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The following are extractions from the ‘‘Form of Ordination of the Ministers of

God’s Word” “….. What this holy office enjoins . . . . . .”

“First, that they faithfully explain to the flock the word of the Lord, revealed by the writings of the prophets and apostles; and apply the same as well in general as in particular, to the edification of the hearers, instructing, admonishing, comforting and reproving, according to everyone’s need . . .”

To which the candidate for the ministry of the Word promises at the end of the ceremony in front of the whole church . . . .”  “Yes, truly, with all mv heart,”  Pages 67 and 68 in back of the Psalter,

I am a member of the flock of Christ and desire an explanation of God’s Word which the ministers are in duty bound to give as they promised God when they were ordained. Please explain these three sets of verses, extracted from the Bible and answer the questions attached to the close of this article.

a.  Ill John vs. 9-10

“I wrote unto the church but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the pre-eminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content there with, neither doth lie himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would and casteth them out of the church.” In these verses John is writing to Gaius his well-beloved repeating a bad report he had listened to. Is he “gossiping.” If not, why not?

b.  I Corinthians chapter 5 verses 1-4

“It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.

And ye are pulled up and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.

For I verily as absent in the body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though 1 were present concerning him that hath so done this deed.”

So writes St. Paul to the Corinthians. He has heard a terrible report about a brother in the church. Was he listening to “gossip”?  Is he spreading “gossip”? If not, why not? Notice he was not present to personally witness this deed.

c.  I Samuel Chapter 2 verses 22-24

“Now Eli was very old and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil doings by all this people. Nay my sons for it is no good report [evil report – brackets — my words] that I hear: ye make all the Lord’s people to transgress.”

In I Samuel Chapter 3 verse 13 God tells Samuel concerning Eli, “For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth, because his sous made themselves vile, and he restrained them not.”

In these verses Eli hears an evil report about his sons but does not remove them from the ministry. Were the people “gossips”? Was Eli listening to “gossip”? God was right in saying Eli should have taken action on the basis of these evil reports but Eli, unlike the apostle Paul did nothing, therefore both Eli and his sons die on the same day (I Samuel chapter 4 verses 17-I8), and the glory of God departs from Israel (1 Samuel, chapter 4 verse 22).

Now in the Standard Bearer Rev. M. Schipper uses the word “gossip” in the February 1, 1968 issue on page 196 and Rev. Heys uses the word gossip 11 different times — three times in the April 1. .1968 issue of the Standard Bearer, pages 299-300, one time in the March 15, 1968 issue, page 276, and seven times in the April 15, 1968 issue, pages 322 and 323. Besides this, student Richard Moore has used it once in the Beacon Lights, February 196S issue (page 1) of his editorial. How many more times this word has been used in various articles 1 do not know.

Since both Rev. Heys and Rev. Schipper and student Richard Moore have used this word in public and said that listening to gossip is wrong, what would they say Eli, the priest, St. Paul and St. John were doing in the above three sets of scripture verses? How would you explain this? Please tell our readers what definition our denomination attaches to the word “gossip.” Please explain what you mean by the word “gossip” when you designate it as being evil.

Would the above ministers and seminarian be willing to write some articles for the Beacon Lights on the word gossip and also allow our readers to reply to them in the same magazine. Since you continue to use the word “gossip” in public, please explain and answer these questions in public for the edification of all the flock of Christ as you promise in your ordination vows.

The following are extractions from the ‘‘Form of Ordination of the Ministers of God’s Word” “….. What this holy office enjoins . . . . . .

“First, that they faithfully explain to the flock the word of the Lord, revealed by the writings of the prophets and apostles; and apply the same as well in general as in particular, to the edification of the hearers, instructing, admonishing, comforting and reproving, according to everyone’s need . . .”

To which the candidate for the ministry of the Word promises at the end of the ceremony in front of the whole church . . . .”  “Yes, truly, with all my heart,” Pages 67 and 68 in back of the Psalter,

I am a member of the flock of Christ and desire an explanation of God’s Word which the ministers are in duty bound to give as they promised God when they were ordained. Please explain these three sets of verses, extracted from the Bible and answer the questions attached to the close of this article.

a. Ill John vs. 9-10

“I wrote unto the church but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the pre-eminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content there with, neither doth lie himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would and casteth them out of the church.” In these verses John is writing to Gaius his well-beloved repeating a bad report he had listened to. Is he “gossiping.” If not, why not?

b. I Corinthians chapter 5 verses 1-4

“It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.

And ye are pulled up and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.

For I verily as absent in the body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present concerning him that hath so done this deed.”

So writes St. Paul to the Corinthians. He has heard a terrible report about a brother in the church. Was he listening to “gossip”?  Is he spreading “gossip”? If not, why not? Notice he was not present to personally witness this deed.

c. I Samuel Chapter 2 verses 22-24

“Now Eli was very old and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil doings by all this people. Nay my sons for it is no good report [evil report – brackets — my words] that I hear: ye make all the Lord’s people to transgress.”

In I Samuel Chapter 3 verse 13 God tells Samuel concerning Eli, “For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth, because his sous made themselves vile, and he restrained them not.”

