I have been asked to express my personal feelings toward the important pastoral work of family visitation. Family visitation is a Reformed Institution of long standing according to Church Order (commentary of Monsma and Van Dellen). It dates back to the Convent of Wezel. 1568. Also it belongs to the area of our church polity as required by our Church Order – Art. 23.
Both of these articles speak of the purpose of family visitation as being that of edification, of comfort and instruction, guidance and admonition. Family visitation is based on Scripture. I Thessalonians 5:12-14, Hebrews 13:17 and many more, it is the work of the office bearers who are sent by Christ Himself, Who Is the Office Bearer in God’s house. This means that it pleases Christ to work His work of salvation, also by this labor.
Although this is all true, my feeling towards family visitation, as a child, was fear. As children we were scared of the minister and elders. In the “Old Country” they came to the house dressed in black and a high hat, and the visit was conducted in a room that was hardly ever used. They called it, “de pronk kramer” or parlor. We as children felt very uneasy.
In later years some of that fear was still with me. To me it was an hour of questions and answers, and often I felt a sigh of relief when it was all over for another year.
Even after we had made confession of faith, were married, and had a family, we often felt uneasy, wondering what kind of questions would be asked.
Sometimes family visitation was conducted as some kind of inquiry or inquisition. This kind of questioning often created in me a reaction of resentment. Some questions were embarrassing to the whole family, and were to my mind out of place, and therefore did not receive an honest answer. That kind of family visitation to me is useless.
The only time I feel at ease at family visitation is when Christ speaks, through His Word, and the Word of God has the central place in every visit. If we do not hear Him, the family visitation is in vain.
That Word of God is the only light, and therefore the only rule of life, and that light exposes the spiritual condition of the wellbeing, or the lack of it.
When therefore the Word of God is the center of the visit, then both they that visit, and they that are visiting, have the assurance that this labor is not in vain, and becomes a reason for joy and thankfulness. Then there will be no more fear in the hearts of the sheep, and a looking forward to the visiting minister and elder.
I have asked Mr. H. Kuiper to prove some of his statements made in his Editorial in Beacon Lights, entitled, “The Need for Protestant Reformed High Schools”. Brother Kuiper answers me in “Open Forum” in the Beacon Lights of April 1964. I want to say first of all, that Mr. Kuiper in his answer to me multiplies words, but does not cover up the fact that he is evading the issue. The issue is not, Does Christ bless the heresies of a church, but whether God blesses the efforts of these churches when they do preach Reformed and teach Reformed truth. Now, Mr. Kuiper writes that he does not believe that the Lord blesses the Christian Reformed church as institute any more.
And a little farther in his writings he states, (and that in bold letters) that as institute they deny the Christ in all their confessions and thus cannot know Him. I cannot let this go unchallenged. Maybe I do not understand the English language, but to me, when you say “in all their confessions they do not know him”, that is exactly what it means. You wrote me that my difficulty is with the structure of the English language. But I believe that the trouble is not with the English language, but with Mr. Kuiper who makes no distinctions that can hold. And maybe it would be a good thing if you could discuss in your men’s society the question, “What do we mean when we say that as institute they deny the Christ in all their confessions and thus cannot know Him”. That would be interesting. Now your men’s society will tell you that the task of preaching must be fulfilled by the church, considered as an institute. The person of the minister has the commission to preach, but the church has, as institute, and therefore, it is this calling by the church that is the all-important factor in the determination of one’s being sent by Christ to preach the Gospel. “How shall they preach except they be sent?” Now this preaching of the Word is indispensable to faith in Christ, it is the work of Christ through the Church as an institute. That is what you men’s society will tell you. But if it is true what you say, that as institute they deny the Christ in all their confessions and thus cannot know Him, you have no church left but as Mary Beth Lubbers correctly interprets then the Christian Reformed church as an institute is the false church, and members that belong to that church do not hear the voice of Christ and have not the preaching of the Gospel. That’s exactly what it means when you say that as institute they deny the Christ in all their confessions. Now you say you don’t believe that the Christian Reformed church is the false church, well, brother you will have to retract this statement that is sure, that as institute they deny the Christ in all their confessions.
