Washington State: Family Conference (October 10–12)

Young Attenders at Family Conference

Young Attenders at Family Conference

More than a thousand people—nearly all home-schoolers—attended the “Family Relationships and Parenting Conference” held at the Ocean shores Conventions Center in Ocean Shores, Washington. The conference was presented by Christian Heritage Home Educators of Washington, and was well-organized by Danny Craig (25 years old), together with his father and brothers. I gave five addresses: How to Bring Your Children to Christ; The Church and Healthy Family Relationships; Nurturing Intimate Communication with Your Spouse; Puritan Insights for Husbands and Wives; How the Gospel Changes Relationships. I also participated on a panel on Advice for Husbands and Fathers.

Other major speakers included Gregg Harris, Craig Houston, and Lou Priolo. I enjoyed getting to meet and know them. Gregg Harris, well-known for his leadership role in the homeschooling movement over the past twenty-five years, is the father of Joshua Harris (author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Boy Meets Girl, Not Even a Hint, etc.) and Alex and Brett Harris (co-authors of Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations). Craig Houston is a faithful pastor and father of twelve who is a joy to be with. We promised to try to find time to get to know each other better.

I also enjoyed my time with Gerry and Eileen Epp and their children, including mealtimes and talking around an evening campfire they made on the ocean beach with the waves rolling in behind us in the darkness. Joining us around the campfire were two additional families from Canada: Brian and Ann-Marie DenHertog, and Marvin and Wilhelmina from Alberta. Together the three families had more than twenty children with them!

With Isaac and Joseph Epp after Selling All the Books

With Isaac and Joseph Epp after Selling All the Books

Isaac Epp was particularly helpful in chauffeuring me from the airport and assisted me at the book table together with his brother Joseph. We were able to sell all eighteen boxes of books that we had sent out to the conference, including scores of books written for children. It was also great to meet some of the other large families that were present—many having from seven to twelve (even one with fourteen) children. Many of those children’s maturity level—both intellectually and spiritually—appears to be quite astonishing.

On Sunday morning I preached for Carl DeyArmin at Shiloh Bible Camp on “The Only Way to Live and Die” (Phil. 1:21). We went to the camp because Pastor DeyArmin’s church only holds about seventy people. He has built the church up from 20 people to 40 people in three years. That is really a major achievement in this rather deserted area. The church belongs to a group of churches being supported by Village Missions, which seeks to place pastors in rural settings to serve dying churches. The goal is to preserve and build of these churches across rural North America.

On Monday, I flew to Detroit, landing an hour before Mary joined me from Grand Rapids. Several hours later we were winging our way to Brazil on a long overnight flight to Sao Paulo. I am scheduled to speak about ten times in the next seven days—mostly on the Holy Spirit and His saving work.

Litchfield, New Hampshire and Limington, Maine (October 2–6)

My trip to New England got off to a rough start. The flight coming in from Chicago to Grand Rapids arrived three hours late because the flight crew had worked too many hours to continue flying. So, while they were resting in Chicago, I realized that I would miss my connection in Newark, New Jersey, so I managed to get rerouted through Laguardia, New York. The plane from Chicago finally arrived in Grand Rapids three hours late, however, which meant I would now miss my flight from Laguardia to Manchester, New Hampshire as well. Since there were no more flights into Manchester that day and I had to preach in the evening, United re-booked me again—this time putting me on a flight to Boston. Happily, Pastor Dave McClelland of the Grace Free Presbyterian Church of Litchfield, New Hampshire, was willing to drive all the way to Boston to pick me up. I landed in Boston at 4:15 p.m. (five hours late), and we then battled traffic getting out of Boston.

Pastor Dave McClelland of Grace FPC

Pastor Dave McClelland of Grace FPC

On the way, Dave told me the fascinating story of how he went through the motions of appearing fairly religious as he grew up since he didn’t want to displease his father who was a quiet, faithful pastor. He then began to date an attractive girl named Gina who had no religion at all. She had a troubled past, but he was attracted to her looks and honesty. For a while he tried to hide this relationship from his parents—also because of her worldly appearance (she had sixteen earrings in her ears!), but finally could hold out no longer. To his surprise, his father said he should bring her to church. To his astonishment, she was impressed, asked numerous questions, and was eventually converted. Her worldliness dissipated and she then became a positive influence on him, God using her in his own conversion! They now have a wonderful relationship as husband and wife.

We arrived at the Grace FP church ten minutes before the evening service was to begin. I could have flown more quickly to Europe than to New Hampshire, but was glad to arrive in time for the service, and felt helped in delivering the message.

