The Royal Sufferer

T H E   R O Y A L  S U F F E R E R

Christ is and was the king…

…whose kingdom is not of this world, and who rejected all the glory that this world offers.
…who refused to allow the Jews to crown him king, though he was the King of the Jews.
…who fought alone, without an army.
…who was arrested by his own people, and mocked by the representatives of the Roman Empire, the great earthly kingdom of that day.
…who was crucified because he was King, and remained King when he died.
…who, being risen and ascended, is the King of kings and Lord of lords.

To this divinely anointed King, this book is witness. Behold your King, and worship him!

 

$14.50 retail ($9.42 book club)  |  96 pages  |  hardcover

(This will NOT automatically be sent to book club members, only to our Gold Star members.)

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Coming this month...The Royal Sufferer

The Royal Sufferer, the second book in the series of Lenten meditations by Rev. Herman Hoeksema will be available in a few weeks!

As you commemorate Christ’s suffering and death, read this book and meditate on the kingship of  Jesus. He went to the cross, not as a convict or slave, but as a king. Think on him as the king who establishes his kingdom through his death, a king victorious in both his death and resurrection.

This book will NOT be automatically sent to book club members. Only Gold Star* members will automatically receive this title. Or order your copy today!

* What is Gold Star membership?

Did you know that the RFPA publishes more books than the four new titles we send to book club members each year? Just this past year we began reprinting Rev. Herman Hoeksema’s Lenten meditations from When I Survey, publishing these meditations in six separate books. The next book in the series, The Royal Sufferer, will be available this March. In September we will also be publishing Katy, a new children’s book.

If you would like to receive all of our books, sign up for Gold Star membership today! Call 616-457-5970 or email mail@rfpa.org and we’ll add you to the growing list of people who receive all our new publications.

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A Review from the Past

*This review by William Hendricksen was published in the September 5, 1969 edition of The Banner.

BEHOLD, HE COMETH! by Herman Hoeksema (author) and Homer C. Hoeksema (editor and reviser), Published by Reformed Publishing Association, 1969; distributed by Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503. Price: $9.95.

Truly a formidable volume with no less than seven hundred twenty-six pages, it was the last large work written by the pastor of the First Protestant Reformed Church of Grand Rapids, and has been published posthumously. The preparation for publication in book form was begun by the author and completed by his son, who not only did a splendid job of editing but also revised and expanded the exposition of Revelation 19–22.

What is the nature of this book? It is not merely a book of outlines. Neither is it a dry-as-dust exegesis without practical application. It is something far better. It is an exposition in the form of sermons or essays. In serial form the exposition appeared first in The Standard Bearer, of which Rev. Herman Hoeksema was the editor for many years. The author also twice expounded the book of Revelation in sermons. With respect to these his son writes as follows:

His sermons, of which there were two complete sets, totaling well over a hundred…were delivered with a warmth and fervor which kept a large congregation at spellbound attention Sunday after Sunday.

Continue reading...

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Behold, He Cometh! now in its sixth printing

Behold, He Cometh! has recently been reprinted (with a new updated interior design) making this its sixth printing! First published in 1969, the RFPA has now printed 10,500 copies of this title.

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Behold, He Cometh!, is an essay-style commentary on the much disputed book of Revelation. By careful exegesis, the author gives a solidly Reformed, amillennial interpretation of  scripture. This book sets forth in clear, concise language the comforting truths concerning the end times.

"...lucid, simple style...In interpreting the symbolism, the author is refreshingly sane." —Peace & Truth magazine
  • 800 pages  
  • hardcover  
  • ISBN 978-1-944555-45-0

Receive 10% off with code BEHOLD6

 

 

 

Also now available in ebook format for the first time!

Receive 10% off with code BEHOLD6

 

 

 

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His Workmanship

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”  Ephesians 2:10

Lest any man should boast.

God alone is God. As such he must be acknowledged by every creature.

Of him, and through him, and unto him are all things. Never is anything of us and through us. Nor is anything partly of us and through us. Hence his alone is the glory for ever and ever. And this glory must be attributed to him. He will give it to no other.

Therefore salvation is of the Lord.

It is by grace, from beginning to end by grace only; not of works, lest any man should boast.