Now let me say, for I wish to instruct the young people in Beacon Lights, that a church adopts a heresy, that does not mean (as is plain from the churches in Asia) that this church throws away all the truth. If I have cancer, does that mean that my whole body is corrupt already? Does it mean that I am dead already? The C. R. church has cancer. I will never deny that. But I maintain that they also have the truth in some of its parts. For how can there still be elect children of God who for forty years were fed by that which denies Christ and does not know Him, and still did not starve to death? I would like you to explain to me and to the young people how there can be a single believer left after forty years when all that time he has been fed nothing but poison. Are all the efforts in the school and C. R. church based on heresy? If so, why did we ever try to have conferences with such? Why do we send our children to their schools when we have not our own? And help support them? Now, Mr. Kuiper, the churches of Asia Minor have false doctrine, too. See Rev. 2:15 and 2:24. Yet, Jesus has kind words for them and blessing and he prays for them. And what about the church at Corinth with its corruption? The Holy Communion and denial of the resurrection was false doctrine, far worse than common grace. For then we are yet in our sins and we have believed in vain. See I Corinthians 15:14-18. What an awful doctrine! Did that make the whole church institutionally corrupt and so that confessionally it did not know Christ? And what about the Protestant Reformed church; pure, Holy, without blemish? And I would ask you also whether the official stand of the Kings of the Kingdom of Judah, when they embraced idolatry—which is false doctrine, did not result in the whole church and the whole Kingdom being in such a position that confessionally they did not know Christ. Then for a time there simply was no true church on earth for the whole institute was corrupt and did not know Christ. The ten tribes did not, the two tribes did not; and so during the reign of Ahaz (II Chronicles 28:2 etc.) there simply was not a church on earth that knew Christ, only a few individuals here and there in the institute. What kind of confusion do we get? And therefore I want to say again, that the trouble is not with the English language but with Brother H. Kuiper who makes no distinctions that can hold.
REPLY TO MR. THYS FEENSTRA
Dear Brother Feenstra:
Again I extend Christian greeting in the Lord. Your letter centers on the affirmation made, not in my editorial originally, but in my answer to your 1st letter. Our readers will recall that the original editorial carried “…I am not speaking head for head, but confessionally they deny Him…” Concerning this, you interpreted that they must then have no confession except that which denies Him. And I pointed out to you that grammatically this simply was not in the editorial.
However, in that same letter, I go beyond the editorial’s stand to affirm that the conclusion which you erroneously take from it is, nonetheless, true. I now purpose to show the reason for having taken the stand that I have on this matter.
Remembering that we are speaking of the official confession of an institute, whether this is ever preached or not, I will ask myself a few questions here, answer them and invite you to do the same in your own mind and soul.
(1) Since we are all bound to the instruction of the Infallible and Holy Scriptures, do I believe that the official addenda to the doctrines of the Christian Reformed in 1924, namely the now infamous Three Points, are, before God and all men who encounter them, confessions of The Only God and the Only Christ of those Scriptures? I certainly do not! Rather, I believe that they are premeditated assertion, based on a lie against His Holiness, namely that God, in the final instance, is not God at all!
(2) What consequence does this have for me, logically, in assessing their doctrine? I affirm that the Christian Reformed therefore must either/or
(a) maintain a double concept of God, i.e. one from the Scriptures as held and interpreted for us in the Reformed confessions and the other as advanced and confessed in the Three Points.
(b) maintain a single concept of God, which in this case would necessarily have to be the “god” of the Three Points.
The former is impossible. God is not mocked! Even though man claims such abomination, God simply does not give them the desire to serve Him who willfully serve and confess the gods of their imagination. Scripture’s God was hurled out the window in 1924, not just men.
(3) Therefore, it must needs follow that officially the “god” of their heretical innovation is superimposed upon all the beautiful Three Forms of Unity, as well as over the whole of the Word of God. Read the candid exposure of this very thing as we find it currently in the editorials of the Standard Bearer. There it is shown that the latter is explicitly correct. Their leaders who have imbibed this heresy and support it in their souls are not concerned with denying our allegations as to what sort of God we say they must necessarily have and confess in the maintenance of heresy. Of course they don’t! And I can read all that and say that it is not a denial of God? I cannot.