With David Dicanio, Missionary to Liberia

With David Dicanio, Missionary to Liberia

The following morning I breakfasted with Dave, one of his elders, and a fellow FP pastor, David Dicanio, who is serving as a missionary in Liberia but had to leave his post temporarily due to the Ebola crisis. We had a fascinating conversation about the issue of “separation” from erring brethren and shared with each other how the Lord converted us.

Dave then drove me to Maine. The time flew; again, we had great fellowship on the way. He has become a good friend and it was great to get to know him better. By God’s grace, he has built up this FP church in New Hampshire—a state that is hostile or at best indifferent to the Reformed faith—to become a flock of 250 people, most of whom are quite young and have been drawn to faith from out of the world.

Pastor Leonard Gulstrom drove halfway from his church in Limington, Maine to meet Dave and me for lunch. To my surprise, they did not know each other despite the fewness of sound Reformed ministers in New England. After lunch, Leonard—a friendly, humble, steady brother who has run an effective ministry in Maine for eleven years—drove me to his beautiful country home, where I homesteaded for the next three days. I enjoyed my fellowship with him and his hospitable wife, Sonya, and their son Jason (the only one of seven children still at home) immensely. The Gulstrom parsonage is only two blocks from their quaint country church—Limington Orthodox Presbyterian Church, which is commemorating its 225th anniversary. For most of those years it was a Congregational church, but under Leonard’s leadership became an Orthodox Presbyterian Church in 2011, and is growing steadily. The church now has four elders and four deacons.

Limington OPC

Limington OPC

Over the weekend, I delivered five messages on “The Faithfulness of God” in commemoration of the church’s anniversary. I also presented the work of Puritan Reformed Seminary at a Sunday school hour. Visitors came from near and far. A great friend and co-author, Pastor James La Belle, together with six of his children, and one of his elders with two of his children, drove up four hours from Cape Cod, Massachusetts early on Saturday to spend most of the day with us. I was able to treat them to a meal prior to their return. On Saturday evening, I had an engaging discussion at the Gulstrom home with three elders and a deacon from Limington’s OP church. Though the attendees never rose much above one hundred throughout the weekend, fellowship was great, the people were hungry and appreciative, and the books I had brought were nearly all sold already by Saturday.

I was particularly touched by some of the children in the congregation. Seven-year-old Veronica was deeply touched when I gave her one of my children’s books and gave me a thank you card on Sunday evening for it, telling me that she had already read the first chapters. “They were good,” she said in a mature, confident voice. Then there was a three-year-old boy who walked up to me and said sincerely and articulately on Sunday, “Sir, thank you so much for coming to preach for us this weekend.”

Travels (September 9-21)

Ministry Wives Institute at PRTS

Ministry Wives Institute at PRTS

Grand Rapids (September 9)

The Ministry Wives’ Institute (MWI), which aims to help train women to be biblical and faithful ministers’ wives, is a great blessing to PRTS’s seminary community. It is particularly appreciated by the wives of foreign students who often find themselves in a rather lonely situation in a “foreign” country while their husbands are studying hard and working long hours. Led by my wife, and assisted by the wives of the other faculty members and a few wives from the student body, MWI meets every other week to fellowship and to address various themes and issues that arise in the role of being a minister’s wife in a pastor’s family. Addresses are arranged for a three or four year cycle, with every semester focusing on a particular major theme confronted by ministers’ wives. Speakers for these occasions include faculty members, their wives, and outside speakers as well.

This year I gave the opening address to the MWI on “Being Busy But Fruitful: How to Organize Your Time for God’s Glory.” I addressed the foundational use of our time—namely, to be used for God’s glory, and then expounded eleven practical ways to help wives organize time.

Lake Mary, Florida (September 11)

I spent the day at Reformation Bible College, which is a fairly new college on a very beautiful campus, replete with a large pond and remarkably tame sandhill cranes moving about, situated some forty miles from Orlando, Florida. The college is associated with R. C. Sproul and Ligonier Ministries, and has huge potential for growth—especially in our day when so few colleges or universities teach from a self-consciously biblical and Reformed perspective. The president of the college, Steven Nichols, a personable and able 43-year-old church historian, was my guide for the day. It was great to spend some time with him, as I had long wanted to get to know him better.

I first taught a class on Puritan Preaching for a few dozen students in their Church and Ministry Course, then delivered a chapel message for the student body and faculty (approximately 125 people) in the magnificent St. Andrews Church, after which I gave a PRTS power point presentation to nine students who expressed an interest in hearing more about PRTS in connection with their future studies. Four of the students seemed openly interested in attending PRTS once they have completed their college degree at RBC. In the afternoon, I spoke again for about two dozen students—this time for a class on the The Church Before the Reformation. My address was on Anselm’s view of the atonement and its impact on the Reformers and Reformed theology.

