Pointed Paragraphs


The parable of the talents embodies high principles, such as: God’s divine ownership of all, his gracious entrustment of talents, and our solemn accountability.

The talents represent all that with which we may serve God in life: a wide diversity amidst complexity. There is a simple guiding rule: “It is required in stewards that a man be found faithful.”

Any dropped stitch in the fabric of fidelity invites dangerous raveling. So we do well to watch and pray, to admonish each other, to provoke unto love and good works.

Let us think just now of the stewardship of church membership: particularly, the placing of our church membership.

Surely, our membership is something with which we serve God and build his kingdom; a matter of definite accountability. In placing it we must ask: “Where does God want me? Where can I do the most good?” The element of self-denial, so basic in Christian living, comes in here also. While questions like, “Where can my family’s spiritual interests best be served?” are good and important, a more self-denying attitude is needed than is often shown.

Many are drawn into larger churches when they aro more needed, and could often be more helped, in smaller churches. Some big congregations and their pastors aid rather than counteract the unfavorable trend. Members and pastors both should take a long look at this.

We cannot and would not legislate the placing of our church membership. But it is clear that this is an important kingdom matter with dcfinite responsibilities.

The appeal is to all our people to place their memberships where they can do the most good for the kingdom. We have some fine examples in this. We need many more.

C. Holtrop


Our readers living in western Michigan (Grand Rapids, Grand Haven, Holland, Muskegon, Zeeland, etc.) should be thoroughly alert to the fact that there is a strong movement to establish a horse racing pavilion in this area.

In the judgment of the undersigned this should be fought with every legitimate means at our disposal. Such an establishment involves gambling, which is both a symptom and all agent of moral deterioration. With J. Edgar Hoover telling us that our nation’s crime rate has grown five times faster than the population rate in the past ten years, is this a time to develop another center of moral deterioration? Haven’t our nation’s morals grown flabby enough?

Also, such an establishment usually attracts an army of people who are no asset to any community.

One of the most distressing aspects of the propaganda for such a pavilion is the frequent claim that such an enterprise will bring money into the area. This callous materialism deserves the sharpest rebuke, and our readers should be among the first to administer that rebuke.

The undersigned oncc had extensive dealings with a man who had lost a sizable fortune playing the horses. He stated that playing the horses is much like alcoholism. Once it gets hold of a weak person he cannot throw it off. This man was almost frantic in his personal cHorts to stop the establishment of a racetrack in the area where he had come to make his home. He knew from sad experience that many a weak person would waste his earnings there, with the usual tragic consequences for many families. And then there are those who promote such a thing because it brings money into the area. What kind of money do some people want? Money drained from the pockets of pitiable weaklings? Does such money really build a community?

Every morally sensitive person should declare his unqualified opposition to the establishment of such a center of moral deterioration in the area. Each of us should express this opposition to the state representative(s) and state senator(s) of his district. Also strong objection should be expressed to James H. Inglis, State Racing CommiSSion, Cadillac Square Building, Detroit, Michigan.



Arguments about the relation of faith and reason go Oil perennially. Those with rationalistic inclinations often stress the role of natural theology at the expense of the role of faith. To put it another way, one might ask, What is the value of the proof brought by the rational arguments found in the Five Ways of Thomas Aquinas? In this connection the words of Pascal, as paraphrased by David E. Roberts*, are instructive and to the point.

“Rational proofs fail to convince the unbeliever because they do not arouse that awareness of need which in turn gives rise to a passionate search for fellowship with God. So long as deity is merely an idea to be entertained we are dealing with a philosophical idol, not with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

“Furthermore, to try to reach some kind of general knowledge of God apart from Jesus Christ is useless and sterile even for the theist. It suggests that there is some way of knowing God other than through yielding our hearts to His grace. And it often issues in well-meaning but misleading attempts to bring about a synthesis between philosophy and faith by pointing out that both have ethical monotheism in common. Such a synthesis is misleading because if philosophy assumes that knowledge of God is possible without a mediator, while faith assumes the opposite, then the God they both talk about is not really the same.”