And when they superimpose that “god” on the Forms and Scripture, the Word, which is Christ, is denied. That is my basic reason, brother, for my stand. For some reason, you ask if the Protestant Reformed Church is “pure, holy, without blemish”. Let me answer the first. No, we are not! We all know that God Himself continues to develop His truth throughout all the ages; but I believe we are in principle perfect, doctrinally. Of course, I believe that! Dare I say that for the Christian Reformed church? To do so would be to repudiate the Word of God itself. And because you ask that question, I want to say to our youth, that it simply is not true that the church must be perfect in order for it to instruct its youth against the satanical craftiness of those that willfully walk in apostasy. Show us the error of our doctrines and will we not by His grace repent and teach against that very evil? The question is not whether we are perfect. The question is whether we willfully walk confessionally in a way which is shown to be contrary to the Word of God!
And let us not forget, either, that the God-dishonoring and God-denying heresies of the Christian Reformed from 1924 and following years are exactly the affirmations which are in the hearts of us all as we are by nature and apart from His grace. Let us not be ashamed to engage in the conflict to which it has pleased Him to call us. And let us in all of our life show the beauty of that grace. And let us in humility and joy strive to teach it to our children in all their ways. And we, I repeat, shall not be put to shame!
Brother Feenstra, forgive me for “multiplying words”. Categorically I deny your friendly allegation that I try to or do evade the issue. For some of your remarks, with respect to the “false church”, I refer you and our readers to Art. XXIX of the Confession of Faith. Take a long hard look at that once. Is it all wrong?
May peace and unity in the truth reign in Zion!
H. W. Kuiper
To the Editor-in-chief of Beacon Lights
In regard to the Beacon Lights of Feb. 1964 in the editorial written by Mr. H. Kuiper, entitled: “The Need for Protestant Reformed High Schools”, I have many questions. I would like to ask Mr. Kuiper a few questions in regard to some of the statements made in his article.
I would like to ask Brother Kuiper first of all: what proof do you have for the statements you made in the editorial, that the group that maintains the Christian High Schools, in which there are many things we cannot condone, does not know Christ?
Secondly, what proof do you have that they deny Him confessionally? Mark you, your statement is not that in some respects they deny Christ by their confessions, but confessionally they deny Him. That statement means that in all their confessions they deny Him. Remember, Mr. Kuiper, that you are instructing the youth of God’s Church in your Beacon Lights article. You must prove to them and also to me that this group has no confessions but the one that denies Christ. And that they are, therefore, worse than the Roman Catholic Church that still confesses some of the cardinal truths of Scripture: as the virgin birth, the divinity of Christ, the triune existence of God. Can you prove to our young people that this group confesses the anti-Christ and denies the virgin birth and the divinity of Christ? Do they deny the power of the cross? Do they deny the truth of free justification through the grace of God in Christ Jesus? Do they deny the power of His resurrection? Remember, Mr. H. Kuiper, that you wrote in your article that they do not know Him, the Christ.
And if that be true, why is it that our Churches accept the baptism performed in this group? And how can our Churches accept their confessions if they confessionally deny Him? And tell me, when our ministers pray also for other churches that are in the world, do they in their prayers exclude the Christian Reformed Church? And why then does our Synod still call them brethren if they do not know Christ?
And, Mr. Kuiper, why do you not write that we cannot condone anything in their schools? Do you not by your own statement, “of many”, rather than “all”, deny your charge that they do not know Christ confessionally?
Did you know (read Rev. chaps. 1-4) that churches who do hold to some heretical teaching are by Christ Himself confessed as knowing Him? And that Christ through John blessed them, Rev. 1:4-5a: “John to the seven churches which are in Asia, Grace be unto you and peace, from him who is and who was and who is to come and from the seven spirits which are before his throne and from Jesus Christ.” This blessing is given to the Church throughout all the ages. Thus this blessing also includes the Christian Reformed Church of today, does it not? If so, Mr. Kuiper, then they know Him and Christ knows them, then they know Him confessionally also.
Think it over and let me hear from you in the Beacon Lights. And by all means prove to the youth you are instruction that this group has no confession but the one that denies Christ.