With Chris Larson Holding Diodati and Greenham

With Chris Larson Holding Diodati and Greenham

I then had a short visit with Dr. R. C. Sproul just before he was going on the air with Dr. John MacArthur. It was great to see him again and to hear that he is feeling reasonably well and pressing on in the Lord’s work. I also spent some time with Chris Larson—Dr. Sproul’s right hand man who does an amazing job of overseeing the entire Ligonier Ministries operation. Chris has in his office several antiquarian Reformed and Puritan books, so we took a picture of him holding the Pious Annotations of John Diodati and of me holding the complete Works of Richard Greenham.

Iowa and South Dakota (September 12–15)

After overnighting at home, I flew the next day to South Dakota to meet Mary there. She had gone ahead of me (while I was in Florida) to spend a few days with her sister (Linda VanBeek). On Friday evening and Saturday we visited about a dozen families—mostly in their own homes, to fellowship and show them our new PRTS power point presentation. It was an intensely busy but encouraging and profitable time.

On Sunday, I preached twice to the Hull, Iowa HRC, once on “the woman that was a sinner” (Luke 7:37) and in the evening on heaven’s genuine utopia (Rev. 21:1-8). I felt remarkably helped in the evening message. As we flew home on Monday, we said to each other that in addition to enjoying time with our relatives, this weekend bonded us to the dear Hull congregation more than ever.

Cheyenne, Wyoming (September 19–21)

Cheyenne, Wyoming

Cheyenne, Wyoming

On September 19 and 20 I gave four addresses for a conference put on by the Northwoods Presbyterian Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming around the theme of “Families Living for God’s Glory.” Topics included lessons from the Puritans for contemporary marriages and child-rearing, family worship, training children to follow Christ, and how to live godly through difficult times of family affliction. I also preached twice on Sunday, did a presentation on the seminary, and participated in a Q&A session.

Over the weekend I spent considerable time with Pastor Milan Norgauer—a tender-hearted minister who deeply appreciates the Reformed experiential emphasis. On more than one occasion, he wept on the pulpit in reflecting upon the truth being expounded. By the time I left, I felt like we had built a remarkably good friendship for only knowing each other for three days. The gospel has a way of allowing believers to do that, doesn’t it?

I also enjoyed time over breakfast with some of the elders who picked my brains on a number of edifying subjects. Equally delightful was a time of fellowship over a Sunday dinner at the beautiful home of Dr. and Mrs. Alexander Ramig, Jr. out in the rather barren countryside.

Conference attendees came from a variety of backgrounds. Most were of Reformed persuasion. Some Baptist families were present. Many came from small, rural congregations scattered throughout the sparsely populated state of Wyoming. A few families came from Denver, Colorado, include the Roy VanZweden family. It was great to have lunch with them and catch up with their lives.

 

In Memoriam: Phil Huisjen (1913-2014)

Phil Huisjen, 99, reading his Bible

Mr. Huisjen Reading His Bible with a Magnifying Glass at the Age of 99

Last week I was privileged to conduct the funeral of a very close friend, Phil Huisjen, who was also the oldest member of our congregation. He died at the age of 101.

I love(d) this brother immensely. He was one of my favorite friends to visit. I often felt that he pastored me more than I pastored him. There was something so real, so godly, so self-effacing about his entire demeanor and conversation that I cannot put it into words. Suffice it to say, we never wasted more than a minute talking about his health or mundane things like the weather. He always wanted to talk about spiritual matters, and would often ask me questions about various theological issues he had been wrestling with. Many times we talked about faith, assurance of faith, the character of God, and especially the righteousness of Christ.

When I first began to pastor brother Huisjen nearly twenty-eight years ago, I found him to be a rather lonely man (he had lost his dear wife Lucia ten years earlier in 1977), while at the same time a contemplative brother of deep spirituality. He was a humble, sincere believer, but was still caught in the bondage of a kind of hyper-calvinistic “hard believism.” He didn’t think salvation could ever be possible for him, even though he couldn’t deny that he hated sin with passion and loved the Lord Jesus Christ as His only hope for salvation, and longed to know Him better.

What a reader he was! In those early years of pastoring him, he most commonly read William Huntington’s writings, and would comment frequently how they would give him hope at times, then dash those hopes to pieces.