To boast, to claim part of the glory that belongs to God only, and therefore to claim all the glory that is his alone, is the tendency of sin, the inclination of the sinful heart. “Ye shall be as gods” (Gen. 3:5) is the slogan that expresses the deepest motive of the natural man. He refuses to glorify God as God and to be thankful.

So he is always inclined to deprive God of his glory, to say that salvation is of his own works. It is hard for him to confess that sovereign grace alone is the source and ground and power of salvation. Somehow he always attempts to introduce his work into the work of God, to share in the glory of the divine work that delivers him from guilt and clothes him with an eternal righteousness, that cleanses him from the pollution of sin and sanctifies him unto the service of the living God, that lifts him out of the depth of the misery of death and hell into the glory of eternal life and heavenly bliss.

In various ways he seeks to escape the consequences of salvation by grace and to maintain that he is saved by works. Sometimes he attempts to work out his own righteousness and to make this righteousness of works the basis of his salvation. Sometimes he apparently is willing to confess that he is saved by grace, but he contends that it is works that make him worthy of this grace. But in the measure that he introduces his own works into the wonder of salvation, he deprives the God of salvation of his glory.

Man boasts.

Yet no man may boast in the presence of the Most High.

Continue reading...

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Start your graduate’s library with a gift of RFPA books

CONSIDER ONE OF OUR BOOK SETS FOR YOUR GRADUATE

UNFOLDING COVENANT HISTORY SERIES (volumes 1-5)

From creation to the book of Ruth, Prof. Homer Hoeksema and Prof. David Engelsma teach familiar stories from the unique perspective of God’s covenant. His relationship of friendship with his people of the Old Testament is the same one he makes with us and our children!

THE TRIPLE KNOWLEDGE SERIES (volumes 1-10)

Rev. Herman Hoeksema’s timeless commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism. Your graduate hears the Catechism preached every week. What better way to prepare for the Lord’s day than to read from a commentary that expands on each question and answer?

REFORMED SPIRITUALITY SERIES

Every graduate should begin a strong devotional life as he or she enters the workforce or pursues further education. Each meditation in these devotionals contains three or four sections. Read a section or two in the morning, another at lunch, and the last in the evening. This way, your graduate can think on one passage over the course of the whole day.

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RFPA Update newsletter - Spring 2018

 Click icon to read the full pdf version.

The articles in this issue are:
  • "Richly blessed by those books"
  • Keeping RFPA titles in print: Amazing Cross, Behold, He Cometh, Portraits of Faithful Saints
  • Two special Reformation Issues of the Standard Bearer
  • New Releases: Walking in the Way of Love, T is for Tree, Studies in Hebrews
  • Children's books division news
  • What are the next books being printed?: Here We Stand: Commemorating the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, The Belgic Confession commentary (volume 1), Grace and Assurance: The Message of the Canons of Dordt
  • Blog news
  • Radio Interviews
  • Test your foreign language skills!
  • Book Review: Knowing God in the Last Days: Commentary on 2 Peter
  • Reader feedback

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Singular Love

“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.”—1 John 3:1

BEHOLD!

What marvelous love was bestowed upon us!

No cold, matter-of-fact statement the apostle makes before the church of all ages. Rather it must be seen as a shout of ecstasy pressed from the author’s heart under the influence of an over-mastering emotion. Rapt out of himself and elevated above the reach of ordinary, natural perception, caught up in the sphere of heavenly and spiritual mysteries, he beckons the church to come with him and to contemplate these heavenly joys, “Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us! Sons of God we are called.”

The full implication of this marvelous truth has not yet been revealed. The term “sons of God” is still pregnant with possibilities that will not be fully realized until the day when we will see God as he is. But potentially, in spiritual principle, and in Jesus Christ we are all we ever will be. For now we are sons of God.

What unspeakable glory!

There is in the divine family of the ever-blessed Trinity one Son. In him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead perfectly, infinitely, unfathomed, and inexhaustible. Father’s life is his life, Father’s power is his power, Father’s glory is his glory, Father’s mind is his mind, Father’s will is his will. He knows the Father as he is known by him; he loves the Father as he is loved by him. He is the perfect effulgence of Father’s glory, the express image of his person, and he lives with Father, in his bosom, in everlasting, infinite, perfectly intimate, and confidentially friendly communion of unblemished love.

To be called sons of God is to be called after him.

