At this occasion much has been said and much has been written about the development of the Protestant Reformed Churches during the last twenty-five years. We feel that this is proper especially if we look at our history as the work of God and view the events connected with the growth of our churches in the light of that which Scripture teaches us concerning the church.
However, much of this history is for us as young people little more than a heritage. The present generation of young people is placed in a peculiar position. The struggle of our parents to witness a good confession is ours only in as far as we are acquainted with it by instruction and study. In a sense we experience the struggle vicariously and for that reason I want to cast your thoughts into the future.
What shall this generation of Protestant Reformed young people say twenty-five years hence? Shall we be able to say what our parents say today, that God has purged His church, that He is still using us as His witnesses? Shall we also experience a struggle even as our parents have in the past?
It is my conviction that we must so evaluate the future that we can expect little but struggle and difficult experiences. As youth we are not naturally inclined to this view of the matter. As youth we are idealistic and optimistic. We look for “big things” and often are disappointed if “big things” fail to materialize.
I believe that we must cultivate realistic attitudes toward the future. And I hasten to add that a realistic attitude toward the future means that we take a Scriptural attitude. The most powerful figure in Scripture is the figure of the Christian when he is portrayed as a military man, a soldier, a stalwart and a guard of the citadel of the church. A classic passage from the Bible illustrating this attitude is found in the sixth chapter of Ephesians, from the eleventh to eighteenth verses.
The necessity for developing this attitude is affirmed by the history of the church in the past. The true church and the truth is under attack always. And in the next twenty-five years we have no reason whatsoever to think that it shall be any different, in fact, we can expect the attack to be stepped up in intensity. For this reason I hold that we may not rest on the laurels of the past but we must anticipate the battle for the truth in the future.
As churches we have, up to this time, been remarkably free from defection within our ranks. Other church groups of a reformatory character cannot speak in this way. I am aware of one group of churches in the American church world which has experienced gross defection and apostasy repeatedly in the past twenty-five years. That can also happen to us and if this editorial does nothing more than open the eyes of our youth to the fact that we can expect an enemy “within the gates”, I shall be satisfied.
If we should find such an enemy, we ought to have the courage of our convictions and root him out. Thus we shall continue the heritage of our parents given us by our covenant God and His blessing will be ours.