CHRISTIAN HOMES

Many of those who look no farther than the temporal happiness of individuals and the welfare of the State are not insensible of the importance and value of domestic relationships, realizing that the family is but the unit of the nation. No matter how excellent the constitution and laws of a country may be, or what its material resources, they are insufficient and effectual, unless sure foundation for social order and public virtue be laid in the healthy regulation and wise disciple of its families. The nation is but the aggregate of individuals comprising it; and unless there be good fathers and mothers, good sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, there will be no good citizens. It is because our home life has so sadly deteriorated that social decay is now far advanced, nor can it be arrested until parents once again properly discharge their responsibility. We have no hesitation in saving that the future welfare of Britain (and the USA too) is more seriously menaced by the relaxation of family government and the breakdown of home life than by any government incompetence or foreign hostility. 

Home! How much that one word used to convey! It is still one of the most precious in the English language unto some of us. Much more so when to all its natural attractions are added the hallowed associations which gather around a Christian home. Is it not our favourite concept of heaven embodied in that blessed expression, “my Father’s House” (John 14.2). Because the Christian is God in every relation of life. No matter what station he occupies, or wherever home should be the sphere of his most manifest devotedness unto Him. All its arrangements should bear the stamp of his heavenly calling. All its affairs should be so ordered that everyone entering it should feel, “God is here!” The supreme aim of family life should be household piety, everything else being subordinated thereto.

It is in the home our real characters are most manifested and best known. Out in the world, a certain measure of restraint is placed upon both our corruptions and our graces; but in the home, we are freer to act naturally, and it is there that our worst and best sides alike are exhibited the plainest. As a close observer and one of wide experience said, “I can never form a correct judgment of a man from seeing or hearing him in a religious meeting. He may seem a very spiritual person there, and say very beautiful things, but let me go home with him, and there I learn the actual state of the case.” He may indeed pray like a saint in the church, but unless his home be governed according to the Word of God, and his own conduct be regulated by the Spirit of Christ, he fails to witness for him in that most important and influential sphere.

The reality and extend of “a work of grace” in the soul are most clearly revealed amid the petty trials of home life. In the Scriptures, we find some of its most eminent characters subjected to that severe test. For example, the Lord gave as the reason for the intimate confidences He was about to make unto Abraham, “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD” (Gen. 18:19): thus his home life was pleasing to God as was his public. Nor are the Scriptures less explicit in showing us the disastrous consequences which attend a believer’s unfaithfulness in this relation. A notable case in point is the fearful ruin of Eli’s family: “I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not” (1 Sa. 3:13). The state of a preacher’s home is like made the test of his character: he is disqualified from the sacred office, unless he be “one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity,” adding, “(For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)” (1 Tim. 3:4-5). 

“What have they seen in thine house?” (2 Ki. 20:15). Have you observed my reader, how much in Scriptures is in the interrogatory form? How frequently the Lord used that method of teaching, both with His disciples, and His enemies! It is most definite and searching form of instruction. A considerable part of God’s Word is made up of questions; and it is our wisdom not only to thoughtfully and prayerfully ponder them, but to regard the same as being addressed to us individually-and thereby bare our hearts to their penetrating power. This we should do with the “Where art thou?” of Genesis 3:9, right through the Scriptures to the 2wherefore didst thou marvel” of Revelation 17:7. The one now before us was uttered by way of rebuke unto Hezekiah’s vanity, who-in a spirit of pride and ostentation-had shown the massagers from Babylon the treasures of his palace.

“What have they seen in thine house?” Let each of us take that inquiry home to himself and herself. What do visitors, especially those who spend a night under your roof, behold in thy home? Do they see a household which is well ordered, everything regulated according to God’s Word; or do they behold a scene of confusion and turmoil? Do the furnishings of your home bespeak a heart which is dead to the world? Is there a noticeable absence of that carnal luxury and fleshly display which mark those whose affections are set upon things below? On the other hand, is there that cleanliness and tidiness everywhere which honours the Lord? Nothing is more incongruous for one who professes to be a stranger and pilgrim (1 Pe. 2:11) here than to behold him or her endeavouring to outshine their neighbours in that which ministers to “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 Jo. 2:16). Equally so do neglect and dirt indicate that something is wrong with the heart, and mar a Christian’s testimony.

