All Articles For Dykstra, Russell J

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The church belongs to the Lord. God gave His elect to Jesus Christ in eternity, who in time redeemed each member from sin and death. God rewarded Jesus by lifting Him up to be Head over all things to the church (Eph. 1:22). We confess that Jesus gathers, defends and preserves His church throughout history by His Word and Spirit (LD 21, Q. & A. 54). Thus, whenever the church meets together in her assemblies, she is careful that everything be done in harmony with the Word of Jesus Christ and His Spirit. For the work of the church is...

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Greetings to all the friends and supporters of the Protestant Reformed Theological School! By the time you read this, the first semester of the 2014-15 school year will be over, classes completed and exams administered, graded, and returned. Fourth-year student Ryan Barnhill will have returned from his six-month internship in the Protestant Reformed Church in Edgerton, MN. It has been an exciting semester. One of the most notable new features for the nine students in their second year of seminary has been the addition of “practice preaching.” In this new endeavor, the students must take the “theory” of what they...

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 His Life Aurelius Augustine was born in AD 354 in the northern African town of Thagaste, located in present-day Algeria. Although they lived a fair distance from Rome, Augustine’s family considered themselves to be decidedly Roman—hence his given name. Augustine’s father Patricius was an unbeliever. He insisted that his son be well-schooled, convinced that this was the way to advancement in society and in life. Augustine’s mother Monica was truly a God-fearing woman who did all she could to train Augustine in the way of faith and obedience to God. However, for the first thirty-two years of his life, Augustine...

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Although it might seem a bit strange, at first blush, to devote the annual Reformation issue to a church father who died almost 1100 years before the great sixteenth century Reformation, we have good grounds for doing so. Our two main reasons are expressed well by the noted church historian Philip Schaff. First, Augustine’s theology was foundational for the Reformation. In his History of the Christian Church, Schaff contends that “Augustine is, of all the fathers, nearest to evangelical Protestantism, and may be called, in respect to his doctrine of sin and grace, the first forerunner of the Reformation” (Vol....

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One of the most significant covenant blessings given to the Protestant Reformed Churches is its Christian schools. God establishes His covenant not merely with believers, but also with their chosen seed. Believing parents are committed—by their own baptism vows—to instructing their children in such a way that their children know, love, and obey Jehovah their God. God commands parents to instruct their children constantly—from the rising up out of sleep to the time they tuck their children into bed at night. In this way, their children will know God, know His creation, and be equipped to serve Him in the...

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Reformed churches consciously tracing their lineage to the Reformed churches in the Netherlands have a rich heritage of ecclesiastical assemblies. Our forefathers understood the importance of proper church government not only for the wellbeing, but for the very existence of the church. The sixteenth-century Reformed churches in the Netherlands were in their infancy—small and scattered, but committed to the Reformed faith. Through most of that century they were also fiercely persecuted by the Roman Catholic Spanish rulers. Worship services could only be held in secret, not infrequently in open fields. Many thousands died for the faith. It is significant that...

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“The supreme and, in a sense, the only task of the Church is to preach the Word of God. But if there is a Word of God to be proclaimed by the Church, it must needs be a Word which God Himself speaks, and which He speaks concerning Himself. And if God speaks concerning Himself, the basic and all-pervading note of that speech must inevitably be: I am God! Unless the Church proclaims this truth in all its implications, in all its purity and without compromise, she cannot preach, she has nothing to say. Unless she proclaims this truth, not...

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Singing in worship to God is a highly emotional activity for the believer. Singing involves the whole being—mind and will, body and soul. Words put to music can convey joys or sorrow, praises and petitions, with feeling that far surpasses merely speaking the same words. Any believer who has lost a loved one has experienced that sudden flood of emotion unexpectedly overwhelming him or her while singing a psalm in church. When trouble strikes, do not the songs of lament and cries for help come to our hearts, and our lips? The union of poetry and music powerfully expresses our...

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Previous article in this series: March 1, 2014, p. 245. Churches of the Reforma­tion have been zealous for Christian schools, endors­ing, promoting, preaching, sup­porting them in any way possible. Those churches also steadfastly in­sisted that Christian schools are the responsibility of parents. This was the oft repeated teaching of Luther, Calvin, Knox, and the churches in the Netherlands. However, circum­stances necessitated that the state be heavily involved in financing the schools, and that the churches supervise the teachers and their instruction. That was the pattern established in Luther’s Germany, in Calvin’s Geneva, in Scotland, and in the Netherlands. History demonstrated...

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The April 1, 2014 issue of the Standard Bearer will be a special issue on the Reformed tradition of singing the Psalms. The issue will include a history of Psalm-singing and will present various Reformed traditions of Psalm-singing. One article is devoted to singing the imprecatory Psalms. And we will examine how the 1912 Psalter might be improved. All this and more, coming in the next issue, D.V. —RJD

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