Thys Feenstra, Redlands, California
Reply to Mr. Thys Feenstra
Dear Mr. Feenstra,
Greetings in the Lord, brother. The editor forwarded to me for answer your letter concerning my editorial, “The Need for Protestant Reformed High Schools”, as it appeared in the February, 1964 issue of Beacon Lights. Your letter, in addition to setting forth various questions concerning a few of my statements in the editorial, evidences your clear understanding that the youth of the Church of Christ is being instructed continually and that we do well to remember that fact always; in this case, specifically, as they are readers of our periodical, the Beacon Lights. Therefore we are of one mind on that matter. I am happy for that, for it will undoubtedly serve (1) to underscore and emphasize, unmistakably, the main thrust of the whole editorial concerning which your questions arise, and (2) to help us to continue in that realization as these matters of your questions are discussed in the reading of our youth.
For the sake of the reader, brother Feenstra, let me at the outset agree with you in your identification of the “group” which maintains the existing “Christian” high school and concerning whose confessions we write, namely, the confessions of the Christian Reformed Church.
Concerning my words “confessionally they deny Him” you say that such means “in ALL their confessions they deny Him” (capitals mine, HWK). And by the way, since you appear to be warning me concerning what I wrote for our Protestant Reformed youth and because you insist that proof be given for these things which I wrote, I take it for granted, brother Feenstra, that you do not believe that this group confessionally denies Christ. Thus I have given my stand on the matter and you by your letter have evidenced yours. Now we know where we are.
In the abstract, brother, your difficulty is not with me, but with the structure of the English language. You notice that I do not say that all specific portions of their confessions, e.g., any one of the Three Forms of Unity, constitute in themselves a denial of the Christ. Of course not! Not per se. To do so would be to repudiate those things which we ourselves, as Protestant Reformed cherish and have cherished and maintained through the years, and through heresy and apostasy, too! Further, you should understand that the adverb “confessionally” here means that I am not speaking about the views or notions, perhaps, of one or a group of individuals in their camp that have been expressed which most certainly deny the Christ of Scripture’s God. One finds a lot of that too, of course, but such is not what is meant by the term used.
“Confessionally” here means that the group referred to has, officially as an institute, expressed in and as its credo, i.e. its confessions, doctrines which are contrary to the Word of God. And we do not need more proof for THAT, do we? And you do not believe, do you, that one or a group can tamper with the Word in some seemingly insignificant manner and not thereby affect THE CHRIST Himself, Who IS that Word? Thus it means that in or by their confessions, which are a single entire entity, they deny Him and it does not mean, does not say, nor even connote, that therefore each constituent part of that confession is, per se, a denial of Christ.
In that connection, I trust that you do not have to receive proof from me that the heresies adopted by the Christian Reformed in 1924 are indeed confessions which they have officially adopted and also officially maintain yet today. If so, especially for the very youthful readers who have an interest in this particular aspect of the matter and have not studied it before, consult, among other references (1) Rev. H. Hoeksema: The Protestant Reformed Churches in America, specifically those chapters which treat of the insistence of their classis and synod with respect to compliance and agreement with the Three Points, and (2) Prof. H. C. Hoeksema: The Three Points Still Binding!, “The Standard Bearer” Vol. XXXVIII, No. 18, pp. 414-415. Just a brief perusal of these two sources alone (and there are more!) will substantiate the statement that the heretical Three Points are an integral and inseparable part of their confession. The skeptical reader from the Christian Reformed camp need not accept the views of the two aforementioned authors, but may desire instead to glean the identical material essentially from the Acts of his own church, as it applies to this matter.
Presently I will return to your statement that my editorial states that in all their confession they deny Christ. At this point, however, I will reflect on a few of the questions that bear directly on the question. Most of them you may take and submit for discussion in your Men’s Society, etc., in view of the truth of my statements. Certainly it would prove to be edifying, but understandably it is impossible that they would all be covered in this answer to your main objection. And, too, in another sense, they are all directly answered in my concluding remarks.
Concerning our ministers praying for “other churches that are in the world”, I can only say that I have never heard of that before, in just that way. I have heard that they pray for that whole CHURCH MILITANT as it exists over the length and breadth of the earth. With the latter, I agree; with the former, I do not agree. Unless you mean that the only possible prayer that should be and is uttered for “mother church” is that, if it please God, she be given grace to repent from the apostasy of her heretical path. That there is a vast difference between the two is obvious.
Concerning the Roman Catholic Church, I would be extremely careful as to what esteem I give her, even that she confesses some of the cardinal truth of Scriptures. And by the way, brother Feenstra, who said that the Christian Reformed Church was worse, but YOU? I certainly did not; rather, I affirm that they both confessionally deny the Christ. But that distinction is yours, not mine.