“What have they seen in thine house?” Do they behold a husband “under petticoat government,” or one who takes his proper place at the head of the home? The household must have a leader; and God has committed rule to the husband, and holds him responsible for its management. It is no valid excuse for him to say that he is the breadwinner, and therefore, he leaves the wife to run the house. Not that he is to be a tyrant, but firm, asserting his authority, ruling in holy love. Yet unless the wife fully do-operates, much of his effort will be unavailing. Not only does God require her to be subject unto her husband’s will (Eph. 5:22, 24), but to loyally support and further him-unless his requirements manifestly clash with the Bible. He is necessarily absent from the home most of the day, and therefore, it largely devolves upon her to “train up” their children “in the way [they] should go” (Pro. 22:6).

“What have they seen in thine house?” Little or nothing to distinguish it from the worldlings?-or everything in it aiming at the glory of God? The husband and wife conducting themselves as “being heirs together of the grace of life” (1Pe. 3:7)? The children brought up “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4) and “in subjection with all gravity” (1 Tim. 3:4)-or utterly spoiled unruly, and a trial to those who have to endure their presence? Do visitors behold an example of parental piety, of salutary discipline maintained, evidences on every side that their hearts set upon something higher than the baubles of earth? Do they see the family altar? Do they behold the Sabbath day-duly honoured-all unnecessary cooking avoided? If they do not, they will rightly suspect the genuineness of your Christian profession! If those things be absent, be not surprised if your children abandon religion as they grow older.  Having no confidence in what they were reared. God search every one of us with this important question. (Studies in the Scriptures by A.W. Pink Sep. 1948 Vol. xxvii No. 9)    

“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,” Titus 2:11
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How long were Creation Days?

A great number of scholars say the creation Days, were not hour days, but long periods of years.

We offer some reasons why this is false.

A great number of scholars say the creation Days, were not hour days, but long periods of years.

We offer some reasons why this is false.

  1. The only day which has an evening and morning is a 24-hour day.

  2. The seventh day of this week was a 24-hour day. Moses says so in Ex. 20:10-11; 31:17.If the seventh day were a 24-hour day, then certainly the other six must have been also.

  3. The period lighted by the sun was a 24-hour day Gen. 1:5, 14, 18.

  4. The word used in Gen. 1:5 was a period of light followed by a period of darkness called night. The 24-hour day is the only such period known to man.

  5. In all the Bible, the word “DAY” is never used of an indefinite period of time when connected with a numeral Gen. 8:3; Num. 13:25; Jonah 1:17; Ex. 20:11:

  6. The objection is raised that there could have been no 24-hour day, without the sun, and the sun did not appear until the fourth day. Wrong again the 24-hour day is made by the revolution of the earth upon its axis, this was from the first day.

  7. The days of Gen. 1 were 24-hour days because Gen. 1:14 plainly says that they were the kind of days that made seasons and years.

  8. The fact that the Bible says that Adam lived 930 years in proof that the days of Gen. 1 were 24-hour days: because that is the only kind of days that make years.

Author?

“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,” Titus 2:11
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John Calvin’s Prayers As He Went Through The Book Of Zephaniah


Verses. 1-4

The word of the LORD which came unto Zephaniah the son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hizkiah, in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah. I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the LORD. I will consume man and beast; I will consume the fowls of the heaven, and the fishes of the sea, and the stumblingblocks with the wicked; and I will cut off man from off the land, saith the LORD. I will also stretch out mine hand upon Judah, and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will cut off the remnant of Baal from this place, and the name of the Chemarims with the priests. KJV

PRAYER

Grant, Almighty God, that as we are so prone to corruptions, and so easily turn from the right course after having commenced it, and so easily degenerate from the truth once known,-O Grant that, being strengthened by thy Spirit, we may persevere to the end in the right way which thou showest to us in thy word, and that we may also labour to restore the many who abandon themselves to various errors,; and though we may effect nothing, let us not yet be led away after them, but remain firm in the obedience of faith, until having at length finished all these contests, we shall be gathered into that blessed rest which is prepared for us in heaven, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Verses 5-9

And them that worship the host of heaven upon the housetops; and them that worship and that swear by the LORD, and that swear by Malcham; And them that are turned back from the LORD; and those that have not sought the LORD, nor enquired for him. Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord GOD: for the day of the LORD is at hand: for the LORD hath prepared a sacrifice, he hath bid his guests. And it shall come to pass in the day of the LORD’S sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king’s children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel. In the same day also will I punish all those that leap on the threshold, which fill their masters’ houses with violence and deceit. KJV

