Christian Education and the Reformed Baptism Form (2): Heirs of the Kingdom of God

Picture a glorious king seated on a throne in a royal palace with watchful advisors standing at attention and waiting for the bidding of the sovereign. Then in comes the royal children. They need not stand at attention, but they run joyfully into the lap of the king and are received with familial love. We as children of God are also received in God’s favor and love!

The children of godly parents are heirs of the kingdom of God. In the Protestant Reformed Christian schools the children are taught with this in mind. Parents willingly sacrifice thousands of dollars to pay for tuition.  As an educator, I have witnessed that parents give up a vacation to a warm locale so that they can pay for Christian education. At other times, I have seen mothers work diligently school night after school night helping a son or daughter who struggles at school. These stories warm the heart of any Christian educator.  Covenant parents see their children as heirs of the kingdom!

By nature covenant children do not belong as heirs! Our baptism form states at the beginning that covenant children, “cannot enter in the kingdom of God” except they are born again. We thank our God that the covenant children are baptized because they are born again: “Since then baptism is come in the place of circumcision, therefore infants are to be baptized as heirs of the kingdom of God and of His covenant.” As Wielenga aptly states, “The cherub threatens no longer with a flaming sword at the entrance, but in the Lord’s name the messenger of the gospel steers the covenantal child inside” (p.  177). What a wonderful scene when the covenant child of believers is received into the bosom of the King!

Wielenga then directs our attention to the phrase, “infants are to be baptized as heirs” (emphasis MF). He states, “Pay attention to the word as!”(p. 178). In a masterful section, he explains, “That the children are not baptized in order to enter into God’s kingdom or to be admitted to the covenant, but the other way around, because they are already children of the kingdom and of the covenant” (p. 178).  The conditional covenant would have the children do something to enter into the kingdom. The Reformed Baptism Form is the exact opposite. The children of believers are already in the covenant, so they ought to be baptized. The instruction is not intended to get the child saved, but rather to teach an heir of the kingdom.

Protestant Reformed educators are very thankful for parents who confess the unconditionality of the covenant.  Otherwise, discipline in the school is impossible. A child who is an heir of the kingdom will heed covenant discipline. A child who is not an heir will not! In my experience, parents and teacher are supportive of each other in how to discipline a covenant child most of the time. This is a joy to the parents and teacher alike. The reason for this is that both parties agree that the child is an heir of the kingdom. When parents and teachers are on the same page in discipline, the phone call or email discussing the situation is a peaceful experience.  Often these emails and telephone conversations end with, “I support you and we are thankful for your work as a teacher.” Parents, we teachers hear these words and are encouraged by them.

Parents and teachers must continually hold before the children that they are loved by King Jesus. We must encourage them to live a holy life as kingdom citizens. The children must know that, “They do not stand on an equal footing with the children of the heathen, because they are born under the promise” (p. 178). The solemn institution of baptism is a sign to the world that covenant children are separate. They must be instructed separately from the world as heirs of the kingdom. Even in earthly nations, the heirs to the throne are given a higher education separate from other children. In the heavenly kingdom, it is demanded that the children receive royal instruction. The Church Order states in Article 21 that, “The consistories shall see to it that there are good Christian school in which the parents have their children instructed according to the demands of the covenant.” As parents and teachers, let us endeavor to maintain good Christian schools for the instruction of our royal children.

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This post was written by Mike Feenstraa member of the Protestant Reformed Church in Crete, Illinois. Mike also teaches fifth grade at the Protestant Reformed School in Dyer, Indiana. 

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Victorious in Defeat

Did ever man appear so hopelessly lost, so completely put to naught, so utterly defeated as our Lord in the hour of his suffering and agony on Calvary? His enemies had triumphed over him. He was forsaken by his own, condemned by the Church, sentenced by the worldly judge. There was no one to defend his cause. He had been mocked at and filled with reproach, beaten and buffeted and spit upon, scourged and crowned with a crown of thorns. And finally he had been led to the place of the Skull. And there “they crucified him, and two other with him, and Jesus in the midst.” John 19:18. He is numbered with the transgressor, exposed as a criminal, in fact, as the chief of them, as public enemy number one! And even so, his enemies know not pity. And all that are present and watch this dreadful spectacle, as well as those that pass by—the chief priests and the people, the soldiers and even the malefactor that were crucified with him—mock and jeer and taunt him, sarcastically challenging him to deliver himself and come down from the cross, thus contributing to and bringing out in bolder relief the picture of utter helplessness and defeat he presents. And does not God himself set his seal of approval upon this execution of judgment by men? For darkness envelops the cross, and soon from the darkness the terrible cry of utter amazement is heard: “My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?” Was ever man so utterly forsaken by God and men, as this man Jesus as he is hanging on the accursed tree?

