It is of the Lord's mercies...


His Mercy Endureth Forever

illustrated by Kathleen DeJong

To him which led his people through the wilderness: for his mercy endureth for ever. —Psalm 136:16 (KJV)

"Not all illustrations of Scripture are lawful or tasteful. However, Kathleen’s book of pictures carefully captures the beauty of God’s mercy described in Psalm 136. Each sketch has the imprint not only of a skilled artist but also of one who has meditated on God’s Word. Both children and adults will grow in gratitude to God by pondering the inspired text as it is illuminated by insightful art."  

— Rev. Jonathan Mahtani, Pastor of Cornerstone Protestant Reformed Church  

"Kathleen DeJong has beautifully illustrated Psalm 136 in this book. Some of these detailed, vibrant pictures portray actual historical events from scripture; others portray the spiritual reality behind biblical events. I especially appreciate that the book begins and ends with illustrations that remind us that the psalms were meant to be sung by God’s people—people who always rejoice in the goodness and mercy of their God."

— Karen Van Baren, Reformed Christian school teacher

  • Retail: $13.95 
  • 36 pages | hardcover
  • This will make a great Christmas gift!
  • Coming December 2018 

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      *This new book release will NOT be sent automatically to RFPA book club members.

      **As of September 1, 2018 book club members receive a 15% discount on new children's book releases. (This is not in addition to the normal 30 - 35% discount.)

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      The Grammatical Gymnastics of an Advocate for Divorce and Remarriage: Active Voice

      We have seen that the use of the passive (or middle) voice in the Greek of Matthew 5:32, 19:9 and Mark 10:11, 12 (even if we accept the translation in the passive or middle, which we do not) does not justify remarriage after divorce (at most it increases the guilt of the man who divorces his wife, but it does not permit the divorced woman to remarry). Luke records the teaching of Jesus on divorce in a different context, and in the active voice.

      Since in Luke 16:18 Christ uses the active voice (and moicheuoo instead of moichaoo), a different argument is required to justify remarriage after divorce. In Luke 16:18 our advocate for remarriage clings to the present tense of the participles and the verbs: “Everyone putting away…and marrying…commits adultery.” This supposedly refers to the Pharisees who “were continually divorcing and continually marrying…The actions of divorcing and marrying resulted in continual adultery, actively destroying the very institution of marriage.”

      Perhaps, to capture the fullness of the present tense, we could render it thus, although it would be an over-translation: “Everyone (who keeps) putting away his wife and (who keeps) marrying another (keeps on) committing adultery and the one (who keeps) marrying her who has been put away from (her) husband (keeps on) committing adultery.”

      Nevertheless, I do not see how an appeal to the present tense helps the case of our remarriage advocate. In Matthew 5:32a the same phrase appears: “Everyone (who keeps) putting away his wife…” The point of the present tense is that when remarriage occurs the relationship that results (the second or subsequent marriage) involves the remarried persons (both of them!) in continuous, ongoing adultery. This is true whether the remarrying person is a Pharisee on his second or seventeenth relationship or whether he or she is a modern Westerner (even a church member or officebearer) on his or her second or third marriage. If the original spouse still lives, any subsequent relationship (second, third, fourth marriage) is adultery.

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      The Grammatical Gymnastics of an Advocate for Divorce and Remarriage: Passive Voice

      The first argument concerns the “voice” of the verbs in Matthew 5:32, 19:9, and Mark 10:11–12. In grammar the voice of a verb describes the relationship of the action of the verb to the subject of the verb. For example, “John eats an apple” is in the active voice, for John performs the activity of eating (John is the “subject” of the verb “to eat”). On the other hand, “The apple is eaten by John” is in the passive voice, for the subject of the verb (the apple) does not perform the activity of eating. Instead, the activity happens to the subject, for the apple is eaten.  

      Our advocate for remarriage writes,

      The verbs in Matthew 5 translated “to commit adultery” are passive. The woman put away and the man who marries her are passive. The original husband is the only active agent in the adultery. He commits adultery against them… To say that the woman commits adultery is as false as can be.