Over the years, God graciously blessed preaching and pastoring to his soul to give him more hope outside of Himself in Christ alone for salvation. He once told me with tears that when I preached on the righteousness of Christ as the sum and substance of our salvation his soul could rejoice. But then he would still look back toward himself and get caught in the snares of unbelief again.

I never met a man who hated his unbelief so much as Phil Huisjen. He would openly weep over it. I still remember him sobbing in my presence, crying out, “Oh, my unbelief, my cursed, wretched unbelief; Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief.” Gradually, however, instead of taking ten looks at himself and one look to Christ, he began to take an equal number of looks at both himself and Christ, until the last years of his life when he truly followed the advice of Richard Baxter to take ten looks at Christ for every look at self.

For seventeen of the last twenty-eight years I pastored him over the phone as he moved to Texas to be near his daughter. Before he went to Texas, he gave me his set of Huntington’s Works, telling me that he was coming to more assurance of faith but still had a ways to go; nevertheless, he felt that there were other writers who could help him along to assurance better than Huntington. He also told me that he thought he would die soon and asked me to conduct his funeral. I gladly agreed, but neither he nor I imagined that he would live for another quarter of a century!

Mr. Huisjen went through some hard times, but his faith did not waver. He grieved greatly over the death of his two sons, David and Donald. During his Texas years, he endeared himself to his daughter Cheryl and her husband, as well as to his grandchildren, even more than before.

When he returned from Texas some years ago, it became more evident that he had come to a more settled assurance in Christ for his own soul. All those years he had listened to sermons from afar, and slowly but surely came to embrace Christ as the Surety of his own soul. His former problem that he had never seemed to have an extraordinary experience of Christ seemed to have given way to a quiet childlike faith of certitude in Christ’s righteousness.

Mr. Huisjen’s mind was strong until a day or two before he died. Two hours before he died, I asked him if he had pain. He could not speak well but clearly shook his head no. I then asked if he was resting in Christ’s righteousness alone to which he responded by mouthing the word “yes” and clearly shaking his head up and down in affirmation. I told him that though we would never see each other again on this side of the grave, that I wanted him to know that I loved him and that we would meet sin-free on the other side in glory where Christ would be all-in-all. Again he mouthed the word “yes.”

I buried my dear friend with these words, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). His gain is our loss. I will miss him, and yet I know that He is far better off with the Lord. Phil Huisjen now has finally received his desire to focus on Christ fully and forever. Hasten the day, Lord, when the shadows will flee away, and this corruption shall put on incorruption, and this mortality shall put on immortality.

Are you too trusting in Christ and His righteousness alone for salvation? With less than that righteousness, you cannot stand before God on the great Judgment Day; more than that righteousness you do not need.

The Union of God and Man in Christ

Concerning the hypostatic union in which one Christ is both God and man, J. C. Ryle wrote: “We should settle it firmly in our minds, that our Savior is perfect man as well as perfect God, and perfect God as well as perfect man. If we once lose sight of this great foundation truth, we may run into fearful heresies.”

In this precious union, the Son of God assumed our human nature to His divinity, though God remained God and man remained man in Him. Consequently, He did not become two persons, but remained one divine Person—the Son of God, Second Person in the holy Trinity. Christ took a human nature to Himself, but never became a “human person.” Thus we must be careful when we speak of Jesus as the God-man, that we underscore that He did not become two persons.

Throughout church history there have been numerous errors that have developed against this doctrine, such as those of the Gnostics, Arians, Socinians, as well as the modern Jehovah’s Witnesses. The early Council of Chalcedon (AD 451) corrected several heretical teachings regarding the essence of the relationship of the natures of Christ. They directed their confession against certain groups. Against Eutychians, the Council stated that Christ’s natures were without mixture and without change. Against Nestorians, they stated that Christ’s natures were without division and without separation. Christ did not have two identities but a strict unity in one Person.

The Belgic Confession of Faith also stated the hypostatic union clearly: “We believe that by this conception, the person of the Son is inseparably united and connected with the human nature; so that these are not two Sons of God, nor two persons, but two natures united in one single person; yet, that each nature retains its own distinct properties” (Article 19).

Once Christ’s divinity assumed humanity, His two natures are never separated. They were never separated during His life or after his death, nor will they be separated in the future. The Belgic Confession continues: “These two natures are so closely united in one Person that they were not separated even by His death. Therefore that which He, when dying commended into the hands of His Father, was a real human spirit, departing from His body. But in the meantime the divine nature always remained united with the human, even when He lay in the grave. And the Godhead did not cease to be in Him, any more than it did when He was an infant, though it did not so clearly manifest itself for a while” (Article 19).

