RFPA Annual Meeting - "Lord Grant Boldness": The RFPA's Witness in the Sexual Revolution


Western society is presently in the grips of a powerful revolution. This is a revolution of massive scope and earth-shaking consequences. It is a sexual revolution, a revolution proudly trumpeting fornication, homosexuality, transgenderism, and the like. What are the origins of this revolution? How does it show itself in the present? What is the future of it? And then, what is the calling of the RFPA in the face of this revolution?

Plan to attend the RFPA Annual meeting this week and hear Rev. Joshua Engelsma speak on "Lord Grant Boldness": The RFPA's Witness in the Sexual Revolution. 

Date: Thursday, September 29, 2016
Time: 7:30 pm
Place: Providence Protestant Reformed Church
1569 44th St SW, Hudsonville MI 49426

 

Men, women, and young people are welcome! 

 

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Standard Bearer Digital Index for Volumes 1-92 - Now Available!


Are you looking for a specific article or topic that was addressed in a past issue of the Standard Bearer?

The index for Volumes 1-92 is now available in a searchable PDF format for the low cost of $10. A link to download the complete PDF of the index will be emailed to you after you receive your order confirmation.

Indexes included in this file: Subject, Textual, Book Reviews, and Title.

NOTE: This digital index is separate from the Standard Bearer searchable archives of past SB articles that are available online free of charge: www.sb.rfpa.org.



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Islam (7)

Arguably, among the most complicated questions in Christology (the doctrine of Christ) are those that concern the natures of Christ. Christians believe that Jesus Christ is both divine (He is the eternal, only begotten Son of God, the second person of the Godhead) and human (He is the man Jesus of Nazareth, with a real, physical human body and a real, spiritual human soul).

Confusion arises when we try to understand how the divine and the human are related in Jesus. The Qur’an says nothing about this, which is understandable—the Qur’an teaches a merely human Jesus (Isa). Although the Jesus of the Qur’an is virgin born and performed miracles, he is a mere human prophet like Moses, Elijah or some other servant of God. It is true that Jesus (Isa) is highly esteemed in Islam, but the Qur’an falls far short of honoring Jesus as the Son of God, a truth that the Qur’an vehemently denies. The New Testament, however, is not satisfied with faint—and false—praise for Jesus. “All men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him” (John 5:23).

In the last blog post we mentioned certain questions that the Muslim might raise in objection to the truth of the Incarnation of the Son of God:

“If Jesus is God, how could He be hungry?”
“If Jesus is God, how could He be tired?”
“If Jesus is God, how could He pray to God?”
“If Jesus is God, how could He die?”

“If Jesus is God, who was ruling the universe when He was in the grave?”

The simple answer to those questions is that Jesus was hungry, tired, suffered, and died only according to His human nature; and that (while a human being) Jesus still ruled according to His divine nature. That is simple to state, but less simple to understand.

When you observe Jesus Christ in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, you are observing one who is the eternal Son of God (that is His person) in the human flesh. “And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). When the baby Jesus lay in the manger, He was the Son of God or the Word made flesh. When the boy Jesus grew up in Nazareth, He was the Son of God or the Word made flesh. When the young man Jesus worked as a carpenter, He was the Son of God or the Word made flesh. When the adult Jesus walked around Galilee, or sat in a fishing boat, He was the Son of God or the Word made flesh. When after a long day, Jesus sat down to a meal, ate food, drank water or wine, and then fell asleep, He was the Son of God or the Word made flesh. When Jesus suffered and died on the cross, He was the Son of God or the Word made flesh.

He never ceased to be the Son of God—His deity or divinity was not diminished in the Incarnation.

He never ceased to be man—His humanity was not changed in its union with the divine Son of God.

Jesus was both God and man. Even today, in heaven, Jesus is still both God and man.

Each of those two natures in Jesus has its own distinct properties. Those two natures must not be confused, therefore.

It is the property of humanity to be finite. Therefore, Jesus’s human nature (exactly because it is a true human nature) is finite.

