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Dear brother/sister in Christ,

I can truly say that I don’t know what you must be going through right now.  I have seen how they treat you and I hear the things that they say about you.  I see the Snapchat and Instagram postings that say all those terrible things about you.  It all makes me very angry and very sad at the same time.  I can’t understand why they do these things to you and I can’t understand how it must make you feel.  After spending much time in prayer seeking wisdom from God, I feel that I must help you.  I hope that through this letter I can help in two ways.  First, I want to help you deal with this within your mind and your soul.  Second, I want to help you take steps to bring this to an end.  Both of these things will involve trust, courage, and a deep love for the brother and sister in Christ.

First, remember that you have done nothing wrong to bring this on and it is not your fault.  We have to see that in all of our lives we are locked in a spiritual battle with the forces of evil and their leader, Satan himself.  Satan attacks each of us in different ways and these ways are often the points of weakness that are part of who we are and how we live our lives.  He will tempt those who are strong to use their strength in evil ways.  Those who are quiet and meek will become prey for those who would wish to raise themselves up by bringing others down.  What you are facing right now is a spiritual attack.  The devil not only wants you to feel bad about yourself and despair about your situation, he also wants you to blame God for this and hate him and your Christian brother or sister as well.  You can see this happening, can’t you?

Your life has become miserable because of the actions of those who are trying to build themselves up by bringing you down.  Everyone seems to walk away from you and leave you alone in your misery.  They don’t want to associate with you.  They don’t invite you, but they show you what you are missing.  They don’t return your texts, and they cut you off from their social media.  You know that they are talking about you and you know that nothing good is said.  That’s how they are.  I think deep down you know it, but don’t forget that you are not alone in this.  It may appear so at times.  Satan does not want you to experience God’s love or for you to experience his love through the love of a brother or sister.  But even in the worst of times you are not alone.  God is with you.  He has promised never to leave you or forsake you.  You must never forget who you are and who you belong to.  You must never forget the price that was paid for you to become his, and that he has a plan for you, including what you are going through right now.  You are a child of God whose life has been purchased by the shed blood of Jesus Christ who knows your every need and has a plan for your life.  God loves you.  God is faithful to his children and his grace will be sufficient to face every trial that he puts in our path.  You have to trust him in all things, especially in these difficult times.   He understands what you are going through.  Hebrews 4:15 reminds us of this,  “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities; but was in all  points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”  There is a beautiful hymn that puts this thought to music:

No one understands like Jesus

No one understands like Jesus, Every woe He sees and feels

Tenderly He whispers comfort, and the broken hearted heals.

Chorus: No one understands like Jesus, when the days are dark and grim

No one is so near, so dear as Jesus, cast your every care on Him.

No one understands like Jesus, when the foes of life assail

You should never be discouraged, Jesus cares and will not fail.

At times you might feel like the psalmist in Psalm 42 and ask the same question that he asks in verse 5, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me?”  But have open ears to the response to that thought in verse 8, “Yet the Lord will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.”  Psalter #115 stanzas 3 and 4 express this so well.

“Thou wilt command thy servant’s consolation, thy loving kindness yet shall cheer my day, and in the night Thy song shall be my comfort; God of my life to Thee I still will pray.

Why, O my soul, art thou cast down within me, why art thou troubled and oppressed with grief?  Hope thou in God, the God of thy salvation, hope, and thy God will surely send relief.”

Never feel hopeless about your situation.  Remember God’s promises.

Those who bully you are also a part of this spiritual battle.  They have been enlisted to serve with the forces of evil which are trying to ruin your spiritual life.  There are two ways that you could respond to this situation.  The easiest and most logical way is to hate them, seek revenge, and wish evil upon them.  Even though there may not be anything that you could do, you wish the very worst upon them and you feel good when they get into trouble.   Take to heart the words of Romans 12:17, “Recompense no man evil for evil” and in verse 19, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay saith the Lord.”   Do not retaliate.  Do not think of how you could get back at them. Do not speak evil of them to others.  “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (v. 21).

The other way to respond would be the biblical way.  How do you overcome this evil with good?  You must go against your natural inclination to hate, and instead pray for them.  Matthew 5:44 instructs us about this: “But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”  Those who bully are not your real enemy in this battle.  The real enemy is Satan and his goal is to have you turn your eyes away from and stop looking for the love of God in your life.  Satan is using the bullies in your life to bring this about.  But we know that God can reach into the lives of evil hearts to change them.  They need your help!  They need God’s help.  They are sick and their minds are not working correctly.  They often are very insecure themselves, and do these things to gain acceptance in their own circles.  They need to grow in their faith and develop in their understanding of God’s love.  If you do not pray for them and show your love for them in the proper way, they will not see the love of Christ in you.  This is why we are told to pray for those who persecute us.  Keeping them in your prayers will help you to preserve a proper attitude in your soul and allow you to continue to show that love.

