I just returned home from the 20th Annual Growing Reformed Churches Conference, held at First United Reformed Church in Chino California. The theme (or topic) this year was “Anchored in Christ: Embracing Christian Assurance.”
The speakers were Pastor Daniel R. Hyde (adjunct Professor
& Ph.D. candidate), Dr. Alan D. Strange, and William C. Godfrey (J.D., M.Div.).
On Friday I was the first guest to arrive, and the first to sort through all the fine books on display (ah – I beat’em to it). Due to the type of ministry I am engaged in, I purchased ‘Content Yet Contending,’ written by Hyde. More about this later.
It was a blessing to visit many friends and acquaintances from the previous conference, and to meet new friends.
Their speakers are always on top of their game. Complemented with a great organist, and pianist. The ladies in the kitchen always do a first class job in serving snacks, drinks and refreshments on Friday night. Then followed up with a continental breakfast Saturday morning (much better than hotels), then more snacks and refreshments throughout the day, and a delicious lunch. This year’s lunch was homemade spaghetti with all the sides. I told a couple of the Presbyterian men that if they had worn a bowtie, rather than a necktie, they would not have to worry about getting spaghetti sauce on their tie (truth is many were dressed casual, so come just are you are next year).
So that I did not have to drive all the way back home late Friday night, they allowed me to sleep in the parking lot. Well it wasn’t all that bad. I slept first-class in an RV (aka boondocking). What a blessing they were to be so hospitable to a fellow sojourner. During my sleep-over, I did a little Ham Radio (K2PTL). But that’s when I began reading the aforementioned book. I read 2/3 of it before returning home today.
The reason why I purchased ‘this book,’ firstly was to do a self-examination, to make sure that my contending wasn’t going overboard. Though I’m not finished with this book, so far it’s a decent exposition of the Scriptures, and so far my contending is without being too contentious. Secondly, recently it was implied that my social media activity was perceived to be “against the church.” That couldn’t be further from the truth. This command in Jude 3 to ‘earnestly contend for the faith’ (epagōnizomai), is used only once in the Scriptures. It means to struggle and agonize for the church, to be against what is wrong (i.e. false teachings), and to labor for what is right. If we loved the Lord’s church, then we would be in agony for her, to be more healthy, and more Biblical.
Albeit it seems that the author addresses Pastors and Elders in this book, it’s an easy read for all laypeople, including new believers. I plan to finish it this weekend, before starting some other books.
Having said that. If anyone in the Chino area is looking for a Reformed Church that is Confessional (Belgic Confession), consider giving this church a visit. Their sanctuary is absolutely beautiful. Most importantly, Christ is exalted here, and His bride is even more beautiful than their beautiful building.
Their web site is http://www.chinourc.org.
UPDATE – Sunday, September 22nd: Though the Scriptures should be our primary gauge, or compass. I finished the book, and I passed my “self-examination.” Moreover, after reading his chapter on “evangelism,” I believe he has an unfortunate postmodern contemporary view of evangelism. But in chapter five he said something that was unnecessary, and very telling. In the context of contending while we’re waiting for the Second Coming of Christ, he stated, “Jude doesn’t just rant like a judgmental street preacher that there are “ungodly” people who will be judged; Jude goes on to substantiate this.”
I’m going to contend (pun intended) here for orthodox Heralds. This attitude against Heralds is a consistent growing problem. These critics could evaluate the most Biblical heralds out there, and their report would be that it’s nothing but a “rant,” or “yelling at people.”
Are there bad street preachers? Yes, but should we do away with all street preachers? Are there bad pastors, and false teachers behind pulpits? Yes, but should we do away with pastors? Are there bad police officers? Yes, but should we abolish law enforcement? Certainly not! But Hyde (the author) has painted the Biblical command to go, stand, and preach as nothing but a “rant.” But the Word of God says,
“How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:
“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:14-15).