result. The vast majority of the books that are drawn are novels and romances. Books of a more substantial nature enjoy the solemn peace of oblivion. I find in this an evidence that our young people have lost the thinking-cap.

Let me call your attention in the second place, to the character of the various programs that will “draw the crowd.” It has happened, that in the heat of the school fight last year, a well known speaker had prepared an address on the detestable school amendment, and had to return home without having delivered the lecture because there was no audience. You say that I am pointing to extreme cases? I beg to differ. The lecture course that is annually prepared by the Young Men’s League of Grand Rapids has degenerated into a course of entertainment. Short, snappy, twenty-minute speeches could be tolerated. But the main part of the program was of an entertaining rather than of an educational nature. And why was this course changed? Because the lectures drew no crowd! And why did they draw no crowd? Because the thinking-cap is lost!

Let me call your attention to the condition of our Young Men’s Societies. It is a general complaint that they do not flourish. Surely, for a social evening you can generally draw a full attendance and more. But for the regular meetings there is little or no interest. You can prepare programs, you may assign to each member his work weeks in advance. But generally, you find that the society decreases in membership in proportion as it lays more stress on the necessity of study and preparation. Why? Because the thinking-cap cannot be found!

I could continue for a while. I could call your attention to the things that do interest many of our young people. And it would be easy to show that they are generally things that require no wearing of the thinking-cap. But I will take for granted that I will meet with little serious opposition when I say that our time is characteristic by a deplorable absence of the thinking-cap. Happily, there are others. There are happy exceptions. But I am speaking none too strongly when I say that the absence of the thinking-cap among the coming generations is rather general.

II. Now, I said, that this loss of the thinking-cap is a deplorable loss. It is not a good riddance. It is not a loss that we can afford to forget. It is a deplorable loss. And I am going to tell you some of the reasons why particularly the loss of this cap is to be deplored.

The first reason I want to mention in this connection is that the thinking-cap and sound doctrine are most intimately connected. Doctrinal knowledge cannot be expected to flourish where the thinking-cap is wanting. I know that not all would agree with me today, when I emphasize that the loss of doctrinal knowledge is most deplorable. The cry that we must become less doctrinal and more practical is very loud in our time. And besides, there are a goodly number who identify in their minds doctrine and narrow-mindedness and who take pride in preaching the gospel of broad-mindedness. But in the first place, I would call your attention to the fact that to despise doctrine is to despise the work of God Himself. Our God did not deem it sufficient to reveal to us a little gospel you might write on your thumbnail, but gave us the entire Word, full of wisdom and knowledge, in order that we might know the whole counsel of God. And that Word emphasizes again and again that the church of Christ in the world must be founded in doctrine. In the second place, I deny the antithesis sometimes, in our day so often, postulated between doctrine and practical life. Surely, I admit that the church can and often did divorce its doctrine from life, so that it fell into the error of dead orthodoxy and cold intellectualism. But this is not to be blamed to doctrine as such, but rather to a wrong conception and defective application of it. Sound doctrine lies at the basis of life. It is indispensable to sound practice. Practical life soon runs wild if it is weaned from doctrine. And therefore, it is a mistake to cry: Less doctrine, more life. I would rather maintain that we must have both: more doctrine and more life, or that we will lose both life and doctrine. And as far as this so-called broad-mindedness is concerned, I have little respect for it. It generally signifies but little more than an obliteration of all lines of distinction, an aversion to positive and definite truth. And many of these broad-mindedness advocates are so narrow-minded that you could not crowd the narrow, Reformed doctrine into their minds if they would want to receive it. And, therefore, I maintain that our need is not less, but more doctrine. But it is more than accident, that doctrinal knowledge and the thinking- cap go together. If the coming generation refuses to read, to study, to think, they will soon be strangers to the main principles of our Reformed faith. Our hour in catechetical instruction, a little instruction in the Sunday school, and the instruction in the sermon is not sufficient, and will prove altogether inefficient if our young men do not set themselves to study and investigate. And, therefore, the loss of the thinking-cap is deplorable because if involves a loss of doctrinal knowledge. ❖

to be continued…

It is a privilege and a great delight to me that this evening I may deliver the inspirational address at the opening session of the Convention of Protestant Reformed Young People.  The task assigned to me is wholly a pleasurable one.  I take it that this convention is proof of the fact that in our churches there is a flourishing society life, particularly now with a view to young people’s societies.  And this is a good sign.  It shows that our young people are interested in the church, the things of the Kingdom of God, the cause of the truth as we believe and profess it.  Catechism is, of course, of first importance.  But the difference between catechetical instruction and the activities of our societies is that the former is compulsory, while in the latter one participates of his own free choice.  That our young people evince an active interest in the life and activities of their societies reveals, therefore, that they take a personal interest in the things of the Kingdom of God.  And this is a hopeful sign.  For you represent the church of the future.  Besides, a well conducted young people’s society, or, wherever this is possible, young men’s and young ladies’ society may, indeed, be a power for good in the church.  Catechism serves the specific purpose of indoctrinating the youth of the church and preparing them to make confession of their faith and to assume their covenant obligations.  But our societies may serve the wider purpose, through mutual edification, to prepare their members to take their place in the church and in life in general as Christian men and women.  You will understand, then, that when I look upon this convention as a tangible proof of the fact that our young people are taking an active interest in the things of the kingdom of God, in the truth as we profess it, it is altogether a pleasure to me that I may deliver the opening address of this second convention of Protestant Reformed Young People’s Societies.

There is still another, a more specific reason why I take particular delight in addressing you tonight.  I am reminded tonight of a similar occasion at which I delivered the inspirational address.  It is some twenty years ago that I spoke at the opening of the Federation of Reformed Young Men’s Societies, the first meeting of that federation.  I had helped to organize it.  I was its first president.  And I had the honor of being the first editor of its publication, The Young Calvinist.  But that federation did not spring into being until after the Christian Reformed Churches had existed for more than half a century.  When I compare that occasion with the present one, my heart is filled with joy and gratitude to God.  It is only about fifteen years ago that we were expelled from the fellowship of the Christian Reformed Churches.  And we were very small.  Our enemies predicted, the wish, no doubt, being the father to the thought; that we had but a very short time to live.  And when I recall all this, and then look upon this gathering of young people, having come from far and near, representing the young people’s societies of several of our churches; when I consider that after so short a period of our separate existence we may already meet as a convention of Protestant Reformed Young People’s Societies that are very much alive, I am inclined to exclaim:  “what hath God wrought!”

My task for tonight was assigned to me:  I am supposed to speak on the theme of this convention, “Attitudes.”  I find this somewhat difficult just because it is the convention theme.  During the course of this convention there will be other speakers who are asked to speak on specified topics that are, however, all related more or less directly to the general theme that constitutes the subject of my address.  In order not to conflict with them I will, therefore, have to be careful and confine myself to some general remarks.  I shall try, therefore, to be as specific as possible without colliding with the other speakers of this convention.  And I will try to make clear to you, that, in the sense in which we now speak of “Attitudes”:

  1. Principally there are but two possible attitudes.
  2. In actual life one meets with various attitudes.
  3. We must strive to cultivate the proper attitude.

1. The word attitude in its simplest and original meaning denotes a physical concept. It means posture.  Thus, we can speak of the attitude, that is, posture, of a person, the attitude of an animal, the attitude of a statue.  But as the posture of the body often reflects the disposition of the mind and heart of man, the word attitude is frequently, if not most generally, used to denote this mental or spiritual disposition with respect to some object.  Hence, we speak of one’s attitude to war, to politics, to Christian education, to woman’s suffrage, to religion, etc.  It is in this latter sense that we use the term in our speech tonight; and that especially with regard to the things of the Kingdom of God as represented by our Protestant Reformed Churches:  our church, the truth, our doctrine, the “three points,” the activities of our churches, our mission, our societies, the Standard Bearer.  Attitude as I use the term, therefore, denotes the mental and spiritual disposition as reflected in our actual life, with respect to the specific things for which we as Protestant Reformed people stand.

Now, I stated that principally there are only two possible attitudes.  We are either for or against.  Another attitude is fundamentally impossible.  This is often emphasized in Scripture.  The Lord Jesus declares:  “He that is not for me is against me.”  You cannot serve God and Mammon, for either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will cleave to the one and despise the other.  The apostle writes to the Corinthians:  “What fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?  And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?  And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?”  II Cor. 6:14-16.  The tree is either good or evil, and accordingly its fruit is good or bad.  And he that is friend of the world is an enemy of God.  It is either or.  It is for or against.  Neutrality with respect to the truth and the things of the Kingdom of God is impossible.  Here one must choose.

What it means to be “for” is well expressed by our Form for the Administration for Baptism, which teaches us that it belongs to our “part” of the covenant that we love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our mind, with all our soul and with all our strength, that we forsake the world, crucify our old nature, and walk in a new and holy life.  This declares in the first place, that our attitude to God, to Christ, to the truth and the things of the kingdom of God, is a matter of the heart and of our whole being and life:  “with all our heart and mind and soul and strength” we must love the Lord our God.  In the second place it teaches us that to be “for” covers all our active life:  we must love the Lord our God “with all our strength.”  To love the Lord our God implies that we serve Him, that we keep His commandments and apply them to every department of life.  Not only in the church and on Sunday, but also during the week and in our daily life we are “for” and “walk in a new and holy life.”  In the home and in the school, in the shop and office, in society and in the state, always and everywhere our calling is to love the Lord our God with all our strength.  And, thirdly, this part of our Baptism Form reminds us that to be “for” implies the antithesis; for to love the Lord our God also requires of us that “we forsake the world, crucify our old nature” and thus walk in a new and holy life.  You cannot serve God and Mammon, but neither can you merely serve God without assuming any attitude over against Mammon whatsoever.  If you love the one, you despise the other.  You are called to be of God’s party in the midst of the world that lieth in darkness.  Hence, you cannot avoid the antithesis.  To be friend of God implies that you assume an attitude of enmity over against sin within and without, the world and its prince.

To be “against” signifies the very opposite and this in the same comprehensive sense as to be “for.”  It means that we are enemies of God with all our heart and mind and soul, with our whole being.  And this inner spiritual disposition of enmity against God reflects itself in a hatred of God with all our strength, that is, in all our actual life and all its departments.  And this implies that we love darkness rather than light, that we indulge in the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life; that we love the world and seek after its pleasures and treasures rather than after the things of the kingdom of God; and that we walk in the old corruption of the flesh.  You are “against” God and His Christ, and, therefore, “for” the world and the forces of darkness.

The question might be asked:  why is it that with respect to the things of the kingdom of God there are only two attitudes possible fundamentally?  And why is it, that men must necessarily assume either of these two attitudes?  Why is it that an attitude of neutrality is impossible, so that one may be neither for nor against?  Or why can there be no compromise, so that one is partly for and partly against, and so that he may serve both:  God and Mammon, Christ and Belial?

The answer to these questions is objectively in God.  God is God!  He is the sole Sovereign of heaven and earth.  Who is the Creator of all things, and Who made all things for His own Name’s sake.  And He is One.  There is no God beside Him, next to Him, under Him.  The Lord our God is one Lord!  And He is a light.  There is no darkness in Him at all.  He is good, not merely in the supreme sense of that word, but as the only Good, the implication of all infinite perfections, the Holy One of Israel.  There is no division in God.  There is no compromise in the sole Sovereign of heaven and earth.  From this it follows that the end of your existence is in Him only.  To serve and glorify Him is your sole purpose, that is, it is the end for which you are made.  And He will have your all.  There is no Lord you can serve beside Him.  To Him belongs your body and your soul, your mind and your will, your talents and your strength, all that you are and have.  Hence, it follows that your attitude to Him is either or:  you are wholly “for” Him, or you are wholly “against” Him; you love Him or you hate Him with all your heart and mind and soul and strength.

