Sunday and Sports

Members of the church today face increasing pressure to participate in sports on Sunday. Often it’s simply a matter of scheduling. The powers that be schedule games on Sunday. Sometimes these schedulers are willing to accommodate those who do not participate in sports for religious reasons. Other times they are not, and then the Christian faces the temptation to break the fourth commandment in order to participate. In a day when many who carry the name of Christian play sports or allow their children to play sports on Sunday, I am happy to report about Covenant College’s decision “to forfeit the women’s tennis conference title match rather than to play on Sunday.”*

Covenant College is an agency of the Presbyterian Church in America. The decision of the college not to play on Sunday stands in contrast with other “Christian” universities in their league. In the semi-finals Covenant defeated North Carolina Wesleyan, whose coach questioned why Covenant even participated in the tournament knowing that the women would not compete for the championship.** Evidently the Wesleyan institution planned to participate in the finals had they won the semi-finals. The team that left the tournament with the championship because of Covenant’s forfeit was from Methodist University—they were also willing to participate on Sunday.

Covenant joined the USA South Conference in 2013 knowing that the league holds sporting events on Sundays. However, the South Conference accepted Covenant’s membership knowing the College’s policy of not participating in sports on Sunday. As it has done in the past, Covenant submitted the proper paperwork to request a change of date for the finals before the tournament. The USA South Conference denied the request. At the tournament the women’s team won the semi-final and qualified for the championship. Many Christian institutions would have caved in to the pressure of this situation (many already have!). Covenant withstood the temptation.

 What about the women who missed the opportunity to compete for a championship? Should we feel sorry for them? The USA South Conference certainly could have been more reasonable and simply switched the date for the finals. Apparently the conference’s fall and winter championships occur on Saturdays. But the women probably joined the Covenant team knowing the policy of non-participation on Sundays and its possible repercussions. If winning tennis championships meant more to them than the Sabbath Day they could have attended other colleges. They and their parents should be thankful that they attend a college where decisions are made based on scripture. And if the women and their coaches missed out on possibly winning the conference championship because they used the day instead to attend divine worship services, hear the preaching of the word, and rest in the finished work of Jesus Christ, then there is no reason to feel sorry for them. God’s blessings, which are far richer than a tennis championship, flow to them who gather with their fellow saints for worship on the Lord’s Day (Ps. 84:4, 10).

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Covenant College’s announcement about the forfeit can be found here.

** A news report about the forfeit can be found here.

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This post was written by Rev. Clayton Spronk, pastor of Faith Protestant Reformed Church in Jenison, Michigan.

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Teachable

I see it from time to time in my children. I will be explaining something to them or relating some story, and they will interrupt, “No, Dad, that’s not what happened. No, Dad, it happened this way.” Sometimes they are right and Dad is wrong, but at other times they are mistaken and I try (gently, I hope) to correct them. But at times they will not budge. With dogged determination they insist that they have it straight.

I have a hunch that my children are not entirely unique in this regard: sometimes they have an unteachable spirit.

And I have a further hunch that this is not limited only to children: I can have an unteachable spirit too.

We must not confuse an unteachable attitude with having opinions or convictions. The two are not the same. We must be people of strong, biblically-based, confessional convictions. We must be bold to hold to those convictions without compromise. As a beloved professor put it once, we must not be “spaghetti-spined” but have backbones of steel.

What, then, does it mean to be unteachable? To put it bluntly, it means that I am a know-it-all. It means that I think I have everything figured out. It means that I never ask for help or advice. It means that I am not willing to listen to others and learn from them. It means that I am always talking, holding forth, pontificating. It means that when others offer a critique or a gentle suggestion for improvement I become surly and resentful and vindictive.

It means that I am proud.

The scriptures have something to say about this issue. James 1:19 says, “…let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak…” Proverbs 9:9 says, “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.” Proverbs 10:17, 19 says, “He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuseth reproof erreth…In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.” Besides these few, there are a number of other passages in Proverbs that address the idea of being teachable.

