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Our Rejection of Conditions (4): Herman Hoeksema, late 1940s and early 1950s (Part 2)

Our Rejection of Conditions (4): Herman Hoeksema, late 1940s and early 1950s (Part 2)
The Holy Spirit, who first pricked them in their hearts [in Acts 2], regenerated and called them, now through the same preaching of the apostle Peter rouses them into conscious activity of repentance and baptism. Mark you, in all this there is absolutely no condition. The hearers do not take the initiative whatsoever. It is the Holy Spirit, that regenerated them and called them to faith, that now unconditionally rouses them to the activity of repentance. And when they thus repent, that repentance is not a condition unto salvation and unto the remission of sins, but is the active fruit in the hearers of the grace of God that wrought in them and that was first and unconditional. Read More

Living Joyfully in Marriage — A Review

Living Joyfully in Marriage — A Review

The strength of this book is that it takes Scripture as the ultimate authority as regards what is best for us in marriage (and all of life) and how properly to respond to difficulties in marriage. Each chapter is based on a specific Scripture text which is explained and applied as one would expect in a book based on a sermon series. In addition, the author takes into account many other Scripture passages to support the points he makes. When Scripture is taken as God’s revealed truth, we will know there was a first man and a first woman, who were tempted by a serpent, and ate of the forbidden fruit, and thus brought the wages of sin upon the whole human race. When Scripture is given its proper place, as the author does throughout the book, we will see our hope in Christ alone.

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Our Rejection of Conditions (3): Herman Hoeksema, late 1940s and early 1950s (Part 1)

Our Rejection of Conditions (3): Herman Hoeksema, late 1940s and early 1950s (Part 1)
If something is a condition it is something that man must do, perform, produce, or contribute on which his reception of salvation depends, or on which it is contingent. Such a condition must be contrasted, explains Hoeksema, from something that God gives or something that God works in the sinner whom he saves; for, since it is God-given or God-worked, it is not a condition for salvation, but part of the salvation that God gives. That remains true even if in God’s good pleasure certain activities of man (believing, repenting, etc.) precede God’s giving—and man’s receiving—of certain blessings of salvation. Temporal sequence is not decisive in the determination of whether or not something can be called a “condition’ in salvation or in the covenant. Read More

Special note from the RFPA board: the badly copyedited books

Special note from the RFPA board: the badly copyedited books Read More

Our Rejection of Conditions (2): A Survey of Creeds and Literature

Our Rejection of Conditions (2): A Survey of Creeds and Literature

We notice again the elements of conditional theology that the Protestant Reformed Churches and her sisters reject. First, grace is wider than election or the promise is general and for more than the elect; second, man is able to—and, therefore, must—do something (believe, obey, persevere, etc.) on which the covenant depends; and, third, the “something” (believing, repenting, obeying, persevering, etc.) that a man does is not given to him by grace or included in God’s promise, but is his contribution to salvation. Faith is not—and cannot be—a condition because it is the God-given and God-worked means by which God makes us partakers of salvation, and it is part of salvation itself. And in that sense—necessary means—the older Reformed writers used the term “condition.” Because of its ambiguity, many modern Reformed writers avoid the term, and because of its erroneous nature, we reject both the term and the theology behind it.

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Our Rejection of Conditions (1): What Conditional Theology Is

Our Rejection of Conditions (1): What Conditional Theology Is

The sinner who is the object of salvation (the one who is saved) is not the doer of salvation, that is, he does not save himself, he does not contribute to his salvation, and no part of God’s salvation depends on any activity that he performs, either by or without the grace of God. Of course, once God begins to save a sinner, he makes that sinner active and conscious, but the sinner’s activity, even his conscious activity (believing, repenting, etc.) is always only the fruit of God’s activity, or God’s saving work by the Spirit of Christ in him.

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Preaching Repentance and Forgiveness (7): Repentance and Remission

Preaching Repentance and Forgiveness (7): Repentance and Remission

Two concepts are included and, clearly there is a relationship between them. Quite simply, God forgives the sins of those who repent, or God forgives sinners when they repent. “I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin” (Ps. 32:5). “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, and he will abundantly pardon” (Isa. 55:7). “I send thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me” (Acts 26:17b-18). That should be enough—God forgives us when we repent—but to dispel confusion, we should explain the relationship further. 