And subjectively the answer to the above questions must be found in the fact that our attitude to God is a matter of the heart, whence are the issues of life.  From an ethical viewpoint the heart is the center of our whole life.  As our heart is so are our thoughts and desires, our longings and aspirations and all our actions.  As the heart is so are we.  And that heart is either good or evil.  It is never both.  It cannot be neither good nor evil.  By nature our heart is corrupt, perverse, moved with enmity against God.  And if our heart is corrupt, so are all the issues of our life.  It follows that in our natural state we hate the Lord our God with all our heart and mind and soul and strength.  From our corrupt heart we cannot partly love God and partly love sin.  And on the other hand, regeneration is a radical change of the heart, a change from death into life, from darkness into life, from corruption into holiness, from enmity against God to the love of God in Christ.  It is a change of the whole man in principle, hence, principally, the regenerated man loves the Lord his God with his whole heart, and therefore with all his mind and soul and strength.  If any man be in Christ Jesus, he is a new creature; old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new!

Perhaps, you would object, that although with respect to God and Christ it may be true that only two possible attitudes are conceivable, so that one must be either for or against, you can hardly apply this truth to one’s attitude to the specific cause and truth which we represent and maintain as a Protestant Reformed people.  Here one must draw the line less sharply.  Whether one is Protestant Reformed or Christian Reformed, or even Baptist or Methodist can hardly be a matter “for” or “against.”  But this objection is an error.  One is principally either for or against our Protestant Reformed faith.  In fact, I would even maintain that the difference in attitude is here rather accentuated.  The truth as we confess it concerns the doctrines of God, of Christ, of man, of salvation, of sin and grace, of our life and walk in the midst of and over against the world.  These are fundamental doctrines.  And they are all concerned in our controversy with the Christian Reformed Churches.  One of their spokesman said in the well-known conference of the Pantlind that we had a different theology from theirs.  He spoke the truth.  Grace is either particular or common – it cannot be both.  God either loves or hates the wicked – both at the same time are impossible.  Man is either wholly depraved or he is not.  The “Three Points” are either true or they are very fundamental errors.  And our Protestant Reformed Churches have maintained the truth over against corruptions and errors, so that they have a right to exist as churches; or they erred in 1924 and then they are a mere sect.  Hence, here one must choose.  You cannot be neutral.  You are either Protestant Reformed or you are opposed to the Protestant Reformed truth.  You are for or against.  And if you are Protestant Reformed you reject all heresies repugnant to our confession.

2. Fact is, however, that in actual life one does not meet very often with this sharp antithesis of “for” and “against.”  Life seems to be different.  Somehow it appears as if this uncompromising theory of the antithesis does not prove itself capable of application in reality.  One is not always “for” or “against.”  There seem to be many other possible attitudes one may and actually does assume.  The “for or against,” the “either or” of Scripture are not practical in the world.  A certain measure of compromise, of “appeasement,” is required by actual life.  The man that would really bring the antithesis into practice often stands alone.

The reason for this must not be sought in the “world.”  It is always world.  The natural man is always “against,” even though there may be different degrees of manifestation of this attitude.  He is never for Christ and the truth.  But the Christian individually and the Church collectively are not always clearly and uncompromisingly “for.”  This is true, not only of the Christian and of the Church today, but equally holds for the people of God as they are pictured to us in Scripture.  The reason for this is in the flesh, the old nature in the Christian, and the carnal element in the Church.  The Christian is a new man, a new creature, but he is such only in principle.  He has only a small beginning of this new obedience that causes him to walk in a new and holy life.  His heart is radically changed and therefore, he is principally “for.”  But his old nature is a powerful factor still in his life.  That old nature is inclined to seek sin and the world.  And to the inclination of that old nature the Christian often yields.  And the same is true of the Church.  Not all are Israel that are of Israel.  Not only is there always a carnal element that arises from the Church itself, carnal children of the covenant, but a carnal element also joins itself to the Church for various reasons, and their entrance into the Church cannot always be barred.  If this were not the case I could close my lecture right here; now, however, I must call your attention to various attitudes which the flesh often causes the Christian individually and the Church as a whole to assume.  I will limit myself to a few typical attitudes that are illustrated for us in Scripture.

One of the most striking and frequently assumed is the utilitarian attitude.  This is a big word, but the meaning of it may be very simply and concretely expressed in the question:  does it pay?  They that take this attitude always ask themselves the question:  How does the application of the truth affect my life in the world, my natural well-being, my name and position, my wealth and influence?  They are people who are “for” Christ and the truth, for the Protestant Reformed faith and cause, as long as this attitude does not come into conflict with their earthly position and carnal desires.  They are practical people, not men of principle at all.  They certainly dare not lose their life in the world.  Rather than lose the world they would lose their own soul, though it is their deliberate attempt to save both.  If the cause of the truth requires sacrifice they forsake the cause.  And if their carnal interests conflict with their calling in the cause of Christ they deny the latter and pursue the former.  A fine illustration of this attitude you have in the men of Succoth and Penuel at the time of Gideon.  You know the story.  The Lord had wrought a glorious victory and a great deliverance in Israel through Gideon and his brave band of three hundred.  They were pursuing the Midianites in the land across the Jordan; it had been a strenuous day and the men were faint.  Faint, yet pursuing!  And Gideon asked the men of Succoth and later those of Penuel:  “Give, I pray you, loaves of bread unto the people that follow me; for they be faint, and I am pursuing after Zebah and Zalmunna, kings of Midian.”  But the men of Succoth and Penuel answered:  “Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in thine hand, that we should give bread unto thine army?”  You see, these men “played safe.”  They wanted to see results first.  They were afraid that Gideon might fail, and that the kings of Midian might return and take revenge upon them if they aided and abetted Gideon and his men in their pursuit.  They wanted to be sure that they did not risk their own necks, before they would take sides!  You know Gideon’s reply to these miserable curs.  He promised the men of Succoth that he would tear their flesh with thorns and briars of the wilderness when he would return and the Lord had delivered the kings of Midian into his hand; and he threatened that upon his victorious return he would break down Penuel’s tower.  Judges 8:4-9.  And I for one would like to have been present when Gideon’s thorns and briars lashed the backs of those wretched cowards who preferred their own safety to the victory of God’s cause!  Always one finds these utilitarian bargainers.  If they belong to us, they are Protestant Reformed only in as far as their faith and confession do not conflict with their earthly position and carnal ambitions.  As soon as this conflict arises they easily depart from us.

Then there is the attitude of selfish pride and ambition.  They that assume this attitude would let the things of the kingdom of God revolve around the glory of their own ego.  They want to be the greatest, and do not understand that the greatest in the kingdom of heaven is he who can humble himself as a little child.  You may find this class of people very active sometimes in the affairs of the Church and the kingdom of God in the world.  They are zealous.  They usually have capacity for work, too.  They are able and willing to take the lead.  But their zeal is largely motivated by the desire to realize their personal ambition.  They are in it for their own glory.

We find this type of attitude illustrated in the pride of Ephraim in Gideon’s time once more.  He had taken the initiative against Midian, as he was called to do so by the Lord.  And Jehovah had given him and his men a glorious victory.  And only after the decisive battle had been fought and the Midianites had been routed, did he call upon the men of Ephraim for help in the hot pursuit.  And we read in Judges 8:1 that the men of Ephraim “did chide with him sharply.”  They said:  “Why hast thou served us thus, that thou calledst us not, when thou wentest to fight with the Midianites?”  They were hurt in their pride.  The Lord had wrought a great salvation in Israel, but for it they cared little; what concerned them was that the glory would go to Gideon, not to themselves!  Of course, they had had abundant opportunity to make the attack upon the host of Midian themselves, had they had the faith and the courage to do so.  But they had failed.  But now salvation had been wrought through Gideon and his band, they chide with him, because they were far more concerned about their own honor than about the cause of God!  A very dangerous attitude this!  People that take this attitude in the Church, in society, in respect to any activity in the kingdom of God, are always a menace.  In this frame of mind one is ready to sacrifice the cause of God to her personal ambition and pride!

There is, in the third place, the attitude we might describe by the French phrase:  “laissez-faire,” the “let it run” attitude.  We find some such attitude illustrated in what Scripture tells us about Gallio, the deputy of Achaia, in Acts 18.  You recall the incident, no doubt.  There was an insurrection of the Jews against Paul, and they brought him to the judgment seat.  But Gallio refused to be judge in the matter and drove the Jews away from the judgment seat.  They, the Greeks, making the best of the occasion, took Sosthenes and beat him right in the presence of Gallio.  And then we read characteristically:  “And Gallio cared for none of these things.”  He assumed the “laissez-faire” attitude.  Just let it go!  Well, one finds Gallio’s in the church.  They are, perhaps, among the most regular members of the church.  Faithfully, they attend public worship and contribute to the needs of the church.  They never cause trouble.  But they are inclined to avoid trouble and strife at all cost.  They see and admit that the church is apostatizing, departing from the truth and becoming worldly-minded in life and walk.  But they “care for none of these things.”  At all events they will do nothing about it.  They do not like trouble.  They love peace.  The truth of the matter is really that they love their own leisure and tranquility more than the things of the kingdom of God.  If it were left to them you would never have a secession in the church on earth, a reformation would never be started, the church would be permitted to go to destruction in the way of apostasy.  A fitting example of people of this frame of mind and attitude is, according to my opinion that often lauded scholar of Luther’s day, in whose honor, to the shame of that Dutch city, Rotterdam erected a statue, which even escaped the destruction caused by the German air raid.  I mean, of course, Desiderius Erasmus.  Well he knew the corruption of the Roman Catholic Church.  But he loved the leisure of his study too much to do anything about it.  Laissez-faire!

Closely related to those we just mentioned are those who assume the attitude of self-complacency and cold indifference.  They are people that are really well satisfied with the goal that has been attained, with the actual condition of the church, no matter what it may be.  They have no ambition, no zeal for the cause of the kingdom of God.  They are self-satisfied.  You can never persuade them to do anything in the interest of the church.  They are not members of any society, and if they are they might better not be.  They take no part in any activity.  Their biblical picture you may probably find in the condition of the church of Laodicea.  Its members are described as being neither cold nor hot.  While they consider themselves rich and enriched and as having need of nothing, the Lord judges that they are naked and wretched.  They are nauseating to Him and He threatens to spew them out of His mouth.  Also, this sort of people you usually meet with in the church wherever it exists.  And there is no need of saying that they are never an asset to the church.  You can do nothing with them in any sphere of the church’s activity.

Fifthly, I must call your attention to a type of people that assume the attitude of what is often erroneously styled “broad mindedness,” the latitudinarian attitude.  They are really not broad minded at all, but rather lacking in definite and well established convictions.  They halt between two or, perhaps, between a dozen or more opinions.  They are Protestant Reformed merely in the sense that they happen to belong to a Protestant Reformed Church, not because in their conviction that church is the purest manifestation of the Body of Christ in the world.  Yes, they can agree with the doctrine of the church of which they are a member, but they can see the good of the “Three Points” too.  They do not like sharp lines.  Their sympathies are very broad.  And they hate controversy.  They like to bury the hatchet.  They do not like us to assume the attitude that we know it alone.  We ought to have due respect for the opinions of others.  There is some good in every view, no matter how far it may be beside the truth of the Word of God.  The attitude of these people is not unlike that of the people of Israel in the old dispensation, who served Jehovah, but also worshiped the gods of the nations round about.  Thus it was, for instance, at the time of Elijah.  But the prophet must have nothing of their “broad minded” attitude and urges them to make up their mind as to who is God.  No longer must they halt between two opinions.  It must become either or.  If Baal is God, very well:  let them serve him then; but if Jehovah is God let them worship Him alone.  If the “Three Points” are the truth, very well:  embrace them and confess them openly, without a pretense as to being Protestant Reformed; but if they are errors, oppose and reject them as being repugnant to the truth of which you are convinced!