But hark! The crucified one speaks once more! He complains of thirst, but the note of amazement that was in his voice a moment ago is gone. And again he cries out. And is there not this time a note of triumph in his voice? Is not this next to the last cross utterance an announcement of victory? “It is finished!” he shouts. And in the consciousness of having finished all, he now beckons death to take his earthly frame, and commends his spirit into the hands of the Father. Surely, this is not the death of a defeated man. He appears to be in perfect control even of the moment of his own death. And in the hour of what seems to be his utter defeat he announces the victory: “It is finished!” And while men slink away from Golgotha smiting their breasts and admitting defeat, God from heaven corroborates with signs and wonders the shout of triumph by his Son on the cross. Indeed, the moment of Christ’s utter defeat is the beginning of his glorious victory! He is victorious even in his defeat!

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*This section was taken from the beginning of Chapter 7: Victorious Defeat in the book When I Survey by Herman Hoeksema.

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Spiritual Disciplines of the Christian Life: Family Devotions

So far in this series of articles, we have looked at three spiritual disciplines: reading the Bible in personal devotions, praying in personal devotions, and devotions in marriage. This time we consider the discipline of family devotions: worship in the home among the husband, wife, and children.

It is on good biblical grounds that fathers, mothers, and children take time each day to worship as family. Family worship includes thorough instruction of children, instruction which Israel was called to give (Deut. 11:18-20). Surely, what stands at the center of the happy, God-fearing home in Psalm 128 is the worship of Jehovah—as a family. Joshua declared that he and his house would serve Jehovah (Josh. 24:15). Besides passages like these, there is the doctrine of the covenant: the relationship of friendship God establishes with His elect people in Jesus Christ. In family worship, we experience fellowship with God, give expression to family fellowship in the truth, and take seriously the command to instruct our covenant seed.  

The importance of family devotions cannot be overstated. This worship in the home is our daily spiritual nourishment. Even though many families eat a big lunch on Sunday, they still need to eat food from Monday to Saturday for their nourishment. Likewise, we enjoy a hearty meal under the preaching on Sunday, but still must feast on the Word as families in the home throughout the week. These meals nourish us, help us grow, and prepare us for the chief means of grace on Sunday.

Because family worship is essential to the spiritual life of the home, it must be the priority. This is why these devotions are a discipline of the Christian life: families see to it, with firm resolution and purpose, that they will, and that they will daily, sit together to worship God. Recreation (including sports) will always take the backseat to devotions. But what about college classes and work schedules that are difficult to work around? Flexibility is required in some cases: perhaps early morning or late night devotions are necessary.

Here are some guidelines for these family devotions.

  • Maintain reverence. It is at home that children learn how to sit still and quietly during a time of worship—valuable lessons to learn for public worship and even school. Children are taught from an early age, that this is, after all, worship of the holy God.
  • Read the Word. Read systematically through the Bible, book by book, chapter by chapter. Encourage family participation by giving all the members of the family a Bible, and have them take turns reading the verses. Reading a whole chapter is not necessary, especially when the chapter is long. Stop reading, when necessary, and explain words that the children do not understand; reading with comprehension is crucial.
  • Discuss the Word. Too often the Bible is shut immediately after the last word is read. Keep it open! Fathers, explain the doctrines in the passage. Teach the history, and help the children see the “big picture.” Reach for a commentary when discussing difficult verses. Ask good questions of the children. But especially, apply the passage personally to the family: struggles, sins, joys, school life, marriage, parenting, discipline, and more. Use this time to encourage openness, especially among the children. Talk to them and ask them about their love for God, their salvation, their struggles and disappointments, the temptations they face, and their life of sanctification.
  • Sing the Word. We want our children to love the songs of Zion. What better way to instill this love in them than by passing Psalters around the table and singing a number or two? Worship Him with singing!
  • Pray the Word. Allow the scripture passage previously read and discussed to color the after-meal prayer. Filling our prayers with scripture makes them fresh from evening to evening. Fathers, pray for each child by name, and especially for the wife and mother in the home. Pray for the church, local and worldwide, so that the children have a love in their heart for the body of Christ. Also, teach the children how to pray. From their early days, we instruct them to say, “Lord bless….” When we judge the time is right, we teach them to lead the family in prayer, for their own growth in the discipline of prayer.
  • Integrate sermons. Saturday devotions can be used to prepare for the Sunday sermons, if the information on the sermons is available. If not, Mondays are a nice day to reread the passages for the sermons, and to discuss God’s Word that was brought. This serves not only to fortify the connection between home and church, but also further to press upon the heart the messages heard in church.