In these verses Eli hears an evil report about his sons but does not remove them from the ministry. Were the people “gossips”? Was Eli listening to “gossip”? God was right in saying Eli should have taken action on the basis of these evil reports but Eli, unlike the apostle Paul did nothing, therefore both Eli and his sons die on the same day (I Samuel chapter 4 verses 17-I8), and the glory of God departs from Israel (1 Samuel, chapter 4 verse 22).

Now in the Standard Bearer Rev. M. Schipper uses the word “gossip” in the February 1, 1968 issue on page 196 and Rev. Keys uses the word gossip 11 different times — three times in the April 1. .1968 issue of the Standard Bearer, pages 299-300, one time in the March 15, 1968 issue, page 276, and seven times in the April 15, 1968 issue, pages 322 and 323. Besides this, student Richard Moore has used it once in the Beacon Lights, February 196S issue (page 1) of his editorial. How many more times this word has been used in various articles I do not know.

Since both Rev. Heys and Rev. Schipper and student Richard Moore have used this word in public and said that listening to gossip is wrong, what would they say Eli, the priest, St. Paul and St. John were doing in the above three sets of scripture verses? How would you explain this? Please tell our readers what definition our denomination attaches to the word “gossip.” Please explain what you mean by the word “gossip” when you designate it as being evil.

Would the above ministers and seminarian be willing to write some articles for the Beacon Lights on the word gossip and also allow our readers to reply to them in the same magazine. Since you continue to use the word “gossip” in public, please explain and answer these questions in public for the edification of all the flock of Christ as you promise in your ordination vows.

“I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries shall not be able to resist.”  Luke 21:15

 

Reading this verse, many times the very opposite seems true. Have you ever tried to talk to ungodly men and explain and argue from Scripture concerning a point of doctrine or concerning the walk of a Christian? Have you ever tried to point out an error to such people basing your argument on Scripture and seeking in love to try and win such a one to Christ?  I’ve spent hours using the wisdom and power of speech which I believed was Christ’s gift to me. Did they continue to resist …? Not only did they continue to resist, but their hatred mounted and their last state was worse than their first and I left in dismay. What had I done wrong? Where had I failed? Did I misinterpret Scripture? Not enough love on my part? Did Christ make a mistake? These and other thoughts passed in review before my mind’s eye.

It doesn’t hurt so bad if you try to explain, to the man on the street and fail, you can always say, “Well after all he doesn’t belong to a church, knows very little Scripture and maybe doesn’t even know Christ.” But what really hurts is when you talk to a fellow Christian and get nowhere, then you are hurt! Your trusted friend, perhaps the man you work with who goes under the banner of a Christian, someone you respected, these all turn a deaf ear to Scripture and turn on you!

Brother, I tell you, do some deep soul searching, but better still do some deep Bible searching, pray for wisdom and the Lord who upbraideth not will give liberally whatsoever you ask. Seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you. You will understand, and peace will flood your soul!

The answer came to me one night, as I lay in bed reading “Bondage of the Will” while sad and disillusioned. I stumbled across the answer — no, in God’s providence He directed me.

States Luther,

“But if our mouth is weak at this point, so that our adversaries can resist, His statement that no adversary should be able to resist our mouth is false. However, this inability of our adversaries to resist does not mean that they are forced to abandon their view, or persuaded to acknowledge the truth, or to be silent. Who can force men against their will to believe or confess their error or be silent? What chatters more than an empty head? says Augustine. What is meant by their mouth being stopped, is that they have nothing to say in reply, and though they may say a great deal in reply, yet the judgement of common sense is that they say nothing. This is best demonstrated by examples.

When Christ in Matthew 22 silenced the Sadducees (vv. 23ff) by proving the resurrection of the dead with a Scripture quotation from Moses in Exodus 3 (“I am the God of Abraham,” etc. [Exodus 3;6], He is not the God of the dead but the living”) they were not able to resist or gainsay. But did they therefore give up their view? How often did He confute the Pharisees with the plainest Scriptures and arguments, so that the people could clearly see that they were worsted, and indeed they knew it themselves. None the less they continue to oppose him.

Stephen so spoke, Acts 7 tells us, that, on Luke’s testimony ‘they could not resist the spirit and wisdom with which he spake’ (Acts 6:10). But what did they do? Yield? No! Maddened by-mortification at being worsted, and by their own inability to resist, they shut their ears and eyes and suborned false witnesses against him (6:1lf). See how he confutes his opponents as he stands before the council! Having listed God’s mercies from the beginning of the nation’s life and proved that God never commanded a temple to be built for Him (for that was what he was on trial about, the dispute centered there), at length he grants that there was a temple built under Solomon. Then he takes up that point as follows: ‘But the Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands!’ To prove it, he quotes from chapter 66 of the prophet Isaiah. What is the house that ye build unto me? (v. 1). Tell me, now what could they reply against so plain a Scripture? Yet they continued unmoved in attachment to their own view. Where upon he attacks them directly saying, ‘Ye uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy-Ghost! etc. He says that they do resist, though they could not resist.” (1)

I jumped out of bed, ran about oh, twenty feet into the living room — to the bookcase — grabbed a Calvin commentary and looked up Acts 6:10 where we find written. “And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he (Stephen) spake.” But did these church officials continue to resist Stephen? They certainly did — they resisted him to the death. Stephen paid for his defense with his life, for they stoned him to death. Acts 7 vs. 58.

