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In a recent issue of Beacon Lights we discussed the “uncertainty of the times” and its implications and effects upon the decisions of our young people, especially insofar as service in our armed forces creates problems in regard to the choosing of a life vocation and marriage.

We expressed the thought at that time that other departments of their lives are also touched and effected by these things, upon which we would perhaps comment at a later date.

The lives of our Christian young men who face induction are not run in the normal course which we and they would choose. The normal way would be that they live at home under parental guidance and control; that they finish their education to equip them for whatever their calling or vocation may be; that they live with and in the midst of God’s people in His church, being active in the affairs of the church such as catechism, societies, singing, etc.

They normally would commence their chosen vocation or calling and seek out a suitable life partner. This is the way we and they would choose to arrange their lives.

Now God in His providence has arranged things in such a way that the normal life of most of our boys is not to run in this usual channel. If these young men are really God’s people then this interruption of the usual routine and this channeling of their lives in their ways also comes to them in His grace, for ALL things work together for good to those who fear God and who are the called according to His purpose.

Under the present stress of troublous and uncertain times, our young men face the disruption of their lives for a time and at a time when they are in their formative years; years during which their home-life and their church-life serve as a means in Gad’s hand to instruct, guide and control them in the ways of God. They are compelled to leave the security of their homes and church and live their lives in surroundings and among companions who certainly would not be of our choosing.

The instruction in the home and in the church is designed to fit and equip the young man to assume his God-given place in the world in accordance with God’s plan and purpose with him. Knowing that in all probability he will be faced with the necessity of serving a term of years in military service, his attention may be directed to giving special thought and attention to such instruction as may specifically fit and equip him for both the defensive and offensive needs that will be his while in the service.

Defensively he has need of a sound knowledge of the truth of Scripture and Reformed doctrine, in order that he may not be easily swayed from the truth by all the pseudo and half-truth with which he will come into contact. He will need a well-grounded knowledge of God’s precepts and commandments in order that he may recognize the evil in the various and varied temptations which will continually surround and attempt to assail him. Just as his military service itself instructs him in all the art of defensively protecting his country from all its enemies, so his pre-induction training in home and school and church must serve to equip him to do battle with all the evil forces to which he will be exposed while living in the midst of an evil world find far from home and church influence.

Not mere instruction and knowledge can so fit him. Prayerful instruction and instruction in prayer are needful; prayer for grace and strength to use the knowledge received and the instruction given that, by grace, they may serve as an armor, shield, helmet and buckler against every evil in the battle.

There is also an offensive battle that must be prepared for. The young man must be equipped with the knowledge of God and thoroughly instructed in His Word in order to testify before the world in which he will be living, of the God in whom he believes. Not only must he learn to testify against the evil surrounding him, but he may also be given the opportunity to witness for the truth positively at the proper time. God may lead across his path those whom he wills shall come to a knowledge of salvation through means of his witness and testimony. For this reason also he must be well equipped to tactfully and effectively expound the word of truth and the way of salvation; God working by His grace and Spirit in such as shall be saved.

Preparing for such a task is not an easy matter. It requires much time, much thought, much study and much prayer.

The preparation can’t be put off. You will have to begin when you are very young because usually you are still quite young when the need for putting this instruction into practice becomes a reality. So—study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed.

There are many common expressions which illustrate the idea of the word conform and the idea of conformity. An example is the expression “When in Rome, do as the Romans.”

The words conformed and transformed, set in juxtaposition are derived from the Scriptures, Rom. 12:2.

The negative position is here given as an admonition against conformity to the world. This world, which we by nature love, is the world contrary to God and His precepts.

To conform to the world is so natural to us. It is so difficult to be different in custom, in word, and in walk from the rest of the world. The world, after all, sets the fashions and the “forms” to which everyone is supposed to “conform”.

In your contact at work you, no doubt, are often confronted with these things very concretely. You are asked if you’ve seen this or that movie: if you’ve heard this or that radio program or if you’ve seen a certain TV production. If you haven’t you’re considered odd, different or queer. It isn’t pleasant to our flesh to be considered thus.

It seems that so many of us are of the opinion, judging by appearance and walk at least, that the word of God admonishes us not to conform “too much” and not to conform “in everything” to the world. The idea seems to be that although we know that gross conformity like movie attendance, dances and the attendance at worldly places of amusement is not to be condoned, yet we do not make the non-conformity decisive and complete. The word of God definitely means for us to completely break with the world in every department of our life.

Conformity with the world includes, among others, our outward appearance. We judge people, and very often rightly so, by their outward appearance. We speak of “women of the world” or a “man of the world”. This we do because women by their make-up and dress, and men by their manner and behavior manifest that their minds and hearts are taken up entirely with and filled with worldliness.

We mention these examples of outward conformity with the world not because this is the only aspect of the subject about which we are admonished, but because outward appearances usually denote inward conditions and because Scripture also teaches us that “by their fruits ye shall know them.”