What does it mean to be teachable? A teachable person is one that is aware of his limitations and is willing to acknowledge them. He is a person that is not afraid to ask for help or advice from others. He is a person that is willing to listen to others and learn from them. He is a person that is slow to speak. He is someone that is willing to receive correction and reproof. He is wise, and wants to grow in wisdom.

He is humble.

This is a virtue that every child of God must seek to cultivate. It is not just for church members in the pew, but for leaders and officebearers too. The only one who is unteachable is God. For the rest of us, we are very much in need of teaching. We must be teachable before the Word of God, but we must show ourselves teachable also in our interactions with one another.

What about you?

Are you teachable?

O come, my people, to my law
Attentively give ear;
With willing heart and teachable
The words of wisdom hear.
(The Psalter, no. 215, stz. 1)

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This post was written by Rev. Joshua Engelsma, pastor of Doon Protestant Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa.

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Jehovah's Witnesses

The Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs) of the Watchtower Tract and Bible Society claim that the Christian Church has colluded in removing the name "Jehovah" from the Bible, and that they alone confess the true name of God. They say that over 7,000 times the name Jehovah (Yahweh, the tetragrammaton, YHWH) has been changed in the King James Version (KJV) to LORD. Since their New World Translation (NWT) retains the original name Jehovah, they, so the claim goes, must be the true followers of God.

The Hebrew word Yahweh, four Hebrew consonants, is translated Jehovah in a few places in the KJV in the Old Testament (Gen. 22:14Ex. 6:317:15Judg. 6:24Ps. 83:18Isa. 12:226:4). In every other place in the Old Testament, it is translated LORD, and will be in all upper case letters. The word Jehovah does not appear at all in the KJV New Testament.

The issue is not the translation of the four letters which make up the name YHWH, but the meaning of the name itself. For example, a person might confess the word, Jesus, and sing enthusiastically, "JESUS, he's the one for me," but if that person does not believe that Jesus is the only, complete, all sufficient, effectual Savior of his people (Matt. 1:21), he does not really believe in Jesus at all. Alternatively, a person might say of Jesus, "Lord, Lord," but unless by Lord he means Master, Owner, Redeemer, and lives in submission and obedience to that Lord, his using the word "Lord" is vain hypocrisy (Matt. 7:21Luke 6:46). 

What, then, does the name YHWH, or Jehovah mean?  God himself explained it to Moses in Exodus 3:14. The KJV says, "I AM THAT I AM: thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel. I AM hath sent me unto you."  The JWs' translation, the NWT, translates it this way, "I SHALL PROVE TO BE WHAT I SHALL PROVE TO BE." The Hebrew is a form of the common verb hayah which means to be. The verb form is the qal imperfect and is translated invariably I amI shall be or I was. In the Greek translation, the Septuagint (LXX, used by the Jews in Christ's day, and quoted by the Apostles in the New Testament), the form is translated ego eimi, which means I am. "I shall prove to be" is therefore hardly a smooth or an accurate translation.

That God identifies himself with the name derived from the verb to be, best translated I am, teaches us important truths about the being of God. First, God is absolutely independent. He derives his being from himself, and maintains his being of himself. He needs nothing outside of himself (Rom. 11:33-36). Second, God is eternal, or timeless. God is. No creature can say, "I am." To be accurate, every creature must say, "I am becoming." In the few minutes that you have taken to read these lines, an unknown number of cells in your body have died and are being replaced, your blood has circulated around your body, and the air in your lungs has been exchanged for a fresh supply. That is not true of God. He does not need air, food or anything else, and his divine essence never changes. Third, the name JHWH, I AM, tells us that God is absolutely dependable and reliable. He never reneges on his promises. He is the God we can trust, whose purposes are always the same. Thus he could come to Moses at the burning bush and declare that the lapse of over 400 years had not caused him to forget or change his promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. One Watchtower publication says of the name YHWH that it means "He can become whatever he pleases in order to fulfill whatever role is necessary." The same publication says that God is a God of "innumerable roles."  This is not the meaning of Jehovah, Yahewh, I AM, YHWH or ego eimi.