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Preaching Repentance and Forgiveness (6): Justification by Faith Alone

Preaching Repentance and Forgiveness (6): Justification by Faith Alone
How, then, do we become partakers of Christ’s perfect righteousness so that it becomes ours? God imputes it to us or he reckons it to our account by faith. The instrument or means of justification is faith, not works. Faith is the only appropriating instrument: we are not justified by working, or by repenting, but by believing. Read More

The Biblical Concept of Grace

The Biblical Concept of Grace
To arrive at an accurate conception of the operation of the will of God, we cannot proceed from the meaning of the word grace in our everyday usage of the term, nor even from its usage in Holy Scripture. We must study specific terms and the use of words, but it must be done with great care. We always run into the danger of arguing from something in man to what is in God. That is the re- verse order. We must work theologically. God Himself determines the character of His will, grace, love, hate, wrath, and so forth. But it is also true that we know nothing definite about God apart from God’s revelation in Scripture. And so we must have a clearly defined idea of God and the operation of His will, which we get from God’s self-revelation, before we say anything at all. Such submission to the same Word of God’s revelation must also be present when we consider election by His grace, and the accompanying reprobation of His wrath, because both are the operation of His eternal will. Read More

Preaching Repentance and Forgiveness (5): Forgiveness and Justification Distinguished

Preaching Repentance and Forgiveness (5): Forgiveness and Justification Distinguished
One of the problems with an emphasis upon eternal justification is that justification by faith becomes simply a realization that we were always justified, not an actual point in time when our legal status changed and we were declared righteous. This leads to the extreme view that we were always saved, never lost, which would be news to a man like Zacchaeus: “This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham: for the Son of man is come to seek and save that which was lost” (Luke 19:9-10). Read More

Preaching Repentance and Forgiveness (4): Forgiveness of Sins

Preaching Repentance and Forgiveness (4): Forgiveness of Sins

In the minds of some, forgiveness of sins is the same thing as justification by faith alone and, since we are justified by faith alone without works (and the same people often define repentance as a work), to connect the forgiveness of sins in any way with repentance jeopardizes the truth of justification by faith alone. Therefore, with due deference to the fundamental truth of justification by faith alone we proceed carefully.

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Preaching Repentance and Forgiveness (3): Classifying Repentance (b)

Preaching Repentance and Forgiveness (3): Classifying Repentance (b)

Repentance is not faith and faith is not repentance. Faith is knowledge, confidence, trust, and assurance. Repentance is a change of mind. Nevertheless, faith and repentance are inseparably connected. Since we believe in Christ for salvation from sin, we necessarily repent of our sins at the same time. We cannot look to Christ in faith for salvation from sin while we hold to our sins. If we have true faith, we change our mind concerning our sins. Thus repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin: by faith we look to Christ and by repentance we look away from sin. Thus Paul summarizes his preaching in Ephesus in Acts 20:21: “Testifying both to the Jews and the Greeks repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”

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Preaching Repentance and Forgiveness (2): Classifying Repentance (a)

Preaching Repentance and Forgiveness (2): Classifying Repentance (a)

Repentance is a change of mind, which leads to the turning from evil works. In addition, Heidelberg Catechism A 91 defines good works, and does not include repentance in that definition: “Only those which proceed from a true faith, are performed according to the law of God, and to his glory.” When we repent, we do not perform a work in obedience to the law of God. The law says, “Do” and “Do not.” If we say, as penitent sinners, “I now know that what I did was wrong (I have changed my mind about it—metanoia) and I am sorry (I regret it),” we do not by that do what the law requires. We simply express regret that we have not done what the law requires. The law is not satisfied with regret; it requires and demands obedience.

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Preaching Repentance and Forgiveness (1): Repentance

Preaching Repentance and Forgiveness (1): Repentance
We remember that God forbids such words and actions, and the Spirit begins to work in our hearts. We feel guilty. Our conscience smites us. We change our mind. We see the evil of our words and actions. We have an afterthought; we regret what we did, we feel sorry about it. That is metanoia or repentance. Read More
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