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IN TWO MONTHS volume two of The Belgic Confession commentary will be printed, completing the two-volume set written by Professor David J. Engelsma.

An orthodox commentary on the confession, that is, one that is in wholehearted accord with the teachings of the confession, and resolutely faithful to them, will be profitable to Reformed Christians and churches in the twenty-first century, not only for invaluable instruction in the Reformed faith, but also for the maintenance and defense of Reformed orthodoxy.

Founded on holy scripture, the Belgic Confession determines sound doctrine for Reformed churches and believers. This doctrine is rich, lovely, and powerful. The confession also authoritatively exposes contemporary heresies. As they read this commentary which proclaims the doctrine and authority of the confession, all believers who love the Reformed faith will be faithfully guided in the truth of the “old paths.”

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Worldliness: A Perennial Danger

There are two passages in the New Testament where the Holy Spirit explicitly warns us against the world. The first is James 4:4 where James calls Christians and church members “adulterers and adulteresses” because of their friendship with the world, adding that the one who will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Earlier in that same epistle James says that “pure religion and undefiled” is (among other things) “to keep [oneself] unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).

The other passage is 1 John 2:15, where John commands Christians not to love the world. The force of the Greek grammar is: “Stop loving the world.” The reason John gives is similar to James: “if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

I believe that we all know instinctively what worldliness is. We can sense it; we know it; and we are very quick to see it in others and to excuse it in ourselves. Worldliness is one of the greatest dangers to the church. The Christian has three main enemies: the flesh, the devil, and the world.

Worldliness also causes division in the church. Some Christians have legalistic tendencies: they see almost everything, and especially what others do, as worldly. Therefore, they are quick to condemn worldliness in others. For some Christians, worldliness is defined almost as “whatever the world does, if the Christian does it, it is worldliness.” That, however, is an inadequate, inaccurate, and ultimately unhelpful definition. Other Christians, who want to avoid legalism, with its excessive rules and judgmental spirit, err on the side of worldliness. They are inclined to be too close to the world so that the world bewitches, fascinates, and ensnares them. Since love of the world is probably the number one reason for apostasy in the church, we need to find balance between world flight and worldliness. May God give wisdom!

The first thing to do if we are not to love the world is to identify what the world is. To be clear, we need to identify what the world is in 1 John 2:15-17.

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March 1 Standard Bearer preview article

This "Strength of Youth" article is written by Rev. Joshua Engelsma and will be published in the March 1, 2019 issue of the Standard Bearer.

 Click to read pdf as printed in the March 1, 2019 issue.

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A man of character

For a young man to be what God calls him to be, he must be a man of high character.

The mention of character sounds strange to the modern ear. It makes us think of some long-forgotten, more formal era. The worldly man is not concerned with character, and the examples of men in the media today are the farthest thing from men of character.

This makes it all the more urgent that the Christian young man be a man of character. The character about which he is so concerned is a set of spiritual attributes graciously given him by God. Having received them from God, the man of God then carefully cultivates and diligently develops them in his life.

There is certainly more that could be said, but here I want to mention three aspects of a godly man’s character: sobriety, wisdom, and compassion.

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Iron Sharpens Iron Radio Interview with Rev. McGeown Postponed

Due to technical difficulties in the Iron Sharpens Iron studio, today's scheduled interview with Rev. McGeown on his book Grace and Assurance has been postponed and will be rescheduled at a later date.

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A Bitter Cry of Unbelief

With heavy hearts, because they had to leave Simeon behind in one of Egypt's prisons, the nine brothers of Joseph mounted their beasts of burden. And yet with a sigh of relief they headed northward for the land of Canaan. How wonderful to be out of prison and away from rough speech! 

The relief, however, was soon replaced with increasing anxiety, so that their hearts became heavier each step that they took homeward. For now a new trying situation began to impress itself upon their consciousness. They must face their father and explain to him Simeon's absence, the fact that they found a sack's worth of money in the sack of grain that they had opened, and that they must take Benjamin along, if they are to return and get food again out of Egypt. What troubled them especially was the fact that they had to persuade their father, who now looked upon Benjamin as his most beloved son, to let them take this youngest son along on their next trip. 

