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Once More, Dr. Richard J. Mouw on Common Grace

Once More, Dr. Richard J. Mouw on Common Grace

All That God Cares About: Common Grace and Divine Delight by Richard J. Mouw (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2020). 176 pages. Softcover $20.90, hardcover $22.06. Reviewed by Prof. David J. Engelsma.   Introduction In this new book, Reformed theologian Richard J. Mouw pursues the defense of a common grace of God that he began in 2001 with the publication of his book, He Shines in All That’s Fair: Culture and Common Grace (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing, 2001). In the new...

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Knowing God & Man by Herman Hoeksema

Knowing God & Man by Herman Hoeksema

“The key to understanding Reformed doctrine, and certainly the theology of Rev. Herman Hoeksema, is found in the title of the first chapter in this book: “God is God.” . . .Each chapter on God directs the reader’s attention to a different biblical aspect of the sovereign of the universe: God as God, as creator, as Lord, as good, as the living God, and as love. The seven chapters about man open the biblical teaching about a subject often misinterpreted today....

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'God's Goodness Always Particular' by Herman Hoeksema—Reprinted!

What does the Bible teach regarding God’s attitude to the reprobate ungodly? What are the implications that God has an attitude of favor to the wicked? Do the Psalms support or give the lie to the theory of common grace? Does Zwier’s “triple cord” of biblical texts hold firm, or is it cut to ribbons? Read and gain new appreciation for the truth that God’s goodness is always particular. 144 pages paperback ISBN 978-1-936054-90-9 also available in ebook format   Note: This...

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Books for Dad

Books for Dad

These two books about Protestant Reformed church fathers are complete with photos and make great gifts for Father's Day!   Less Than the Least is the memoirs of Rev. Cornelius Hanko (1907–2005), the son of two Dutch immigrants. This book follows Rev. Hanko from his childhood and school days in turn-of-the-century Grand Rapids, Michigan, to his seminary training and ministry, all the way to retirement and beyond. Rev. Hanko served six pastorates in five states, most notably in First Protestant Reformed Church,...

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As to Conditions (11)

As to Conditions (11)

This eleventh and final article in the series 'As to Conditions' was written by Herman Hoeksema in the June 1950 issue of the Standard Bearer. ____________ Once more we meet with the term condition in the Canons of Dordrecht, and again the word is put in the mouth of the Remonstrants. It is found in Chapter 5, Rejection of Errors, 1: ‘The true doctrine having been’ explained, the Synod rejects the errors of those: “Who teach: That the perseverance of the true believers is not a fruit of...

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As to Conditions (10)

This tenth article in the series 'As to Conditions' was written by Herman Hoeksema in the May 15, 1950 issue of the Standard Bearer. ____________ Before I proceed with my discussion of condition, I want to call the attention of our readers to something I wrote almost twenty years ago, and in which I apparently teach conditions myself. I refer the reader to Volume VI, page 90, ff., of the Standard Bearer. This passage occurs in a series of articles which have been published in pamphlet form under the title, Calvin, Berkhof,...

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As to Conditions (9)

We must still call attention to the very last part of Canons III, IV, 12.

There we read: “Whereupon the will thus renewed, is not only actuated and influenced by God, but in consequence of this influence, becomes itself active. Wherefore also, man is himself rightly said to believe and repent, by virtue of that grace received.”

Now the meaning of this is plain.

The article had first emphasized that the grace of regeneration is absolutely sovereign and unconditional. 

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As to Conditions (8)

As to Conditions (8)

In our last article under this heading we referred to Canons heads three and four, article 12, which speaks of regeneration. And at the close of that article we had several questions which we now shall discuss.

The first question in whether, if faith is a condition, regeneration must not also be considered as conditional, as something which man must fulfill in order that God may give him the grace of regeneration. That would seem to be almost an impossible conception, but it is also a conception which seems to be implied in what the Rev. Petter writes in Concordia of Feb. 2, 1950. For there he writes that the Spirit of regeneration, the Spirit of salvation, comes after repentance and is related to the latter as a condition.

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As To Conditions (7)

In my last article on this subject (cf. The Standard Bearer of Dec. 15, 1949) I was discussing Canons 2, article 8, an article of our confessions which completely covers the entire truth of our salvation from election to eternal glory. Yet, this article not only fails to speak of conditions but leaves no room for the notion at all.

It speaks of the sovereign decree of election as the unconditional source of our salvation. It emphasizes that the gift of faith is bestowed by God only upon the elect, so that faith is presented as belonging to salvation itself. Moreover, by this God-given means of faith, the elect are infallibly led unto salvation. And how can a gift possibly be, at the same time, a condition unto that gift?

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As To Conditions (6)

It was not my purpose originally at this stage of my discussion on the question of conditions to reply to the writing of the Rev. Petter in Concordia. The purpose of my writing is not to carry on a controversy, but rather to give a positive, and more or less systematic, exposition of the whole subject from a Reformed point of view. And it certainly is not conducive to the realization of this purpose to pay too much attention to what others write and especially to the writing of the Rev. A. Petter. The brother will therefore have to have a little patience, and if necessary I will reply to him at the end of my series.

Nevertheless, I can no longer refrain from pointing to a grave error in the Rev. Petter’s method of attacking me in Concordia and especially to his misrepresentation of what I taught in the past on the question of conditions. The brother leaves the impression with his readers that I, too, have changed my mind, and that therefore our churches cannot safely follow so untrustworthy a leadership as I offer them. I therefore want to state here emphatically that I always opposed the standpoint of the Rev. Petter that faith is a condition and that the covenant is conditional.

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As To Conditions (5)

At the close of our last article we were discussing Canons, chapter I, Rejection of Errors, V.

The Arminians, as is plain from that article, presented the entire way of salvation as conditional, and therefore, as depending on something man must do, on conditions which he must fulfill in order to be saved.

They were afraid that the doctrine of unconditional election and unconditional salvation would lead to a denial of the responsibility of man. And the latter they wanted to maintain at all cost, even at the expense of the truth of sovereign and unconditional election and reprobation.

Hence, they spoke of a conditional election, and therefore, of a conditional salvation.

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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?

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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.

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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.

If, however, faith is a God-given instrument it is completely outside of the category of condition, for the simple reason that, in that case, it belongs to salvation itself. It is part of the work of God whereby He brings sinners to Christ and makes them partakers of all His benefits of righteousness, life, and glory. And part of salvation cannot, at the same time, be a condition unto salvation.

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