Saturday, April 22, 2017

REFORMATION 500 WEEK 17 JOHN CALVIN AND FAREL

Reformation 500 WEEK 17    John calvin and Farel

After the publication of the first edition of his Institutes in early 1536, Calvin decided to go to the German-Swiss city of Strasbourg, to pursue the quiet life of a scholar, and to partner with Martin Bucer. “However, because of hostilities between Francis I and Charles V and troop movements resulting in blocked roads” (DeMar, Reformation, 201), he took a detour; and “on a warm day in August, 1536, arrived through the gates of Geneva [population then about 10,000]” (Kuiper, 192).

“A postcard-picture spot, Geneva nestles against a lake surrounded by mountains. The city could boast inhabitants as far back as the days of Julius Caesar.  (Nichols, Reformation, 75). “Near-by, through a pass in the Alps, runs an important trade route connecting Italy, German, and France” (Kuiper, 192).

“When Calvin entered Geneva, he did not think anyone in that city knew of him.  He himself was a total stranger there, and of the situation in Geneva he knew little or nothing” (Kuiper, 193). He did not know that William Farel (1489-1565), an old acquaintance from Paris, had come as an exile to Geneva in 1532 and after much effort had convinced the citizens of Geneva to forsake Catholicism in favor of the Reformation. “On May 21, 1536, the General Assembly of the citizens voted in favor of the Reformation and made Protestantism the official religion of Geneva” (Kuiper, 192).

“All through this time, Geneva was in revolt against its bishop, and against its lord, the Duke of Savoy. Farel was of a fiery temper, and gifted with eloquence and a powerful voice. But he did not feel himself equal to the task of bringing peace and order to the distracted city. Then he heard that Calvin had come to Geneva [unknown to Calvin, his Institutes had already made him famous all over Europe]. It came to Farel as a revelation that this young Frenchman of twenty-seven was just the man for the place. Farel hurried to the inn where Calvin was stopping for the night [hoping to convince him to remain and help with reform efforts]” (Kuiper, 193). “Calvin protested, pleading his youth, his inexperience, his need of further study, his natural timidity and bashfulness, which made him unfit for public action” (Schaff, 8:348).

When Calvin gave his final answer of “No!” Farel “rose from his chair, and, straightening himself out to his full height as his long beard swept his chest, he directed his piercing look full at the young man before him and thundered: ‘May God curse your studies if now in her time of need you refuse to lend your aid to His Church’.” (Kuiper 193-94).


In the Preface to his commentary on Psalms, Calvin describes his encounter with Farel: “I had resolved to pass quickly by Geneva, without staying longer than a single night in that city.” But Farel “strained every nerve to detain me. And after having learned that my heart was set upon devoting myself to private studies, for which I wished to keep myself free from other pursuits, and finding that he gained nothing by entreaties, he proceeded to utter an imprecation that God would curse my retirement, and the tranquility of my studies, if I should refuse to give assistance, when the necessity was so urgent. By this imprecation [which I felt to be as if God had from heaven laid His mighty hand upon me to stop me] I was so stricken with terror, that I ceased from my journey [to Strasbourg and agreed to stay in Geneva].”

NOTE: These Posts were written and  designed as bulletin inserts by Pastor David Fagrey of the Grace Reformed Church of Rapid City, SD .  

Link to this blog entry as a bulletin insert:  Reformation 500 John Calvin and William Farel

For a double-sided PDF for easy printing: Reformation 500 Week 17


Official Seal of  the RCUS
This is the seal of the Reformed Church of the United States (RCUS).  As you can see its history goes back to 1748, when the RCUS began.  We celebrate with the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation we praise God for what is probably the most amazing spiritual revival in the history of the world.

Page on Omaha Reformed Church's Website: Links to all Bulletin Inserts.

REFORMATION 500 WEEK 17: HEIDELBERG CATECHISM, QUESTION 45

Reformation 500 WEEK 17: Heidelberg Catechism, QUESTION 45


Question 45: WHAT BENEFIT DO WE RECEIVE FROM THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST? First, by His resurrection He has overcome death, so that He might make us partakers of the righteousness which He has obtained for us by His death. Second, by His power we are also now raised up to a new life. Third, the resurrection of Christ is to us a sure pledge of our blessed resurrection.

     Question 45 explains the biblical basis of article 5 of the Apostles’ Creed: “The third day He arose from the dead.” The core of the gospel is that “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3-4). The soul of Christ, which (for three days) had been in the hands of His Father in heaven, truly did return to His body in the tomb and come forth from the grave. His resurrected body was adorned with immortality, no longer subject to the frailties of a human body, but it was still flesh and bones (Luke 24:36-43; John 20:24-29). Christ’s resurrection “is proven by the testimony of angels, women, evangelists, apostles, and other saints, who saw Him, felt Him, and talked with Him after His resurrection [Matt. 28:1-9; 1 Cor.5-8; Acts 1:2-3]” (Ursinus, 233). Even Christ’s enemies could not deny but tried to cover up the fact of the empty tomb (Matt. 28:11-15).


     Christ’s resurrection was a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy (Psalm 16:8-11; Luke 24:46-47). Christ Himself foretold His own resurrection (Matt. 12:40; 16:21; 26:32). His resurrection proved He truly was the Messiah, the Son of God, who came to give eternal life to all who believe in Him (John 20:30-31; Rom. 1:1-4).  