The last type of attitude to which I wish to call your attention in this connection is that of the double minded man.  He is, of course, very closely related to the type just mentioned, yet he is also distinct from the “broad minded” man.  James mentions this type when he speaks of the double minded man that is unsteady in all his ways.  It is the attitude of those that are never sure whether they would serve the world or confess the Lord in word and walk.  They divide their devotion.  On Sunday, they are with the people of God, on Monday they are friends with the world.  They sway to and fro.  And as it is with their walk, so it is with their attitude toward the truth.  One never knows where they really belong.  They are members of the Protestant Reformed Church, but they often talk as if they belong to the camp of our opponents.  They are as two-faced as they are double-minded.  They are people who in their double-faced attitude are a shame to any church of which they happen to be member.  They should, of course, be persuaded, if at all possible, to make up their mind and then go where they belong.

 

3.  These are some of the outstanding types of different attitudes mentioned in Scripture and exemplified in the actual life of the people of God in the world.  No doubt, other types could be described than those we characterized above, but these are sufficient to show that the only two possible attitudes of “for” and “against” are not always clearly manifested by those that profess to be of Christ.  And it also proves that here we have a calling, a task to perform.  I mean that as a church and as a people, particularly also as young people, we should be careful and diligent to cultivate the proper attitude.  What this attitude is we have, in general, already indicated.  It is that we love the Lord our God with our whole heart, and with all our mind and soul and strength.  It means that we assume an attitude of opposition over against the world and the flesh, and that we walk in a new and holy life.  Specifically it implies for us as a Protestant Reformed people, that we embrace the truth we profess with all our heart and mind and soul, that we consistently reject every heresy repugnant thereto, and that we are faithful to this truth in profession and walk.

If we analyze this attitude I would say that it implies especially three things:  single heartedness, wholeheartedness, and steadfast heartedness.  It implies single heartedness because the Lord our God is one Lord.  God is one, Christ is one, truth is one.  It follows that the only proper attitude we may assume with relation to this one God, this one Christ, this one truth is that of single heartedness in confession and walk.  It implies wholeheartedness, because God is God, the Lord, the sole Sovereign of heaven and earth, and His Anointed, our Lord Jesus Christ, is at the right hand of God, and has a name which is above every name.  And He is our Lord.  We belong to Him with body and soul, for time and eternity.  Hence, there can be no division in our devotion and obedience.  Whole-heartedness, and therefore, complete consecration of our whole mind and will and all our powers in every relation and in very department of life, is the only attitude that may be assumed toward this one Lord of all.  We must serve and confess Him always and everywhere.  And it implies steadfast-heartedness, because God is Jehovah, the eternal and immutable One, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever, and the truth is unchangeable.  Hence, we must be steadfast and unmovable and not be tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine, assured that our labor shall not be vain in the Lord.  And in all this we stand antithetically over against the world and the powers of darkness, fighting the good fight even unto the end, that no one take our crown!

This only proper attitude we are called to cultivate.  When I say this I do not mean that this only true attitude is merely a matter of cultivation, but of regeneration, of the efficacious operation of the Spirit of Christ and the grace of God in our hearts.  The natural man cannot see the kingdom of God.  He certainly cannot reform himself and cultivate the only proper attitude over against God and His cause in the world.  You cannot train a natural man to become Protestant Reformed.  But the Christian, he that is in Christ Jesus and has become a new creature in Him; who principally stands in the right relation and proper attitude to his God and the things of the kingdom of God; but who has but a small beginning of this new obedience, while he is daily tempted by the flesh, the world and the devil, – that Christian has the sacred calling to watch and pray and fight that he may assume and maintain the only proper attitude of being single heartedly, wholeheartedly and steadfastly “for” and never “against.”

How this may be done, you ask?  In answer to this question, I would emphasize in the first place that instruction in and study of the truth is paramount.  We must study the Word of God.  We must be founded in our Reformed doctrine.  This is all important.  The ignorant Christian is a weak Christian.  The more we grow in the knowledge of the truth, the stronger we will become spiritually, the more firmly rooted will be our convictions, the better we will be able to oppose all false doctrines and reject all heresies.  In the second place, I would emphasize that we should study the Word of God prayerfully, and that our whole life should be in the attitude of prayer.  Mere intellectual knowledge is not sufficient.  It must become spiritual knowledge, so that we spiritually discern, love and appropriate the truth of God in Christ.  This can be realized only through the grace of the Spirit, which God will give unto us in the way of prayer.  Thirdly, I would emphasize the necessity of close fellowship with the church in which you have a place, faithful attendance of public worship, employment of the means of catechetical instruction, exercise of the fellowship of the saints, active participation in society life.  And here I would emphasize that our societies, also our Young People’s Societies, may be a power for good in this task of cultivating and keeping the right attitude.  May they always keep this purpose before their consciousness as the ideal after which they strive.  And may this convention serve as a means to strengthen us in the determination to cultivate that one and only proper attitude: to love the Lord our God with all our heart and mind and soul and strength, forsake the world, crucify our old nature and walk in a new and holy life!  Be ye therefore steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor shall not be vain in the Lord!

In the August-September issue of Beacon Lights there appeared an editorial on “Mission Minded” from the pen of Rev. A. Mulder which, in my opinion, contained such a mixture of untrue charges against our Protestant Reformed Churches and constituents and of false conclusions concerning our denominational mission activity that it should not go unanswered. One who read said editorial would almost come to the conclusion that the old, old accusation of our opponents that we do not believe in mission work is true. Besides, the editorial was utterly lacking in constructive criticism and positive instruction concerning the nature of mission activity and concerning a sound, healthy, well-founded mission-mindedness. And it seems to me that especially if Beacon Lights is to guide our Protestant Reformed young people in the paths of truth with respect to mission-mindedness, such constructive criticism and positive instruction should have been forthcoming. It is very well to cry, “Let’s be busy!” But if real progress is to be made in this respect, we must not be characterized by an artificially stimulated mission zeal, but must keep our ecclesiastical feet firmly planted on the ground of the truth, and in the light of that truth determine our calling, in the strength of that truth perform our calling, and according to the standard of that truth examine our faithfulness.

To my mind, however, accusations of lethargy, unfaithfulness, definite lack of zeal, stinginess, and a buried zeal for missions, – all of which accusations appear in said editorial, – can only serve to discourage and smother the mission zeal of our people, though it might rally some to a sort of flighty, unbalanced, heady mission enthusiasm that is so characteristic in our day of many so-called evangelistic movements.

I do not at all mean to say that our mission efforts have been beyond criticism and that there is no room for improvement. This has never been the official position of our churches either. Our mission program has always been subjected to careful scrutiny and correction, for example, at our syndical sessions. And to be sure, when we have “arrived,” so to speak, then it is high time that we understand that something is radically wrong. But I contend that the latter is not the case in our churches, that the facts do not sustain the charges made in Rev. Mulder’s editorial, that he cannot prove them, and that he does our people an injustice by making said charges.

Let me raise just a few questions, and mention some facts to sustain my position. Then perhaps further discussion and editorializing might produce something positive and helpful.

1. What is it to be “mission-minded”? It is all very well to use an eye-catching phrase, and to cite the so-called “great commission,” for which, by the way, the term “mission mandate” is really a misnomer. But if our people are to be “mission-minded” in the healthy, Reformed sense of the word, they must be instructed. Everyone in our day cites this great commission. And many, judging by the gargantuan size of their mission program and mission budget, are apparently “mission-minded.” But is this genuine mission-mindedness? Besides, does not this great commission include, and that too, primarily the preaching of the gospel here at home, in our own congregations? And is it not also true that God’s people are gathered in the line of covenant generations? And may we not indeed answer the editor’s question in this light with a hearty “Yes” when he asks, “Is it going out from us?” Or does the editor have in mind an over-balanced and over-emphasized mission program, such as, for example, the schismatics launched on Guam, while the home churches rotted from within? I am only asking questions, you understand. But by all means let us have some answers to these questions before we are asked to examine ourselves: for self-examination must be calm and discerning, and must take place according to a sound, objective standard, if one wants to reach the correct answers in that examination.

2. What is the relationship between the “home front” and the “mission front”? What constitutes a proper balance between the home labors of the church and the mission labors? Is it fair and just to our churches to classify vacancies and a dearth of ministers as “only excuses”? At present, for example, we have no less than six vacancies among our twenty-one churches. For some four years to come our seminary will be able to fill only half of those six vacancies. Would it be according to the will of God, do you think, to take two or three or four more of our ministers and put them on the mission field? Moreover, I submit:
a. That the record shows that since the schism we have at no time been without vacancies.
b. That since the split many of our churches were in dire need of pastors, due to the circumstances brought upon us by the wickedness of the schismatics.
c. That since the split several of our congregations were in a struggle for their very existence.
d. That the split left us with no missionary and no mission fund, and that we were compelled to start from “scratch” in 1954! That it was simply unthinkable, would, in fact, have been reprehensible on the part of our Synod and Mission Board, to proceed with the program of calling a total of five missionaries at that time or ever since; and that the progress and fruits of our mission program since the split, when viewed in the light of circumstances, have been, generally speaking, favorable.
e. That the proposed program of five missionaries in 1953 was largely the pet project of those who soon became schismatics, who wanted to draw hordes of Liberated immigrants into our denomination, and who wanted calling churches other than churches like First, Doon, etc. because they wanted to get control of the mission program.

3. What constitutes proper order in mission work? And, in that connection, where particularly does the mission calling of our Protestant Reformed Churches lie? Has the home mission field been covered? Is our calling to do mission work among others of Reformed persuasion finished? Is our calling now chiefly in the rather alluring and romantic line of foreign mission work? Or is it perhaps true, in the light of our distinctive Protestant Reformed position, that we still have a very definite calling with respect to other Reformed churches?

4. Is it possible that there is such a thing as “running ahead of the Lord” in our enthusiasm” Does not the Lord also point out our mission calling through such objective realities as man-power, talents, means, opportunities, and that too, in relation to other needs and demands in the churches?

5. Is not the charge of stinginess in mission offerings grossly unfair in the light of the following incontrovertible facts?
a. Our mission assessment, in a time when our assessments are at all-time highs and in a time when the Lord has seen fit to burden us with the care of many needy churches, has been consistently among the highest. For 1962 it will be almost 22% of our total syndical budget. This is exclusive of a First Church radio budget of $5700 and a Foreign Mission contribution of $4000.
b. Generally speaking, the contributions per family of our people to the cause of the church rank high. If you add to this contributions to the cause of our schools, our people do exceedingly well in most instances.
c. Our people have always been ready to meet the financial needs of the church, missions included, when such need has been presented and when they have been instructed therein prudently.
d. Several of our congregations are busy, both with talents and funds, in localized church extension work.

In conclusion, therefore, I would suggest that we keep a level head, keep both feet on the ground, and, in the meantime, engage in positive and constructive discussion of our mission calling, of our mission program, and of our mission activities. If we do, a good, healthy “mission mindedness” will result. But cutting charges and wild accusations will simply antagonize our people, and justly so.

Lesson XXXVII (Revelation 14: 9-13) Retribution for the Worshippers of the Beast

1. Vss. 9-11. Retribution for the worshippers of the beast.
a. A third angel announces the punishment that will be inflicted upon the worshippers of the beast.
1) Babylon is fallen
2) Now is described the lot of those that drank “of the wine of the wrath of her fornication,” i.e., who worshipped the beast and his image; for this worship is spiritual fornication.
b. “Saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark” etc.
1) See ch. 13:14ff.
2) The worshippers of the beast are identical with those that receive his mark.
3) In the narrower sense they are those that worship antichrist in his final manifestation; but they are representative of all that love and serve the antichristian world throughout the centuries till the end of time. All the commit “fornication,”
c. “The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God,” etc.
1) This wrath of God was already in the “wine of her fornication,” vs. 8.
2) It is now poured out, or prepared, without mixture in the cup of God’s indignation or anger.’
A) The cup of God’s anger is filled.
B) It is filled with pure, unmixed wrath. In the world, as they received the “wine of the wrath of fornication” from Babylon, they drank the wrath of God mixed in the intoxicating drink of Babylon’s lusts and sinful pleasures. All this is ended now. Pure wrath they are now given to drink.
d. “And he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone,” etc.
1) This is the result of the pouring out of the wrath of God.
2) Fire and brimstone are to be understood figuratively, yet so that they can signify actual bodily suffering, and not merely “pangs of conscience.”
3) Their torment is inflicted upon them “in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb.”
A) We m ay infer that this also implies the presence of the “144,000” that are with the Lamb.
B) They are all concerned in this just retribution for which they have longed and prayed for God’s sake.
C) “in the presence of” does not merely refer to the moment of judgment: nor, of course, does it mean that they shall be in the same place with the Lamb and the holy angels; but it does mean that they shall be witnesses of God’s righteous wrath upon the wicked, and that, too, with a holy delight: it belongs to their public justification.
D) “And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever,” etc.
1) “The smoke of their torment” is figurative language in connection with the “fire and brimstone.” The fire is not quenched!
2) “For ever and ever,” I.e. emphatically without end, everlasting. Eternal punishment of the wicked is clearly taught here as in other places of Scripture.
3) And this everlasting punishment shall be continuous, there will be no respite; for “they have no rest day or night,” I.e. in their torment. Hell is here presented as a pure, unmixed, continuous and everlasting suffering of the wrath of God.
4) “Who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name,” i.e. whoever commits fornication with the antichristian world, and in any way allies himself with Babylon. This is repeated here to emphasize the heinous character of this fornication as a sufficient ground for so terrible a punishment.