Now, JWs claim to believe in the divine, verbal inspiration of the Old and New Testament. They complain that God's name has been removed from the Old Testament thousands of times, and they claim that they have restored the word to its proper place. Here is a startling fact: the word Jehovah, YHWH, never appears in the New Testament Greek, even when the writers are quoting from the Old Testament where the Hebrew text has the word YHWH. Every time the writers of the New Testament Scriptures quote the Old Testament they use the word, kurios, which means Lord. If the Holy Spirit thought that the name Lord was an unacceptable translation for the word YHWH would he have not "corrected" that in the New Testament? After all, there are times when the writers of the New Testament modify the Septuagint translation from which they quote (the Septuagint translation is not inspired, you know). Why, then, did the Holy Spirit not have the New Testament writers substitute the word Jehovah for kurios, as the JWs' translation, the NWT, has done?

Let me give some examples. In Matthew 4:10 Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:13 and says (KJV), "Thou shalt worship the LORD, thy God." The Hebrew of Deuteronomy has YHWH, the Septuagint has kurios (Lord). What does Matthew write, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit? Kurios, Lord, not Jehovah! In Acts 2:21, Peter quotes Joel 2:32, "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord (KJV). The Hebrew of Joel has YHWH, the Septuagint has kurios (Lord). What does Luke, the human writer of Acts, write, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit? Kurios, Lord, not Jehovah! In Romans 10:16, Paul quotes Isaiah 53:1, "Lord, who hath believed our report?" The Hebrew of Isaiah has YHWH, the Septuagint has kurios (Lord). What does Paul write, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit? Kurios, Lord, not Jehovah!  If the word Jehovah must be used, why does the Holy Spirit never use it in the New Testament?

Moreover, the JWs' translation, the NWT, adds to the NT the name Jehovah, even when the Old Testament is not being quoted. For example, the NWT translates kurios (Lord) as Jehovah in the following passages: II Peter 3:9, "Jehovah [kurios] is not slow respecting his promise ...;" Acts 13:48, "... they began to rejoice and to glorify the word of Jehovah [kurios];"I am the Alpha and the Omega, says Jehovah [kurios] God." Other examples could be given. In the book of Revelation alone, Jehovah is added at least ten times (4:8, 11; 11:17, 15:3-4, 16:7, 18:8, 19:6, 21:22, 22:5-6). However, when kurios refers to Jesus Christ, it is never translated Jehovah (e.g., Phil. 4:5I Thess. 4:15-17II Thess. 2:8II Tim. 4:17James 5:7-8Rev. 14:1319:16, etc,). This shows the bias of the NWT version. I Thessalonians 4 is a particularly interesting example. Here it is in the NWT: "For this is what we tell you by Jehovah's [kurios] word that we the living who survive to the presence of the Lord [kurios] shall in no way precede those who have fallen asleep in death, because the Lord [kurios] himself shall descend ... be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord [kurios] in the air and thus we shall always be with the Lord [kurios]" (vv. 15-17). Notice, the first kurios is translated Jehovah, but the other examples of kurios in the same context are translated Lord. Why? Because clearly they refer to Jesus Christ and the JWs will not recognize that Jesus Christ is Jehovah God!

In addition, JW's claim that Jesus went around Israel teaching the name of God, and teaching the people to pray that God's name be hallowed or sanctified. They appeal to John 17:26, "I have declared unto them thy name." Does that mean that Jesus taught them the secrets of the Tetragrammaton, the YHWH? They already knew that. They were Jews! It means he taught them who God is, what kind of God he is, because the name of God is the revelation of who God is. To know God's name is not to know the consonants and vowels which make up the address of God, but to know God himself, to know his attributes, his wonders, his works, his promises, and to have a relationship with him in Jesus Christ.  Besides, never in the Gospels, do we read of Jesus ever addressing God in prayer with the name Jehovah, YHWH or Yahweh. Even in John 17, the greatest of Christ's recorded prayers, he addresses God as "Father" (vv. 1, 5, 21, 24), "Holy Father" (v. 11) and "Righteous Father" (v. 25). And in the prayer which he taught his disciples, he taught them to address God in these words, "Our Father which art in heaven." Why not Jehovah, if that is the preferred, if not the only acceptable, name of God? 

