Some time ago I received a letter from an overseas preacher lamenting that he had not been taught at Seminary how to preach Catechism sermons (nor was he familiar with it from youth). Because of a lack of doctrinal awareness in his church, he had come to see the need for Catechism preaching.
The agenda of the Synods of the Free Reformed Churches of Australia follows a fixed pattern. Each Synod over the years has had as Agenda Item Five the point of "Delegates’ agreement with the Three Forms of Unity". This item forms the first item of business that Synod deals with after its constitution, and is usually a brief and straight forward (though significant – see below) procedure. Synod Launceston, however, took 10 meeting days to finalise Agenda Item Five. In what follows, I attempt to give an account of why it took this Synod so long to finalise this agenda item.
Antichrist and the Apostasy: the Antithesis in Doctrine and Life
The Scriptures speak of the coming of an antichrist and of an apostasy. 1 John 2: "the
Antichrist is coming" (vs 18). 2 Thess 2 adds that the Day of Christ will not come unless the
apostasy comes first, and the man of sin is revealed (vs 3). Jesus told His disciples to beware
of "false Christs" and "false prophets" who would surely come showing great signs and
wonders in an attempt to deceive, if possible, even the elect (Mt 24:24f). And John saw in the
Revelation shown to him some beasts rise out of the sea to terrorize the earth (Rev 13). What,
we wonder, is all this; are we to expect an Antichrist still to appear on the world stage? Or a
Man of Sin? Or a false Christ? Or those Beasts? If yes, what is the relation between them all?
If no, has the Antichrist appeared already? Or the Man of Sin?
Biblical perspectives on Mixed Courtship and Mixed Marriage
What is mixed marriage?
The term mixed marriage could easily be used to describe a marriage between two people of difference
races, eg. between a Caucasian and a Negro. Perhaps in a country such as South Africa that is what is
meant. But for Christians the term mixed marriage has come to refer to a marriage between a Christian
and a non-Christian, between a believer and an unbeliever. The intent of this brochure is to listen to what
Scripture says concerning this matter.
Calvin on the Sabbath
In discussions relating to the Sabbath and how today’s Christian ought to keep the Sabbath,
one hears from time to time references to the thoughts of John Calvin on the point. Calvin, I
once read in a reformed periodical, "strongly opposed any suggestion of an observance of days
and a literal abstention from work or recreation on the basis of it being commanded by the 4th
commandment." In the Catechism, the article continued, the church echoes this position, for
LD 38 makes no mention of not working on the Sunday; LD 38 explains the fourth
commandment in terms of resting not from work but from evil. So: the Christian may give
himself to work and recreation on the Sunday as long as this work or recreation does not
interfere with the worship services.
Can the Lord return tonight?
When shall Christ return? The conviction that Christ will one day came back to earth has led
over the years to a whole wave of material coming off the religious press, material that would
explain just how late it is on God’s clock, yes, material that would convince us too that now
Jesus is coming soon because certain signs are happening.
Preaching plays a fundamental role in the life of the child of God. That’s because the Lord
God is pleased to use the official administration of His Word in the church service to work and
strengthen faith in the hearts of His people (cf Lord’s Day 25; Canons of Dort, III/IV.17).
How, though, is the preacher to open the Word of God? What constitutes ‘good’ preaching?
1.1 Deborah an Example?
Does Deborah provide us with an example about the place and function of women in marriage, in church
and in society? There are those who think so. Donna Strom, professor at the Presbyterian Theological
Seminary in Dehra Dun, Northern India, laments that women have, in the main, been involved only in
increasing the human population, and done so little ("except for a rare Margaret Thatcher or Indira
Gandhi") to join men in ruling the earth.2 So she writes of Deborah: "What Deborah's example obviously
teaches is that women should not be excluded from any levels of decision-making, religious or political."3
Because Professor Strom sees men hindering women in taking positions of leadership, she writes: "Many
have asked, 'Where are the Deborahs?' But a more relevant question today is: where are the Baraks,
Lapidoths, and 10,000 men who will allow God to use His Deborahs?"4
Does a Christian Experience his Faith?
Western culture has for years and years given pride of place to the mind, one's powers of
thought, reason. What could be reasoned out was considered true, real, valid. And what could
not be reasoned out was not true, not real, not valid.