Living in Light of Two Ages
News from the Land of the Reformation!
Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, the ruler of the earth, who has purchased with his blood a great multitude that no one can number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages!
We are so thankful for your continued partnership in the Gospel!
With your help in prayer and giving, there is now a thriving Reformed church in Heidelberg, Germany. Month after month we continue to add new members who have come to joyfully embrace the Reformed faith for the first time. As a matter of fact, the Lord has provided us with an in-road into a community of conservative Baptist churches, from which we have been receiving new members who have embraced the Reformed view of Baptism and of everything else in a wonderfully encouraging way.
With your financial support, we have been doing theological training and education, teaching and supplementing the teaching of future indigenous Reformed pastors. Currently, there are two on track to be ordained and two more to be licensed. What a strategically crucial development!
With your help and support we have also been able to produce and to spread a small but growing stream of Reformed publications in the German language, where before there had been almost nothing.
In his goodness, the Lord has enabled the Heidelberg church to be involved in church planting in the city of Hannover, which is a very exciting development. We would like to see this and another church planted and particularized within the next five years. The Lord is good and faithful to provide these opportunities - and the needed funds so far.
We have received a wonderful missionary family from Brazil (Presbyterian Church of Brazil) and are waiting to receive a young minister from the U.S. for international/student ministry!
However, with a heavy heart I have to report that I was recently made aware of a decrease in total giving in 2015 of almost thirty percent. Some of it, no doubt, due to economic reasons. I am especially saddened, however, because some churches or individuals seem to no longer see the importance and even necessity of long-term support for this work in Germany. Sure, there are many valuable projects that are worth supporting, but when it comes to Germany, to spreading the Gospel and the Reformed faith where it once thrived, to planting Reformed churches where they once were ubiquitous, WE ARE IT! If the work of Reformation2Germany does not survive, Germany will lose one of the only robust, consistent, Reformed witnesses it currently has. To the Glory of God – May it not be!
Even when we set out with our mission to Germany, we communicated our conviction that the ground is fallow here and that we will need time to sow, perhaps a long time, before we will be able to reap fruit, but we also communicated that we are in it for the long haul. Reformation2Germany has not so much a 5-year-plan as it has a 50-year-plan. And therefore, all those who are getting behind our mission should adopt this robust, long-term mentality.
On account of the decrease in giving for various reasons, many of the opportunities mentioned above have been put in jeopardy. We have not been able to pay the rent and salaries in full. We have had to freeze spending for the on-going seminary classes, leaving the current students which we so desperately need hanging in mid-air. We have had to put publications, such as our magazine, on hold for now. And we cannot do aggressive church planting in other places in Germany as much as we would like to and need to.
In numbers, for 2015, we were left with a deficit of $25,000 USD. $10,000 is due in April when our landlord is expecting the first payment to reduce our backlog in rent. If we cannot cover these costs as soon as possible, we may sadly lose our rented facilities (worship and office space), leaving us with nowhere to go. (Meeting space is almost impossible to find for Sundays.) This is the most urgent and current need we have.
Would you join us in praying that the Lord would fill all needs so that the work of Reformation in all these strategic areas could continue? Please continue to pray for us as we spread the gospel. And consider strongly making a donation toward the strategic and important long-term work of Reformation2Germany.
As always, we appreciate your support and partnership in planting Reformed churches in Germany.
Rev. Sebastian Heck
Michael Horton's latest book will ship soon!
Here's the info from the publisher:
What Do All Christians Believe?
For many people, words like doctrine and theology cause their eyes to glaze over, or they find them difficult to understand and struggle to see how they are relevant to daily life. But theology is far from boring—it is the study of God and should lead to awe and wonder as we better understand who God is and what he has done for us.
In Core Christianity, author, pastor, and theologian Mike Horton tackles the essential and basic beliefs that all Christians share. What is “core” to the Christian faith? In addition to unpacking these beliefs in a way that is easy to understand, Horton shows why they matter to our lives today.This introduction to the basic doctrines of Christianity is a helpful guide by a respected theologian and a popular author, and it includes discussion questions for individual or group use. Core Christianity is perfect for those who are new to the faith, as well as those who have an interest in deepening in their understanding of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.
