Belgic Confession (volume 2) chapter preview: Article 25 on "The Abolishing of the Ceremonial Law"

IN ONE MONTH volume two of The Belgic Confession commentary will be printed, completing the two-volume set written by Professor David J. Engelsma.

We give to you the full Chapter 19 on Article 25: "The Abolishing of the Ceremonial Law."

We believe that the ceremonies and figures of the law ceased at the coming of Christ, and that all the shadows are accomplished; so that the use of them must be abolished amongst Christians: yet the truth and substance of them remain with us in Jesus Christ, in whom they have their completion. In the mean time, we still use the testimonies taken out of the law and the prophets, to confirm us in the doctrine of the gospel, and to regulate our life in all honesty to the glory of God, according to his will.

INTRODUCTION

The brevity of article 25 does not signify the relative unim­portance of its subject for Reformed, indeed Protestant, Christianity. Generally, this subject is the place of the law in the life of the Reformed believer. Specifically, the subject is the abolition of the ceremonial and civil laws of the Old Testament regarding the holy life of the New Testament child of God. Underlying these subjects, important as they are in themselves, is the fundamental truth of the relation of the Old and the New Testament scriptures.

The importance of the content of the article is evident from the serious controversies in which the article involves the Christian. The gospel itself is at stake in these contro­versies. The apostolic church fought over the issues raised in the article. These issues occasioned the first synod of the New Testament church. This is the synod of which the agenda and decisions are recorded in Acts 15. The ques­tion before the apostles and elders was whether the New Testament, largely Gentile, church is required to observe the ceremonial laws of Moses, specifically, circumcision. Invariably involved in the imposition upon the New Testa­ment church of the ceremonial and civil laws of the Old Testament is the heresy of salvation—justification and sanc­tification—by works. Therefore, in combating the error of requiring New Testament Christians to be circumcised, Peter proclaimed salvation by grace: “But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they” (Acts 15:11).

The article’s doctrinal content was at the heart of the controversy of the early church addressed by the apostle in the book of Galatians and in Colossians 2. This was the controversy of the gospel of grace with the Judaizers, those Jewish members of the church who insisted that the Christian must observe the ceremonial and civil laws of the Old Testament. Those were the members of the church who “observe[d] days, and months, and times, and years” (Gal. 4:10). They judged other members of the church “in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days” (Col. 2:16). They made themselves “subject to ordinances” (v. 20).

The seriousness of the error—the error exposed in article 25 of the Belgic Confession—the apostle indicated when he warned that “if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing” (Gal. 5:2).

It would be naive to suppose that the matters of such important controversies in the early church are dead issues for the Reformed churches today.

Altogether apart from the controversies over the subject of the article, the truth that the article confesses is of positive importance for the Reformed Christian. The article is not only negative: the abolishing of the ceremonial law. It is also positive: “Yet the truth and substance of them [the ceremonies and figures of the law] remain with us in Jesus Christ.”

Old Testament law still has a place in the holy life of the New Testament believer. What this place is, the article teaches in the word “regulate”: “to regulate our life in all honesty to the glory of God, according to his will.”

 To continue reading click the pdf icon.

Comments

Book Review: Walking in the Way of Love, volume 2

Walking in the Way of Love: A Practical Commentary on 1 Corinthians for the Believer, volume 2, by Nathan J. Langerak. Jenison, MI: Reformed Free Publishing Association, 2019. 544 pages, hardcover. [Reviewed by Rev. Clayton Spronk]

Rare are the biblical commentaries that provide sound theological instruction. Rarer still are the commentaries that provide sound theological instruction and helpful application to the faith and life of the church today. Even a little of both of these oft-missing ingredients would be enough to recommend a commentary to serious students of scripture. That this volume offers a feast of accurate explanations of the truth of scripture and appropriate applications means that I must highly recommend it to the reader.

Living up to its title as a practical commentary the book provides much doctrinal instruction. This is necessary because sound doctrine is the basis for the practice of believing and doing. Rev. Langerak’s teaching is sound because he derives his teaching from the scriptures. The doctrine that he teaches is truly apostolic, a holding fast to and a passing down of the apostles’ doctrine as recorded in the New Testament and confessed by the true church of Jesus Christ in every age. To read this book then is to sit at the feet of the apostles. What do the apostles say about the relationship between the Old and New Testament? What do the apostles say about spiritual gifts? What do the apostles say about the unity of the church? What do the apostles have to say about the instituted church? What about love, the resurrection of the body, and various elements of public worship (such as who should speak in the worship service, and whether offerings should be taken)? These are just some of the biblical truths that Rev. Langerak carefully sets forth from the text of scripture.

