Crete PRC (3)

(This post was written by Mr. Andy Birkett, elder at Second Reformed Protestant Church).

For the entire ministry of Rev. Langerak, he had the heart of a servant for all the members, but especially for those who were oppressed and abused.

He had a reputation for this to such an extent that included in his monthly report of labors to the consistory, there was always a portion that included some type of counseling or assistance for an abused or oppressed member (man, woman, or child) or meeting with family or parents of a victim from the congregation or denomination.

Psalm 82:3–4: “Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.”

Rev. had made it clear to the consistory that he considered Rev. Lanning to be an oppressed spiritual brother to him.

In an effort to get Rev. Langerak to distance himself from Rev. Lanning, the elders proposed to Rev. that if he would capitulate to the motion to resign as editor of Sword and Shield and stop writing for the magazine, they would have the church Evangelism Committee publish a blog or newsletter or possibly even a magazine which he could write for.

This was quickly dismissed as a not viable option.

There had never been any efforts to do any of these things.

Any writing posted in any venue under the auspices of the Evangelism Committee could only be published on behalf of Crete Protestant Reformed Church, not as an independent, non-ecclesiastical magazine.

The writing would have to be vetted by the consistory, the minority of which had already made it clear that they hated both his preaching and writing.

Since this idea was quickly dismissed as unreasonable, a few elders (of which I was one) introduced another plan.

We proposed organizing a group to fund and distribute a magazine that would be essentially the same as Sword and Shield, except without the baggage of Rev. Lanning.

This way Rev. Langerak could stay in the Protestant Reformed denomination and maintain his work at Crete Church, and his life could go on more or less unaltered.

The dangling of this temptation in front of a man who from every earthly perspective wanted a way—any way—to try and work with his elders and acquiesce to their demands, was wicked.

To use a close personal relationship of friendship and trust with a person in order to tempt them to sin was especially devious.

By offering another magazine, we hoped to placate his conscience with the illusion that he could abandon the fight where it was taking place, and instead take up his fight at some future, yet to be identified front.

It was applying salve to the conscience of the man while tempting to turn his back in the heat of battle.

Psalm 78:8–10: “And might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not stedfast with God. The children of Ephraim, being armed, and carrying bows, turned back in the day of battle. They kept not the covenant of God, and refused to walk in his law.”

This proposal was selfish, especially since we all knew that the magazine was never really the issue.

Starting a new magazine might have delayed the inevitable silencing of Rev. Langerak’s preaching. But it was by no means a solution and would lead to continuing untold hardship for Rev. Langerak and his family. It was a willingness of friends to tempt Rev. Langerak to sin and suffer in order to gain temporal peace for us.

It was self-centered wickedness to tempt Rev. Langerak to sinfully abandon Christ.

I was able to fool myself into thinking that I was motivated by a desire for peace in the church and love for the members.

I was walking by sight and not by faith. And I put all the good gifts the Lord had given me, including my relationship to Rev., to the service of tempting him to sin.

The only explanation for that was wicked unbelief.

I have apologized to Rev. Langerak and confessed my sins.

The rebuke of Jesus to Peter in Matthew 16:23 seems appropriate: “But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offense unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”

In self-examination I see the deceptiveness in myself, which is characteristic of a viper; and I see my willingness to play fast and loose with the gospel of Christ, which is characteristic of a whore. Not just my nature, but my actions.

I find assurance in the knowledge that Christ did not come to save the righteous. Christ died for the whores and vipers that he chose before the foundation of the earth. He died for murderers, liars, and abusive elders too. Luke 5:32: “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

And for those whom God has forgiven, He has also given a place of repentance. Hebrews 12:16–17: “…Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.” Esau could not find a place of repentance because Jesus did not die on the cross for Esau. He was not forgiven.

This is not an exercise in blame leveling.

Christ was displaced by man. In the realm of our salvation. Nothing could be more serious.

But Christ will not be displaced forever. Hebrews 12:2: “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

And we also live in the assurance that in the process of this displacement, Christ will not lose a one of His.

John 6:39: “And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.”

And we live in the confidence that none of this is lost on God.

Psalm 82

  1. God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.
  2. How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah.
  3. Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.
  4. Deliver the poor and needy: rid themout of the hand of the wicked.
  5. They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course.
  6. I have said, Ye aregods; and all of you are children of the most High.
  7. But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.
  8. Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.

And now, looking back on the events of the last year, the glory for the gift of the pure preaching of the gospel we receive every Sunday, which was worked by God through the willful suspension of Rev. Langerak, can only be attributed to God.

The truth is, man did not build the Reformed Protestant Churches any more than man built the ark. It was an act of God, an act in which he used countless sinful men and women and children. And after God built the ark through his servant Noah, he saved his people by the flood. And now every Sunday we hear the gospel.  And we hear the beautiful truth that our salvation, all the way to the experience of it, is of Christ.

Romans 9:16: “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.”

And we hear Psalm 127:1: “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.”

All praise and thanks to God alone!

                           Yours in Christ,

                           Andy Birkett