You can order Core Christianity here
The Seventh in a Series of Sermons on 1 Peter
It is foolish to attempt to deny reality. Christians are going to be misunderstood, mistrusted, and persecuted because we are believers in Jesus Christ. Those unbelievers and secularists we encounter do not understand our faith in Christ, they see no need whatsoever to believe in Jesus, and when they do understand what we believe, they openly reject it–especially Christian teaching about salvation being found only in Jesus, as well as Christian teaching about sexual ethics. Whenever this conflict between Christians and unbelievers occurs–and it will–how are we to respond? In chapter 3 of his first epistle, Peter instructs us to seek to bring glory and honor to Jesus Christ in such situations, rather than focusing on personal insults directed our way. Christians must learn how to deal with those who have power over us, without being afraid of our oppressors, and to do so in such a way that we continually point those who are contentious back to the suffering servant, Jesus. Christians must be prepared for these encounters with both the right answers and the right attitude.
We are continuing our series on 1 Peter, and we have made our way into chapter three, where we are considering Peter’s instructions to Christians of the Diaspora. As we mentioned throughout our series, Peter’s audience is a group of Christian exiles in Asia Minor, who have been displaced from their homes by a decree from Claudius, the previous Roman emperor. Peter begins his letter of encouragement to these struggling sojourners by reminding them that God has caused them to be born again, they have been set apart (sanctified) by God and therefore sprinkled by the blood of Jesus–ensuring their sins are forgiven. Also, Christians are to live holy lives before the Lord so as to silence those critical of our faith.
Peter reminds his hearers that although they are facing difficult times from their pagan neighbors, in God’s sight, these people are elect exiles, a chosen race, and spiritual house, indwelt by the Spirit of the living God. Although they are citizens of Rome, they simultaneously possess a heavenly citizenship and are heirs to all the things promised them by God. But their heavenly citizenship will bring them into conflict with the unbelievers around them, and so the Apostle seeks to prepare his readers to deal with those reject Jesus, and who do not understand why Christians believe and do they things they do.
In 1 Peter 2:11-3:7, Peter addresses three of the main elements of the Greco-Roman household code–an unwritten code dating back perhaps to Aristotle, and which defines a number of the social relationships upon which Greco-Roman society was built. These relationships include the authority of civil government, the relationship between slaves and masters, as well as the relationship between husbands and wives. Christians too believe that these matters are important and God has addressed a number of them in his word. Yet, in each one of these societal relationships, and under current circumstances, Christians have little power or control and were facing tremendous persecution from their pagan neighbors as the elect exiles of the Diaspora of Asia Minor.
Throughout section of his epistle, Peter exhorts Christians to submit to the Roman civil authorities, even those governors then persecuting Peter’s readers–except in those cases where civil authorities demand that Christians violate the will of God. When this happens, Christians are to obey God rather than men. Peter instructs Christian slaves and servants to submit to their masters, even if their masters are cruel. Finally Peter exhorts Christian wives to submit to their husbands, even if their husbands are not Christians. At the same time, Peter insists that Christian husbands not view their greater physical strength as a reason for believing their wives to be inferior–as the Greco-Roman household code held. Rather, Christian husbands are to see their wives as weaker vessels who require “understanding” (the knowledge that wives are to be treated as taught in Scripture), and to treat them with honor–which means to be treated with the same respect to which all divine image bearers and co-heirs with Christ are entitled.
To read the rest of this sermon: Click Here
Sunday Morning, March 20: Our series on the Book of Daniel continues this week, as we consider Nebuchadnezzar's second dream, his breakdown, and God's judgment upon him before the king is restored to sanity (Daniel 4:19-37). Our worship service begins at 10:30 a.m.
Sunday Afternoon: We continue our discussion of the doctrine of God as "our Father" from Lord's Day nine (Q & A 26) of the Heidelberg Catechism. Our catechism service begins @ 1:15 p.m.
Wednesday Night Bible Study, March 16: We are going verse by verse through 1 Thessalonians. We are wrapping up chapter 2. Our study begins at 7:30 p.m.
The Friday Night Academy, March 18: We wrap up our series "In the Land of Nod," by summarizing the biblical teaching regarding a Christian citizen's obligations within the civil kingdom. The lecture begins at 7:30 p.m.
The Earliest Account of Christ's Resurrection
On this program the hosts continue their series, celebrating the Resurrection of our Lord. This week we will be looking at the counter-arguments that seek to dismiss the resurrection. Countless skeptics in our day continue to claim that the New Testament gospels were written long after Jesus’ crucifixion, and that, as a result, the life of Jesus was embellished over time. The real Jesus, they say, may have been a nice teacher or political revolutionary, but by the time the story was written he was presented as a kind of glorified messiah who had risen from the dead.