What false doctrines did the apostle Paul refute in this epistle, and how does his handling of them apply to the church’s life today? Rev. Langerak does not force his polemics, and therefore does not bring up errors merely because he has an ax to grind. He brings up the errors where they are appropriate because the particular passage he is explaining condemns the error, even if the error may be relatively new. Rev. Langerak shows that it is not he, but the Holy Spirit and the apostle Paul, who condemn dispensationalism, postmillennialism, conditionalism in the covenant, common grace, evolutionism, and a variety of other false doctrines.

But to be a successful practical commentary on walking in the way of love, Rev. Langerak must provide helpful applications to the church’s faith and life. The book is a resounding success. There are many rich applications in this book to family life, school life, work life, and to church life. You may be surprised to find that Rev. Langerak teaches that true love (which is not the false love touted by Rob Bell) really does win. He applies this beautifully to marriage, not only calling husbands and wives to stay married (as if that exhausts the Christian’s calling in marriage), but to live in love for each other (see especially chapter 18).  Stirring is Rev. Langerak’s call to the believer to recognize the beauty of love, personifying love as the most beautiful of women, so that the believer will live in that love. Chapter 31 is basically a profound explanation of the so-called Reformed world-and-life.

Probably the most moving applications in the book are the words of comfort that Rev. Langerak speaks to the believer’s heart. Rev. Langerak believes in salvation by God’s sovereign grace alone. This truth is precious to him, and it is evident that he is committed to preaching this truth to the congregation of Crete PR Church (these chapters are based on a series of sermons that Rev. Langerak preached to the congregation). He clearly understands that without this truth he would have no truth and no comfort to bring to God’s people in his preaching or writing. But because of his conviction of the certainty of salvation by sovereign grace (any other kind of salvation is necessarily uncertain) Rev. Langerak is able drive to home the assurance of salvation in variety of powerful ways. I quote one brief section (my favorite) as an example of Rev. Langerak’s skill in this regard. Before I give the quotation I note that it is from a chapter entitled “Nike.” I note this as an example of how fresh and attention-grabbing (in a good sense) Rev. Langerak is in his exposition of scripture. Imagine how eager the young people of the congregation must have been to hear an explanation of why the sermon title is the brand name of a well-known shoe company! But now the comforting quotation:

The chapter title is the Greek word for victory: nike. It is pronounced nee-kay. Nike means victory, and victory is winning.

Love wins. That is what love does. That is what the Bible says about love in the Song of Songs, the greatest song ever written, the song on love. “Love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it” (Song 8:6). This is the Old Testament parallel to the apostle’s teaching in his ode to love in 1 Corinthians 13, where he says in verse 13 that love abides. Love abides through the fall, through all of history, through the cross, through all sins, through death and the grave, through the end of the world, and through all the endless years of eternity (emphasis added). God will never tire of his people in eternity. Love abides.

Abiding, love wins. Nike.

Non-Protestant Reformed readers may find some subjects Rev. Langerak references to be unfamiliar. They will almost certainly find sections that challenge their beliefs. Perhaps they will find Rev. Langerak’s tone off-putting in some instances. But the challenge for them will be to examine whether Rev. Langerak has accurately explained what the Spirit says to the churches. And if he has, regardless of tone, they must subject themselves and their beliefs to the word of God.

Protestant Reformed readers may also find that they do not agree with or even appreciate everything Rev. Langerak has to say. He does not shy from making sharp (some might say controversial) applications. He speaks with the conviction that he is expounding the truth of scripture and not bringing merely his own opinion. In some instances the reader may disagree. For example, I anticipate that some will challenge some of the things that he has to say about NAPARC. But let such a reader yet be thankful for this commentary for its stimulating instruction in doctrine and life and that overall the teachings of this book are in harmony with the “faith once delivered to the saints.” And let the focus not be on a few areas of disagreement but on the overall message to believe with all of one’s heart in Jesus Christ and so “walk in the way of love.”

________________

Rev. Spronk is pastor of Faith Protestant Reformed Church in Jenison, Michigan.

 

Comments

Coming in 1 month!

IN ONE MONTH volume two of The Belgic Confession commentary will be printed, completing the two-volume set written by Professor David J. Engelsma.

We provide you with an excerpt from Chapter 17: Justification as Experience.

Justification by faith alone, without works, not only excludes works from God’s justifying act, but also from the believer’s knowledge and certainty of righteousness with God. If this were not the case, “we should always be in doubt, tossed to and fro without any certainty, and our poor consciences would be continually vexed.”

Therefore, to teach that in the end the experience and assurance of righteousness with God are realized by the sinner’s good works, or are somehow dependent upon the good works of the sinner, is the denial of justification by faith alone. In that case, faith would need the help of the sinner’s works to give the blessing of justification. Union with Christ and his work would not be enough.

Comments

Coming in 2 months!

     

IN TWO MONTHS volume two of The Belgic Confession commentary will be printed, completing the two-volume set written by Professor David J. Engelsma.