In Acts 7 vs. 54 and vs. 57 we find written the reaction of ungodly men to the truth of the “Word of God. These men mind you, were men of the so-called church. It isn’t much different today. Vs. 54. “When they heard these things, they were cut to

the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.” And vs. 57, “Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears and ran upon him with one accord.” And vs. 58 — “And cast him out of the city and stoned him . . .”

Calvin commenting on these verses says this concerning vs. 54 —

“At the beginning the proceedings had some appearance of justice, but in the end the judges cannot contain their anger. His speech is first broken off by a murmuring and rustling of disagreement. Then they break into a tumult of hostile shouts, so that no voice may penetrate their ears. After that they drag the holy man off to death. Now Luke gives a very fine description of what great power Satan has in driving on the adversaries of the Word. When he says that they were broken apart within he means that they were not simply burning with anger; but were stirred up by frenzy. And that fury breaks out into gnashing of teeth, like a violent fire into flame. All the reprobate, over whom Satan rules, are of necessity affected in this way, when they hear the Word of God. And the nature of the Gospel is to drive to madness hypocrites, who could previously have presented a mild appearance, just like a drunkard who is suddenly roused up when he is trying to get to sleep. Therefore, Simeon, ascribes to Christ as His own, the property ‘to disclose the thoughts of many hearts’ (Luke 2:35). Yet this ought not to be attributed to the doctrine of salvation, for it has been intended rather to serve the purpose of subduing the minds of men, and then changing them to obedience to God. But the truth is that, when men’s minds are in Satan’s grip, if they are being pressed by the Word, impiety is bound to break out. This is, therefore, an accidental evil. Nevertheless, we are warned by these examples that we must not entertain the hope that the Word of God will call everybody back to soundness of mind: and this teaching is very necessary to maintain our perseverance. Those who carry the burden of teaching cannot perform it and carry it thru faithfully, without bringing themselves into a sharp clash with those who despise God. Now since impious men who make light of the majesty of God, are never lacking, it is frequently necessary to have recourse to vehemence like Stephen’s. For we have-no right to close our eyes to it, when God’s honor is being taken away from Him. But what will the outcome of that be? Their impiety will be the more inflamed; and so we shall appear to be pouring oil upon the flames, as the saying goes. But whatever the results may be, yet we must not spare the ungodly but we must powerfully suppress them, even if they are bound to spew out all the furies of hell. And it is certain that those, who wish the ears of the ungodly to be soothed with pleasing things, have not so much an eye for success, as that they are soft because of fear of danger. But as for ourselves, even if the result may not always correspond to our wishes, let us realize that firmness in declaring the teaching of godliness is a sweet-smelling sacrifice to God.” (2)

Notice, in particular, what the ungodly church officers do in the case of Stephen’s trial. Stephen brings them the word of God but they do not refute Stephen’s arguments by Scripture. This is what is meant in the 15th vs. of Luke chapter 21, “… all your adversaries shall not be able to resist.” This council does not refute Stephen’s arguments by Scripture, they cannot and they know it, so what do they do — they resist all the more vehemently, not with the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of Cod, but by physical force. Vs. 57 tells us they stopped their ears, they would hear no more appeals from Stephen, wouldn’t listen to these appeals.

They also cast him out of their midst. Vs. 58. Get rid of him! Not able to resist the force of Scripture, refusing to answer Scripture with Scripture they resort to force and legalism.

But praise be to God, Stephen rested his case in the hands of the Lord. Vs, 59, “. . . Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” God doesn’t need the reprobate Jew to carry on in the work of His Church. He built himself a new church of which he is the head. Praise be to God, He is not dependent on us but we on Him. May His marvelous wisdom be granted to all those that love Him.

 

  1. Martin Luther’s “Bondage of The Will.’ Published by Revell Company, West-wood, New Jersey. Translated by J. I. Packer and O. R. Johnston, pp. 129-131.

2.  Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries, Acts of the Apostles, Vol. I. Translated by W. J. G. Me Donald, Eerdmans Publishing House, pp. 216-217.

