11 Aug GS 1989 art 1
GS 1992 ARTICLE 1 – Opening
On behalf of the convening church at Winnipeg, Rev. W. den Hollander calls the meet- ing to order. He requests the singing of Hymn 2:1,3. He reads Matthew 28:16-20 and leads in prayer.
He welcomes the delegates with the following words: Esteemed Brothers in the Lord:
As fellow elder in the service of our Master Jesus Christ, and minister of the convening church, I welcome you most heartily to General Synod Winnipeg, 1989. I speak on behalf of the consistory and the congregation of the Church at Winnipeg when I say that we have looked forward to this day in eager anticipation and in busy preparation. It is our sincere hope that as convening church we may be good hosts to you, brothers delegates, and that you make ample use of our offer to facilitate the work of General Synod to the utmost of our abilities.
General Synod Winnipeg 1989 begins on this 18th day of April, i.e., during that time of the year in which we remember the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, His ascension and the outpouring of His Spirit. The words of the Scripture passage we read were spoken at a time when our Lord had finished His work of rec- onciliation on the cross and had received all authority in heaven and on earth. We find our passage at the end of the Gospel according to Matthew which began with our Lord’s genealogy as Son of David and as Son of Abraham. In the gift of all authority, the promises to David are fulfilled in that our Lord became King of kings and the Lord of lords, while in the universality of His authority the promise given to Abraham is fulfilled in that He becomes a blessing to the nations. Before His ascent to the throne He gives His mandate to His disciples to proclaim this blessing to the nations and to recruit the peoples in the coming of His kingdom. Charging His office- bearers to use the Word and promising them that with His Word and Spirit He would be at no time absent from them, the exalted Lord continues His church-gathering work among the nations in the world. In that work our Lord and Saviour in heaven has made steady progress, reaching even the ends of the earth.
Brothers, delegates, ministers and elders, it is in that framework of His man- date that I would like to place your task. Together we are here as stewards of Jesus Christ, whom we confess is “the only universal Bishop and the only Head of the Church” (Art. 31 B.C.) He governs His church by His Spirit and Word. Your work as Synod is a task assigned to you by the churches, but in service to Jesus Christ and in submission to His Word. That is your mandate. But the Lord never gives a command without a promise at the same time. We recognize Him as our covenant LORD in that. We may see Mt. 28:16-20 as a renewed covenant making
of our Lord in which the words “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me” is the prologue, on par with the prologue to the Ten Words of the Covenant; and the command to His disciples for initial teaching and continued instruction serves to establish the people in the covenant with God. Likewise, we may be assured of His covenant promise; “Lo, I am with you always to the close of the age.” Thus we receive here not only a mandate to serve our Lord for the edifi- cation of the churches, but we also receive a promise of the blessing, His support, and His presence in carrying out our mandate.
The matters on the agenda for General Synod, brothers, are very much in line with the mandate of our Lord in this text. The baptismal formula, which we find in our text, is directly connected with the Apostolic Creed, a baptismal confession, which in turn is the basis in the covenant of grace for the continued teaching which our Lord put in the charge of the church. The doctrine as contained in the Old and New Testament is the doctrine to which we must hold according to the apostolic instruction (2 Thess. 2:15) which we have summarized in the confes- sions of the Great Reformation for the preservation of this mandate of our Lord. These confessions will play a major role in our discussions. By the grace of God this true doctrine of salvation was preserved in our midst and passed on from one generation of office-bearers to another. As General Synod we will be called as well to entrust the instruction in this doctrine to faithful men who will be able to teach others also (2 Tim 2:2). Our exalted Lord instructed His church to continue in this teaching: “to observe all that He has commanded us.” This includes as well the faithful worship of His Name among the true gathering of His people, “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the tradition which you were taught by us, “ the Apostle Paul exhorts us in 2 Thess. 2:15. Obedience to the Lord’s will in His church-gathering work will be a fruit of thankfulness by which we may here serve the upbuilding of the churches. In both appeals concerning such obedience and in reports pursuing it with a view to the OPC and our contacts with churches abroad, we will be given the task to show our faithfulness to doctrine and confession. However, as General Synod we are called as well to heed the apostolic admoni- tion “in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us” (2 Thess. 3:6). Thus we find ourselves involved in an assignment of our Lord Jesus Christ which requires the utmost obedience and dedication to His authority and the total dependence on His promised presence and power.
Brothers, when the names of the delegates to General Synod Winnipeg 1989
became known, the Synod was soon labeled “the Synod of baby-boomers.” May this expression denote in one way the youthfulness of most of the delegates and on the other hand may it also reflect the faithfulness of our Lord who continues to provide and recruit a new generation of servants called to the preservation, defense and increase of His church. “Let no one despise your youth,” says the Apostle Paul, “but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” (1 Tim. 4:12) And that the churches have not despised our youth is clearly evident from the fact that since the delegation by both Regional Synods, the churches have placed on our table many serious and heavy matters, trusting that with the help of the Lord we will be able to serve the churches. Synod Winnipeg 1989 has also been called the “appeals Synod”, which expresses also a certain amount of confidence in the integrity and sincerity of its members to deal with the appeals in a manner which is in accordance with our mandate from our Lord Jesus Christ! Brothers, may all things be done here decently and in good order, for the peace of Jerusalem, for the upbuilding of the gathering of Christ’s disciples, and to the greater glory of our Lord and Saviour, who wants to use our work for the day on which He will put all things in subjection to the Father.
He requests the singing of Hymn 2:4,5.