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In the Nicene Creed the church confesses that there is only “one holy catholic and apostolic church.” This means that the Christian faith and life of the true church of Jesus Christ as she is manifested today in various denominations and congregations is rooted in the church of the past. Times may have changed but the church today shares with the church of the past the same Lord, the same faith, the same battle, the same hope, and the same purpose—to bring glory to name of our great God. The church must be conscious of her past history in order to be sure that she is continuing on the right path. In other words the study of church history is important.
The study of church history is all the more important because of the constant attack of enemies who seek to knock her off of the “old paths.” Satan desires that the members of the church be ignorant of their history. Lack of interest in church history plays into the evil one’s hands. Church history can then be distorted and used to spread false doctrine and support wicked behavior, as is often attempted today. The study of church history is an important part of the battle of faith she must wage to remain faithful to God.
That the church carries on this battle and remains faithful to God is of course not due at all to her own strength. God’s is the glory for his sovereign work through Jesus Christ of gathering, defending, and preserving his church. Do you confess you are and always will be a living member of the one holy catholic and apostolic church of Jesus Christ? Then church history is the history of God’s amazing faithfulness to you. So reading church history is important—to know what God has done—to thank God for what he has done.
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What a wonderful evening! We are excited to report a great turnout and an edifying assembly for our annual association meeting, held last night at Georgetown Protestant Reformed Church in Hudsonville, MI.
In addition to a large crowd of readers, families, and friends, last night also marked record high attendance in the last 10 years for Association members with 86 present and, by God's grace, we experienced the encouraging growth of 14, mostly young, new members. What an encouragement to see young people taking an interest in the important work of the RFPA!
Board president Michael Bosveld opened the evening with prayer, followed by Rev. Brian Huizinga's excellent, timely speech entitled "Encouraging the Next Generation to Read" and reports by the RFPA board secretary and treasurer.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Schism of 1953 within the Protestant Reformed Churches. In the newest issue of the RFPA Update, learn about the role of the Standard Bearer throughout the schism and read a review of our most recent book publication which also details much of the history of the schism. Click here for to view the entire Update as a PDF.
by Prof. David J. Engelsma
Rightly, both friend and foe of the magazine perceive the Standard Bearer (SB) as the literary voice of the Protestant Reformed Churches in America (PRC). That the SB is published by a “free” association, that is, an association that is independent of the churches, does not affect the perception. All hear this voice as a trumpet—a clear, loud sounding of the Reformed faith as purely known and boldly confessed by the PRC.
In an address at the 1945 RFPA annual meeting, the cofounder and first editor of the magazine, Herman Hoeksema, said, “The Standard Bearer wants to send forth a trumpet blast of no uncertain sound. It purposes to send forth a testimony that is very specifically Reformed.” Hoeksema added that the “very heart” of this specifically Reformed truth, that the SB would clearly and loudly testify, is “the idea of the covenant of grace.” And the truth of the covenant of grace “dare not be divorced from the doctrine of sovereign predestination.”
Little did Hoeksema know that in a few years the SB would have to give a “trumpet blast of no uncertain sound” regarding the doctrine of the covenant for the defense of the Reformed faith within the PRC themselves. But this it did, for the preservation of the churches in the pure Reformed faith, for the development of the doctrine of the covenant by means of controversy, and for the public exposure of grievous heresy regarding the covenant with believers and their children.
The year 2013 is the sixtieth anniversary of a notable schism in the PRC. The issue was the doctrine of the covenant, whether having its source in the eternal decree of election and, therefore, made unconditionally with Jesus Christ as head of the covenant and with all the elect in him (Gal. 3:16, 19, 29), or cut loose from election and, therefore, made conditionally with all who are baptized. Involved in the controversy was also the conception of the covenant as a living, warm bond of intimate fellowship, reflecting the life of the Trinity, rather than a cold contract or agreement, patterned after a business deal or a political alliance. In June, 1953, the large, influential First PR Church in Grand Rapids, mother church of the PRC, was divided over the issue of the covenant. In September, 1953, the schism spread to Classis West of the PRC. In October, 1953, the schism sundered the churches in Classis East, thus becoming denomination-wide.