The name "I AM" does appear in the New Testament. Four times, Almighty God is addressed in these words, "which is, and which was, and which is to come" (Rev. 1:8) or "which was, and is, and is to come" (Rev. 4:8) or "which art, and wast, and art to come" (Rev. 11:17) or "which art, and wast, and shalt be" (Rev. 16:5). These are clearly allusions to Exodus 3:14 and the name YHWH in the Old Testament. These phrases refer to the unchangeable eternity and faithfulness of God. 

But there is one other place where the name YHWH jumps out of the New Testament text. It is, however, deliberately obscured by the JWs' translation, the NWT. In John 8, Jesus claims that Abraham had rejoiced to see his day, to which the unbelieving Jews retort in scorn, "Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?" (v. 57). Christ's response is so shocking to the Jews that they pick up stones to put him to death on the spot for blasphemy. Here is the NWT version of what Jesus said, "Most truly, I say to you, Before Abraham came into existence, I have been" (John 8:58, NWT). Here is the KJV. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am." The Greek is ego eimi. Why would the NWT translate ego eimi, I have been, instead of I am? Because the JWs refuse to believe that Jesus is Jehovah and they want to sever the obvious link between John 8:58 and Exodus 3:14, where ego eimi is used in the Septuagint (LXX) version! In addition, Jesus frequently had the words ego eimi on his lips, and not only in the famous I AM sayings (John 8:2418:5-8, etc.).

The name of God is important. But the New Testament does not contain the name Jehovah. Or does it? In fact, the word Jehovah, the root of YHWH, is written large all over the New Testament. It is found in the name Jesus. Jesus means Jehovah-salvation, Jehovah is salvation or Jehovah Savior. That is why Peter can say in Acts 4:9-12, "If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." That, too, is why Paul can write, in obvious allusion to Isaiah 45:23 ("I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear"), "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:9-11).

Jehovah's Witnesses may use the word Jehovah in prayers, worship, in their Bible version and in their proselytizing, but they do not confess the name Jehovah, because their Jehovah is not the sovereign, unchanging, faithful, Triune God of scripture. It is Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs), not Christians, who are guilty of taking God's name in vain.

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Rev. McGeown is missionary-pastor of the Covenant Protestant Reformed Church in Northern Ireland stationed in Limerick, Republic of Ireland. 

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The White Horse Running in Myanmar

It might not make front page headlines, but there have been some interesting developments of late in Myanmar (formerly Burma).

Originally a colony of Great Britain, the Southeast Asian country gained its independence in 1948 as a democratic nation. But for the last fifty years or so the country has been in the chokehold of a brutal military dictatorship.

Things have changed of late, however. Last November a free election was held, and the National League for Democracy (NLD) party defeated the incumbents in a landslide. There was some question about whether the military would allow the election results to stand, or simply ignore them and remain in power. But it appears that a transition of power is actually taking place and a democratic government is taking shape.

A recent article in the Washington Post (here) reports on a new position occupied by Aung San Suu Kyi, unquestioned leader of the NLD. The 70-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate has been under house arrest for decades and was forbidden from occupying the position of president because her husband and two children were British citizens. Suu Kyi’s ally, Htin Kyaw, was named President of the new government, but Suu Kyi is the real power. She has been appointed foreign minister and, most recently, state counsellor. This latter position was created just for her as a way of skirting the constitutional limitation, and effectively gives her the position of prime minister and “boss” of the president.

This may make for interesting politics, but why is it worth knowing as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven?

These recent events are significant because they have important implications for the running of the white horse of the gospel in Myanmar.

Since 2007 one of the churches in the Protestant Reformed denomination has been laboring with a group of saints in Myanmar. But one of the major obstacles has been in getting a missionary on the ground. The military-backed government closed its borders to any Christian missionary coming to preach the gospel in their land. The result has been that rather than doing mission work through a missionary living and working full-time in Myanmar, the work has been done through occasional, short-term visits to the field and through various channels of technology.