PRAYER

Grant, Almighty God, that as we continue in so many ways to provoke against us thy wrath, we may patiently bear the punishment, by which thou wouldest correct our faults, and also anticipate thy judgment: and since thou art pleased to recall us in due time to thyself, let us not turn deaf ears to thy counsels, but so obey and submit ourselves to thee, that we may become partakers of that mercy, which thou offerest to us, provided we seek to be reconciled to thee, and so proceed in thy service, that under the government of Christ thy Son, whom thou hast appointed to be our supreme and only king, we may so strive to be wholly devoted to thee that thou mayest be glorified through our whole life, until we become at length partakers of that celestial glory, which has been procured for us by the blood of thy only-begotten Son. Amen.

Verses 10-12
 
And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD, that there shall be the noise of a cry from the fish gate, and an howling from the second, and a great crashing from the hills. Howl, ye inhabitants of Maktesh, for all the merchant people are cut down; all they that bear silver are cut off. And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evil. KJV

PRAYER

Grant, Almighty God, that as almost the whole world breaks out into such excesses, that there is no moderation, no reason,-O grant, that we may learn not only to confine ourselves with in those limits which thou dost approve and command, but also to delight and glory in the smallness of our portion, inasmuch as the wealth, and honours, and pleasures of the world so fascinate the hearts and minds of all, that they elevate themselves into heaven, and carry on war, as it were, avowedly with thee. Grant also to us, that in our limited portion we may be in such a way humbled under thy powerful hand, as never to doubt but that thou wilt be our deliverer even in our greatest miseries; and that ascribing to thee the power over life and death, may feel fully assured, that whatever afflictions happen to us, proceed from thy judgment, so that we may be led to repentance, and daily exercise ourselves in it, until we shall at length come to that blessed rest which is laid up for us in heaven, through Christ our Lord. Amen.   

Verses 13-Ch.2:2
 
Therefore their goods shall become a booty, and their houses a desolation: they shall also build houses, but not inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, but not drink the wine thereof. The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers. And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung. Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD’S wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land. Gather yourselves together, yea, gather together, O nation not desired; Before the decree bring forth, before the day pass as the chaff, before the fierce anger of the LORD come upon you, before the day of the LORD’S anger come upon you. KJV

PRAYER

Grant, Almighty God, that we continue in various ways to provoke thy wrath, we may at length be awakened by the blasting of that trumpet which sounds in our ears, when thou proclaimest that thou wilt be the judge of the world, and testifies also the same so plainly in the gospel, so that we may, with our minds raised up to thee, learn to renounce all the depraved lusts of the world, and that having shaken off our torpidity, we may so hasten to repent, that we may anticipate thy judgment, and so find that we are reconciled to thee, as ever to retain the taste of it, in order that we may be enabled to renounce all the allurements and pleasures of this world, until we shall at length come to that blessed rest, where we shall be filled with that unspeakable joy, thou hast promised to us, and which we hope for in Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Chapter 2:3:8


Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD’S anger. For Gaza shall be forsaken, and Ashkelon a desolation: they shall drive out Ashdod at the noon day, and Ekron shall be rooted up. Woe unto the inhabitants of the sea coast, the nation of the Cherethites! the word of the LORD is against you; O Canaan, the land of the Philistines, I will even destroy thee, that there shall be no inhabitant. And the sea coast shall be dwellings and cottages for shepherds, and folds for flocks. And the coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah; they shall feed thereupon: in the houses of Ashkelon shall they lie down in the evening: for the LORD their God shall visit them, and turn away their captivity. I have heard the reproach of Moab, and the revilings of the children of Ammon, whereby they have reproached my people, and magnified themselves against their border. KJV

PRAYER

Grant, Almighty God, that as thou hast been pleased to consecrate us as peculiar people to thyself, we may be mindful of such an invaluable favour, and devote ourselves wholly to thee, and so labour to cultivate true sincerity as to bear the marks of thy people and of thy holy Church: and as we are so polluted by so many of the defilements of our own flesh and of this world, grant that thy Holy Spirit may cleanse us more and more every day, until thou bringest us at length to that perfection to which thou invitest us by the voice of thy gospel, that we may also enjoy that blessed glory which has been provided for us by the blood of thy only begotten son. Amen.

