Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

50th Anniversary Worship Service Grand Rapids,Michigan

Written by H. Kleyn
After a brief report of this event was placed in July/August issue of The Messenger this detailed report was received. It provides specifics of the celebration.
The congregation and friends met June 28th for an evening of thankful worship, remembrance and fellowship. Representatives from other Free Reformed congregations and several other church fellowships were also present. The service was opened with the familiar confession, ÒOur help is in the Name of the Lord.Ó This proved to be a repeated theme throughout the evening. This was followed by the well-known salutation: ÒGrace be unto you from God the Father and Jesus Christ, our Lord, through the Holy Spirit.Ó

After we sang to GodÕs praise from Psalter 397,ÓO Lord, Thou art our God and King!Ó Pastor VanderMeyden read holy Scripture from Genesis 26:17-25. The congregation was then asked to agree with heart and mind with the Confession of Faith, Article 27, ÒOf the Catholic Christian Church.Ó The pastor then led the congregation in a prayer of intercession and praise to the Lord Jehovah, the Covenant-keeping God. After prayer we sang from Psalter 134, ÒWithin Thy temple, Lord, in that most holy place, we on Thy loving kindness dwell, the wonders of Thy graceÉÓ

The main speaker and former pastor, Rev. Cornelius Pronk, was introduced. Pastor Pronk spoke to us on the word ÔRehobothÕ from Genesis 26:22. This was the exact same passage used by the late Rev. B. Densel at the June 28, 1944 worship service of institution. Rehoboth means room, much room. The Lord made room, all glory be to God! The theme of the sermon was ÒThe Earnest of the BelieverÕs Inheritance.: Pastor Pronk introduced three main points: 1) this earnest is confirmed by the Lord; 2) this earnest is contested by the enemy; 3) this earnest is conferred by GodÕs grace.

The context of the text was first explained. There was a famine, forcing Isaac to go to Gerar. The LordÕs first appearance to Isaac was described (vs.2-5). IsaacÕs personal weakness and sins were briefly explained. In spite of IsaacÕs sins he was richly blessed and established in his inheritance as explained in verses 6 through 16. God could bless Isaac only because of the Lord Jesus Christ who blotted out IsaacÕs sin. Isaac, and we with him, should both be ashamed and amazed by the mercies of God because we too, deserve not the least of the blessings we have received. The promises and the earnest (down payment), the wells in Canaan, were confirmed by the Lord. God said, ÒSojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and thy seed, I will give all these countriesÉÓ

The second point dealt with the hatred of GodÕs enemies toward His people. Isaac experienced it from Abimelech and the Philistines. The Rehoboth Reformed Church experienced this from without and within. Satan always attacks Christ and His church. Isaac, true to his non-confrontational character, moved away from Abimelech and hostility. He dug the wells of his father, Abraham, again. We chart a safe course if we keep to the old wells, the old paths. What the Reformers and those who have followed taught us is not final. The task of the church remains to study the Word, but we were admonished to do this by building on the old. We are to look for new light by digging into the old wells of truth and by digging new wells.

Isaac dug new wells. Two were contested by the herdsmen of Gerar. Finally, a third uncontested well was dug: ÒRehoboth.Ó Then the Lord appeared to Isaac again. The inheritance is granted, conferred by the Lord by grace alone. Isaac did not deserve this blessing, yet God wanted to give it to him. He, the Sovereign God, said ÒRehoboth.Ó The down payment, the earnest, has been given. When will this be fully and completely conferred? When Christ returns to claim His inheritance.

The founding members wanted doctrinal purity and ÔexperimentalÕ preaching. They wanted to hear about a rich and willing and able Christ for a lost, undeserving sinner. Jesus promised to make room for His people in heaven and He makes room in His people for Himself. Has it become ÒRehobothÓ for us personally? Has God made room? Over these fifty years the Lord has continued His work in this congregation. Pray that the current congregation may receive His blessings and be drawn into His favour by grace alone.

We sang Psalter 159, stanzas 2 and 3 as a response to the message. ÒIn Thee my soul hath shelter foundÉ On me the heritage conferredÉÓ In his concluding prayer Pastor Pronk petitioned God to remember this flock in mercy and to continue to make room in the hearts of lost sinners for His Christ. The closing song was Psalter 27, stanzas 1, 4 and 5: ÒO God, preserve me, for in Thee alone my trust has stoodÉThe Lord is my inheritance;Éa goodly heritage is mine, marked out with gracious care.Ó

The Grand Rapids pastor, Rev VanderMeyden, then read letters of commendation and congratulation from some of our sister churches in the denomination. Pastor VanderMeyden then introduced various guests who brought greetings from other church fellowships.

Rev. G. Hamstra of the Toronto Free Reformed Church brought greetings on behalf of the denomination. He commended the congregation to continued unity in prayer.

Rev.. M. Scholten brought greetings from the Christian Reformation Church of Grand Rapids. He encouraged the congregation with words from Philippians 3:13, 14, Òpress toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.Ó He warned us, ÒDo not be at ease in Zion, the battle is not over.Ó He closed with a quotation from Psalm 27:14, ÒWait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.Ó

Dr. J. Beeke spoke on behalf of the Heritage Netherlands Reformed Congregation of Grand Rapids. He commended us to prayer for the work of the Holy Spirit, directing us to the words of the prophet Zechariah, chapter 4, describing the inexhaustible riches of the Spirit of God. He ended with the words from verse 6: ÒNot by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit saith the Lord of hosts.Ó GodÕs spirit alone works grace, convicting and comforting as needed.

Rev. R. Lanning then spoke on behalf of the Independent Christian Reformed Church of Cutlerville, Michigan. He reminded us of the necessity and distinctiveness of maintaining the fear of the Lord. He also reminded us that that Lord is mindful of His people, using Psalm 115:12. He challenged us to walk in the fear of the Lord, as this is the secret of our future.

Pastor J. Stehouwer spoke on behalf of the Zion Baptist Church of Grand Rapids. His words were from Jude, teaching us to remember the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. He was reminded of a sermon he heard from one of the former ministers when he was a child. That minister told his hearers to pray for an understanding heart. We were admonished to do the same.

Pastor VanderMeyden thanked each of these brothers in the ministry for their Spiritual instruction and encouragement. He then invited everyone to come downstairs to the meeting room for fellowship and refreshments.

The service was concluded with singing Psalter 374:1 and 5, ÒO praise ye the name of Jehovah, proclaim ye His glory abroad; O church of our God, sing His praises, for with you and in you He dwellsÉÓ We received the benediction and closed with Psalter 308:1 as doxology, ÒNot unto us, O Lord of heaven, but unto Thee be glory given.Ó

It was an enjoyable evening. May God be pleased to add His blessing for the sake of His Christ, through His Holy Spirit.

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