2. Vs. 12. The patience of the saints.
A. “Here is the patience of the saints; (here are) they that keep,” etc.
1) The meaning is: here is the reward of, the justification of, the basis for the patience of the saints.
2) For their lot is not with the wicked: they are blessed. vs. 13
B. Their patience consisted in this that
1) They kept the commandments of God, i.e. worshipped Him, walked in His way.
2) And the faith of Jesus, i.e., the faith in Jesus, and the truth in Christ.
3) And that, too, in spite of the wrath of the beast, and in the midst of tribulation.

3. Vs. 13. The blessed dead.
A. “And I heard a voice from heaven,” etc.
1) John hears a voice from heaven, commanding him to write.
2) Whose this voice is the text does not designate, but the context suggests: the Lord’s.
3) The voice instructs John to write:
A) That they that die in the Lord, i.e., that are in the Lord (Christ), and as such die, are blessed.
B) “Henceforth,” i.e., not immediately after death (though this is perfectly true), but from the viewpoint of the end.
B. “Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest” etc.
1) The Spirit is the Spirit of Christ, as He dwells in believers. In so far He is the same as “the voice from heaven.”
2) He interprets the blessedness of the dead that die in the Lord.
A) “That they may rest from their labors.” Labors here refers to their toil and suffering and tribulation which they endured in the world. From them they now enjoy complete rest. The former things are no more.
B) “And their works do follow them.” The works in the Lord, i.e. of the Lord through them. They follow them, i.e., not merely in the form of the reward of these works, but the works themselves have eternal value for God’s eternal house.

Lesson XXXVIII (Revelation 1: 14-16) Vision of the End of the World

1. The chapter closes with a vision of the end of the world.
a. Also in ch. 6:12ff. The end of the world was pictured. (The sixth seal).
b. But there is a difference in viewpoint:
1) In the sixth seal the end of the world was presented from the viewpoint of the destruction of the physical universe.
2) Here the viewpoint is that of the ripened harvest of the earth. All things are ready for the end, both with regard to the righteous (the harvest, vss. 14-16), and to the wicked (the vintage, vss. 17-20).

2. Vs. 14. “And I looked (or “saw”, R.V.) and, behold a white cloud” etc. Here John is given to see a new vision, as is indicated by the expression, “And I saw.” The vision is that of Christ in His Messianic glory coming for judgment:
a. That it is Christ that is revealed here, and not an angel as some would have it, is evident from the whole description:
1) He is sitting on a white cloud. A cloud overshadowed Him on the mount of transfiguration, Matt. 17:5; A cloud intercepted Him at the ascension, Acts 1:9 it is said that He will come with the clouds, Mt. 24:30, 26:64: or in a cloud, Lk. 21:27. Cf. also Rev. 1:7. The cloud is white, symbol of His glory and purity; He comes to judge in righteousness.
2) He is one like unto the Son of man.” This is the familiar expression that describes Christ in His Messianic glory. It is derived from Dan. 7:13. Cf. Rev. 1;13. It is especially this expression that forbids us to think of any other than Christ Himself.
3) “On His head a golden crown.” The original word for crown here refers not to the royal diadem, but to the wreath of victory. Christ is Victor over the world and over all the powers of darkness. As such He here appears.
b. And that He appears here as the One that is about to judge the earth is symbolized by the sharp sickle He holds in His hand. The sickle was a crooked blade used for the ingathering of the harvest. Christ is the Harvester. The whole earth is His harvest-field.

3. Vs. 15. “And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice,” etc.
a. It is especially from the mention here of “another angel” that some conclude that also the One mentioned in vs. 14 must be an angel: because
1) “Another angel” implies this.
2) And this second angel issues a command to the One sitting on the white cloud. It would be quite inconceivable that an angel would bring a command to Christ, Who is exalted far above the angels.
b. However:
1) “Another angel” distinguishes this one from the angels that were mentioned previously in this chapter.
2) This angel does not command Christ but, evidently, merely serves as a messenger to bring the command to Him.
c. This angel “came out of the temple.” cf. ch. 11:19. The temple is God’s heavenly dwelling place, where He dwells as the covenant-God, Who will surely realize His heavenly covenant till His tabernacle shall be with men forever. That the angel came out of the temple signifies, therefore:
1) That it is from the covenant-God that He carried the command to Christ: “Thrust in they sickle and reap.”
2) That the covenant is about to be realized.
d. It is from God, therefore, not from the angel, that the command to reap issues forth.
1) Christ as the Mediator, in His human nature, is subordinate to the Father, His Servant. From Him Christ receives the command to reap.
2) Besides, it is now “the day and the hour” which the Father only determines. The command specifies that it now is the time for the harvesting of the earth.
e. As to this “harvest” we may note:
1) That it must, evidently, be distinguished form the “vintage” which is described in vss. 17-20. The two are not the same, even though both deal with the end of the world
2) That it represents the ingathering of the elect into the heavenly kingdom prepared for them before the foundation of the world. This is often compared to a wheat harvest. Cf. Matt. 9:37, 38; 13:29, 30, 37ff; Mark 4:29; Luke 10:2.
3) That there is a definite time for this harvest; it cannot take place at any time: “for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” The harvest, therefore, must be ripe. This implies:
a) That all the elect are born and have been redeemed and called.
b) That the church has fully served its purpose in the world; the measure of their works (bearing the testimony of Jesus Christ and the Word of God, etc.) and of their toil and suffering is completely filled
4) That this “harvest” ‘implies:
a) That the earthly career of the Church is ended, cut off. The Church is taken out of the earth.
b) That through the change of the then living believers, and through the glorious resurrection of the saints that are “asleep,” they are gathered into heavenly glory.

4. Vs. 16. “And he that sat on the clouds, etc. The ingathering of the elect is here presented as the work of Christ in person. He is the Sower of the wheat; His is the harvest.

LESSON XXXV (Revelation 14:1-5) With the Lamb on Mount Zion

(On the whole the text of the Revised Version is better here than that of the King James Version; hence, it is followed in these notes.)

1. Vs. 1. The Lamb on Mount Zion and the 144,000.

a) This vision stands in contrast to the preceding in so far as
1) There the church was pictured as oppressed in the world by the anti-christian powers of darkness.
2) Here the same church appears as safe and secure, and as reigning with Christ on Mount Zion.
b) Mount Zion is not heaven, nor is it represented in the vision as being in heaven. In the O.T. it is the royal mount of David on which was established the theocratic throne. On this mount God has set His king to reign. Ps. 2;6. Hence, the mountain is symbol of the royal rule of God’s Anointed.
c) On the mount stands the Lamb.
1) That Christ appears here as the Lamb denotes that He attained to His royal dominion at the head of His people in the way of suffering.
2) That He stands on Mount Zion represents that He exercises His royal power as God’s king, and that, too, in spite of all the fury and raging of the devil and the antichrist as pictured in the preceding chapters. From Mount Zion He rules over His own and over all the world.
d) The 144,000 are the same as those mentioned in ch. 7:3, 4: for which see the notes on that passage. Hence, they are
1) Not the glorified church in heaven, nor the saved out of Israel, nor a special group of glorified saints.
2) But they represent the complete number of the elect as they are in the world at any period of the new dispensation.
3) That they are represented as being with the Lamb or Mount Zion signifies that even while they are in the world believers have the victory in their Lord and reign with Him.
4) On their forehead they have the name of Christ (a sign and seal that they belong to Him as His brethren), and of His Father (a sign and seal of their belongings to God as His children). No one can separate them from Christ and from the Father. Cfr. The seal in ch 7:3ff.

2. Vss. 2, 3. The song of victory. “And I heard a voice from heaven” etc.

a) This voice does not proceed from the 144,000.
1) These are represented in the vision as being on the earth, on Mount Zion, but the voice proceeds from heaven.
2) A distinction is plainly made between the 144,000 and them that sing this song for it is said that the former may learn it.
b) The voice is described as the voice of many waters (as of a great multitude): as the voice of a great thunder (very powerful): and as the voice of harpers harping on their harps, i.e., their song is accompanied by playing on the harps (signifying victory and joy). It is the voice of the glorified saints in heaven. Cf. ch. VII: 9-17.
c) And they sing a new song. The song is new because it is the song of complete redemption and final victory; the viewpoint of the singers is heavenly. They see no longer “as in a glass darkly,” but face to face. And they sing before the throne of God (in His presence, as His servants, to His glory); and before the elders (the representatives of the church of all ages); and before the four living creatures representatives of brute creation. See ch. IV.
d) And only the 144,000 could learn that song, i.e., they cannot only understand it, but appropriate it and by faith sing it, even while they are still in the midst of an oppressing world. For they reign with Christ and by faith they have the victory.

3. Vss. 4, 5. The description of the 144,000

a) They are not defiled with women, for they are virgins.
1) The original word for “virgins” was frequently applied to men.
2) The expression does not intend to extol the special sanctity of celibacy, as some would have it. (Some explain that these 144,000 represent a special group of saints that were never married!).
3) The meaning is that they are virgins in relation to the world, and are not defiled with its lust. They kept their garments clean, and had no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness.
b) They follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth; i.e., not in glory, as a kind of special retinue in heaven, but here, in this world. In their confession and walk they are the disciples of the Lamb; they follow where He leads by His Word and Spirit, and that, too, regardless of the sufferings they may have to bear because they keep His word.
c) They are those that are purchased, redeemed by the precious blood of the Lamb, from among men, i.e., out of all nations; and that for the purpose of being a first fruits unto God.
1) First fruits of the full and final harvest: the regeneration of all things in the new creation.
2) And consecrated to God cf. Jas. 1:18.
d) In their mouth was found no lie, which means that positively they confessed the truth of God.
e) And they are without fault or blemish, i.e., in Christ they are holy in the spiritual ethical sense of the word. They are described, of course, from their ideal spiritual viewpoint, in their relation to the Lamb.

LESSON XXXVI (Revelation 14: 6-8) The Gospel of Babylon’s Fall

1. The angel proclaiming an everlasting gospel, vss. 6,7.

a) “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven.”
1) Another vision here, as is evident from “and I saw”; yet the vision is closely related to the preceding one.
2) “Another angel” in distinction from angels that were mentioned before in the book of Revelation.
3) He is flying in the midst of heaven, i.e., of the firmament, because the whole world must hear his message.
b) “Having the (or better ‘an’) everlasting gospel (the R.V. has ‘eternal good tidings’) to preach unto them that dwell on the earth,’ etc.
1) The angel must proclaim a gospel (the original does not have the definite article) i.e., good tidings, just as the angel preached good tidings to the shepherds of Bethlehem.
2) This gospel is called “everlasting” because it is determined in God’s immutable decree.
3) It is proclaimed to them that dwell on the earth, and that, too, universally: “to every nation, and kindred and tongue, and people.” This does not imply that the message of the angel contains “good tidings” for all. Not, for instance, for the worshippers of the beast, cf. vs. 9ff. But it does mean that those for whom this particular message is “gospel” are among all nations.
4) The contents of this gospel: “Fear God and give glory to him,” etc. (vs. 7):
a) Notice that God is here presented as the Creator and Lord of the universe: “that made heaven and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters,”
b) He must be feared, and glorified, and worshipped. The meaning is evidently: Fear and glorify and worship not the beast, but God.
5) And the particular reason and ground for this :gospel” is that the hour of God’s judgment is come,. Final judgment is about to take place. There is no more delay.