To celebrate schism in the church of Jesus Christ, schism being a gross, public sin that does damage to the visible church of Christ, is inappropriate. We mourned the schism. Sixty years later, we still mourn the schism. But we celebrate the work of Christ in and by the wicked, hurtful schism. That work was the preservation of the PRC in their belief and confession of salvation by sovereign, particular (unconditional) covenant of grace. We celebrate also the work of Christ by the schism of bringing about development of the doctrine of the covenant; of causing a Reformed denomination officially to adopt and confess orthodox Reformed principles of the doctrine of the covenant (in the PRC’s Declaration of Principles); and of exposing and condemning a perennial threat to the truth of the covenant and the gospel of grace in Reformed churches.
The main instrument of the Spirit of Christ in this work, other than the sermons preached by the faithful PR ministers, was the SB. Beginning in 1948 and continuing through the heat of the controversy in the early 1950s, the SB explained the issues of the controversy and defended the truth of the covenant, crossing swords with the enemies of the truth in the PRC. Thus the magazine preserved the PRC, though in much smaller size than before the schism.
The crucial importance of the SB for the PRC and their confession of the truth of the gospel of grace in the schism of 1953 was not the first time the magazine had functioned in this capacity in hard times. The SB was instrumental in forming the PRC in March, 1925. The first issue of the SB was published in October, 1924, when Hoeksema, G. M. Ophoff, and H. Danhof and their congregations were still members of the Christian Reformed Church (CRC).
Quite directly, the SB occasioned the formation of the PRC as a separate Reformed denomination. Rather than the churches producing the magazine, the magazine helped to produce the churches. The deposition by CR classes of Hoeksema, Ophoff, and Danhof and the expelling of their congregations from the CRC were due, in no small part, to the ministers’ publishing of the SB and writing against the doctrine of common grace, which the synod of the CRC had adopted in the summer of 1924. A ground for the deposition of Danhof and Ophoff and their consistories was their “association with the SB.” Although his involvement in the SB was not mentioned in the grounds for Hoeksema’s deposition, it was mentioned in the proceedings that led up to it (Herman Hoeksema, The Protestant Reformed Churches in America, 2nd ed. [Grand Rapids, 1947], 252, 158).
In the early years of the PRC, the SB was the main means of the expansion of the denomination among Christian Reformed people who shared the PRC’s rejection of common grace and convictions concerning particular grace and the antithesis.
The SB vigorously and uncompromisingly defended the unconditional covenant during the internal struggle of the PRC in the early 1950s that culminated in the schism of 1953. This defense is shown today as a glorious defense of the gospel of grace by current developments concerning the covenant in many reputedly conservative Presbyterian and Reformed churches in North America. The heresy of the federal vision, which is widespread and entrenched in these churches, openly denies justification by faith alone—the heart of the gospel—and thus all the doctrines of grace confessed by the Canons of Dordt with specific regard to salvation in the covenant. For the Reformed critique of the theology of the federal (covenant) vision, see my Federal Vision: Heresy at the Root (Jenison, MI: RFPA, 2012).
By its own admission the federal vision is nothing other than the development of the doctrine of a conditional covenant that the PRC repudiated in 1951 by the adoption of a synodical document called the Declaration of Principles, and in 1953 by the discipline of a minister who was preaching the conditional covenant. For the full account of the adoption of the Declaration of Principles, including its contents, and an account of the schism itself, see Battle for Sovereign Grace in the Covenant (Jenison, MI: RFPA, 2013). The witness of the SB in the late 1940s and early 1950s to the unconditional covenant, now summed up in the Declaration of Principles would be the salvation of Reformed churches in North America, if only they would give heed to it.
The important work of the SB on behalf of the PRC and the Reformed faith and life is not finished. What this work—a calling—continues to be is indicated in the statement of the SB’s purpose by the founders of the magazine. Originally, the purpose of the magazine was to develop and defend the truth of particular grace against the theology of the three points of common grace adopted by the CRC synod of 1924 (cf. Hoeksema, PRC in America, 134–35). The importance of this calling of the SB, still today, in AD 2013, is evident from the appalling apostasy of the CRC, both in doctrine and in life, as that church goes on foolishly and wickedly developing and applying its doctrine of common grace.