An orthodox commentary on the confession, that is, one that is in wholehearted accord with the teachings of the confession, and resolutely faithful to them, will be profitable to Reformed Christians and churches in the twenty-first century, not only for invaluable instruction in the Reformed faith, but also for the maintenance and defense of Reformed orthodoxy.

Founded on holy scripture, the Belgic Confession determines sound doctrine for Reformed churches and believers. This doctrine is rich, lovely, and powerful. The confession also authoritatively exposes contemporary heresies. As they read this commentary which proclaims the doctrine and authority of the confession, all believers who love the Reformed faith will be faithfully guided in the truth of the “old paths.”

Comments

A Review from the Past

*This review by William Hendricksen was published in the September 5, 1969 edition of The Banner.

BEHOLD, HE COMETH! by Herman Hoeksema (author) and Homer C. Hoeksema (editor and reviser), Published by Reformed Publishing Association, 1969; distributed by Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503. Price: $9.95.

Truly a formidable volume with no less than seven hundred twenty-six pages, it was the last large work written by the pastor of the First Protestant Reformed Church of Grand Rapids, and has been published posthumously. The preparation for publication in book form was begun by the author and completed by his son, who not only did a splendid job of editing but also revised and expanded the exposition of Revelation 19–22.

What is the nature of this book? It is not merely a book of outlines. Neither is it a dry-as-dust exegesis without practical application. It is something far better. It is an exposition in the form of sermons or essays. In serial form the exposition appeared first in The Standard Bearer, of which Rev. Herman Hoeksema was the editor for many years. The author also twice expounded the book of Revelation in sermons. With respect to these his son writes as follows:

His sermons, of which there were two complete sets, totaling well over a hundred…were delivered with a warmth and fervor which kept a large congregation at spellbound attention Sunday after Sunday.

Continue reading...

Comments

Behold, He Cometh! now in its sixth printing

Behold, He Cometh! has recently been reprinted (with a new updated interior design) making this its sixth printing! First published in 1969, the RFPA has now printed 10,500 copies of this title.

_______________

Behold, He Cometh!, is an essay-style commentary on the much disputed book of Revelation. By careful exegesis, the author gives a solidly Reformed, amillennial interpretation of  scripture. This book sets forth in clear, concise language the comforting truths concerning the end times.

"...lucid, simple style...In interpreting the symbolism, the author is refreshingly sane." —Peace & Truth magazine
  • 800 pages  
  • hardcover  
  • ISBN 978-1-944555-45-0

Receive 10% off with code BEHOLD6

 

 

 

Also now available in ebook format for the first time!

Receive 10% off with code BEHOLD6

 

 

 

Comments

Walking in the Way of Love, volume 2 has arrived at the RFPA!

 

VOLUMES 1 & 2



READY TO GET PACKED!

ORDER: Walking in the Way of Love - volume 1

ORDER: Walking in the Way of Love - volume 2

Comments

Full author interview with Rev. Nathan Langerak

Rev. Nathan Langerak was interviewed on his 2-volume series on 1 Corinthians, Walking in the Way of Love. This is the full interview.

"Sit down" with Rev. Langerak as he talks about the complete commentary and why he chose to write a commentary on 1 Corinthians. We also asked Rev. Langerak questions about writing and being an author for the RFPA.

Volume 2 will be arriving at the RFPA today!

Walking in the Way of Love - volume 1

Walking in the Way of Love - volume 2

Comments

The Belgic Confession (Volume 2)

     

With the upcoming release of volume two of The Belgic Confession commentary in April 2019, D.V., there will be completed the only full-scale, English-language commentary on the Belgic Confession in print today. This book is not a summary of the Confession, nor a compilation of sermons loosely based on the Confession, but a commentary. It explains the Confession, article by article, doctrine by doctrine.

Volume two of this commentary begins with the Confession’s opening article on the doctrine of salvation, continues with the Confession’s lengthy treatment of the doctrine of the church, and concludes with the Confession’s explanation of the doctrine of the last things—eschatology.

Comments

Nike

Sneak Peek of Chapter 30 in Walking in the Way of Love (volume 2)

CHAPTER 30: NIKE

54. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
55. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
56. The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
57. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:54–57)

Introduction

The chapter title is the Greek word for victory: nike. It is pronounced nee-kay. Nike means victory, and victory is winning.

Love wins. That is what love does. That is what the Bible says about love in the Song of Songs, the greatest song ever written, the song on love. “Love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it” (Song 8:6). This is the Old Testament parallel to the apostle’s teaching in his ode to love in 1 Corinthians 13, where he says in verse 13 that love abides. Love abides through the fall, through all of history, through the cross, through all sins, through death and the grave, through the end of the world, and through all the endless years of eternity. God will never tire of his people in eternity. Love abides.

Abiding, love wins. Nike.

_________

To continue reading this chapter, click the PDF icon.

         

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

Post Tags

On Twitter

Follow @reformedfreepub