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April 15, 2020 Standard Bearer issue is now available!

April 15, 2020 Standard Bearer issue is now available!
Due to printing restrictions related to COVID-19, the RFPA is temporarily unable to print and distribute hard copies of The Standard Bearer. Once these restrictions have been lifted, the RFPA will print and mail out all postponed hard copy issues of the magazine. In the meantime, these issues will be available for free online as they are produced. You can find the April 15 issue at: https://rfpa.org/pages/the-standard-bearer. Read More

As To Conditions (4)

The Arminians taught an election on the basis of foreseen faith and perseverance. God had chosen those whom he knew would believe and persevere. Faith, therefore, is a condition in the counsel of God, unto salvation. Yet, they understood, too, that man does not have this faith of himself. Scripture teaches too plainly that it is a gift of God. Now, how did they meet or rather circumvent this difficulty by their theory of “common grace,” or of the proper use of the light of nature. By this theory, they could even, if need be speak of an election unto faith! O, the error is made to look so much like the truth! When the Reformed believer speaks of sovereign grace, the Arminian agrees with him wholeheartedly—it is all of God! When the Reformed believer confesses to believe in election, the Arminian has no objection. When the Reformed child of God confesses that we are saved through faith, and that faith is a gift of God, the Arminian agrees with him. And yet their views are opposed to each other as light and darkness. This becomes apparent as soon as you ultimately ask the question: but to whom does God give this saving faith? Then the Reformed believer confesses: God gives the saving faith to whom he will, unconditionally, according to his absolutely free and sovereign and unconditional election! There are absolutely no conditions in the matter of salvation, no condition of faith, neither any conditions unto faith! But the same question the Arminian answers as follows: God bestows the gift of faith upon those that are willing to receive it. There is, after all, a condition attached unto election unto faith, and that condition is that man must use the light of nature aright, that by that light he must walk humbly and in meekness before God, become pious and render himself worthy and fit for eternal life!

Thus the question is always ultimately: is salvation determined by God or by man?

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As to Conditions (3)

The teaching of the Canons of Dordrecht, in regard to the subject we are now discussing, is very clear and emphatic.

On the one hand they present election as unconditional and absolute. The Remonstrants, as we all know, did not literally deny the scriptural truth of election, but made it contingent upon the faith of man and upon his perseverance to the end. But our fathers of Dordt rejected the Arminian doctrine, and maintained that election is unconditional and absolute. It is not contingent upon anything in man or upon anything that he can do or must accomplish, but rests in the sole good pleasure of his will.

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As To Conditions (2)

According to the Heidelberg Catechism, as we have seen, faith is never presented as a condition unto salvation, or as a condition which we must fulfill in order to enter into or remain in the covenant of God. Always it is presented as a means or instrument which is wrought in us by God and given us of him, by which we are ingrafted into Christ, become one body with him, and thus receive all his benefits.

Instrument and condition certainly do not belong to the same category of conceptions.

If faith is a condition it certainly is something man must do in order to and before he can obtain salvation. Unless we attach that meaning to the word it has no sense at all. And as I wrote before, in the minds of the people the term condition undoubtedly stands for some notion that makes salvation dependent on something man must do.

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April 1, 2020 Standard Bearer preview article

Sodom and Gomorrah invade Zion

The 2019 Synod of the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) received the interim report of a committee of ten individuals that was tasked to write a “theology of human sexuality.” This is a committee that was appointed at Synod 2016 “to articulate a foundation-laying biblical theology that pays particular attention to biblical conceptions of gender and sexuality” (Acts of Synod 2016, pp. 917-19). A final report is to come before the Synod of the CRC in 2021. The reason for coming to Synod 2019 was that delegates of this past year’s Synod might give feedback for the committee in its ongoing work.

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As To Conditions (1)

In his editorial in the March 15, 2020 issue of the Standard Bearer, Prof. Russell Dykstra recommended reading ‘As to Conditions,’ a series of Standard Bearer articles written by Rev. Herman Hoeksema in 1949. Over the next eleven weeks, we will be posting one article from the series each week.

This first article in the series 'As to Conditions' was written by Herman Hoeksema in the October 15, 1949 issue of the Standard Bearer.

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As the reader knows there has been, for the last year or so, a controversy in our papers about the question of conditions in the covenant of God. The question was really whether the term “condition” could be used properly in Reformed theology, and especially whether it could be used to express Protestant Reformed thought.

The controversy was introduced by the Rev. A. Petter who defended the use of the term and evidently conceived of the possibility of its being used in a sound Reformed sense. He even thinks that we need the term in order to express a necessary element in the Reformed conception of the covenant, the element of the responsibility of man.

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March 15, 2020 Standard Bearer preview article

The covenant of God and our mission to the world

The covenant of God.

Our mission to the world.

How often have we thought about these highly sig­nificant biblical concepts together? How often, when discussing one, have we been led to discuss the other? How deeply has our thinking penetrated into the glorious realities and urgent callings that lie at the inter­section of these truths? It is the humble opinion of this writer that there is room for growth in our understand­ing of the relation between these marvelous truths of Scripture. The burden of this and subsequent articles will be an attempt to develop the relation between them as it is set forth in the Word of God.