In their announcement to the CRC that they intended to publish the SB, Danhof and Hoeksema advised the CRC that the magazine would testify that “the doctrine of common grace necessarily leads to world conformity” (Om Recht en Waarheid [For justice and truth], Kalamazoo, MI: Dalm Printing, n.d., 46; the translation of the Dutch is mine). This warning, many other Reformed churches besides the CRC need to hear. They criticize the CRC for its falling away, while themselves embracing, defending, and preaching the false doctrine that has destroyed that church.
As editor Herman Hoeksema declared in his address to the annual meeting of the RFPA in 1945, the calling of the SB is to sound a “trumpet blast of no uncertain sound” that is “very specifically Reformed.” And the “very heart” of this “very specifically Reformed” blast is “found in the idea of the covenant of God,” which “dare not be divorced from the doctrine of sovereign predestination.”
If ever there were a time when such a blast should be sounded throughout all of Reformed Christendom, it is the present. The churches are plagued either by the absence of a covenant consciousness, as Arminian evangelicalism corrupts the churches, or by the heresy of a conditional covenant that is deliberately divorced from sovereign predestination and is, therefore, also the Arminian error.
For such a time as this, God has raised up the PRC and their SB.
In carrying out this calling, the SB must not only be positive, but also negative. The constitution of the RFPA requires the SB “to reveal false and deceptive views repugnant [to the Word of God as expressed in the Reformed creeds].” The SB must be polemical—a fighting magazine. The wars of the Lord did not end in 1953. And the Lord’s wars intend the destruction of the foe.
For this warfare courage is demanded. The magazine must be willing to endure slander and ridicule, while persevering in the conflict without wavering. Love of the truth must outweigh the suffering of the hatred of men.
This means that the editors and writers of the magazine must be willing to be studiously ignored by the wider Reformed community in their magazines and journals, as though the content of the SB is unworthy of consideration. They must write without desiring or expecting the praise of men, in anticipation of the only commendation that matters—the Lord’s “well done, good and faithful servant.”
But if history lasts another one hundred years, Reformed scholars somewhere in the world (for the Reformed faith will endure; God grant that it may be in the PRC) will write that, in the midst of shameful embarrassment at the Reformed, Christian faith and life and in an environment of dreadful apostasy, there was a magazine known as the SB that kept and fought for the faith of Jesus Christ according to the Reformed religion.
David J. Engelsma
Reformed Free Publishing Association
Jenison, MI, 2013
Hardcover, 304 pages; $28.95
Reviewed by Justin Smidstra
Battle for Sovereign Grace in the Covenant is a timely publication, examining the controversy over the doctrine of the covenant. This treatment is merited not only by the present need to preserve the history of the schism of 1953, which becomes more distant with each passing generation, but also by the present ecclesiastical landscape in which conditional covenant theology is rampant even within the walls of conservative Reformed churches. This book is an important historical study readily applicable to the lives of contemporary Reformed Christians.
Historically, the book covers the provisional adoption of the Declaration of Principles in 1950, through the tumultuous period of controversy leading up to and following the synod of 1951, and concludes with the schism of 1953 and the subsequent return of the schismatic churches to the CRC. The commentary on this history is engaging as the author not only recounts these events but analyzes them, explains their meaning for the churches, and provides insight into why they occurred.
The author focuses primarily on the Declaration of Principles, the document that precipitated the controversy. This Declaration, as the author maintains, is a landmark document in the history of Reformed Christianity. This is not because it teaches anything new. Rather the Declaration articulates that which the PRC has always confessed, namely that the covenant is sovereignly established by God with the head of the covenant Jesus Christ and the elect seed of believers. The covenant is therefore governed by election and is dependent for its fulfillment solely on the gracious work of God. In the course of the book, the author articulates this covenant doctrine and decisively refutes the disguised Arminian view of the Liberated, which divorces the covenant from election.
The author also draws out some important implications of the Declaration for Reformed churches today. First, the doctrine of the unconditional covenant is not a peculiar creation of the PRC alone; rather it is a doctrine that necessarily arises from a consistently applied Calvinist theology. This is accomplished by proving the complete harmony of the Declaration with the confessions. In this way, by illustrating the soundness of the Declaration’s creedal argument on behalf of the unconditional covenant, the author demonstrates that all Reformed churches who subscribe to the three forms of unity are bound to confess that the covenant is unconditional. It is a matter of creedal fidelity.