*Existentialism and Religious Belief, New York, 1959, p. 48.

Nick R. Van Til


Sabbath desecration can take on many forms. It is agreed that a man who paints his house on Sunday, packs a picnic basket, patronizes commercialized sports or amusements, and ignores public worship is guilty of this sin. But there may be more subtle ways, even under the cloak of religion, which just as effectively destroy the blessing the sabbath was meant to bring. Consider what we begin to crowd into the Lord’s Day. Of course, there are the two services and the Sunday school. Many churches have also the young people’s catechism classes because the latter are too busy to come during the week.

Our Sunday evenings abound with hymn -sings. At first they were held only occasionally and usually in one of our larger, centrally located churches, and it was a rather wholesome diversion. However, once it proved popular, it soon became a fad. We predict also our hymn-sings will soon have had their day.

What next? Well, pictures are coming in. Some churches have already advertised Sunday evening movies or slides. And what’s wrong with them?

Christmas-eve we had a city wide carol-sing in the Civic Auditorium. It was led by the Choraliers, a very respectable musical organization composed largely of Christian Reformed men. True, the program did not start until 9:15. That gave people ample time to get there after services. But it was expected that the place would be jammed. It was. Which means that people wanted to be there early to get a good seat. Some ministers were disappointed with the size of their audiences. The carol-sing was a substitute for worship by not a few.

To ready the Civic for such a program requires a great deal of Sunday labor. And it is a commercial building with a rental of several hundred dollars. The parking lots do a landoffice business when this building is filled. They operate on Sundays and for the usual fees. When people come away from there at that time of the night it is customary to stop somewhere for refreshments. And why not? Whether you spend your money for parking a car or in a restaurant, what’s the difference? Besides, the Sunday is almost over. And seeing that for some the cardinal sin against the fourth commandment is legalism, who wants to be a legalist? Far better to exercise your Christian liberty. And anyway, we Christian Reformed people bctter learn to appreciate the good in all other churches. Consider what our Roman Catholic brethren are permitted to do on the Lord’s day!

Was the carol-sing on Christmas-eve sabbath desecration? I for one believe it was a far cry from what the Lord enjoins in Isaiah 58:13, 14, and from the spirit of the sabbath as interpreted in question and answer 103 of our Catechism.

C. Huissen


There is a positive as well as a negative angle to the question of the proper observance of the Sabbath. There are activities, customs, and attitudes which it forbids but, even more importantly, also things which it requires. In fact, unless we do the latter we are sure to trespass by falling into the former.

Those who find pleasure in comparing the Christian religion with the pagan religions of the Orient sometimes call attention to features of the latter which receive little emphasis today in the Western nations. One of these is the custom of spending much time, sometimes hours, in meditation.

To say that the emphasis on the value of spiritual meditation is foreign to Christianity is not true. It is stressed in both the Old and the New Testament. We read about Isaac that at eventide he went into the field to meditate. The Psalmist declares concerning the righteous that they meditate on God’s law day and night. Many other passages in the Psalms speak of this spiritual activity. Paul admonishes liS to set our minds on the things which are above (Col. 3:2). In Philippians 4:8 he urges us, with reference to the practice of the things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and of good report, that we should think on them.

It cannot be denied that meditation has almost become a lost art among Christian people today. The rush of modern life has almost extinguished the desire for “the quiet hour” and made its observance difficult. Our spiritual life is superficial because we do not take time to think and to read; for he who does not read does not think. From this point of view we can see the tragedy of the trend, so pronounced even in evangelical circles and deplored in the preceding article, to so fill the Lord’s day with activity—yes, religious activity -that little time if any is left for retreating to a quiet place in the home for coming to ourselves, engaging in quiet reflection, and replenishing our spiritual life by the reading of Scripture, wholesome books, and religious magazines.