Family devotions—the pillar of the Christian home! Let us seek God’s grace to be disciplined in this necessary worship. “…[B]ut as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Josh. 24:15).

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This post was written by Rev. Ryan Barnhill, pastor of Peace Protestant Reformed Church in Lansing, Illinois. If you have a question or a comment for Rev. Barnhill, please do so in the comment section on the RFPA blog.

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Bound to Join

In previous posts I’ve introduced the calling of active church membership. Now we begin to spell out concretely what responsibilities are given to us by King Jesus.

Perhaps you’re an adult who’s thinking, “I’ve never given much thought to my church membership. What responsibilities are there?” Perhaps you’re a young person who’s considering making confession of faith and wondering, “What’s all involved with my church membership?” Whatever the case may be, it’s beneficial for us to be reminded of what our church membership ought to look like practically.

I want to begin with the most basic (and perhaps obvious) calling: the necessity of being members of a true, instituted church of Christ. This duty is foundational for all the rest.

This calling is memorably expressed in Art. 28 of the Belgic Confession: “We believe, since this holy congregation is an assembly of those who are saved, and that out of it there is no salvation, that no person…ought to withdraw himself to live in a separate state from it; but that all men are in duty bound to join and unite themselves with it…”

This is our calling: we are bound to join!

The Belgic Confession goes on in the following article to explain how we decide our church membership. It does so by describing the “marks” or distinguishing characteristics of the true church that guide us in this calling. Those three marks are: the preaching of the pure doctrine of the gospel, the proper administration of the sacraments, and the faithful exercise of Christian discipline. The true church bears these marks; the false church does not. In determining which church we must join, we are guided by these marks: “Does this church preach the gospel faithfully? Are the two sacraments administered faithfully? Is there the faithful exercise of Christian discipline here? If so, this is where I must be a member.”

The calling is simple and straightforward, yet there are several dangers that must be avoided.

One danger is the temptation to base our church membership on something other than these marks. Often it’s the case that, rather than being guided by these objective marks, we are guided by our emotions. We base our church membership on how warm and inviting the members are. We base our church membership on how charismatic the minister is or how easygoing the officebearers are. We base our church membership on whether there are other couples or individuals who are the same age as we are. We base our church membership on where our family members attend. We base our church membership on our spouse and where they want to go to church.

As easy as this is to do, something as serious as our church membership may not be based on our fickle feelings. We must be guided by the marks.

Another danger is that someone says that it really doesn’t matter what church they are a member of, so long as they are a member somewhere. However, it is our calling to join the church that most clearly manifests the marks of the true church.

In the past this calling has been illustrated by the figure of a wedge, like the shape of an ax head (cf. Homer Hoeksema, “At the Point of the Wedge,” Standard Bearer vol. 59, no. 18). One end of the wedge is thick and dull. The other end of the wedge is thin and razor-sharp. The wedge represents a broad spectrum of churches that would be considered true churches of Christ (thus giving the lie to the idea that the Protestant Reformed Churches are the only true churches in the world). On the sharp edge of the spectrum is a church where the three marks are clearly seen. In the middle of the spectrum is a church where the three marks are evident, albeit imperfectly. On the dull end of the spectrum is a church where the three marks are scarcely visible. And beyond that a church becomes a false church.

It is our calling to strive to be on the point of the wedge. This is the calling of the church as a whole, meaning that she must strive to manifest ever more clearly the marks of the true church. But this is also a calling for each individual believer. He must see to it that he is a member in a church that is as close to the point of the wedge as possible, a church that most clearly manifests the three marks.

A movement away from the point of the wedge will be judged by God. For the church that moves away from the point, God will judge by causing that church in time to become a false church. For an individual that moves in that direction, God will judge by causing him eventually to be cut off in his generations.

