Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

Inaugeration Rev. K. Herfst as Mission Instructor

Written by Rev. C.A. Schouls
In Hamilton, on Friday, August 27, we witnessed the installation and inauguration of our former missionary to Guatemala, Rev. Ken Herfst, as Professor of Theology on loan to Seminario EvangŽlico Presbiteriano at San Felipe, Guatemala. As our Hamilton church had been asked by Synod 2004 to function as Òsending churchÓ it fell to this consistory to organize the evening. As is our good custom, the evening centred on the preaching of the Word.

Rev. G. R. Procee, pastor of the Hamilton church, opened the service in the customary way and then preached a sermon based on Matthew 28: 19a, ÒGo ye therefore, and teach all nations.Ó His notes, in abbreviated form, follow.

The Lord Jesus is instructing His disciples to go out and teach the Gospel. The basis of this calling lies in the finished work of Christ on the cross and His resurrection on the third day. In this, He gave the proof that He paid for sin, that He conquered the devil and wrought everlasting salvation. The Lord Jesus Christ has now earned all authority and power. He has authority to save sinners, to forgive their sins and to renew them, leading them into communion with God. That salvation must be preached. The authority of Christ must be proclaimed under the demand of faith and repentance from sin.

In verse 18 the Lord Jesus declares that all power is given unto Him. The Greek word used here means power in the sense of ÒauthorityÓ rather than Òmight.Ó The Lord Jesus is given all authority. It used to be that the devil had this authority. But the devil, Òthe strong man,Ó has been bound and now his house and possessions are being spoiled. The Lord Jesus conquered sin and the devil. Sinners, lost in misery and sin can now be delivered. All men everywhere are now called to recognize this new authority, in Christ Jesus. They must give up their natural allegiance with the devil and submit to the new Ruler of this world, the Lord Jesus Christ. Ministers must boldly preach the Gospel. No one has the right to remain unconverted, for Christ has all authority in heaven and upon earth.

Have we learned to submit our heart and life to this King? Those who acknowledge His authority, and turn to Him, will be led into a new life with Christ. They will be forever with Him in glory. Now, in this life, the Lord will watch over them and cause all things in their life to work together for their good. He has all power, all authority in heaven and upon earth.

The text says: ÒGo therefore and teachÉÓ The word means Òmake them into disciples.Ó Make them students of Christ. They must become listeners to Christ, students of the Word. That is the characteristic of Reformed theology. It is listening carefully to Scripture. It is to deny ourselves and our own insights and to bow before the superiority of Scripture.

It will be the task of Rev. Herfst to teach students to listen to Jesus, to base all they will preach and teach upon the Word of God. That is the task of a minister and of a professor; it is to lead others to become disciples of Jesus, to become students of Christ. They must be taught to listen to the Master, to bow before the whole Word of God. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations. whoever they are and wherever they live: in Guatemala, in Canada, the whole world. All nations must obey Him.

The Lord Jesus also encourages His servants, for He says: ÒI am with you always, even unto the end of the world.Ó In His strength they can do this work. The task is great. Those who teach must be at home in the Scriptures. They must meditate daily upon the mysteries of salvation and godliness. They need much insight and vigilance. We are weak, but the Lord Jesus encourages: I am with you all the days, every day again, all the days of the world. That may be the comfort for Rev. Herfst and for all God's servants. The Lord will teach wisdom, humility, carefulness, and faithfulness. He will lead in prayer and devotion. He will invigorate, comfort and strengthen in all labours. He will never leave His servants. He says: I have all authority, all power. I am with you every day till the end of the world.

He is with His servants to forgive their failings, to restore their backslidings, to sanctify them, to correct them. He is with them to defend them from dangers; He leads and guides them. He will be with them to enable them to do what they are called to do. He is with them in sorrow, in joy, in sickness and in health. He is with His people in life and in death, in time and eternity. Therefore trust in Him. Seek to live as close to the Lord as possible. Be faithful to His Word. ÒLo, I am with you all the days, Go ye therefore and teach all nations.Ó

After the sermon the form for installing professors of theology, specially and fittingly adjusted for this occasion by the Hamilton consistory, was read and the questions answered, Pastor Herfst assumed the pulpit and preached on Ephesians 4:11-17. His notes, also abridged, follow.

PaulÕs letter to the Ephesians is a letter about the church. Paul outlines GodÕs vision for the church. And as those who love the Lord Jesus Christ, we cannot but love the church that he purchased with his own blood. However, the danger always exists that we love our dream of the church more than the church itself. When we take a realistic look at the church rather than our dream of the church, we realize that we still have a long way to go to reflect the biblical pattern of church. Yet, what does give hope tonight is that the church belongs to Christ.