Chapter 2:9:15


Therefore as I live, saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Surely Moab shall be as Sodom, and the children of Ammon as Gomorrah, even the breeding of nettles, and saltpits, and a perpetual desolation: the residue of my people shall spoil them, and the remnant of my people shall possess them. This shall they have for their pride, because they have reproached and magnified themselves against the people of the LORD of hosts. The LORD will be terrible unto them: for he will famish all the gods of the earth; and men shall worship him, every one from his place, even all the isles of the heathen. Ye Ethiopians also, ye shall be slain by my sword. And he will stretch out his hand against the north, and destroy Assyria; and will make Nineveh a desolation, and dry like a wilderness. And flocks shall lie down in the midst of her, all the beasts of the nations: both the cormorant and the bittern shall lodge in the upper lintels of it; their voice shall sing in the windows; desolation shall be in the thresholds: for he shall uncover the cedar work. This is the rejoicing city that dwelt carelessly, that said in her heart, I am, and there is none beside me: how is she become a desolation, a place for beasts to lie down in! every one that passeth by her shall hiss, and wag his hand. KJV

PRAYER

Grant, Almighty God, that as thou triest us in the warfare of the cross, and arouses most powerful enemies, whose barbarity might justly terrify and dishearten us, were we not depending on thine aid,-O grant, that we may call to mind how wonderfully thou didst in former times deliver thy chosen people, and how seasonably thou didst bring them help, when they were oppressed and entirely overwhelmed, so that we may learn at this day to flee to thy protection, and not doubt, but that when thou becomes propitious to us, there is in thee sufficient power to preserve us, and o lay prostrate our enemies, how much soever they may exult and think to triumph above the heavens, so that they may at length know by experience that they are earthly and frail creatures, whose life and condition is like the mist which soon vanishes: and may we learn to aspire after that blessed eternity, which is laid up for us in heaven by Christ our Lord. Amen.

Chapter 3:1-5


 Woe to her that is filthy and polluted, to the oppressing city! She obeyed not the voice; she received not correction; she trusted not in the LORD; she drew not near to her God. Her princes within her are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves; they gnaw not the bones till the morrow. Her prophets are light and treacherous persons: her priests have polluted the sanctuary, they have done violence to the law. The just LORD is in the midst thereof; he will not do iniquity: every morning doth he bring his judgment to light, he faileth not; but the unjust knoweth no shame. KJV

PRAYER

Grant, Almighty God, that inasmuch as thou hast deigned to favour us with an honour so invaluable, as to adopt us for a holy people to thee, and to separate us from the world,-O grant, that we may not close our eyes against the light of thy truth, by which thou showest to us the way of salvation; but may we with true docility follow where thou callest us, and never cast away the fear of thy majesty, nor mock thee with frivolous ceremonies, but strive sincerely to devote ourselves wholly to thee, and to cleanse ourselves from all defilements, not only of the flesh, but also of the spirit, that by thus seeking true holiness, we may aspire after and diligently labour for that heavenly perfection, from which we are yet far distant; and may we in the meantime, relying on the favour of thy only-begotten Son, lean on thy mercy; and while depending on it, may we ever grow up more and more into that true and perfect union, reserved for us in heaven, when we shall be made partakers of thy glory, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Chapter 3:6-9


I have cut off the nations: their towers are desolate; I made their streets waste, that none passeth by: their cities are destroyed, so that there is no man, that there is none inhabitant. I said, Surely thou wilt fear me, thou wilt receive instruction; so their dwelling should not be cut off, howsoever I punished them: but they rose early, and corrupted all their doings. Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the LORD, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy. For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent. KJV

PRAYER

Grant Almighty God, that since it is the principal part of our happiness, that in our pilgrimage through this world there is open to us a familiar access to thee by faith,-O grant, that we may be able to come with a pure heart to thy presence: and when our lips are polluted, O purify us by thy Spirit, so that we may not only pray to thee with the mouth, but also prove that we do this sincerely, without any dissimulation, and that we earnestly seek to spend our whole life in glorifying thy name, until being at length gathered into thy celestial kingdom, we may be truly and really united to thee, and be made partakers of that glory, which has been procured for us by the blood of thy only-begotten Son. Amen. 