Many Christians today have trouble applying this truth to themselves with profit. But the union of Christ’s natures in one Person should be very sweet to a Christian’s soul since the hypostatic union accords with the believer’s mystical union with Christ.

A number of Puritans paralleled the hypostatic union with the mystical union of Christ and the believer. Thomas Watson noted that Christ’s assumption of a human nature corresponds to the “sacred union” of His person with the believer. He noted, however, that “if there is no more than this natural [hypostatic] union, it will give little comfort.” Thomas Cole, in his Discourse of Regeneration, also noted: “The Human Nature of Christ [in the hypostatic union] is the foundation of all our Communion with God: our access to God is through the veil of his flesh.” Isaac Ambrose wrote, “It pleased God to assume and unite our human nature to the deity,” and, likewise: “It pleased God to unite the person of every believer to the Son of God.” Edward Reynolds and John Bunyan wrote similarly.

But Thomas Manton explained this in detail. He distinguished a number of analogies between the hypostatical union and the believer’s mystical union with Christ. Here are five:

 

  1. “In the hypostatical union, our nature is united with Christ’s nature; in the mystical union, our person with his person.”
  2. “In the hypostatical union, Christ matched into our family; in the mystical union, the soul is the bride…. Thus Christ first honored our nature, and then our persons; first he assumeth our nature, and then espouseth our persons.”
  3. “In the hypostatical union, Christ was a person before he assumed the human nature; [and thus] the body is a passive instrument…in the mystical union, on Christ’s part active, on ours passive.”
  4. “The hypostatical union is indissoluble; it was never laid aside, not in death…. So it is in the mystical union; Christ and we shall never be parted.”
  5. “By the hypostatical union, Christ is made our brother, he contracted affinity with the human nature; by the mystical union he is made our head and husband, he weddeth our persons.”

Truly, for the Christian, as Manton concludes, “the hypostatical union is the ground of all that grace and glory that was bestowed on the human nature, without which, as a mere creature, it would not be capable of this exaltation; so the mystical union is the ground of all that grace and glory which we receive.”

For further reading of the Puritans on this subject, see:

Isaac Ambrose, Looking unto Jesus in Works, 215.

Edwards Reynolds, Joy in the Land: Opened in a Sermon Preached at Pauls, May 6 (London 1655), 9.

John Bunyan, in Richard L. Greaves, John Bunyan: Miscellaneous Works (Oxford, 1979), 8:84.

Thomas Cole, A Discourse of Regeneration, 1969, 137.

Thomas Manton, Vol. 11 of Works, 35ff.

Update on Trichelle

Here is an update on Trichelle Beeke’s treatments for cancer. Thanks for praying for my niece!

Hello Everyone,

We haven’t written an update in a while and know that some of you have asked how Trichelle is doing.   Thank you for your care in asking.

Trichelle continues to be receiving IV Herceptin treatments every 3 weeks and the treatments have been going very smoothly with no side effects.  She received a treatment last Monday and now only has 3 more Herceptin treatments left!

She has gained energy but has very little endurance, so she is following a strengthening program to build up her energy level.  She recently had a MUGA scan of her heart to see the effects of the Herceptin but we have not received the results of that yet.

In November, she is booked for some preventative surgery that medically speaking will reduce the odds of cancer appearing again.  Since her cancer cannot be traced or detected, we are called to trust the Lord that the treatments have done what they are designed to do.  We also want to take every precaution possible and this surgery is one of those precautions.

We continue to be thankful for the support we have received.  Please join us in thanking the Lord that Trichelle is doing as well as she is.

Attached is a picture of Trichelle and our kids taken last week.

Dave, Trichelle, Breyden, Quinten, and Emilee Beeke

Trichelle Beeke Fall 2014

How to Raise God-worshiping Children

How to Raise God-worshiping Children

To listen to a Christian Heritage podcast where I discuss how to raise children who worship the Lord, click here.

Jesus Christ: The Word Became Flesh

It would be disastrous to only affirm the deity of Jesus Christ, ignoring that the divine “Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). The Scriptures affirm equally that Christ was both divine and human. For the Christian, Christ’s humanity holds tremendous significance, beyond even the supreme necessity of salvation. Indeed, as John Flavel notes regarding this doctrine, we can lay the world upon it.

Christ in His divine nature assumed humanity. This means He took upon Himself a nature that was truly human. He remained what He was (divine) while He took to Himself that which He had not yet been (human). He became bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh in all respects, yet without sin.

The Scriptures reveal Christ’s real human nature from birth to burial.