Concerning your question as to why I did not write that we cannot condone anything in these schools, it ought to be evident that there may be nothing wrong, perhaps, with some of the courses which they decide to place in their curricula, that is the scope of the subject matter of a given course in history, for example. My objection to complacently sending my child to their school is that they have (primarily) employed teachers that are in total agreement with the heresies of 1924 (and the inevitable attendant decay) and if possible I desire that my child be instructed by one who confesses the truth of the Word, and not man’s distortion of it!
Concerning the reference to the churches in Asia, although Christ obviously had his elect in place and to that end as yet had the candlestick there, I am convinced that God through Christ did not bless the efforts of that church that were based on those heresies. So then He does not confess that a heretical confession knows Him, but rather confesses that His elect that are still in that sphere still may know Him…and they are called to come out!
No, brother Feenstra, I do not believe that the Lord blesses the Christian Reformed Church AS INSTITUTE anymore! Use it? Yes, I believe that the candlestick may still be there for the sake of his lingering saints there, but the candlestick’s witness is opposed to the witness of the confessions of the institute. I am convinced that God does not bless an institute that fosters God-dishonoring heresies.
Now concerning your interpretation that my statement means that in all their confessions they deny Him, I have said that grammatically this is not true, but now affirm that spiritually such is most certainly true. I affirm that though they allege to hold to the Three Forms of Unity (we do not call her the “false church”, do we?), they, nonetheless, by their official addenda to these forms deny the Sovereign God of the Scriptures, they deny and do not proclaim the good tidings of Scripture’s Christ, but rather a miserable synthetic “gospel”. Thus when they apply their confession’s concepts of God and His Christ to the Three Forms, they simply do not have the same Three Forms that we have, brother. With those addenda, they have thoroughly corrupted what it had pleased God to give as a heritage to our fathers and their generations. And when they maintain those heretical doctrines within their bosoms, they AS INSTITUTE DENY THE CHRIST IN ALL THEIR CONFESSIONS AND THUS CANNOT KNOW HIM!
Mark you well, mention is made in the editorial that this is not a condemnation head for head, or of individuals or groups of individuals within that camp. The editorial attacks, as you understood very well in your letter the CONFESSION of the INSTITUTE. And it proceeded from the truth that as institute they had gone wayward, not only, but that in the process of time (and forty years has been ample time to demonstrate the truth of this affirmation) these doctrines have become increasingly so corrupt, that when its members walk according to that confession, it is virtually impossible to delineate between it and the world!
I repeat, I think it is high time that we have begun to move in the direction of our own high schools; I am thankful for it, because it is impossible for those who uphold heresies, ecclesiastically, to teach our children the TRUTH in school; and I have the assurance in my soul that we will experience His choicest blessings on our labors, as we labor in His strength, steadfastly and unashamedly defending our heritage against all its adversaries. I trust from the lack of comment on these points that you are in agreement with me.
I hope that this has explained to you my stand and the reasons for having written it for our youth as well.
Fraternally in the Lord,
H. W. Kuiper
Being a builder by trade, I thought I would say something on that subject. But let me say first of all, that we all build and we are all builders, and we all build on the ruins of those that have built before us: and those that come after us build upon the ruins that we have left them.
Men are builders and must build because that was the mandate of God given in Paradise Lost.
And men always build anew, and think that now their work is perfect, and out of the old ruins rises a new foundation, a new building, according to different principles than have been before, a new Babel, and he who does not realize and does not see, and is not active in going along shows that he does not understand the greatness of his time.
These builders, that are always building anew, are the mighty men, the men of renown, the Nimrods.
Nimrod was the mighty hunter before the Lord and His Kingdoms were Babel, Ereck, Accad and Calnet in the land of Shinar.
That Babel is always seen as a mighty influence in the earth, always acting in positive antagonism to everything which owes its origin to heaven. He will by His grace mold us and seen as it were, in opposite scale. And it is not till this Babylon has been totally abolished, that the cry is heard, amid the hosts above, “Alleluia. For the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.” That, dear friends, is the vanity of all human endeavours. For we read in Psalm 127, “Except the Lord build the house they labor in vain that build it.”