Another manifestation of conformity is our speech. “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt.” Outward conformity with the world is manifest more clearly by our speech than by our appearance. We refer not so much to gross swearing and cursing, but to graceless speaking and to flat, tasteless speech, which is not seasoned with salt.

Every profession and industry has its peculiar phrases and speech. By a person’s speech one can often discover what a person’s occupation is. The world has it peculiar speech by which it expresses what motivates her and what interests her, so the Christian has his distinguishing speech.

How little we use the new language we have learned which distinguishes us from the race of the man of the world and sets us apart as a “peculiar people.”

We can discuss any topic under the sun, but in doing so we must speak in the new language we have been taught, for the world discusses the same things we do, but they speak a language which expresses their own philosophy and “world and life view”. The approach to our problems and the expressions we give to our ideas and philosophies are so often conformed with those of the world about us. We are influenced by “popular” opinion, by newspapers and the views of worldly propaganda.

The “path of least resistance” is the complete conformity with the world. This includes appearance and dress, walk and conversation, act and deed, thought and motive.

The positive position admonished is one of transformation, “but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind”. To be transformed is to be different, formed anew, not fashioned after the likeness of the world but after the likeness of God and in accord with His precepts.

To be pleasing to God in everything and to have His face shine upon him in favor and approval is the earnest desire of every true child of God. It is this very thing that motivates Him. Therefore, when the word of God confronts him with the admonition to be transformed, he recognizes and confesses the holiness, justice and righteousness of the precept. His desire according to the “spirit” is to be wholly transformed, but because the “flesh” is weak and he knows that there is in him a constant warfare between the old man of flesh and the new man of the spirit, he cries “God be merciful to me a sinner” for “who is able undo these things?” God, however, who is rich in mercy and in grace, who creates in us this desire and willingness to be transformed, gives to us also the ability to be transformed. To Him be all the glory forever.

To be different, peculiar and separate, we are called.

In appearance we must not be mistaken for men and women of the world. All men must be able to discern that we are not of them. Our words and speech must manifest a soberness and piety which distinguishes us from the lightness, levity and sacrilege of the worldly man.

We must not be found “in the counsels of the ungodly, nor standing in the way of sinners, nor sitting in the seats of the scornful”.

In our private lives we should devote our time to those things which tend to draw us nearer to God rather than those which fill our minds and hearts with carnal, earthly things and so draw more into conformity with the world.     We think here of television, radio, sports, magazines, books and all those things which either “profit little” or not at all, but do positive and great harm to our spiritual life.

Let our ideas and philosophies, expressed and believed, be such as not conforming unto but transformed and different from those of the world.

Our “world and life view”, as our view of all things in the world in relation to each other and to God is often called, should be thoroughly Scriptural. On this point we perhaps differ more than on any other from nearly every Reformed church group.

God give us grace to be so transformed in appearance, in word, in deed and in motive that the world may find no common ground with us, but that God’s people may see Christ in us to the glory of the Father.

Our recent national elections have brought to the fore the perennial question of woman’s suffrage, or more particularly whether the Christian woman’s calling is to vote.

There seems to be quite some disagreement on this point. It might, therefore, be interesting and instructive to listen in on a discussion Mary and Martha are having on this very question:

Martha: “I heard recently, Mary, that you don’t vote because you believe it is not a Christian woman’s calling to vote and I, being a much younger woman than you are, thought I’d ask you about it.”

Mary: “Yes, Martha, that’s true, I don’t vote because I believe it’s contrary to Scripture. I’m glad you asked me about it because it is alarming how many women in our own churches neglect or fail to see the scriptural place of the woman.”

Martha: “I’ll admit I don’t see the principle and I have heard or read very little on these matters. Don’t you think matters such as these, affecting our practical godliness, receive very little emphasis in the preaching and writing of most of our ministers?”

Mary: “Yes, the fact that this matter of the woman’s proper sphere is so widely misunderstood is proof in itself. Our younger women especially, I presume, receive very little help in regard to some of these questions?”

Martha: “Well I voted because I think it is our duty to use the privilege we have received in this country.”

Mary: “I don’t believe you have used the proper Christian starting-point to arrive at your view. A Christian should always subject all his views and actions to the word of God before coming to a conclusion or a positive course of action. Our desire should be to know the will of the Lord in order that whatever we do may be pleasing in His sight. The government may impose duties and grant “privileges” to its citizens with which we cannot comply, or of which we cannot take “advantage”.

Martha: “Oh, I know that the government isn’t always a reliable guide for our Christian conduct, but in this case I don’t see that a women’s voting is contrary to God’s will. I voted favoring clean government and an end to corruption and communism in high places. It may even be that very important questions affecting us as Christians may someday come up. Then we will certainly be happy that we may vote.”