      If we attempted to translate Matthew 5:32 with passive verbs, it would read something like this: “Everyone putting away his wife [active]…makes her to have adultery committed against her [passive] and if anyone marries [active] the divorced woman he has adultery committed against him [passive].” This would make the remarried woman (32a) and the man who marries her (32b) the victims (rather than the culprits) of adultery. Our advocate for remarriage writes:

      God is principally protecting the innocent. The wife who is put away for any reason other than fornication is wronged. God protects those. Adultery is committed against them wrongfully in that the dismissed woman and the man who marries her are made to appear as adulterers.

      We should notice that in the mind of our remarriage advocate, the remarrying people (the divorced woman and her second husband) are not adulterers; they only appear so in the eyes of others. Only the divorced woman’s first husband actively commits adultery. If this were true, it would mean that the guilty party in the divorce is an adulterer and it would forbid him from remarrying. It would not forbid, so the argument goes, remarriage to the innocent parties. Sadly, few advocates for remarriage limit remarriage to the innocent party; they allow remarriage for the guilty and the innocent party.

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      Micah has arrived in house!

      Rev. McGeown's book Micah: Proclaiming the Incomparable God has arrived! And our packers are busy at it this morning getting out the books to our book club members. 

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      Jehovah’s Good Requirements

      Sneak Peak of Chapter 13: Jehovah’s Good Requirements in Micah: Proclaiming the Incomparable God
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      6. Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old?
      7. Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
      8. He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:6–8)


      In chapter 6, Micah, in the name of Jehovah, announces Jeho­vah’s controversy with his people. In that controversy Jehovah cries out to his people: “O my people, what have I done unto thee?” (v. 3). Jehovah even declares: “Testify against me!” (v. 3). In so doing, Jehovah strongly protests his righteousness and the people’s treachery. Then Jehovah proves from history that he has always been faithful to Judah. He brings as “Exhibit A” his deliverance of his people from Egypt, his sending them Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, and his protection of them in the wilderness. Jehovah’s “Exhibit A” to us is the cross of Jesus Christ. Surely, then, neither they nor we have any excuse for ingratitude toward God.

      The text contains a kind of dialogue between the prosecu­tion and the defense in Jehovah’s controversy or lawsuit. Judah responds to Jehovah in verses 6–7. She shows in her response that she recognizes the majesty and holiness of God, for she speaks of him as “the high God” (v. 6) and she confesses sin: “my transgres­sion…the sin of my soul” (v. 7). But her response to Jehovah is false: she does not know (or claims not to know) how she should approach God. Micah, in Jehovah’s name, responds to Judah’s question (whether it is a sincere question or not, or whether it is a question designed to escape blame or not). “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee” (v. 8).

      JEHOVAH’S GOOD AND CLEAR REQUIREMENTS

      Before we look at the three requirements, we need to ask and answer some questions. The first question is: what are these requirements generally? The text says two things about them: they are good, and they are clear.

      First, they are good. “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good” (v. 8). We are not interested here in what seems good to us, or even in what seems good to society. We are interested in what is good to Jehovah. Good in the Bible is defined by what is pleas­ing to God, not what is pleasing to us, and not what is pleasing to the greatest number of people. Because God is the good God, what is good and pleasing to him will also be good for us: it will be good for us spiritually and will bring us blessedness.

      12. And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul,
      13. To keep the commandments of the Lord, and his stat­utes, which I command thee this day for thy good? (Deut. 10:12–13)

      Second, they are clear. “He hath shewed thee, O man” (Mic. 6:8). Jehovah is not a God who is impossible to serve because we do not know what he requires. He has shown us (each of us) what is good and what he requires. Jehovah has declared that to all of his people, not just to a select few. One does not require great insights, learning, or degrees in theology to know it. Jeho­vah’s requirements are clearly recorded for us in scripture that we might know them. Our calling is to do these things in thankful­ness to him.

      The second question we need to ask is: for whom are these requirements, or from whom does God require them? The text explains that these are what God requires from us, his people. “He hath shewed thee…what doth the Lord require of thee… thy God” (v. 8). This text is not directed to the Philistines, the Moabites, or the Babylonians. It is directed to the people of God: “my people” (vv. 3, 5).