According to Psalm 127, there is only one who can build and lay the foundation and that is God and that foundation that He lays is Christ the Lord. And He builds upon that foundation a glorious building of which He is the architect. Not a building anew, but a building according to his eternal decree and that decree according to His Word. And because that foundation which He laid is Christ, the Lord, we may by His grace be co-workers with Him, and build with Him. Be careful now, how we build. We, by nature, always build ruins. Men cannot build! When we come with our stones, they do not fit into that building of God. We must come, and shall come through His Spirit to Him. Empty handed, (with our own empty cups, to be filled by Him) (H.H.) who is the fullness. Then make us to be beautiful stones to fit perfect in that building, for salvation is of God alone, and He does not give His glory to another. That building of the which He is the foundation and cornerstone is rejected by the builders anew. This House of God! The Church with its Glorified Head and its Glorified Body! The Bride and Bridegroom!
Therefore the admonition comes to all of us, be thou not conformed to the world and build anew, but be transformed to that glorious image of our Lord Jesus Christ. Then we will be co-workers with Him!
How is that possible? Through the Word of God. That Word removes from beneath our feet that hollow foundation, and gives us instead a foundation which can never be moved. It takes away from us a delusive hope, to give us instead, “a hope which maketh not ashamed.” It takes away “a broken reed” to give us “the rock of ages,” it sets aside “a broken cistern, which can hold no water” to set in its place “the foundation of living waters.”
This is God’s doing, this is true love: it is God’s love. We shall be made part of that house of God, not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. That perfect knowledge awaits us on the other side of death and the grave. Through the death of Him, who died on the cross and was raised for our justification. Then He shall make our mortal bodies like unto His most glorious body: and draw us unto Himself in everlasting perfection through His final word: “Come ye, blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from before the foundation of the world.” Then we shall be like Him and see Him face to face!
O, Cross of Christ, we behold in it the everlasting foundation of our peace!
Then steadfast let us still remain,
Though dangers rise around,
And in the work prescribed by God,
Yet more and more abound:
Assured that though we labor now,
We labor not in vain,
But through the grace of Heav’ns great Lord,
The eternal crown shall gain!
Not human strength or mighty hosts
Not charging steeds or war-like boasts
Can save from overthrow;
But God will save from death and shame
All those who fear and trust His Name
Any they no want shall know.
“To trust: to confide; to have confidence in God. What is it?”
The singer of Psalm 33 sees a mighty host. He sees Egypt, Pharaoh and his chariots. He sees the world as it existed in that day, that terrible world and as it exists always, in every age of history. It is the world with its power and might; its knowledge and wisdom; its science and art; its culture and civilization, without God and in opposition to Him; the world with its pride and self-exaltation; the world in its sins and condemnation, with its trust in man and the power and wisdom of man. He sees that world in battle array.
But, he sees also Israel, the church. He sees that church standing before the Red Sea. The enemies behind and the Red Sea before them. He sees them there in fear and trembling. But, he also sees Moses, the man of God, the mediator, the saviour of Israel standing there at the head of his people, with his rod and his hand stretched out and he sees the waters dividing and Israel, the church, entering into his death.
Oh, here the human race is split in two. Here we stand divided; here is a fundamental difference between those that trust in human strength and mighty hosts and those that trust in His name.
“Death makes separation: Death is a place.”
In the book of Acts, the apostle Peter says that Judas went to his own place. Jesus says that Judas was the son of perdition. The Bible is very clear in its statement that Judas went lost. Judas went to his own place. His own place was hell. How terrible! I suppose that was for Judas, because he was the chief of sinners. Was he? And was it the place of Judas only? How about yours and mine? Was it our own place? Oh, terrible reality! Our place is that with Judas: that is the place all sinners have prepared for themselves. We must know this, terrible though it is; we must know our own place.
“But God can save from death and shame.”
We must know our place, but by grace we may also know His place, for our Lord and Saviour snatches us from our own place and brings us to His own place. That is salvation. How is that possible? Let me tell you. He said, give me my price and Judas valued him at thirty pieces of silver, but, he also asks you and me, what think ye of the Christ and we, too, valued Him at thirty pieces of silver. But that is not all! ‘Father, give me my price’ and God, too, values Him, His only begotten Son, at thirty pieces of silver; the price of a slave. Therefore, when hanging on the cross, He cried in agony, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” It was for you and for me; for He trusted in God, that God would raise Him up for our justification. For we were sold under sin. We were slaves of sin and were worthy of eternal condemnation and He! He! stood there in our place. Therefore there is now no condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus our Lord. Oh, mighty, marvelous cross of Christ! By it the world: man’s world is forever condemned. Let us therefore, not love the world, neither the things that are in that world, for then we are condemned with that world. Let us rather have boldness to draw near upon the bold-sprinkled way, through the death of our Lord! By it, the grave is forever opened into life. “Oh, death, where is thy sting? Oh, grave, where is thy victory?”
