We have entered a pew year of church activities and our bulletins reflect that fact: no more mentions of Christmas program preparations; attention being called to new directories being printed; societies resuming their meetings, some with new programs; new faces in consistories, new officers in societies; instructions for catechism pupils; and a new year ahead for our ministers in which they are privileged to search the Scriptures for old truths that are ever new, thereby finding new inspiration for themselves and us—leading us in to green pastures of God’s Word as undershepherds feeding Hi
The question whether Ishmael, the son of Abraham and Hagar, the bondmaid of Sarah, was an elect or one reprobated cannot help but arise in the mind of every alert Bible student among us. For the Bible seems to teach both. There are passages in the Scriptures in which Ishmael seems to stand before us as an elect, while others seem to set him before us as one reprobated. So the question, what was he, an elect or a reprobated one?
But is this conclusion just? Not according to our opinion. It is natural that a Classis deposes a minister of the Word according to the rule: “Who installs also deposes.” The sphere of the minister of the Word reaches further than the local church. Therefore, the Classis must decide with respect to the installation into the office as well as with respect to the deposition of the minister of the Word. In case a local church wants to maintain a heretical minister in spite of the Classis, she would then lose the right to belong to the federation of churches (denomination).
The third consequence of the “enormous sins” of the saints is that they “grieve the Holy Spirit.” This is, of course, a Scriptural expression, taken from Ephesians 4:30: “And grieve not the; Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” The expression refers, in the first place, to the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Christ dwelling in the church and in the hearts of believers.
And, in the second place, we may also state that, although the term, “sacrifice,” was used in connection with the celebration of this sacrament, it was used in an altogether different sense than its present use in the Roman Catholic Church. According to this early view of the Church, not Christ was offered but the Church offered itself, its prayers and thanksgiving, etc.
The must does not always imply the can. The must of keeping God’s commandments does not always imply either the ability to do so. The holy angels before God’s face in glory, who have never fallen and come under the dominion of Satan and of sin must obey God; and they can do so with the power wherein God created them and continues to work in them.
The time that we call Christmas season will be past when this essay is read in The Standard Bearer. The holidays will be a forgotten thing in the mind of the world. Madly they rush on to new business ventures. The world does not understand the Mystery of the birth of Jesus Christ, and it never did. This was the privilege of a few elect children of God at the time of Jesus’ birth. This befell to a Zacharias, an Elisabeth, an Anna and a Simeon. Particularly this was the privilege of a Joseph, the betrothed husband of the virgin Mary.
You must expect disappointment if you imagine that judgment will do what the gospel could not accomplish. In the midst of judgment the hearts will become more hardened and embittered, and people will continue in their sins. Their end will be in the pool that burneth with fire and brimstone. Hence, the great lesson for the people of God contained in this particular passage is this: turn away from such. Have nothing to do with the world that tramples under foot the blood of Christ, except in as far as you are called to be the light of the world...