Well friends, here I am again with a bit of news for our Standard Bearer. All too soon the year of 1942 has slipped away; and in the year gone by there was much sorrow and grief, but also pleasure and joy.
In the world at large there are signs of much confusion, disharmony; war and destruction; but not a turning unto the God of the nations. And the Church in the midst of the world is inclined to lament: who shall show us any good? To be sure a sinful lamentation.
It is well that the world asks this question, for she has no solution for her problems, and sees no way out of her difficulties. She is always boasting, but also in that she trembles.
Frequently you read in the daily papers: The Allies are on the way to victory; but you also hear, don’t be too enthusiastic for it may last for years. However, the world forgets and loses sight of the fact that Christ is King and that He has the victory; and through all these incidents He judges the world and establishes His kingdom, which is an everlasting kingdom. And the truth in the matter is this: that the Church in this chaos has nothing to fear, for in the future she shall rule with her King over the work of His hands. This is also a comfort for the individual believer, hence he must fight the good fight, although he must never forget or close his eyes for the reality, that as God comes with His judgments, then His children are also the recipients.
There were no unusual happenings in our ranks in the year gone by. The Word was preached amongst us, and it was divided aright. Our Churches from East and West came together in Classis and Synod, and their labors were not in vain, but blessed by God from whom all blessings flow. There was harmony and mutual understanding.
The need of a missionary was again realized to preach and teach our Protestant Reformed truth unto those who should worship with us; and the Rev. G. Lubbers was called, but he could not see his way clear to accept the call extended unto him.
Well friends, news of our individual Churches I cannot write, because I haven’t received any. A little bit of news of the First Church may interest you. Our congregation has 527 families and 122 individuals, and it has a Sunday School enrollment of 400. There were 93 of our boys called by the Government to serve the Country. You see, friends, we also feel the horror of the war in our own midst. It is not so easy for parents to see their boys go away to the soldier camps, and to the battle fields, in which environment, to say the least, it Is not pleasant. And let us not think light of the fact that perhaps some of our boys will stay on the battle field and never return. “That is war!”
It is also noticeable in our Societies that the boys leave ns, especially in our Young Men’s Society. Let us all try our best to keep things going, for it is very essential to be instructed in our Protestant Reformed truth.
Our consistory began a good work to bid the boys farewell in the evening service. What is more fitting than that? The minister speaks a few words of comfort and consolation, and admonishes the boys not to forget the instruction they received at home and in the church. They must never compromise but walk worthy, also in the army of our Country, unto the honor and glory of God. In closing, the congregation sings a number of the Psalter fitting for the occasion. Words as these: “Help me thy will to do, Thy truth. I will pursue, Teach me to fear”. . . . and, “To the hills I lift my eyes, Whence shall help for me arise? From the Lord shall come my aid, who the heavens and earth has made”. . .
They also receive a nice Zipper Bible. The Gideons must learn from, us, not to give only the New Testament to the soldier boys, but the whole Bible. Nevertheless they do a good Work, and the Fuller Ave. Church did collect for this worthy cause on Christmas day.
There are many labors to be performed in a church of our size by the consistory such as: family visiting, the calls to be made on the sick and shut-ins, the various Catechism classes and societies, and also the instruction of our students in our school.
If I have been rightly informed, then the publishing of the book of the Heidelberg Catechisms as taught by the Rev. H. Hoeksema is on the way. Some of these articles have been in the Standard Bearer. This paper has been a blessing to many in the past. In it our Protestant Reformed truth is brought to the fore at all times, and we don’t have to be afraid that we read such things as I have read in the missionary Monthly of November, 1942. It is a poem and reads as follows: “Jesus and I—I cannot do it alone, The waves run fast and high, And the fog close chill around, And the light goes out in the sky, Today so eager and bright, Tomorrow too weak to try: But He never gives in, so we two shall win—Jesus and I.”
I suppose this is meant to be a gospel truth for the heathen. It sounds so common, so humble and pious.
There is a pilgrim sojourning through the midst of a sinful world. It is dark and chilly round about him: and it is true that by nature we are cowards, and often grope in the dark and utter the words: hath God forgotten to be gracious? But this pilgrim has a friend, although it is not the Jesus of the Scripture, but only his next door neighbor and now together they try to win, for this Jesus never gives in.