Now, ordinarily, to find a sum of money brings elation. To get a large discount on the things you buy does not move to tears of sadness. To come home from the grocery store with a large bag of the necessities of life for which the owner refused to let you pay, and said that it was on the house, will not bring frowns and grumblings. More likely your step will be quicker and lighter; and you will want to hurry home and tell others of your "good fortune." But the nine brothers did not look forward to telling this to their father after they opened one of their sacks and found to the last penny the cost of that sack of corn lying on top of the food. They were filled with consternation to find this money, and with stark fear looked at each other in dismay. We read that their hearts failed them. The treatment that they had received in Egypt gave them no assurance that this was a gift of kindness—even though it was—or the deed of a good friend. Going home to get proof that they were true men, they knew of not one man in Egypt that was a friend to them. And what about Simeon being kept in prison? Is it any wonder that, when they did return with Benjamin, one of the first things that they did was to explain that they had found this money and were bringing it back? And is it any wonder that, upon being brought into Joseph's house, they first said among themselves, "Because of the money that was returned in our sacks at the first time are we brought in; that he may seek occasion against us, and fall upon us, and take us for bondmen, and our asses"? Note, by the way, how averse these brothers, who sold Joseph as a slave, are to becoming slaves themselves. But they can find only one explanation for the money in their sacks, and that is that it is an attempt to prove that they are spies, and thieves as well. 

Imagine then their consternation, and their father's, when arriving home they open all the other eight sacks, and find in each one the money they gave for the contents! What is more, we may believe that each brother recognized the fact that he got exactly the same money—not merely the equivalent of what he bought the corn for—and in the same purse or package in which they brought it! If you will turn to Genesis 42:35, you fill find this, "And it came to pass as they emptied their sacks, that, behold, every man's bundle of money was in his sack; and when both they and their father saw the bundles of money, they were afraid." Now this word bundle is elsewhere translated three times as bag, and it is not the same word as sack. There was a bundle or bag of money in each sack. The word bundle or bag means that which is compressed; and it gives the idea of a sum of money that is not loose but in some way wrapped up together. And "every man's bundle" means that the same bundle, bag, or wrapping is there with the exact coins that they had brought to buy the corn. No wonder they were afraid and that their hearts failed them, and said, "What is this that God hath done to us?" There was everything to give circumstantial evidence that they stole the money they brought down to Egypt. 

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A Review from the Past

*This review by William Hendricksen was published in the September 5, 1969 edition of The Banner.

BEHOLD, HE COMETH! by Herman Hoeksema (author) and Homer C. Hoeksema (editor and reviser), Published by Reformed Publishing Association, 1969; distributed by Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503. Price: $9.95.

Truly a formidable volume with no less than seven hundred twenty-six pages, it was the last large work written by the pastor of the First Protestant Reformed Church of Grand Rapids, and has been published posthumously. The preparation for publication in book form was begun by the author and completed by his son, who not only did a splendid job of editing but also revised and expanded the exposition of Revelation 19–22.

What is the nature of this book? It is not merely a book of outlines. Neither is it a dry-as-dust exegesis without practical application. It is something far better. It is an exposition in the form of sermons or essays. In serial form the exposition appeared first in The Standard Bearer, of which Rev. Herman Hoeksema was the editor for many years. The author also twice expounded the book of Revelation in sermons. With respect to these his son writes as follows:

His sermons, of which there were two complete sets, totaling well over a hundred…were delivered with a warmth and fervor which kept a large congregation at spellbound attention Sunday after Sunday.

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Behold, He Cometh! now in its sixth printing

Behold, He Cometh! has recently been reprinted (with a new updated interior design) making this its sixth printing! First published in 1969, the RFPA has now printed 10,500 copies of this title.

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Behold, He Cometh!, is an essay-style commentary on the much disputed book of Revelation. By careful exegesis, the author gives a solidly Reformed, amillennial interpretation of  scripture. This book sets forth in clear, concise language the comforting truths concerning the end times.

