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December 1, 2020 Standard Bearer preview article

December 1, 2020 Standard Bearer preview article

John MacArthur, pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California is embroiled in a legal battle with the County of Los Angeles (LA County) over the right to worship indoors during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Grace Community Church (GCC) is a nondenominational, evangelical congregation with an average weekly attendance in excess of 8,000 people.

On March 4, 2020 Governor Gavin Newsom proclaimed a State of Emergency in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and has since issued a number of executive orders to curtail public gatherings in the State of California. An order on March 19, 2020, required almost all establishments, including places of worship, to close. On June 18, 2020 the LA County Health Officer, Dr. Muntu Davis, issued an order “allowing reduced-capacity indoor operations at houses of worship,” but subsequent orders prohibited “indoor operations at a variety of establishments, including houses of worship.” Those orders are still in force at the time of writing. In California, therefore, churches may worship only outdoors.1

 

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Grace

Grace

Simply amazing, grace is. More glorious than the sun (Ps. 36:9), but few can see it (John 9:39). Exceedingly precious, but free (Eph. 2:7; Rom. 5:15). A gift; you cannot buy it (Rom. 5:15; Acts 8:20). More valuable than gold, but unwanted until received (Prov. 22:1John 4:10). If you work for grace, you cannot have it; but without grace, you cannot work (Rom. 11:6; 2 Cor. 9:8). Most abundant, yet uncommon (2 Cor. 4:15Ex. 33:19). Gentle, yet irresistible (Acts. 4:33). It makes the dead alive, the weak strong, the blind see, the ugly beautiful, and the humble glorious.

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November 15, 2020 Standard Bearer preview article

November 15, 2020 Standard Bearer preview article

The instrumental cause of our salvation

However, to speak more clearly, we do not mean, that faith itself justifies us, for it is only an instrument with which we embrace Christ our righteousness. But Jesus Christ, imputing to us all His merits and so many holy works which He has done for us and in our stead, is our righteousness. And faith is an instrument that keeps us in communion with Him in all His benefits, which, when become ours, are more than sufficient to acquit us of our sin.

—Belgic Confession, Article 22

Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and His righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification; yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love.

—Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 11.2

In the theology of salvation, the instrumental cause refers to the tool God uses to grant His elect and regenerated people their salvation. Faith alone is this instrumental cause.

To understand this further, we need to go back 300 years before Christ was born, when the ancient philosopher Aristotle attempted to describe how a change occurs in time. (I know I am losing some of us already, but hang on, it’s not too hard to grasp!). Aristotle said there are four types of causes to any event. He used the illustration of a sculptor making a sculpture to explain the notion. First, Aristotle said, there is the efficient cause of the sculpture. The efficient cause is the man who will carry out the project. Second, there is the formal cause. This is the idea for the sculpture that the person has in his head, the form that he intends the block of granite to take. Third, he said, there is the material cause. This is the block of granite, the actual material that will be the substance of the sculpture. Fourth, there is the final cause. This is the purpose for which the whole project was conceived: to adorn a landscape, to create something beautiful, to express the talent of the artist, etc. These are obviously not all causes in the same sense, but the word “cause” was applied to all four aspects because without any one of them the sculpture would not exist.

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Reconciliation

Article originally published in the October 1,1990 issue of the Standard Bearer, written by Rev. Dale Kuiper. __________________ The two great passages that set forth the concept of reconciliation are Romans 5:10 and 2 Corinthians 5:18–21. The word translated reconciliation, a word used only by Paul, sets forth our salvation in a very rich, broad way. Three ideas are implied in reconciliation: 1) There is a relationship between persons that has brought them very close. 2) This relationship is disturbed so that the persons have become alienated....