The other main purpose in writing this letter is to encourage you to be active and take steps to make this activity stop.  We need to get those who bully to recognize that what they are doing is wrong and to stop doing it.  The sooner they are confronted with this sin the less likely others will be bullied as you have been.   There may be others suffering right now in the same way that you are by this same person and if he is not held accountable he will hurt others in the future.  You need to tell someone, anyone in authority that you can talk to.  Tell your parent, a teacher, counselor, or principal at school, your minister, or an adult that you work with and trust.  There are ways that this can be done privately at school so that no one knows.  This is something that you are not going to be able to do on your own, and it is going to take courage to work through this process.   But it must be done.  There is help available and you do not have to be afraid to get it.  There is a great awareness today of this problem and people are prepared to help you.  If you mention it to someone and they do not help you or take you seriously, go to someone else.  Take a friend with you if you don’t want to go alone.   Do not ignore it.  Do not isolate yourself.  It will not go away.  You may think that this is a coward’s way out or that you will end up paying the price for this by having more and worse bullying done.  In truth this is the bravest, most courageous thing that you could do.  This is the only way to get the bullying to stop for you and to protect others from this in the future.  It is also the only way for the bully to be forced to acknowledge that what he is doing is wrong and begin to change.  This must be seen as an act of love on your part for the one that is hurting you.

This is not going to be easy to do.  I am praying for you every day that God gives you comfort in your affliction and the strength to persevere and grow stronger in your faith through this trial.  Remember the text from Psalm 42, especially that part about the song?  “And in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.”  I hope that you fill your heart with that song and with prayer.  I remember a beautiful song sung by the Covenant Choir.  Go to the You Tube Channel and listen to it.   Let these words comfort you and remind you of that unfailing and everlasting love of God for you.

“Child of God” by Layton DeVries

“O child, child of God, rest assured, the Lord is with you.

When you wake up in the morning and the sun is shining down, the Lord watches over every step you take.

When the world has knocked you down and you don’t know which way to turn, rest assured, the Lord is with you.

When your friends have turned against you and you feel all alone, the Lord watches over every move you make.

He will always be right there to protect and love his child, rest assured that Lord is with you.

When darkness drifts around you, and your eyes close in sleep, you have no need to fear.  Rest assured, the Lord is with you.” 

(Search YouTube: CovenantChoirs “Child of God”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiirVlKZ7WY).

I send this with my love.

Your brother in Christ,

Rick Noorman

 

*Rick Noorman is the administrator of Covenant Christian High School in Grand Rapids, MI

Reformation. What does it mean to you? Is it merely some historical fact that you learned in school? Is it just a day that you celebrate every year by going to a lecture? How much do we really know about the Reformation? How much do we really care? After all that was almost 460 years ago!

But wait! Let’s look back and see what happened back there in 1517. It was on October 31 of that year that Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the church at Wittenburg. This event marked the beginning of the Reformation. The church that came out of the Reformation was the continuation of the true Church of Christ of which our churches today are historically a part.

Let’s take a closer look at the theses of Luther and the condition of the Roman Catholic Church at that time. The main thrust of the theses dealt with indulgences. Indulgences were pieces of paper, sold by the church to the people, that would take place of punishment for sins. It was the sale of forgiveness of sins for money! Buying an indulgence was like buying a ticket to heaven. Oh, the poor people who couldn’t afford indulgences. They would have to pay for their own sins in purgatory. After all, you must pay for your salvation. You can’t expect it to be given unto you. Following this same logic, if man can save himself in this way he can’t possibly be as bad as everyone believed he was. Certainly not totally depraved! He must have some good in him if he can will to save himself.

Martin Luther, with his 95 theses attacked the practices of indulgences and more importantly the doctrines that laid behind these practices. He also fought the idea of the free will of man in his book “The Bondage of the Will”. In this book he proclaimed that man’s will was prisoner and a slave to the will of Satan.*

So there stood Luther and his small but growing groups of Protestants on the foundation of the Scriptures. The Infallible Word of God!

But what has happened to these truths of the Reformation of 460 years ago? A large percentage of the world still claims to be Protestant. We live in a “Protestant” nation. Yet most of Protestantism lives in total disregard for the Scriptures and the truths proclaimed in the Reformation of the 16th century.

