All Articles For Dykstra, Russell J

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In an island country of some 5.5 million people, located over 8,000 miles from the nearest PRC, is a congregation of nearly 190 members that earnestly desires Protestant Reformed preachers to come to preach and teach. As all in the PRC know, at the end of 2017 Rev. Andy Lanning accepted the call to a congregation in the USA, leaving our sister congregation in Singapore vacant. Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church (CERC) loves the truth preached in the PRCA. When they became vacant, the session immediately began working with the Contact Committee towards obtaining another pastor. After considering all the options,...

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Previous article in this series: June 2018, p. 389. The Belgic Confession in Article 29 lists the three well-known marks of the true church of Jesus Christ—the preaching of the pure gospel, the proper administration of the sacraments, and the exercise of Christian discipline.[1] The necessity of setting forth the distinguishing marks of Christ’s church was, first, the deformation of the church in the Middle Ages. When the Belgic Confession was written (1561), the church of Rome was thoroughly corrupt in doctrine and practice. In addition, the church of Christ had to be distinguished from radical groups that sprang up....

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The 2018 Synod of the Protestant Reformed Churches convened on Tuesday, June 12 and recessed on Friday, June 22. At various times Synod recessed—once for an entire day—to allow committees to study and prepare advice. Because the actions of synod have been announced in church bulletins and can be read on the PRCA website, there is no need to recount these. This editorial focuses on one particular issue faced by Synod 2018, namely, the place of obedience (good works) in the believer’s experience of covenant fellowship. It has been said that the particular controversy brought to this synod could only...

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The Belgic Confession, a Reformed creed, bears the impression of John Calvin’s theology. Soon after it was written by Guido de Brès in 1561, Reformed churches in the Netherlands began adopting it. The Belgic Confession includes a lengthy section on ecclesiology, reflecting the reality that the doctrine of the church was a major conflict between the Romish church and the churches of the Reformation. The ecclesiology is clearly Calvinistic. Article 27 of the Belgic Confession expresses the Reformed confession on the church—one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church—the truth considered in the May 1 editorial. This one body of the church...

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In the Reformed system of church government, the synod is the broadest gathering. These ecclesiastical assemblies are assigned the duty to transact “ecclesiastical matters only” and that “in an ecclesiastical manner.” Synods do the work which for various reasons cannot be “finished in the minor assemblies, or such as pertain to the churches in common” (Church Order, Art. 30). In an ecclesiastical manner? What does that mean? From a negative point of view, it means that the work is not performed in the manner of a state legislature, or of the U.S. Congress. The “manner” is very different indeed. For...

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I believe an holy, catholic church. This simple yet profound statement is the confession of countless believers around the world Sunday after Sunday, using the words of the Apostles’ Creed. The churches that use the Nicene Creed fittingly add “…and apostolic…” to their confession. The Heidelberg Catechism beautifully expounds this confession in its fifty-fourth answer as follows: That the Son of God, from the beginning to the end of the world, gathers, defends, and preserves to Himself by His Spirit and Word, out of the whole human race, a church chosen to everlasting life, agreeing in true faith…. The Catechism...

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Previous article in this series: April 1, 2018, p. 293.     Every believer has a God-determined calling in this life. Few passages in Scripture emphasize it as strikingly as the psalmist’s confession of God’s sovereignty over his life in Psalm 139. While he was yet “in [his] mother’s womb…[his] substance was not hid from” God, which is to say, God knew his unformed substance (vv. 13, 15). Indeed, adds the psalmist, “Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none...

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Previous article in this series: March 15, 2018, p. 269. The truth of God’s absolute sovereignty is beautiful and comforting to the believer. God leaves nothing to chance. This is embedded in the Reformed believer’s confession of his greatest comfort: “I am not my own, but belong body and soul, in life and in death, to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.” This same Jesus, “so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation” (Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 1). Indeed, fellow believer,...

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“What do you want to be when you grow up?” This question, often addressed to children or grandchildren in the range of four to ten years old, can yield some very entertaining answers. “A fireman!” “A nurse!” “I want to be a doctor!” “A teacher!” “A mommy!” It is especially interesting when the young girl answers very emphatically, “I want to be a minister!” Ah, we have some instructing to do here. This is harmless fun, and it is interesting to chart where the children’s interests lie and how their aspirations change as they mature. Yet, at some point in...

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The Protestant Reformed Churches annually observe the “National Thanksgiving Day” with a special worship service. They have bound themselves to do so by Article 67 of the Church Order, which states: “The churches shall observe, in addition to the Sunday, also [a list of eight days, and] the National Thanksgiving Day.” The observance of special days has a Reformed tradition which can be traced back to the church order adopted by the great Synod of Dordt, 1618-19. We realize that there are differences within the Reformed camp on this matter. Even sister churches of the PRC do not observe all...

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