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For Calvin, the doctrines of creation and providence are inseparable; he is no deist. He writes, "To make God a momentary Creator, who once for all finished His work, would be cold and barren, and we must differ from profane men especially in that we see the presence of divine power shining as much in the continuing state of the universe as in its inception... Faith ought to penetrate more deeply, namely, having found Him Creator of all, forthwith to conclude He is also everlasting Governor and Preserver - not only in that He drives the celestial frame as well as its several parts by a universal motion, but also in that He sustains, nourishes, and cares for, everything He has made, even to the least sparrow [ef. Matt. l0:29] ... All parts of the universe are quickened by God's secret inspiration" Institutes 1:16:1).

*For these observations on the impact of the standards on the individual, family and society, I have leaned heavily on an old article by John Canon, entitled, "The Influence Exerted by the Westminster Symbols upon the Individual, the Family, and Society," which appeared in MEMORIAL VOLUME OF THE WESTMINSTER ASSEMBLY, published by the Presbyterian Committee of Publication, Richmond, Va., 1897. I also quote from William Cox's article, "The Influence of the Westminster System of Doctrine, Worship and Polity on Civil Liberty and Responsible Government" from the same volume.

"And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed... (Genesis 3:15a).

The crisis pregnancy hotline ministry of Chalcedon Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Georgia, is not about saving babies. Not really. The "Hope in Crisis" ministry is really about saving souls ... in the name of Jesus Christ.

Truly, this ministry is different from standing on street corners with signs that say, "ABORTION IS MURDER", (which God's people know and the unrighteous deny against their conscience), and taking verbal abuse while you stand there. This crisis pregnancy ministry is a tool for church members to labor in the Great Commission. God commands us to go into the world and preach the gospel to every creature, (Matthew 28:19, Mark 16:20).

Calvin's contemporary, the German Reformer Martin Luther, once wrote:

"I believe that there is on earth, through the whole wide world, no more than one holy, common, Christian church, which is nothing else than the congregation, or the assembly of the saints, i.e., the pious, believing men on earth, which is gathered, preserved, and ruled by the Holy Ghost, and daily increased by means of the sacraments and the Word of God" (cited in J.J. Davis, Handbook Of Basic Bible Texts, p. 103).

With this synoptic statement the Geneva Reformer would fully concur. Calvin loved the church; she is the bride of Christ, the apple of God's eye. And he burned with a true zeal for her purification, reconstruction, and good health. In his Commentary on Galatians 5: 12, Calvin writes, "my love of the church and my anxiety about her interests carry me away into a sort of ecstasy, so that I can think of nothing else."

With this message we begin a new series on the prophecy of Zechariah. Zechariah is one of the so-called "Twelve Minor Prophets," which are found collected together at the end of our Old Testament. The reason these prophets are called "minor" is due to the relative brevity of their books, when compared with the much larger works of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. These prophets are minor in size; they most definitely are not minor in significance.

It is unfortunate that so few Christians today are familiar with either the minor prophets in particular or even the Old Testament (beyond Genesis) in general. Does not the New Testament often draw before us from the Old Testament negative examples for warning and positive illustrations for exhortation? Does not Zechariah himself emphasize 36 times in his book that his writing comes with a "Thus saith the Lord"? Should modern translations paraphrase 2 Timothy 3:16 to say: "All Scripture is inspired of God and is profitable -- except for the Old Testament"? Then how is it that modern evangelicals are so unfamiliar with the Old Testament, which contains 70% of all the words in Scripture?

God created man with a natural liberty, making him responsible and accountable to God for all his choices and actions. God has given man the freedom to choose whatever he wants to choose, although he does not always have the ability to do what he chooses to do. "...but I (Jesus) say to you, that Elijah already came, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they wished," Mat. 17:12.

Living in America at the end of the twentieth century means living in a culture of widely divergent expectations as to what constitutes an adequate education. No less divergent are those expectations among evangelical Christians. Some see homeschool and its total parental involvement as the only truly Christian education possible. Some humbled by their own lack of background and consistency in living the Christian life enthusiastically turn their children over to the "professionals" to do for their children what they are convinced they cannot do. Some "institutions of learning" have been guilty of perpetuating the idea that parents are educational stumbling blocks in their children's way. They would have virtually no parental involvement in the education enterprise beyond their necessary financial support. A growing few are now moving in the opposite direction. Understanding parental responsibility for education as ultimate, they have formed "non-professional" associations that are more a cooperative effort among homeschooling parents than what could be properly called a school. Divergent viewpoints about appropriate parental involvement abound from parents and teaching professionals alike. They range from total daily participation in the educational process at all levels to as little involvement as possible.

Each month the "Cross-Examination" column presents a summary statement of a Reformed and Reconstructionist conviction in theology or ethics, and then offers brief answers to common questions, objections or confusions which people have about that belief. Send issues or questions you would like addressed by Dr. Bahnsen to the editor.

Scripture teaches us that the standards of moral right and wrong are not arbitrary, changing, or relative to different times and places. Christianity maintains that there are ethical absolutes whose authority is not culturally or personally qualified. This outlook is diametrically at odds with the spirit of our age. The prevailing opinion is that every opinion in ethics and every value judgment must be relative to one's circumstances, chosen ends, desires or feelings. There are no universal and immutable principles of right and wrong, according to the popular thinking of our day. Thus everybody is free to do whatever they wish, and nobody has the right to tell them otherwise.

Many Christians are living a powerless and ineffective life because of a poor prayer life. They have feeble expectations because they have a feeble concept of a sovereign God, who eagerly awaits to pour out His blessings to a people who are bold enough to pray as they are commanded in Scripture.

Prayer is a blessed means whereby we fellowship with an almighty and loving Father, who eagerly awaits such communion with His children. Biblical praying is the channel through which the very power of God is unleashed in our lives and in the world. The reason so few of us pray as we ought is because we do not fully understand what prayer is all about, because we are so weak in our faith, because we are not sold out to His plan for the world, and because we do not pursue after as we are commanded.

Indiana Jones can't hold a candle to the adventures of South-African-born missionary Rev. Peter Hammond, who is bold and brave for God. When Peter wants to deliver Bibles to soldiers in the war zones of Angola and Zimbabwe, he has to crawl across mine fields, sprawled out on the ground so as not to set off a mine. "When we crawl that way our weight is more evenly distributed," he said during a recent two-month speaking tour of the U.S.

Rev. Hammond and his 12 member staff that make up the Frontline Fellowship mission in South Africa also penetrate army camps by crossing mine fields on motorcycles. They wear backpacks stuffed with Bibles and other educational material to distribute in communist countries. "We have found by using motorcycles we can quickly maneuver through the mine fields," says the Evangelist of the Christian Motorcyclist Association. "Even if a rider hits a mine it only blows off the front tire of the motorcycle and the rider is thrown and banged up a bit, but he survives."