Chapter 3:10-13

From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my suppliants, even the daughter of my dispersed, shall bring mine offering. In that day shalt thou not be ashamed for all thy doings, wherein thou hast transgressed against me: for then I will take away out of the midst of thee them that rejoice in thy pride, and thou shalt no more be haughty because of my holy mountain. I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the LORD. The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid. KJV

PRAYER

Grant, Almighty God, that since the depravity of our nature is so great, that we cannot bear prosperity without some wantonness of the flesh immediately raging in us, and without becoming even arrogant against thee,-O grant, that we may profit under the trials of the cross; and when thou have blest us, may we with lowly hearts, renouncing our perverseness, submit ourselves to thee, and not only bear thy yoke submissively, but proceed in this obedience all our life, and so contend against all temptations as never to glory in ourselves, and feel also convinced, that all true and real glory is laid up for us in thee, until we shall enjoy it in thy  celestial kingdom, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Chapter 3:14-20


Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem. The LORD hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy: the king of Israel, even the LORD, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more. In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack. The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing. I will gather them that are sorrowful for the solemn assembly, who are of thee, to whom the reproach of it was a burden. Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee: and I will save her that halteth, and gather her that was driven out; and I will get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame. At that time will I bring you again, even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the LORD. KJV

PRAYER

Grant, Almighty God, that as we are at this day so scattered on account of our sins, and even they who seem to be collected in thy name and under thy authority, are yet so turn by mutual discords, that the safety of thy Church hangs as it were on a thread, while in the meantime thine enemies seek with savage cruelty to destroy all those who are thine, and to obliterate thy gospel,-O grant that we may live in quietness and resignation, hoping in thy promises, so that we may not doubt, but that thou in due time wilt become our deliverer: and may w so patiently bear to be afflicted and cast down by thee, that we may ever raise up our groans to heaven so as to be heard through the name of thy Son, until being at length freed from every contest, we shall enjoy  that blessed rest which is laid up for us in heaven, and which thine only-begotten Son has promised for us. Amen.   

“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,” Titus 2:11
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Implications of Public Confession Chapters 1-12

Abraham Kuyper

(1) The Interdependence of Holy Baptism and the Holy Supper

Preface

In the past few years, a couple of people approached the editor of the Beacon Lights with the idea of reprinting Abraham Kuyper’s book The Implications of Public Confession. The staff quickly agreed to reprint the book and search was made to determine what copyrights still existed on the book. Through the help of a few friends, it was determined that the copyrights on the book had expired, which meant that the Federation of Protestant Reformed Young People’s Societies was free to reprint the book. As far as can be determined, the sixth edition in 1934 was the last printing of the book. The Federation of Protestant Reformed Young People’s Societies is therefore happy to provide this excellent work for reading and study by our churches and by our young people.

The main reason for reprinting this excellent work is to provide our young people who will make or who have made public confession of faith with reading and study material on the implications of making public confession in our churches. By reading and studying this book, our young people will be made more aware of the responsibilities that become theirs upon confession of their faith. By the encouraging words of Abraham Kuyper, those who make confession of faith will appreciate even more the Reformed faith to which they have confessed agreement.

As Abraham Kuyper says, “Now she [your church] is willing to admit you to the holy supper, to let you take your place at the Lord’s table with the other members, provided that you are willing to confess that their confessions is yours.” Also, “Bring that confession to the congregation of believers, and begin to fight one identical warfare with them. They too have nothing of which to boast in themselves…God is all the praise and honor.”


THE INTERDEPENCE OF HOLY BAPTISM
AND THE HOLY SUPPER

“Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live.” Ezekiel 16:6

Baptism is not complete without its complement, the holy supper. When an infant is born into the world, the nurse who is in attendance washes it, because it is born unclean. It needs bathing, but that is not all it needs. It also needs food. Hence, it is most likely that the same maid who washed it will also bear the infant to its mother’s breast. And an atmosphere of peace and contentment pervades the nursery room only after the child is feeding at its mother’s bosom. In fact, we would not hesitate to censure the attitude of a nurse who supposed she had absolved herself of responsibility by bathing the child, and cared not at all whether or not it was given an opportunity to be nursed. Such conduct on her part, we feel, would be sufficient reason to dismiss her.