Mary: “Your reasoning reminds me of the Roman Catholic theory, that the end justifies the means, or as Scripture has it, to do evil that good may result. It is established by Scripture that it is not a woman’s place to vote, it surely wouldn’t do to recommend that she vote nevertheless, because the occasion demands it, or the seriousness of the question to be voted upon warrant it. God expects our obedience and He assured us that the results are safely left to Him.”

Martha: “I somewhat see your point, Mary, and I assure you I don’t want to do anything of which God disapproves.” Mary: “I’m sure you don’t and that’s why I want to make plain to you that God has decreed a definite sphere for the man and a definite one for the women, and that the one is not to trespass on the sphere of the other. By this I don’t mean that the man is superior to the women but that each has his God given sphere, the man having been created the head and the woman his helpmeet.”

Martha: “Do you, then, think that by voting a woman steps outside of her own sphere and trespasses on that which God assigned to the man?”

Mary: “Yes, when God created man to be the head and women to be his helpmeet, it implies that he is to rule and he is to speak with the authoritative voice, representing the woman and his own family. Gen. 2:24, speaking of man and woman’s relationship says that they shall be one flesh and I Cor. 11:3 says that the head of every man is Christ and the head of the woman is the m and the head of Christ is God. Eph 5:22-24 says: “Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the Church; and he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Now Scripture presents and pictures it thus—Christ is the head of His church and the church is his body. They are one. Christ only rules and speaks authoritatively. The church does not speak authoritatively (as Rome falsely teaches) but only echoes and re-echoes what Christ her head says. Now in marriage the man and the woman are the beautiful type of Christ and His body—the church. They are one flesh just as Christ and His body are one. Just as Christ only speaks with authority, so the man speaks with authority and the woman is in submission to him in all things. How can there be two voices in one body?”

Martha: “Why is it then that in recent years especially, this matter of women’s emancipation, including women’s suffrage, has gained such support?” (Mary: “It is undoubtedly, the result of the general trend of worldliness: an anti-christian tendency: a desire to be like the world and a failure to submit all our ideas and practices to God’s word! Martha: “Well, Mary, you certainly have given me something to think about.” Mary: “Don’t think that this little discussion of ours exhausts the subject but if it may, as you say, give you something to think about and humbly search His Word if these things are so, I will be deeply thankful for having had the privilege of talking to you about it.”

Will you also follow Martha’s example and think about it?

Although, in a sense, the future can always be said to be uncertain, yet at present this is the case as never before. Although there have often been periods in history when the times looked dark and the future very uncertain; the present in a very particular way can be said to be so. The previous uncertainties were usually more localized and they also did not touch every phase and department of the life of the people as they do today.

Economically we face a vicious inflationary spiral due to the piling up of a huge debt and consequent increasing demands for wage increases by labor and price-raises by manufacturers and farmers.

Politically we see a sordid picture of increasing corruption and graft; the selling of influence and protection for money and Him domination of office-holders by labor unions and other minority blocs.

Internationally we live under the constant dread of communism arid its attendant threat of war with Red Russia and her satellites.

Scientifically we live under the “shadow of the atomic cloud. The world of science itself fears the very weapon of destruction it has forged. They fear that the atom bomb and the hydrogen bomb which they have developed will one day destroy them.”

After having surveyed these categories, we still, have not touched on those of the church and the home.

The Church in general has deteriorated into a society for community uplift and welfare, and the pulpit has become a forum for expounding moral and political values. Whereas doctrines are no longer preached and much less understood, and whereas the general idea and thrust of all churches is virtually the same, a veritable rash of church merger and union in the inevitable result.

The home, which formerly was a bulwark of security and protection; where children were nurtured and taught the first principles of devotion and obedience, has become, by and large, remiss in its duties. The parents neglect the proper training of their children by word and example. The children are, as a result, disrespectful and disobedient both at home and in society. The result is that a generation arises who respect nor obey either God or man.

“What a pessimist!” you perhaps say.

Let us assure the reader that this is, however, not the purpose. The picture we have painted is quite true to fact as all of you know from reading and experience.

It is especially for our young people, who stand at the threshold of this troublous and dark life that we write. Our purpose is not to profit out the future darkly and leave it at that, but to show, by God’s grace, that in dark times God is our light and in troublous times He is our defense. How do and should we react to those facts?

We sincerely sympathize with our young men, who, when they finish their schooling face induction into the service for a period of years. They normally would choose a career or vocation for their livelihood at this period in life. Now nothing but uncertainty faces them. If a few years elapse between the time they leave school and their induction, a new problem often arises. They have perhaps met a girl with whom it is their desire to marry and set up a home. The problem then is—is it wise to marry now that induction faces them, or is it better to wait until discharged?

Our girls, although not directly affected by military service and war, are nevertheless similarly faced with their own problems. At an age when normally they are seeking and finding their future husbands, they find that the boys of their age are serving their country and often facing the threats of death by the enemy.