Note. The significance of this vision is not that towards the end of this dispensation there will be a special preaching of the gospel to all nations once more; nor that men will be given a special period of repentance, for
1) The contents of the message is not Christ and redemption, but very specifically judgment.
2) It is very definitely proclaimed that the hour of God’s judgment is already come.
3) The two angels that follow proclaim this judgment upon the wicked as an accomplished fact. Rather does it proclaim that which is “good tidings” to the faithful, that the time is come when all must confess that God is God, and the worship of the beast shall have an end.

2. The Fall of Babylon announced, vs. 8.

a) “And there followed another (a second, R.V.) angel, saying, Babylon is fallen,” etc. The second angel announces the fall of Babylon, and that, too, emphatically as an accomplished fact.
1) This is the first time we read of Babylon in the book of Revelation, yet the text presupposes that it is well known what is meant by Babylon. In Scripture Babylon occurs:
a) As the capital of the country of Shinar, founded by Nimrod (Babel), Gen. 10:10.
b) As the capital of the Chaldean empire of which Nebuchadnezzar was the great head. It was a great city (cf. Jer.51:31,32), 60 miles in circumference. Its walls were 350 feet high, 87 feet thick and in it were 100 gates of brass. cf. Isa. 45:1, 2; Jer. 51:58.
c) As the enemy of Jerusalem, Kings 24:1-17; 25:1,2; I Chron. 6:15; I Chron. 36:6, 7; Jer. 24:1; 29:1, 2; 52:28ff.
d) As the head of gold on the image of the world power, Dan. 2:32, 37, 38; the lion, Dan 7:4, a great naval power, Isa. 43:14; a great military power, Jer. 5:16;
e) As glorious, mighty, arrogant, oppressive, careless, pleasure-loving, boastful, self-confident. Isa. 13; 14:4ff; Isa. 47:7, 8.
f) As destroyed in the day of the Lord, Isa. 13; 14:4ff; 21:1, 2; 47:1ff; Jer. 25:12-14; 5) (:my people go ye out of the midst of her,” vs. 45).
2) In the book of Revelation it occurs (besides in our passage) in ch. 16: 19; 17:5; 18.
3) And a clear reference to Babylon there is in II Cor. 6:17; cf. Isa. 52:11; Jer. 51:45.
4) From all this (especially, too, from the passage in II Cor. 6) it should be evident that Babylon in the N.T. is
a) Not that ancient city rebuilt in the future, as some would have it; neither the city of Rome, though it is a phase of it; nor papal Rome; nor the false church.
b) But the antichristian empire considered from the viewpoint of its center of government, proud, boastful, rich and mighty, cruel and ungodly and oppressing the people of God, the Jerusalem of the new dispensation, the mighty world-power of Rev. 13. She is here presented as fallen.
b) The ground of her judgment: “she made all nations drink of the wine of wrath of her fornication.”
1) The wine of her fornication: fornication is, as often in Scripture, to be taken in the sense of spiritual fornication, apostasy from the living God, idolatry, ungodliness. With this she filled the nations, made them drunk; all nations, for the antichristian kingdom is universal.
2) And “the wrath of her fornication,” because in this antichristian wine there is the wrath of God!

LESSON XXXI (Revelation 13: 1-3a) The Beast

1. Vs. 1.

a) “And I stood upon the sand of the sea.” The R.V. is more correct: he stood upon the sand of the sea.
1) The reference is to the dragon.
2) He went to arise, in order that he may give his power to make war with the remnant of the seed of the woman. 12:17.
3) Now he stands on the seashore from the which the beast will to it.
b) “And I saw a beast rise up out of the sea.”
1) The sea in Scripture is symbol of the world of nations in their historical development, as they are swept by wars and revolutions. Dan. 7:2, 3, 17: Rev. 17:15.
2) The beast is a wild beast, and besides, a monster, indicative of its true character. It symbolizes the secular power of the world, a kingdom or empire together with its head. Dan. 7:17, 23; 8:20, 21; Rev. 17:10.
c) “Having seven heads and ten horns”;
1) In the R.V. the order is given as “ten horns and seven heads.” This is correct. Rising up out of the sea the horns of the beast would appear first. This may also account for the fact that here the crowns are described as being on the horns, while in the description of the dragon (12:3) they appear on the heads. We must conceive of seven of the crowned horns as being on the seven heads (so that the heads are also crowned though actually the crowns are on the horns); while three of the horns are between the heads. Both, heads and horns, are crowned.
2) The heads represent seven world-powers appearing consecutively in history (see 17:10); and that, too, in such a way that five of the heads represent so many world-kingdoms of the past, one represents the world power that existed at the time of John (Roman empire), and one is still to come as the final manifestation of the antichristian power. Hence, figuring backward from the sixth head (Rome, the fourth beast of Dan. 7), we have:
a) The Greek-Macedonian empire (the leopard of Dan. 7:6; the rough goat of Dan. 8:5, 23;
b) The Medio-Persian empire (the bear of Dan. 7:5; the ram of Dan. 8:3, 4, 20);
c) The Babylonian empire (the lion of Dan. 7:4,
d) Before Daniel’s time there was the Assyrian empire with Nineveh as its capital; and
e) Babel, the original world power that ended in the confusion of tongues and the separation of the nations. The 7th head is Rom. The 7th is world-empire of the future, which is also the eighth, ch. 17:11, that is, it will be the consummation and combination of all the world-powers of the past.
3) The ten horns represent ten kings or kingdoms that shall exist simultaneously at the time of the final manifestation of the antichristian beast, and they shall give their power to the beast (confederate with him) for a short time, ch. 17:12. The horn is a symbol of royal power. Ps. 89:17.
d) “And upon its head names of blasphemy.”
1) Blasphemy is properly the reviling of that which is sacred, especially God.
2) These names express, therefore, the anti-godly character of the whole beast, i.e. of all the great world-powers.

2. Vs. 2.

a)“And the beast which I saw,” etc. We may notice here:
1) That in general the description of the beast here reminds of the beasts in Dan. 7.
2) That here the various beasts of Daniel 7 appear not separately, but combined into one monstrous beast, denoting that the final world empire will be a combination of all the world powers that went before.
3) That the threefold description of the beast (leopard, bear, lion) describes the world power in its swiftness, strength, and rapacity.
b) “And the dragon gave him his power,” etc.
1) The dragon, we remember, is the devil.
2) That he gave to the beast his power signifies, in general, that he uses the political world power (which, of course, as such has its power, throne, and authority from God) as his antichristian instrument and representative.
3) Particularly it means that the devil so influences the world power that
a) Its power becomes an evil power
b) Its throne an antichristian throne
c) Its authority an antichristian rule, used in the service of the “god of this world.”

3. Vs. 3

A) “And I saw one of its heads as it were wounded to death; and the deadly wound was healed.” The meaning is, of course, that
1) Once in the past the world-power had been fatally wounded.
2) But that now, at the time of the final realization of the antichristian empire the fatal wound was healed.
B) Many interpretations have been offered of this significant detail: the Roman world-power fatally wounded in the death of Christ, the wound inflicted on the Roman empire by the invasion of the barbarous hordes from the North, the death of Nero, etc.
C) We prefer to think here of the confusion of tongues at the building of the tower of Babel,
1) That was the first attempt to establish a universal world-power.
2) The confusion of tongues was much more than that: it was the severing of the one race into several nations that would henceforth war against one another. As long as they do this there can be no universal power.
3) This will be healed in the future. The nations will unite.

LESSON XXXII (Revelation 13:3b-10) The Beast (Cont.)

1. Vs.. 3b, 4

a) And all the world wondered after the beast.”
1) All the inhabitants of the earth. That the wicked are denoted by this expression indicates that they predominate. The righteous are few.
2) They “wondered after” the beast, i.e. they were amazed at his great power, and they followed him, rallied to his banner because of his power.
b) “And they worshipped the dragon,” etc.
1) To worship is to ascribe divine power to anyone and to bring him divine homage.
2) They worship, first, the dragon, because he gave power to the beast. The meaning probably is, not that they consciously serve the devil, but that by following after the beast they do the will of the devil and acknowledge him as the prince of this world.
3) Directly, however, they worship the beast, and that, too, because they put their full confidence in his power: “Who is able to make war with him?” The beast being supreme, war is now impossible. The long looked for peace has come!

2. Vss. 5-7a

a) “And there was given unto him a mouth,”, etc.
1) The meaning is: by God is given unto him this mouth, i.e., not in His grace, but in His providence. Even the power of the beast is God’s and is strictly limited by Him.
2) This enables him to speak great things. See. Dan. 7:8, 20, 25. The expression “great things” refers to his boastful pride, but also means that he makes great promises to the world in his own strength.
3) And blasphemies: he reviles things sacred. See on vs. 1.
b) “And he opened his mouth.” etc.
1) The main target for his wicked darts of blasphemy is God.
2) Hence, he blasphemies: “His name,” i.e., all that is connected with God’s self-revelation in Christ: “His tabernacle,” i.e., God’s covenant, His house and service and fellowship; “and them that dwell in heaven,” i.e., those that dwell in God’s tabernacle in heavenly glory: the hope of future glory. These he derides and mocks and tries to extinguish.
c) “And power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.” Even his time limit is determined by God. God gives him his power to carry on his wicked work. For the “forty two months” see on ch. 11:2, 3: 12:6, 14.
d) “And it was given unto him to make war,” etc.
1) Notice the repeated expression: “it was given unto him.”
2) He makes war with the saints, i.e. persecutes them. There being no other political power opposing him he can direct all his attention to the “seed of the woman.” This was the devil’s purpose.
3) “And to overcome them.” Not, of course, as if he can overcome and subdue them spiritually. But he kills them, puts them in prison, and, for a time, silences their testimony. See on 11:7-10.

3. Vss. 7b, 8.

a) “And power was given him over all kindred, and tongues and nations.” The R.V. has the fourfold division: “every tribe, and people, and tongue and nation.” The meaning is that the rule of antichrist is universal. And again, notice that this power is given him of God.
b) “And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him.” Notice that the form here merges into that of direct prediction: “Shall worship” The antichristian beast enjoys universal adoration and worship.
However this does not apply to every individual on the earth; it includes only those “whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (The R.V. connects the last phrase with “written” and reads: “whose names are not written from the foundation,” etc. This, however, is a commentary rather than a better translation).
b) Concerning this book of life we may note:
1) That it is the book of election.
2) That it is called the book of life because the names of those that are ordained to eternal life are written in it.
3) That it is the Lamb’s book, because those written therein are given to Him.
4) That it is mentioned here for the comfort of the elect and the assurance of their final victory while it spells sure defeat for the wicked worshippers of the anti-christian beast.
d) The Lamb is slain (as the slain Lamb He purchased those whose names are written in the book) from the foundation of the world: from the very beginning the world killed Christ.

4. Vss. 9, 10

A) “If any man hath an ear, let him hear.” This familiar exhortations, of course, addressed particularly to the spiritual people of God. They only have ears to hear. By it special attention is called to the following warning.
B) “He that leadeth into captivity,” etc.
1) The expression means that just retribution shall be inflicted upon the anti-christian power and those that follow the beast.
2) To this the suffering saints that are led into prison and death, may and do look forward..
3) Hence: “here is the patience and the faith of the saints.” The hope of their final deliverance and justification is the object of their faith, and the explanation of their patience.

LESSON XXXIII (Revelation 13:11-14) The Beast Out Of The Earth

Vs. 11. “And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth.”