This figure illustrates the significant relationship that obtains between the sacrament of baptism and that of the holy supper. We may not suppose that baptism alone is sufficient; we may not desire the sacrament of purification and neglect that of nourishment. To desire baptism and to ignore the holy supper is to rob each of its significance.

It becomes us to remember that we were once like the child the Holy Spirit depicts to us in Ezekiel 16, the child of whom we read in verses 4–6: “As for thy nativity, in the day thou wast born thy navel was not cut, neither wast thou washed in water to supple thee; thou wast not salted at all, nor swaddled at all. None eye pitied thee, to do any of these unto thee, to have compassion upon thee; but thou wast cast out in the open field, to the loathing of thy person, in the day that thou wast born. And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live.”

This passage tells us that we were conceived in sin and born in iniquity, that because we were born of unclean parents, we also were unclean. It tells us that before our baptism we need spiritual cleansing within, that we needed to be purged by the blood of Christ. Baptism was the external symbol of that purification of the soul by the holy Lamb of God. It is what the holy apostle confirmed by the words: “Once ye were unclean, but now ye are sanctified, now ye are justified, now ye are washed.”

Our church also confesses that such is the significance of baptism. In article 35 of the Belgic Confession we read: “Now those who are regenerated have in them a twofold life: the one corporal and temporal, which they have from the first birth and is common to all men; the other spiritual and heavenly, which is given them in their second birth…and this life is not common, but is peculiar to God’s elect.” Article 34 states: “Therefore he has commanded all those who are his to be baptized with pure water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, thereby signifying to us that as water washeth away the filth of the body when poured upon it…so doth the blood of Christ, by the power of the Holy Ghost, internally sprinkle the soul, cleanse it from its sins, and regenerate us from children of wrath unto children of God.”

But baptism is not a be-all and end-all. It is true that a newly-born babe must first of all be bathed. But it must also be given food. So too the sacrament of purification needs the sacrament of nourishment as its fulfillment. Note that the Confession continues in article 35 as follows: “We believe and confess that our Savior Jesus Christ did ordain and institute the sacrament of the holy supper to nourish and support those whom he hath already regenerated, and incorporated into his family, which is his church.” Further in article 35: “God hath given us, for the support of the bodily and earthly life, earthly and common bread, which is subservient thereto…But for the support of the spiritual and heavenly life which believers have, he hath sent a living bread, which descended from heaven, namely, Jesus Christ, who nourishes and strengthens the spiritual life of believers when they eat him.”

Baptism therefore is merely a preliminary sacrament. It represents only the opening of the door by which we pass to the holy supper and to the mystical communion with our Lord. This truth subtracts nothing from the importance and the indispensability of baptism. Whoever is not baptized is an outsider. By desiring to be baptized he asks for admittance; by means of the sacrament of baptism he knocks at the door. By it he enters, that is, he becomes segregated from those who stand without, in order to enjoy the fellowship of those who are within. And that fellowship and communion becomes complete when, together with the assembled guests, he partakes of the holy supper.

But he who has been baptized, who has knocked at and been admitted to the banquet hall, who thereupon restrains himself from sitting at the table with the others, resembles a stranger who upon his own instigation is invited to enjoy association with a festive company, and who forthwith insults his host by standing, distant and aloof, at the door. The intruder who without an invitation and without appropriate dress forces his way into the company must be thrown out. He is an intruder. But the baptized person is not that. By desiring baptism he appropriately asks for admittance. By his baptism the door is opened, his formal clothes are extended to him, and by it he is invited to share the activities as an approved guest. Naturally he severely injures social propriety if he remains distant and aloof after these favors have been bestowed upon him. His conduct differs from that of the intruder, but it is not less culpable. Even so, it is a terrible sin to ignore the holy supper after one has been baptized.

He who undertakes to wade through the holy streams of baptism may have no other purpose in mind in doing so than to enjoy a festive fellowship with the Lord of the house upon the other shore. He knows that that Lord awaits his guests.

He who is born merely of water and of spirit is given but a distant glimpse of the kingdom. He may never be satisfied with that, but must be up and away, nor rest until he is seated at the marriage feast of the Lamb.

Any Jew who becomes converted to his Messiah immediately appreciates the fact that an intimate relationship exists between these two sacraments. Observe him, if you will. He is converted Jew. The Jews’ baptism was neglected when they were children. Now that they have repented and turned to God at a mature age, they choose to postpone the time of their baptism to a moment that will make it convenient for them to partake of the holy supper immediately afterwards.