The human body of Jesus, therefore, grew. He grew as a child until He reached His adult height. To speak of an infinite human body that fills heaven and earth by its immensity is nonsense. No human body can be immense, infinite or omnipresent.

The human mind of Jesus, therefore, developed. Jesus was ignorant as a child, just as we were, so He had to learn. Of course, His mind was sharper and keener than ours, simply because His mind was unimpaired by sin, but Jesus never reached a stage in His development when He was omniscient in His human mind. Omniscience is not a human characteristic. (Jesus is omniscient, but only according to His divine nature). That explains, for example, why Jesus was ignorant of certain things not revealed to Him by the Father.

The human body of Jesus, therefore, was not omnipotent. An omnipotent human body is a contradiction in terms. (Jesus is omnipotent, but only according to His divine nature). That explains, for example, how Jesus was able to experience fatigue, pain, hunger, thirst and other natural human weaknesses. He experienced such sensations in His real, finite, non-omnipotent human nature.

It is the property of divinity to be infinite, unchangeable, eternal, omniscient and omnipotent. Therefore, Jesus is and remained infinite, unchangeable, eternal, omniscient and omnipotent. For example, when Jesus perceived the thoughts of the Pharisees, He displayed His omniscience (Mark 2:8). When Jesus calmed the storm of the Sea of Galilee, He displayed His omnipotence (Mark 4:9). Indeed, in all of His miracles Jesus displayed His omnipotence as the Son of God. However, for the most part, during His life on earth Jesus’ glory as the Son of God was hidden behind the infirmity of His flesh. Nevertheless, when Jesus showed His power, not even His enemies could deny it.

As I have indicated more than once, the questions concerning the true divinity and perfect humanity of Christ were settled at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD, over a century before Mohammed’s birth. That Mohammed was unaware of these things and makes no effort to interact with Christianity’s official creeds is remarkable.

A much later Christian confession, the Belgic Confession, explains the relationship this way:

We believe that by this conception, the person of the Son is inseparably united and connected with the human nature; so that there are not two Sons of God, nor two persons, but two natures united in one single person: yet, that each nature retains its own distinct properties. As then the divine nature hath always remained uncreated, without beginning of days or end of life, filling heaven and earth: so also hath the human nature not lost its properties, but remained a creature, having beginning of days, being a finite nature, and retaining all the properties of a real body… (Article 19).

The next question we must face is why did Jesus come? Why did the Son of God become incarnate? And the answer is quite simply at the very heart of the Christian gospel: He came to suffer and die for the sins of His people. To that subject we turn next, DV.

________________

This post was written by Rev. Martyn McGeown, missionary-pastor of the Covenant Protestant Reformed Church in Northern Ireland stationed in Limerick, Republic of Ireland. 

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Who is Annemie Godbehere?

We thought our readers would like to see a picture of Annemie Godbehere, translator of our latest publication, The Reformed Baptism Form. This photo is of Annemie talking to Rev. Stewart at the British Reformed Fellowship Conference in 2012.

 

For further information on Annemie, see 'A Word About the Translator' in the new book, The Reformed Baptism Form.

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The Importance of the Reformed Baptism Form

The Reformed Form for the Administration of Baptism is one of the most important of all the secondary confessions of many Reformed churches worldwide. It is certainly the most read in the churches. In its original form dating from the late 1500s, soon after the Protestant Reformation, it received its present form and official standing from the Synod of Dordt in 1618/1619.

In various languages, including the Dutch, the Form functions at the baptism of adult converts and of the infant children of believers in many Reformed churches everywhere in the world. By virtue of its use to administer, solemnize, and explain the sacrament of baptism, this form is read in the worship services of Reformed churches more often than any other creed or form, with the exception of the Heidelberg Catechism.

Lacking has been a thorough, faithful, sound commentary on the Baptism Form in the English language.
    