With the exception of John Calvin I met and spoke to each one personally and even prayed with one in a little group of five. All of these men have passed on to their reward, they are no longer pilgrims and strangers on the earth. One of the outstanding ministers was Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse pastor for 30 years or more of the Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, He was the author of over a dozen books and editor of “Eternity” magazine which is still in circulation today. His weekly sermons were carried from coast to coast over a national network of radio stations. As a minister in the Presbyterian Church, he never deviated an inch from the fundamental doctrines of the Bible although his denomination was completely modernistic. He always preached on the book of Romans, stressing election and reprobation. He was a spell binder, one loved to hear his sermons. I can remember the Sunday a friend of mine first told me about his sermons. “Brother you should hear them, the real Reformed Truth.” So I listened, Sunday after Sunday over the radio and he was right. One day I read in the local newspaper that he was coming to Tucson, Arizona and that he would preach in the Mountain View Presbyterian Church, one of the most beautiful and modem churches of that city. This was in July of 1953. Of course I had to hear him. The place was packed. A friend of mine and myself sat side by side listening to the introductory remarks of the speaker on the pulpit. In back of the pulpit sat the famous Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse and lesser church officials. Dr. Barnhouse was a handsome man even at the age of around 55 or 60. He was of rather stocky build, medium height, had a square firm dimpled chin, curly hair, displayed an infectious smile offset by deep seated twinkling eyes set far apart in a broad forehead. He impressed one as being kind and loving without being mushy and sentimental. He also impressed me as being a deep thinker. Dr. Barnhouse would be immediately noticed in a crowd as one of an outstanding personality. Dr. Barnhouse was at that time very nervous and to my surprise and astonishment constantly chewed on a white handkerchief held in his right hand while the introductory remarks were being made. When the time came for him to speak, he put away the handkerchief and held his audience spellbound while he preached. Alter the sermon a little crowd gathered about him of which I was one. I finally got to say a few words to him. “Tell me, I said, where? oh! where? in this city can I find a church that teaches, preaches and believes as you do?” He answered, “Well you go to the Church of the Brethren.” And then lie named the location. Later on I went — it was one of the greatest disappointments in my life.

Another outstanding minister was the late Rev. Peter Eldersveld. It is estimated his weekly sermons were heard by 3,000,000 persons in 75 countries. Most of my readers have probably met or at least seen pictures of Rev. Peter Eldersveld and a description of him is unnecessary. He was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan and I was surprised to learn be was a star basketball player in his youth. He also toured the country. He preached in Christian Reformed Churches of the different cities throughout the U.S. He came to the small recently organized Bethel Christian Reformed Church of Tucson Arizona. This was in May of 1955. We had about 20 families in our church. We had 2 deacons and 2 elders. His sermon for that morning was “Nothing, but Faith.” Before the service we had gathered for a short prayer as is done in our Protestant Reformed Churches before the minister goes to the pulpit and the elders and deacons take their seats. We were about to pray for God’s blessing on Rev. Eldersveld that he might speak a word of comfort and edification to God’s people and that God would use the pastor to bring His word to His people. Someone asked Rev. Eldersveld what he thought about the decline of true religion in the U.S. I’ll never forget his answer “True religion is on the downgrade and even in our own churches I doubt very much if the trend can be reversed.” He looked wistfully out the window staring at the beautiful Catalina Mountains in the distance. He had a calmness about him you could almost feel.

A third outstanding minister was Rev. Herman Hoeksema our departed brother. If you were not a resident of Grand Rapids or a member of either a Protestant Reformed or a Christian Reformed Church you hardly knew the man existed at least that was my experience. No doubt he was well-known in Reformed Circles, but nationally the ordinary church member never heard of him. But: what a man! He was an organizer, an intellectual giant, and a great preacher. Combine this with an iron will and leadership qualities thru which he was able to influence the church which he organized to unwavering doctrinal purity and strict Christian discipline and you come up with a preacher that appears maybe once every two or three hundred years, Just about the time our churches were at their lowest ebb, one Sunday night after a church service about five or six Protestant Reformed people were conversing with Rev. Herman Hoeksema outside of First Protestant Reformed Church. He puffed on his cigar as we talked back and forth. This was three years before his death, he was an old man but his eyes still flashed fire, Someone else joined our group. As Rev. Herman Hoeksema turned to him this party said — “Rev. so and so has just left our denomination, Dominee.” Without batting an eye, Rev, ‘Herman Hoeksema replied — “Good riddance, we’re better off without him, he never was much anyway”. That was Reverend Herman Hoeksema, the truth was the truth and right was right and he would maintain both and trust God, even if every minister in the denomination left.

Then of course there was also John Calvin, I know him thru books I have read on his life. Here is a statement he made alter refusing to stave the Lords Supper to one under censure, although ordered to do so by the city council of Geneva. “So must lay before you that I do not know whether this is the last sermon I must preach at Geneva; not that I am taking leave on my own account; but if I am forced to do what is not right before God, it is impossible for me to proceed further, as far as 1 am concerned.’’ Ceaselessly from the lofty pulpit he repeated and thru his writings declared, that the will of God as it is revealed in the Holy scriptures must be obeyed, down to its very details. He would not permit this will to be disregarded or this rule of doctrine and life to be misunderstood.

I do not believe Rev. Peter Eidersveld or Dr. Donald Gray Barnhouse were either hated or loved with a burning intensity. No doubt some disliked them and no doubt many loved them.

But with Calvin and Hoeksema, they were either loved intensely or hated vehemently. After contact with these men over the years one did not remain lukewarm or walk the middle road. He took a strong stand either for or against.