All these problems have a tendency to cause us to say “What’s the use?” “It’s impossible to make any plans or decisions about anything—the future is too uncertain”. This is a great danger. It is the taking of the road of least resistance. This negative attitude is never justifiable. It is not by chance that conditions in the world are as they are. Nor is it by chance that you are, at your age, faced with uncertainties in regard to your future. God requires of us that with all our heart and mind and soul and strength we serve Him. We experience that we are wholly unable in the very least way to meet this holy demand.

Obedience to God’s positive commands does not make allowances because of the uncertainties of our future or of world conditions. God demands obedience now —today—under exactly these conditions —that we live a positive life of faith. Faith is the gift of God. By faith we have the victory through Jesus Christ, our Lord. If we live out of this faith, we believe that God is sovereign that in and through all these things His kingdom is coming; that we, His people are set as a testimony to His grace in the midst of a world which lieth in wickedness. We can’t postpone this until a more stable world-order develops or until our life becomes a little less uncertain, but daily, under the most adverse circumstances, we must walk in faith as before His face. This faith strengthens us to face the future with confidence, being assured that our God does all these things and does them well. Then we wait patiently for the Lord to make His will known with regard to us, —not running ahead in our own impatience.

In regard to our boys and girls, this, in our opinion, would include that they wait with their marriage until they can establish a normal, Christian home, and in regard to our boys that they do not take the initiative by enlisting, but wait until God in His providence directs that they be drafted.

In this way they can be fully assured that they are in God’s way and may expect His blessing.

The things we have touched upon are only a few of the more prominent things in the lives of our young people that can be treated in this connection. It may be profitable for our comfort, edification and instruction to treat some of the other phases in a later issue.

Stand fast in the truth and the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wait patiently upon Him. Search His Word, Who does all things well.

We commonly speak of something being a problem when we are faced with, or are in a situation which is difficult to clear up, or for which it is difficult to find a proper solution.

In the case before us it is the “money problem.”

Now money is in that class which we call “things” or tangibles. We can see it, feel it, and handle it. Money, taken by itself is worthless and of no value. It is a medium of exchange and only in exchanging it, or the use of it, for that which it will buy has it any value. Only a miser foolishly loves money for its own sake.

The only scriptural way in which we can approach the “money problem”, or any problem pertaining to earthly and material possessions, is from the viewpoint of Christian stewardship.

A steward is a servant entrusted by his master to care for, protect, and work with goods of his master. He is accountable to his master, and if he is a good steward he will not appropriate these goods to himself, nor will he use them to his own profit but only for his master’s.

God is our Lord and Master and we are His stewards. He has given all things into our keeping as His stewards; also money. To some of His people He gives an abundance of money and to some very little, but the “problem” remains the same. We often foolishly think that the rich Christian has a problem with all his money, but that the poor Christian has not. This is surely not so. The sin of setting our hearts on earthly things is each of ours by nature. Proverbs 30 has it, “Lord, give me neither poverty nor riches; lest I be full and say, who is the Lord? Or lest I be poor and steal and take the name of my God in vain”. Blessing is not in “things” and sin is not in “things” either.

We must therefore make proper use of and teach our young people and children to make proper use of, the money God in His providence places under our care.

Exactly what may or may not be the proper use of money in every instance is rather difficult to define. If, however, the basic principle of stewardship which we have outlined is used as a basis for our decisions in each practical case that presents itself, the solution will surely not be impossible.

In order to teach our children these principles and the practical working of them, it would seem quite essential that they also eventually be given practical experience in the use of money. The exact age and amount are a matter that depends on family financial circumstances and also on the individual child’s talents and dependability in these matters. It would certainly be unwise ever to entrust sums of considerable amount to our younger children.

Spending money foolishly and wantonly is sin. Children must so be taught, but parents have also to learn and by word and example teach their children this fact.

Our desire as Christian parents is also that our teachers and school supplement our home training by instructing our children to be good stewards over the money and material things God has entrusted to their care.

God grant that in that day He may say to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”

 

(Paper given at PTA meeting, Prot. Ref. Chr. School, Oct. 9, 1952) —-S.D.Y.

The 12th Annual convention of our Protestant Reformed Young People’s Federation has drawn to a close. The young men and women, delegates and friends, have all departed and gone to their respective homes.

Your editor was not among the privileged ones who attended this wonderful convention, but from all sides come the reports of the hearty hospitality of our good Northwest Iowa people; of the sincere friendship and fellowship displayed; of the inspiration, encouragement, and comfort derived from the excellent addresses of the Revs. Hoeksema, De Wolf and Hofman. It was said also that a spirit of co-operation and unity prevailed at the meetings.

What a great means for the up-building and strengthening in the faith this convention can be for each individual attending, but greater still is that influence upon our churches as a whole, when these young people return to their respective communities and churches inspired and strengthened to resume the work in their societies for the coming season. It is always a matter of regret to us that each one of our boys and girls cannot attend the convention. We feel that some of our young people could attend if a more serious effort would be made and plans would be made early enough. In this connection we wish to call in the cooperation of our parents to not only urge their boys and girls to attend our young people’s convention, but help and even sacrifice, if need be, for this purpose.