But there is actually new evidence—confirmed by liberal and conservative scholars alike—that in his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul recites an early Christian creed which goes back to the earliest days of the Jerusalem church. Why are so many scholars convinced of this early date, and what does it say about Jesus? Join us for this broadcast of the White Horse Inn as we continue our series The Resurrection, focusing on the foundation of the Christian faith.
The Sixth in a Series of Sermons on 1 Peter
Christians in American do not face the same kind of persecution which Christians among Peter’s first century audience were facing. Many of those to whom Peter was writing were forcibly displaced from their homes and land by an edict from a previous Roman emperor Claudius, because they refused to worship pagan deities, and refused to consider the Roman emperor to be a “god.” Peter speaks of these struggling Christians as elect exiles and describes them as a chosen race. The Apostle is writing to remind them of their living hope and sanctification in Christ, which will help them cope with the very difficult circumstances which they were then facing. Peter’s original audience experienced open hostility from their government and their pagan neighbors. The opposition we face is much more subtle, but no less dangerous. In the thoroughly secularized America in which we live, we are not persecuted so much as we are pressured to conform to non-Christian ways of thinking and doing. Peter’s discussion of the relationship between husbands and wives will expose some of these non-Christian ways, and challenge us how to think of this foundational relationship within human society in the light of God’s word.
In a lengthy section of his first epistle (vv. 2:13-3:7), Peter is addressing specific societal relationships held in common by Christians and non-Christians–elements of the unwritten but widely accepted “household code” which defined many of the social relationships within Greco-Roman society. These relationships include the authority of civil government, the relationship between slaves and masters, and the relationship between husbands and wives. All of these fall under the heading of what we now call natural law. Although Christians and non-Christians both value these social institutions, God has spoken about these same relationships in his word, and so Peter is writing to do two things: 1) To remind his hearers that Christians do indeed regard these relationships as the foundation of society just as do Greco-Roman pagans, and 2). To correct whatever misconceptions his Christians readers/hearers may have regarding these relationships in light of God’s word.
When we study a letter such as 1 Peter which is filled with imperatives and commands, we must remind ourselves that these imperatives are given to Christian believers whom God has caused to be born again and who already have been set apart (sanctified) by God through the sprinkled blood of Jesus to live lives of holiness before the Lord. The imperatives of 1 Peter are given to Christian believers so as to identify themselves as citizens of a heavenly kingdom who look forward to a heavenly inheritance even while they dwell in the civil (or common) kingdom. Christians distinguish themselves from non-Christians through our doctrine (our profession of faith in the triune God who sent his son to save us from our sins) and in how we live our lives–we fix our hope upon Jesus, we live holy lives which reflect the holiness of our creator and redeemer, and we live in the fear of the Lord, because the one we invoke as our Father is also judge of all the earth.
In the first half of chapter 2, Peter exhorts his readers to keep their conduct honorable before the Gentiles who are persecuting them, so that those who speak evil of God’s people will be silenced and forced to give glory to God on the day of judgment. Christians must realize that the pagans who distrust them are watching how Christians conduct themselves. Peter is concerned for church’s witness to the saving work of Jesus Christ, as well as with discrediting those false accusations pagans were making against Christians–i.e., that Christians reject all civil authority because they do not worship Caesar.
To read the rest of this sermon, Click Here
Some of you listening to the most recent lectures in my series "In the Land of Nod," have asked about previous lectures.
You can find them here: Two Kingdoms
Or here (at the Christ Reformed Church Academy site): Christ Reformed Academy
Note: I'll wrap up the series in a couple of weeks. There will be 19 total lectures.
Sunday Morning, March 13: We continue with our series on the Book of Daniel, and we come to the unraveling of the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar (from Daniel 4:1-18). Our worship service begins at 10:30 a.m.
Sunday Afternoon: We are discussing the doctrine of God our Father from Lord's Day nine (Q & A 26) from the Heidelberg Catechism. Our catechism service begins @ 1:15 p.m.
Wednesday Night Bible Study, March 9: We are going verse by verse through 1 Thessalonians. We are midway through chapter 2 Our study begins at 7:30 p.m.
No Academy This Week! We are encouraging everyone to attend the "Growing Reformed Churches" conference in Chino, CA., Friday March 11, and Saturday, March 12. For more information on the conference, Growing Reformed Churches -- March 11-12