None of us knows the specifics of the future. There are a few things that every Christian knows from Scripture about the future. We know that Christ shall return (Acts 1:11), that there shall be a bodily resurrection (1 Thess 4:16), and after that the judgment (Rom 14:10). The future, of course, is in the good, sovereign and merciful hands of our triune God (Heidelberg Catechism 27). Believers know that whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s (Rom 14:8; Heidelberg Catechism 1). There are other things about which believers have certainty, but much of the future, from a human perspective, is a matter of probabilities. These we can determine from history.
Gnostics Never Die
Perhaps the greatest threat to the early post-apostolic church was that of Gnosticism, a second-century (100s AD) movement that drew on threads in pre-Christian pagan philosophy to create a heresy of the Christian faith. The Gnostics denied the goodness of creation per se, the validi…
Thanksgiving is an American holiday that stretches all the way back to a time long before America became a nation. The Pilgrims landed in 1620. They faced brutal conditions and were woefully unprepared. Roughly half of them died in that first year. Then they had a successful harvest of corn. In November of 1621 they decided to celebrate a feast of thanksgiving.
Edward Winslow was among those who ate that first thanksgiving meal in 1621. He noted:
“Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we gathered the fruit of our labors. …And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want.”
In addition to the fowl eaten that first Thanksgiving, the Indians also brought along five deer as their contribution to the feast. Presumably they also ate corn.
One of the most meaningful elements of the Thanksgiving saga centers on God's providential hand concerning an Indian known as Squanto. He was born and raised amongst an Indian tribe known as the Patuxets. They were one of the fiercest tribes located in New England. This particular tribe was especially brutal towards any visitors they might encounter.
As a young man, Squanto was kidnapped and sold into slavery. He was taken to a notorious slave-trading port known as Malaga, which is located off the coast of Spain. Fortunately for Squanto, instead of being sold and shipped off to North Africa, he was rescued by some local friars. It was here that Squanto became familiar with certain aspects of the Christian faith. Little did Squanto know at this stage of his life that God was preparing him for a significant role that he would later play at Plymouth.
Eventually Squanto attached himself to an Englishman bound for London. While in London,…
Most adults probably know by now that the story of the first Colonial Thanksgiving was a little more complex than that learned as a child. To catch up see Robert Tracy McKenzie, The First Thanksgiving: What the Real Story Tells Us About Loving God and Learning From History (2013). There are young people, however, who have learned an equally simplistic (and even malevolent) story in which the colonists and pilgrims were genocidal maniacs. Check your child’s history books. If one of them is Howard Zinn’s, A People’s History of the United States your child is being taught one of those discredited narratives.
Apart from cultural and political arguments over American colonial history, however, Christians do well to appreciate the necessity and power of being thankful. Even among Reformed people gratitude as a motive for the Christian life seems to have fallen on hard times. One need not look far to see various alternatives being suggested. …
In Acts 6:2, Jesus’ inner circles was known as “the twelve.” They were serving as the pastors for the early church as it was growing rapidly. However, when a problem arose among the church, servants were established to wait on the tables in order to free up these men to give their full attention to the Word of God and prayer.
The pattern of ministry all throughout the New Testament is clearly established upon a plurality of elders leading and a plurality of deacons serving. Although this is not a blemish-free ministry pattern, it does provide for the most healthy scenario for discipleship in the local church.
Deacons, Elders, and Discipleship
When pastors are free to give themselves to the Word of God, the church will benefit drastically. The pastors who put more priority on pragmatics and less priority upon the study of God’s Word cannot expect their church to rise above their leaders. Interestingly enough, in Acts 6, the early chur…