     Christ rose from the dead to give us believers the benefits which He obtained for us by His death. The first benefit is justification (which will be explained more fully in Question 60). Christ “was raised for our justification” (Rom. 4:25). Justification is God’s verdict that we are forgiven the eternal penalty of sin and accepted as righteous on the basis of the righteousness of Christ imputed to us (Rom. 4:1-8; 22-24). We are justified the moment God works true faith in our hearts (Rom. 3:28). 


     The second benefit of Christ’s resurrection is that by the power of His Holy Spirit we are regenerated (born again), that is, raised spiritually from the dead, which is exactly why we believe in Jesus (Eph. 2:8), and confess our sins to God (1 John 1:9), and desire to please God out of thankfulness for our salvation (Rom. 6:4). “And you God made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1; cf. John 3:3).



     The third benefit of Christ’s resurrection is that it guarantees our physical bodies will also be raised from the dead (Rom. 6:5; 1 Cor. 15:20-23). Our salvation includes both soul and body. Both soul and body belong to our faithful Savior Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 6:19-20). “He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies” (Rom. 8:11). Since we still have to suffer death in our body, we “who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for … the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:23). Our resurrected body will be like Christ’s resurrected body (this will be explained more fully in Question 57). “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body” (Phil. 3:20-21).

NOTE: These Posts were written and  designed as bulletin inserts by Pastor David Fagrey of the Grace Reformed Church of Rapid City, SD .  

Link to this blog entry as a bulletin insert:  Reformation 500 HC QAs 45

For a double-sided PDF for easy printing: Reformation 500 Week 17


Official Seal of  the RCUS
This is the seal of the Reformed Church of the United States (RCUS).  As you can see its history goes back to 1748, when the RCUS began.  We celebrate with the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation we praise God for what is probably the most amazing spiritual revival in the history of the world.



Saturday, April 15, 2017

REFORMATION 500 WEEK 16: HEIDELBERG CATECHISM, QUESTION 40-44

Reformation 500 WEEK 16: Heidelberg Catechism, QUESTION 40-44

[No Reformation History this week due to the length of the Catechism explanation]

Question 40: Why was it necessary for Christ to suffer death? Because the justice and truth of God required that satisfaction for our sins could be made in no other way than by the death of the Son of God.

God is truthful and just. He said to our first parents Adam and Eve that they would die if they disobeyed His commandment (Gen. 2:16-17). The fact that they did not die instantly after they sinned shows that God in His mercy had planned to send His Son to suffer the death that all sinners deserve, and thereby to satisfy the justice of God. The eternal Son of God “died according to His human nature only…for the divine nature…cannot die” (Ursinus, 215). The Son of God in His humanity suffered the agonizing and painful separation of His human soul and body by God’s severe wrath.

Question 41: Why was He buried? To show thereby that He was really dead.

Jesus was buried, not only to fulfill the prophecy “He made His grave with the wicked” (Isaiah 53:9), but also so that we would not be able to doubt His death, on which our salvation depended. Pilate even posted a guard to make sure that Jesus’ tomb was sealed so His disciples could not steal His body (Matt. 27:64-66).

Question 42: Since, then, Christ died for us, why must we also die? Our death is not a satisfaction for our sin, but only a dying to sin and an entering into eternal life.

Since Christ died in our place, and has fully satisfied for all our sins, why do we still have to die? It is because when we are united to Christ by true faith, we do not receive all the benefits of His death all at once. We are justified but not perfectly sanctified in this life; and we do not receive our resurrected bodies until Christ returns (Rom. 8:23; 1 Cor. 15:23). We have to wait until He returns to receive the perfect enjoyment of all the benefits of His death, including the elimination of death itself (1 Cor. 15:26, 54). But since Christ died for us, our physical death is not a satisfaction or punishment for our sin. Rather, our physical death puts an end to our sinning and ushers our soul into the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ in heaven (2 Cor. 5:8; Heb. 12:22-24).

Question 43: What further benefit do we receive from the sacrifice and death of Christ on the cross? That by His power our old man [our old sinful nature] is with Him crucified, slain, and buried; so that the evil lusts of the flesh may no more reign in us, but that we may offer ourselves unto Him a sacrifice of thanksgiving.

When we are united to Christ by true faith, the first benefit we receive from Christ’s death is justification, which means we are forgiven the eternal punishment of sin (Rom. 8:1, 33). “The justice of God demands that the sinner should not be punished twice. And as God has punished our sins in Christ, He will not, therefore, punish the same in us” (Ursinus, 227). We also receive the further benefit of sanctification, which means that by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit we are set free from the enslaving power of our old sinful nature by receiving a brand new holy nature – “a new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17). This does not mean we no longer have our old sinful nature, but it does mean we are no longer slaves to our old sinful nature. We have a new nature that desires to please God out of thankfulness for salvation. Thus, “our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin” (Rom. 6:6). “He, therefore, who boasts of having applied to himself by faith the death of Christ, and yet has no desire to live a holy and godly life… gives conclusive evidence that the truth is not in him; for all those who are justified are willing and ready to do those things which are pleasing to God” (Ursinus, 227).