Second is the application of the Declaration to the current controversy surrounding the federal vision, a theology that teaches on the basis of the conditional covenant that God gives the covenantal promise to every baptized child and that the fulfillment of that promise depends upon the child’s fulfillment of the conditions of the covenant. This latest mutation of “salvation by works” theology that now plagues numerous Reformed Churches is essentially the same covenant theology that was unmasked and defeated by PRC in the 1950s. The Declaration holds the cure, but few have sought to learn from history’s light. Indeed the Battle for Sovereign Grace shows that this battle is an ongoing battle between the true gospel and the false gospel and, as members of the church militant, we are called to fight the good fight on behalf of God’s truth.
In this regard this book is a very worthwhile read for anyone, young and old alike, who cherish the truth of the covenant and who desire to see this heritage preserved for the good of the church and the glory of God.
Mr. Justin Smidstra is a member of Hudsonville Protestant Reformed Church in Hudsonville, MI, and will be entering the Protestant Reformed Seminary this fall, the Lord willing.
Click here to purchase. Valid through October 31, 2013.
*Book Club or any other discount does not apply. Book club members will not be charged for shipping.
As the anniversary of the celebrated Protestant Reformation approaches, let us give thanks to God for John Calvin and the wonderful reformation he also brought about, by God’s power.
Calvin’s Calvinism features the treatise written by Calvin in 1522 on the doctrines of predestination and providence represents his mature thoughts on these subjects. The Reformed Faith of John Calvin is the perfect book for those in search of a succinct summary of the Calvin’s Institutes.
Stock your shelves with these two valuable volumes and catch up with Calvin!
Thank you for your valuable publication of the eBook version of the Church Order Commentary. I have already learned much from it and am very grateful for yet another outstanding RFPA publication (as always, the best that there is)!
—Reader from Tennessee
In the last year I was introduced to the Standard Bearer. I have found so much already that has helped us grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord. This is a Reformed journal to which every Reformed believer should be a subscriber. When I finish each issue, I leave it in the narthex of my church for others to read. Thank you for maintaining fidelity to God’s Word as summarized in the Three Forms of Unity.
—Reader from New York
I received Reformed Dogmatics by Hoeksema. Thank you for sending along a free copy of Our Goodly Heritage Preserved and a free copy of the Standard Bearer. I thoroughly enjoy reading the SB and read many SB articles online while deployed in Afghanistan.
—Reader from Michigan
Save the date for the RFPA Annual Meeting! This year's keynote address will be given by Rev. Brian Huizinga, pastor of Hope Protestant Reformed Church in Redlands, California. Rev. Huizinga will present
"Reading has a
significant place in the covenant of grace as an instrument of God for the
fulfilling of His promises," said Rev. Huizinga. "We must
share the conviction that reading sound, spiritually edifying literature cannot disappear among us, lest a
generation arise which know not the Lord nor the works which He has done for
us. What can we do to help promote such
reading among the next generation?"
This topic of encouraging young people to read comes on the heels of a report from the RFPA
that at present only 64% of Protestant Reformed households subscribe to
Bearer. Additionally, at various
Christian conferences throughout the year it is commonly and alarmingly
reported by others that young people today do not read sound, spiritually
Stick around after the speech to hear more about the work of the RFPA
and enjoy refreshments and fellowship with our Association members,
authors, and fellow readers!
Georgetown Protestant Reformed Church
7146 48th Ave
Hudsonville MI 49426
Wondering about RFPA book distributors, the success of the warehouse sale, or what books are on special this spring? Read about it all in the newest issue of the RFPA Update! Click here for to view the Update as a PDF.
Do you imagine the woman in Europe studying the truth of God’s word, whose bookshelf of RFPA publications is her most prized possession? Or the man in Asia just hearing about the Reformed faith for the first time? Do you think about the group of Reformed believers in Africa, eagerly awaiting a translation of Doctrine according to Godliness in their own language? What about the young converts in Singapore, who worship and study despite their families’ outrage?