Ah friends, Jesus, the Son of God, the Everlasting Jehovah, Himself in the likeness of man without sin, He who has paid the ransom for those who were given Him by the Father, He tries with man to win the battle,
The almighty, sovereign, omnipotent, everlasting God is put on a par in this poem with sinful man.
He tries with man to overcome sin, the devil and his angels, and because He is the strongest, they together are victorious. But the Jesus who saves to the full is gone, and the pilgrim is still in the dark.
You may call it a nice poem, but I call it blasphemy.
Shall we listen once to another pilgrim sojourner? Hear him pray in confidence: “O Lord to thee I cry, Thou art my rock and trust, O be not silent, lest I die and slumber in the dust. O let me have no part with those that hate the right; For as their works, so their reward. Jehovah will requite. O hear me when in prayer. Thy favor I entreat, Hear while I lift imploring hands, Before Thy mercy seat,”.
In a prayer like this there is hope and rest for the weary sojourner. In it is balm for the afflicted soul; salvation to the full. In this prayer man is nothing and God is all and in all; blessed be His Name forever! And all that is not in harmony with this prayer, with it the Lord is displeased.
I know, that you agree with me, that in all our activities we must walk and act as a people saved and redeemed. The world must see in us that we are a peculiar people, and that we aim at different things than they.
As individuals we must love each other, and act accordingly. We must also respect the brother in his convictions, and never with a few chosen words out of our own brain, brush away the opinions of others, and make black the brother upon the streets of Ashkelon, for that is not in harmony with God’s holy law and precepts, and a dishonor to the Church.
As Christians we may not raise altars of pleasure, wealth and fame. In our money, pleasure-mad world of today we must break down these altars; for we must have connections with heaven, otherwise life is not worth living. It is good to spend our money freely but not for our own pleasure; and the more we earn the greater the responsibility.
We would be grieved in our soul, would we not, if our churches should become places where altars are raised for every conceivable God. Let us then also be careful not to do it in our own lives as individuals, or families; for then we do the same thing as others who live day by day in such an atmosphere.
We leave all things in the hand of Him who assures us in His Word, that if we seek first the kingdom of God, all other things will be added unto us. And let no one make you believe that that is fatalism; for that is faith.
Things in many churches of today are not the way they should be. There is a wandering away from the principles of Holy Writ, and a seeking of the things which have no value: and also our Protestant Reformed youth must again remember that there is no pleasure in the things of this pleasure-seeking world. There is real abiding happiness in things as these: Searching the Scriptures, feasting and banqueting together in the fear of God; have your societies, make use of the means of grace as, much as possible. Yes, have your fun, but remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth.
God forbid that it should ever be said of our covenant youth, they have knowledge of many things, but not of sin, and the fear of God is not in them, for then we are lost, and our Protestant Reformed distinctiveness, is gone. In it lies our strength. That is our shibboleth, and it should not become a sibboleth.
Don’t you think, friends, that it is farsightedness of our Young Men’s Society that our radio system is extended, and that people in Traverse City, Muskegon and Battle Creek may also listen to the speaker, Rev. H. Hoeksema, who comes with the undiluted Word of God in his radio speeches, which are beneficial for all those who love the Reformed truth? Let us encourage the young men and pray the God of the harvest that He also may bless these efforts put forth. I know it, it is not direct mission work for that must be ruled by the churches, but indirectly it is, for all those who tune in get acquainted with our Protestant Reformed truth, which is the purest truth in accordance with Scripture; and in that way we may speak of Mission work.
Praise God: that as churches we may stand upon the truth of God’s sovereign grace. It is not mixed with the false philosophy of this world without foundation. To be sure there is sin and corruption in the world at large, but also in nations small and great,. And their slogan is: no God and no King, although they love a God of their own imagination.
It may seem that we are in the grip of circumstances, however, God Almighty rules as the Sovereign, and that also holds for the true Church in the world to the which we belong as Prot. Ref. Churches. The false Church is a compromising Church. In if you find no hope; no joy; and no rest for the weary soul; and the question echoes and re-echoes down the centuries, out of the troubled soul of the Christian: if the foundations be destroyed what shall the righteous do? And the reassuring answer comes: My grace is sufficient for thee.
Well friends: this is my last article for the Standard Bearer in the English, as I have not received any cooperation of any of our Churches. Two more articles in the Holland language will follow in the future D.V.
I assure you that I have done my best, although I have only one talent and, besides an inferiority complex.