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Dear Young People: –

From the land “where the beauty of the hills meets the bounty of the plains,” I would like to write a few lines in connection with your convention in our midst next August.

First of all, we wish to assure all of you, delegates and visitors, that our people are eagerly anticipating the opportunity to meet and serve you.  For this there are a number of good reasons.  Surely they take an interest in all that pertains to the future of our churches.  In a certain way you young people are that future.  And therefore, Loveland’s congregation wishes much to be in contact, even now, with that future church and in that contact they wish to serve you as best they can.  That is the conscious effort in respect to the youth and seed of the church locally, as witnesses the ardent support of and effort to have proper education for its own children; that is the hope of the congregation and local Society with a view to the denominational youth, as we hope to show at the time of the Convention.

Another reason for anticipating this Convention is that this flock with its young people is rather isolated geographically from the rest of our churches, and added to this the fact of quite recent affiliation with our denomination . . . It will be clear that this event may well serve to become better acquainted with each other.  Perhaps here, more than in some of our larger Eastern congregations, the need of becoming acquainted with youth of the same faith is so keenly felt because of the limited number of associates.

And, undoubtedly, we are anxious and glad to show others the marvelous beauty of our “mile-high,” or nearly so, city and its scenic surroundings.  (Better come well equipped camera-wise!).  We believe to be located in the HEART of “Colorful Colorado” and wish others to witness, even though it be but briefly, that handiwork of God and majestic beauty of the “everlasting” (?) hills, which are the privilege of our continual view.  And this all is written without the urge of any Chamber of Commerce!  The exuberance about this locality is powered by the deep conviction that our God has so prepared these things for His Own glory thru our adoration of Him.  Our God is truly the GREAT GOD!  Come and see.

Of course we do not wish to reduce the Convention to a mere social occasion or pleasure jaunt.  Enjoyment of the scenery is and MUST remain incidental and the making of new acquaintance of renewing of the old, secondary to the main objective.  We realize that the main purpose is the spiritual solidarity and confirmation in the truth particularly given to US.  We surely deem this to be a God-given opportunity to receive impetus to live the “peculiar” life in the midst of and over against the world, wherever we are to labor.  Because of this we call attention to two-fold:  the anticipated programs and the hoped-for conduct of all of those attending.

As to the program:  We are very happy to have obtained three speakers to unfold for us the riches of the Scriptures in respect to the chosen theme:  ‘THE BEAUTIES OF HOLINESS.”  First of all we are glad to have the first evening’s speaker, Rev. H. Hoeksema address us.  This not because his appearance on “opening evening” is almost an institution with our conventions, also we are more than glad to continue and be able to continue that custom for another year, but because our beloved H.H. has never been in these parts nor met the majority of this congregation.  Personally we have hinted that this would be a good place for a vacation but it never came to an acceptance.  Jokingly we said to him that this perhaps would be the only way to get him here.  We hope for its realization and look for a truly “inspirational” address.

The second speaker procured, a son of the former and first speaker, is our only full-time Professor at our Seminary, Rev. H. C. Hoeksema.  Though, as a rule, men are quite advanced in age, who hold such a position, Rev. H.C. is young enough to remember and appreciate the needs of the youth and will undoubtedly be able clearly to “speak your language” in providing his part of edifying instruction from the Word.

The last speaker, banquet night, is Rev. H. Veldman of our Redlands, California, congregation.  There was a hint from the Federation Board to try for one of the men from the “far West.”  How literally we followed that advice can be seen by looking at the map.  Any farther West would have necessitated marine travel.  Also this servant of the Word is well known among us.  Perhaps some of the delegates and visitors will conjure an image of his work with them when they were still in Adams Street School.  His should be a memorable message, one to go home with.

And all of this speaking will be augmented by different numbers by various societies.  I am not able to tell details of this, and perhaps would not be allowed to do so, even if I were, but I certainly hope all of you trust it will be worthwhile any effort to be here for it.  And we also certainly hope that thru this program-line the theme of the Convention may find significance in our lives.

For as the programs emphasize doctrinally, we hope that practically may be lived and manifested our separateness, spiritually.  Therefore allow me just a wee bit of warning and advice.  The warning to not succumb to the desire to be on the “loose.”  There is always the danger that we can do “from” home what would be out of the question “at” home.  Let’s bury that one!  We advise behavior of such character that a reflection be made favorable to the name of our Lord and Master.  Certainly we can and SHOULD have an enjoyable time with each other, but then, to be truly so, it must be sanctified enjoyment.

Finally, we hope for your safe journey hither; an enjoyable stay among us and a lasting profit for all for years to come.

In this topic assigned to me there can be no doubt as to the meaning of the

individual parts it contains. Surely it is abundantly plain, first of all, what the suffering of Christ is. The Scriptures teach very plainly many things in regard to that suffering as duration, manner, purpose, etc. Surely it is very clear as to essence of that suffering. More than once we are taught that the essence of that suffering is His being subjected to the wrath of God upon sin. Himself without sin, being like unto us in all things, sin excepted, He nevertheless suffered God’s wrath upon sin in behalf of His people. He suffered for our sins (Rom. 6:10; 8:3), to our justification (Rom. 8:32ff). That the suffering of Christ, therefore, is a ransom, is redeeming, is the basis for our justification before God, apart from which justification is forever impossible( Rom. 8:3, 4; Heb. 9:26), need not be further discussed. Indeed this is the very gospel of our salvation.