But a movement toward the point of the wedge will be blessed by God. The congregation that moves toward the point will be blessed. And the individual that moves in that direction will be blessed, in his generations also.

If you are a member of such a church, rejoice and be exceeding glad!

If you are not, join a true church, one that most faithfully manifests the marks!

And, so long as she remains faithful, never leave her!

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Previous posts in this series:

Lively Stones in God’s House

Time to Build!

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This post was written by Rev. Joshua Engelsma, pastor of Doon Protestant Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa. If you have a question or comment for Rev. Engelsma, please do so in the comment section.

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Time To Build!

In the initial post in this series I merely stated the fact that Christ calls us to be active in the work of the church. In this post I want to prove that from the Word of God, and in so doing to impress upon us the blessed privilege and high calling that we have.

I want to do so by using one of the important figures that the Bible employs to describe the church. The scriptures use a number of different images to describe the church, most notably the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:12ff; Eph. 1:22-23) and the bride of Christ (Eph. 5:22ff). But the church is also described in a number of places as the temple or building or house of God.

The temple is a type of Christ’s body (John 2:19, 21). In that connection it is also a type of the body of Jesus, the church (Eph. 2:20-22). And, to be more specific, it is a picture of the church institute, the church as it is manifest in local congregations with officebearers and members and regular worship of God on the Sabbath (1 Tim. 3:15).

This spiritual house is built upon a cornerstone that supports the whole work and gives shape and structure to the building. The cornerstone is Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:20; 1 Pet. 2:6-8).

That cornerstone anchors the whole foundation of this spiritual house. The foundation is solid and unshakeable. It is the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ as proclaimed by the inspired apostles and prophets (Eph. 2:20).

The house which is built upon this cornerstone and foundation is comprised of many different, individual stones. These stones are naturally misshapen, ugly, and covered in muck. And yet each one is precious and has a specific place and function in the building. These stones are the elect in Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 2:5).

This temple is precious. Just as in the Old Testament the temple was the place where God was pleased to dwell, so also in the New Testament the church is the place where we enjoy covenant fellowship with God (Eph. 2:22). Just as in the Old Testament the temple was the place where sacrifices were made for sin, so also in the New Testament the church is the place where we receive the assurance of the forgiveness of our sins through the blood of the Lamb on the cross. Just as in the Old Testament the temple was the place where God’s people brought their worship and thanks to him, so also in the New Testament the church is especially the place where we bring our praise and thanks to God. For these reasons our Reformed fathers said that outside of the church institute “there is no salvation” (Belgic Confession, Art. 28).

What a privilege to be a part of this house!

But in belonging to this house, we have a calling from Christ.

Understand that the work of building this house is Christ’s work. He is the one that gathers, defends, and preserves the church (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 21). He is the one who chooses the stones that will make up his house. He is the one who alone is able to gather them together as one. He is the one that shapes, molds, and forms each misshapen stone to fit its unique place in the house. He is the one that polishes and perfects each stone so that they all appear as shining marble when every stone is gathered and the house is complete at his second coming.

Yet, in this work Christ gives us callings. This does not mean that we cooperate with Christ. It does not mean that we are equals. It does not mean that Christ bears some responsibility for the work and we do as well. We are means/tools/instruments in the hands of the Builder and Maker.

But this fact does not minimize our calling. It does not mean that we can be lazy and inactive. Christ calls us to be actively and zealously engaged in the work of building his house. In Haggai 1:8 God calls us to “go up…and build the house,” and the whole rest of the book of Haggai is a word of encouragement to be involved in this work.

Christ is pleased to use the church in the gathering of stones for his house. He does so by our preaching the gospel in the local congregation, engaging in mission work, and witnessing and local evangelism.

Christ is pleased to use the church in the shaping and molding of each stone so that is serves its function in the house and is made beautiful. He does so by our attentiveness to the preaching, by the rebukes of our fellow saints who come in the way of Matthew 18 and the elders who exercise Christian discipline, by our fellowship with other believers, by our service to the body of Christ, by our bearing the burdens of others, and a host of other ways.

We are stones in the house of God! What a privilege!

And we have work to do in this house! What a responsibility!

It’s time to build!

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Previous post in this series:

Lively Stones in God’s House

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This post was written by Rev. Joshua Engelsma, pastor of Doon Protestant Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa. If you have a question or comment for Rev. Engelsma, please do so in the comment section.