1. A second beast appears in the vision. This also is called “a beast,” though its appearance is not at all like that of a wild animal. The reason is that its nature is quite like that of the first beast.
2. This second beast arises out of the earth, i.e. it has its origin in the sea of nations, war-swept, restless. That the second beast arises out of the earth denotes:
a) That it is earthly, from below, carnal: not from above. James 3:15.
b) That it has its origin not in the power of the sword, but in them that dwell on the earth, not in war and strife, but rather in the more quiet development of earthly, human life and ingenuity. It is not political, but a spiritual character. This suggests at once that this second beast is a product of human ingenuity and talents fulfilling its original mandate to have dominion over the earth: culture, science and invention, human wisdom divorced from the wisdom that is from above.
3. The description of the beast: “and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.”
a) The number of the horns has no special significance except to indicate that it looks like a normal beast, and that, too, like a lamb. There is no direct comparison to the Lamb, for He has seven horns. That his horns are like those of a lamb rather indicates that this beast is not fierce and warlike, but meek and peace-loving. However, his appearance reminds of the Lamb. We are minded here that false prophets are wolves in sheep’s clothing. Matt. 7:15.
b) The speech of this beast belies its appearance: it speaks like a dragon, i.e. , with the purpose to tempt and deceive. The speech suggests that also this beast stands in the service of the devil, innocent though it looks.
c) Notice, too, that it speaks. It does not exercise its power by force of arms, but by the power of its word. It represents the false prophet, i.e. not any particular person, but the entire power of false science, culture, religion.

Vs. 12. “And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him.”

1. The original word for “power” means “authority.” This seems to suggest that this second beast is clothed with the official authority of the first beast. The political power of the anti-christ takes antichristian culture and religion in its service. Hence: “before him,” i.e., before the first beast this second beast does all its work. It stands in the service of the antichristian empire.
2. “And causeth the earth and them which dwell therein,” etc.
a) This is the very specific service it performs for the beast. It makes people all over the earth worship the beast.
b) Let us note here:
1) That this is accomplished by the persuasive speech of the second beast. It molds public opinion.
2) That they that worship the beast are described as “the earth and them that dwell therein,” i.e.. all men and that in their capacity of dwellers in the earth: they devote their all to the beast.
3) That it is emphasized here that the special reason for this worship and admirations that the deadly wound of the first beast is healed. See on vs. 3.

Vs. 13. “And he doeth great wonders, so that,” etc.

1. The word for “wonders” in the original is “signs.” To be able to do signs belongs to the office of a true prophet. Signs corroborate his word. Hence, also the false prophet will produce his signs. See Matt. 24:24; Mk. 13:22. These wonders are not mere tricks, but very real, even though they are all limited to the sphere of earthly things.
2. He even brings fire from heaven. This is mentioned merely as one of the great things he will be able to do, representing other wonders. Reminds of Elijah.
3. And he performed all this “in the sight of men.” It is his special purpose that men be witnesses of his power, in order that they may believe his word. Hence, he performed them publicly.

Vs. 14. “And he deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles,” etc.

1. This again in harmony with Matt. 24:11, 24. Many will be deceived. The great deception is always that it is good and leads to happiness to depart from the living God and His Word.
2. The wonders serve this purpose. By it the second beast seems to prove that he is able to inaugurate an era of unheard of prosperity and happiness. The R.V. has “which it was given him to do.” This is correct.
3. His deception consists concretely in that he persuades men to make an image of the beast.
A) Notice here again that the worship of the beast is brought into connection with the fact that the deadly wound was healed.
B) The image of the beast is meant as an idol, representing the antichristian world-power. This may very well find literal fulfillment in the future.

LESSON XXXIV(Revelation 13:15-18) The Name Of The Beast

1. Vs. 15.

“And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast.” The R.V. is more correct: “And it was given unto him to give breath unto it, even unto the image of the beast.
a) The false prophet is given power (see on vss. 5,7) to give life or breath, literally “a spirit” to the image of the beast.
b) According to some (who interpret the entire chapter as referring to the Roman empire) some images of the deified Roman emperors were reported to have spoken, and John is supposed to have believed this superstition. Needless to say, that we must regard such interpretations in conflict with the idea of infallible inspiration.
c) Exactly in what manner this is to be realized we do not know; however in our day of radio and Dictaphones, etc., it should not be difficult to visualize a literal fulfillment of this prophecy in the future. “And that the image of the beast should both speak and cause that as many would not worship,” etc.
1) The “spirit” is given to the image in order that it may speak: anything recorded can be reproduced.
2) And the specific purpose of this speech is to detect and expose the faithful saints that refuse to worship the beast and his image, that they may be killed.

2. Vss. 16, 17. “And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark,” etc. Notice here:

A) That all classes of men without exception receive a mark, by which they are distinguished as belonging to the beast and being loyal to his cause.
B) That they wear this mark “on their right hand, or in their foreheads” has, evidently, no other significance than that it must be plainly seen and, therefore, be worn in a conspicuous place.
C) The mark is given them (thus in the original), and this implies:
1) That under the powerful influence of the false prophet (the second beast) it is decreed as a state law, that all worshippers of the beast shall receive and wear such a mark.
2) That, nevertheless the mark is voluntarily received. It is not forced upon them, for the saints do not receive the mark. Only on swearing allegiance to the beast and worshipping him can the mark be received.
d) From vs. 17 (“save he that had the mark, even the name of the beast or the number of his name.” R.V.) it is plain that the mark consists of the name of the beast or the number of his name. Let us note here:
1) That by the name of the beast is not meant the proper name of some individual, such as Nero, Domitian, etc. The name in Scripture is the expression of the nature of anyone or anything, or the symbol of belonging to someone. See. Rev. 2:1, 3:1, 5, 12. Here the name denotes the antichristian character of the beast.
2) That by the number of his name is not meant the numerical value of the letters of his name either in Greek or Hebrew.
a) This would limit the interpretation of this entire chapter to its application to the Roman empire. The name in that case is supposed to be the name of the Roman empire, or of one of its emperors, and the number of the name the sum of the numerical value of its letter.
B) Even then the question arises: a name in what language? Hebrew, Greek, Latin? And what name? It is better and more in harmony with the symbolism of the numbers in the book of revelation, to interpret the “number of his name” as the symbolic expression of the meaning of the name in a number (see below on vs. 18). The general meaning is, therefore, that the mark is some sign that expresses the antichristian character of the beast; perhaps, literally the number 666.
E) Again, the purpose of this mark is to distinguish the worshippers of the beast from those that refuse to worship him, and to persecute the latter: “And that no man might buy or sell save he that had the mark of the beast.” What this means may easily be surmised. It would make social outcasts of believers, so that literally they have no place left in the world.

3. Vs. 18. “Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast,” etc. Let us note here:
1. That it requires wisdom and understanding to count the number of the beast,” etc. In Scripture “wisdom and understanding” are not the same as human ingenuity, but they are spiritual, from above, and enable one to know the spiritual things of the kingdom of God.
2. This should warn us against those interpretations that make of this number a riddle or puzzle, e.g. L (30 A (1) T (300) E (5) I (10) N (50) O (70) S (200): 666 is LATEINOS, the Roman empire. And there are very many explanations that proceed on the same principle.
3. That it is the number of a man, i.e., not of any particular individual, but of a human being, characteristically limited as a human being, mere Man.
4. In the light of this: 6 is 7-1, the mere earthly, the week without the Sabbath, labor without rest. The repetition: 600, 60, 6 represents the repeated efforts of man to establish his own kingdom of blessedness and peace, and his repeated and ultimate failure.

LESSON XXVII (Revelation 11:14 -19) The Seventh Trumpet

1. vss. 14, 15a
a. “The second woe is past”; The last three trumpets are three woes.
1) The first of these was the plague of the locusts out of the abyss; 9:1-11
2) The second was the judgment of the triple monsters; 9:13-21.
3) Now, after the interlude of ch. X and the general, ideal picture of the testimony, reproach and glorification of the Church (11:1-13), there follows a general description of the judgment of the seventh trumpet.
b. “Behold, the third woe cometh quickly.”
1) As to the time of this “third woe,” it is evident that it belongs to the period of “the same hour,” vs. 13. This is evident from the earthquake, vs. 13 cf. vs. 19.
2) It comes quickly: the events of the very last days will follow one another in quick session.
c. “And the seventh angel sounded.”
1) What we have in this passage is a general description of the seventh trumpet and its effect in heaven and on earth.
2) The detailed description of it is found in chapters 15, 16. This seventh trumpet will reveal itself as seven vials.
3) That this is correct is evident from:
a) A comparison of ch. 10:7: “the mystery of God should be finished” in the days of the seventh trump, with 15:1: in the seven vials is filled up the wrath of God.
b) A comparison of 11:19: “the temple of God” opened, with 15:5, 6: the seven angels with the vials come out of the open temple.

2. vs. 15b
a. “And there were great voices in heaven.”
1) Whose voices they are is not mentioned. Judging by what they say they may be either angels or glorified saints or both.
2) They are great voices: there is a great multitude here.
b. “And they said, The kingdom (not kingdoms, the R.V. is correct here) of the world is become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ.”
1) The praise here offered presupposes that the judgment of the seventh trumpet is finished. All is ended.
2) The world is conceived as one kingdom over which God rules. It is now the dominion of our Lord.
3) And of His Christ. It is God’s anointed that is to have dominion, and that now has it. God reigns through Christ.
4) And that forever and ever. Notice, that Christ shall reign eternally.

3. vss. 16-18:
a. “And the four and twenty elders,” etc.
1) Representing the whole church.
2) They sit on thrones, i.e. they reign with Christ.
3) Before the face of God, i.e., as servants of God. See ch. 4:4.
b. “Fell upon their faces, and worshipped God,” i.e. in their attitude and speech they humbly acknowledged the power and glory and sovereignty of God.
c. “Saying, We give thanks,” etc. Concerning this thanksgiving of the church, notice (vss. 17,18):
1) That they address God as the Lord almighty: all the emphasis is on God’s sovereign power, because this has been fully revealed now. And as the One “Who art and Who wast.” Also here the revised version is correct: the words “who art to come” do not belong here; the reason is evident: He is now come.
2) That the reason for this thanksgiving is:
A) “Thou hast taken to thee thy great power,” i.e., the power which is always God’s, now is fully revealed: the world is become the kingdom of God and of His Christ, according to His purpose.
3) That a further explanation of this reason is given in vs. 18:
a) “And the nations were angry” (Ps 11), that is they raged against God and His anointed, and His “witnesses,” see vss. 7-10.
b) “And thy wrath came, i.e., God’s wrath was now fully revealed and poured out in the judgment of the seventh trumpet.
c) “And the time of the dead to be judged.” Here follows a description of the final judgment. Evidently, with the blowing of the seventh trumpet all is finished. And by this judgment the eternal reward is given to all the people of God his servants the prophet: all the saints (in Christ), them that fear God’s name, small and great (literally and figuratively). And the wicked are destroyed. They are here described as those that “destroy the earth.” The wicked always work destruction of the earth and of all earthly life in every relationship. And it is but just retribution, therefore, when they are destroyed, i.e., from the earth and from all God’s world, in everlasting desolation.

4. vs. 19:
a) “And there was opened the temple of God that is in heaven.”
1) The temple is the inner sanctuary (the ark is seen), where God dwells.
2) The ark of the covenant is a symbol of
a) God’s throne.
b) His everlasting covenant mercy.
3) That the temple is opened signifies
a) That God is about to issue forth to make of all the world His dwelling place.
b) That from that open heaven the final judgment will come upon the earth. See ch. 15:1ff.

b) “And there were lightnings, and voices, and thundering, and earthquake, and great hail.”
1) All signs of judgments on the earth. See 8:5.
2) The detailed realization of which is described in the judgments of the seven vials. ch. 16.

