Reformed versus Arminian missions (3) Different Methods

In previous articles we considered two significant differences between Reformed and Arminian missions, namely, the differences regarding the objects of mission work and regarding the goals of mission work. We now consider a third, namely, differences in missionary methods. Arminians are generally results-oriented in missions. They are interested in numbers. Their purpose is to persuade as many individuals as possible to accept Christ. They view it as their duty to stop sinners in their tracks, turn them around, and thus keep them from ending up in hell. I have often spoken with such missionaries, and it does not take long […]

Supreme Court decision on gatherings during COVID-19 is a boost for religious liberty (1)

State and local governments have imposed restrictions on gatherings, including church and religious gatherings, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The regulations vary greatly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, from suggestions for COVID-19 safety protocols to restrictions limiting the number of individuals who can gather to worship. Many have been concerned that the government has used the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext for overreaching and violating the separation of Church and State, as well as infringing on the right to Free Exercise of Religion under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.   The facts of the case The State of […]

Bring the books…

Watchman on the Walls of Zion: The Life and Influence of Simon vanVelzen, by Rev. Joshua Engelsma. Jenison, MI: Reformed Free Publishing Association, 2021. 224 pages. $26.50, hardcover. [Reviewed by Rev. Stephen Regnerus] Simon vanVelzen. Who is the man? Many readers likely are unfamiliar with him, for the name Simon vanVelzen is not a household name. And if we should know the man, then how are we to view him? Many historians consider him to be an imbalanced, even radical man, while few hold him up as a wise and balanced warrior. What ought our assessment to be? Was vanVelzen […]

News from our churches

Trivia question Of the ministers currently serving in the Protestant Reformed Churches, four have last names beginning with the letter “S.” Can you name them? Answer later in this column.   Minister activities Rev. D. Holstege (PRC missionary to the Philippines) received and considered the call to Kalamazoo PRC. Rev. Holstege announced on December 20 that God had led him to decline the call and to remain a foreign missionary to the Philippines. Rev. Holstege, along with his wife and children, left the Philippines Wednesday, December 16, for his missionary furlough in the U.S. (until June 30, 2021). According to […]

Guided by our Shepherd

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Psalm 23:3 The twenty-third Psalm is a psalm of amazing comfort for the child of God. Our lives in the midst of this world are filled with cares, trials, and tribulations. But this psalm brings peace and quiet trust to the souls of God’s children. In the midst of all of the storms of life we behold our Shepherd, Jehovah God. He provides for our every need: “I shall not want,” we confess in verse 1. He cares for us, constantly alert to our […]

Herman Witsius: Still relevant (5)

As indicated when we ended our previous editorial (Jan. 1, 2021), we intended in this editorial to quote Witsius’ conclusion to his book Antinomians and Neonomians. It is a conclusion worth quoting in full, one written in an irenic spirit but with firmness, laying down what must characterize Reformed theology in the interests of gospel preaching if it is to remain fully biblical. Witsius has deep insight into what must be preserved and insisted upon if the gospel of grace is to be fully preached, which means not neglecting the exhortations unto godliness (commands unto all good works) that must […]

The Abraham Kuyper prize

A centennial anniversary “What Kuyper Can Teach Us 100 Years Later” is the title of a November 6, 2020 ChristianityToday.com article by Jordan J. Ballor, a member of the Acton Institute. The article reminds us that Dutch Calvinist Abraham Kuyper died 100 years ago on November 8, 1920. Kuyper is well known to the readers of the Standard Bearer, and it is no surprise to us that the 100th anniversary of his death would receive attention from a popular Christian institution such as Christianity Today. The article mentions another fairly prominent Christian institution, Calvin University in Grand Rapids, MI, that […]

Jonah’s storm

But the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken. Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep. So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be […]

The Council of Constantinople (AD 381): The meeting

Previous article in this series: December 1, 2020, p. 112. We have now explained why the second ecumenical council in Constantinople (381) was necessary. Although the first ecumenical council in Nicea (325) had condemned Arianism (which denied that Christ is God), that heresy continued to hold influence and semi-Arianism (which said that Christ is similar to God, although not God) had developed. Some who opposed Arianism developed other wrong views of Christ. In addition, the question arose how the Holy Spirit related to the Father and Son. To address these matters, Emperor Theodosius I called the Council of Constantinople.   […]

Good works and assurance (2): Assurance of the essence of faith

Previous article in this series: October 15, 2020, p. 36.   Assurance of the essence of faith Assurance is of the essence of faith. This is the historic and confessionally Reformed view of assurance, as it is the teaching of Scripture. The Heidelberg Catechism teaches that assurance is of the essence of faith in its classic description of faith in Lord’s Day 7, Q&A 21. There the Heidelberg Catechism describes faith as both knowledge and confidence. Confidence is just another word for assurance. Although faith is knowledge and confidence, it may be said that of the two elements of faith, […]