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In Review: Called to Watch for Christ's Return

Called to Watch for Christ’s Return, by Martyn McGeown. Jenison, MI: Reformed Free Publishing Association, 2016. Pp. 286. [Reviewed by Rev. Ryan Barnhill]

Called to Watch for Christ’s Return began as a series of sermons preached by the author on the Olivet Discourse, a speech in which “Jesus proclaims his second coming, an event with which history will come to a dramatic and sudden close” (ix). These sermons covered Matthew 24:1-31, dealing with the signs of Christ’s coming—deceivers, the preaching of the gospel, the great tribulation, and more. These sermons also dealt with Matthew 24:32-25:46, treating the subject of watching for Christ’s return—the unknown time of his return, Christ’s coming as in the days of Noah, parables associated with his coming, and more. These sermons comprise the content of the book. We are thankful that these fine sermons have reached a wider audience through their publication in book form.

The main strength of Called to Watch for Christ’s Return is its exegetical precision and richness. The material is always mined from the text. Concepts are carefully defined and developed, and difficult passages are lucidly explained. Especially does this clarity of exegesis become important in passages that deal with such matters as the abomination of desolation (Matthew 24:15-20) and the unknown time of Christ’s return (Matthew 24:36). Such passages are often misinterpreted, leading to a host of errors. Thus, proper, sober interpretation is critical in these kinds of difficult passages.McGeown’s work is a needed and timely contribution to the study of eschatology (the end times), for two reasons. First, there are so many today teaching unbiblical ideas about the end of the world. Called to Watch for Christ’s Return interacts with these systems of thought, dismantles them, and plainly sets forth the biblical, Reformed, amillennial position. Second, we live in the last days, and that alone makes this book important. We must know what to expect in these last and evil days, we must be admonished to watch for the coming of our Lord, and we must be comforted.

McGeown’s work is necessarily polemical. That is, it is a work which exposes and refutes the errors. Advocates of both postmillennialism and premillennial dispensationalism seek to find evidence for their views in Matthew 24 and 25. Postmillennialism teaches that the Olivet Discourse—at least some of it, if not all of it—is a reference exclusively to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. This interpretation is fundamental to the postmillennial position, lest the events of which Jesus speaks interfere with postmillennialism’s future golden age. In contrast, premillennial dispensationalists claim that the Olivet Discourse refers exclusively to the future—not to AD 70, but to a future Jerusalem and a future temple. Negatively, the author exposes these errors, and demonstrates how a sober interpretation of Jesus’ teaching pulls the rug out from under these millennial systems. Positively, McGeown sees Matthew 24 and 25 as a blending of the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, on the one hand, and Jesus’ second coming, on the other hand. The destruction of Jerusalem is a type or picture of Jesus’ second coming. This view, the amillennial view, and this view alone, does justice to Jesus’ words.

In a book on watching for Christ’s return, one would expect not only polemics, but also pointed instruction and warning for believers. After all, we are all prone to spiritual slumber instead of watching for Christ’s return. The command of scripture to watch for our Lord’s coming is a weighty command, and the author conveys it well: “Watch! Christ is coming. Let us not be found sleeping when he returns, but looking for his return. Let that watchfulness begin today if it has not been our habit before, so whether he comes on the clouds or calls us in death, we will be ready to meet him” (214). Called to Watch for Christ’s Return is a stirring call to stay vigilant in these last and evil days.

The book is also comforting and warm, an approach that arises from the author’s pastoral heart for God’s people who live in the perilous days prior to Jesus’ coming. This warm tone characterizes the entirety of the book, and climaxes in the last chapter; any reader’s heart will thrill in reading this last chapter, which explains, in part, the glories of the new heavens and the new earth. Read and meditate upon this breathtaking description of heaven: “Death, sin, and the curse will be absent—forever banished from the new creation. We will enjoy spiritual joy and satisfaction in abundance, for we will enter into the fullness of our inheritance. Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit! That is life, eternal life, life that lasts forever and has no end. Life with Christ. Life in the presence of God, fellowshipping with him. That is blessedness and joy! That is worth waiting for! Do not fear the judgment day. Do not be weary with watching and waiting. But pray, even for that great day” (280).

Our Lord is coming. Watch. Watch—by reading. Called to Watch for Christ’s Return, as a faithful exposition of Jesus’ words, will instruct you, arm you against the errors, comfort you, and quicken your hope. Come, Lord Jesus, yea, come quickly. 

 

If you have not yet ordered your copy of this book, do so today! 