LESSON XXVIII (Revelation 12:1-6) The Woman and Her Child, and the Dragon

1. Relation of this chapter to the rest of the book:
a) In chapters 12-14 there follows a series of visions that must be regarded as an interlude in the scheme of the seals, trumpets, vials.
b) Chapters 12, 13 are closely connected with each other, as they present a detailed description of the beast first mentioned in ch. 11:7.
1) In chapter 12 this beast is described from the viewpoint of his essentially satanic background and character.
2) In chapter 13 from the viewpoint of his historical appearance as an antichristian world-power.

2. vss. 1,2
a) “And there appeared a great wonder (sign, R.V.) in heaven.”
1) By a sign something is obsignated; we are warned against a literal interpretation of the vision here.
2) This sign is “great,” i.e. in magnitude and in significance.
3) And it is in heaven, the place of glory, denoting the essentially heavenly character of the thing signified.
b) “A woman, clothed with the sun,” etc.
1) The general figure of the sign is that of a woman.
2) The heavenly luminaries serve to adorn her and to bring out her glory: she is clothed with the sun, the moon is her footstool, and she is crowned with twelve stars (cf. twelve tribes, apostles).
3) And she is with child and about to be delivered.
Note. Who or what is represented by this woman? The key to the answer is, on doubt supplied by vss. 5, 6. It is the Church of all ages: before she is delivered of her child (the Christ) she represents the Church of the old dispensation; after she has been delivered she represents the Church of the New Testament. In the old dispensation the Church lived and labored in the hope of the promise of Gen. 3:15. The Church is described from the viewpoint of her essential heavenly character and glory, as a mighty queen.

3. Vss. 3, 4. The sign of the dragon.
A) “And there appeared another sign in heaven.” That also this sign is in heaven certainly has no reference to the character of the thing represented, but must be explained merely from the position the dragon occupies with relation to the woman.
B) “And behold, a great red dragon, having seven heads,” etc.
1) The general figure of the second sign is that of a dragon, a mythical figure, a monster, whose general figure is that of a serpent. According to vs. 9 this dragon represents the devil or satan, “that old serpent.”
2) His color is red, the color of wrath and anger, blood-shed, murder. This denotes him as “the murderer from the beginning” as well as the hateful enemy of this woman and her child.
3) He is described as having seven heads, ten horns, and on his heads seven crowns, or royal diadems. This description is similar to that of the beast in ch. 13:1. The explanation of these heads and horns can better be given in connection with our interpretation of that chapter. It is sufficient now to call attention to the fact that this similarity of description represents the devil as “the power behind the throne” of the beast and as operating through the antichristian world-power.
4) “And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth.” The angels are sometimes called stars (Job 38:7). The reference here is probably to the fall of the angels by the instigation of satan.
5) “And he stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.” These words express the attitude of the dragon over against the woman: one of watchful waiting, till her child shall be born. And his intention is to destroy the man-child at his birth.
Note. This refers, evidently to the constant attempt on the part of the world-power in the old dispensation to destroy the seed of the woman.

4. Vss. 5,6 The Child and the Woman.
a) “And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron.” From the description of this man child it is evident
1) That he is the Messiah. “He shall rule all nations with a rod of iron” is taken from Ps. 2:9. That He will judge and destroy the antichristian world-power, for this is the meaning of the expression “to rule with a rod of iron.”
b) “And her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.
1) The general meaning of this expression is that the purpose of the dragon to devour the child is frustrated: the child escapes his wrath.
2) Specifically it means that this Child is exalted and clothed with power: realized in the ascension and exaltation at the right hand of God in heaven.
c) “And the woman fled into the wilderness,” etc.
1) The child having escaped him, the wrath of the dragon is now directed against the woman, see vs. 13. Hence, she flees into the wilderness (the world, no longer in Canaan), where God has prepared a place for her, and cares for her throughout this dispensation, 1260 days. See for this period on ch. 11:2, 3..

LESSON XXIX (Revelation 12:7-12) War in Heaven

1. Vss. 7-9
a) “And there was war in heaven,” etc.
1) Must remember that heaven was originally the abode of the angels, also of the devil and his angels before their fall.
2) They were not, immediately after their fall, cast out of their abode in the sense that they had no more access to heaven. See Job 1: Luke 10:18; John 12:31. Their casting out did not take place till the exaltation of Christ.
b) “Michael and his angels fought against the dragon:” etc.
1) of Michael we read in Dan. 10:13; 12:10; Jude vs. 9. All these passages teach that he is archangel, a prince among the angels (if not the chief of all the angels): that he contends with Satan, whose special opponent he appears to be; and that he contends for the cause of the people of God, defending them. This seems to be his special function.
2) His angels may refer to a special group of angels over which he is prince, or, if he be the chief of all the elect angels, it refers to all.
3) The dragon and his angels are the devil and the evil spirits or demons that have fallen with him.
4) These spiritual armies are presented in the text as waging war, as fighting in heaven. There is nothing in the text that suggests an allegorical meaning of this battle. Hence, we have to think here of a real warfare, although we must remember that it is a battle of spirits and, therefore, fought on a spiritual plane and by spiritual means and methods.
c) vss. 8, 9: “And prevailed not,” etc. That is, the devil and his angels prevailed not.
1) This expression suggests that the devil and his angels took the offensive; they attacked Michael and his angels; or rather they sought to attain a certain object in heaven, but they failed because Michael and his angels opposed and prevented them.
2) What is more, they were cast out of heaven, so that their place was found in heaven no more. Notice that the dragon is here called:
a) The old serpent: this with reference to his first temptation in paradise where he appeared in the form of a serpent;
b) The Devil (diabolos) meaning “mudslinger” or slanderer. He slanders God and His people and cause; and
c) Satan, that is adversary, opponent. He is anti-God, God’s adversary, and therefore the arch-enemy of His people.
d) He is said here to “deceive the whole world.” His great deception is based on the lie that in the way of disobedience men shall be like God, and that they shall attain to highest blessedness and glory in the way of opposition and rebellion against God. That is the lie that motivates “the whole wicked world.” And in this they are deceived.
3) He is cast into the earth. Although he is utterly and finally defeated in heaven, he is cast into the earth. This will now become the sole sphere of his operations.

2. Vss. 10, 11.
a) “And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven,” etc.
1) The text does not state whose this loud voice is. That the voice is loud suggests that there were many speaking. And that they speak of “our brethren” suggests that they were the glorified saints in heaven.
2) They announce that now is come (i.e. revealed and established in heaven): “salvation” here to be taken in its comprehensive sense: redemption and glorification; “strength,” i.e. the power of God is now revealed: “the kingdom of our God,” i.e., the kingdom in which God rules by grace over His people is now established; and “the power of his Christ.” Christ is here called God’s Christ, His anointed Servant. He has now all the power, authority, and that without dispute.
3) The reason is that “the accuser of our brethren” etc. is cast down. That the devil is here called the accuser of the brethren suggests the objective he sought in his war in heaven: to overcome the saints.
4) But the saints overcame him “by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their life even unto death.” The R.V. is more correct here: “because of the blood of the Lamb,” etc. The atonement of Christ is the deepest cause and ground of their victory. But as the fruit of this atonement also their faithful testimony (of Christ) and their sanctified walk in the world (even unto death) is the reason for their victory over the devil.

3. Vs. 12. “Therefore, rejoice, ye heavens,: etc.
a) The loud voice calls upon all the heavenly creation, and upon all the inhabitants of heaven to rejoice (the angels and the saints), because of this great victory and because the devil is cast out.
b) On the other hand: “Woe to the inhibitors of the earth,” etc.
1) The inhabitants of the earth are mentioned in general, because it will bring woe to all that the devil is cast to the earth; but especially the believers are meant.
2) The reason is that the devil’s sphere of operation is limited both as to space and time. He is limited to the earth, and he has but a short time. The final victory is near for the people of God. This he has learned from his defeat in heaven. Hence, he has great wrath!

LESSON XXX (Revelation 12: 13-17) The Woman in the Wilderness

1. Vss. 13, 14. The woman escapes.
a) “And when the dragon saw that he was cast into the earth, he persecuted the woman,” etc.
1) Here the narrative of the vision is resumed as left off in vs. 6
2) The devil realizes his defeat with respect to his main purpose: the destruction of the Man-child. He now directs his attention to the woman. The woman is
a) Is not the Church of the O.T. nor the Jews of the N.T.
b) But the Church of the new dispensation, after the birth and exaltation of the Man-child.
3) The dragon now persecutes that Church. His purpose is, evidently, to destroy that Church as such. In this attempt he still reveals his hatred of the Christ. Now he cannot reach the Christ directly, he will wage war against Him indirectly by persecuting the Church on earth.
b) “And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly,” etc.
1) The wilderness is here, evidently, a place of refuge from the assaults of the dragon. It is also evident that by this wilderness is meant the present place of the Church among all nations in the world. In the old dispensation the Church was one nation (Israel) and lived in one country, the land of Canaan. This made it possible for the dragon to attack the Church directly by attacking the nation of Israel through the world-powers. In the new dispensation the Church no longer has her Canaan; hence, she is in the “wilderness” of the world through which she travels to the heavenly country. At the same time this position of the Church among all nations is also her place of safety: the nations can no longer harass the Church by making war upon a single nation.
2) The two wings of a great eagle:
a) The figure is probably derived from Ex. 19:4. The wings here are symbols of a God-given power the Church receives to escape into “the wilderness,” i.e. to establish herself among all nations. The fact that they are “eagle’s wings” and that of a great eagle, denotes the power of these means.
b) If we may think of anything definite here, these wings may be said to represent the power of the Spirit and the Word.
3) In the wilderness the woman is “nourished for a time, and times and a half a time from the face of the serpent.”
a) “Time, times, half a time” is 3 ½ times, i.e., years, not days; it is the same as the 1260 days of vs. 6 and refers to the whole present dispensation.
b) During this time the Church is nourished (spiritually) by God through Christ and by the Spirit and Word.
c) That she is nourished “from the face of the serpent” indicates that she is safe from the attacks of the devil, out of his reach.

2. Vss. 15, 16. Attack on the Church by the dragon
a) “And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman,” etc.
1) The picture is that the serpent takes up his position at the edge of the wilderness. In her spiritual isolation the devil cannot reach the Church.
2) And now he attempts to force her out of her isolation by sending a veritable flood of water out of his mouth after her, in order “that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. What this means is not difficult to conjecture:
a) Out of the mouth of the dragon proceeds the lie in all its forms: false doctrines and corruptions of the flesh.
b) If by these the devil can carry away the Church out of her spiritual isolation she will be swallowed up of the world and be destroyed.
c) “And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth,” etc.
1) The presentation here still belongs to the symbolism of the wilderness and the flood of water sent after the woman. The earth opens itself and swallows up the stream of water, so that it never reaches the woman.
2) The meaning is evident the Church is built on the “petron,” the Rock; the gates of hell cannot overwhelm her. Many may be seduced by the flood of corruption sent after the Church in the world by the devil: but the true people of God will stand.

3. Vs. 17. Persecution of the remnant of her seed.
a) “And the dragon was wroth with the woman,” etc.
1) For the second time the devil is defeated and his efforts are frustrated.
a) First the Man-child escaped his fury.
b) Now the Church proves to be beyond his reach.
c) Hence, he is angry with the woman.
b) “And went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”
1) Distinction is here made between the Church as a whole and the individual believers.
2) These are called the remnant of her seed in distinction from
a) The Man-child.
b) The saints of the old dispensation.
3) They are in the world, and they are recognized
a) By their walk: they keep the commandments of God.
b) And by their confession they have the testimony of Jesus Christ. How the dragon now makes war with them we are told in the next chapter.