This lack is now met by a translation into English for the first time of the authoritative, if not definitive, commentary on the form by the highly qualified and esteemed Dutch pastor and theologian, Dr. B. Wielenga, Ons Doopsformulier (in the English translation of the commentary, The Reformed Baptism Form: A Commentary. Kok of Kampen published Wielenga’s commentary in 1906.
    
The 448 page commentary includes chapters on “The Doctrine of Baptism in General”; “The Doctrine of Infant Baptism in Particular”; “The Prayer before Baptism”; “Admonition to the Parents”; and the “Prayer of Thanksgiving after Baptism.”

The commentary sets forth the Reformed doctrine of baptism as sign and seal, the doctrine of the covenant of God with the children of believers, and other vitally important truths related to the sacrament, including the relation of the covenant and election. 
     
It is also intensely practical, considering such matters as whether the officiating minister should sprinkle once or three times; whether it is proper to make of the administration of the sacrament an occasion for the gathering of relatives and friends; and, more significantly, whether parents and church are to regard and rear the baptized children of believers as regenerated, saved children of God, or as unsaved “little vipers”—in which (latter) case, of course, no rearing is possible. 
      
The author was determined to explain the language itself of the form, avoiding the temptation to introduce convictions of his own. Written clearly and simply so as to be of benefit to all Reformed believers, the commentary also gives the Reformed pastor deep insight into the sacrament of baptism and its administration. This is a book that will help all Reformed Christians, pastors, and churches to be Reformed in thinking and practice with regard to the sacrament of baptism, especially with regard to the baptism of the infant children of believing parents.
      
To order the book, visit our website, www.rfpa.org, or email us at mail@rfpa.org.

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"A New Front"

There is a new front on which the church must stand opposed to the armies of the sexual revolution.

The battle is still the same: an unholy war against marriage and the God who instituted it.

But there is a new front in that battle. Last year the revolutionaries were marshalled on the issue of homosexuality and same-sex marriages. This year the battle has been waged on the front of transgenderism. But an assault is now being made on another front: incest.

The title of a recent article posted on The Aquila Report says it all: “Mother, Adult Son Fight for Right to Incestuous Relationship” (here’s the link). About nineteen years ago, a New Mexico woman named Monica Mares (now 36 years old) gave birth to a son whom she then put up for adoption. The son, Caleb Peterson (19), lived apart from his birth mother until last year when they met again. Mother and son are now in a “romantic” relationship which includes “sexual relations.” Living in the house and witnessing this fornication are Mares’ two other children, ages 5 and 6.

Authorities became aware of this relationship in February, and the two appeared in court on March 10 on charges of incest. The trial was supposed to be held at the end of August, but has since been bumped back to October 26. If convicted, the two could face up to three years in prison and a $3,000 fine. Mother and son are not backing down, but claim to be willing to go to jail to fight for their supposed right to be together. And there are plenty of others rushing to support them.

What’s striking are the arguments used to justify this “consanguinamory” (literally, “same-blood love”). They base their defense on the recent approval of homosexual marriage. Cristian Shy, a supporter of incest, says, “It was the same with gay people just a few years ago and now they can get married and they are accepted. Well, why not consanguinamorous people like us?” Travis Weber, an attorney with the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C, says, “I think that the framing of this case and the advocacy on their behalf is made much easier by the Supreme Court’s decision and many of the developments we are seeing in law in regards to homosexuality.”

This is telling. It shows that the sexual revolutionaries are building on the advances that they made with same-sex marriage. If marriage can be redefined to include the union of man with man and woman with woman, then what’s to stop it from being redefined in any way a person chooses? What’s to stop marriage from being redefined as a mother with her son or a father with his daughter?

Those fighting for the right to live in an incestuous relationship, in harmony with the advocates for homosexual marriages, argue that there is only one thing that matters in a relationship: consent. The son, Caleb Peterson, said, “Honestly, I never thought we would get into trouble for our relationship. We were both consenting adults—when it comes down to it. She’s an adult; I’m adult. I can make my own decisions.” A group supporting this mother and son claim to be pushing for “full marriage equality for all consenting adults.” This is the one moral scruple that they yet claim to have. You can do whatever you want with whomever you want, but just so long as you are both consenting.