Many of our younger men and women who are deeply interested in the things of the Kingdom of God—for which they are to be commended—spend the Lord’s day rushing from one place to another. They go from church to Sunday school or church society, from Sunday school back home to eat dinner, from dinner to the mission or the jail to speak or sing or distribute tracts, and then often, after the evening service, to a hymn sing or some other kind of religious entertainment. Even apart from the fact that such a day fails to afford us the physical rest which our bodies need, the lack of meditation and reading is a distinct spiritual loss. We need our Sunday afternoons to be able to digest the things we hear in sermons and Bible class discussions. We need time for self-examination, for conversation with our children, for calm thinking and unhurried reading—so conducive to intellectual and spiritual enrichment and to the improvement of our home life. We need the deepening of our religious convictions and the renewal of our fellowship with God, which is the foundation of all true godliness.

Let the Sabbath day be not only a day for physical rest and public worship but also one in which we retreat to the inner sanctuary of the soul, where the Holy Spirit dwells, whose still small voice cannot be heard unless we “come apart and rest awhile” in the shadow of God’s presence.

Yes, there is work to be done in God’s Kingdom and perhaps some of it must be done on the Lord’s day; but let it be done especially by those who arc not too busy during the week to read and meditate and whose children are grown up or married. Indeed, hymn sings and other sacred entertainments are desirable but let us have them on weekday evenings. May the time never come when we are so busy that all our religious activities are crowded into the Sabbath.



Now and then one can hear objections to the use of the term “Sabbath” as a characterization of the Lord’s Day. It seems to us that the hesitation to speak of our New Testament Sabbath is based on a misunderstanding of the origin of this day. The Sabbath was not established on Mt. Sinai, when the law was given to Moses, but at the dawn of history. The very fact that the fourth commandment reads: “Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy” implies that there was a sabbath day before Moses. As a creation ordinance the sabbath was ordained for observance as long as the world will last, even though the change from the Old Testament to the New Testament dispensation necessitated a change not only from the seventh day to the first but also in the manner of Sabbath observance. Even our Heidelberg Catechism speaks of the Lord’s Day as “the Sabbath” though there is not even the faintest Puritanical tinge in its interpretation of this commandment.

Sometimes we hear even persons of Reformed persuasion say that all days are alike, and that there is no sanctity in the Lord’s day, evcn though they are not ready to contend that we can live on that day as we do on all other days. They bolster their view with an appeal to certain New Testament passages, specifically in Paul’s letters. In Romans 14:5 the apostle states; “One man esteemeth one day above another; another esteemeth every day alike. Let each man be fully assured in his own mind.” In Galatians 4:10, the same apostle states: “Ye observe days, and months, and sea· sons, and years. I am afraid of you lest by any means I have bestowed labor upon you in vain.” Again, in Colossians 2:16, 17 Paul declares: “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a feast day or a new moon or a sabbath day: which are a shadow of things to come.”

The word “shadow” tells us at once that Paul has reference to certain ceremonial observances of the Jews, which Jewish Christians desired to perpetuate. It must be remembered that the Jews observed all kinds of holy seasons, years, months, and days. There were holy feasts, such as Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles, there were sabbatical years, feasts at the time of the new moon, days of fasting and resting (the word sabbath means rest). There was a difference of opinion among Jewish Christians on the one hand and Gentile Christians on the other about the continued observance of such special seasons. But we know that the Sabbath, the Christian sabbath, was kept by all converts to Christianity. There is not the slightest indication in the historical portions or statements of the New Testament of any disagreement on that score. We read in Acts 20:7 that at Troas, Paul and his companions “upon the first day of the week were gathered together to break bread.” The same writer instructs the Corinthians to use the first day of every week for laying by in store, as each might prosper, their gifts for the poor that no collections might be necessary when he would come. And John tells us in Revelation 1:10 that he was “in tho Spirit on the Lord’s Day.” Note also that Jesus makes no exception of the fourth commandment when he declares in the Sermon on the Mount: ‘“Till heaven and earth shall pass away, one jot or tittle shall in no wise pass away from the law, till all things be accomplished.”

