Protestant Reformed Young People’s Convention 2018

As summer starts to draw towards a close, many of us young people look forward to the convention that is going to take place. This is an exciting time for us all, and we must see the beauty in this event. The convention is such a blessing as it draws together hundreds of like-minded individuals of one faith.

With that in mind let us consider the beauty of the unity we share, and our duty to God as young believers.

In this convention, we see the unity of the church. Hundreds of young people can gather together in harmony, despite sometimes having never met one another before. It is as the church after the outpouring of the Spirit, “And all that believed were together, and had all things common;” (Acts 2:44). As the verse states, we are gathered because we believe together. We gather together and sing praises to God, learn about God’s word under the speeches, and learn about one another through discussion groups. Through these events we share all things in common. Through talking and getting to know one another, we share who we are and how as separate individuals we all fit and have our place in the body of the church (1 Cor 12:12).

In connection to the unity of the church we should strive to make acquaintances with others. I encourage everyone to meet new people at this convention even if you feel you already have plenty of good friends. Making new acquaintances at convention is a great way to experience the blessings of the church universal, and perhaps you are the friend that God plans to provide for someone without many friends or someone going through a trial.

During this convention, when we gather together as the body of the church, we must keep in mind our duty towards God. We must remember it is more than a young people’s convention, but that it is the Protestant Reformed young people’s convention. As children of God alike, together we must be diligent in fulfilling our created purpose. This purpose which we have already talked about (Adultery is Near! 1) always finds its way to come before us again. This responsibility comes to us on a personal level, and it comes as the duty of the whole church body. As we gather together may all our actions, words, and thoughts to and with one another bring honor and glory to God’s name for that is our calling.  Let us treat one another well and “be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;” (Rom. 12. 10-11) and most importantly may we together, “give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name,” “in the midst of the congregation prais[ing] [him],” (1 Chr. 16.29; Ps. 22:22).

Let us heed special attention to the third commandment which we find in Exodus 20:7, “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain…” Often we make the application of this commandment to our speech, and indeed this is a good application, but I would like to go further. As Christians, we all bear God’s name. We are children of God, or God’s people. However, you put it we are CHRISTians and we must represent and defend God amongst the world. Therefore, in all that we do, we must be good representatives of God. Even though the world may not be watching us as we gather together at convention, we must bear this in mind. It should not be the world’s eyes that motivate us to bear God’s name rightly, but it should be our love for God that makes us strive to honor Him.

May we all enjoy the convention. Thanks be to God for such a blessing and much gratitude to the many people who labored for such an event. I pray God grant traveling blessings to the many conventioneers and chaperones who come from all around for this wonderful gathering. I look forward to meeting many of you! By the power of the Holy Ghost working in us may we unite in one mind before God and praise Him with all our works.

Luke Christian Potjer

 

The Image of God and Human Dignity (2)

For this post, I want to focus on two parts of the image of God, righteousness and holiness. I’ll be using two definitions from Hoeksema’s Reformed Dogmatics.

Righteousness: “Man’s righteousness was the virtue of his whole nature by which, according to the judgment of God, he was wholly in harmony with the will of God; he was fully capable of doing the will of God, and doing God’s will was his delight” (vol. 1, 298).

Holiness: “That original rectitude of his nature according to which he was consecrated to God in love with all his heart, mind, soul, and strength” (vol. 1, 298).

When man fell into sin, his righteousness became unrighteousness. It seems like by default, when people think about unrighteousness, they think of it as the opposite of righteousness. By this I mean that we often see righteousness as following God’s law and unrighteousness as going against God’s law. However, there’s this massive theme in scripture about man always doing what is ‘right’ in his own eyes and I think it’s better to view unrighteousness ultimately as self-righteousness. Instead of looking up to God and following His law, we look at self as our god and want God (and everyone else) to conform to our own law. Just as God has His righteous law which is derived form His righteous nature, unregenerate man has his own laws derived from his own self-righteous nature. Likewise, we have a desire to be seen as righteous, or, to put it another way, declared as righteous, a.k.a justified. But by nature we seek to be declared righteous apart from Christ and according to our false righteousness. The same is true when it comes to holiness. Instead of being consecrated, set apart and dedicated to the service of the Creator, man became consecrated, set apart, and dedicated to the service of creature. If you want a summary of what happened at the fall, replace the word God from the two above definitions with the word man.

Based on this, I want to list off some implications as it relates to the topic of race. Although these implications also extend far beyond race.

