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Faith: A Bond, a Gift, and an Activity (1)

Faith: A Bond, a Gift, and an Activity (1)

What follows is from Martyn McGeown's article "Faith: A Bond, a Gift, and an Activity, but Not a Condition for Salvation," published in the Protestant Reformed Theological Journal, April 2019, Vo. 52, No. 2. The article will be serialized on the RFPA blog. Shared with permission. __________ Defining SalvationIn the minds of many, salvation is assumed to be equivalent to justification. Salvation, however, is broader than justification. Salvation is the entire work of God by which He delivers us from sin and...

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Considerations on Acts 16:30-31

Considerations on Acts 16:30-31

What follows is a short email exchange between David J. Engelsma and David Hutchings, a friend from the United Kingdom. We are sharing this material with their permission. ______________________________ Dear Prof. Engelsma, If you are free and willing to share anything on following, I have two questions on Acts 16:30-31 that often come up in debates with Arminians and with those who propose the notion of a “general, conditional promise.” In Acts 16:30, the Philippian jailer asked the apostles, “What must I...

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The Goodness of God’s Nearness

The Goodness of God’s Nearness
With God as his refuge, the psalmist lets the storms do their profitable work upon him. The troubles work his glory. With God as his refuge, the psalmist will not again stumble and nearly fall, regardless of the severity of the storm in his own life and regardless of the seeming tranquillity of the ungodly. God is the “rock of my heart” (v. 26). Read More

The Reformed Harmony of Paul and James

The Reformed Harmony of Paul and James

James’ doctrine is that the faith that justifies by itself alone also always works, for justifying faith is not a “dead faith,” which is no faith at all, but a living faith. True, living, justifying faith is union with Christ, and union with Christ does and must bear fruit in good works of obedience to the law of God. Doing justice to James’ terminology, James teaches that, regarding its clear and powerful demonstration, justification is by works. Paul, in contrast, teaches that, regarding the means by which the sinner is declared righteous by God the judge, justification is by faith, and by faith only.

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Passive Faith?

Passive Faith?
We do not, of course, bring our works into our justification, but the faith by which we are justified is not passive. It is not a dead faith, but a living, active faith. It is not a working faith, for faith does not work, least of all for justification, but it is (to risk stating a redundancy) a believing faith, a faith that receives, embraces, appropriates, etc. That living, active faith is the God-worked, graciously-given instrument by which we embrace Jesus Christ and all his benefits, and the means by which God graciously imputes to us the perfect righteousness of Christ. It does not belong to our righteousness before God, and, therefore, it is not the ground/basis of our justification, but it is the instrument by which we lay hold of the righteousness of our Savior. It is not a passive instrument, for how could faith, “the hand and mouth of our soul” (Belgic Confession, Article 35) be passive, inert, inactive? Read More

Man and Freedom

Man and Freedom

What follows is an excerpt from Knowing God and Man, by Herman Hoeksema, chapter 10, pages 104-106. _______________ The Son who is able to make one truly free is Christ, the Lord. He is free himself, for he is the eternal Son of God, coequal with the Father in the divine nature, dwelling in infinite perfection and in the sphere of divine love. As the Son of God he loves the Father, even as the Father loves him, from eternity to eternity....

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Calvin on Faith and Justification

Calvin on Faith and Justification

Faith is not only union with Christ, but faith is also an activity. As a good teacher, distinguishing well, Calvin gives a clear definition of faith: “Now we shall possess a right definition of faith if we call it a firm and certain knowledge of God’s benevolence toward us, founded upon the truth of the freely given promise in Christ, both revealed to our minds and sealed upon our hearts through the Holy Spirit.

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That regeneration so highly celebrated in Scripture

That regeneration so highly celebrated in Scripture

What follows is an extract from Grace and Assurance: The Message of the Canons of Dordt, by Martyn McGeown, pages 243-246, published by the RFPA._______________ ARTICLE 12: THAT REGENERATION SO HIGHLY CELEBRATED IN SCRIPTURE And this is the regeneration so highly celebrated in Scripture and denominated a new creation: a resurrection from the dead, a making alive, which God works in us without our aid. But this is in no wise effected merely by the external preaching of the gospel, by moral...