Question 44: Why is it added: He descended into hell? That in my greatest temptations I may be assured that Christ my Lord, by His inexpressible anguish, pains, and terrors, which He suffered in His soul on the cross and before, has redeemed me from the anguish and torment of hell.

In the Apostles’ Creed, the phrase “He descended into hell,” follows the words “crucified, dead and buried.” “The Roman Catholic Church takes it to mean that Christ literally went to hell to suffer for three days and then took the Old Testament believers, who had died, to heaven. The Lutherans say that Jesus’ soul went to hell not to suffer but to proclaim His victory over His enemies” (Norman Jones, Study Helps, 96).

The biblical view is that the term hell is used not only to refer to the place of the damned, but also to signify the most extreme distress and anguish. “The pains of death surrounded me, and the pangs of hell laid hold of me; I found trouble and sorrow” (Psalm 116:3). Therefore, the phrase, “He descended to hell,” refers to the torments that Christ suffered in His soul before He died. After He died, His soul did not go to hell, but His soul went to Paradise (which is heaven – see 2 Cor.12:2-4). Christ told the believing thief on the cross: “Today you shall be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43); and right before He breathed His last breath, He said to his Father, “into Your hands I commit My spirit” (Luke 23:46). “The soul of Christ, after His death, was, therefore, in the hands of His Father in Paradise, and not in hell” (Ursinus, 229). There was no need for Christ to suffer in hell, because His suffering to redeem His elect was finished when He died on the cross. Before His last breath He proclaimed, “It is finished” (John 19:30). Plus, OT believers “were not in hell; therefore, they could not be liberated from that place” (Ursinus, 228). There was no need for Christ to go to hell to proclaim victory over His enemies, because the Bible says He did that by His resurrection and ascension (Eph. 4:8; 1 Pet. 3:21-22).

The reason why “He descended into hell” follows “crucified, dead, and buried,” is to explain that He not only suffered bodily, but “He also suffered in soul the most extreme torments, and hellish agonies such as all the ungodly shall forever endure. The chief, and heaviest part of the sufferings of Christ is, therefore, correctly placed last, according to the order in the Creed; for it proceeds from the pains of the body to those of the soul” (Ursinus, 232). When Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” He was suffering the inexpressible anguish, pains, and terrors of hell. Therefore, He has redeemed all believers from the anguish and torment of hell!

NOTE
: These Posts were written and  designed 
as bulletin inserts by Pastor David Fagrey of the Grace Reformed Church of Rapid City, SD .  

Link to this blog entry as a bulletin insert:  Reformation 500 HC QAs 40-44

For a double-sided PDF for easy printing: Reformation 500 Week 15


Official Seal of  the RCUS
This is the seal of the Reformed Church of the United States (RCUS).  As you can see its history goes back to 1748, when the RCUS began.  We celebrate with the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation we praise God for what is probably the most amazing spiritual revival in the history of the world.



Saturday, April 8, 2017

REFORMATION 500 WEEK 15 JOHN CALVIN’S INSTITUTES

Reformation 500 WEEK 15    John calvin’s Institutes


     After a long and difficult journey, fleeing France because of persecution, Calvin finally found rest in Basel Switzerland in January 1535. “There, he heard that many followers of the Reformation where still being burned alive in France(S. Carr, John Calvin, 19). 

     To try to do something about it, Calvin published the first edition (only 6 chapters) of his Institutes of the Christian Religion, in August 1535, when he was only 26 years old. After several revisions, the final edition published in 1559 had 80 chapters; and had become, as Calvin intended, a manual to “instruct candidates in sacred theology for the reading of the divine Word” (Preface, 1559). 

     Calvin addressed the Institutes to the Roman Catholic king of France, Francis I, pleading with him to put an end to the unjust persecution of his French countrymen, who were being falsely accused of wanting (like the Anabaptists in Munster) to abolish all laws and overthrow civil government. Calvin wanted to prove that these allegations were not true, and to show all people what the Reformed Church really stood for.

     In the Preface, Calvin answers all the main Roman Catholic objections to the Reformation. The Catholics call our doctrine ‘new.’ They ask what miracles have confirmed it. They ask whether it is right to disagree with the church fathers and tradition. They want us to admit that our doctrine is divisive since it has given birth to so many different churches and factions, and so many violent disturbances.

     First, the only reason why our doctrine seems to be new is because the true gospel has been buried for a long time on account of man’s ungodliness. But God by His goodness has restored the true gospel to us. In demanding miracles of us, they act dishonestly. We are not inventing some new gospel, but are holding on to that very gospel which has already been confirmed by all the miracles that Jesus Christ and His apostles did.

     Scripture, not the church fathers or tradition, is the ultimate authority. Indeed, it is possible for the majority of people to be wrong, as was the case in the days of Noah. If the contest were to be determined by the church fathers, “the tide of victory…would turn to our side.” For example, the church fathers condemned images of Christ, and argued that priests should be allowed to marry. The Catholics are wrong to claim they are the true church. It is clear from Scripture that “the church can exist without any visible appearance [like the 7000 who did not bow to Baal];” and that when it is visible its mark is not outward magnificence but rather “the pure preaching of God's Word and the lawful administration of the sacraments.” Did not the visible church (scribes and Pharisees) err when they decided to crucify Christ? Lastly, Elijah, who was accused of being a “troubler of Israel” (1 Kings 18:17), “taught us what we ought to reply to such charges: it is not we who either spread errors abroad or incite tumults; but it is they who contend against God's power [I Kings 18:18].” Should the apostles “have deserted the gospel because they saw that it was the seedbed of so many quarrels, the source of so many dangers, the occasion of so many scandals?”


