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Face

The original words for face, both in the Hebrew and in the Greek, show the same derivation: first, to turn towards, to face; then, the part that turns, the face or appearance; then, one’s presence; and, finally, one’s person itself. The word countenance is closely related to the idea of face, presence, and person.

The face reveals what is in the heart of a man (and of God); it shows the attitude of someone, the stance he has toward another. The face can show humility. Abram fell on his face before God when God spoke covenant promises to him (Gen. 17:3), and Joshua fell on his face before the Captain of the Lord’s hosts (Josh. 5:14). But Jesus warns us that there is a false disfiguring of the face, a wearing of a sad countenance, that God sees and detests (Matt. 6:16). The face can show resolution. When it was time for Jesus to be received up, “He stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:15). God reveals His anger and displeasure by hiding His face (Ps. 13:1), and by setting His face against a man (Ps. 34:16). Man’s face can show opposition to God’s word, for the prophet Jeremiah was told by God repeatedly not to be “afraid of their faces, for I am with thee” (Jer. 1:8).

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Reformed Church Order: Law of Christ

Reformed Church Order: Law of Christ

The life and labor of the Protestant Reformed Churches are regulated by a church order. This is the church order adopted for Reformed churches by the Synod of Dordt, 1618-19.

The church order is law for the churches. It is the authoritative standard to which both consistories and church members must conform. There are sanctions for the unruly and disobedient. The member who handles sin in the congregation by broadcasting it from the housetop, or over the telephone, rather than following the way prescribed in Articles 71-74 of the church order, will himself be disciplined. The minister who publicly agitates against the decision of his consistory will be censured for schism. The elder who is “captious and . . . vehement in speaking” at classis will be silenced and, if need require, disciplined by the president of the assembly. The consistory that refuses to submit to a decision of synod will be set outside the union of the churches of Christ.

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Watchman on the Walls of Zion: The Life and Influenece of Simon van Velzen

Watchman on the Walls of Zion: The Life and Influenece of Simon van Velzen

Simon van Velzen was a powerful preacher of the gospel. He was a reformer of the church of Christ in the Netherlands in the Secession of 1834, a seminary    professor who influenced hundreds of future Reformed ministers, as well as a faithful husband and devoted father.

Sadly, many Reformed Christians in the twenty-first century have little, if any, idea as to who he is. Where he is remembered, he is often branded as being “unyielding, obstinate, and domineering,” and he is dismissed as being of little significance in the history of the church.

Here’s the biography that corrects the ignorance and misconceptions by setting forth the fascinating life of an influential figure in the history of Christ’s church.

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January 15, 2021 Standard Bearer preview article

January 15, 2021 Standard Bearer preview article

Lessons from the Judges (2): From 32,000 to 300

The book of Judges brims with instruction for the church’s youth. Last time, we noticed the idea, “…every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6). With this article, we continue drawing lessons from the book of Judges.

We find ourselves in the history of Gideon, following the deaths of judges Shamgar, Deborah, and Barak. Israel had again apostatized. As was repeatedly the case, God’s people slid into the sin of idolatry. Jehovah, in chastisement, sent the Midianites, Amalekites, and children of the East to oppress Israel. It is in this context that God called and equipped Gideon as judge. The Midianites and their allies gathered to fight against Israel. Gideon and certain of Israel—much fewer in number than their opponent—also assembled for battle. Although Israel’s army was small to begin with, Jehovah reduced its size even more before delivering the Midianites into Gideon’s hand. We will draw out two main lessons from this size reduction.

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Balm

Balm

Article originally published in the December 15, 2000 of the Standard Bearer, written by Rev. Dale Kuiper. __________________ Balm was an ancient ointment or salve made from the resin of certain pine trees. Sometimes this resin was mixed with honey to produce an ointment of considerable medicinal value. The Old Testament several times speaks of the balm of Gilead because it was especially from the trees that abounded in Gilead, east of Jordan, that this balm was manufactured. It is also likely that people went to Gilead to be treated by...

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January 1, 2021 Standard Bearer preview article

January 1, 2021 Standard Bearer preview article

If the Lord wills....

Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. James 4:13–15

As we begin this new year, the inspired James speaks to us. The Holy Spirit sees our need to hear the precious truth concerning the will of God, a truth to be applied to our entire life every step of the way.

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Christmas Joy

Christmas Joy

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. Luke 2:10

Fear not!

Tidings of great joy, indeed, I bring!

Was it Gabriel, the angel that standeth before God, who so suddenly burst forth in the darkness of the night from heaven’s star-studded canopy, and appeared upon the peaceful scene of the shepherds keeping watch over their flock?

We know not.

But the shepherds, we know, instead of expecting a message of gladness and salvation, instead of rejoicing at the appearance of one of the heavenly spirits that are sent for the service of the elect, were filled with dismay. A great fear filled their hearts. They were sore afraid. The sudden appearance of the heavenly messenger wrought within them a dreadful apprehension of some great evil impending.

They feared with a great fear. Generally it was believed by the people that when one saw an angel it meant death for him, a belief that may be regarded as scarcely more than a popular superstition. But here was more than the mere fear of death. It was the fear which sinful mortals experience when they are brought face to face with the glory of the Most High.

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I Remember Herman Hoeksema

I Remember Herman Hoeksema

 Click to read the preface included in this book. I Remember Herman Hoeksema consists of Professor David J. Engelsma’s memories of Herman Hoeksema. Engelsma grew up hearing Hoeksema preach and was Hoeksema’s student in the Theological School of the Protestant Reformed Churches. This book was originally published as a series of articles for young people in Beacon Lights magazine. The intent of the articles was to show something of the man whom many know only as an author and theologian.  Softcover coming soon!Softcover retail:...