Can it be that these truths don’t apply anymore? Impossible! God and his Word are eternal and unchangeable! This is why it is so important for us to know and understand the workings of not only the 16th century Reformation, but the entire history of the church.

Today, much of the Protestant world goes along with the Roman Catholic Church of the 16th century, in proclaiming that man can have a part in his own salvation. Oh, he can’t buy indulgences, but he must fill certain quotas of good works. He must accept the offer of the gospel and let Christ into his heart. Even the church from which the Protestant Reformed Church was formed in 1924, is leaning in this direction when they claim in the second point of common grace that the Holy Spirit preserves some “good” in fallen man thus restraining the process of sin making human life and society possible. Can’t they see that these are the same errors that Luther, the leader of their Reformation fought in 1517?

We must see it! It is a beautiful heritage! We must know and understand and fight for it! We must fight with all that we have to preserve it. And all the while in our fight we must be thanking God, that he has chosen to open our eyes that we may see these truths.

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” I Cor. 15:38.

“Watch ye, stand ye fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.” I Cor. 16:13.

 

* For a more detailed account of the works of Luther and the doctrines he defended, read Rev. David Engelsma’s Pamphlet “The Reformation and Twentieth Century Protestantism”.s

The following articles are recaps of some of the discussions that took place at the convention. There were two times set aside for discussion groups. The young people were divided into groups of about 20. The Beacon Lights asked these young people to write on what discussion took place in the groups that they attended.

 

One of the discussion groups at the recent convention dealt with the arts of music, dancing, and drama. I was asked by the Beacon Lights to write on our discussion of dancing. To begin I would like to share with you the questions that were given to us to stimulate discussion.

Dancing: Can we praise God through dance today as Israel did? Why is it so wrong today? What makes it wrong, the atmosphere of the dance halls? What if you take dance out of the dance halls? Can dance be viewed as a gymnastic activity? Is there a difference in square dancing, or waltzes, or twists?

We can find many examples of the children of Israel using dance as a means of praising God. The women of Israel danced to the Lord when the hosts of Pharaoh were overcome by the waters of the Red Sea. (Ex. 15:20) David danced “with all his might” when the ark was brought to Jerusalem from the house of Obededom. (II Sam. 6:14)

We also find abuses of dancing in the Old Testament. “Moses anger waxed hot” when he returned from Mt. Sinai and found the children of Israel dancing around the golden calf.

I think today the abuses of dancing far outweigh the true dances of praise. Dancing has degenerated as a form of praise to the Creator of all things to a means of satisfying the lusts of our human flesh.

The atmosphere does not make dancing wrong. It is not any better dancing at home than in a bar if it is not done in praise to God. If it is the motive for dancing that is important I don’t think it makes a difference in the type of dance either. However a modern rock ‘n roll dance can be more suggestive than a waltz and a square dance with a caller, which seems like it could be fun for a bunch of young people to do.

Ecclesiastes 3:4 proclaims there is “a time to mourn and a time to dance”. So if you feel it is time to dance, do with Psalm 149:1 -3. “Praise ye the Lord. Sing unto the Lord a new song and his praise in the congregation of saints. Let Israel rejoice in him that made him. Let the children of Zion be joyful in their King. Let them praise his name in dance: let them sing praise unto him with timbrel and harp.” And if you praise the Lord with dance do so as David did: with all your might.

gPelagianism is a religious doctrine taught by Pelagius about A.D. 400. He taught that Adam was created mortal and would have died whether he sinned or not. His sin was not transmitted to his posterity and man can live altogether without sin. Grace or divine aid is not necessary, and man’s will is not corrupted. Every child is born in a state of innocence as Adam was, and his perseverance in virtue depends on him.

Arminianism is a heresy originating in the 17th century. It is a liberal reaction to the Calvinist doctrine of predestination. The Arminians developed the Five articles of Remonstrance in opposition to the 5 points of Calvinism. The articles of the Remon­strance are in short: (I) election and con­demnation was conditioned by the rational faith or non-faith of man, (2) the atonement, while qualitively adequate for all men, was efficacious only for the man of faith, (3) unaided by the Holy Spirit, no person is able to respond to God’s will, (4) Grace is not irresistible, and (5) believers are able to resist sin but not beyond the possibility of falling from grace.