Nor need we spend much time discussing the suffering as it is “ours” in the topic. Surely this does not refer exclusively to suffering as we have that in common and in general with all men. There is, of course, in this vale of tears, suffering of every degree and common to all men. But I take it, because of the “why” that this is not referred to exclusively or mainly in the topic. Were such the case, the “why” could easily be answered. Then all suffering is the result of sin and is the manifestation of the wrath of God upon sin, always working to the end of the wages of sin: death. But let us agree on this : the suffering of US is the suffering of the people of God in

distinction from all others. That suffering is, in a way, peculiar to them only. Not, it is true, as to the manner of suffering, but from the viewpoint of its being exactly “our” suffering.

Finally, thru the conjunction “and” the sufferings of Christ and of the Christians are somehow related. These two sufferings belong together. The character differs, of course. Our suffering is never redemptive ; nor is it ever punitive. Thru the vicarious suffering of the Mediator, all punishment upon the people of God is clean gone forever. We ARE justified before God thru the death of His Son and there is no condemnation for them that are in Him. Therefore our suffering is often spoken of as “with” Christ (Rom. 8:17) or as partaking of His suffering (I Pet. 4:13). Consequently the suffering of one member becomes, thru their unity in Christ, suffering for all the members (I Cor. 12:26) and is ever conceived of as the portion of the called, of short duration and as the way to glory (I Pet. 5:10; Rom. 8:18).

In view of the above we can pinpoint the suffering of “us” to that suffering caused us by the powers of darkness, that did not will Christ nor will ever condone the servant, who is not more than the Master. It is the suffering evoked by Christ revealed in us ; a suffering for welldoing (I Pet. 2:20); suffering shame for the name of Jesus (Acts 5:41).

Thus the question WHY means: whereas Christ suffered in our stead, removing the guilt and so the punishment of sin; whereas, moreover, He perfectly accomplished His purpose and therefore received all dominion over all things and so IS able to prevent all unjust suffering of His own at the hand of the wicked – why must the Christian still suffer? If He is King over all, and He is, cannot He prevent the suffering of His servants?

In answer to those questions we consider the following facts:

First of all our sufferings and adversities of this present life nor our suffering at the hand of malicious powers of darkness are ever to he conceived of as an imbalance of dualism between Christ’s power and ability to avert evil on the one hand and the raging of powers of evil on the other. We do not suffer because Christ cannot prevent it. His is all the power and dominion in heaven, earth and hell. That is more than saying that His is a greater power than all opposition. The powers of darkness as author of the suffering of the people of God are never independent of His rule. Without Him they cannot as much as move. All suffering is according to His directive rule. Christ’s dominion is absolute, so that whatever comes to pass, also our suffering, is AS it is because He sovereignly so directs, and the forces of evil are but means in His hand to realize the same. His ruling is in all aspects the realization of the counsel of God. And therefore, shall we even approach a correct conception of our suffering, we must hold to the Scriptural view that all our experiences are SENT to us by Him and do not overcome us in spite of His desire to the contrary.

From this it follows that our suffering is, whether we be conscious of it or not, beneficial. The seeking and realizing of our good is ever the aim and result of Christ’s care over us and His work is our sure salvation. Then we have the comfort: we are being prepared for glory. The basis of our salvation is the suffering of our Lord; the application, our sanctification. He attains thru all our experiences. There is, after our initial conversion, still much dross left in our livea, that needs be removed. As gold and silver are purified by fire, our faith is tried, purified and attains the state of being approved, thru the fire of suffering. The usual dross is our woridlimindedness as, e.g. in respect to our pleasure and amusement. That carnality must go. The Lord sends suffering as a crucible. Thru it we learn that real, abiding joys are never attained in the earthly, but in fellowship with God in Christ.

This surely gives light on the fact that Christ chastises us thru suffering. Never are His people object of His hatred and can it be said that they are suffering because of such hatred. Ever He loves us. Our suffering, when in wayward paths we stray, is not in spite of but because of this love. He chastises those whom He loves. \

A little more difficult does our question become when, apparently there is no reason for our suffering, that is, where there is no direct reason for chastisement. Sometimes in life we are called to suffer when the cause seems to be in our very faithfulness. According to the measure we walk by and in faith the world hates and despises us. Refusal to go along in the way and to places of corruption, evokes ridicule, which can be such keen suffering. Well, how about that phase of our suffering? Is not Christ our King, also then? Could He not either prevent such suffering or openly reward faithfulness? Is, perhaps, this not one case where gracious care fails? Let us look at Phil. 1:29. There we are taught that suffering is a gift to us; it is grace on the par with believing in Christ. Even suffering for the sake of Christ, because the life of Christ reveals itself in our lives, is a gift of grace. It is a privilege to suffer for righteousness sake, and most blessed according to the beatitudes of our Lord. By it we have an assurance of being in the right way. If they hated Him, Who did nought but His Father’s will, how comforting the assurance that the same foe hates us for being His!