  • He was born (Luke 2:7).
  • He grew to maturity (Luke 2:40).
  • He was hungry (Luke 4:2).
  • He labored (John 5:17).
  • He was tired and slept (Luke 8:23).
  • He ate and drank (Luke 24:42–43).
  • He was sorrowful and wept (Mark 14:34).
  • He experienced pain and suffering (Luke 22:44) both in body and soul (Matt. 26:38; 1 Peter 2:24).
  • He died (Mark 15:37) and was buried (v. 45–46).

There are at least six reasons why Christ had to become truly man:

  1. To meet the demand of God’s righteousness that the nature which had sinned must also be the nature to pay for sin.
  2. To be able to suffer and die for His elect.
  3. To be able to be our self-sacrificing and sympathetic High Priest.
  4. To be subject to the law in His obedience.
  5. To be our nearest Kinsman to redeem us.
  6. To be the Second Adam who restores us from our fall.

There are many applications of Christ’s incarnation for the believer. John Flavel in volume one of his Works outlines several of these affections for Christ the believer experiences.

  1. Adoration. “Adore the love of the Father, and the Son, who bid so high for your souls.” Flavel notes that the love of God is expressed chiefly in this: that Christ took upon Himself the form of a servant and became obedient unto death. The Father so earnestly “willed our salvation, that he was content to degrade the darling of his soul to so vile and contemptible a state” as humanity. The Son became of no reputation—“how astonishing is the love of Christ, that would make such a stoop as this to exalt us!”
  2. Wonder. Gaze at the wisdom of God at devising such a means for His people’s salvation. This even “chains the eyes of angels and men to itself” as unimaginable. That the Word should become flesh, and dwell among us—“oh, how wisely is the method of our recovery laid!”
  3. Delight. Taste the “incomparable sweetness” of Christianity that allows us to rest our “trembling consciences” upon a sure foundation. Though the misery of His state and the distress of His soul overwhelms him, the believer can safely rely on the incarnation. Christ united His divine person with our flesh; “hence it is easy to imagine what worth and value must be in that blood; and how eternal love, springing forth triumphantly from it, flourishes into pardon, grace, and peace.”
  4. Consolation. Assuming a human nature and experiencing the suffering and misery of humanity, Christ is now touched with the feelings of our infirmities (Heb. 4:15). He is a merciful High Priest (Heb. 2:17–18). Flavel writes: “God and man in one person! Oh! Thrice happy conjunction! As man, he is full of an experimental sense of our infirmities, wants, and burdens; and, as God, he can support and supply them all.”
  5. Happiness. Christ’s incarnation was to bring many sons to glory (Heb. 2:10). “Hence we see, to what a height God intends to build up the happiness of man, in that he hath laid the foundation thereof so deep, in the incarnation of his own Son.” The soul of man joys in salvation, but the body also will be glorified. Christ assumed the flesh to demonstrate “how God intends to honour and exalt it” in eternity.
  6. Comfort. Flavel concludes with this last point: “How wonderful a comfort is it, that he who dwells in our flesh is God?” The struggling Christian can say: “But let me be a sinner, and worse than the chief of sinners, yea, a guilty devil, I am sure my well-beloved is God, and my Christ is God. And when I say my Christ is God, I have said all things, I can say no more. I [wish] I could build as much on this, My Christ is God, as it would bear: I might lay all the world upon it.”

Jesus Christ, Our God and Savior

The nature of Christ is one of the most fundamental aspects of the gospel message. Scripture teaches that within His one person Christ possessed both a divine and human nature. His divine nature has no beginning, being from eternity. His human nature began when Christ was conceived by the Holy Ghost in the virgin Mary.

For the believer, Christ’s divinity ensures that His sacrifice was sufficient. The ransom of a soul is costly—such a price is divine blood! The solution to the infinitude of sin was the infinite value of Christ’s obedience—infinite because of Christ’s divine nature. His sacrifice was of everlasting efficacy because He is the everlasting God.

Scripture presents many proofs of Christ’s divinity:

  • Scripture attests His divinity (Matt. 1:23; Phil. 2:5­–11; Titus 2:13; Heb. 1:8).
  • God the Father attests Christ’s divinity (Matt. 3:17; 17:5; Mark 9:7; 2 Peter 1:17).
  • Christ Himself claims divinity. He claims to be one with the Father (John 10:30, 38) as the Son of God (Mark 14:61–62).
  • Various other persons testify that Jesus is God, such as Thomas (John 20:28); Peter (Matt. 16:16); Paul (Acts 9:5); and even devils (Matt. 8:29).
  • Jesus attests His transcendence over men and angels. He transcends Jonah and Solomon (Matt. 12:41ff; Luke 11:31ff), Moses and Elijah (Matt. 17:3; Mark 9:4), David (Mark 12:36), and John the Baptist (Matt. 11:11); and Christ is superior to angels, who are His servants (Matt. 4:11; Mark 1:13), His army (Matt. 26:53), and those who do His will (Matt. 16:27; 25:31; Mark 8:38).
  • Attributes of God are ascribed to Jesus, such as eternity (John 8:58), omnipotence (Rev. 1:8), omnipresence (John 1:48), omniscience (John 2:25), and immutability (Heb. 13:8).
  • He is given honor that is only given to God, such as divine baptism (Matt. 28:19), divine benediction (2 Cor. 13:14), divine worship (Heb. 1:6), and divine honor (John 5:23).
  • He performs divine tasks, such as forgiveness of sins (Mark 2:10–12), creation (John 1:3), providence (John 5:17), resurrection and judgment (John 5:22), preservation (John 10:28), and redemption and grace (Eph. 1:7).
  • He makes divine demands, such as faith in His person (John 14:1; 5:24; 6:40; 8:51) and supreme love (Matt. 10:37, 39; Luke 17:33). He accepts religious worship (Matt. 8:2; 9:18; 14:33; 15:25).
  • He is given the names of God: Mighty God and Everlasting Father (Isa. 9:6), the Lord our Righteousness (Jer. 23:6), Lord and God (John 20:28), God blessed forever (Rom. 9:5), Lord of all (Acts 10:36), and true God and eternal life (1 John 5:20).

There are five reasons why Christ must be truly God:

  1. For the burden that had to be sustained and the battle that had to be fought, He needed divine power to be able to lay down and take up His own life.
  2. His divinity was necessary to obtain infinite value for His satisfaction to divine justice.
  3. Christ’s divinity allowed Him to merit everlasting righteousness.
  4. He needed to be divine to be able to apply the salvation He has merited.
  5. He must be divine to be an object worthy of our worship.

Thomas Watson in his sermon, “Christ the Mediator of the Covenant,” outlined four applications to the believer’s life of this doctrine of Christ’ divinity .

Use 1: Admire the glory of this God-man. Watson advised us to see Christ’s “Godhead shining through the manhood” (Rev. 1:16). Worship Him in the beauty of His holiness (Ps. 96:9)!

Use 2: Because Christ is divine, the believer must look to Christ alone for salvation. His divinity wrought the righteousness required for salvation. Watson said, “If we could weep rivers of tears, out-fast Moses on the mount, if we were exact moralists, touching the law blameless, if we could arrive at the highest degree of sanctification in this life, all this would not save us, without looking to the merits of him who is God.” Look unto Jesus (Heb. 12:2)!

Use 3: Because He is divine and human in one person, believers can have great comfort in knowing they are closely united to Him. Watson wrote, “All that Christ in either of his natures can do for believers, he will do.” “Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength” (Isa. 26:4).

Use 4: Marvel at the love of Christ, who humbled Himself, though He was equal with God, to become obedient unto death. Believers should embrace Christ as their heavenly husband (Song 1:13). Watson said that every believer “should have Jesus Christ written in his heart.”

April 11–18, 2014, Wales Conference and Friends in England

Aber Conference

Aber Conference

(Written by Mary Beeke)

North Wales is very scenic. It has the same pastoral scenes that we saw in the Yorkshire Moors, plus steep and rocky passages through the mountains, many trees, and fast-moving streams tumbling over boulders next to the road. The Aberystwyth Conference had already begun when we arrived Monday evening. We met with friends Gareth and Ceri Edwards, then settled into our dorm room. This is Joel’s fifth time speaking at this conference, and my first. He treasures this conference because the people pray for God’s blessing during the entire preceding year. In a country that has small churches, and not many of them, it is amazing to gather with 1,200 people of all ages. The singing is hearty and inspiring. The whole group meets in the Great Hall for the morning “Bible Reading,” a sermon on the theme—this year it was D.A. Carson on Ephesians. The evening services are evangelistic. Joel took two of the four, “The Only Way to Live and Die” and “Gethsemane’s King-Lamb.” The crowd is a mix of believers and unbelievers. Throughout the day and late into the evening, different age groups meet together as well. Joel spoke at a seminar on the Puritan view of marriage and child-rearing, then to young people about praying like Jesus, and also to a group of people age 45 and older about contemporary issues on which the Puritans can serve as examples. I spoke to a group of ministers’ wives on “Little Things and Little Ones.”