In fact, the sexual revolutionaries have apparently succeeded in shutting the mouths of their opponents who argue on the basis of health risks. Homosexuality brings major health risks, but that argument cannot be used any longer to forbid homosexual unions. Incest also brings major health risks. But since that argument has already been overcome by the revolutionaries in regard to homosexuality, Attorney Weber asks, “What’s to stop us in regard to incest?”

Take note of these two points.

First, what we are seeing is a continual advance in the sexual revolution. Having won the hill on the issue of homosexuality, they press their advantage to bring about approval of incest and other sins. And in the end, the goal with all this is to destroy the institution of marriage altogether. It would not be surprising if in a few years Western society asks itself, “What purpose does marriage even serve anymore? Do away with that outdated institution altogether! Everyone do what’s right in your own eyes! Fornicate left, right, and center! Just be sure the others are consenting!”

Second, what we are witnessing is the spirit of the antichrist. In 2 Thess. 2, the antichrist is referred to literally as “the lawless one.” Daniel 7:25 says that he will “think to change times and laws.” The spirit of the antichrist reigns in the world today, as they overturn the laws of God regarding gender and sexuality and marriage. The way is being paved for the personal antichrist to come.

Watch!

Oppose!

And pray!

“Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”

____________

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

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Keeping the Sword Drawn: Our Calling as the Church of the Militant Christ - Upcoming Lecture

The true church is under vicious assault in these last days. Satan, having great wrath because he knows his time is short, is determined to destroy the divine truth that the church loves, believes, confesses and lives. False teachers with their damnable heresies are on every side. Pressures to sell the truth for the sake of unholy alliances mount. Iniquity of the vilest sort is sanctioned and celebrated in society. What shall the church do as she awaits the triumphant return of her head Christ Jesus?  We are planning a lecture by Rev. Brian Huizinga titled Keeping the Sword Drawn: Our Calling as the Church of the Militant Christ to be held at Grace Community Church in Hudsonville, MI on Friday September 30 at 7:30pm.  This lecture will address these issues, demonstrating the church’s urgent calling to take the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and keep it drawn.  We will also live stream this event. - Southwest PR Church Evangelism Committee

http://www.southwestprc.org/keeping-the-sword-drawn.html

             

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Islam (6)

We have—for the benefit of the Muslim neighbor, who does not understand the Christian faith—been explaining the great wonder of the Incarnation.

We have noted that (1) The one who became incarnate is the Son of God; (2) His becoming the Son of God did not mean that He ceased to be fully divine; (3) In becoming incarnate, the Son of God took to Himself a real, complete human nature of body and soul; and (4) The human (nature) and divine (nature) in Christ (the eternal Son of God) are distinct.

This wonder took place in the virgin conception and birth. The Qur’an teaches the virgin birth, that is, it teaches that Mary give birth to Jesus (Isa) when she had not known a man sexually (Surah 3:47; 19:19-22). However, the virgin birth in Islam does not really serve any purpose; it is simply given to be a sign (Surah 19:21)—a sign of what, we might wonder.

The Bible gives very great importance to the virgin conception and birth, for in this very way the Son of God became a real human being, or “the Word was made flesh” (John 1:14). (Incidentally, the Bible does not accord such importance to the virgin birth in order to honor Mary, who is but an instrument in God’s hand. We honor Christ by confessing His incarnation through the virgin birth).

Listen to the following exchange between the angel Gabriel and Mary in Luke 1:31-35

And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

The goal or purpose of the virgin birth is not merely to be a sign—it is a sign, but it is more than a sign. The virgin birth is the vehicle of the incarnation. It is the way in which the Son of God becomes human. Notice that Gabriel identifies the son that Mary shall bear as (1) the Son of the Highest; (2) holy; and (3) the Son of God. Notice, too, that the wonderworker of this miracle will be the Holy Ghost (or the Holy Spirit).

