By: M.R. Vermeer
For those acquainted with this website, it will not have gone unnoticed that difficulties have arisen in The Reformed Churches (restored). How should these difficulties be assessed? What is the correct way to deal with this? In this article we will take note of our position as believers, our task and the only measure that we may go by.
An assertive congregation
The position from which we may think, speak and act is beautifully presented to us in 1 Peter 2: 9: “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood…”.
A ‘chosen generation’- the election in Christ gives us rest in church difficulties. The consideration of this benefit is “an incentive to the serious and constant practice of gratitude and good works…”. (Canons of Dort, Ch. 5, art. 12).
A ‘royal priesthood’- we are a kingdom of priests, to serve the Lord. As members of an assertive congregation: believers have received the anointing with the Holy Spirit and thereby also the gift of ‘discretion’, discernment (Phil. 1:10)!
Test the Spirits!
As assertive church members we have the task to ‘test the spirits’ (1 John 4:1). When John gave this warning, there were false prophets that were proclaiming heresy: Jesus Christ had not really come in the flesh, but only had the semblance of a body (so called Docetism). A doctrine which did not lack effect on practical life: why concern yourself with loving your neighbor if Jesus did not, as true man, show us the way? This false doctrine also came into practice in a life without righteousness and love for one’s brother (1 John 3:10).
Now we may not limit this task of “testing the spirits” to doctrine regarding the human nature of Jesus. At the synod of Groningen (2014-2015), this text was referred to with regards to inter-church relations. This was vehemently and indignantly rejected by some at synod: this was going too far, referring to a text with regards to ‘the spirit of the antichrist’ in relation to, for example, foreign churches! However, a delegated minister rightly referred to Calvin’s commentary, which indicates that this task applies to all doctrine and points to a situation wherein the church ‘is disturbed by discords and contentions’.
Test the spirits- a task for constant vigilance.
God’s Word as Only Measure
For a correct assessment of the situation in the church, God’s Word is the only measure. God’s Word as we profess in articles 30-32 of the Belgic Confession. God’s Word as reformed church government therein finds her ground. A church government and church order that truly has peace (1 Cor. 14:33) as its aim and not ‘order for the sake of order’.
The ‘royal way’ therefore means that we, as a royal priesthood have a task to test the spirits, with God’s Word as our only measure.
Encouragement for Concerned Brothers and Sisters
Many brothers and sisters in DGK find themselves in a difficult situation at the moment. The church at Mariënberg has sent out a ‘Call to Reform’ to all consistories and members of DGK and its sister church in Canada. A ‘Call to Reform’ which, in some places, is at risk of being set aside. Concerned brothers and sisters take serious their task as living, assertive members of the church, by writing letters to their consistories and meeting with their elders. Sometimes they are accused of being ‘meddlers’.
How encouraging it is to keep our task as royal priesthood in mind: test the spirits!
This also gives rest in this struggle. We do not have to go into debate whereby the ‘best debater’ or ‘quickest thinker’ wins. Neither do we have to find ourselves in a swamp of all kinds of details. The ‘Call to Reform’ has clearly sounded:
- The church government is at stake (i.a. by nullifying art. 31 C.O.);
- The marks of the true church are at stake (improper administration of the sacraments and church discipline);
- The brotherhood is at stake (i.a. by ungrounded accusations by a major assembly).
Return to the firm foundation of the true church!
 A discussion that is partly given in the Acts of General Synod Groningen 2014-2015, p. 62 and p. 65.