The same custom prevailed in the earliest Christian churches. Those who were converted from Judaism and paganism were baptized one day, and were present at the holy supper the next. At that time no one ever thought of baptism apart from the holy supper. By asking for baptism these Christians simply were asking, “Permit me to partake of the holy supper.”

We do not cross the Red Sea in order to fix camp permanently upon the farther shore; we must be on our way through the wilderness; our destination is the holy land. Having crossed the Jordan, we do not stop at its banks, but press on to Jerusalem. We may not be content with having forded the waters of baptism, but we must pursue our way until we see extended to us the rare wines that are pressed from the grapes of Eshcol.

It is the custom of infant baptism that has tended to fix lines of demarcation between these two sacraments. But such lines of distinction are inappropriate there. Naturally an infant is not qualified to partake of the Lord’s supper. A child is morally too irresponsible to appropriate the blessings of his baptism to himself by a public confession. It is because of the circumstance that the perfectly appropriate and necessary custom of infant baptism is a sacrament independent from that of the holy supper.

An infant is impressionable and is therefore fit to receive baptism. But it is not yet qualified to receive the sacrament of nourishment. We must remember that the sacrament of the holy supper requires that only he may partake of it who has made his confession and his deeds a matter of personally appreciated responsibility. Hence it is inevitable that some years must elapse between these two sacraments in the life of every individual—as many years as are required to make his confession and his approach to the Lord’s table a morally responsible action. The intervening time may not be longer than that, and it may not be shorter. The number of years required for each individual to be qualified for his personal confession was determined by God at the time of that person’s creation. The intervening years therefore represent a fixed interim. Those who abide by it walk in the ways of God, and those who do not, depart from them. Those who curtail or add to that interim are guilty of sin.

The number of those intervening years is not the same for all. Some are qualified for the public confession at sixteen, others are twenty-three years of age, but all reach a morally responsible age sometime during this interval of seven years. Hence, it is the duty of each to respect these boundaries.

Irrespective, however, of whether the holy supper be divided from baptism by sixteen years or by twenty-three, the close relationship between the two remains the same. Throughout those years baptism sounds the plea: Seek the Lord’s holy supper.


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“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,” Titus 2:11
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The Believer and His Bible

The sixteenth century Reformation proclaimed three fundamental principles: justification by faith alone, Scripture alone, and the priesthood of all believers. In opposition to Rome’s hierarchy the Reformers insisted that the only authority for the faith and life of God’s people is Holy Scripture. They further insisted that every believer as prophet, priest, and king in Christ could read and understand the Word of God. Rome had effectively taken the Bible out of the hands of the people. Rome’s hierarchy, the clergy and especially the pope, stood between the believer and his Bible. The church (clerical hierarchy) interpreted the Bible for the people (laity). 

Today a new hierarchy has arisen in the churches, viz. that of the professional theologians, the archaeologists and geologists, the scientists, the learned scholars. These are telling us that we cannot understand the Bible anymore. They are telling us that the Bible does not say what we have always thought it says. Furthermore, because of this they are telling us we need them to tell us what the Bible really means and how it applies to our lives today. They represent a new hierarchy between the believer and his Bible. 

According to this new hierarchy the Bible contains man’s witness to God or to Jesus. What we have in the Bible is the record of the various writers’ religious experiences or encounters with God. The Pentateuch is the record of Moses’ encounter with God. Isaiah witnesses to God as he and his contemporaries experienced God. The Evangelists wrote about Jesus as they saw and heard Him. The same is true of the apostles and other writers of the New Testament. The early church gradually adopted these writings as sacred Scripture. 

The Bible, therefore, is time bound according to these experts. It was written in its own time in history, and its writers were limited by the times in which they lived. They were influenced by the primitive vision of the ancient world of Bible times. They conceived, for example, of a three-storied universe: heaven above, the earth beneath, and hell under the earth. They thought that the sun revolved around a flat earth. The biblical writers had many other mistaken notions as well, such as, for example, the following: the world was created by God in six twenty-four hour days, there was a universal flood, an ax head floated, Jonah was in the belly of a great fish, a dry path was made through the Red Sea, water out of a rock went bouncing along after Israel in the desert. These men wrote in their times and for their times, but now in our scientific and sophisticated age we know better. Either these things just did not occur or there is a natural explanation for them. 

