August 2019 Standard Bearer preview article

“As to our good works” (2): The nature of good works as works

Works occupy a prominent place in Scripture; in fact, Scripture is from beginning to end a book of works. Scripture attributes works to the triune God, Christ, angels—wicked and holy, and men—wicked and holy. We begin our examination of the good works of the believer by considering the nature of good works and noting five general characteristics of our good works as works.

A conscious, acting subject

First, works are those deeds consciously and volitionally performed by rational, moral beings. Strictly speaking, a creature like the sky is not capable of performing works. Psalm 19:1 teaches, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” The visible expanse of the heavens above us gives glory to God; however, it is not an intelligent creature consciously and willingly producing “works” of praise unto God as holy men and holy angels can do. We men are different than the creatures in the heavens above and in the earth beneath and in the waters under the earth, for God created us as personal beings with an intellect and will so that we are able to live consciously before His face performing works of service in love for Him and our neighbor. In marriage, a husband and wife are called to love each other and show it in word and deed, but if a whole week has gone by and they have not consciously performed even one considerate act towards each other, living as intimately as two stars twinkling side by side in the heavens, something is dreadfully amiss. God created us, and in Jesus Christ has recreated us, as new creatures able to do good. Consciously! Willingly! Cheerfully! Lovingly!

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"Thoroughly covenantal, consistently biblical, and beautifully Christo-centric"

Thoroughly covenantal, consistently biblical, and beautifully Christo-centric, Jehovah’s Mighty Acts chronologically highlights stories from Old Testament history for the elementary-aged child, explaining how each story displays a wonder of God’s grace toward his people. As a mother of several children falling in this age group, I especially appreciated Rev. Langerak’s accessible language and simple sentence structure, while at the same time maintaining the depth of spiritual truth contained in each biblical story. In fact, Jehovah’s Mighty Acts both encourages and instructs both the child listening and the adult reading aloud as well!

It is refreshing to use a Bible story book that doesn’t require the Reformed believer to weed out false interpretations or inaccurate accounts of biblical events. And though God has blessed the Reformed church with several lovely classic children’s Bible story books, a fresh recounting of these stories and a creative new format powerfully cements biblical history in our children’s minds anew.

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A Covenant Home: What Is It Like?

Some years ago, on a visit to the south, I found myself in front of a home, which had, hanging over the front door, a sign upon which were the words: "In This House Christ Is King." I found this intriguing and immediately thought of the firm statement of Joshua to Israel just before his death: "But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." 

It would be equally appropriate for a covenant family to have a sign hanging over the front door of its home, with the words engraved on it: "This Home is a Covenant Home." Such a family would want all who visited it to understand that the home they were about to enter was a special kind of home, a unique home, a home which differed from countless thousands of homes throughout the country or the world. 

If you saw such a sign appropriately fixed above the front door of a house, what precisely would you expect to find inside? Would you enter with some firm ideas concerning what to expect? Or would you say: "I have no idea of what a covenant home is like." 

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Christian Marriage

As head of the wife the husband must love his wife even as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it (v. 25). In the love of God the husband must love his wife. Love never seeks to hurt or destroy, but always seeks the salvation of its object. God so loved us that he gave his only begotten Son to atone for our sins and give us everlasting life and glory. That love must be reflected by godly husbands. Loving his wife as Christ loved the church, the husband will never be a ruthless tyrant. He will lead his wife in the way of the word of God. Together husband and wife will bow before that word in all of their married life. God's word will be the foundation for their marriage. In God's love the husband will provide both the earthly and spiritual need of his wife. Just as Christ gave himself for the church, so the husband will love his wife. With the self-sacrificing love of Christ the husband will seek his wife's welfare in this life and for the life to come. A godly husband lives for his wife. She is first in his life. He is not harsh or bitter towards her. He is tender and kind. He nourishes and cherishes her as Christ cherishes the church. He rules not with an iron hand expecting to be waited on hand and foot. His wife is no harried, tired slave who lives in fear of him. As the church has all of the love of Christ so the wife has all of the love of her husband. He loves her so much that he will not only put up with her weaknesses and bad habits, he loves her so much he is willing to die for her.

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Book review: "This book's strength lies in the author’s applications"

Sarah Mowery is the children's book reviewer for the magazine Perspectives in Covenant Education. She is a wife and mother and attends Loveland Protestant Reformed Church in Loveland, Colorado.

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Jehovah’s Mighty Acts, the newest RFPA children’s publication (to be released August 2019), is the first in a series by Rev. Nathan Langerak entitled Tell His Wonders. In thirty-one chapters (one hundred pages) Rev. Langerak surveys Old Testament history from Genesis through Esther. The book’s target age is 7–10 years, but the superb, original color illustrations by Michael Welply, illustrator of The Random House Book of Bible Stories, will intrigue children much younger (as well as adults).

