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November 15, 2019 Standard Bearer preview article

Right receiving of the word preached

“These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Acts 17:11

God is pleased to use the preaching of His Word to work faith (Rom. 10:17).

God is pleased to use weak, sinful men to preach, which calls the hearers to focus on the voice of their Shepherd and not so much on the Shepherd’s instrument, the preacher.

 

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Letter to Timothy

Letter to Timothy

Dear Timothy,

In the last letter to you I mentioned, somewhat in passing, that our attitude towards the preacher and our attitude towards the preaching were inseparably related to each other. I want to say a bit more about that in this letter, especially from the viewpoint of what is involved in listening to a sermon. I wonder sometimes whether we have lost the art of listening. Or, if I may repeat that passage from Ecclesiastes which I quoted last time, "Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil. Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few." Do we really know how to do this?

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Doctrine

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

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

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The Importance of Doctrine

Doctrine is not highly regarded anymore. In many evangelical churches there is such ignorance of doctrine that even the fundamentals of Christianity are not well understood. Even in churches that remain faithful in their teaching and preaching, there is often little interest in learning and understanding doctrine. The youth are, for the most part, bored by it, and their elders are content with a superficial knowledge of the doctrines of the Reformed faith.

Very often the symptom of this lack of doctrine is a constant agitation for more “practical” preaching and teaching along with a greater emphasis on liturgy and on the other parts of the worship service until the sermon is all but squeezed out. On the part of the preachers themselves, one finds less and less biblical exposition and more and more illustration, storytelling, and entertainment.

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The Bible and Israel (7)

Our last blog post on this subject was May 25, 2018. We have proven from scripture that the New Testament church is the fulfillment of—not the replacement for—Israel. One final chapter requires out attention: it is the greatest chapter in the New Testament dealing with God’s purposes with Israel in the New Testament age, Romans 11. Since Romans 9–11 constitute a unit in the epistle, we summarize the contents of those three chapters of God’s word to demonstrate yet again that the Bible promises salvation only to those who believe in Jesus Christ.

Chapters 9–11 then begin a new section of the epistle in which Paul focuses on God’s sovereign purposes with the Jews and Gentiles.

In Romans 9:1–3 Paul expresses his sorrow at the perishing of so many of his countrymen who are his “kinsmen according to the flesh” (9:3). He lists their many advantages (adoption, glory, covenants, law, service, promises, etc.), chief among which is that Christ was born of them, who is God blessed, forever (9:5).

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The true church of Jesus Christ—Her marks

The preaching in Christ’s church sets forth the doctrine of the gospel in all its glory and power. It is pure, unmixed with the errors of Pelagius or Arminius that ascribe to man a part in his salvation. It is uncorrupted with Romish or Federal Vision errors that require man to perform works that will in some way contribute to his salvation. The opinions and philosophies of men are excluded. It must be the pure doctrine of the gospel. Preaching the...

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The Privilege of Seminary Training: Personal Spiritual Development

Anyone who has talked to a seminary student or asked his pastor about his years in seminary will likely hear stories about the many great challenges of those years. The work is often difficult, and the amount of work that is placed before the students can be overwhelming for even the most gifted students. Seemingly every student of the seminary has some story to tell of a painful practice preaching session or a graded paper filled with a flood of red...

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Considering the Ministry

You have probably heard it from your own pulpit. You have probably seen the announcement in the bulletin. You have probably read about it in the Standard Bearer. You have probably heard it discussed at Sunday coffee. You may have even prayed about it yourself. There is an urgent need in the Protestant Reformed Churches for more preachers of the gospel. This is not a new need, but one that’s been around since Jesus told his disciples, “The harvest truly is...

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The Final Stretch

As I alluded in my last post, it is sometimes suggested that the last semester of seminary is the most difficult semester. After soaring on the internship, the student must again clamp on the chains and manacles of practice preaching and formal class room instruction. I can understand and agree with this sentiment to a point. There is something about the internship—tasting and experiencing the real work that the seminary student anticipates he will soon be doing as an ordained servant...

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The Internship

Once again, I walked out of Professor Dykstra’s office with mixed emotions. I had just been informed that the seminary faculty had granted me an internship, and that mine would take place in Hull, Iowa at Calvary Protestant Reformed Church. Mixed emotions. Of course, I was tremendously excited. For several months all the third years had ruminated, speculated, and discussed—would we be granted internships? And if so, where would they be? Now I knew definitely: the Lord had opened yet another...

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Noble Bereans

It’s been some time now since I addressed the subject of active church membership, but I’d like to return to a consideration of those basic responsibilities that fall to us as members of the church of Christ. So far we’ve established two duties: becoming (and remaining) a member of a true, instituted church; and faithfully attending the worship services of that local congregation. Another responsibility of church membership is that we listen carefully to the preaching. It almost goes without saying...

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Third Year

In preparation for writing this post I sat back and tried to think about the things that made the third year of seminary distinct from the other years, and I have concluded that part of my challenge now relates to the fact that third year was very similar to second year. The first year of seminary is distinct in my mind as the time when everything was exciting because it was the beginning—everything was new. I distinguish second year as the...

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Licensed to Speak a Word of Edification

On a May afternoon in 2015, I walked out of Professor Dykstra’s office with the same feeling of mixed emotions which was becoming familiar for me as a seminary student. On the one hand, I had just been granted license by the seminary faculty to speak a word of edification in the Protestant Reformed Churches! Being licensed was highly significant, as it indicated that the professors judged I had the necessary spiritual and intellectual gifts, and was far enough along in...

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