Something deeply mysterious and wonderful took place in the womb of the Virgin Mary. Who can fathom it? The Holy Spirit took part of the flesh of Mary, part of her human nature. This was necessary so that Jesus might be related to the human race and a true descendant of King David. Then without the use of any flesh from a man (such as Joseph, Mary’s espoused husband, who is entirely excluded from this miracle), the Holy Spirit formed a real, complete human nature. That human nature consists of body and soul. Who can fathom the coming together of a body and soul when we are formed in our mother’s wombs? How much greater is that wonder by which a real human body (a human embryo at this point) and soul were formed in Mary’s womb for the Son of God! To that real human nature the person of the Son of God united Himself by the power of the Holy Spirit. The result is that the eternal Son of God, without ceasing to be God, became true man.

Jesus from the very moment of His conception was fully and true God, and fully and true man. When He was born, Jesus was fully and true God and fully and true man. Throughout His earthly life, Jesus was fully and true God and fully and true man. And in His death, Jesus was fully and true God and fully and true man.

Another sublime passage on the Incarnation is Philippians 2:5-8:

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Consider briefly these words. First, Jesus is “in the form of God” and “equal with God.” Those two expressions mean that He is God. Second, Jesus “was made in the likeness of men” and “being found in fashion as a man.” Those expressions mean that He is truly human. Third, Jesus “made himself of no reputation,” “took upon himself the form of a servant,” “humbled himself” and “became obedient.” Those expressions speak of His voluntary submission or humiliation. And the whole passage is designed to illustrate the virtue of humility.

Another passage in this connection is Romans 8:3:

For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.

Notice the precision of language. God sent His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh. God did not send His own Son in the likeness of flesh. That would be a denial of the reality of Christ’s human nature. God did not send His own Son in sinful flesh. That would be a denial of the reality of Christ’s sinless purity. God sent His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh. That perfectly encapsulates the truth of the Incarnation.

One final passage that speaks powerfully about the Incarnation is Galatians 4:4-5:

But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

The important expressions here are “made of a woman” (a reference to the Incarnation—Jesus was not merely made “in” but “of” [out of] a woman) and “made under the law” (a reference to His humiliation, for Jesus voluntarily placed Himself under the law in order to obey it, and in order to deliver us from the penalty of the law).

All of this makes Jesus Christ altogether unique. He is the only one who has ever lived who is both God and man. He is the eternal Son of God, and He is a true human being. That is the meaning of the Incarnation, which is so important for our salvation.

One final matter in this connection is the vital relationship between the human and divine in Jesus. If this is not understood, Jesus becomes inexplicable. It is exactly because the Muslim does not understand this that the Incarnation is such a stumbling block to him. It is exactly because of these misunderstandings that the Muslim will bring objections such as these:

“If Jesus is God, how could He be hungry?”
“If Jesus is God, how could He be tired?”
“If Jesus is God, how could He pray to God?”
“If Jesus is God, how could He die?”

“If Jesus is God, who was ruling the universe when He was in the grave?”

These questions might seem foolish to the Christian, but to the Muslim they are genuinely perplexing issues. (Incidentally, you will hear similar objections from cultists such as the so-called Jehovah’s Witnesses). Some may ask the questions in a mocking, sneering tone, but we should not respond in kind: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (I Peter 3:15).

To those questions we turn next time, DV.

__________________

This post was written by Rev. Martyn McGeown, missionary-pastor of the Covenant Protestant Reformed Church in Northern Ireland stationed in Limerick, Republic of Ireland. 

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"Ringing in a New School Year"

It’s that time of year again. It’s the time when the weather starts to cool, the leaves start to change their color, and an important activity begins. No, I’m not referring to the end of the baseball season or the start of the college football season.