The purpose and mission of the RFPA has always been to testify to the truth of Scripture as understood and developed in the Reformed tradition. What use is this testimony unless the RFPA actively proclaims it throughout the world, making our good, Reformed material available to believers of every nation, tribe, and tongue? We give thanks to God for the following three bookstores that help make this happen.
Covenant Protestant Reformed Church Bookstore
The Covenant Protestant Reformed Church Bookstore (CPRCB) is the RFPA’s distributor to its UK and European readers. Up and running for approximately 30 years, the bookstore is currently located in the manse of Covenant Protestant Reformed Church (CPRC) and operated by Rev. Angus Stewart and his wife, Mary. Rev. Stewart is the pastor of CPRC.
“The bookstore was opened in order to spread the Reformed faith, to strengthen and grow the CPRC, and to get the Protestant Reformed authors better known,” said Rev. Stewart. “We are trying to reach anybody and everybody with the truth of the Reformed faith, especially those in the UK and Europe.”
The Stewarts and other members of the CPRC use diverse means to sell books and to get them into the hands of people all over the world. They have a comprehensive website (www.cprf.co.uk/bookstore.htm), including translations of parts of 30 RFPA titles in 13 different languages. The CPRCB is active in the community, having hosted booths at agricultural shows, markets, and other community events. Rev. Stewart (along with Rev. Martyn McGeown of the Limerick Reformed Fellowship in the Republic of Ireland) sells RFPA books at CPRC conferences and frequent lectures throughout the UK. The CPRCB advertise the books in their monthly paper, The Covenant Reformed News, and through Facebook.
And these efforts have certainly been successful, by God’s grace. On average, the CPRCB sells approximately 320 RFPA books each year, including several of the most popular titles (Doctrine according to Godliness and When You Pray). In 2010, the RFPA sent nearly 700 books overseas to replenish the CPRCB’s supply, the largest order in the history of the RFPA.
The Philippines Bookstore
The Philippines Bookstore is a relatively new operation, run by Rev. Daniel Kleyn and his wife, Sharon. Rev. Kleyn currently serves as a missionary of the Protestant Reformed Churches to several groups and churches in and around Manila. The bookstore opened just two years ago and has proved to be an asset to the mission work being done in the Philippines and throughout Southeast Asia.
“The costs for the bookstore are funded by generous collections in the Protestant Reformed Churches. They enable us to pay for shipping the books and also to sell the books here at a discounted price, so that the Filipinos can more easily afford to buy them,” said Sharon.
In the two years since the bookstore opened, the Kleyns have sold more than 750 books plus many Bibles and Psalters to the members of the churches and the groups with whom they work. Many of these people have also spread the word to their friends and acquaintances, resulting in the spread of RFPA books all over the Philippines and even as far as Indonesia and Korea. One pastor in the Manila area uses sections of Doctrine according to Godliness (which has now been translated in its entirety into Tagalog) for his weekly radio broadcast.
“Thank you for making these books available at discounted prices,” said one customer. “I have learned so many things from what I have already read. By God’s grace, the Lord gives me opportunity to share what I am learning with others here at church, especially with my elders.”
Covenant Reformed Book Centre
Located in the Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church (CERC), a sister church of the Protestant Reformed Churches in America, this small but energetic operation is not so concerned with making a profit as it is to encourage people to read doctrinally sound Reformed books.
Run by Suet Yin Goh and Daisy Lim along with help from the church’s Ebenezer bible study group, the Covenant Reformed Book Centre (CRBC) has been in operation for quite some time, although not always under this name and management. Many years ago, donations from the Protestant Reformed Churches were given to the church in Singapore as a start-up fund for a bookstore, the fruit of which the Singaporean saints have been enjoying for years.
“We are grateful that Prof. Herman Hanko and Prof. David Engelsma have faithfully documented their wealth of knowledge in writing the many books. We hope that more professors and ministers would set aside time to write books,” said Daisy. “Books help us to reinforce our understanding of the sound doctrines of Holy Scriptures. Whenever we forget what we heard in the preaching, we can always re-read the books.”