LESSON XXIV (Revelation 11: 5, 6) The Power of the Two Witnesses
1. Vs. 5. a. “And if any man will hurt them”:
(1) The expression indicates that it is the desire of “men” to hurt them. But the question is: in what sense: in the physical or in the spiritual sense?
(2) It is evident that the enemy cannot realize this desire to hurt them: they are devoured.
(3) And this seems to indicate that no physical hurt is meant here, for that the two witnesses can be hurt physically is plain from vs. 7ff.
(4) Hence, the meaning is: if any man would hurt them in their capacity as witnesses and prophets:
(a) After all, physical suffering does not really hurt the Church, the ministry, believers. By persecution and suffering they are only strengthened, and death is for them a passage into glory.
(b) But they are very really hurt, when they are tempted to become unfaithful, to apostatize, to corrupt their testimony.
(c.) “Men” will surely attempt to hurt them thus: by false doctrine and philosophy; by offering them the pleasures and treasures of the world; by persecuting them, and making it hard for them to live in the world, unless they change their testimony and become unfaithful. See ch. 13:17
b. “Fire proceeded out of their mouth and devoured their enemies.”
(1) This corroborates the view that spiritual hurt is meant.
(2) Notice that the fire proceeded out of their mouth, so that it is evident that no literal, material fire is meant. Even though there is in the entire passage a reference to Elijah, and in vs. 5 probably to II Kings 1:9ff. Where we are told that Elijah calls for fire from heaven to destroy his enemies, yet, the meaning here is not that they call for fire from heaven: the fire proceeds directly out of their mouth.
(3) The fire must, therefore, be understood in a spiritual sense and likewise the devouring of the enemies:
(a) Out of their mouth proceeds the fire of the Word of God, i.e. they bear testimony of the Word of God and this testimony is quickened and made powerful by the Spirit of God.
(b) And by that fire of the Word of God proceeding out of their mouth the enemy is vanquished, so that they cannot hurt them. In this sense they are killed.
(c.) That this is the meaning is confirmed by the emphatic repetition: “and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner (i.e. not by the sword or by physical power, but by the fire that proceeds out of the mouth of the witnesses) be killed.” See for the same idea: Jer 5: 14.
2. Vs. 6. a. “These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy.” The power of the Word is accompanied by signs and wonders that bring judgments upon the earth
(1) “Power to shut heaven,” a figurative expression; the firmament is presented as the storage chamber of rain. The sign refers to the history of Elijah:
(a) Who prophesied to Ahab that it would not rain but according to his word. I Kings 17:1,
(b) And this in answer to his prayer, James 5:17.
(2) “That it rain not”; this means that they have power to bring drought and famine and all that is connected with these.
(3) “In the days of their prophecy”; not merely and indication of time, but also expressing that this power accompanies their prophecy as a sign.
b. “And have power over waters to turn them into blood.”
(1) As the first sign refers to the history of Elijah, so the second is taken from that of Moses in Egypt. That the reference in the text is to these great prophets of the Old Testament is due to the fact, that Moses appeared for the salvation of Israel over against the world-power; Elijah prophesied in a time of great apostasy. So these witnesses prophesy when the holy city is trodden under foot by the Gentiles.
(2) The second sign gives the witnesses power over the waters, to spoil and poison them, to spread disease etc.
c. “And to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.”
(1) Here their power to bring judgments on the earth is generalized: all plagues.
(2) And complete power over them is ascribed to them: “as often as they will.” It is left to their judgments to call for these plagues.

Note: Because of the extraordinary powers that are ascribed to these witnesses, interpreters have either concluded that these witnesses are two extraordinary figures, such as Moses and Elijah, or Enoch and Elijah that will appear in the latter days; of they have allegorized the text so that their powers are spiritual. But there is no need of this. The witnesses are the “two olive trees,” the ministry representing the Church. Let us remember:
a. That the Church in the past plainly had these powers. This is evident from the Old and New Testament both.
b. That the Lord Jesus Christ certainly has all power in heaven on earth.
c. That judgments are represented in the book of Revelation as an answer to the prayers of the saints. They call for them.
d. That in the latter days, when Antichrist shall rage and perform his signs, this will, no doubt, become clearly evident.

LESSON XXV (Revelation 11: 7 – 10) The Killing of the Two Witnesses
1. Vs. 7. a. “And when they shall have finished their testimony.” There comes a time when the measure of preaching by the Church is full. Gen. 6:3; Matt. 23: 34 -39. So also in the end. It is the time when the gospel shall have been preached to all nations, and that, too, for a witness: Matt 24:14; Mk. 13:10; and over against many false prophets; Matt 24:11; Mk 13:6. “The beast that ascended out of the bottomless pit.”
(1) This is evidently the same beast that is described in detail in ch. 13; the little horn of Dan. 7:8, 20, 21. The final manifestation of the antichristian world-power.
(2) Here described with reference to his spiritual character and origin; “out of the bottomless pit” or abyss.
c. “Shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.”
(1) The anti-christian power shall persecute the Church and its ministry, “shall overcome them,” i.e. so that their testimony is silenced; and that too by actually killing them.
(2) The meaning is not that every last one of the saints shall be put to death (there shall be living saints at the time of the Lord’s coming); but many of them, especially of the faithful ministers, shall be killed; and for the rest, the Church shall be so persecuted that worship is impossible, preaching is forbidden, the testimony of the Church is silenced.
2. Vs. 8. a. “And their dead bodies shall lie in the street,” etc.
(1) There would be nothing strange in the literal fulfillment of this prophecy, so that a decent burial would be refused some of the martyrs. This has happened before.
(2) It is, however, much more in harmony with the highly symbolic language of the whole section (the two olive trees, the candlesticks, the temple court, holy city, Sodom and Egypt, etc.) to understand this expression as figurative and meaning: the Church and its ministry shall be exposed to utter shame and reproach as a public spectacle.
a. “The great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified”
(1) The great city is evidently the same as “the holy city” of vs. 2. It is Jerusalem, for there “our Lord was crucified.” But here as in vs. 2 not the literal Jerusalem is to be thought of, but the New Testament continuation of apostate Jerusalem in the anti-christian world, the apostate Church united with the world-power. There “our Lord” is always crucified afresh. Heb 6:6; 10:29.
(2) It is here described according to its antichristian spiritual character
(a) It is called Sodom, because of its carnal lust and corruption. Isa. 1:9.
(b) And it is called Egypt, because of its oppression and persecution of the true people of God.
(3) The addition “where also our Lord was crucified” denotes the fellowship (our Lord) in suffering for the “witnesses” with Christ. The suffering of Christ is upon them. That is their comfort. Even as they hated Him, they shall hate them also.
3. Vs. 9. a. “And they of the people and kindred and tongues and nations” etc.
(1) The meaning is: from among all nations and tongues and peoples of the earth, men shall see, etc.
(2) Notice the fourfold division: people, kindred, tongues, and nations, expressing universality.
b. “Shall see their dead bodies,” etc.
(1) It is evident that any narrow literal interpretation of two men literally lying in a street of literal Jerusalem is out of the question here. All the people of the earth do not literally pass through a street to see two dead men.
(2) But the meaning is that the whole antichristian world shall take cognizance of the utter defeat and bitter reproach of the Church whose testimony is finally silenced.
c. “Three days and a half.” For the meaning of this indication of time we refer to the notes on vs. 11 next time. At the termination of this period the “witnesses” are called back to life.
d. “And shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.” This is further explanation of the reason why their bodies are lying in the street: they are refused burial. The antichristian powers do not permit their burial. The meaning is, that the silenced and oppressed and persecuted Church, “killed all the day long” is not forgotten by the world, but a spectacle of reproach and shame.
4. Vs. 10 a. “and they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them.” etc.
(1) The whole world rejoices over the defeat of the Church.
(2) And notice, that they are here described as “they that dwell on the earth.” It was as “dwellers on the earth” and its fullness that they were tormented by the witnesses.
(3) They make merry, celebrate their victory in parades, banquets, etc.
(4) Send gifts to one another, expressing their mutual friendship.
b. “Because these two prophets tormented them,” etc.
(1) That is “because they overcame their tormentors.”
(2) Who tormented them by the “fire” from their mouth.
(3) And by their mighty signs (shut the heavens, etc.).

LESSON XXVI (Revelation 11: 11 – 13) The Glorification of the Witnesses
1. Vs. 11. a. “And after three days and a half,” etc. The period of the public reproach of the Church (the bodies of the witnesses lie in the street) is designated by “three days and a half,” or half a week. There is a reference to this same period in Dan. 9:24-27:
(1) The “seventy weeks” mentioned there (vs. 24) cover the entire period from the return of Israel from captivity to the end of the world: “to bring in everlasting righteousness,” etc.
(2) But in vss. 25-27 this period is divided into three parts
(a) Seven weeks from “the going forth of the commandment (by Cyrus) to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince (the first coming of Christ).
(b) Sixty two weeks during which “the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times,” i.e., the Jerusalem of Rev. XI, the Church of the New dispensation even unto the very last times. They are troublous times. For “the court and the holy city” are given unto the Gentiles (Antichrist), and they shall be trodden under foot by him. See Dan. 9:26.
(c.) And one week during which Antichrist “shall confirm the covenant with many” (a federation of many nations), vs. 27.
(3) This last “week” is divided into two halves:
(a) During the first part of this period “shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself” or: “and there shall be none for him,” vs. 26. “In the midst of the week” or in half of the week, “he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease,” vs. 27. The witnesses (Rev 11) are overcome; preaching ceases, worship is forbidden. The Church is dead!
(b) And this shall last from “the midst of the week . . . Even until the consummation,” i.e., the end. This last period, then, is the tree and a half days (half a week) of Rev. XI:9, 11.
(4) As of the significance of the number 3 ½ we may say the following:
(a) The length of the “weeks” of Daniel and of this half a week cannot be determined in number of years or months or days.
(b) The 3 ½ days correspond to the 3 ½ years (1260 days) of this whole dispensation; it is a contraction of this period; all the ravings of Antichrist are packed into a short time.
(c.) That the period is numbered in days indicates that it will be a short time.
(d) That it ends in ½ indicates that “the days will be shortened.”
b. “A spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet.” This must not be allegorized; it can only mean
(1) The resurrection of the saints that have died.
(2) And the transformation of the living saints to glory. Both by the Spirit of Christ, Rom 9:11, I Cor. 15:51, 52; I Thess. 4: 13-17.
c. The glorification and justification of the saints that were persecuted and killed all the day long, shall not be in secret, but before the eyes of all the world.
(3) Whether this shall be after also the wicked shall be changed, is left out of the picture.
2. Vs. 12. a. “And they heard a great voice from heaven.”
(1) They heard, that is, the glorified and raised saints.
(2) The text does not say whose is the great voice, but judging from what it says, and from I Thess. 4:16 and Rev. 4:1 it is none other than Christ Himself that speaks.
(3) The voice calls to them: “Come up hither,” i.e., to heaven. This implies that by this voice they are empowered to ascend to heaven. Notice, that as usual, heaven is pictured as being “above” in relation to the earth.
b. “And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.”
(1) Also this may not be allegorized. Even as in vs. 11 the resurrection and transformation of the saints is described, so here their ascension into heaven. I Thess. 4:17.
(2) They ascend in a cloud. Same kind of cloud as in the transfiguration of Jesus on the mount, Matt. 17:5; and as that in which Jesus was taken up, Acts 1:9.
(3) And that again, not secretly, as some picture “the rapture,” but in the sight of their enemies.
3. Vs. 13. a. “And the same hour there was a great earthquake.”
(1) “The same hour” refers to the same period in which the witnesses are raised and glorified and taken up into heaven . Hence, not after all this takes place, but simultaneously with those events the earthquake takes place.
(2) For the earthquake see also ch. 6:12; 8:5; 1:18, 16:18.
b. “And the tenth part of the city fell.”
(1) This is the result of the earthquake.
(2) The city is the same as in vss. 2, 8: antichristian Jerusalem, Babylon, the antichristian world-power.
(3) The “tenth part” is, of course, to be taken symbolically, indicating “a complete part,” the center of the antichristian world-power.
C. “And in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand,” a large, complete number; seven with a view to the anti-christian covenant against God’s covenant. Just retribution.
D. “And the remnant were affrighted and gave glory to the God of heaven.” Not in true repentance, but see Dan. 2:47, 3:28’ 4:34 ff.; Phil 2: 10,11.

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 […]

Continue reading

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 […]

Continue reading

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 […]

Continue reading

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 […]

Continue reading

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 […]

Continue reading

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 […]

Continue reading