Hope manifested in holiness

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. I Peter 1:13-16 Every child of God who hopes for heaven will also strive for holiness. Not because we have to do something to earn our […]

A crisis of authority: Essentials of ecclesiastical authority

Previous article in this series: May 1, 2023, p. 341. In a few recent editorials, I laid out what I see to be two dangers for the church with respect to ecclesiastical authority. One danger is that those who are under authority in the church adopt a critical, rebellious spirit found presently in the world and express that toward those who are in positions of authority. The other danger is that those who are in positions of authority in the church misuse or abuse their authority to the confusion and hurt of those entrusted to their care. Both I consider […]

Hit the pause on artificial intelligence! News from various denominations

Hit the pause on artificial intelligence! In an open letter published last March and signed by over a thousand of the world’s artificial intelligence (AI) experts, including the wealthiest man in the world, Elon Musk, we read the following: AI systems with human-competitive intelligence can pose profound risks to society and humanity, as shown by extensive research and acknowledged by top AI labs. As stated in the widely endorsed Asilomar AI Principles, Advanced AI could represent a profound change in the history of life on Earth, and should be planned for and managed with commensurate care and resources. Unfortunately, this […]

Habakkuk: The just shall live by faith (11) God’s judgment and salvation (1)

Previous article in this series: June, 2023, p. 394. A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet upon Shigionoth. O Lord, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy. God came from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise. And his brightness was as the light; he had horns coming out of his hand: and there was the hiding of his power. Before him […]

The Council of Nicea (787): Background

How many ecumenical councils have been held? The Roman Catholic church gives the number as twenty-one, the last being the Vatican Council (1962- 65). Protestants consider only the first seven to be ecumenical. We come now to the Seventh Ecumenical Council. It was quite different from the first six in two ways. First, the issue it faced was very different. The first six councils dealt with doctrinal issues: Is Christ God? Is the Holy Spirit God? How can Christ be both human and divine? Is Christ one person or two? Does He have one nature or two? Does He have […]

Battling the devil (4) Defense in the war

Previous article in this series: March 15, 2023, p. 280. We are in a war—spiritual warfare, very real warfare. Preparation for this warfare is so important. We addressed last time how we can be ready for battle against the forces of darkness. The two preparatory pieces of armor are mentioned in Ephesians 6:14a and 15: “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth…and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” Now we turn our attention to another crucial aspect of the warfare—defense. The defensive pieces of armor in Ephesians 6 are the breastplate of righteousness, […]

Not ashamed of the gospel

“Not Ashamed of the Gospel: Rekindling Zeal for Evangelism and Missions” was the general title of the mission conference held on May 4 and 5, 2023 at Trinity PRC in Hudsonville, Michigan. Trinity PRC and Grandville PRC evangelism committees teamed up with the Domestic Mission Committee to host this conference. A copy of Rev. J. Kortering’s book Evangelism in the Established Church was distributed to the attendees to encourage them in their personal evangelism. Tables of books were presented in the narthex area of the church by the Reformed Free Publishing Association and the Reformed Book Outlet. The goal of […]

The evangelistic character of the covenant

For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. Acts 2:39 Although Protestant Reformed people have a correct understanding of the covenant in many regards, I believe our lack of zeal and activity in missions and evangelism is due, at least in part, to an underdeveloped understanding of the covenant. Deficiency in outreach is likely due to a deficiency in understanding God’s covenant of grace. I plead for humble and honest self-examination regarding our view of the covenant especially as it relates […]

Echoing the word

In her book Say Among the Heathen the Lord Reigns, Mrs. Jean Kortering tells the conversion stories of several individuals in the continent of Asia. The first story is about a young girl in Singapore named Poh Li who was raised by a strict Buddhist mother and a father who was a gambler and drunkard. One day, a young woman named Karen of the Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church saw Poh Li in a store studying a picture of Jesus. Karen asked her if she knew who was in that picture, and Poh Li said no. So she started to tell […]

In the Potter’s hands

O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel. Jeremiah 18:1-6 Jeremiah lived and prophesied around 600 years before Christ’s incarnation. Jeremiah’s ministry spanned almost 50 years, during that time when the abomination of Israel’s apostasy had reached the depths from which there would be no revival as a nation. At the time that Jeremiah was called to the ministry, however, the situation appeared quite promising. He was called during the reign of Josiah, who […]