Not as if we should be or aspire to be God, as the Son of God is. The essential difference between God and us, between creator and creatures, between the infinite and the finite, between the Son and the brethren of Jesus Christ will never be removed. Even so and barring all pantheism, which is of the evil one, and strictly maintaining the eternal distinction between the ever-blessed God and his creaturely children, we do not overestimate the glory and the marvel of love the apostle has in mind if we state that to be called sons of God is to be called after the only begotten of the Father.

To be sons of God implies that also we in creaturely measure partake of Father’s life, Father’s glory, and Father’s love. It signifies that we are his and that he manifests the glory of his image through us. It means that God’s mind, heart, will, and all that is within him are motivated by the living power of a Father’s love toward us, so that his thoughts over us are always paternal thoughts, the counsel of his will is dominated by fatherly love, and the desires of his heart are paternal longings to bless and to glorify us, to have us with him in everlasting light of bliss and to press us in heavenly glory at his bosom. It means that our minds, wills, and hearts are dominated by this overpowering influence of a son’s love toward him, so that we think as sons, will as sons, love as sons, and long to walk as sons in Father’s light, to know him as we are known, to see him face-to-face, and to rejoice forever in the secret communion of his covenantal friendship.

To be called sons of God means that God calls us such, that he operates within our hearts until we call ourselves such and cry, “Abba, Father,” and that he will so fill us with his life and so impress upon us the glorious image of his Son that presently the whole world will be compelled to call us children of the Most High.

To be called sons of God. Singular blessing. Marvel of love.

Behold! What manner of love!

Bestowed upon us.

As by faith with the apostle, we rise to the elevated plane of vision to behold the wonder of blessings bestowed upon us, and to contemplate with the apostle the marvel of divine love that becomes manifest in this unspeakable glory, let us not fail to emphasize this little but so significant “us.”

Upon us this love was bestowed!

Upon whom?

Were we perhaps worthy of such love? When this love found you and me, where were we? What was our state before him who revealed such marvelous love toward us? What was our name? What were our rights? What was the condition of our hearts and minds before him who loved us? Could we claim any right to such love? Was there perchance within us some smoldering fires of love to which his love responded, or some lingering remnants of beauty that kindled the fire of so great a love in his divine heart?

We know better.

Search as we may, never will we find within ourselves an inkling of anything that might explain the mystery of this great love. Rather, the longer and more deeply we search in our hearts and lives, the greater the mystery of this love looms before our wondering eyes.

Rights we had none, unless condemnation can be called a right. For we were guilty, sins innumerable as the hairs of our heads testifying against us. Daily we were adding to these condemning sins and thus gathering veritable treasures of wrath for the day of righteous judgment. Our name was children of our father the devil. For true though it is that Father originally formed us after his image and that our features still bespeak that noble origin, even this remembrance of a former glory only witnesses against us. The fact is that by nature we are children of the devil. Our minds, so evidently adapted to the light of God, wantonly chose the darkness in preference to that light; our wills, so plainly formed to will Father’s will, foolishly submitted themselves to the slavery of Satan; our hearts, so manifestly fitted to throb with the love of God, we sinfully filled with enmity against him. Children of wrath we were, hating God and one another, our backs toward Father, our faces toward hell.

Thus we were and there he found us, neither longing for him nor seeking him, wallowing in sin, groping in darkness, defiled in our blood.

And upon us, so guilty, so miserable, so abominable, he bestowed such manner of love.

Oh, what impenetrable mysteries!

What marvel of love!

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This meditation was taken from the first part of Chapter 16 in the book All Glory to the Only Good God  written by Herman Hoeksema.

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The Amazing Cross

T H E   A M A Z I N G   C R O S S

 

"The vicarious suffering of the Lord must occupy a central place in the consciousness of faith and in the preaching of the gospel. On the death and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ depends all of salvation.”

So states the author of these powerful meditations on the passion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, giving us all the reason we need to read them and digest them, to believe on the Christ presented in them and magnify the God of our salvation whose work is set forth in them.

Take up and read, and be led to feed on Christ crucified and raised!

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The RFPA has decided to put When I Survey back into its original published form, in six separate books. The plan is to publish one volume a year over the next six years starting with book number one, The Amazing Cross, which will be available around the end of March 2018.

