Steadfastness in the World

It was a well-executed move on the part of the host society, South Holland, that they invited one of their former pastors, a man who had played a part in setting the convention machinery for 1945 in motion as he himself remarked by way of introduction, to assume the role of after-dinner speaker on the final night of the convention. That gentleman was the Reverend Leonard Vermeer, of Pella, Iowa. He had been asked to further develop the convention theme, by speaking of “Steadfastness in the World.” And although the Reverend remembered that his was to be an after-dinner address, and therefore did not burden his audience with anything heavy, he nevertheless was true to character in that he divided his talk into the customary three parts. In the first place, he pictured to us in very realistic terms the “World in which we are to be steadfast” as a world in which grace alone will enable us to stand. In the second place, the “steadfastness which must characterize us” was brought to our attention, with emphasis on the fact that we are constantly called upon as God’s people in the world to be “doers of the word and not hearers only”. The speaker of the evening concluded an address which commanded close attention, with a warning that such steadfastness is difficult, and is only possible because by faith we may even now enter into the victory of Him Who has overcome the world.

Instead of attempting further to summarize and condense Reverend Vermeer’s address, I shall rather give you glimpses of it by quoting some of the more climatic portions.

“. . . .The past President Roosevelt called America the ‘arsenal of democracy’, but let us not forget that the whole world is a veritable arsenal of wickedness and destruction”.

“. . . .Secondly that world is therefore greatly to be feared, for it is also uniting all its powers and ingenuity unto its own preservation. More and more the urge to unity is to be noticed among all people and classes of people. . . . The world which you and I face in the future, Protestant Reformed Young People, is a world wherein Anti-Christ will reign supreme, hating God in any sphere of life: a world that is ready even now to utilize all its means and advantages and resources to establish itself and maintain itself over against our God. . . . Finally, a world that will deny literally ALL THESE NATURAL RESOURCES AND ACHIEVEMENTS AND DEVELOPMENTS to anyone who refuses to go along with the crowd of that world.”

“In the midst of the world we must be steadfast to carry out that truth (the truth of a sovereign God), and not merely in name but in actual deed be separate from and testify against that world that lies in darkness.”

“Steadfastness in the world demands that we may be resolute and determined in the truth and in our walk as we carry out that truth in our daily lives in the world, and despite all opposition from that world, yea, with unflinching courage and defying all dangers, stand on the faith once and for all delivered unto the saints.”

“This steadfastness for you as Protestant Reformed Youth is the more necessary in the light of the awful spectacle of the church today,–at least its great majority – seeing that that church has become more and more UNsteady.”

“The results of such steadfastness in the world? Well, first of all we may state that in the world you will have tribulations. . . . They will use all their means (and they are numerous) to bring you from the faith. . . . First they will attempt it by so-called peaceful means of persuasion and of temptation, and so great will become the attempt at this temptation that they will deceive the very elect if it were possible. When all those means have failed that world will lose its patience, and will unsheathe the sword. . . .”

“But secondly, we have the sure word of our Lord also: ‘Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world’. . . . Delegates! Go back to your respective societies and bring also unto them the message: ‘Be steadfast and immoveable in the midst of the world’ and let us all be assured that victory is ours through grace.”