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Spiritual Disciplines of the Christian Life: Devotions in Marriage

In the last two articles, we have considered individual or private devotions. Now we turn to marriage devotions, or worship in marriage: the spiritual discipline of the husband and wife reading the scriptures together and praying together.

A suffering marriage can be explained by many issues: lack of communication, squabbling over finances, a severe trial that has driven a wedge between the spouses, sharp personality differences, disagreement over childrearing, etc. But I wonder if most marriage problems, if not all, grow from one basic root: prayerlessness. Satan is working feverishly hard to break up marriages—is that not evident today? The devil knows well how quickly a marriage without prayer and scripture spirals downward.

Do you value your marriage? Search the scriptures with your spouse. Do you desire a strong relationship? Pray with your spouse. This is one of the disciplines of the Christian life.

The biblical principles for marriage worship are plain. The husband is the head of his wife (Eph. 5:23). As such, the husband must love his wife, and give himself for her (Eph. 5:25). Headship in the marriage surely includes leading one’s wife in worship—not just family worship, but marriage worship. This is how the husband shows the love of Christ to his wife. In addition, the wife is to be in subjection to her husband (Eph. 5:22). Submission, among other things, means that the wife cheerfully puts herself under her husband’s spiritual guidance, and contributes willingly in worship—not just in family worship, but in marriage worship. Furthermore, there is God’s command that believers marry only in the Lord (I Cor. 7:39). Marrying in the Lord is so important, because only those who are spiritually one can worship together.

Then, there is the explicit teaching on worship within marriage in a passage like I Peter 3:7: “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with [your wives] according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” The husband and wife are heirs: they have been adopted by God for Christ’s sake, and are granted the rights and privileges of the children of God. The husband and wife are heirs together of the grace of life: they stand together as heirs of God’s grace, the grace which is the source of true life (the life of Christ) in the marriage. Marriage partners who are co-heirs of the grace of life pray together, and see to it that these prayers are not hindered.

Below are some practical guidelines for approaching this worship within marriage.

First: marriage devotions include study of the Bible and prayer. Pick a book of the Bible to study in a systematic way. Each day, read a passage together, meditate on it, and discuss it. Then, filled with the Word of God, pray aloud.

Second: marriage devotions may borrow from personal devotions. In previous articles, we treated the topic of personal or individual devotions. Assuming both husband and wife have their own devotions, it is certainly legitimate for them to discuss these personal devotions. Husband: “Today, I read this passage, and I was thinking about….” Wife: “Those are lovely thoughts. Let me talk to you about the verses I read this morning….”

Third: marriage devotions are focused on...marriage. Discussion of the scripture passage, and especially prayer, ought to be specific to the marriage; this is what makes the worship of husband and wife different from both personal and family worship. What should we pray about? Pray that there might be a seeking of Christ in the marriage. Pray that the scriptures might be the foundation of the relationship. Pray about communication, intimacy, and a deepening love for one another. Pray for faithfulness in a world that abounds with temptations. Pray for the grace to reconcile after a fight. Pray for the children—for their needs, and for wisdom to raise them, teach them, and discipline them. Let the wife hear that her husband prays for her—as a wife and mother. Let the husband hear that his wife prays for him—as a husband and father.

Fourth: marriage devotions are not the same as family devotions. This follows from the point above. Worship between husband and wife is exactly as it sounds—worship between husband and wife. There are matters that spouses discuss and pray about, that are unique to the marriage. For this reason, children should not be a part of these devotions. Understanding that the health and maintenance of the marriage comes first, the husband and wife will find a quiet time each day to grow together, encourage each other, and pray for each other.

Fifth: marriage devotions require the participation of husband and wife. Although the husband leads in these devotions, he ought to encourage the participation of his wife. The husband, but also the wife, should discuss the scripture passage. The husband, but also the wife, should pray. Headship does not preclude the participation of the wife!

Sixth: marriage devotions must begin early. Make these devotions a practice early in the relationship. It is generally true that the longer a couple (dating or married) waits to worship together, the harder it will become to start. Begin this life in the Word and in prayer early—during dating, or, at the latest, on the first day of marriage. By God’s grace, this devotional life will become a daily and expected highlight of the marriage.

Press on, husband! Persevere, wife! Be diligent, by the mighty grace of God in Christ Jesus, in this calling to worship one with another. This is God’s will for Christian marriage.