Calvin scholar John T. McNeill called the Institutes a masterpiece, which “holds a place in the short list of books that have notably affected the course of history, molding the beliefs and behavior of generations of mankind.”

NOTE: These Posts were written and  designed as bulletin inserts by Pastor David Fagrey of the Grace Reformed Church of Rapid City, SD .  

Link to this blog entry as a bulletin insert:  Reformation 500 John Calvin's Institutes

For a double-sided PDF for easy printing: Reformation 500 Week 15


Official Seal of  the RCUS
This is the seal of the Reformed Church of the United States (RCUS).  As you can see its history goes back to 1748, when the RCUS began.  We celebrate with the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation we praise God for what is probably the most amazing spiritual revival in the history of the world.

Page on Omaha Reformed Church's Website: Links to all Bulletin Inserts.

REFORMATION 500 WEEK 15: HEIDELBERG CATECHISM, QUESTION 37-39

Reformation 500 WEEK 15: Heidelberg Catechism, QUESTION 37-39

Question 37: What do you understand by the word suffered? That all the time He lived on earth, but especially at the end of His life, He bore, in body and soul, the wrath of God against the sin of the whole human race; in order that by His suffering, as the only atoning sacrifice, He might redeem our body and soul from everlasting damnation, and obtain for us the grace of God, righteousness, and eternal life.

Questions 37-44 explain the biblical basis of article 4 of the Apostles Creed: “suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell.” We begin with the word “suffered.” From the moment of His birth to the hour of His death, Jesus Christ suffered all the miseries and weaknesses of our humanity, except for sin (Heb. 4:15). He hungered, thirsted, was fatigued, and afflicted with sadness and grief. “He is despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). His most bitter anguish of soul was on the cross, where He suffered the wrath of God against the sin of the whole human race. It was this that caused Him to cry out, “My God, My God, why have Your forsaken Me” (Matt. 27:46). “Christ suffered… according to the human nature only, both in body and soul; for the divine nature is immutable, impassible [incapable of suffering or feeling pain], immortal, and life itself, and so cannot die” (Ursinus, 215). Christ suffered and was forsaken in His humanity in the place of humanity, so all who believe in Him will never be forsaken.

Question 38: Why did He suffer under Pontius Pilate as judge? That He, being innocent, might be condemned by the temporal judge, and thereby deliver us from the severe judgment of God, to which we were exposed.

Jesus Christ suffered the grossest injustice under Pontius Pilate, because Pilate officially declared Him innocent (“I find no fault with this man”), but then condemned Him to die by crucifixion! This was God’s plan (John 19:11), so that it might be perfectly clear that Jesus Christ was condemned to die – not for his own sins, but for the sins of all who would believe in Him. The innocent was declared guilty so that the guilty might be declared innocent, as it says in 1 Peter 3:18: “Christ has suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God.”

Question 39: Is there anything more in His having been crucified than if He had suffered some other death? Yes, for thereby I am assured that He took upon Himself the curse which lay upon me, because the death of the cross was accursed of God.


It was necessary for Jesus Christ to die by crucifixion (being nailed to a cross made of two pieces of wood), because it was an Old Testament curse for a criminal’s dead body to be hung on a tree; as a warning to others that “he who is hanged is accursed of God” (Deut. 21:23). If Jesus had died in some other way, then “His death would not have been counted as accursed of God, a punishment for sin on behalf of you and me” (Jones, Study Helps, 87). “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree)” (Gal. 3:13). Christ's accursed death on the cross saved us from God's eternal curse upon sin!

NOTE: These Posts were written and  designed as bulletin inserts by Pastor David Fagrey of the Grace Reformed Church of Rapid City, SD .  

Link to this blog entry as a bulletin insert:  Reformation 500 HC QAs 35-36

For a double-sided PDF for easy printing: Reformation 500 Week 15


Official Seal of  the RCUS
This is the seal of the Reformed Church of the United States (RCUS).  As you can see its history goes back to 1748, when the RCUS began.  We celebrate with the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation we praise God for what is probably the most amazing spiritual revival in the history of the world.



Saturday, April 1, 2017

REFORMATION 500 WEEK 14 JOHN CALVIN

Reformation 500 WEEK 14    John calvin


     “John Calvin was born, July 10, 1509 in Noyon, a little town in northern France, near Paris…. Because of the early death of his mother, Calvin was brought up in the household of a nobleman in the neighborhood of his own home.”

     “In 1512, when Luther was still unknown, Professor Jacques Lefevre of the Sorbonne in Paris published a Latin translation of, and commentary on, the epistles of Paul. It is God who saves ‘by grace alone,’ said the professor. One of his students, Guillaume Farel, saw with the eyes of faith what his teacher was telling him.