Thanks be to God, Who giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ!
Oh, we can now understand Psalm 33. Better, we can now understand the joy of the Singer, as he sings his Psalm.
Not human strength or mighty hosts
Not charging steeds or war-like boasts
Can save from overthrow,
But God will save from death and shame
All those who fear and trust His name
And they no want shall know.
Shall we have confidence? Shall we confide and trust that He can so perform it?
“Oh, blessed souls so favored!”
Every discussion about a thing will best proceed from an investigation of the name which it bears, for the name ever sizes and presents the most distinctive features of the thing. In the name we have the true declaration of the innermost nature. So too, the name Protestant Reformed. When the name “Protestant Reformed Churches” was adopted, they meant to express that they stand on the basis of the Reformed Churches of the Reformation of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. And what a basis! The Word of God and the Reformed Confessions, the reformed faith as expressed in the three forms of unity—the Heidelberg Confession, the Netherland Confession and the Canons of Dordrecht.
At the period when the Reformation was about to burst forth, there were two principles with regard to doctrine. Human systems had taught that salvation is of man. The religions of the earth had devised an earthly salvation. The religion of God taught that salvation comes from Him alone; that is, it is a gift from heaven. The sovereign Ruler, God, hath given to us eternal life, I John 5:11. The church had fallen because the great doctrine of justification by faith in the Saviour had been taken away from her and that doctrine of justification by faith is the heel that shall bruise the head of the serpent.
And so it is today. As in the days of the Reformation the church had fallen away from the true doctrine of God—that she is saved by grace only and that not of herself, it is a gift of God. Today too, man believes that they are not saved by grace but by works. Yes, God does a little bit too, but we are saved by our own free will. Salvation is of man. I refer here to those who claim that they have salvation. For if one would but listen to the preaching of today, the claim, the ground for salvation is that we have done so much for the Lord; another because we are from a Christian family. And still another, because we go to church and live morally clean and honest lives. All these reasons are very much in harmony with the general gospel message of today which does not proclaim what God has done for us, but rather what we should do for God.
The doctrine preached today is that aside from Christ, aside from saving grace man could be pleasing to God and upon the grounds of their own merits enter into God’s presence: God being obligated to them for the good men have done.
Over against that false and damnable doctrine of man the Protestant Reformed Hour on the air raises its voice and like unto the days of the Reformation holds high the doctrine of our God and our Lord and Savior. The righteousness which is by faith in Jesus Christ is the only ground while all other ground is sinking sand. He alone is the author and the finisher of our faith. We are the workmanship of God. We work out our own salvation with fear and trembling because it was God that worked in us both to will and to do according to His good pleasure. It is in Christ Jesus that the whole is accomplished: Christ is the very satisfying end of all; in the full possession of Him we lack nothing.
Indeed the fall of man brought an utterly ruined world, and what a ruin! All things underlie the curse of God and the penalty of death. But not only that—we have lost the image of God in knowledge, righteousness and true holiness; that image is defaced in all things. Nor is it enough to say we have lost the image of God to the extent of being dead in sin, we must add that we are naturally defiled in all our faculties in our entire soul and body. Not only are we unable to do any spiritual good, but we are wholly inclined to all evil and that continually. Moreover, we underlie an eternal sentence; we have incurred the penalty of the violated laws of God and the curse of His broken covenant. A penalty and a curse! Which press upon us every moment of our lives and weigh us down, binding us for time and eternity. And to crown it all, there is no conceivable way of escape, nor one ray of light, no mercy except in the infinite love we have outraged and the infinite goodness we have despised! As we look out from a condition so deplorable; what hope can we have. But God has dropped some wondrous words about a promised seed, a great warfare and a strange victory. “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: it shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Christ crucified—the solution of the tremendous problem of sin and grace! Let God be forever blessed and glorified! Brought face to face are the ruins of the fall and the glories of redemption.