Finally, understanding full well that our suffering is never meritorious, it is a means whereby Christ prepares us to receive our place in glory so as to realize the Word, that we suffer with Him in order to be glorified together. This is, in other words, nothing else than God’s way of readying us for our place in Christ’s body in perfection. In view of that, how true the words of Paul that “the suffering of this present time is not worthy to be compared to the glory to be revealed to us.” Therefore let us remember and he comforted by the assurance of the word, that of grace God deems us worthy to suffer for the cause and Kingdom of His Son for to this is adhered the promise, that presently we shall reign with Him forever (II Tim. 2:12).

Originally published in:

Vol. 18 No. 3 April 1958

What a glorious season for the Church of Christ in the midst of the world is Lent! During the six weeks prior to Easter she fittingly commemorates the suffering and death of her Saviour.

And how significant is this phase of the revelation of our Lord! To its significance attests the very fact of its lengthy treatment in the Gospel narrative as compared to all ether events concerning Him. Also, we surely understand, exactly this suffering and death is the purpose of His incarnation; thru it only is Easter possible. The sacrifice of our Savior is the keystone in the beautiful arch that begins with Christmas and ends in His glorification in the sanctuary with the Father.

Inexhaustibly rich is the gospel in its picture of the suffering Christ. From many angles the Church may meditate on this perfect work of her Priest-Prophet-King. And, too, how varied the points of view that can be taken to see the great significance of His ransoming work.

Looking at the program of suffering as a whole in this brief article it is certainly impossible to say “all”. Only a bare suggestive outline can be given. To this we submit for thought; the significance of the passion of our Lord Jesus from the point of view of its eternal ordination, its temporal realization, and its eternal fruit of glory.

That the suffering of Jesus finds its ultimate cause and origin in God’s eternal counsel will stand without contradiction before the consciousness of the believing Church. After all, even the very details of life, often apparently insignificant, are there engraved for causal realization. Also, none of the glories of the church can be understood or be of comfort apart from the certainty of its eternal decree. Then it certainly must follow that such is the case in regard to this momentous, forever unfathomable, infinitely comforting sacrifice of our Lord, God’s very own Son in the flesh. The Father from eternity ordained not only the coming of Jesus but also His whole earthly sojourn among us, including all His suffering between His birth and resurrection. Anointed thereto was He with all its implications. That anointing is so rich in comfort for the Church because it signifies not only the appointment but also the capacitation to this work. And even so the picture is not complete, nay, even incorrect. The suffering of our Lord is not one of many to-be-realized events but it is the very central hub of them all—without which all others would make no sense, would even be impossible. Because of that central significance in the counsel of God, it is plain that there must always be the starting point of every profitable contemplation of Christ’s suffering and death after it has been realized in the fulness of time. Lent without the Scriptural background of the counsel is worse than vain, is modernism, and robs the Church of her “only comfort”.

But in the light of the above the realization in time of the decree also (and only) becomes detailedly rich. Then every step of the suffering becomes a treasure of comfort inexhaustible and always again new. Ever again, year after year, we can then follow “the man of sorrows” along the way from dark Gethsemane to the tomb without depletion of the wonder of grace. His lowly birth ceases to be offensive, seen in the light of the decree; His innumerable reproaches become guarantees of His .genuineness when viewed as the revelation of the eternal will; even His shameful death on the accursed tree, with all the attendant mocks and jeers of sin’s children about Him, becomes a treasure beyond human computation when once it is evident that “the Christ ought so to have suffered”. Then we see Prophet-Jesus as He knows and reveals the Father; we see King-Jesus as He battles sin, Satan and all wickedness to the finish and thru (not in spite of) suffering and death become the royal Victor; we see Priest-Jesus, whose perfections of that office lay among other facts, herein that he united in Himself both priest and sacrifice, thru that sacrifice of Himself gained entrance into the holiest of all, never again forced to leave. Verily the passion and decease of our Saviour is properly and, if correctly done, profitably observed by His church. And for that the Church has an abundance of material in the Scripture upon which she may meditate to reach those “visions of comfort”.

So too, and finally, we can and shall behold Jesus, of Whom it was “written in the volume of the book”, having answered to the “will of Him” that sent Him, seated at “the right hand of God” in glory. In faith now we contemplate the glory of it for “He appeared . . . to put away sin” and DID it. His resurrection attests to that, for it is the Father’s seal of approval of all His work and so of our justification. In hope, which ever grows and becomes stronger thru prayerful and diligent, individual and congregational commemoration of this season of events, we reach forward to the eternal rejoicing of heaven. For we know that “the glories that abide” will be, consciously, only possible in and thru the “Lamb slain” . . . yet now forever “standing before the great throne because only in the face of the slain Lamb can we SEE God.

The passion season reaches back for ground, beholds the realization in time and stretches forth to the “hope perfect”. May this lent season thereunto profit us and our Lord be glorified among us.

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