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Hypocrite

The Old Testament contains the word hypocrite thirteen times. It derives from a word which has the root meaning of moral filth; soiled with sin; impious; hypocrite. The New Testament has twenty-five occurrences of this word, over half of them in the discourses of Jesus. The root meaning is to speak or act under a false part; to act under an assumed character; a stage player; dissembler; pretender. A hypocrite is a man who lives the lie, for he is not what he seems to others to be; there is a significant difference between what he is at heart and what he appears to be overtly and publicly. Israel of Isaiah’s day lived a hypocritical national life with her external, religious exactitude, bringing just the right sacrifices at the right times, offering oblations and incense, keeping new moons, sabbaths, and assemblies.  Read More

Harvest

Harvest
At this same time each year, it seems that the world is morbidly preoccupied with death. A favorite name for the season is fall, something leaves do after they shrivel up and die. A celebrated holiday, Halloween, is merely a weak attempt to mock death and hell—and by implication Jesus who has the keys of both. Even Thanksgiving Day seems to be, for many, little more than a day to “eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” Let it not be so for the believer. Read More

October 1, 2020 Standard Bearer preview article

October 1, 2020 Standard Bearer preview article

This article is written by Rev. Clayton Spronk and will be published in the October 1, 2020 issue of the Standard Bearer.  Click to read pdf as printed in the October 1, 2020 issue. ________________ J. I. Packer (1926-2020) The obituary posted (July 17, 2020) on Christianity Today’s website by Leland Ryken reports, “James Innell Packer, better known to many as J. I. Packer, was one of the most famous and influential evangelical leaders of our time. He died Friday, July 17, at age 93.”1 Packer’s...

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Zeal

Zeal

This article was written by Rev. Dale Kuiper in the 2/15/1992 issue of the Standard Bearer. _______________ It is striking that both the Hebrew and the Greek words from which our KJV derives the words zeal, zealous, and zealot are words which have the basic meaning of heat. The Hebrew root means to boil with heat, to be hot. Metaphorically the word indicates excitement of mind, ardor, fervor of spirit, zeal in embracing, pursuing, or defending anything. The Greek word means to become very red,...

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September 15, 2020 Standard Bearer preview article

September 15, 2020 Standard Bearer preview article

This article is written by Rev. Thomas Miersma and will be published in the September 15, 2020 issue of the Standard Bearer.  Click to read pdf as printed in the September 15, 2020 issue. ________________ The end of the matter—found (Ecclesiastes 12:12-14) The preceding verses set before us the Word of God as truth. It is divinely inspired, infallibly written, and as the Word of God, to be relied upon. God is our faithful Shepherd. In that connection the text continues: And further, by these, my son, be...

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September 1, 2020 Standard Bearer preview article

September 1, 2020 Standard Bearer preview article

This article is written by Prof. Barrett Gritters and will be published in the September 1, 2020 issue of the Standard Bearer.  Click to read pdf as printed in the September 1, 2020 issue. ________________ Preserving our good Christian schools We can truly say about our good Christian schools, “The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad!” (Ps. 126:3). The more I think about what God has given us, I want to say this. Even the heathen, if they would look at our...

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Doctrine

Doctrine

This article was written by Rev. Dale Kuiper in the 12/15/1992 issue of the Standard Bearer. _______________ 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...

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Laughter

Laughter

This article was written by Rev. Dale Kuiper in the 11/15/1991 issue of the Standard Bearer. _______________ Not many times do the words laugh and laughter occur in the scriptures. We read of the laughter of the wicked, the laughter of the righteous, and, most striking of all, the laughter of God. As we consider this subject we ought to be reminded that we live in a world where comedy is king and where the insanity of unbelief is punctuated by forced humor, jokes, blasphemies, frivolousness, and inanities. How much...

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Contentment

This 'A Word Fitly Spoken' article was written by Rev. Dale Kuiper in the January 1, 1991 issue of the Standard Bearer. _____________ The Christian virtue of contentment is expressed in scripture with a word that is, to say the least, surprising. Contentment is translated from a compound Greek word meaning “self” and “sufficient.” Literally it means “to be sufficient of one’s self, to possess enough to need no aid or support,” hence, “to be independent.” How surprising, in light of the fact that scripture on every page instructs...

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Hope

Hope

This article was written by Rev. Dale Kuiper in Issue 11, 3/1/1991 of the Standard Bearer. _____________ Hope is the power of the Christian life, when the Christian life is viewed as a pilgrimage, a journey through this present time and place to a better city and country. Hope is the power that keeps the Christian on that pilgrim way and encourages him on that way. The book of 1 Peter, addressed to pilgrims and strangers scattered throughout the earth, stressing the importance of...

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