Under God, the fellowshipping of our young people with one another in their society meetings and conventions is the greatest means we can use to promote the forming and cementing of friendships and ties which bear spiritual fruit for themselves, the Church and God’s Kingdom.

The Old Testament church was continually warned against mingling with the surrounding peoples. This was a negative admonition. We feel that we can apply this in a positive admonition to our young people. They should seek and promote fellowship among each other, namely among those whose confession and walk is similar. In so doing we strengthen our own and each other’s spiritual life and guard against forming those friendships which eventually lead us away from the truth we love and the church we hold dear.

Parents! Promote, make opportunity for, and urge your sons and daughters to cultivate friendships and fellowship with other young people of our own, and in so doing you can expect God’s blessing to attend your and their way. See that they attend society and other meetings of our young people faithfully, that they may not be as some young people among us who are virtual strangers to our church and people. Surely it is no wonder that most of these drift away from our fellowship entirely.

And now ABIDETH faith, hope, charity, these three.

As we said in our commencement, the young people have all gone to, their respective homes and communities. Hull, whose homes and streets rang with

cheery, youthful voices has again resumed its usual quiet; but these three— faith, hope and charity abide. They abide in the hearts of all God’s people for these are His rich gifts which He freely showers as His blessings on all those that love Him; that are the called according to His purpose from everlasting.

Young people, rethink the excellent addresses you heard on these three all important subjects; and may a Lively Faith, an Abiding Hope and a Fervent Love be yours from the Father of Lights forever and forever.

Thanks, Hull, for showing our young people a wonderful time!

“For I know that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods. Whatsoever the Lord pleased that did he in heaven, in earth, in the seas, and all deep places.”—Psalm 135:5, 6.

 

Our purpose in desiring to write on the subject of God’s Sovereignty is that it is the basic truth. All truth and all doctrine roots, in and stems out of this primary principle.

We cannot too strongly emphasize the fact that if you truly hold in all its implications, the truth of God’s absolute sovereignty, you essentially have all truth and contrariwise, if you in any degree and in any implications, deny or let slip this basic truth of God’s absolute sovereignty you have essentially lost all truth and all pure doctrine.

Although there are many, relatively speaking, who still give lip service to the truth of God’s Sovereignty; there are few, very few, who consistently hew to the line. Remember that it is exactly at this juncture that the point of departure occurs.

Quite naturally the question now arises in your mind—“Why is this the point of departure?”—“Why stumble at this truth?” The answer is not far-sought. We are all, by nature, very proud and conceited creatures. This is a truth that is not only attested to by Scripture but which, if we are honest with ourselves, also our own experience will verify. To confess that we are absolutely nothing and can do nothing—“incapable of doing any good and inclined to all evil,” (H. Cat. Lord’s Day 3) is possible only by God’s grace, and is indeed very humbling.

If there is one thing in particular that distinguishes man by nature it is this lack of humility. We, over and again, wish to hear our own praises sung and our own accomplishments applauded and this at the expense of, nay, to the exclusion of, the praise of the Sovereign God.

Make no mistake now in supposing that this self-exultation and this negation of God’s Sovereignty is usually done openly and brazenly—Oh no! But the blow to our pride must be softened. Take for instance the phrase from the H. C. which we just quoted, “incapable of doing any good and inclined to all evil.” The quotation is usually explained as, if it read “incapable of doing any spiritual good and inclined to all spiritual evil.” Man, it is reasoned, can do many things, pleasing to God, in matters temporal and civil and he is not inclined to all evil continually but this is the case only in spiritual things. This is of course pure human reasoning based upon human observation without the light of God’s revelation and Holy Spirit. Humbly bowing before God’s Word and spiritual search of our own motives and experience would teach otherwise. The desire to exult self, contrary to what God plainly teaches in His word, is a denial of His absolute sovereignty. It is plainly the desire to soften the blow to human pride that motivate those who so pervert God’s Word and our confessions. They teach that man is not wholly incapable of doing any good and inclined to all evil and that continually.

The Word of God and experience teaches that as long as man does not consider his condition to be hopeless, he has hope in himself; and as long as he does not consider himself dead he does, not seek the Life. God’s sovereignty can only and absolutely be maintained if we also maintain the total depravity and incapability of man by nature. So God wills it and so He reveals Himself to us in His Word—Soli Deo Gloria—To God be ALL the glory. He purposed from all eternity to raise up a people who would show forth His praise and confess His sovereignty—“He is our God and we are His people.” We can never bow deeply enough into the dust before Him, nor can human lips or tongue ever sufficiently exalt and praise the Sovereign God Who is the God of Gods and King of Kings.

The truth of God’s sovereignty is the source of our greatest joy and comfort. It assures us that He is able to do all that He has. promised; that all things are in his hand, that nothing happens but that which He has planned, that His people are safe whatever may happen, and that He will surely bring us through this life into His glorious and eternal Kingdom.

