June Standard Bearer preview: Response to ‘Agreement and objections re faith and works’

Rev. Lanning:

I am glad to read that you find between us areas of agreement. Especially important is that you can accept calling faith a ‘doing,’ though only “as long as calling faith a ‘doing’ only means that faith is an activity, but in no way, shape, or form means that faith is a work.”

You should have no fear of that. In no place have I called or labeled our faith a work. To do so, would create a confusion of categories. They are to be distinguished.

You write that we are in agreement that faith is an activity. I am happy to hear that.

You indicate that we can agree that the regenerated child of God is able to believe and that faith is the necessary means of salvation. That is encouraging.

You also indicate (in your third paragraph from the end) that faith is obedience to the gospel’s call.

Thus, in sum, we may say that you teach that 1) faith is an activity, 2) faith is obedience to the gospel call, 3) faith is a ‘doing’ (carefully defined), and 4) man actually does believe. It means we have a common basis for discussion.

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June Standard Bearer preview: Agreement and objections re faith and works

Agreement and objections re faith and works

Thank you for publishing my letter and revised letter in the March 1 and March 15, 2019 issues of the Standard Bearer, even though the letter exceeded the length allowed by SB policy. (As for your apology for publishing the wrong letter originally, apology accepted—no harm done and no hard feelings.) Thank you as well for your thorough response to my letter in two installments in those same issues. We are agreed that these matters are of greatest importance and are worthy of the space devoted to them in the pages of the SB. I ask for your indulgence in allowing me to respond once more, since this letter again goes beyond policy.

I have read your responses repeatedly and carefully, and I believe that I understand what you are saying. I am in complete agreement with much of what you write, and I think it would be beneficial in this discussion to highlight precisely where we are of one mind.

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Reflections as we await the coming year

What did we see in 2018? Man setting himself against God, and against truth and righteousness. Such men, according to Scripture, are without hope in this world. A world of despair.

We with our little ones live in such a world, facing a new year.

Without hope? In despair?

No! But with hope. Why?

Because our Christ Himself is a Man of War. Remember, He comes from a warrior line, David the warrior king.

It was exactly as such that the Old Testament prophets spoke of Him and the church looked for Him. Psalms 2 and 72 are cases in point (Psalter #’s 3 and 200). The great King who would crush His and the church’s enemies once and for all, and thus have the victory, the final victories that would usher in the Kingdom of righteousness and peace.

Lord, haste the Day, cried the Old Testament church. And He came! 

—Read ‘Reflections as we await the coming year’ by Rev. Kenneth Koole in the upcoming January 1 issue of the Standard Bearer.

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In Response to 'What Must I Do?' Editorial in the Standard Bearer

The following letter was sent to the editorial office of the Standard Bearer with the request that they publish it. The editors refused to publish the letter. I publish it here on the RFPA blog as I sent it to them. I believe these issues are of utmost importance for our churches and for the readers of the blog.

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Letter to the Standard Bearer about What must I do?

Dear Editors of the Standard Bearer,

I am writing about the most recent editorial, What must I do?, by Rev. Koole (October 1, 2018 Volume 95, Issue 1). I find the editorial deeply disturbing for the connection that it makes with doctrinal dispute in our churches, specifically the editor’s, “fear that we tend to underestimate,” the truth of irresistible grace, and the editor’s connecting this to the “issues being discussed in the PRC of late, namely, grace and godliness—the life of good works—in the life of the child of God.”

The editor’s reference is to the doctrinal dispute in the Protestant Reformed Churches over sermons preached at Hope Protestant Reformed Church. I take issue with the editor’s characterization of this as “a discussion.” Rather, there were multiple protests and appeals filed, discipline carried out, a man deposed from office, many meetings were held, many decisions were made, some decisions overturned, and the last decision was made by Synod 2018, part of which involved a formula of subscription examination of a preacher. It is hardly “a discussion.” To describe it as such is an affront to all involved.

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What must I do…?

In this editorial we want to touch on a few things that are related to the doctrine of irresistible grace. I fear that we tend to underestimate that truth and its implications, which really is to say, what he, the Holy Spirit, is able to make of a man. We give you exhibit A, Simon Peter—the boastful, self-confident disciple pre-cross, in contrast to the humble, courageous apostle post-Pentecost. When it comes to a believer, the difference could not be more remarkable. We must not underestimate what by virtue of the operations of the Spirit a man becomes, and what the Spirit of grace enables a man to do! 

What we [also] touch on in this editorial are issues that are not only relevant to a proper understanding of the Canons and of the historically defined Reformed faith, but to issues being discussed in the PRC of late, namely, grace and godliness—the life of good works—in the life of the child of God; in particular, how the life of godliness relates to grace, and to faith, and then to the preaching of the gospel itself with its call to faith and godliness.   

—‘What must I do…?’ by Rev. Kenneth Koole in the upcoming October 1, 2018 issue of the Standard Bearer.

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