$17.95 retail  |  160 pages  |  hardcover

(This will NOT be automatically sent to book club members)

PREORDER

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The Question of the Necessity of Good Works (7): Losing the Sense of God’s Favor

The Canons of Dordt, doing their part to exhort on the believer the necessity of good works, warn the believer sharply in 5.5:

By such enormous sins…they [true believers] very highly offend God, incur a deadly guilt, grieve the Holy Spirit, interrupt the exercise of faith, very grievously wound their consciences, and sometimes lose the sense of God’s favor for a time, until, on their returning into the right way of serious repentance, the light of God’s fatherly countenance again shines upon them.

In this article there are two important phrases in connection with the question of the necessity of good works: “interrupt the exercise of faith” and “sometimes lose the sense of God’s favor for a time.”

Regarding the phrase “interrupt the exercise of faith,” Professor Hoeksema in Voice of Our Fathers wrote,

Even though the power of faith never fails, it is possible for the exercise of faith to be interrupted. When the Spirit is grieved and withdraws from the saints in their consciousness, the exercise of faith is interrupted, for the Spirit is the author of faith. The Spirit produces the faculty to believe, or power, of faith, and he establishes its conscious activity.

Thus when the article speaks of “the exercise of faith,” it refers to the activity of faith. Faith is the living bond of the elect sinner with Christ. That bond is also an activity. The activity of faith is faith.

Heidelberg Catechism in Lord’s Day 7 describes that activity of faith:

True faith is not only a certain knowledge, whereby I hold for truth all that God has revealed to us in His Word, but also an assured confidence, which the Holy Ghost works by the gospel in my heart; that not only to others, but to me also, remission of sin, everlasting righteousness, and salvation are freely given by God, merely of grace, only for the sake of Christ’s merits.

The believer who interrupts this exercise of faith by his enormous sins does not lose communion with Christ, for faith keeps the believer in communion with Christ in his benefits. Rather, the believer loses the conscious knowledge and assurance of his salvation. When the creed connects this with grieving the Holy Spirit, it teaches an important point. The Spirit who is the author of faith is also the author of the believer’s experience of salvation in his possession of the sense of God’s favor by that faith. Salvation and the experience of salvation, the covenant and the experience of the covenant, are by faith and through the operation of the Holy Spirit. They are not by works.

The consequence of interrupting the exercise of faith by his sin is that the believer may “lose the sense of God’s favor for a time.” He does not lose God’s favor. He is the apple of God’s eye, loved of God, and the object of God’s grace all through his deep and melancholy fall. Rather, the believer loses the sense of God’s favor toward him. This must be obvious if he interrupts the exercise of his faith. For we have that sense of God’s favor by faith. Where there is sin there is no faith. Living in sin the believer is not living by faith.

The Canons of Dordt 5.7 correctly teach how such backslidden sinners are restored to the sense of God’s favor. The translation of the article in our received English version does not do justice to the careful language of Dordt. I include the translation of Professor Hoeksema from his commentary Voice of Our Fathers:

And again, through his Word and Spirit he [God] certainly and effectually renews them [God’s own people] to repentance, in order that they should sincerely sorrow after God over the sins committed, that they should through faith, with a contrite heart, desire and obtain forgiveness in the blood of the Mediator, that they should again feel God’s favor, having been reconciled, that they should through faith adore his mercies, and that henceforth they should more diligently work out their own salvation with fear and trembling. (emphasis added)

In the received text the words “through faith” are omitted before the words “with a contrite heart, desire and obtain forgiveness in the blood of the Mediator.” The emphasis of the article, then, is that God renews the exercise of faith in his people. In their deep falls into sin they have interrupted the exercise of faith because they have grieved God’s Spirit, the author of faith. Consequently, they may lose the sense of God’s favor. Their renewal importantly includes the renewal to the exercise of faith, which means again believing God’s promises to them in the gospel. Faith functions again in restored believers. All that follows is a consequence of that: They obtain forgiveness by that faith. Having obtained forgiveness, they experience by that faith God’s favor and adore his mercies and by faith also work out their own salvation with fear and trembling.