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Postscript to the enduring freedom of the Standard Bearer

Postscript to the enduring freedom of the Standard Bearer
Thanks. I’ve said thanks to you, the reader, but this word of thanks goes to a previous RFPA board and specifically to four men on that board. This word of thanks is for their wives and families as well. Four men pored through one hundred years of RFPA history and Standard Bearer articles. Four men gave hundreds of hours to study the history of this relationship. An entire board spent months considering and discussing this history. They spent months on this work because it was serious and important work. They did this because they love the RFPA, they love the Standard Bearer, and they love their Christian brothers. When concern was expressed, this board and these men took that concern seriously. They were not dismissive of the concern expressed by their brothers, but rather were thoughtful and careful. These men have a patience and talent that I can only aspire to and admire. I am grateful for their talents, their time, and their work. I am grateful that I can stand on the shoulders of these men. Read More

The enduring freedom of the Standard Bearer (6 of 6): To whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48)—or, the great responsibility that comes with the enduring freedom of the Standard Bearer

The enduring freedom of the Standard Bearer (6 of 6): To whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48)—or, the great responsibility that comes with the enduring freedom of the Standard Bearer

The Standard Bearer is free. The editors are free. The editors have full authority over the contents of the magazine. The RFPA provides her full support to the Standard Bearer and her editors. But that does not mean that the RFPA and the supporters of the magazine mindlessly follow every editor. The editors are men, and men are not perfect; they sin often. How is an imperfect editor with full authority over the contents of the magazine to be dealt with then? From time to time editors face criticism.

As we have read in the blog post on the influence of the board, the RFPA board itself has, on occasion, issued criticism and rebuke.

This criticism also happens on the pages of the Standard Bearer. Our supporters write in with questions and comments, and opportunity is given for consideration and response. The RFPA board and the SB editors encourage you to write in with your thoughts. This keeps the magazine healthy and interesting.

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The enduring freedom of the Standard Bearer (5 of 6): Freedom: The enduring freedom of the Standard Bearer and her free editors

The enduring freedom of the Standard Bearer (5 of 6): Freedom: The enduring freedom of the Standard Bearer and her free editors

The unique relation between board and SB staff, where owner and publisher do not have control of its publication, was intentionally designed to keep the writers free from ecclesiastical control AND demands from its publishing organization.

In 1953, with the founder Herman Hoeksema being its editor, the editorial staff of the SB unanimously adopted a constitution for themselves. Board and association minutes make no mention of this action, which is evidence that the editorial staff recognized their jurisdiction in this area. As the first two editors-in-chief made clear in their writings, the staff had the only and final word and needed no approval from its “supporting organization.” This constitution defines the editorial staff, editorial committee, and their responsibilities. Here again, it becomes clear that one or three editors do not rule, rather, all the writers are the people who make the decisions on the SB.

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The enduring freedom of the Standard Bearer (4 of 6): The influence of the board: exercised carefully to maintain the enduring freedom of the Standard Bearer

The enduring freedom of the Standard Bearer (4 of 6): The influence of the board: exercised carefully to maintain the enduring freedom of the Standard Bearer

In our day and age, we don’t have medieval princes and kings influencing projects and publications. Control and power for such projects are wielded through corporations, associations, and boards. These groups provide protection and defense for stated goals. Here lies the purpose and heart of the RFPA. We support our Standard Bearer and by extension our editors. We provide protection and freedom to our editors so that they may do their work, so that they may write freely. We can influence them, we criticize at times, but ultimately, our goal is to provide the kind of support and freedom that the Fredericks provided so that the editors can be free.

Freedom for the editors does not mean that the board never seeks to influence them. Past boards have expressed disagreement to editorial staff regarding SB content, made suggestions for improvements to the magazine, and worked together with them, while respecting the authority of the editors and staff.

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The enduring freedom of the Standard Bearer (3 of 6): Authority: granted to ensure the enduring freedom of the Standard Bearer

The enduring freedom of the Standard Bearer (3 of 6): Authority: granted to ensure the enduring freedom of the Standard Bearer

Authority is a tricky word. It’s similar to the words responsibility and control. Often these words are used interchangeably, but all three words can also be distinct. It’s a word people sometimes fight about because authority is directly related to freedom.

The Editorial Staff of the Standard Bearer has authority of the contents of the magazine. Yes, I just quoted the policy again. Remember, this is the full staff, not just the editorial committee. To have the authority over content means having the responsibility for content; it means to have control of the content. It means this: the editors decide. This is the historic reality of the editors of the Standard Bearer. Early minutes and writings make clear that this was the intent from inception.

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The enduring freedom of the Standard Bearer (2 of 6): The policy: a labor of Christian brotherhood defined to ensure the enduring freedom of the Standard Bearer

The enduring freedom of the Standard Bearer (2 of 6): The policy: a labor of Christian brotherhood defined to ensure the enduring freedom of the Standard Bearer

The policy that governs the relationship between the RFPA board and the staff of her Standard Bearer provides consistency from variations in thought that naturally accompany every annual change in the board. New men have new thoughts, and while this is generally good, it can create instability for important relationships. The relationship policy sets a standard that in turn provides a healthy and stable environment for the staff and the board to foster a deep and trusting relationship.

But Christian brotherhood, you say? How can a policy be a labor of Christian brotherhood?

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