Of all the various gifts and blessings in the church that we find in the various epistles of the New Testament, the priority is placed on the teaching ministry. As we follow PaulÕs thought here and as we see the importance of the teaching ministry, we will accomplish two things. I will be reminded of my task and I trust that it will help me maintain focus. Secondly, it will make it easier for you to pray for us as we take up the teaching ministry in Guatemala.

Pastor Herfst then announced his theme and points as: ChristÕs Gift of the Teaching Ministry Ð 1. the need for a teaching ministry; 2. the goal of a teaching ministry; 3. the fruit of a teaching ministry; 4. the encouragement for a teaching ministry.

The main needs for the teaching ministry are: a. false teaching--with us ever since Satan asked, ÒHas God really said?Ó b. immaturity, which threatens from within and shows up as a lack of understanding and applying biblical truth; c. division--clearly unity was a challenge in Ephesus and that challenge persists today as the church increasingly embraces other races and other nationalities. There is also the danger that we, too, have our preferred preachers.

Note PaulÕs graciousness, honesty and realism É ÒweÓ. He doesnÕt say, Òtill you come to the unity of the faithÉ that you should no longer be childrenÉÓ ItÕs the only way that I can preach about this. ItÕs the only way that I can go to Guatemala. Paul hasnÕt arrived; neither have I. We can only achieve the spiritual maturity that God requires in the fellowship of His people.Ó

In dealing with the goal of the teaching ministry, Pastor Herfst pointed out that it is to equip members for service; provide a strong foundation for truth; challenge believers to strive for the unity of faith. Every member is to be involved in ministry. This is clear from the context, especially from verse 16. The goal is never simply conversion, as essential as that is. Conversion is only the beginning, as supernatural as that is. There needs to be growth, and that growth happens as every member uses his/her gifts. This truth highlights the importance of the church as people, rather than a place where things happen. In this way, the church is built up.

The fruit of such a ministry is unity. This is a unity that can never be faked or fabricated. It is a unity based on truth and Paul is careful to point out that it is a unity tied directly to the knowledge of the Son of God. It works fellowship where there is commitment and understanding that impresses a world that is increasingly fragmented. It provides a foretaste of the future.

It also provides knowledge that informs and transforms. Remember that Paul is writing in the context of false teaching. That is always the context in which we work. As someone has pointed out, if you look at the history of the West, five times it looked like the faith was going to the dogsÉ and yet each of those five times, it was the dog that died. Christ will preserve his church. But there is no preservation where there is no knowledge.

Another fruit is maturity in which, using the example of a body, Paul points out that every part is rightly related to the head and to fellow members. When every part does its share, it will cause overall growth of the body. All this means there is salvation: wholeness, completeness, and restoration. It is the summing up of all things in Christ. It is ultimately a restoration of the whole of creation to a perfect unity and harmony that is patterned not on Eden, but on the unity of love that exists within the Trinity.

Finally, in dealing with Òencouragement for a teaching ministry,Ó pastor Herfst pointed out that it is the exalted Christ who provides the foundation: the apostolic Word. At the same time, Christ Himself is the very foundation, the cornerstone. That Word never returns empty. That is my/our hope. The exalted Christ provides the Illuminator--the Spirit who is the primary witness to Christ, bringing the world under judgment, granting signs of coming victory as sinners are transformed and brought into the church, giving the church the words, the message accompanied by the power of God Himself.

Christ provides the teaching ministry to encourage and instruct and walk with His people. It is given, not to sinless angels, but to men who understand the brokenness of sin and guilt and who know GodÕs transforming grace, men who point not to themselves, but to their LORD. And if Christ provides, Christ will equip and use so that His purposes are fulfilled.

God grant that together we might see this kind of churches develop in Guatemala and in North America; churches that are communities of the Spirit, where Ôan every member ministryÕ unites the body, where everything is based on truth and done in love, and where Christ is glorified in every way.

One added note of interest: Alejandro Ortiz, son-in-law of Rev. and Mrs. Herfst, hopes to begin theological studies at this seminary this year in order to better equip him for service in Cubulco and surroundings. It is hoped this will lead to ordination as a pastor. This will mean changes on the field--an indication of the direction into which this work must develop. Mission work by ÒgringosÓ (North American whites) may soon be a thing of the past. For now, this all means the entire Herfst family hopes to be united in Guatemala and that should help in the pain of transition and relocation.

Please pray for these men and for all who minister in the church of the Lord Jesus Christ Ð it is a heavy task and we are weak vessels.

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