     “Many others in France rediscovered the truths of God’s Word. Churches were changed. Margaret, the king’s sister, was converted. The new faith spread throughout the country. As in all lands, this raised fierce opposition. Lefevre’s writings were condemned in 1525, as were the writings of Luther and a little book by Margaret. Anyone found possessing such writings could expect to pay dearly. Into such a Paris came John Calvin in 1523 [to study at the university].

     “Calvin drove himself to master all his studies: the classical languages, logic, the writings of the Church Father’s, law. At his father’s wish, Calvin changed from the study of theology to that of law. On his father’s death, Calvin decided to practice neither, but to live the life of scholar in Paris.

     “Late in 1533 Nicholas Cop, now rector of the University of Paris, made his annual All Saints’ Day address. The speech sounded like the ideas of Erasmus and Luther. It was rumored that Cop had written it with the advice of Calvin. Both had to flee for their lives. John Calvin escaped through a back window while some friends talked to the bailiffs in the front” (above quotes taken from Kuiper, 189-190).

     In the preface to his commentary on Psalms, Calvin writes of his conversion. “At first, since I was too obstinately devoted to the superstitions of the papacy, that it was extremely difficult to drag me from the depths of the mire, God by a sudden conversion subdued and brought my mind to a teachable frame… Having thus received some taste and knowledge of true godliness, I was immediately inflamed with so intense a desire to make progress therein, that although I did not altogether leave off other studies, I yet pursued them with less zeal.”

     In his Letter to Sadoleto, Calvin says that prior to his conversion he was “overwhelmed by the consciousness of sin, just as Luther was… He tells us that his conversion was not, as has sometimes been maintained, a cold intellectual decision, but an act in the depths of a heart which trusts. He shows us his struggles, his hesitation in leaving the Church of his childhood, and his repentance with tears…. But especially do we feel in these pages this grip of God on his life, this impossibility of resisting the heavenly vision, this ‘I can do no other’ which is indeed the hallmark of Reformation piety” (John Cadier, The Man God Mastered, 41-42).


      “Calvin was hunted from city to city. He often used assumed names such as Charles d’Esperville or Martianus Lucanius. Everywhere he went he taught small groups in secret places. A new torture was devised about this time, a device to lift the victim in and out of the fire, roasting him slowly instead of burning him all at once. Nowhere in France was a Protestant safe” (Kuiper, 190-191).

NOTE: These Posts were written and  designed as bulletin inserts by Pastor David Fagrey of the Grace Reformed Church of Rapid City, SD .  

Link to this blog entry as a bulletin insert:  Reformation500 John Calvin

For a double-sided PDF for easy printing: Reformation 500 Week 14


Official Seal of  the RCUS
This is the seal of the Reformed Church of the United States (RCUS).  As you can see its history goes back to 1748, when the RCUS began.  We celebrate with the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation we praise God for what is probably the most amazing spiritual revival in the history of the world.

Page on Omaha Reformed Church's Website: Links to all Bulletin Inserts.

REFORMATION 500 WEEK 14: HEIDELBERG CATECHISM, QUESTION 35-36

Reformation 500 WEEK 14: Heidelberg Catechism, QUESTION 35-36

Question 35: What is the meaning of [article 3 of the Apostles Creed] conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary? That the eternal Son of God, who is and continues true and eternal God, took upon Himself the very nature of man, of the flesh and blood of the virgin Mary, by the operation of the Holy Spirit; so that He might also be the true seed of David, like unto His brethren in all things, except for sin.


     The eternal Son of God took upon Himself the very nature of man (soul and body) – He “became flesh” (John 1:14) – without ceasing to be the eternal Son of God. The Son of God cannot change. “I am the LORD, I do not change” (Mal. 3:6).

     To understand this better, we need to know the difference between person and nature. God is three divine persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) in one divine nature. A human being is one person in one nature. The person of the Son of God united Himself to a human nature (soul and body), not a human person. “Hence it is correct to say: the person took the nature, …but we cannot correctly say, the person took a person, (Ursinus, 210). As we confess in the Belgic Confession, “the Person of the Son of God is inseparably united and connected with the human nature; so that there are not two Sons of God, nor two Persons, but two natures [divine and human] united in one single Person… 
wherefore we confess that He is very God and very man” (article 19). Thus, “the two natures subsist in the single person of Christ, without confusion, without change, indivisible, and inseparable, as it is expressed in the Chalcedonian creed” (Ursinus, 211). In His eternal divine nature, the Son of God could say, “Before Abraham was I AM” (John 8:58); and in His finite human nature, the Son of God could say, “I thirst” (John 19:28). One Person spoke according to His two natures.

    The Son of God became a man in the womb of the Virgin Mary, by the power of the Holy Spirit, just as the angel said: “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 1:20). Mary was a pregnant virgin, just as the prophet had foretold (Matt. 1:23). Jesus’ human nature was taken from the very substance of Mary – of her flesh and blood – in much the same way that our flesh and blood is received from our mother (Heb. 2:14). Just as Joseph and Mary descended from David, so did Christ (Rom. 1:3). But in Christ’s case the Holy Spirit miraculously caused His human nature to be conceived without the seed and substance of a man, so His human nature was formed from His mother alone. Thus, “in all things He had to be made like His brethren” (Heb. 2:17). Thus, He had a real human nature, with all its weaknesses, “except for sin” (Heb. 4:15).