You see the real test is not so much in what you say or how affluent your speech may be, but the real test lies in adherence to the truth and in the enforcement of Christian discipline both in word and deed. History bears this out. Years after Calvin’s death his influence continued to spread and Geneva’s fame for its Christian virtues was celebrated all over the world.

Rev. Herman Hoeksema has gone to his reward but his forty years of work and leadership will continue to live on in our churches and with continued adherence to God’s troth and a refusal to sacrifice righteousness for expediency we may look for further blessings and spiritual prosperity. I fear greatly if our choice should be otherwise.

The Berlin Sportpalast (Sports Palace) is packed to capacity. From thousands of voices rises a constant din. There is an air of excitement, expectancy and eagerness. People of every age and class are here, the young, the old, the middle aged, the factory worker, the office girl, the doctor, the student, the nurse and many more. In short, this is a cross section of the German people in 1933. The hall lights darken and everyone becomes silent. From the front of the Sportpalast a spot light throws a narrow beam of brilliant light down to the rear entrance. Trumpets blare as a small man with a little mustache appears. Illuminated by the spotlight he walks slowly down the aisle to mount the platform. At first, scarcely audible, one begins to hear a chant, then louder, ever louder until the whole Sports Palace thunders! “Sieg Heil!” “Sieg Heil!” “Sieg Heil!” (Hail to victory.) The people become hysterical, and some women faint. Mounting the platform, facing the endless sea of faces, the little man bows and smiles. He holds up his hand, the roof shaking. “Sieg Heil!” stops us though by magic. He begins to speak in a slow tenor voice. The treaty of Versailles is an outrage, the misery of the German people is unbearable. Germany never lost the war on the battlefield; the fatherland was stabbed in the back by the Jews and socialists. It is the Jew who is behind every plot to enslave our people. His voice slowly rises to a high pitch. Now he shouts and screams, his voice becomes hoarse and passionate. “Down with the international socialist! Down with the international bankers! Down with Soviet Russia! Down with the dirty Jew! Deutschland Erwache! (Germany wake up!)” He does not reason with them — he appeals to their hate, their desire for revenge and their national pride. But he doesn’t stop here on a negative note. Words like Fatherland, honor, loyalty, devotion, sacrifice come pouring out of his throat. Germany must resume her rightful place in the world. Only a strong Germany will be respected. He drives his points home with frantic gestures, waving his right arm, hacking the air, unconsciously and repeatedly brushing back his unruly lock of hair as he rants and raves. “Germany will awake from her long sleep and strike down all her oppressors! We are the Herren Volk! (Master race) and will take our rightful dominate place in the world! Sieg Heil!”

Hypnotized, the audience drinks in every word. What he thinks, they think, what he believes, they believe, one heart, one mind! Said one of the audience, years later, “Something I couldn’t understand swept over me — I was exalted — I gave him my soul. This was the evil genius Adolf Hitler, and the German people — caught the vision — and they gave him their soul.

Less than 600 miles away in another city, time and place, large numbers of citizens have gathered. The public hall of a certain small city is packed to capacity. Here too voices are raised, angry voices, heated arguments are heard. The city council is under attack for enforcing certain detested laws. What laws? Each family must attend church regularly except for sickness or other valid reasons. All servants and help must be sent to church whenever possible and no citizen may neglect divine worship. All children must receive instruction in catechism regularly. Taverns are to be closed during public worship. Drunkenness is forbidden. Penalties include fines, imprisonment, placement in the stocks in the public square etc. Blasphemy and cursing carry a stiffer penalty, nine days on bread and water, repeated offenders can even be whipped, and the incorrigible can be banished from the city or put to death. Nine days in Jail on bread and water for adultery, repeated offenders could be beheaded and some were. Laughing during the sermon could mean three days in jail. To make a long matter short not only were the citizens of this small city compelled to learn the Bible from cover to cover, but they were compelled to live what they were taught or else! This little city was a republic, they had elected its officials, agreed to its ordinances, and swore their allegiance to the magistrates.

Little did they suspect that the officials actually would enforce these laws, dial is some of them did not. The Libertines and Patriots confused freedom with license. Freedom to them meant, to be able to gamble, to fornicate, to drink, to engage in all the lusts of the flesh. Were they not saved by grace, so that they were no longer under the law! Away then with this legalism, how dare the authorities imprison Madame Perrin for dancing and revelry! The city of 200 were split into two factions, the Reformers seeking to establish a God-centered community and the Patriots and Libertines seeking to live the life of the flesh while paying only lip service to God. They argued back and forth. “Repeal the laws!,” cried die Libertines, “we are tired of tyranny!” “Retain the laws,” insisted the Reformers, “Honor God!” They argued back and forth, neither party giving an inch. Finally someone cried — “An appeal to arms!” Scabbards rattled, swords were drawn. Never had any session of the city council been more tumultuous, the parties weary of speaking began to appeal to arms. Suddenly out of nowhere appears a thin slight figure of a man. He is pale and one can see at a glance he is ill feeble health. He has a finely chiseled face, a well-formed mouth, pointed beard, black hair, a prominent nose, a lofty forehead and flaming eyes. Someone cries “Kill him!” he folds his arms and looks his agitators fixedly in the face. Not one of them dares lo strike him. Then advancing thru the midst of the group, he tears open his shirt exposing his boney chest and cries “If you want blood, there are still a few drops here, strike then!” Not an arm is raised. He slowly ascends the stairway to the council of 200.