      This text is therefore not directed to the modern society in which we live, for God does not call all the inhabitants of the world in general to live the Micah 6:8 life. That would be impos­sible. God calls the church (believers, Christians) to live this way. For one thing, how can unbelievers walk humbly with their God? The calling of an unbeliever is not Micah 6:8 but repent and believe in Jesus Christ. Only then will you be able to live accord­ing to these requirements.
       Click the pdf icon to read full chapter. 

       

       

       

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      Interview with Kathleen DeJong on His Mercy Endureth Forever: Psalm 136

      Kathleen’s illustrations include both full-page paintings created with acrylics and simple drawings. Not only are the illustrations engaging, they serve the beautiful message of the psalm: God is faithful to his covenant people and to their children. To introduce RFPA readers to Kathleen and this new concept of children’s literature, we recently interviewed her about her illustration work and her upcoming book. Below is an excerpt from the interview:

      1. Why did you choose to illustrate a psalm? Why did you choose to illustrate this particular psalm?
      Psalms are some of the easiest Bible passages to follow, which works well for a children’s book. Psalm 136 in particular has a lot of beautiful imagery to make art from.

      2. Were there any children that you especially had in mind when you creating your illustrations? What did you want them to get out of the book?
      I had my nieces and nephews in mind. I want them to see how beautiful and diverse God’s creation is, from fields to mountains and the changing sky, and how amazing his miracles are, like the pillar of fire and just giving us food every day. His mercy endures forever.

      3. What do you think is the benefit of a book that contains only the words from a Bible passage with illustrations?
      Having this psalm illustrated gives you pictures to think of when you read it. For people who learn in a more visual way, this can even help them memorize the psalm.

      4. Was there a particular message you were hoping to get across in your illustrations?
      I wanted to get across the scope of God’s creation in many of the illustrations, which I hope I did by keeping the people small and the backgrounds large and colorful. God’s creation is so vast and complex, and yet he made us the objects of his love. For this and all the other things he has done for us we live gratefully every minute.
      Retail: $13.95 
      36 pages | hardcover
      This will make a great Christmas gift!
      Available mid-December 2018
       

      PREORDER

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      The Grammatical Gymnastics of an Advocate for Divorce and Remarriage

      Recently I have come across some novel arguments to justify remarriage after divorce while the original spouse is still living. I will not name the advocate of remarriage on the blog: suffice to say that on social media he began commenting on a video link to Prof. David Engelsma’s lecture at the British Reformed Fellowship Conference (2018), “Unbiblical Divorce and Adulterous Remarriage: A Scandal.” He labeled it “proscribed heresy” and called those who agreed with the lecture “hypocritical legalists” who “damage the church and mock the grace of Christ,” adding that we were “perfect illustrations of the haughty Pharisees,” and called us to repent. Then he called our position “false, anti-Reformed, and unbiblical,” as well as “schismatic and destructive of true Christian compassion.” He argued (correctly) that neither Luther nor Calvin agreed with our position, which Prof. Engelsma fully admits in his book Marriage: The Mystery of Christ and the Church. While we admire the Reformers, they were (sadly) not strong on the subject of divorce and remarriage. This is reflected in the otherwise excellent Westminster Confession of Faith.

      Because I did not want my answer to be buried in a long Facebook thread where the advocate for remarriage made his novel arguments, I decided to make it public here. I hope it will serve as a witness to the truth of the unbreakable marriage bond. Some of the arguments from Greek grammar are quite involved, so I ask for the reader’s indulgence.

      In addition, I am not interested in attacking personalities or churches. I am merely interested in the arguments, especially exegetical arguments, for God’s word is the final arbiter on this and all matters.

      I should point out right at the beginning, however, that knowledge of Greek grammar is not necessary for the child of God. The King James Version of the Bible is an accurate translation of the original Greek and Hebrew, and no theologian or pastor should give the impression that the Bible cannot be comprehended without recourse to the original languages: we believe in the perspicuity of holy scripture, that is, we believe that the Bible is clear, so clear that, if a child of God has a good translation, he can understand the scriptures; yet the Bible is so profound and rich that the greatest theologian cannot plumb its depths. Moreover, we believe in the office of believer according to which every child of God has the blessed privilege of knowing and understanding God’s word without the need of “experts” or a “priestly class” in the church.