Question 36: What benefit do you receive from the holy conception and birth of Christ? That He is our Mediator, and with His innocence and perfect holiness covers, in the sight of God, my sin, wherein I was conceived.



The eternal Son of God became a sinless Man to be a true Mediator (God-Man) to reconcile God and sinful man. It will be explained later in Question 60, how our sin in which we were conceived can be covered, that is forgiven, on the basis of Christ’s perfect holiness. For now, we declare what David declared in Psalm 32:1: “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.”

NOTE: These Posts were written and  designed as bulletin inserts by Pastor David Fagrey of the Grace Reformed Church of Rapid City, SD .  

Link to this blog entry as a bulletin insert:  Reformation 500 HC QAs 35-36

For a double-sided PDF for easy printing: Reformation 500 Week 14


Official Seal of  the RCUS
This is the seal of the Reformed Church of the United States (RCUS).  As you can see its history goes back to 1748, when the RCUS began.  We celebrate with the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation we praise God for what is probably the most amazing spiritual revival in the history of the world.


Saturday, March 25, 2017

REFORMATION 500 WEEK 13 WILLIAM TYNDALE PART 2

Reformation 500 WEEK 13    William Tyndale Part 2


     While Tyndale was in hiding trying to finish his English translation of the Bible, the king of England, Henry VIII, was trying to divorce Catherine of Aragon (daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain; and niece of Emperor Charles V), the first of his six wives ("divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived"), because she had provided him with no male heir. Henry appealed to the pope for annulment, arguing that he had violated Leviticus 20:21, “If a man takes his brother’s wife, it is an unclean thing…. They shall die childless.” What Henry really wanted was to marry Anne Boleyn, with whom he had been having an affair.

     The question of the legality of Henry’s marriage was considered by the universities; and scholars decided that the king was justified in pursuing divorce. But the pope (for political reasons) refused to give in; and threatened excommunication.

     After reading a copy of Tyndale’s Obedience of the Christian Man, given to him by Anne Boleyn, Henry decided he needed a “scholar like Tyndale to advance his cause of gaining a divorce from his first wife, and establishing himself as a higher authority in England than the pope, so he sent agents after Tyndale to offer him a salary and safe passage back to England. Tyndale respectfully refused this offer, saying he would return to England only if the king granted approval and made arrangements for the Bible to be translated into the English language” (Christian History #16).

     On Jan. 25, 1533, Henry secretly married Anne Boleyn. In May, Thomas Cranmer, the newly installed Archbishop of Canterbury, pronounced the king’s marriage to Catherine null and void. On June 1, 1533, Cranmer crowned Anne as queen (shortly thereafter she gave birth to Elizabeth). In 1534, Henry had Parliament pass the Law of Supremacy, which decreed that the king, not the pope, “justly and rightfully is and ought to be the supreme Head of the Church of England.”

     In 1535, while Tyndale was living in Antwerp, Belgium, “he was betrayed into the hands of local authorities and agents of Charles V by Henry Phillips, a down-and-out student who professed to be sympathetic to Tyndale’s work” (DeMar, 220).

     Tyndale was imprisoned for more than a year at Vilvorde Castle near Brussels. At his trial, acting as his own lawyer, Tyndale maintained that faith alone justifies before God. He was condemned as a heretic to be strangled and then burned. On October 6, 1536, when the executioner was attaching the wire around his throat, Tyndale’s last words were, “Lord, open the king of England’s eyes.”
     Less than two years later, King Henry “decreed that a copy of the English Bible be placed in every church in the kingdom…. Not long after Tyndale’s death, an English bishop declared to a gathering of churchmen, ‘The common people now know the Holy Scripture better than most of us’.” (Trial and Triumph, 130).

     “Tyndale’s English translation took the English language and turned it into beautiful prose. He coined new terms like ‘scapegoat,’ ‘longsuffering,’ and ‘peacemaker’.” (DeMar, 218). It is estimated “that ninety percent of Tyndale is reproduced in the King James Version of the New Testament” (Our English Bible, 26).


Also during 1534-1536, John Calvin was converted and published the first edition of the Institutes of the Christian Religion. To Calvin we turn next.

NOTE: These Posts were written and  designed as bulletin inserts by Pastor David Fagrey of the Grace Reformed Church of Rapid City, SD .  

Link to this blog entry as a bulletin insert:  Reformation500 William Tyndale Pt 2

For a double-sided PDF for easy printing: Reformation 500 Week 13


Official Seal of  the RCUS
This is the seal of the Reformed Church of the United States (RCUS).  As you can see its history goes back to 1748, when the RCUS began.  We celebrate with the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation we praise God for what is probably the most amazing spiritual revival in the history of the world.

Page on Omaha Reformed Church's Website: Links to all Bulletin Inserts.

REFORMATION 500 WEEK 13: HEIDELBERG CATECHISM, QUESTION 33-34

Reformation 500 WEEK 13: Heidelberg Catechism, QUESTION 33-34

Question 33: Why is He called God’s only begotten Son, since we also are the children of God? Because Christ alone is the eternal, natural Son of God, but we are children of God by adoption, through grace, for His sake.