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Fellowship with God

The truth concerning man's relation with God is one which deserves our attention and our understanding. Nothing can be more important than one’s standing before God. It is very literally a mat­ter of life and death.

There is a relationship of fellowship between God and his people. That relationship has been called a "covenant relationship." This concept is fundamental unto a proper understanding of our duties and responsibilities before God and with men. Within the church it becomes very plain that some sort of beautiful relationship exists between God and this people of his church. It is also to be clearly understood that this relationship exists only because of and through the cross of Jesus Christ.

"Covenant" involves a coming together, a dwelling under one roof. The term emphasizes that God and his people have a basis for unity. This, we believe, is the purpose of God's revelation outside of himself—that a people might eternally dwell with him in Christ.

 

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July Standard Bearer preview article

Introduction

The Lord’s Supper in the dialogue of worship was not always understood the scriptural way we have described it in these articles. In our previous article we examined how Rome views the Lord’s Supper in worship. In this article we want to understand how and why the Reformation was used of God to restore the church to a proper understanding of the Lord’s Supper in worship.

Restoration of the gospel

When the Reformation returned the church to the truth of the gospel, everything changed also in worship. In God’s sovereign mercy, Martin Luther, who had access to Scripture, began to see the truth of the Word of God. Particularly, he saw that Scripture taught the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ on the cross that effectually atoned for the sins of all His people, so that they are justified by an imputed, alien righteousness alone.

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The Sesquicentennial of the Afscheiding

Pastor de Cock briefly addresses the gathering, pointing them to the seriousness of the moment and of the step they were contemplating. Then they all kneel in prayer to commit their cause to the Lord and to beseech him for grace that they may make their decision in the consciousness of his favor. For their help is in the name of the God of Jacob. 

It was only a little band! 

They did not belong to the noble and the wise and the rich of this world. They did not belong to those who counted for something in this world. But "God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are" [1 Cor. 1:27]. 

It was by this little flock of small and despised folk that a step was taken and a decision reached which would prove to be of tremendous historical significance for the Reformed Churches—in fact, for Zion of all ages, for eternity. 

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"We will not hide them from their children..."

JEHOVAH'S MIGHTY ACTS

Bible Stories by Nathan J. Langerak

Illustrated by Michael Welply

The creation of the world, God’s word to Adam and Eve after the fall, the worldwide flood, God raising up Moses to deliver Israel from Egypt, God’s provision of manna in the wilderness, and the Jews’ return home after seventy years of captivity—these are all saving acts of Jehovah towards his covenant people in the Old Testament. And they all show one of God’s most important perfections: though his people often sin against him and are unfaithful, God is always faithful to his covenant promises he makes with his people in Jesus Christ.

The first book in the Tell His Wonders series of Bible stories, the stories and accompanying illustrations in Jehovah’s Mighty Acts are a tool for parents of the church to use in the instruction of their children about the theme and truth of Jehovah’s mighty acts of salvation in the Old Testament, mighty acts which pointed to the mightiest act of all—salvation in Jesus Christ.

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Nathan J. Langerak is a minster in the Protestant Reformed Churches of America. He is the author of Walking in the Way of Love, a two-volume commentary on the book of 1 Corinthians. He and his wife and their six children live in Crete, Illinois.

Michael Welply has illustrated more than eighty books, including The Random House Book of Bible Stories, and Biblical Times, published by Simon and Schuster. He has two adult children and three grandchildren. He and his wife live in Levet, France.

Retail: $24.95 | Book club: $21.21
96 pages | hardcover
Coming early August 2019!

 

CHAPTER PREVIEW

This new children's book release WILL BE sent automatically to RFPA book club members, UNLESS you opt-out from receiving it. Click: Email to opt-out. You must opt-out by June 28, 2019.

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The Fifth Point of Calvinism

We must not imagine that the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints and of the assurance of that perseverance was a new doctrine established by the Synod of Dordrecht in 1618–‘19. It was not. The doctrine of perseverance was not new for the church in general, nor was it new to our Reformed creeds and for our Reformed churches. I need only remind you of the fact that this doctrine finds expression in a most beautiful context in that jewel of our Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 54, concerning the holy, catholic church. The 54th answer concludes with the well-known words, "...and that I am and forever shall remain, a living member thereof." There, in just a few words, you have both the doctrine of perseverance and the doctrine of the assurance of perseverance. And the fathers of Dordt were well aware of this, and thus aware of the fact that the Arminians militated against the adopted confession, as is plain from their reference to Q&A 54 in article 9 of the fifth head of doctrine:

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