Hold fast to the scriptural truth of God’s absolute Sovereignty and never let it slip.

Do you have any bad habits?

We commonly speak of habits as being either good or bad, and by habits we sometimes mean practices which, through constant repetition, are done without a conscious act of the will. Habits may also refer to the manner in which we go about the routine matters of our life.

There is a distinct difference between habit and what we call instinct. A baby is normally born with certain inherent qualities by which, without being taught, it cries and coos, and sucks; this we call instinct. God has so created a child that without receiving instruction in these things it does them, as we say, instinctively. It is, however, necessary to teach a child to speak, to write, or sing. This teaching may be accomplished first of all by example and demonstration and later by explanation and command and finally by reading and study.

Thus also habits are formed, for if a child repeatedly sees or hears a thing said or done, he will also say and do the same thing, and it becomes a habit.

Thus we see how marvelously God endows the child with latent qualities, which, when labored with, produce the result of its being able to repeat what vis explained and to duplicate what is demonstrated to him. Therefore it is so tremendously important, even to the infant and very young child, what it sees and hears.

The educational world in general fully recognizes these facts also, although not ascribing the marvels of it to God, yet using and working with them to try to produce qualities which it terms character, morality and good citizenship. It also attaches tremendous importance to what a young child is taught and how it is taught. It believes that not only example, but also its environment plays a very important role in the development of a child. Forming good habits early in life produces good character, they say. It is strange that although knowing and recognizing these facts, the world so often fails to follow and live up to its own standards and ideals.

Now what must we say who profess to live by and out of the Word of God? We also recognize the fact that a child normally repeats what it sees and hears, and we also think it to be of the utmost importance that the child be made to see and hear, by example and precept, that which is good.

What then is different about our approach, and how do we conceive of habits?

Essentially our approach is diametrically opposed to that which we commonly come into contact with, because the child is usually presented as being naturally good, although undeveloped. This development, if properly nurtured in a suitable environment, under capable leadership and good example, will produce excellent results. We, on the other hand, by the authority of the Word of God, confess that the child (man) is, by nature, depraved—“incapable of doing any good and inclined unto all evil”—dead!

This confession necessitates that we view the facts in an altogether different light than the world does. They begin with a naturally good child and we begin with an evil one. They commence with a live one; we with one dead by nature.

These opposing views produce also opposing results, for we believe, again by the authority of the Word of God, that given all the suitable environment, all the proper nurture, and all the capable leadership and good example, the end result is still a “dead” child. It is like a dead tree, which, the more one waters and fertilizes, the more rapidly the decay progresses.

Can we in the light of the foregoing in any sense speak of teaching a child good habits or of helping him to form good habits?

Not surely, if by teaching or forming good habits is meant that a child naturally dead and unregenerate can be taught to do things good and pleasing to God, nor can such a child be aided to form habits that might produce this result.

In what sense can we then speak of good and bad habits, and must we teach our children good habits?

It must be borne in mind that God does not look on the outward habit but on the inward motive and that only that can be pleasing to the Holy God which is done out of the motive of love to Him and a desire that His Name alone may by it receive all the praise. Measure all your deeds and words and thoughts by that absolute standard and you will be forced to confess that all your works are as filthy rags—“God be merciful to me a sinner.”

We must seek a suitable environment, give capable leadership and good example to our children according to God’s Word. We must teach them good habits and warn and admonish them to refrain from all bad habits.

We do not mean to confine this as referring only to our young children, for it surely pertains to each one of us. We must cultivate good habits and must continually fight against the bad habits which we so easily form and follow.

You have, no doubt, often heard the remark in sermon and prayer that our coming to church and our coming to God in prayer must not be out of custom or habit. By this is meant a formal, superficial, outward coming to the church building without a spiritual hungering and thirsting to come to God’s house to hear His Word speak to us and to feast on His spiritual food and drink, which builds and nourishes our fainting souls and laves our spiritual thirst—or on the other hand a lethargic mumbling of a few words and phrases without a pouring forth of our hearts and a lifting of our souls in praise to God in prayer. This is truly an abomination to God.

God is a God of means and therefore we take our small children upon our knees and teach them the habit of prayer and later take them by the hand and lead them to church, so that they may learn the church-going habit. We send them to catechism and later to societies in order that God, by grace may use these things as means in His hand to bring our children unto Himself. Thus not mere outward form and custom, but habits sanctified by God’s grace are pleasing to Him and are surely enjoined upon us and upon our children as means that we may grow thereby.

We learn by doing and form habits by repeatedly doing. Let us then do that which is good in His sight in order that, by doing that which is good and fleeing from evil, we may grow in sanctification and grace.

“Little children, keep yourselves from evil.”