The hall was on the point of being drenched with blood, swords were flashing. Now the weapons are lowered. Taking the arm of one of the councilors, he descends the stairs and cries out to the people that he wishes to address them. He speaks with feeling and love, he tells them of the eternal city whose builder and maker is God. He tells them of the mercy of God who gave his only begotten Son to die for their sins. He exhorts them to live a life of gratitude to God for all his benefits and to love their neighbors as themselves. Are we not of the household of faith, how can brother kill brother? If one cannot love his neighbor whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? The people look at one another, they blush with shame, someone starts crying, soon they are all weeping. Tears flow from their eyes, weapons are put aside, they embrace each other.

The little sickly Frenchman was John Calvin, the city — the Republic of Geneva. They caught the vision — and gave God their soul.

“WHAT MAKES A MAN?” This was the title of an essay turned in by one of our Protestant Reformed Youth in one of the existing Christian high schools our young people attend. The student received an “A” for his grade with the following comments at the end of the essay written by the teacher. Excellent! Good logical reasoning. The opening paragraph, “Does one go to bed a particular night as a boy and wake up as a man? Or is the making of a man a process of evolving maturity? The latter of course is the case.”

Certainly we all know that one does not become a man overnight, and I also feel that becoming a man is a process of physical, mental and spiritual growth. I feel that the word “evolving” could easily have been left out, evidently that word is in common use, but this is a minor criticism which one can overlook as long as one does not tie it in with creation or mean that in ages to come man will evolve into a perfect creature. Aside from all this the big question is — “What does the instructor mean by a man?” I say instructor, and not student because the teacher approves of this essay which means that she agrees with it and we can assume that the student’s definition of a man runs parallel with hers. Keep in mind this is a Christian teacher. The teacher in a Christian School should be thinking of the new man in Christ Jesus in contrast to the old man in Adam. “How Does One Become A Christian Man?” should be the title of the essay or the student should at least be encouraged to bend all his energies to that goal.

Paragraph No. 2 — “The two key words associated with a man are mental maturity and responsibility. Legally one becomes a man on his 21st birthday and in some cases on his eighteenth; but in reality not until he can face life independently and without uncertainty.”

This the teacher approves since she graded the paper “A” Excellent. Let us see what her idea of an ideal man is and what goals students should set for themselves. An ideal man she approves as one being

(1) Mentally mature.

(2) Responsible (able to fulfill his obligations) to what? — society or God?

(3) Can face life independently (who on this globe is independent?)

(4) Can face life without uncertainty.

Let us analyze this —

(1) Mentally mature —who is to set the standard for mental maturity. Each mind is unique, no two minds are alike. I dare say there are no two persons in the whole world who think exactly alike. This one is born with a poor mind, another with an average mind or excellent mind while some are mental giants. When do you call a person mentally mature, how do you deal with intangibles? What may be considered mental maturity for Mr. Smith the average American cannot be considered mental maturity for a Thomas Edison or an Einstein. How silly to even try to judge when a mind has reached its maturity when you do not know its capabilities. God’s gifts of mental capability vary.

(2) He is responsible. What in the world does this mean? The dictionary says, “Fit to be trusted with the carrying out of a duty or charge, or answerable to the law. To be held accountable.” In God’s sight we are all responsible (answerable or accountable to God for our sins) but the student says nothing about this. The teacher admits that a man should be fit to be trusted with a duty or charge but the student says nothing about his duty to God or his responsibility for his sin, and the teacher passes this by with the remark — “Excellent, good logical reasoning.”

(3) A man can face life independently. This almost makes me laugh. From the time of our birth when mother changes our dirty diapers, to the moment our friends lower us into the grave we are never independent. We are inter-dependent. I depend on the farmer for my food, the bricklayer for my house, the doctor and pharmacist for my medicine, the automotive industry for my car. I could go on for hours telling you how dependent I am. Placed alone on a deserted island for a year and at the end of that time I would probably be dead. I can never in my life time reach a point where I can face life independently. I need the love of my wife, my children, my friends and most of all my God! I am dependent on them for this. Many who have not experienced this love have blown their brains out! Oh — how dependent we are on our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for redemption and forgiveness of sin and reconciliation with our God! How could the teacher let all this pass by? Independence breeds pride, dependence begets humility. Would you foster the spirit of pride or that of humility in your son or your daughter?

(4) A man can face life without uncertainty. If there is one thing in this world that is certain it is uncertainty regarding most of life. The certain things are death and taxes. The rest is uncertain. As children of God we can be certain of our salvation, certain of the love of God, certain of our love for the church, certain of the fellowship of the saints, and all that goes with salvation, i.e., spiritual insight, development of wisdom and so forth, but the student says nothing about tin’s and neither does the teacher. We can be certain about the New Jerusalem whose builder and maker is God which shall be eternal in the heavens and which we shall one day inhabit, but on this certainty we get nothing but silence. Now I could go on and on. The essay is a short one but to analyze its total spiritual blindness and worldliness would take hours. I will quote the closing two paragraphs, make a few remarks and then close.