Daisy’s words give testimony to the value of the written word. The CERC is a growing church with many young members, passionate about the Reformed faith. The book centre, carrying over 70 RFPA titles, has been invaluable to this growth. Popular titles include God’s Everlasting Covenant of Grace, Doctrine according to Godliness, and Mysteries of the Kingdom.
This beautiful paperback is the perfect gift book for anyone, young or old. This book discusses the nine aspects of the fruit of the Spirit (found in Galatians 5:22, 23), encouraging believers unto a life of good fruit-bearing.
New author Richard J. Smit first wrote about the fruit of the Spirit in a series of articles that appeared in the Standard Bearer. Smit has served as a minister in several charges in the Protestant Reformed Churches in America and currently serves as a missionary to the Philippines.
The RFPA annual meeting took place on September 27, 2012 in Hudsonville Protestant Reformed Church with board president Henry Kamps leading the proceedings. Sixty-four association members attended and sixteen men requested membership. What a thrill to have men passionate for the work of the RFPA!
The treasurer, Jeff Kalsbeek, reported on various financial details including a net income deficit for both the book and Standard Bearer divisions. In both cases, the deficits showed only a slight variance to the budgeted amounts, and funds were made available from restricted accounts to cover these deficits. Book sales were near all-time highs at $207,651, and although SB hardcopy subscriptions have dipped, eSubscriptions are gaining in popularity. The RFPA has zero debt and its net worth continues to grow. The balance sheet showed amounts in accounts reserved for designated and special situations, such as future building maintenance and office equipment.
Cal Kalsbeek, secretary of the board, presented his report on highlights of the previous year, calling it the “Year of the epub,” making reference to our transition into the eBook industry. The transcript of this report was printed in volume 89 issue 4 of the Standard Bearer. Professor Barrett Gritters presented the keynote address entitled “Church Membership in a Postmodern Era,” the text of which will be published in upcoming issues of the Standard Bearer. Thanks were given to retiring board members Tom Bodbyl, Ryan Brunsting, Ed Hoekstra, and Henry Kamps. New board members were elected for three-year terms.
Photo | The current RFPA board (from left to right): Dave Harbach, Cal Kalsbeek (secretary), Joel Bodbyl (chairman of marketing and membership committee), Tom Bergman, Dan DeMeester (vice-all and chairman of book and Standard Bearer committee), Michael Bosveld (president), Jon Engelsma (vice president), Jeff Kalsbeek (treasurer and chairman of finance committee), Dan Van Uffelen, Matt VanOverloop, Dan Kalsbeek, and Doug Mingerink Jr.
Six hours. Roughly 325 customers. Approximately 460 bags. More than 10,100 books sold. Seven new Book Club members. Yes, by all accounts the RFPA warehouse sale was a smashing success!
Customers were invited to visit the RFPA on Saturday December 15 and fill a bag with books (choosing from 40 select titles) for only $25. And the people came in droves! The staff and board members were available to answer questions, assist customers with checkout, and restock the books on special. The most popular book, selling 402 copies? Portraits of Faithful Saints. The Unfolding Covenant History series was close behind, at about 380 copies of each volume.
One of our goals is to help young people and families establish a solid Reformed library, and we are thrilled to report that a large number of young people and families came out for the sale. What an encouragement it is to see so many, both young and old, excited to read about the truth of God’s word! It is our prayer that the books purchased will be well-used as resources for instruction and comfort for years to come.
Now that we have cleared some much needed space in the warehouse, we can prepare for the next several book projects! We ask for your continued prayers and monetary support as the urgent work of proclaiming the Reformed truth is carried out.
Reformed Free Publishing Association
Jenison, MI, 2012
Hardback, 352 pages; $32.00
Reviewed by Charles Terpstra
Protestant Reformed Seminary Professor Emeritus, Herman Hanko, has done it again! He has penned another fine exposition of a portion of Holy Scripture, this time on the book of 1 Peter. As he did with The Mysteries of the Kingdom (on Jesus’ parables) and Justified unto Liberty (on Galatians), so now with A Pilgrim’s Manual Hanko has given us a rich exegetical commentary on a precious New Testament book. He has captured the heart of this epistle and woven its theme throughout this work. He will not have us forget that 1 Peter is indeed a pilgrim’s manual, inspired by the Holy Spirit and inscribed by Peter to guide God’s pilgrim-stranger people through this world on the way to their heavenly home.
