The Church in the New Year: Called to Work

Note: Though this editorial was written twenty-five years ago, it is still an applicable word for the church in the year of our Lord, 2019. The year 1994 has been changed to read 2019 in this article.


What 2019 will mean for the true church in North America is not our concern. We may not speculate. This belongs to the secret things of the counsel of God that are exclusively for him. It is comfort to the Reformed church, as it is to the believer personally, that the new year will be the unfolding of the eternal plan of the sovereign God in the exalted Lord Jesus Christ. 

Our concern is the revealed will of God for the church. His will is that the church work. The reason for the continuation of history in this new year is the church. God has a church that must be gathered and saved. Since the Son of God gathers, defends, and preserves this church "by his Spirit and word" (Heidelberg Catechism, Q. 54) and since he does this through the instrumentality of the true church, the true church has a calling to work. 

It is the true church that has a sacred, solemn mandate from the Lord. 

The true church is the instituted congregation that is sound in doctrine, pure in the administration of the sacraments, and faithful in the exercise of discipline (Belgic Confession, Art. 29). 

There is also a false church, characterized by rejection of the authority of Holy Scripture and corruption of the gospel of grace. She too has a work. Her work is to hate and oppose the true church. She has her mandate from the devil. 

The departing church has one calling from the Lord, and one only: Repent! It belongs to the work of the true church that she bring this calling from the Lord to the church that is in the process of falling away from the truth. 

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Reflections as we await the coming year

What did we see in 2018? Man setting himself against God, and against truth and righteousness. Such men, according to Scripture, are without hope in this world. A world of despair.

We with our little ones live in such a world, facing a new year.

Without hope? In despair?

No! But with hope. Why?

Because our Christ Himself is a Man of War. Remember, He comes from a warrior line, David the warrior king.

It was exactly as such that the Old Testament prophets spoke of Him and the church looked for Him. Psalms 2 and 72 are cases in point (Psalter #’s 3 and 200). The great King who would crush His and the church’s enemies once and for all, and thus have the victory, the final victories that would usher in the Kingdom of righteousness and peace.

Lord, haste the Day, cried the Old Testament church. And He came! 

—Read ‘Reflections as we await the coming year’ by Rev. Kenneth Koole in the upcoming January 1 issue of the Standard Bearer.


A New Year’s Day Message: Diligent in Sanctification

Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.” 2 Peter 3:14

Be diligent! That ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless! 

Diligent in sanctification! 

And sanctification, you know, is that work of God's grace in you whereby he delivers you consciously from the pollution and dominion of sin, and renews you in conformity with the image of Christ, and enables you to walk faithfully in all good works, which he has before prepared, in order that you should walk in them. Sanctification is that operation of the Spirit of Christ in you whereby a new spiritual-moral direction is given to you, according to which out of a regenerated heart your thinking, willing, desiring, yea, the action of your whole being, are brought into harmony with his truth and his commandments. Sanctification is that work of grace in you whereby you in principle begin to mortify the old man of sin in your members, and to put on the new man, which is the beginning of the new creation for which you now look in hope. 

In this be diligent! That is, be earnestly desirous of it, and with all haste follow after it! So that ye may be found of him in peace! Without spot and blameless! 

Oh, the blessedness of them who shall be so found by him when he shall come to renew all things! 

To be found of him in peace is the positive way of stating what is negatively expressed in: without spot, and blameless. To be found in peace means that you are so discovered by the Lord when he comes again as being in perfect harmony with him and his will. All the natural enmity, the rebellion and hatred of your old nature is removed. It means that you will be found of him with all the love of your heart going out to him, as being righteous as he is righteous, and holy as he is holy. It means that you will be living and walking as his covenant friend in the world, and expecting the judgment of his favor, which shall declare unto you: "Come ye blessed, inherit the kingdom which I have prepared for you." And to be without spot and blameless means that he will find you unsullied from the world, free from all vice, wholly unblemished, pure in his sight. It means that you will appear before him irreprehensible, beyond all censure. 

Oh, beloved, make no mistake about it, and do not fall in the blundering error that somehow you can of yourself bring about this relationship of peace, and that you can of yourself be so found as to be without spot and blameless. You must remember that sanctification, as is true of all of our salvation, is entirely God's work of grace in us. You must remember, too, that this work of grace is preceded by another work of grace in us whereby he has begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Christ from the dead. We have been regenerated unto a living hope. 

Regeneration is the first principle, the beginning of the life of the new creation which we expect him to bring out of the old which shall pass away. It is this grace that cannot perish, while all else, even your old nature, passes away. And it is this grace of regeneration that is the casual ground of his work of sanctification within us. It dwells in our hearts, motivates our entire life, connects us with the living Christ who is the head of the coming new world. Out of the regenerated heart, from which proceeds all your thinking, willing, and desiring, yea, all the issues of your life, comes the holy expectation, the longing for the new. 

Be diligent, therefore . . . Beloved! Also in this new year! 

Which you will find has really nothing new in it at all, except a new period of time. All the rest is really an old world, a world since the flood that is rushing to its final destruction, the conflagration. 

In that world, in which you are expecting the new, make haste to be holy as he is holy. . . . 

That you may be found of him in peace! 

At his coming!


This excerpt was taken from a meditation written by Rev. Marinus Schipper printed in the January 1, 1972 issue of the Standard BearerRead the full article


A New Year's Prayer

Come, Lord Jesus. 

We wait upon Thee as watchers wait for the morning. 

In the meantime, our God, establish Thou the work of our hands. Preserve and defend us over against all the onslaughts of the powers of darkness. Give us Thy grace to realize that with Thee we are always the victors. 

Use us, Thy willing servants, according to the talents entrusted to us, in the midst of our families, in the midst of Thy people, in a present evil world, wherever Thou dost place us, that we may in our small way be instrumental toward the coming of Thy kingdom and the glory of our Father's name. 

Keep us close to Thee, that in Thee we may experience close communion of life with our God, resting assured at all times, that, come what may, his is the kingdom, the power, the glory forever and ever. 

Come, Lord Jesus, according to Thy promise, that when all our works are burned as straw and stubble, Thy work in and through us may be our eternal reward. Yea, the work of our hands, establish Thou it. 

Yea, come quickly! Amen.


This portion was taken from the latter part of the article that Cornelius Hanko wrote in the January 1, 1997 issue of the Standard Bearer.


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