“Statistics show how many ‘men’ are around today: look at the crime rate, the illegitimate birth rate, the rise in broken homes and don’t forget the carnality lists from years of war.

“Something had better be done fast. ‘Man’ had better learn his lesson or maybe someday man will destroy himself.”

Make no mistake the teacher is concerned about this world exclusively. Place this English Essay in any public high school and they would go along with it 100%. You can’t even get a faint smell of Christianity from its contents. This is a portrait of an ideal man of the world. He should be independent, proud, able to fulfill his obligations to society, master of his fate, he can face life without uncertainty. He can change things if he only wants to. Notice the last paragraph — “Something had better be done fast.” Six, Six, Six is his number, man without God, without the Sabbath, without rest and incomplete outside God. Why this article?

Would you believe it, there are some who say the existing Christian High Schools are doing the job all-right. Our children should learn to stand on their own two feet. They do not realize that our children receive mostly an emotional attachment to God in the primary grades while in the secondary grades their emotion attachment to God is supplemented by an intellectual understanding of God and their calling to walk as young men and young women of God in the midst of an ungodly world. Only when this training is completed at graduation at the age of 17-18 or 19 years, wall they be strong enough to stand on their own two feet. To place them at the age of 15 in an apostate Christian school, where the school has joined hands with the world and then say. “Go ahead, stand on your own two feet is to produce a warped confused Christian, one who is confused as to what are the fine points of being a Christian. This will negate to a certain degree all the preceding training of the past 9 years. Just think, 9 years of hard devoted, sound scriptural training. At the age of fifteen boys and girls begin to think, before this they let the parents do the thinking, but at 15 boys and girls will think for themselves. A pattern of thinking is being set up which will solidify at the age of 18 or 19 into a permanent pattern. To turn your son or daughter over into the hands of teachers who teach a religious system of errors and co-operation with the world is most unfortunate. We are forced to do this at the present time and a gracious and loving God certainly takes this into account, but what will be your answer to God when you have it in your power to correct this evil and you do nothing — and even worse than that when you oppose the remedy? By the time you read this our drive for our own high school will have begun. We already have a good start, let’s finish the job. Dig deep, lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.

“It’s your fault and the fault of other people about your age and a little older!”

A young man about 21 years old was speaking.

“We inherited this mess from you and others like you.”

This young man was a Christian, a Baptist.

“Look at the conditions this world’s in! Now we have to take over and make something out of it!”

He said this with a bit of bitterness and anger as he looked me straight in the eye. I couldn’t help admiring him, he was a fine looking young man, he stood erect, had black hair, was of medium height, rather solidly built, clean and neat appearing, almost always had a smile on his face and his most admirable characteristic was his frankness, let the chips fall where they may. To top it all off, what he spoke was the truth. I felt a little uneasy, although I knew that I personally wasn’t responsible for the mess that the country is in today. I sort of gulped as I swallowed hard to defend myself.

“Now see here,” I said, “I want you to know that in the past 24 years, I have voted consistently in presidential elections and only one man that I voted for got in office. President Eisenhower, every other man I voted for was defeated, and even Eisenhower I considered the lesser of two evils. Can I help it if all the presidents believed in the socialistic way of life?”

We were discussing the deterioration of present day America, sort of a father to son talk, and I must admit I couldn’t say much in favor of the older people. Inflation, race riots, war, loss of freedom, decay of morals, the draft, sit-ins, unionism, modernism in the church, the mounting of the public debt, the constant increase in taxes, the increasing interference of the state in the personal life of its citizens, etc., etc., had all been under discussion. Now he was telling me that if you older people had been on your toes, we young people would have had something to look forward to, that is a much better life, but now we have to correct all of the evils in present day America and what promise does the future hold for us? It doesn’t look very encouraging. He believed that as a Baptist, he could get behind such men as Rev. Carl Mc Intyre and straighten things out. What do Protestant Reformed young men believe? What does the future hold for them? Better still, what do Prot. Reformed young people believe both young men and women?

I know of no other young people in the world today who, if they understand our doctrines and have the spiritual vision they are better prepared to meet the future. I say this because I believe God gave us a prophet in the person of Rev. Herman Hoeksema who walked with us and led us for over forty years. I say this because forty years of history have proved the Protestant Reformed teachings to be scriptural and sound. I say this because we have a glorious past and a most promising future. I say this because I see church after church go apostate and die while we remain true to our calling. I say this because in our practical life marriage is still held sacred, membership in unions is forbidden, supervision of the Lord’s table is maintained, discipline is exercised, and the poor are cared for. I say this because person for person, Protestant Reformed people give five to six times as much as the average church member, and the department of Internal Revenue can hardly believe the proof they are furnished with when they question de­ductions. I say this because those’ that left us admit that they are starving for the Word of God while we are satisfied. Not only that, but God’s blueprint for the future, the book of Revelation, has been correctly interpreted for us, and we see its gradual fulfillment. How fortunate Protestant Reformed young people are! God has indeed blessed us and worked through us to bring glory to his name. Let all young Protestant Reformed people be thankful and never be ashamed of being Protestant Reformed.