I have in mind the beginning of another school year, the time when students and parents and teachers are thinking about school supplies and friends, lunch boxes and bus stops, lesson plans and course schedules. Some of our Protestant Reformed schools began another year of instruction in this past week; we sent our two oldest children off last Tuesday. And I know that a number of other Protestant Reformed schools begin this week.

The start of another year of instruction in the classroom provides the opportunity to reflect on a number of things related to the existence of our schools: the history of their beginning, the basis for their existence, the curriculum, and the place of the teacher, to name just a few.

Another important aspect to consider is the goal or purpose that we have in providing this education for our children. What are we hoping to get out of it? Why the blood, sweat, and tears to get a school started and keep it running? Why the thousands upon thousands of dollars every year in tuition and drives?

Is the goal of our schools simply to prepare our children for their vocation in life, to make sure that they are able to go out into the workforce and earn a living or carry out their responsibilities in the home? This is a goal in educating our children. We certainly want to equip them to carry out their vocation from God. But, in the end, this is not the goal.

Is the goal of our schools to protect our children from the wickedness of the world and the evil influences of the public schools? This is a goal in educating our children. Some scoff at this and say it would be better if our children weren’t so sheltered but were exposed to the world at a young age. But there is wisdom in protecting and nurturing these tender seedlings until they are able to stand on their own. But, in the end, this is not the goal.

Is the goal of our schools to establish our children in the Reformed faith and in particular the doctrines as they are taught in our Protestant Reformed Churches? This is a goal in educating our children. We give thanks that the same things taught in the church and in the home are also reinforced in the school. But, in the end, this is not the goal.

Is the goal of our schools to provide an excellent, quality education? Is the goal to equip them for a lifetime of learning? Is the goal to prepare our children to be good citizens? Is the goal to educate all the covenant children? These are all goals in educating our children. But none of them is the goal.

But what then is the goal of our Christian schools?

Here’s the way it’s put in the RFPA’s book Reformed Education: “Our goal is a mature man of God, who lives in this world in every area of life with all his powers as God’s friend-servant, loving God and serving God in all of his earthly life with all his abilities, and who lives in the world to come as a king under Christ, ruling creation to the praise of God, his Maker and Redeemer (p. 84).”

In other words, our goal is related to this present life: our children serving their covenant God in the midst of this world with all their abilities. And our goal is related to the life hereafter: our children praising their covenant God in eternity.

This is the same goal that parents have in the rearing of their children. Deuteronomy 6:5 says that the purpose of our childrearing is that they “love the Lord [their] God with all [their] heart, and with all [their] soul, and with all [their] might.” Ephesians 6:4 says that the goal is for our children to be brought up “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” 2 Timothy 3:17 says the goal is “that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” If this is the goal for the home, then this is the goal for the Christian school as an extension of the home.

It is important that we keep this goal in view as another school year begins. It’s important for the teachers in their instruction of the children day after day. It’s important for the parents in their conviction and support for the school. And it’s important for the students in their going to school and doing their work there.

As we begin another school year, remember this goal.

And give thanks for schools governed by this goal.

 

________________________

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

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The Reformed Baptism Form by B. Wielenga now published in English

Brought into English for the first time is this commentary on the Reformed baptism form by Bastiaan Wielenga, a prominent minister of the word in the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (GKN) in the early to mid 1900s. This commentary sets forth, defends, and applies the creedal Reformed faith concerning the covenant of grace—the foundation of baptism. This commentary will be especially helpful to Reformed churches, ministers, and other members in its explanation of the baptism form’s authoritative treatment of covenant and election in relation to the baptism of infants.  The faith of every believer concerning the sacrament of baptism will be expanded and enriched by the commentary. 

From the author’s preface: “The ardent desire of my heart is that by the publication of this writing many people reading this work learn to regard baptism more purely, appreciate it more warmly, and more zealously plead the covenantal promises on behalf of believers and their children, before the throne of him who calls himself I Am That I Am."

Click PDF icon to get a sneak peak!

 

                      

         Order your copy today!

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