“God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Sons begotten [brought into existence by the process of reproduction] from parents “are properly called natural sons, to whom the essence and nature of their parents is communicated [not wholly but in part]” (Ursinus, 181). But the Son of God is eternal, as we have already proven in Question 25: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the one, true, eternal God. Thus, the Son of God, even before He became a man, has always been God’s only-begotten Son (John 17:5). In a manner that is altogether beyond our comprehension, the Father communicates the whole divine essence to the Son: “as the Father has life in Himself, so He has given the Son to have life in Himself” (John 5:26). “The Father has, therefore, communicated to Him the life by which He Himself lives by Himself, …which life is that one and eternal Deity” (Ursinus, 181); “since the divine essence is infinite, indivisible, and not communicated in part…the Son has the whole essence communicated to Him, [and] He is, for this reason, equal with the Father, and consequently, true God” (Ursinus, 193). Jesus Christ is according to His eternal divine nature the natural and only Son of God.

The only way for sinners to become children of God is by adoption. God sent His Son into the world to die for our sins, so that God might, for His Son’s sake, confer upon us the right and title of the sons of God, which we forfeited in Adam (John 1:12; Luke 3:38). Before the foundation of the world, God “predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ” (Eph. 1:5). “God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, Abba, Father!” (Gal. 4:4-6).

Question 34: Why do you call Him our Lord? Because not with silver or gold, but with His precious blood He has redeemed and purchased us, body and soul, from sin and from all the power of the devil, to be His own.


The title “Lord” means “master, owner.” In the Old Testament, a slave could be freed if a ransom were paid to his master. By our willful disobedience in Adam, we became “slaves of sin” (Rom. 6:20) and the devil (2 Tim. 2:25-26), as God’s just punishment for our sin. But Jesus Christ our Savior has redeemed us from the slavery of sin and Satan, by “giving His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45) – to fully satisfy God’s justice; “you were not redeemed with corruptible things like silver or gold…but with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18-19). Since His Church was “purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28), all believers belong to Him as His bondservants (Rom. 6:20-22). By the grace of His Holy Spirit we call Him LORD (1 Cor. 12:3), and are thankful to Him for our redemption. “For you were bought at a price; therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:19-20). 

NOTE: These Posts were written and  designed as bulletin inserts by Pastor David Fagrey of the Grace Reformed Church of Rapid City, SD .  

Link to this blog entry as a bulletin insert:  Reformation 500 HC QAs 33-34

For a double-sided PDF for easy printing: Reformation 500 Week 13


Official Seal of  the RCUS
This is the seal of the Reformed Church of the United States (RCUS).  As you can see its history goes back to 1748, when the RCUS began.  We celebrate with the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation we praise God for what is probably the most amazing spiritual revival in the history of the world.

Page on Omaha Reformed Church's Website: Links to all Bulletin Inserts.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

REFORMATION 500 WEEK 12 THE ANABAPTISTS PART 2

Reformation 500 WEEK 12    the Anabaptists Part 2

The ana-baptizers or re-baptizers (they called themselves simply Brethren) not only rejected their Roman Catholic infant baptism, but they rejected Luther and Zwingli’s attempts to reform the catholic church by the Bible, attempting instead to start from scratch and build a new church from the New Testament alone.

Both Zwingli and Luther accepted, in varying degrees, the union that existed between church and state. Zwingli defended this union on the principle that Christians are obligated to reform all of life (even the state) according to Scripture. Many reformers later rejected the union of church and state but without also rejecting infant membership in the Christian church by virtue of the covenant of grace.

To the Anabaptists, separation from worldliness meant separation from the world; and the state belongs to the world. On the basis of Matthew 5-7, the “Anabaptists thought that the only proper response to the challenge of living in but not of the world is Christianity against culture” (Nichols, The Reformation, 63).

Some Anabaptists were more extreme than others. Thomas Muntzer, originally an advocate of Luther, advocated radical reforms “as one of the leaders of the Peasants’ revolt” (Nichols, 60). Claiming the inner light of the Spirit was more important than the written word of Scripture, he felt that true believers “should join in a theocratic community to bring about the Kingdom of God” (Gonzalez, 41). He led a meager army of peasants into battle at Frankenhausen. “His inner light informed him to kill the godless nobles,” and when his army was defeated, “he was beheaded [May 27, 1525]” (Nichols, Luther, 143).

“It was partly as an attempt to curb extremism among their ranks that a number of Anabaptist leaders met in Schleitheim, Switzerland, in 1527…and issued the Confession of Schleiteim [the first theological confession of the Reformation],” containing “the seven fundamental practices and principles held by most Anabaptists” (Gonzalez, 70): (1) believer’s baptism only; (2) those who refuse to amend their lives after two private admonitions are banned from the community; (3) the Lord’s Supper is for believers only; (4) true believers must separate themselves from all that is not united with God and Christ; (5) the qualifications for clergy leave out the need for formal training; (6) Christians must be pacifists; (7) Christians must not swear an oath, for Jesus said, “Do not swear at all” (Matt. 5:34).

  Since false doctrine was an offense against both the Church and the State, heresy was a crime punishable by the government. Both Catholics and Protestants regarded the Anabaptists “as a revolutionary sect, dangerous to society,” and thus they “were imprisoned, fined, drowned, burned at the stake, tortured” (Kuiper, 207).