But now there is a shift in power. A democratic government is forming. The hope is that this new government will reverse the decision of the previous one and make it possible for a Christian missionary to come into the land and proclaim the glorious gospel of salvation in this predominately Buddhist country. We can only wait to see what will unfold in the sovereign plan of God.

And pray. The command of God is that “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made…for kings, and for all that are in authority.” Why? “That we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” But also God “will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” And in what way does that take place? Through the preaching of the gospel, of which Paul is “ordained a preacher…a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity” (1 Tim. 2:1-7).

Pray that God might use someone like Suu Kyi to open the door in that land so that the white horse might run, the elect there might be gathered, and Christ might come.

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This post was written by Rev. Joshua Engelsma, pastor of Doon Protestant Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa.

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The Standard Bearer: Special Issue on Reformed Marriage

The April 15, 2016 issue of The Standard Bearer is a special issue devoted to the topic of Reformed Marriage.

Some of the articles you will read in this issue are:

  • Marriage for Life: A Blessing
  • The Reformed Wedding Ceremony
  • Still Using the Reformed Marriage Form?
  • Wedding Receptions: Sanctified Celebrations
  • Children: Calling and Blessing

....and much more!

Subscribe to The Standard Bearer magazine mailing list today! 

 

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“Pastoral Guidance or Misguided Advice?”

In the February 2016 issue of The Banner, the official magazine of the Christian Reformed Church (CRC), there is a preview of an extensive report coming to their Synod this summer. The report addresses the issue of so-called “same-sex marriages” in light of the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling (Gayla Postma, “Pastoral Guidance for Churches Regarding Same-Sex Marriage,” pp. 14-15).

This report is not a change in the official CRC position on homosexuality. That position, adopted in 1973, states that “same-sex orientation is not sinful, but homosexual activity is.” This position remains yet unchanged.

The study committee reporting to Synod 2016 was mandated to provide “pastoral guidance” to the denomination with regard to certain practical situations that might arise in connection with same-sex marriages. Some of the issues addressed in the report are:

  • Whether or not it is proper to attend a same-sex wedding or provide a commercial service for such a wedding (e.g. making a cake, taking pictures).
  • Whether or not it is proper for a CRC pastor to solemnize a religious same-sex wedding.
  • Whether or not it is proper for a CRC pastor to solemnize a civil same-sex wedding.
  • Whether or not it is proper for a member to play a part in a same-sex wedding (e.g. being an attendant).
  • Whether or not it is proper to allow same-sex couples and their families to take part in the life of the church (e.g. being an usher, teaching Sunday school).
  • Whether or not it is proper to allow same-sex couples to be members of a local congregation.

The report is weak.

For one thing, in many instances it gives no guidance whatsoever. Is it proper to attend a same-sex wedding? Leave it to the discretion of the individual. Is it proper to play a part in such a wedding? Again, that should be left to the discretion of each member. Is it proper to allow same-sex couples to take part in the life of the church? Let each congregation decide for herself. This gives no guidance to the churches.

More disconcerting is the underlying weakness that the report reveals on the issue of same-sex marriage as a whole. The report distinguishes between religious and civil marriages, and then says that although it is wrong for a pastor to perform the former, in some circumstances it is proper to solemnize the latter. This “guidance” seems to grant a certain legitimacy to same-sex marriages.

The committee goes on to recommend that same-sex couples be received as members in good standing, so long as they are not sexually active. “However,” Postma summarizes, “if a person or couple agree to accept the CRC’s teaching on same-sex sexual relationships and bring their lives into conformity, no obstacle prevents their acceptance as members.” The report says, “The current position does not require dissolution of a civil marriage; nor should the church be heard to require or encourage the dissolution of functioning families.”

This means that a homosexual couple can be members in good standing, so long as they assure the church that they are not engaging in homosexual activity (as if that were possible). The church may not require them to dissolve their “marriage” or their “functioning family.” Nor may the church prevent them from having their adopted child baptized and from partaking of the Lord’s Supper.

And what is more, the report indicates that there is growing dissatisfaction with the official position of the denomination. “A number of CRC churches are already navigating the challenges of integrating same-sex couples into the life of the church, and for them the logic of being denied membership is experienced as damaging rather than life-giving.” There is even an expressed desire on the part of the committee to revisit and revise the 1973 position.