The theory that puts the Lord’s day on the same level with all the other days of the week is, therefore, in conflict with the regula fidei, the rule of faith; that is, the over-all teaching of Scripture. in the light of which all individual passages must be judged because there can be no conflict between the basic principles and doctrines of Scripture and its individual passages.

Hence to contend that when Paul states: “All days are alike” he is declaring that the Lord’s Day, the first day of the week, is no different from the other days, is to make the common mistake of interpreting Scripture by its sound, its: surface meaning, without considering what else the Bible says about that first day. This is as absurd as to state that when Paul declares elsewhere that “as all men die in Adam so all men shall be made alive in Christ” he meant to teach universal salvation!

Not only the reference in Colossians to the special days as “shadows” but also the fact that Paul stresses the observance or non-observance of those days as being an indifferent matter proves that he was referring to the Jewish law of ceremonies, not to the basic moral law of the fourth commandment. Jewish Christians who felt that they wished to continue remembering those ceremonial feasts and fasts and rests were not to be molested by the Gentile Christians; nor were they to condemn the latter for not keeping them. However, when those Jewish Christians at Galatia and Colossae scrupulously observed those days in the conviction that this was essential to the Christian life, then Paul rebuked them, saying: “I fear lest by any means 1 have bestowed labor upon you in vain.”

And so we agree with Ellicott who says, in commenting on the Galatian passage, that it “can scarcely be considered exegetically exact to urge this verse against any theory of a Christian Sabbath….Other reliable commentaries express themselves even more strongly on this. True, Calvin’s comments on these passages seem to justify the view that there is no difference any more between days; but this was an extreme reaction against Rome’s multiplication of holy days. Moreover, in his commentary on Genesis Calvin presents another and better view, for example, where he says: “(God) dedicated every seventh day to rest, that his own example might be a perpetual rule. The design of the institution must be always kept in memory….Therefore when we hear that the Sabbath was abrogated by the coming of Christ, we must distinguish between what belongs to the perpetual government of human life, and what properly belongs to ancient figures, the use of which was abolished when the truth was fulfilled….” (italics mine – K.)

H. J. K.


The warnings in the New Testament against ritualism and ceremonialism, noted in one of the preceding articles, have real significance for all Christians today. We are in danger of adding “holy days” to the one and only holy day mentioned in Scripture, namely the Sabbath. It should not be forgotten that no ruler or president and no Church has the power to make any day holy. No one but God can do this. A day is holy only because God himself has set it aside for himself as a day of worship and service.

Reformed Churches have set aside certain special days for worship services but not because they are holy. They are the Day of Prayer, Good Friday (not “Holy Week,” a term we should never use), Ascension Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas, Old Year, and New Year. The church may not demand observance of any of these days. unless they happen to fall on a Sunday. Neither may Christians demand this of one another. Much less may Christians regard these days as being more sacred than the Lord’s Day. That seems to be a trend even among many Protestants. It was Rome’s multiplication of so·called holy days which moved the Protestants, especially those who were Reformed, to frown on all special days, including Christmas and Good Friday. The Puritans were particularly hostile to the idea. Gradually, however, the Protestant churches have made concessions on this point, prescribing certain special days for public services, succumbing to the popularity of festivals among the people. For people do like festive days.

All this does not mean that, since there is only one holy day, the church has no right to observe certain special days. In a certain sense all days are holy unto the Lord; all our time should be dedicated to his service. This thought is clearly expressed in the Heidelberg Catechism (Lord’s Day 38) where it teaches that the fourth commandment requires that “all the days of my life I rest from my evil works and let the Lord work in me by his Holy Spirit.”

“Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” This and this only is the day which the Lord has specially ordained for worship and praise while all earthly interests are set aside. All other so-called holy days are man-made. Let us beware lest we fall into the error of those Christians in Galatia and Colossae who were in danger of apostatizing from Christianity by their insistence that by observing years, and months, and days they were doing the will of God and earning his favor.

H. J. K.