These men also say that the Bible is culturally conditioned. Each writer wrote in the context of his own culture, and this affected his witness to God. When, for example, Paul wrote about marriage and divorce, or about the headship of the husband, or about women keeping silence in the churches and not usurping the authority of the man in the church, Paul was under the influence of his rabbinical training and the cultural mores of his day. Likewise were the other biblical writers limited by the cultural influences of their day.

All this radically alters how we are to understand the Bible. The Bible, according to these scholars, contains myths and teaching models. Genesis 1, 2 tells us that God created the universe, but not how and when. Genesis 3 teaches that the human race fell into sin and death, but no more than that. The Bible contains misconceptions arising out of primitive conceptions of reality. And there are just plain errors in the Bible. One of these is the Bible’s account of creation. Science has proved a very old universe. The earth simply cannot be about six thousand years old as Scripture teaches. Adam and Eve were not real people living in a real garden called Eden or Paradise. Further, what Paul said about women applied in his day when women ran around with veils and were living in a male dominated society. But all this does not apply in our enlightened times. 

Many factors are involved in interpreting the Bible. Two questions need to be answered in Bible interpretation: What did the writer mean by this passage relative to his own time and culture, and what does it mean for us today? The answers to those two questions often are quite different. In Paul’s day women had to keep silence in the churches, while today they may occupy church office. In Paul’s day homosexuality and lesbianism were considered a manifestation of the reprobate mind; while today such people may occupy not only the pew but also the pulpit. 

Thus it is, we are being told, that we need to know ancient history, culture, language, mythology, philosophy, archeology, and the sciences, if we are to be equipped to understand the Bible. Of course, we need to know these disciplines if we are to expound the Bible correctly. But the theologians mean something quite different. They mean that if there is a conflict between one’s scientific discoveries and the Bible, one must reconsider the traditional interpretation of the Bible and be willing to change. Science determines the meaning of the Bible. 

The conclusion is that God’s people really cannot understand the Bible. We are not equipped to read it correctly. We need the theologians, linguists, and scientists to tell us what the Bible is really saying. 

And so it is that a new hierarchy has arisen in the churches, that of the theologians and scholars. These must tell us the meaning of Scripture. Without them we cannot understand what we read in the Bible. Just as effectively as Rome, these have placed themselves between God’s people and the Bible. They have effectively taken the Bible out of the hands of the people of God. 

This is very serious indeed! The church has always confessed, and the Reformation reasserted, these precious truths that the Bible is inspired and therefore infallible. The Reformation also asserted that the Bible is perspicuous, or clear. Because the Bible is inspired and infallible it is the only rule for our faith and life. And in the Bible God speaks to us in language which we can understand. The question or issue we face is not whether we can or do understand .what the Bible is saying, but whether we believe what the Bible is saying? This is, no doubt, at least one of the reasons Jesus told us we had to become as little children in order to enter the kingdom of God. This writer teaches a catechism class of six-year-old children. These little ones have no difficulty understanding that Jesus was born of the virgin, that He healed the sick and raised the dead, that He suffered and died on the cross and was raised from the dead and now sits at God’s right hand in glory and is coming again at the end of the ages. The Scriptures are able to make us wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (II Timothy 3:15).

Our calling is plain! We must let no one, no synods, no theologians, no experts take our Bibles away from us. Still more, we must insist that the Word of God be faithfully preached. And faithfully means properly. The church does not need Sunday School stories from the pulpit, or dissertations on political or social issues. The believer needs to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd (John 10) by means of preaching. Without faithful preaching we cannot call upon the name of the Lord in faith and be saved (cf. Romans 10:13-15) Faithful preaching is preaching that expounds the Word of God. The sermons we hear must contain nothing more or less than what Scripture itself says. And we need to search the Scriptures daily, prayerfully to meditate on the Word of God. 

By these means we may be assured that the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ witnesses with our spirits that we are the children of God (Rom. 8:16). 

Following the example of Martin Luther let each of us, with Bible in hand, say to the new hierarchy, “Here I stand, I can do naught else, God help me.”

by Prof. Robert Decker, (now emeritus).

Taken from the SB October 15, 1993

“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,” Titus 2:11
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