Good News from Synod

In June delegates from our churches gathered for Synod. At Synod the ministers and elders take care of the matters which pertain to the work of our churches as a federation. One such matter is the examination of students who have completed the required training for the work of a minister. The church as a whole examines the students in order to determine whether they are sufficiently prepared for the work as ministers in the denomination.

This year two students, Doug Kuiper and Allen Brummel, were examined by Synod. On Tuesday each had to preach a sermon which they had prepared. The next day the professors, in the presence of Synod, questioned the students for about seven hours in the area of Reformed doctrine. Thursday they were examined in the same manner in the areas of Church Polity, Old Testament History, New Testament History, Church History, and Practica. After the period of examination was over, Synod decided on the basis of the answers given by the students that they had been well prepared during their four years of seminary training. Synod was therefore happy to declare that they are ready for the work of the ministry in our churches.

We can be sure that both students were relieved and happy as well. Both of them desired to preach the gospel even before they had finished high school. But before they could become ministers, they had to spend four years in college, and then another four years at seminary. At first the goal of preaching seems a long way off, but the time goes by quickly with so much to learn. The study is also difficult and there are times when the student wants to quit, but he rests assured that God will give His servants the strength to do the work required.

Now Doug and Allen are each eligible for a call from a congregation. When called, they must undergo another examination. When that exam is successfully completed, the candidate is ordained to the office of minister. Then their work as pastors will truly begin.

What a blessing this is from the Lord for the whole church! God never forsakes His people. He is a faithful God who continues to gather, defend and preserve His church.

At this time of joy, we must be very careful lest we be lifted up in pride. As we enjoy the blessing of faithful ministers as well as our peace and unity, it is easy for us to be like the Pharisee who thanked God that he was not like other men and in doing so tried to justify himself before men. It is easy for us to be like the Pharisee in light of the news we have heard from the CRC Synod which met the same time as ours. We ought to be filled instead with sorrow and fear when we hear the decisions which were made in the CRC Synod. The CRC Synod decided that the offices of elder and minister are open to women so that if the particular classis or congregation desires to have a woman minister, they may have one. More sad news is that they decided to change the Church Order requirement that the churches worship twice on the Lord’s Day.

The decision to allow women ministers and elders comes as no real surprise to those who have been paying attention to the developments in the past few years. It was only a matter of time until the Scriptures were mangled and softened to the point where Synod could agree that there is room for two contradicting interpretation of the Bible.

The desire of a church to reduce the minimum number of worship services is most striking to me. The church of Christ loves to worship God! This report saddens us because it indicates that the spiritual life of the CRC is quickly draining away. This is especially evident in the poor attendance at the evening worship services. Many no longer find it necessary to hear the preaching, and those who do hunger and thirst for the Word are finding that sound preaching is very scarce.

The young people also indicate that something is terribly wrong in the CRC. They are becoming estranged to the worship services which do remain in the CRC. They do not feel at home in the church. Synod is attempting to solve this problem by making confession of faith a simple matter of saying “I love Jesus.” Synod is hoping that this will bring the children to the Lord’s Supper at an early age so that they feel more a part of the church.

Let these developments be a warning to us and bring us to our knees in prayer. We ought to pray that God will lead His people in the CRC to churches where the life-giving Word is preached. We ought to pray that God would continue to guide His people in the paths of righteousness and obedience. We ought to pray that young men might be raised up who are willing and unashamed to preach the whole counsel of God: the sovereignty of God in salvation along with the demand that we live holy lives of thankfulness, the mercy of God along with His justice, the love of God as well as His wrath, and election along with reprobation. We need men who seek to please God and not men. We need preachers who are not afraid to make us squirm in the pew if need be. Only when the ministers are faithful in their preaching of the Word of God do the people of God grow in their knowledge and love for God, and in their desire to worship Him.

The work which produces ministers like this begins in the home where godly parents train up their children in the fear of the Lord and bring them to church to hear the Word. Good schools are also essential. We as young people must take this instruction very seriously. Finally, we can be thankful that we have a seminary where those men who feel called to the work of pastor are carefully prepared for that work. Our churches rejoice when young men come forth willing to do the work of the ministry. There are never too many because the fields are ripe for harvest and the laborers are few. Yet not all who desire the work actually become ministers. Some who begin their training for the ministry are later directed by the providence of God to another labor in the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God requires many different kinds of work and each is important.

Let us rejoice in the manifestation of the kingdom of God in our churches and pray that we have many more Synods to report the good news of more candidates for the ministry.