The Savior of sinners must be revealed; evil must have its course and ruin must come. Hell is opened from beneath. God will not be left destitute of a seed to serve Him; the eternal purposes of God’s love and mercy cannot be defeated for God will give His glory to no other. Salvation is of God alone.
It was for that doctrine, the doctrine of sin and grace, that the reformers gave their life and blood. It is the doctrine which has been the cause of almost every controversy in the church of Jesus Christ. Sin and grace; our total depravity that you and I and all men are so deeply lost in sin, are so corrupt and wicked that none of us can by nature do any good before God. So corrupt are we that in no way, nor in any measure can we save ourselves. We must be saved by grace, by sovereign grace alone. That was the will of God. How blessed are we when looking at our sins which testify against us, we turn from our own work of sin to the work of redemption in Jesus Christ and to Him we say “Nothing of myself I bring, simply to thy cross I cling.” Glorious Saviour! That is the gospel of God.
Listen therefore to the Protestant Reformed Hour on the air for it is God’s hour.
In the fall of 1932 on a Sunday morning, the bulletin stated that services were being rearranged. Instead of Holland in the morning and English in the evening we would have English morning and evening and Holland in the afternoon. This was in the Christian Reformed Church of Redlands and Rev. Schans was our pastor.
Out of over a hundred families about forty were dissatisfied with this arrangement, we formed a group and met at the home of one of the members to discuss matters.
A little later the time of services was changed again and it was announced that the Holland service would begin at 9 A.M. immediately after at 10:30 there would be an English service.
Besides being dissatisfied with the way the time of services was being changed we did not like the way sermons were delivered. The pastor made of the “preekstoel een steekstoel” when he preached a sermon on Korah, Dathan and Abiram and likened our group to them. We protested against such preaching and this action was followed by a letter sent to each of us. The letter stated that we were barred from partaking of Communion. On the evening of the day the letters were received by us, a consistory meeting was held at which they decided to place us under the first step of censure. Again, we received a letter informing us of this action. A third letter asked us to appear individually before the consistory. There we were told we had been placed under censure because of organized rebellion.
The matter was taken to Chassis which met at the Christian Reformed Church in Los Angeles. There they decided to send a committee of two ministers to Redlands to investigate the case. Instead of conducting an investigation they called on our families and insisted the consistory was right, we were wrong and must repent.
The next Sunday we as a group resigned and our names were listed on the bulletin to that effect but we were refused our membership papers.
Now we were cut off from all church connections and our next step was to meet in one of the homes to decide what we should do.
First, we discussed the proposition of joining the Reformed church. That proposition was rejected, it would be like jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Someone spoke up and said he had heard of a Rev. Hoeksema in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He knew very little about him but we voted to write and inquire, also to ask him to come and preach for us.
In a short time, Rev. Hoeksema was in our midst, we met in a Seventh Day Adventist church, and heard a sermon on Isaiah 50:4. “The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary.”
A timely sermon indeed. Rev. Hoeksema started with the words “Als ge in nood gezeten geen uit- komst ziet, wil dan nooit vergeten, God verlaat u niet.” We certainly were in need, it was a word in season. In all the years we had attended the Christian Reformed church we had never heard such a sermon! We had lost confidence in our church leaders and when the text was announced the thought arose in our minds: “now Rev. Hoeksema is going to tell us that he possesses the tongue of the learned.”
One of his first statements put our minds at ease when he said, “The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned and that learned tongue is the Christ of God.”
All through the sermon Christ was the center and theme. He emphasized that God is God and the words fell on our minds as water on a thirsty land. We returned home gladdened and spiritually strengthened, thankful to God that out of evil He had willed that good should come.
We did not leave the Christian Reformed church for principle’s sake for we did not realize that God is God in the sense we now do having been educated in the Reformed truths since then.
Not long after we made a trio and called Rev. Vos, located in Hudsonville. Michigan. God sent him to us and for eleven years he was our pastor. In his fourth year at Redlands a new church was built. The following year we acquired a parsonage and two years later we laid the foundation for the first Protestant Reformed school of our denomination. Our school now has 42 pupils and the attendance of children from our congregation is one hundred percent.
Looking back over the years we can say with Moses in Psalm 90 “Lord thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.”
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