A short time ago, I saw my Baptist friend. He was departing for the army. We shook hands and I wished him good luck.

“Good luck!,” he said, “Don’t wish me good luck, wish me God’s blessing!” I felt sort of silly, once again he was right. He smiled as though he had not a care in the world and walked away. I don’t know when I’ll see him again, or if I’ll ever see him.

How about you? You have a greater blessing than he ever had. Do you appreciate it? Do you?

“This,” my wife said, “is a typical illustration of what is known as a tremendous trifle.”

It was Christmas Eve and up to now had been one of my most joyful.  We had always been a poor family and seldom had too much to spend on presents for one another.  Not that presents and gifts are the heart of Christmas—really we all knew that Christ is the heart of Christmas—but there is a warmth on Christmas Eve when all the family is together and the presents of each one is opened in the presence of all. Then we find we really do love one another as we all rejoice in the joy of the other.  As I said before so far this Christmas Eve was one of the best, but now discontent and anger began to creep into the family circle.  One could feel it grow and build up, and, as it increased, in inverse proportion, peace began to diminish.  We had all been waiting for my oldest son to come home at 10 P.M. before we began to unwrap our gifts.  My two younger children could hardly restrain themselves as they eyed the pile of unknown goodies under the tree.  Oh, how they would like to know what was under each wrapping.  When would their brother get home? Eagerly they would peek out the front window hoping each car that went by would turn in the driveway.  Finally with a shout “Here he is!” they began to dance and laugh.  Brother came in shaking the new fallen snow off his jacket.  His hands had a little grease on them and he looked as though he may have had trouble on the road.  “I wonder if I may borrow your car Dad,” he said, “I have to run back to Standale for a moment and then will be right back.” You could see the faces of my two younger children drop.  What? After all this waiting must they once again have their hopes postponed? Their loyalty to their brother would not allow them to complain and after all Standale was only a 5 minute drive from our home.  What difference would 15 more minutes make? As he went back out the door we settled down to await the quarter hour delay.  A half hour later we were still waiting. Slowly resentment began to build up inside my heart.  What in the world is the matter with that boy, he’s 25 years old and certainly must know how a teenager and an 11-year-old child want to open their presents.  Is he once again repairing that miserable wreck of a car of his? Couldn’t that wait for some other day besides Christmas Eve? Has he no feelings for his family? Now ¾ of an hour had passed and still he had not returned.  The children were getting sleepy and depressed and I began to become angry.  Should we exchange gifts without him? After all church services were to be held in the morning and we needed some sleep.  My discontent became vocal as I spoke to my wife concerning these matters.  Immediately this spirit of anger and discontent began to spread through the whole family.  It was as though someone had put a match to dry leaves and the flames began to crackle.  In my mind’s eye I saw the whole Christmas day ruined by this spirit.

Then I remembered prayer—also this poem which I picked up somewhere.

“RESTRAINING PRAYER WE CEASE TO FIGHT.

PRAYER MAKES THE CHRISTIAN’S ARMOUR BRIGHT.

AND SATAN TREMBLES WHEN HE SEES—

THE WEAKEST SAINT UPON HIS KNEES.”

No, I didn’t get down on my knees, not physically, that is, but mentally I got lower than that.  I prayed inwardly.

“Merciful God and Father have compassion upon this family.  How prone to hate we are.  How self centered we are.  How quick we are to think the worst of one another.  We are quick to judge and condemn.  The tongue is a little thing but who can control it? Only Thee, Almighty God.  Oh, Father, deliver me from myself, banish the anger and hatred in my own heart and restore peace to this family.  So many Christmases have been ruined by my terrible temper, I pray Thou wilt give me patience, restore love and Christian fellowship in this home!”

A knock at the door, we turned around, in walked my oldest son, more grease on his hands. “Oh, God,” I pleaded inwardly, reverently, “give me patience, control my temper.”  “Do you have a flashlight Dad?” he asked. “No,” I answered, with all the self control I could command. “Oh, well” he said, “a few matches will do.  Come out into the garage please,” he asked.  Fighting myself all the way I obliged, my family close on my heels.  He struck a match, held it down under the rear of the car. “ I hope there is no gas on the floor, maybe he will blow us up too,” I thought.  I looked.  As I got up from bending over looking, there were tears in my eyes.  I fought hard to hold them back.  On each rear wheel was a brand new snow tire, a Christmas present to Dad. “I couldn’t get them put on as quick as I thought,” he said, “the garage man was so busy I had to wait an extra ¾ of an hour.”

We went into the house.  A gasoline airplane from my 11-year-old boy, a fish aquarium for my 15-year-old son, a camera and film for my wife, a toaster for my 25-year-old son (to use at college).  And for me a most blessed Christmas Eve.  I tremble to think what would have happened if I had not prayed.

Do you pray?…try it.

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