Words are, when rightly consider­ed, a never-failing source of wonder, and amazement. We point to this wonder which God has provided as the greatest means of revelation, fellowship and com­munion, in order that we may behold the marvelous works of God and magnify and praise Him. Without His words we cannot rightly know God and except we have words we cannot give utterance or expression to our praise of Him.

In the Gospel of John the first chap­ter, the Only Begotten of the Father is called THE Word. He, we are told, was with God and He is God from the beginning. This Word came into our flesh and dwelt among us in such a manner that we could see Him and be­hold His glory.

This Word, in the eternal counsels of the trinity, counselled and decreed to reveal Himself. This revelation of Him­self to us He calls His word; the Word of God. All that He reveals of Him­self is called His word. This word is a living, powerful and efficacious word. It is spoken of in Scripture as a word of life, a word of righteousness, a word of wisdom, a word of knowledge, a word of salvation, a gracious word, a pure word, a holy word, etc.

Glory be to His name for giving us this word of revelation. What a source of joy and comfort it gives us, His people. We do not begin to appreciate it as we aught. It is often only when we are deprived of a thing that we truly see its greatness and value. Our young men in the service often speak of their bibles as their best friends for when they are far from home and friends they find that their bibles give them a source of strength and comfort such as they perhaps never experienced so fully before. Read the word prayerfully and faithfully and you will experience in­creasingly that it is a never-failing fountain of strength and that it is migh­ty, in those that believe, unto eternal life.

God in His eternal wisdom and good pleasure gave us His revelation in the form of words. These were given, as both spoken and written, in human language. Spoken, first by Himself and out of His own mouth, as for instance to Adam, Abraham and Moses and to many others, especially in the old dis­pensation and also thru the mouth of His prophets who often prefaced their prophecies with “thus saith the Lord”. Therefore also God is spoken of, as in a figure of speech, as having a mouth and lips and a voice. This same God, the Epistle to the Hebrews tells us, “hath in these last days also spoken unto us by His Son”. The words of Jesus spoken in the hearing of the people and preserved for us in the New Testament represent the final phase of the revelation by means of the directly spoken word of God.

Besides this directly spoken word of God we have the written word of God which He revealed to His servants the prophets and apostles, the “holy men of old who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost”. This written word was given to us also in human word and language capable of being read and un­derstood by every people and nation, for although originally written in the Hebrew and Greek languages, God wonder­fully provided for its translation into nearly every language and dialect used by man.

What a marvel of providence that God created us with the faculty and ability to conceive of words with which to give expression to our thoughts and also the knowledge and capability of receiving and comprehending the thoughts of others. Nearly all fellowship and com­munion with our fellowmen would be impossible without words as the means.

Far surpassing this fact in impor­tance however is the fact that without words our knowledge of, and fellowship with, God, would be impossible for by His word He makes Himself known to us and we give expression to our love and thankfulness to God our Maker and our Saviour, by our words.

Words are thoughts, either spoken or written and are, in the case of the spo­ken word, sounds. Written words are symbols.

Sounds are vibrations set up in the voice-box and modulated, framed and produced with the aid of mouth, lips and tongue in such a marvelous way that they become intelligible to others. How little thought we give to the wonder of creation and providence that the or­gans of our speech display. The vibra­tions so produced are, in turn, taken up, in the recipient, by that equally marvel­ous organ called the ear and relayed to the brain where they are interpreted and become words; to him who hears them.

What, you may ask, is the purpose of all this? We have already somewhat touched upon this in the foregoing but we will also mention a few things God in His word has to tell us in regard to words. The words that God speaks are spiritual and although we can hear them with our ears and see them with our eyes yet we cannot rightly compre­hend them because we do not, by nature, have spiritual discernment. That is the reason also that we are exhorted to pray for hearing ears and seeing eyes and understanding hearts. We can even go a step further and say that we are not only unable but also wholly unwilling to hear and understand His word for it is entirely repugnant to us except His Spirit renew us. This hearing and see­ing and understanding are gifts of God’s grace which His Holy Spirit gives to His children. It is indeed marvelous what light is shed on God’s word when our eyes are opened to it and our hearts are made receptive. We are made to see it then as a word spoken to our­selves personally. We love it and em­brace it and are filled with love to Him who wrote it to us, much as a lover re­ceiving a letter from her espoused one. This is beautifully and spiritually por­trayed in the Song of Solomon where Christ and His bride, the church, are typically pictured as lovers.

This word of God is also said to be “Powerful.” So powerful is this word that it can “cast down strongholds”. These strongholds are our hard and im­penitent hearts, words so powerful, that they can break our hard hearts of flint and make them soft and receptive to His grace. It is also a “two-edged sword” that “pierces even to the divid­ing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow”. It is unto life and unto death—unto life in those that believe and unto death in those who reject it; life for all His elect; death for the reprobate.