"...lucid, simple style...In interpreting the symbolism, the author is refreshingly sane." —Peace & Truth magazine
  • 800 pages  
  • hardcover  
  • ISBN 978-1-944555-45-0

Receive 10% off with code BEHOLD6

 

 

 

Also now available in ebook format for the first time!

Receive 10% off with code BEHOLD6

 

 

 

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I Love the Lord!

“I love the Lord, because He hath heard my voice and my supplication.” Psalm 116:1

I love the Lord! That is the theme of the whole psalm. He will give us the reason for his love; he will tell us what he is going to do with that love, so that he ends in heaven itself where he will dwell in the courts of the Lord forevermore, but you are right when you write above the whole psalm: I love the Lord!

What mighty concept: I love the Lord!

Yes, the world also speaks of love.

Very learned men, especially in the field of psychology, tell us that love is the deepest urge in man, moving him irresistibly on. They say that behind all effort of men of all the ages you will find the love of man for his mate, his friend, his flesh and bone, his fatherland, humanity. And I can well believe it. Read the literature of all the ages, and you will come face to face at every page with the love of man.

But their love is not our love. Our love is the love of God! Therein lies all the difference in the world!

The love of God is pure and sweet; it is holy and just; it is wise and strong; faithful it is and true unto all eternity.

The love of God is God himself. God is his virtues. And so we sing: Unending is the love of God from age to age the same!

The love of the world, however, is ugly. It is so utterly ugly that God hates it, and the angels of God hide their pure faces from it.

The love of man ought to be the reflection of the love of God. But it is not. God is not in all their love.

And so we find a lot of filth in the world, masquerading under the sweet name of love. All human emotion should be nothing but the fruit of God’s emotion, reflecting the life of God. Everything apart from God is contraband. And you need no magnifying glasses to see the corruption which corrupts the love of the world.

How different is this psalmist: I love the Lord! That makes all the difference in the world. If you have the love of God in your heart you will find the sanctifying power of that love in all your other relationships. It will never stand in the way of the other avenues of love we spoke of above. Nay, but that love of God will hallow them.

I love the Lord!

It is the song of heaven unto all eternity.

I love the Lord!

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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?

It is, it seems to me, elementary that how we listen to the preaching in church is determined by other important and related matters. I refer, in the first place, to the fact that our listening to the preaching will be determined in large measure by our attitude towards and interest in spiritual things. This is not something which ought to characterize our lives only on the Lord's day, but something that persists through all of life. Jesus points to the very heart of the matter in his sermon on the mount when he says: "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matt. 6:21). If our treasure is upon earth and not in heaven, then we will not listen very attentively to the preaching, for the preaching is all about spiritual treasures. It may be that a very interesting sermon delivered by a very gifted speaker captures our attention and holds our interest in spite of the fact that our treasures are on earth; but this "hearing" of the Word will be like the seed that fell upon thorny ground. "And the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful" (Matt. 13:22). Nor can one "lay up" treasures on earth during the week and expect to lay up treasures in heaven on the Lord's day. And this is simply because a person cannot "serve God and mammon," as Jesus points out in the following verses.

This is important to remember too. There are so many people who leave God's house unmoved by the sermon and untouched by the word as it is preached and dissatisfied with the preacher and his message. But the trouble lies with themselves. Their treasures are really on earth. They are basically and fundamentally uninterested in the treasures of heaven. But rather than admit this, they are quick to blame the preacher and his preaching for their own disinterest. They prefer to blame someone else rather than their own carnal-mindedness. 

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MP3 of Radio Interview with Prof. Cammenga on 'Saved by Grace'

On Tuesday, February 5, 2019, Prof. Ronald Cammenga had a radio interview with Chris  Arnzen, the national, religious radio host of Iron Sharpens Iron, on his book, Saved by Grace: A Study of the Five Points of Calvinism.

If you did not have an opportunity to listen to Prof. Cammenga's interview on Iron Sharpens Iron, you can do so now by clicking the link below. 

 Click on the icon to listen.

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