Aberystwyth is a city of 14,000, and the university adds 10,000. It rates high in student satisfaction and safety. It overlooks the Irish Sea and is encircled by cliffs and hills. Our dear friend Geoff Thomas has ministered at Alfred Place Baptist Church for nearly forty-nine years. He is nearly finished preaching through the whole Bible. Joel has been invited for November, 2015 to preach his fiftieth-year commemoration sermon, D.V. Geoff and Iola also recently celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary. We were delighted to be invited to join them and their family and some friends for a luncheon to celebrate the occasion.

You might remember past pastoral letters describing the Hackney Evangelical Reformed Church in London. My dear husband was used by God for the conversion of several young people there. They came out of the Pentecostal church and never looked back, except to bring more of their friends with them. The church is now nearly twice the size it was, and eighty of these beautiful friends were at the conference. It was a joy to be with them, to answer their questions, and to sense their energy and witness their zeal. They have not had an ordained minister for years, but a gifted young man, originally from Nigeria, has been preaching there. He is engaged to a young lady with roots in Zimbabwe.

Lake District of North England

Lake District of North England

On Friday we drove to the Lake District in England and stayed in Ambleside, along Lake Windermere, the biggest lake in England. We hiked up the Langdale Valley, climbing along a rocky stream to Stickle Tarn (a small lake nestled in the mountains). It was like climbing uneven stones for about an hour. We came down part of the way through grassy areas that were a little less steep, though soggy and slippery in places, then back to the stone-step areas. The weather was constantly changing, but we always had a breathtaking view. We paused to watch a shepherd and his dog moving a flock of sheep up the mountain. It was fascinating to hear the shepherd whistle and shout to direct the dog to keep circling and corralling the sheep to stay on the path. We couldn’t help but think about the Great Shepherd, his servants (sheepdogs), and us wandering, straying sheep. What an amazing Creator and Savior we have!

On Saturday we toured the Yorkshire Dales National Park. There were many signs of Tour de France recently coming through in its initial stage: banners, spray-painted yellow bikes, and bikers following their route. We stopped in Hawes for a lunch of fish ’n chips; then in Reeth to check in at the Old Temperance Bookshop, run by Pastor David Levell and his wife Elizabeth. There were a number of RHB titles there, including some of my husband’s books. It was a small store but every inch of space was used. Also in Reeth is the Grinton Lodge Youth Hostel in which I stayed with Arlene Southway and Ruthann VanDalen about thirty-three years ago when we biked through the Dales while touring the UK by train and bike. We also stopped to see Aysgarth Falls.

Fish and Chips with David Woollin

Fish and Chips with David Woollin

David Woollin was an awesome tour guide. He knows the geography, the culture, and the history, especially church history, including the facts of all the churches in the area. We stayed in Haworth at David’s in-laws, Mick and Gill Lockwood, for the last two nights.

Mick Lockwood is pastor of Hall Green Baptist Church. His calling is to nurture small, dying churches to health. He came here fourteen years ago when there were four people in the congregation. There are now sixty members, with nearly one hundred attending Sunday mornings, a wonderful variety of folks of different ages, nationalities, and backgrounds. He said it is uncommon to have a traditional family walk in. Most often people come from dysfunctional families or have damaged themselves with sin or substance abuse. Joel preached in the morning and David in the evening. Joel was delighted to greet a fellow Puritan-lover, Alex, from California, who was in London for business and is touring the UK for a week.

The church that William Grimshaw served is only a few blocks from the Lockwood home, so we walked there. Grimshaw was one of the greatest preachers during the Great Awakening; God used him for thousands of people. Because his church could not hold the people, the church knocked out some windows, and put up scaffolding, so that he could simultaneously preach to a full church and a thousand or more people standing in the adjacent cemetery. When Whitefield preached there, four thousand people were in the cemetery.

From there, we walked to the Grimshaw homestead. There is a plaque on the side of the home stating that Whitefield, John Wesley, John Newton, and Henry Venn had all stayed in this home when they preached in this village. My husband found it all very moving and nostalgic.

The grand finale of our trip was visiting long-time friend Erroll Hulse. He lost his wife about nine months ago, then had a severe stroke while in South Africa. His left side is paralyzed, but his mind and speech are good. It was beautiful to see Joel and him conversing. Erroll is one of the most optimistic persons we know, though he is missing the felt presence of the Lord right now. He longs for the joy of it and relief from pain. He told Joel that he had to write one thousand pages on what the Puritans said about the subject! Even with a stroke, he directed the conversation and had a number of things he wanted to discuss. I am jealous of his zeal. Joel preached in Leeds Reformed Baptist church in the evening (Erroll Hulse’s former congregation).

Our homecoming trip was happily uneventful—God is good!