Hanko is a skilled exegete in his own right (gifted by the Lord, of course). Having preached through the epistle in his early ministry, and having taught New Testament Greek for many years in the Protestant Reformed Seminary, Hanko develops the concepts and truths of this letter even further. In fact, Hanko is not afraid to differ with Herman Hoeksema and others at points. The result is a commentary that is fresh, deep, and rich in doctrinal teaching.
Still more, because Hanko writes as a churchman who is bound by and faithful to the Reformed creeds, his work breathes the beautiful truths of the Reformed faith, especially the sovereignty of God and the sovereignty of his grace to his people in Christ Jesus. And because he writes as a Protestant Reformed churchman, he emphasizes especially God’s sovereign, particular grace and his unconditional covenant with his elect people in Christ. For the same reasons, Hanko exposes the heresies and errors of our time, with clarity and compassion.
Nor does Hanko avoid the “difficult” doctrines presented in this epistle, such as Christ's being the chief cornerstone of his church while also being the “stone of stumbling” and “rock of offence” to the wicked unbeliever—and both aspects being according to God’s sovereign predestination (election and reprobation, 2:4–9). Or the tough practical issues involving the true Christian’s persecution by this ungodly world (chaps. 2, 4) and the callings of the Christian wife and husband in marriage, even mixed ones (3:1–7). In the face of ecclesiastical mushiness on doctrine and outright wimpiness on morality, Hanko issues a clear sound of faithfulness to the text of Scripture, letting God’s word speak plainly and powerfully for the instruction, correction, and guidance of God’s people (2 Tim.3:16).
Yet this new work is also more than rich in exegesis and doctrinal commentary. Warmly dedicated to his wife “Wilma, my fellow pilgrim,” A Pilgrim’s Manual is also rich in devotion and practical application. Hanko writes this commentary as a redeemed and devoted Christian pilgrim, himself making the journey from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City. And because he is a mature and experienced pilgrim, filled with the light of God’s word, he is able to provide us, his fellow pilgrims, with wise counsel for our journeys. In reading this commentary you will not lack for comfort and hope.
We sincerely welcome and heartily recommend A Pilgrim’s Manual to Christian readers everywhere. It will serve as a profitable addition to your personal or family library. It will feed your soul and strengthen your faith whether you use it for your group Bible study or for your personal devotions. Above all, this work will confirm you in the one hope we have as believers—the hope of our everlasting home with the Lord. By all means get this book, study the manual, and then press on, pilgrim!
Mr. Terpstra currently serves as the librarian and archivist (among other responsibilities) at the Protestant Reformed Seminary in Grandville, MI, and is the book review editor for the Standard Bearer.
Click here to purchase! Valid through April 15, 2013.
*Book Club or any other discount does not apply. Book club members will not be charged for shipping.
These books by David J. Engelsma are must reads in an age when many Christians neglect their duty regarding church membership. In Bound to Join, Engelsma explains, in the form of letters, the importance of church membership in the twenty-first century. In the sequel, A Defense of the Church Institute, Engelsma defends the doctrine of church membership and demonstrates that love for the universal, invisible church invariably expresses itself by love for the manifestation of this church in the church institute.
Save the date for the RFPA Annual Meeting! This year's keynote address will be given by book author and co-editor of the Standard Bearer Prof. Barry Gritters, professor of practical theology and New Testament studies at the Protestant Reformed Seminary. Gritters will present
in connection with a conference on postmodernism given by Hudsonville Protestant Reformed Church this past winter and in connection with two of our recent publications by David J. Engelsma: Bound to Join and A Defense of the Church Institute.
Stick around after the speech to hear more about the work of the RFPA and enjoy refreshments and fellowship with our Association members, authors, and fellow readers!
Join us at Hudsonville Protestant Reformed Church on September 27 at 7:30 p.m.! Bring your family and friends!
At the start of the meeting click on the "Listen Live" button in the upper right-hand side of the Hudsonville PRC homepage.
Hudsonville Protestant Reformed Church
5101 Beechtree Ave
Hudsonville MI 49426