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A few comments before my question. As I was growing up, my parents always emphasized to us children the importance of church membership. This included membership in the church with the three marks of a faithful church as described by Article 28 and 29 of the Belgic Confession. My father, who served many years as elder in the church, reminded us not a few times that when the elders had their meetings with those who desired to leave the denomination, these individuals were warned that leaving was sin. If they persisted in their request, they were sent a certificate of...

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Public Confession of Sin Recently in Adult Sunday School the following question was raised: “When a public sin has been committed, does the church have the biblical right to demand a public confession?” Although the question did not get answered, the discussion seemed to favor that a public confession should be voluntary in order to have real meaning. Please comment. Herman Vander Vos Bozeman, MT Response: The article of the Church Order of the Protestant Reformed Churches which speaks to your question is Article 75, “The reconciliation of all such sins as are of their nature of a public character, or have...

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“Common Grace” and Difficult Texts I have subscribed to the Standard Bearer for about two years, and have found the articles edifying and thought-provoking. I would like your comments on two verses in light of the Protestant Reformed Churches’ position on common grace. As I understand it, your position is that God has no gracious purposes with regard to the non-elect, either in providentially providing them with material benefits, or in permitting them to come under the preaching of the gospel.This position helps to explain many verses that would otherwise be difficult to interpret, e.g., Matthew. 13:10-15. However, two verses mentioned below seem...

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Pelted with Questions We have been receiving the Standard Bearer for only two or three months (plus extra copies sent to us by the Evangelism Committee of the South Holland Protestant Reformed Church). We eagerly anticipate the arrival of each month’s issue; for we are learning a great deal from them. Your magazine has very encouraging, inspiring articles that cause us to think deeply about the Word of God. Thank you! My husband and I are new to the Reformed faith. After we had studied the “5 points of Calvinism” for maybe two years, God introduced us to the full plan this...

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Polygamy in the Old Testament King David is called a man after God’s heart, and we know that he sinned grievously in the adultery with Bathsheba. But how can the number of wives and concubines that he had be justified in the light of God desiring one man and one woman to be the basic family unit? (Dr.) Julian Kennedy Bournemouth, England Response: Polygamy on the part of the saints in the Old Testament, such as King David, cannot be “justified.” It was a deviation from the Word of God governing marriage that had been clearly revealed at creation: one...

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Was the Tempter Satan? Because of your commitment to excellence in exegesis, I’d like to ask that you consider addressing the matter of Satan in Genesis 3. It is commonly taught that it was Satan who deceived Eve, using the serpent. Yet there is no specific reference to Satan in the passage. Where did this teaching originate? I know Revelation refers to Satan as a serpent, but I cannot think of any other passage which gives us reason to believe Satan was the tempter in Genesis 3. What exegetical method or manner of hermeneutics has led to this teaching? Have we ruled...

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  About II Peter 1:9 Our Men’s Society (Hudsonville PRC) is presently discussing II Peter. We ran into disagreement on verse 9 of chapter 1. The question revolved around whether “he that lacketh these things” could be considered a chosen child of God. Those who said he was not a child of God appealed to the rule that Scripture interprets Scripture.They used the book of James, where James stresses that where there is no evidence of good works it must be concluded that there is no faith. Therefore “he that lacketh … virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and...

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The following questions were received from the Bible Study Class of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Burnie, Tasmania. Our question concerns Acts 6:6: “Whom (the seven deacons) they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.”  Today in the ordination of ministers in Reformed churches, the laying on of hands is still being practiced, also in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Australia. But there is no laying on of hands in the ordination of elders and deacons. Why not? Since Acts 6:1-6 is used to establish the office of deacon in the Reformed...

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We have asked James Lanting, editor of our “Church and State” column to respond to this question.  – Ed. Comm. For the past few years the State of Illinois has sponsored a Pupil Transportation Reimbursement program. Illinois, and perhaps other states in similar programs, offer parents of nonpublic schools a partial reimbursement for costs of busing their children to Christian schools, if the school confirms attendance. There is also talk about tuition vouchers becoming available to parents of our Christian schools. The argument is made that these forms of government aid are merely permissible assistance to the parents rather than...

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Head Coverings and Tongues Speaking I have two questions to which I have not been able to get satisfactory answers. The Netherlands Reformed Congregations, Free Reformed Churches, and some Presbyterian denominations require women to wear head coverings in worship. This they base on I Corinthians 11:2-16. To my knowledge, the Protestant Reformed Churches have no such requirement. Whereas I don’t believe the Bible is teaching that a woman’s head must be covered in worship I have difficulty explaining the meaning behind this passage. What are your views on women being required to cover their head in worship, and what is the...

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