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The Promise

Several years ago, the Rev. Hoeksema wrote a pamphlet under the title, “The Gospel,” which has been published and reprinted more than once by the Sunday School Society of the First Protestant Reformed Church. In the interest of the truth vs. errors of those that have schismatically left our churches, and who, even today, continue to pretend to be the historic continuation of our Protestant Reformed Churches, and even have the audacity to claim that there is no doctrinal issue involved in the recent history we have made, I want to bring to the attention of those interested in the truth, excerpts from this pamphlet. Rev. Hoeksema gives expression to the truth always maintained by our churches, concerning the promise, in this pamphlet. When you place this pamphlet along side of the first statement of heresy, you will readily see why these two cannot walk together. (Amos 3:3)

Strongly, I suggest that you obtain a copy of this pamphlet. And if there are those who have forsaken the Protestant Reformed Churches, who are not wholly saturated with the “hate Hoeksema propaganda,” and still desire to know the truth, I will gladly send them a copy upon their request, so that they can make the comparison suggested.

In the first part of the pamphlet, the author makes plain that there is a close relation between “Gospel” and “Promise.” He writes: “The gospel and the promise are, therefore, identified in such a way, that the giving of the promise by God through Scripture to Abraham is the preaching of the gospel.” Bear this in mind, dear reader, because when we speak of, or deal with the promise, we are treating one of the fundamental concepts of Holy Writ. Let no one deceive you into believing that our controversy has been a lot of wrangling over incidental and unimportant things. This kind of talk is only to blind you to the real issues, which are monumental, as far as the truth is concerned.

In answer to the question: “To whom is the promise given?” the author of the pamphlet emphasizes time and again that it is only for and can only be given unto the elect. For this claim he furnishes abundant proof from Scripture. Space does not permit elaborate quotations, but note the following: “It is evident from these passages that all through the old dispensation there was a promise, given unto the saints, which they embraced and believed, by which they lived and died…” And again: “It (Gal. 3) emphasizes that the promises were made to Abraham and his seed, and that this seed of Abraham is centrally and essentially Christ, vs. 16.” And, in Christ, he continues to show, the promise is only for the elect.

But what about the question as to whether or not the promise is ever in any sense of the world conditional? This question, too, is given a clear-cut and decisive answer in the pamphlet. The author explains the difference between “promise” and “offer.” This is an essential difference. The latter is contingent, for its realization, upon the willingness of the second party; upon his consent and acceptance of the offer. “But a promise,” writes the author, “is different. It is a declaration, written or verbal, which binds the person that makes it to do or forbear to do the very thing promised. It is an engagement regardless of any corresponding duty or obligation on the part of the person to whom the thing is promised. A promise, therefore, implies the declaration of a certain good together with the positive assurance that this good shall be bestowed upon or performed in behalf of the person to whom the promise is made. The certainty of the promise is, as regards the promise of Scripture, emphasized by the fact that it is God Who makes the promise. God conceived of the promise: He it is that realizes the thing promised: He declares the promise. Which implies, in the first place, that the promise cannot be contingent, for God is God, and His work certainly cannot be contingent upon the will of the creature.” (Bold, G.V.)

Has Rev. Hoeksema changed? Every Protestant Reformed person knows that this view, then, is his view now. And we ought to also understand that this is Protestant Reformed. Nothing else! But De Wolf et al say: “God promises every one of you salvation if you believe.”

Or consider this quotation: “If the gospel were the preaching of a conditional offer (or promise, G.V.) there is nothing in the condition man can possibly fulfill. He cannot of himself believe the promise; he cannot even will of himself to believe in Christ. He cannot repent and turn unless God first realizes the promise unto him. In other words, the promise of God is either unconditional or it is impossible of realization.” (Bold G.V.)

Did not those who scanned the “Standard Bearer” writings of Revs. Hoeksema and Ophof with a fine-tooth comb ever come upon writings like these? Let them quote them! They can be multiplied endlessly.

And again, in answer to the question as to whether or not faith is included in the promise, we come upon this: “And, therefore, the promise also implies the gift of the Holy Spirit, first to Christ, then also to them that are of Him, that by this Spirit all the blessings of Christ may be realized upon the Church. For, it is a mistake to present the matter as if God merely promised the objective blessings of salvation to the seed of Abraham, or even to men in general, so that it depends upon their consent, whether or not the promise shall be realized unto them. Very definitely the gift of the Holy Spirit is included in the promise.”

That is the Truth!

That’s the truth which you, who have left us, have forsaken by choosing to follow the lie of a promise to all if you believe. What prevents you from adopting the erroneous Point I of 1924 against which the Truth of this pamphlet is directed? You aren’t afraid of the words “common grace,” are you? And when you absorb Point I, what withholds you from Points II and III? Do you still think that, before God, you have a right to a separate existence?

But the thing is more serious. The real seriousness of it is expressed in this quotation, in which the bold is mine: “If the gospel is glad news about the promise, that is, about a positive assurance of God to the seed of Abraham, the heirs of the promise, that He will bestow a great good upon them, realize for them a glorious inheritance, it follows that the contents of the gospel must always be such with respect to the contents of the promise: and he that declares anything else than the riches of the promise is not preaching the gospel but vain philosophy of men. It must be such with respect to the certainty of the promise; and he that changes the sure promise into an uncertain and contingent (conditional) offer (promise) is corrupting the promise of God and the gospel of promise. And it must be such, finally, with respect to the promise, and he that presents the matter as if the promise of God were made to all men, or to an uncertain number of men, is not preaching the gospel and makes God a liar. For God does not realize the promise except unto those to whom he promised, that is, the seed of Abraham, the heirs according to the election of grace.”

The thought lingers in my soul. How would those who once professed to believe this truth, evaluate this beautiful pamphlet today? For the truth’s sake, they ought to tell us!