In 1533 certain Anabaptists proclaimed that the city of Munster in Westphalia, Germany, “was going to be the new Jerusalem with community of goods and without law.... Soon Munster was besieged by an army of Catholics and Lutherans… At last, on June 24, 1535, the city was taken. A terrible massacre followed. The leaders were horribly tortured” (Kuiper, 208).


Today the direct descendants of the Anabaptists (minus the revolutionary violence) are the Mennonites, the Hutterites, and the Amish. 

NOTE: These Posts were written and  designed as bulletin inserts by Pastor David Fagrey of the Grace Reformed Church of Rapid City, SD .  

Link to this blog entry as a bulletin insert:  Reformation500 The Anabaptists Pt 2

For a double-sided PDF for easy printing: Reformation 500 Week 12


Official Seal of  the RCUS
This is the seal of the Reformed Church of the United States (RCUS).  As you can see its history goes back to 1748, when the RCUS began.  We celebrate with the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation we praise God for what is probably the most amazing spiritual revival in the history of the world.

Page on Omaha Reformed Church's Website: Links to all Bulletin Inserts.

REFORMATION 500 WEEK 12: HEIDELBERG CATECHISM, QUESTION 31-32

Reformation 500 WEEK 12: Heidelberg Catechism, QUESTION 31-32

Question 31: Why is He called Christ, that is, Anointed? Because He is ordained of God the Father and anointed with the Holy Spirit to be our Chief Prophet and Teacher, who has fully revealed to us the secret counsel and will of God concerning our redemption; and our only High Priest, who by the one sacrifice of His body, has redeemed us, and ever lives to make intercession for us with the Father; and our eternal King, who govern us by His Word and Spirit, and defends and preserves us in the redemption obtained for us.

MESSIAH is the Hebrew word, and CHRIST is the Greek word, meaning ANOINTED. In the Old Testament, prophets, priests, and kings were anointed with oil to symbolize that they were ordained and gifted by God to fulfill the duties of their office. They were types (examples) of what God intends every believer to become through Christ the ultimate Prophet, Priest, and King (Num. 11:29; Rev. 1:6). Isaiah foretold that Messiah would be anointed with the Holy Spirit (11:1; 61:1). At His baptism, Jesus the Son of God was anointed by the Father with the Holy Spirit to fulfill His threefold office (Acts 10:38). As our Chief Prophet, He has fully revealed the truth to us, especially the truth about our redemption in Him (Matt. 16:16-17; John 1:18; 15:15; 17:8). As our only High Priest, “by the sacrifice of Himself” (Heb. 9:26), He has redeemed us by His blood (Heb. 9:11-15). And with His Father in heaven, “He always lives to make intercession for us” (Heb. 7:25), praying that our faith would not fail (Luke 22:32; John 17:9-15). As our eternal King, at God’s right hand, He governs us by His Word and Spirit, preserving us in the faith so we persevere in showing ourselves thankful for our salvation (Heb. 12:2; 1 Peter 1:5).

Question 32: But why are you called a Christian? Because by faith I am a member of Christ and thus a partaker of His anointing, in order that I [as a prophet] also may confess His name, [as a priest] may present myself a living sacrifice of thankfulness to Him, and [as a king] with a free conscience may fight against sin and the devil in this life, and hereafter in eternity reign with Him over all creatures.


Every believer is a member of Christ, united as one body to the risen and glorified Lord Jesus Christ in heaven (Rom. 12:5; 1 Cor. 6:17; Eph. 2:6; 5:30), “united to Him by the same Holy Spirit dwelling in Him and in us” (Ursinus; cf. John 15:5; 1 Cor. 12:13). Therefore, we are called Christians, “anointed ones,” for we all share in the anointing of Christ’s Spirit (1 John 2:20, 27), enabled by the same Spirit to imitate and follow Christ as prophets, priests, and kings – to know, love, and live truth (Jer. 15:16). “As prophets, we are to confess the name of Christ and declare His truth to others [Matt. 10:32; Eph. 4:15]. As priests, we are to present ourselves as living sacrifices to Christ and dedicate all we are and have to the service of God [Rom. 12:1-2; 1 Pet. 2:5, 9-10]. This includes our talents and our money. As kings, we are to exercise dominion by the Word of God over ourselves, our homes, our churches, our society [Gen. 1:28]. We are to fight the good fight against sin and the devil and reign with Christ both now and forever [2 Tim. 4:7; Rev. 2:26; 5:9-10]. When we begin to grasp the real meaning of being a Christian, life becomes a wonderful, new challenge” (Jones, Study Helps, 74).

NOTE: These Posts were written and  designed as bulletin inserts by Pastor David Fagrey of the Grace Reformed Church of Rapid City, SD .  

Link to this blog entry as a bulletin insert:  Reformation 500 HC QAs 31-32

For a double-sided PDF for easy printing: Reformation 500 Week 12


Official Seal of  the RCUS
This is the seal of the Reformed Church of the United States (RCUS).  As you can see its history goes back to 1748, when the RCUS began.  We celebrate with the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation we praise God for what is probably the most amazing spiritual revival in the history of the world.

Page on Omaha Reformed Church's Website: Links to all Bulletin Inserts.