This report is worth noticing because it reveals again the fatal weakness in the position of the CRC. If one’s position is that homosexual activity is the only thing that is sinful, then allowances have to be made for same-sex marriage, so long as the couples assure those around them that, though they are attracted to one another and are legally married, they are not engaging in any sexual activity whatsoever. The weakness of the CRC position has been pointed out by others before. This simply shows the bad fruit it is producing.

It will be interesting to see what the Synod of the CRC does with this report.

Stay tuned.

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This post was written by Rev. Joshua Engelsma, pastor of Doon Protestant Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa.

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Let This Mind Be In You Which Was Also In Christ Jesus

How would you illustrate humility? Paul illustrates it in the most profound and moving way in Philippians 2. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5). The apostle often does this—he uses profound theology to teach practical Christian living.

To do this, he proves (1) that Jesus is God; and (2) that Jesus humbled Himself.

Two expressions in verse 6 prove that Jesus is God.

(1) “Who being in the form of God”: The form (Greek: morphee) of something is its essential nature or character. If Jesus is in the form of God, He has God’s attributes, power and glory, that is, He is God. In verse 7, Paul uses the same word “form” (Greek: morphee), this time to describe the humiliation of Jesus. Jesus took the “form of a servant,” which means that He really became a servant with all the attributes of a servant. Jesus did not pretend to be a servant. Similarly, Jesus does not have a superficial resemblance to God. Jesus really is God. Moreover, the KJV is correct in its translation, “being in the form of God.” The word “being” is the present participle of the verb “to be.” The meaning is not properly conveyed by the translation, “Although He was,” or “While He was.” “Was” is the past tense. “Being” is the present tense—the eternally present tense. Jesus is God, and He remains God. Throughout His Incarnation, humiliation, death and subsequent glorification, He is and remains God.

(2) “[He] thought it not robbery to be equal with God”: The word “robbery” (Greek: harpagmon) means something that is snatched, grasped or held. The idea is that Jesus possesses equality with God, but He did not consider such equality something to be held or something to which He had to cling. It was, in fact, something He gave up in order to humble Himself. There is some controversy over the word “robbery” here. The two meanings offered by theologians are (1) Jesus did not have equality with God, and He did not reach out and grab something that was not His; or (2) Jesus does have equality with God, but He did not cling to it as something He wanted to keep. However, only the second option fits the context.

Perhaps, I can illustrate it this way. If Satan, who is not God, did not reach out and try to grasp equality with God, would you consider that humility? Of course not! Not seeking equality with God is the duty of all creatures! (In fact, Satan’s sin was that he sought equality with God!). If Jesus were a creature, of course He may not seek equality with God! But, if Jesus is God, and does have equality with God, what wonderful condescension and humility it is for Him not to seek to hold on to what He has!

That is humility. There is no greater example of humility than that!

What did it mean for Jesus to relinquish equality with God, or not to consider equality with God as something that He would cling to? Verses 7-8 explain.

“[He] made Himself of no reputation”: This is the translation of one Greek verb, kenooo, which means to empty, to make empty or to make void. He emptied Himself! Of what did He empty Himself? Charles Wesley wrote, “He emptied Himself of all but love” (see the hymn, “And Can It Be?”). Wesley’s words are heretical. If Jesus did, in fact, empty Himself of “all but love,” He emptied Himself of His essential deity and of all His divine attributes except one—love. That is impossible! Jesus emptied Himself of His exalted position of equality with God. However, He is God—He cannot cease to be God. The Son of God is almighty, omniscient and omnipresent. That cannot change. (Certainly, His glory as the Son of God was veiled behind human flesh, but He did not lose even one of His divine attributes).

Instead of losing anything of His essential deity, Jesus added a real humanity. “He was made in the likeness of men” and He was “found in fashion as a man.” The two Greek words (homoiooma and schema) indicate that Jesus took to Himself a real human nature. He became what He was not, without ceasing to be what He essentially and eternally is. These two words teach Jesus’ essential humanity as the incarnate Son.