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This post was written by Rev. Ryan Barnhill, pastor of Peace Protestant Reformed Church in Lansing, Illinois. If you have a question or a comment for Rev. Barnhill, please do so in the comment section on the RFPA blog.

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MP3 Now Available! Radio Interview with Prof. Engelsma on The Sixteenth-Century Reformation of the Church


Prof. Engelsma once again did a radio interview with Chris Arnzen, the national, religious radio host of Iron Sharpens Iron. The broadcast was an interview on a book that Engelsma co-authored and edited, The Sixteenth-Century Reformation of the Church. This interview was of special significance since this year is the five hundredth anniversary of the Reformation.

The interview was broadcast live March 30, from 4-6 pm on Chris Arnzen’s website: (http://www.ironsharpensironradio.com). 

 

The following is taken from the "About" page on the "Iron Sharpens Iron" website.

If you’re weary of the typical fluffy Christian radio broadcasts, you’ll find Iron Sharpens Iron addresses a multitude of topics from a distinctly Reformed Christian worldview. Chris Arnzen asks the right questions, presents guests who have the answers, and continually challenges Christians to apply their faith to every aspect of their lives.

 Click on the icon to listen to the radio interview.

Click on the icon to listen to the radio interview on the Iron Sharpens Iron website.

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Christian Education and the Reformed Baptism Form (1)

We are excited to announce another writer who is joining the existing pool of writers for the RFPA blog. Mike Feenstra is a member of the Protestant Reformed Church in Crete, Illinois, and also teaches fifth grade at the Protestant Reformed School in Dyer, Indiana. This is his first blog post.

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The existence of the Protestant Reformed Christian Schools is a testament to the covenant faithfulness of our Heavenly Father.  As an educator in these schools, I thank God for godly parents who faithfully carry out their vows according to our Reformed baptism form. Recently, the RFPA has published The Reformed Baptism Form: A Commentary by Bastiaan Wielenga.

Wielenga speaks in vivid language about the prayers of godly parents for their covenant children. In a moving section, he writes on the prayer used during baptism, “’Oh that thou wilt be pleased graciously to look upon this child, that is, do not judge this child according to his sins; do not look upon him in anger, but in mercy. Do not regard him with the eye of a judge, but with the eye of a father.’ This prayer has something of the publican’s cry of distress. ‘O God, have mercy on me!’”

This book has inspired me to write about the three sections of the form that speak directly on the education of covenant children.  

The first section is found directly preceding the prayer before baptism: “And parents are in duty bound further to instruct their children herein when they shall arrive to years of discretion.” Future blog posts will deal with our children as heirs of the kingdom and Christian parents’ duty to instruct their children.

The second section is included in the questions directed to the parents: “Whether you promise and intend to see these children, when come to the years of discretion (whereof you are either parent or witness), instructed and brought up in the aforesaid doctrine, or help or cause them to be instructed therein, to the utmost of your power.”  We will consider the aforesaid doctrine that parents are called to teach their children, and we will discuss the calling of parents to do this to the utmost of their power.

The third section concerning education is a lengthy section in the prayer of thanksgiving. We hope to discuss that our children are governed by the Holy Spirit; that they grow up in Christ; that pious and religious education must be given to them; that they are under the Teacher; that we must ask that God’s goodness and Fatherly mercy be upon them; and finally that our children will be militant until they enter into heavenly glory.

Dear reader, as we discuss the form of baptism and the education of covenant children, let us fix our eye upon our Heavenly Father. May we instruct these covenant children as children of light.

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LIVE Radio Interview with Prof. Engelsma - The Sixteenth-Century Reformation of the Church




Prof. Engelsma will once again be doing a radio interview with Chris Arnzen, the national, religious radio host of Iron Sharpens Iron. The broadcast will be an interview on a book that Engelsma co-authored and edited, The Sixteenth-Century Reformation of the Church. The interview is TODAY starting at 4 pm and will be broadcast on Arnzen’s website: (http://www.ironsharpensironradio.com). Be sure to tune in later today!

 The following is taken from the "About" page on the "Iron Sharpens Iron" website.

If you’re weary of the typical fluffy Christian radio broadcasts, you’ll find Iron Sharpens Iron addresses a multitude of topics from a distinctly Reformed Christian worldview. Chris Arnzen asks the right questions, presents guests who have the answers, and continually challenges Christians to apply their faith to every aspect of their lives.

 

 

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