As To Conditions (4)

The Arminians taught an election on the basis of foreseen faith and perseverance. God had chosen those whom he knew would believe and persevere. Faith, therefore, is a condition in the counsel of God, unto salvation. Yet, they understood, too, that man does not have this faith of himself. Scripture teaches too plainly that it is a gift of God. Now, how did they meet or rather circumvent this difficulty by their theory of “common grace,” or of the proper use of the light of nature. By this theory, they could even, if need be speak of an election unto faith! O, the error is made to look so much like the truth! When the Reformed believer speaks of sovereign grace, the Arminian agrees with him wholeheartedly—it is all of God! When the Reformed believer confesses to believe in election, the Arminian has no objection. When the Reformed child of God confesses that we are saved through faith, and that faith is a gift of God, the Arminian agrees with him. And yet their views are opposed to each other as light and darkness. This becomes apparent as soon as you ultimately ask the question: but to whom does God give this saving faith? Then the Reformed believer confesses: God gives the saving faith to whom he will, unconditionally, according to his absolutely free and sovereign and unconditional election! There are absolutely no conditions in the matter of salvation, no condition of faith, neither any conditions unto faith! But the same question the Arminian answers as follows: God bestows the gift of faith upon those that are willing to receive it. There is, after all, a condition attached unto election unto faith, and that condition is that man must use the light of nature aright, that by that light he must walk humbly and in meekness before God, become pious and render himself worthy and fit for eternal life!

Thus the question is always ultimately: is salvation determined by God or by man?


As to Conditions (3)

The teaching of the Canons of Dordrecht, in regard to the subject we are now discussing, is very clear and emphatic.

On the one hand they present election as unconditional and absolute. The Remonstrants, as we all know, did not literally deny the scriptural truth of election, but made it contingent upon the faith of man and upon his perseverance to the end. But our fathers of Dordt rejected the Arminian doctrine, and maintained that election is unconditional and absolute. It is not contingent upon anything in man or upon anything that he can do or must accomplish, but rests in the sole good pleasure of his will.


As To Conditions (2)

According to the Heidelberg Catechism, as we have seen, faith is never presented as a condition unto salvation, or as a condition which we must fulfill in order to enter into or remain in the covenant of God. Always it is presented as a means or instrument which is wrought in us by God and given us of him, by which we are ingrafted into Christ, become one body with him, and thus receive all his benefits.

Instrument and condition certainly do not belong to the same category of conceptions.

If faith is a condition it certainly is something man must do in order to and before he can obtain salvation. Unless we attach that meaning to the word it has no sense at all. And as I wrote before, in the minds of the people the term condition undoubtedly stands for some notion that makes salvation dependent on something man must do.


As To Conditions (1)

In his editorial in the March 15, 2020 issue of the Standard Bearer, Prof. Russell Dykstra recommended reading ‘As to Conditions,’ a series of Standard Bearer articles written by Rev. Herman Hoeksema in 1949. Over the next eleven weeks, we will be posting one article from the series each week.

This first article in the series 'As to Conditions' was written by Herman Hoeksema in the October 15, 1949 issue of the Standard Bearer.


As the reader knows there has been, for the last year or so, a controversy in our papers about the question of conditions in the covenant of God. The question was really whether the term “condition” could be used properly in Reformed theology, and especially whether it could be used to express Protestant Reformed thought.

The controversy was introduced by the Rev. A. Petter who defended the use of the term and evidently conceived of the possibility of its being used in a sound Reformed sense. He even thinks that we need the term in order to express a necessary element in the Reformed conception of the covenant, the element of the responsibility of man.


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