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Family Visitation (concluded)

Family Visitation (concluded)

The interrogation of family visiting must cover every phase of life. In addition to the civil and social sphere, discussed in our last writing, the following should be considered: 

(2) The Family Life: “Dwell on the condition of family life. Begin with the head of the family and then you might ask whether family worship is faithfully maintained, family prayers uttered, the scriptures read at stated times each day with the family and its truths commented upon and considered. If the answers to these inquiries is negative, there is room for admonition. Bind upon his heart his calling in this respect and encourage him as much as possible to fulfill it.” (G.M.O.)

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Family Visitation (Method)

Family Visitation (Method)
Perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of the work of family visiting is the selection of the proper and most effective method. On the one hand, careful attention must be given that there is some definite system and order followed in this work with a view to attaining its spiritual objective. Unless this is done, the work, haphazardly done, will prove to be fruitless. On the other hand, however, the same caution must be taken to avoid making this work a matter of formal routine. The members of the family are then simply confronted with a list of prepared questions; answers are hastily heard and the visit is considered completed. Such formal legalism, however systematic it may be, affords little spiritual benefit. This method is no improvement over the complete lack of system. Both are extremely dangerous and must be scrupulously avoided in selecting a proper method for the performance of this work. To find a method that is entirely free from both errors is not the simplest matter.  Read More

March 1, 2020 Standard Bearer preview article

“And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.” Jonah 3:1–2

The second time! God’s word came to Jonah the second time! Do we realize the wonder of that? The wonder of the amazing grace of God? For in these verses we see that God not only recovered His errant, run-away servant in the way of working repentance within him and forgiving him for what he had done, but also that He restored him to the office of prophet and recommissioned him to do His precious work of bringing His gospel message to Nineveh.

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Family Visitation (Objections to Family Visiting)

Family Visitation (Objections to Family Visiting)
Frequently, even among those who are members of Reformed churches, there emits rather strong sentiments of discontentment with the venerable practice of family visitation. In some circles these dissatisfactions are catered to, resulting in either the complete abolition of the practice or in its being substituted with something less poignant and official. Since generally the objections that are raised are tendered by those who for carnal reason detest any form of spiritual investigation of their faith and walk, such a surrender on the part of the church characterizes her as spiritually weak and more willing to appease men than to unstintingly perform her spiritual duty. Thus the flesh prevails and the communion of saints is reduced to a common society. Order and decency as maintained by spiritual rule are lost and each member does without restraint as seems good in their own eyes. The salt hath lost its savor!  Read More

February 15, 2020 Standard Bearer preview article

The covenant and Dordt (10)

Total depravity: Children incapable of fulfilling a condition

The Canons’ positive treatment of the Reformed doctrine of total depravity is straightforward and relatively brief. And yet, all nine articles of the Rejection of Errors condemn errors of the Remonstrants connected with total depravity. The reason for this is simple. The Canons set forth the Reformed truth over against the specific teaching of the Remonstrants. However, the Reformed doctrine of total depravity was explicitly set forth in the existing confessions, the Heidelberg Catechism and the Belgic Confession of Faith. The Remonstrants did not write what they really believed about fallen man. If they had, they would obviously contradict the confessions; it would indicate that their theology was not Reformed. Accordingly, their “third point,” on fallen man’s condition, though meandering, is something with which Reformed believers could agree, though most would want to state it clearer.

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Family Visitation (The History)

Family Visitation (The History)

The twenty-third article of our church order states that one of the duties of the office of elder is “to visit the families of the congregation, in order particularly to comfort and instruct the members, and also to exhort others in respect to the Christian religion.” The original rendering of this was much more explicit. It read as follows:

“They (the elders) shall faithfully investigate whether they (the members of the church) manifest themselves uprightly in walk and conduct, in the duties of godliness, in the faithful instruction of their households in the matter of family prayers (morning and evening prayers) and such like matters; they shall admonish them to these duties with consideration; but also in all seriousness and according to conditions and circumstances; they shall admonish them to steadfastness, or strengthen them to patience, or spur them on to a serious minded fear of God; such as need comfort and admonition they shall comfort and admonish, and if need be they shall report a matter to their fellow elders, who together with them that are appointed to exercise discipline; and besides these matters they shall correct that which can be corrected according to the gravity of the sin committed; nor shall they neglect, each one in his own district, to encourage them to send their children to catechism.” 

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He Redeemed Me

He Redeemed Me
The tears of a slave girl just going to be put up for sale drew the attention of a gentleman as he passed through the auction mart of a Southern slave state. The other slaves of the same group, standing in line for sale like herself, did not seem to care about it, while each knock of the hammer made her shake. The kind man stopped to ask why she alone wept, and was told that the others were used to such things, and might be glad of a change from the hard, harsh homes they came from, but that she had been brought up with much care by a good owner, and she was terrified to think who might buy her. “Her price?” the stranger asked. He thought a little when he heard the great ransom, but after a little paid it down.  Read More
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