Upon this our earthly path the word is a lamp and a light in such, a way that it illumines our way and reveals God’s will with regard to us in all things. Above all it is a word of salvation and eternal life in the sense that it reveals the full counsel and purpose of God in Christ Jesus in the matter of our salvation. It is a veritable mine of treasure which, if we dig deeply into, will yield rich spiritual treasure far surpassing the gold of Ophir and all the diamonds of Kimberly. This is indeed treasure that rusts not nor decays and which thieves cannot break thru unto and steal. Search diligently and prayerfully and may all the rich promises of His word be fulfilled in you unto your salvation and unto His endless praise.

Seeing then we have this precious word of God as His gift of free grace should not our words also manifest a proper relationship and conformity with the perfect word? Our words to Him should be His words, in us and thru us, back to Him. All our words are lies and it is only when we speak His words that we speak truth indeed. If it is impossible, except by faith, to please God, it is also impossible to think or write anything pleasing to God except we be renewed by His Spirit. For every idle word we speak we shall be judged! How carefully then should we watch over our thoughts and words and pray continually, “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips,” and “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer”.

With words we bless God and with words we curse our neighbor. We perform the chief part of our thankfulness unto God, namely, our prayers, by means of words and yet perhaps the chief part of our sin before God and men is also performed by the same means. These things ought not to be so. Heed the words of the preacher in Ecclesiastes who says “Be not rash with thy mouth and let not thine heart be hasty to utter anything before God: for God is in heaven and thou upon earth; therefore let thy words be few”. May God grant us a greater love and devotion to His word and may we, by His grace, learn daily to serve Him, in word, in thot and in deed.

 

Where is that elusive thing called Peace and what is it?

Surely it is not in Korea riding the rumbling, B re-spurting tanks which spew destruction against the Red positions.

Not in the sub-zero wilds of Alaska on torturous 30-40 below maneuvers?

Or in the breast of him who lies pain racked, emaciated and wan, cancer ebbing away the last flickerings of life?

Could it be in the soul of her from whose arm an only dear child has been torn by the grim specter of death?

But yes, it’s there in Korea and under just such circumstances.

Yes, and in Alaska too, under just such grueling hardships and on that sick and death bed, and also in the soul of her whose only child is snatched away.

Always?—Everyone?

No, for my Lord saith—“there is no peace, unto the wicked.”

So it’s to the righteous?

Yes, to the righteous the Lord saith—“Peace through Jesus Christ our Lord who died for you and Rose again.”

Rose again, you say, what has His resurrection to do with Peace?

Everything!

He took upon Himself our flesh, humbling Himself and suffering in it.

He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.

He died under God’s terrible wrath against our sin, upon Calvary’s cruel tree.

He suffered and endured all of Hell’s agony and curse.

But because He endured and was perfectly obedient, tasting the last degree of God’s judgment and perfectly righteous wrath against sin He could be held by death’s bands and hell’s bonds no longer. By that same perfect righteousness of God He had to be pronounced guiltless and the wrath of God against sin wholly satisfied.

So, to us, therefore, who are in Him are also credited (or imputed) these same benefits of guiltlessness and satisfaction.

When Jesus had fully satisfied all the demands of God’s righteous law the grave could hold its victim no longer.

The grave was the symbol of victory for the enemy, the devil.

A hollow victory it was however, for although the strongest natural barriers prevented Him and Rome’s choicest soldier-guard stood watch, yet the rocky cavern and the mighty boulder availed nothing and Rome’s most courageous, fled, before the might and awe of the Victorious One.

The resurrection is to us the symbol of His victory.

At the very moment when the prince of this world seemed completely victorious, when he not only had seen the hoped and longed-for One, crucified and dead, but even safely laid away and buried in the tomb, the victory and triumph slipped and vanished from his grasp and complete rout and defeat were his.

For Christ arose! He quitted the tomb, the enemy’s victory symbol—and assumed His own triumph—the glorious resurrection.

This victory spells peace.

If a soldier riding the tanks could be completely certain of victory he would have peace.

So also him who suffers hardships and pain and loss. If the victory is sure then, and then only, can we have perfect peace.

Now in Jesus Christ, our Lord, we have the certain victory and peace— peace like a river—peace beyond compare.

The world seeks peace. It seeks frantically with all the powers of science, ingenuity and might at its command. For proof read the newspapers and magazines. Listen to the speeches and radio utterances which daily plead in various ways for your cooperation to make this world a place of peace. What is and has been the result? Simply more and greater confusion. Why? “There is no peace,” said my Lord, “unto the wicked.” They deny and reject and cast out the Prince of Peace Who rose again. The most they can ever attain unto is a sham victory and a camouflage peace which will terminate in final destruction and desolation.

To you who seek peace— the peace that passeth understanding—where ever you are and under whatever circumstances you may find yourselves, take courage and rejoice greatly, for Christ is risen indeed and because He is victorious you shall not only inherit the everlasting peace with Him, but even now, while in the midst of death you have peace—peace of heart—peace of mind and peace in your soul.

All is well! Christ is risen!

Peace!

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