This month Beacon Lights celebrates an anniversary, its first anniversary. It was one year ago, in the month of February, that our young people’s paper was first published, after a period of dormancy of about six months.
Why wasn’t our paper published? You all realize the trouble in our Protestant Reformed Churches. Beacon Lights, too, was affected by this split. For quite some time we had no editor and capable advisor for our paper. It wasn’t until February of ’54 that Mr. A. Heemstra and some young people published the first Beacon Lights in more than six months.
From this point on, the staff of our paper has matured enough, so that Mr. Heemstra felt that his services were no longer needed and we could well take over the publishing of Beacon Lights, under the editorship of Rev. James McCollam.
This we have attempted to do, though we admit, with many shortcomings and failures. However, we hope that in the future, with God’s grace, we shall be able to publish a paper that will be inspiring and edifying to all our young people, in everything that is put in our paper.
Now that we stand, shall we say, before a new year as far as Beacon Lights is concerned, let us look back over the past year, a year which has been one of toil and labor, as far as the Christian is concerned, and also one of trouble and some heart-ache, as far as our churches are concerned.
During this past year, we have seen much wrangling amongst our people. We have witnessed many churches splitting, one group keeping the church building while others have had to seek other places of worship. We have seen a split classis. A court case, whose decision we now know, was held just this past year of 1954.
Such important happenings in our denomination which was so small to begin with. Just think of it, people say; a split in the Protestant Reformed Churches, when they were so small. Now they’re made even smaller. And think of this too. Some of them have to meet in other church auditoriums, or school auditoriums, or even in store buildings. Isn’t that a shame!
Also, they add to these remarks, “And to think they can’t settle their little difficulties among themselves.” Also, “And to think they will split over such trivial matters.”
People who talk this way never realize the pains we took to settle this difficulty among ourselves. If only they knew the weeks on end that were spent in our church political gatherings, they wouldn’t say that we could have settled these arguments peaceably.
As to the other statement about these “trivial matters,” the people who say these things are usually the ones who know nothing about the truth and also who want nothing of that truth. They do not realize there is this much difference, that one presentation is the truth, while the other is the lie. It is a matter of light over against darkness. It is either seeing God as the author and finisher of salvation, God from beginning to end, or man doing something for his salvation and thus saving himself. Really it comes down to this, “Is God, really God?” Or is man some kind of god, so that he is not dependent upon God for his salvation. “Who is God?” – that is the question.
What could be a more controversial and heretic question? To raise man up and say he must do something to save himself, is the farthest from the truth of Scripture that God is “only” and “complete” Savior.
This is really what the question is. No one can deny it. That is why we have the split in our churches. Those who have strayed, want that doctrine that exalts man. It is only human to cling to an idea that builds up our ego. I say again, this doctrine is not Scriptural.
For these reasons, 1954 has been a year of crisis and trial for the Protestant Reformed Churches. It has meant constant struggle. The future did not look very bright at times. In fact, even in the light of the present court decisions, our future looks rather hopeless. You know, it is not easy to lose half, or nearly so, of the church members in one denomination. You could probably compare it to losing one of your arms or legs. Of course, we realize that when a member of our body becomes infected with a malignant growth, we cut that part of our body off. But nevertheless, it is not easy to lose that member.
So it is with our churches. It is not easy to lose those people, and they are continually in our prayers that they might repent and see the error of their way and come back to us. But, they had to be cut off for the good of the rest of the body. And such members will continually be cut off so long as we are able, by God’s grace, to detect the malignant growth of heresy.
But what about our history over the past year? What about all history, we might add?
Isn’t history the unraveling of God’s eternal counsel? Were not these occurrences the performing of God’s will in all its fulness?
Yes, my Christian young friends, the God who governs all things and has governed them throughout the year of 1954, shall still govern all things, especially with regard to His church. He shall preserve His beloved remnant, no matter how few they be, and shall cause them to grow, not necessarily in numbers, for numbers is a sure sign of weakness, but He shall make us grow spiritually, which is far more blessed and necessary.
Then we as heirs of His covenant will praise God and realize that He doeth all things well to them that love God, that are called according to His purpose.