Pelagianism and Arminianism are very similar heresies. This will be shown by a comparison of the Arminian articles of Remonstrance and the Pelagian Synod of Arles. I think it is possible that Arminius took the ideas of Pelagius, who lived 1300 years earlier and used them as a basis for his beliefs. Both of these heresies totally deny the five points of Calvinism. Pelagius denied that the whole human race fell with Adam. In this he also denies total deprav­ity, unconditional election, limited atone­ment, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints. The Arminian Articles of Remonstrance also deny these five points.

Article I of the Remonstrance denies eternal predestination or unconditional elec­tion. The Pelagians also took this stand at the Synod of Arles in 473 when they con­demned the belief “that the foreknowledge of God impels men violently towards death.” Neither the Arminians nor the Pelagians wanted to admit that the merci­ful God, the God of love, could condemn a person to eternity.

Article 2 of the Remonstrance claims that Christ died for all men and that he loves them all. This denies limited atonement. The Synod of Arles agrees with this when it condemns the belief that Christ has not undergone death for the salvation of all men.

Article 3 implies that man is not totally depraved, that he can do good. This good that he can do is to accept the offer of grace. Pelagianism says that the labor of human obedience is not to be joined with the grace of God. This, basically, says that man apart from God can do good works.

Article 4 says especially that “grace is not irresistible.” The Synod of Arles denies that after the fall of the first man free choice was utterly extinguished.

Article 5 denies perseverance of the saints. The assertion of the Synod of Arles said that he that is saved is in danger. This doctrine takes away the most beautiful and comforting fact from the Christian. The belief that God will preserve us and keep us from the hands of Satan is a most comforting drought.

I think the comparison of the Five ar­ticles of Remonstrance and the propositions condemned by the Synod of Arles in 473, shows how closely these heresies, more than 1000 years apart, resemble each other. This also gives evidence that the basic heresies keep cropping up in different forms to try and deceive the orthodox Christian world. It seems that Satan has done a good job of camouflage as we see how Arminianism is flourishing today.

The Roman Catholic church also adopted the Pelagian ideas in 1547 at the Council of Trent. They condemned those who be­lieve that the free will of man does not cooperate at all by responding to the awakening call of God. In saying this they became synergistic, that man and God must cooperate in man’s salvation.

The main opponent of Pelagius was his contemporary Augustine, Bishop of Hippo. He wrote with very strong language against the beliefs of Pelagians. In 417 at the Third Ecumenical Council the doctrines of Pelagius were first condemned. Then at the Council of Orange in 529, twenty-five canons were passed accepting most of Augustine’s teach­ings, a lot of it in his own words. But even here, in Orange, they didn’t go along with double predestination. “But not only do we not believe that some have been predes­tinated to evil by the divine power . . . .” They wouldn’t accept it that God would will someone to evil.

 

  1. The Pelagians can’t go along with the belief of total depravity because they say it would make man careless and profane. Our Heidelberg Catechism teaches against this.

 

*This article was originally written as a Church History 1 requirement at Covenant Christian High School.

The Christian is placed in many different circumstances while on this earth. Some are characterized by hardships and trials, and others are full of joy and peace. How should the Christian respond? Throughout the Bible there are numerous times where God’s people sang in response to their various circumstances. Singing in response to God’s ordering […]

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The book of Proverbs was written by King Solomon to his young adult son. Solomon’s purpose in writing Proverbs was “that the generation to come might know them [God’s wonderful works]…that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments” (Ps. 78:6–7). Throughout the book, Solomon […]

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The group of churches that John writes to in this trio of epistles had recently experienced a split because of doctrinal controversy. We do not know the exact content of the error that these false teachers were spreading, but it is apparent from John’s writing that their teaching somehow denied the truth of the incarnation—that […]

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Jael: An Example of Christian Warfare

This article was originally presented as a speech at a Protestant Reformed mini convention held at Quaker Haven Camp in August 2021. Jael lived during the era of the judges. Deborah the prophetess was the judge who served Israel at the time of Jael. During this time, the Canaanites under the rule of king Jabin […]

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Indiana Mini Convention Review 2021

One of this year’s “mini conventions” was hosted by Grace and Grandville Protestant Reformed Churches at Quaker Haven Camp. Located just over two hours away in northern Indiana, the camp was a perfect fit for the 120 kids and 15 chaperones who attended. A total of twelve different churches were represented: Byron Center, Faith, First […]

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Editorial, November 2021: Catechism Season

At the point that this edition of Beacon Lights arrives in the homes of our subscribers, most young people in the Protestant Reformed Churches will have been sitting under the catechism instruction of their pastor or elders for more than a month. If our readers are honest, that observation probably comes with a (quiet) sigh […]

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Tennessee Young People’s Retreat 2021

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

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