      In addition, the main issue is clear. Marriage is a lifelong, unbreakable bond between one man and one woman, in which the two become one, enjoying intimate fellowship with one another, which fellowship, both in the Old Testament and New Testament reflects the relationship between Christ and the church. In scripture God hates divorce (Mal. 2:16); and even when he gives his adulterous, unfaithful wife a “bill of divorce” (Jer. 3:8), he still declares himself married to his people (v. 14), and he never takes another people (i.e., the Lord never remarries).

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      More RFPA books have arrived in the Philippines!

      In early August we sent a shipment of books to the Philippines—seven large boxes. Last week we received an email from Sharon Kleyn, wife of missionary Rev. Daniel Kleyn:

      “We received the big shipment! I managed to get it all put away in one day and we managed to fit it in our shelves. (It helps that we recently bought two more big shelves.) Everything was in great shape.  Thanks for all the work of putting it together and getting it here. The shelves are jam-packed full, but I still would like to place a new order. By the time this new order arrives we will have sold a bunch again, I’m sure.”

      The next order of three large boxes will be picked up from our warehouse on November 2.

      “They received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily…” Acts 17:11b

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      In Response to 'What Must I Do?' Editorial in the Standard Bearer

      The following letter was sent to the editorial office of the Standard Bearer with the request that they publish it. The editors refused to publish the letter. I publish it here on the RFPA blog as I sent it to them. I believe these issues are of utmost importance for our churches and for the readers of the blog.

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      Letter to the Standard Bearer about What must I do?

      Dear Editors of the Standard Bearer,

      I am writing about the most recent editorial, What must I do?, by Rev. Koole (October 1, 2018 Volume 95, Issue 1). I find the editorial deeply disturbing for the connection that it makes with doctrinal dispute in our churches, specifically the editor’s, “fear that we tend to underestimate,” the truth of irresistible grace, and the editor’s connecting this to the “issues being discussed in the PRC of late, namely, grace and godliness—the life of good works—in the life of the child of God.”

      The editor’s reference is to the doctrinal dispute in the Protestant Reformed Churches over sermons preached at Hope Protestant Reformed Church. I take issue with the editor’s characterization of this as “a discussion.” Rather, there were multiple protests and appeals filed, discipline carried out, a man deposed from office, many meetings were held, many decisions were made, some decisions overturned, and the last decision was made by Synod 2018, part of which involved a formula of subscription examination of a preacher. It is hardly “a discussion.” To describe it as such is an affront to all involved.

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      Doctrine

      The Hebrew word for doctrine means "to take, receive, seize"; then it means that which is received mentally: instruction. The Greek has a whole family of words relating to our topic: one means that which is taught; another refers to the one doing the teaching, the doctor or master; the verb form simply means to instruct or indoctrinate. The word doctrine appears fifty-two times in scripture, good evidence of its importance. Strikingly, when we read of doctrines in the plural the reference is always to strange doctrines, the doctrines of men, or the doctrines of devils. False doctrines are legion and contradictory, but true doctrine is one, for it has its unity in Jesus Christ. 

      The doctrine of God drops from heaven as rain (Deut. 32:2), it is pure and good (Job 11:4). The people were amazed at the teaching of Jesus, saying, "What thing is this? What new doctrine is this? For with authority commandeth he . . ." (Mark 1:27). But Jesus did not teach new doctrine; it was not his but the Father's, and it agreed with the teaching of Moses (John 7:16–19). The children of God obey from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered unto them (Rom. 6:17). Since all scripture is given by inspiration of God, it has the primary profit of giving us doctrine (2 Tim. 3:16). Adding to the peril of the times in which we live is the fact that men "will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers; having itching ears" (2 Tim. 4:3). The purpose of God in giving ministers to the church is "that henceforth we be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine . . ." (Eph. 4:14). Of such central importance is the truth that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is come in the flesh that the denial of this is antichrist, and "if there come any unto you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed" (2 John 10). 

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