Their restoration to the sense of God’s favor in this case is not by works but by faith. A faith that functions again also works out their salvation with fear and trembling in lives of thankfulness and praise to God, without trusting and relying on those works for salvation or for obtaining any benefit from God. Commenting further on the article, Professor Hoeksema wrote,

The conscious life and activity of the seed of regeneration is initiated strictly by God himself…He surely and effectually renews his people unto repentance…The result of the effectual renewal unto repentance is that the child of God actively repents and walks in sanctification…The result is one with a five-fold aspect. The order of the result as stated in the article must be strictly maintained…Wherever God effectually renews unto repentance through his Spirit and Word, all five aspects will result in this order.

Thus it is logically and theologically incorrect to maintain that since a believer’s failure to walk in the way of a holy life, in all good works and prayer, results in God’s just judgment in the believer of the interruption of his faith and the loss of the sense of God’s favor; that, therefore, by the believer’s walking in the way of a holy life he obtains the sense of God’s favor. It is not works, but faith that is the issue. With faith functioning again the believer obtains forgiveness, the conscious experience of God’s favor and of eternal life, and thus out of thankfulness for the benefit received he works out his own salvation with fear and trembling—not to obtain with God but out of thankfulness to God.

In summary, the Reformed explanation of the necessity of good works is God’s grace working in the believer. Because of this he must do good works. The idea is akin to the fact that because God called the light out of darkness, the light had to shine. It was necessary that it shine. Further, because God willed that by his renewal the believer gives to God a testimony of gratitude and praise, the believer must do good works. One who does not give that testimony shows himself to be wicked, unthankful, and unconverted. Still more, the God ordained way in which God gives, grants, and works assurance in his people is the way of repentance and good works, so they must do good works not in order to behold his face or to obtain his favor, but because that is the way God wills to work. In the same way an individual has to eat to live because that is the way God exerts his power to keep man alive.

I recognize that answer 86 of the Heidelberg Catechism adds another reason for the necessity of good works: “by our godly conversation others may be gained to Christ.” This reason simply reinforces that works do not obtain with God and are not the basis for some benefit of salvation, but are for the neighbor. The man who is worried about obtaining with God by his works certainly is not going to have much concern for the neighbor, but does everything for himself.

Belonging to the Reformed answer to the question of the necessity of good works is the clear and categorical denial that works are an instrument to obtain, to have, or to merit any aspect of salvation, since the believer is redeemed and delivered from his misery by grace alone for Christ’s sake and without any merit of the believer’s works.

This is the Reformed teaching regarding the necessity of good works. Because the Reformed answer to the question of the necessity of good works teaches a real necessity these reasons must be urged on the church. Because it is impossible that those who have been engrafted into Christ by a true faith should not bring forth fruits of thankfulness, the minister may expect his exhortations to bring forth real fruit in the lives of God’s people.

In his urgent desire for the holy life of God’s people, though, the minister may not step outside of these bounds in teaching the necessity of good works. Doing so will not result in a holy life but in legalism, which is an abomination to God.

To this urgent exhortation of the necessity of good works must be added what the Reformed faith confesses in the Canons of Dordt, 3–4.17:

Grace is conferred by means of admonitions; and the more readily we perform our duty, the more eminent usually is this blessing of God working in us, and the more directly is His work advanced; to whom alone all the glory, both of means and of their saving fruit and efficacy, is forever due.

By this explanation of the necessity of good works the Reformed faith distinguishes itself from any and all heresy that teaches that good works are necessary in order to have something from God, which is to make works instruments, or means, of salvation. Works are the fruits of faith not instruments along with faith to obtain from God.

This Reformed explanation of the necessity of good works must be applied to the covenant of grace.

To that I will turn next time.

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This article was written by Rev. Nathan J. Langerak, pastor of the Protestant Reformed Church in Crete, Illinois. If you have a question or comment about this blog article for Rev. Langerak, please do so in the comment section.

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Previous articles in this series:

The Question of the Necessity of Good Works (1): A Proper Starting Point

The Question of the Necessity of Good Works (2): Justification by Faith Alone

The Question of the Necessity of Good Works (3): A Real Necessity

The Question of the Necessity of Good Works (4): The Renewal of the Sinner

The Question of the Necessity of Good Works (5): Testimony of Gratitude

The Question of the Necessity of Good Works (6): Fruits of Faith

 

Next article in series: The Question of the Necessity of Good Works (8): Uniquely Reformed Heresy

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