  1. Man sees self as god and therefore sees those who are similar to self as more “godlike,” according to their unregenerate, twisted understanding of what it means to be “godlike.” We are more inclined to gravitate towards those who walk like us, talk like us, act like us, and look like us because we see us as “god.” So when someone talks, looks, and acts very different from us we have a natural tendency to be drawn away from them, to think evil thoughts about them, and unrighteously judge them in our hearts.
  2. Man exchanges God’s law for laws similar to themselves and thus man is inclined to have certain rules particular to his own culture. Those who abide by those rules are seen as righteous. Those who disobey are unrighteous. I’m not saying that it’s wrong to have certain cultural rules, but it can be wrong to unrighteously judge those who don’t follow your own culture’s rules.
  3. Man has a natural tendency to justify (declare righteous) the actions performed by those similar to himself and similar to his own culture, and likewise to condemn the actions of those of different cultures who are different from himself. This is, in my opinion, the crux of all the racial division that’s currently happening in our country. There’s a natural inability to see things objectively according to truth, because our sinful pride.
  4. By nature man is consecrated, set apart, and dedicated to the service of self. He also easily  becomes dedicated to those similar to himself and forms groups of men similar to himself. This ends up creating an us-vs-them mentality toward those who unlike themselves.The result is that becomes difficult for groups of people who are alike to sympathize with and get to know those who are outside of their groups and understand things from the perspective of those unlike them.

The gospel however, restores all these:

  1. In Christ, we serve the one and only true God. We see all those who are in Christ as equally one with Christ Jesus. Instead of unrighteously judging people based on how different they are from us, we exercise righteous judgment according to Scripture and seek to have others be more like Christ.
  2. In Christ, man submits to Christ’s law as the law above all. He is able to be a Jew to the Jews, a Greek to the Greeks, in order to win all to Christ. He has the gospel freedom that frees him from cultural rules. Yet he is able to appreciate the differences between cultures and respect that some are of a weaker faith and therefore try not to offend their conscious.
  3. In Christ, there is no need to justify any of the actions of our own ethnic groups because Christians from all ethnic groups are justified by Christ and united to Him by faith alone. It’s easy for us to understand that people from our own ethnicity, even large groups of them, are depraved sinners and are capable of the most heinous of sins.
  4. In Christ, man congregates to those who are set apart and dedicated to the service of the Lord. Believers of all races together become a holy people and a royal priesthood. The us vs. them mentality is no longer between different ethnicities, or even people in general. It’s us vs the world system, the prince of the power of the air, the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places. Thus, we are united to fight a common enemy and worship an uncommon Lord.

Hopefully these realities can give us a proper context by which we can understand much of what’s going on in our nation and give us a desire to spread the gospel all the more.

Mike Murrell

 

 

Unity

Unity is a subject that is very important in this world today. Many people want to band together for a common purpose. Sometimes this is an interest that a particular group of people have in common such as singing or traveling. These people get together and form choirs and travel groups. Our country, the United States of America, is a nation of fifty different states that have a respect for one another and a desire to function together as a country. On the international level there are a number of organizations that different nations with a common goal can work together such as the United Nations or the European Union. Unity, however, doesn’t just exist in the world. It exists in the church as well. We have a denomination that has been blessed for the most part with unity in both doctrine and practice. In other words all of our congregations hold to the same doctrinal practices and have a similar order of worship. “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1).  To have unity with another person or an organization implies that there is a desire of fellowship that, in the case of two people, results in either marriage or friendship. In the case of an organization or country, it creates a common goal that everyone strives to accomplish. To have unity means that there is agreement on the part of those involved in the relationship. “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3).  As church members we should endeavour “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). This means that we are to live as peacefully with each other as possible and forgive where sin has been committed. We should also be aware that not all unity is good. The United Nations, European Union, and other organizations like them are precursors to the anti-christian kingdom whose goal is to destroy the church. This kind of unity is best displayed in the Beatles song “Imagine” which begins “Imagine there’s no heaven”. The gist of this song is that if there were a world where Heaven and Hell did not exist, we could all do as we wanted without consequences or sin of any sort, so that ultimately “the world could be as one”. In Genesis 11 the people who lived during the time immediately after the flood all refused to leave the plain of Shinar and wanted to build a tower that reached unto heaven. This was due to the fact that they wanted to remain in the same place, speaking the same language. God did not allow this to happen by confusing their languages and scattering them all over the earth. Despite the different languages and cultures that are in this world today, there is still a significant interest in establishing an earthly kingdom, and events are shaping up for the coming of the Antichrist. Nevertheless, we can take comfort in the fact that God is in control of all things. May God give us as young people and young adults the grace to remain unified in Him and His word!
Kevin Rau