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Sharing the Fellowship of God

Sharing the Fellowship of God

What follows is an extract from Trinity and Covenant God As Holy Family, by David J Engelsma, pages 105-107, published by the RFPA._______________ The God who, as triune, seeks the other and gives himself to the other as Father and Son in the Holy Spirit, gives himself to his human family in such a way that they participate in his own divine fellowship. The communion of the church and of each believer with God is the Holy Spirit. He who is the personal...

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Grace and Peace

Grace and Peace

How great a blessing is peace in the church—peace between saint and saint, between husband and wife, between parents and children, between officebearers and members, between ministers and sheep—all flowing as a river of peace from the peace between God and his people. A church torn by controversy, characterized by bickering and jealousy, constantly plagued by division and sectarianism, is unable to perform the great task of manifesting in the world the cause of Christ. It is also the laughingstock of neighbors and the object of ridicule and scorn by those who know what goes on among the members. But a church where peace is a living reality is blessed with joy, happiness, love, and unity. When the minister pronounces this benediction of Paul in the worship services and the people of God appropriate that word of God by faith, that congregation is blessed! No wonder we are called to strive earnestly for the unity of the Spirit (Eph. 4:1–3) and pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Ps. 122:6–9).

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Through Many Dangers - NOW AVAILABLE!

Through Many Dangers - NOW AVAILABLE!

August 1862. Eighteen-year-old Harm van Wyke finds his quiet life in the Dutch Reformed community of Holland, Michigan, upended by the American Civil War. Harm’s minister, Rev. Albertus van Raalte, encourages the young men of his community to join the Union army. Harm hesitates to leave his home, but when his friends portray the war as a grand adventure, he gives in and joins them. As Harm and his friends travel to army camps in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and then Louisville, Kentucky,...

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Job: God’s Sovereignty in Suffering - A Review

Job: God’s Sovereignty in Suffering - A Review

What follows is a review by Rev. Matt DeBoer of Job: God's Sovereignty in Suffering, written by Ronald Hanko. _______________ What does God say about the suffering of His people? Men say things about suffering, but what God says really matters. In his commentary entitled Job: God’s Sovereignty in Suffering, Ronald Hanko explains what God says in the book of Job about the trials we face and how we must respond to them. The book of Job is long and sometimes difficult...

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"The Church's Hope: The Reformed Doctrine of the End" - A Review

"The Church's Hope: The Reformed Doctrine of the End" - A Review
This volume emphasizes the very real practical significance of true, biblical eschatology: the safeguarding and enjoyment of Christian hope. The true doctrine of the end gives the church hope, solid and certain hope. The millennial errors rob the church of her hope. But the truth of the Word of God fixes the eyes of her faith upon that hope: “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). Herein lies a very practical reason to read this volume. The reader who delves into it will find his hope kindled and strengthened. That is what every good study of eschatology should do. It should lead the believer to look with uplifted head for the coming of the Lord and to pray with renewed earnestness “Come. Lord Jesus, Come quickly.” Read More

“Here I stand” in the fear of the Lord

“Here I stand” in the fear of the Lord
Martin Luther stood in the fear of the Lord. Already at his first appearing, we see it. Why did he ask for time to prepare an answer? In his own words: “Because this is a question of faith and the salvation of souls, and because it concerns the divine Word…it would be rash and at the same time dangerous for me to put forth anything without proper consideration.”10 He went on to quote Matthew 10:33, words that stood large before him. Here is a man neither headstrong nor cocksure, but one who feared God. He was confident, but not self-confident. Listen to his prayer; he felt his own weakness, but upon the Lord he relied. At the diet, many and great were the faces and the power they wielded, and what was he? But there was a witness that day (though you would not have seen him with your eyes), someone watching and listening who had more hold on Luther than anyone else: the living God, to whose Word Luther’s conscience was captive. “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe” (Prov. 29:25). Read More
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