And what kind of man did He become? Did He become a king, a prince or an emperor? Did He come to be served and adored by the masses? Absolutely not! “He took upon Him the form of a servant” (Greek: doulos, which means slave). “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28).

Jesus came to obey His Father: “He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death” (v. 8). Jesus did not refuse to die. He knew that it was His duty to die. Willingly and obediently, He died for His people. And what kind of death did He die? “Even the death of the cross” (v. 8). He died the death of the lowest of the low, the kind of death reserved for criminals and slaves, the most shameful, painful and accursed death of the cross. And He did that because that is what sin deserves. Although He had no sins, He came to make satisfaction for the sins of His people, to save them from their sins.

That, dear reader, is humility! To give up a privileged position—the highest position of glory—and to enter the lowliest position—a slave, and even a crucified man—is the greatest possible humility. And the one who did that is the Son of God—He is God!

In response to that humility, says Paul, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” (Phil. 2:3).

Will you say that serving others is beneath you, when the Son of God did not think the cross was beneath Him? Will you insist on your dignity, convenience and welfare, when the Son of God thought nothing of His?

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus!

____________

Rev. McGeown is missionary-pastor of the Covenant Protestant Reformed Church in Northern Ireland stationed in Limerick, Republic of Ireland. 

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Introducing another new Blog writer!

We are pleased to announce that we have another new blog writer, Rev. Martyn McGeown. He has agreed to assist Rev. Clayton Spronk and Rev. Joshua Engelsma as a fellow writer for the RFPA blog.

Rev. McGeown is missionary-pastor of the Covenant Protestant Reformed Church in Northern Ireland stationed in Limerick, Republic of Ireland. 

We look forward to adding Rev. McGeown as one of our writers!

 

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Reformed Literature in ebook Format: FAQ

Over 50 RFPA titles are now in ebook format!

Our readers have sent us many requests for ebook versions of our distinctive Reformed literature, and we're thrilled to now be offering this new format for a dozen of our most popular titles (with more coming soon).

We love this new medium and it seems that you do, too. Our ebook titles are "flying off the shelves" but we've had a few questions from readers about how to access their ebook once they've made the purchase.

Q. How do I receive or download my ebooks?
A. If you order an ebook, you will receive two emails. The first is an order confirmation from rfpa.org. The second contains two file links to download your ebook.

Q. I noticed one link is for a .mobi file and the other is for a .epub file. Which link do I need?
A. The .mobi file link is for Kindle users specifically and the .epub is for all other devices.

Q. How do I download the file to my device?
A. Click the appropriate file link for your device and download it either to your computer (and then transfer to your device via cable or email) or directly to your device, depending on your device’s capability. There are numerous ereader devices and apps and they all work a little differently. If our suggestions don’t work for you, please contact the support service for your device.

Q. Is there a way for my ebook or eSubscription to get pushed automatically to my ereader device?
A. At this time, we do not have an application with this ability. Please see above for suggestions on how to download your ebook file to your device.
Q. Is there a way for me to read my ebook on my PC?
A. To read the epub file, download the reader for your PC from this website:http://www.adobe.com/products/digital-editions/download.html.
To read the mobi file, download the reader for your PC from this website:http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000426311.

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Christianizing the World

Christianizing the World: Reformed Calling or Ecclesiastical Suicide?

This book is a critique of Abraham Kuyper’s cultural theory of a common grace of God and of the grandiose mission of this grace, and of those who confess the theory and evidently intend to promote it so that it accomplishes the end Kuyper claimed. The book exposes Kuyper’s biblical basis for his theory and its practical mission.

The first and main part of the book is a much-expanded version of the public lecture given in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 2014 under the auspices of the evangelism society of Southwest Protestant Reformed Church in Wyoming, Michigan. The second part of the book consists of questions raised by the audience at the conclusion of the lecture and of the answers by the speaker at the lecture. 

  • 192 pages
  • hardcover
  • ISBN 978-1-944555-02-3
  • Retail: $19.95  |  Book Club USA: $12.97 | International $13.96

This book will be released mid May and will be automatically sent to all Book Club members.

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