Afraid of the Gospel (9)

Conditional theology.

Christless preaching.

These, we wrote last time, go hand in hand.

And, then, we do not mean that in sermons which are based on conditional theology the name of Christ is not mentioned. The use of the name of Christ does not save a sermon from being Christless. Even the modernist will mention the name of Christ repeatedly in his “sermons.” And yet the Christ is not in his “sermons” at all! The Christ of the modernist is the imagination of man’s mind, not the atoning Christ of God’s counsel.

The same is true of many religions which call them­selves the Christian religion.

In sermons based on conditional theology, even though much time is spent and many words are employed to extol and to present the glorious salvation which is in Christ, there is still that Christless element that condemns it as being false doctrine. Listen to all the Arminian philosophy that pours as a flood out of your radio! Arminianism as a rule, rather than as an exception, speaks loudly and at length of the salvation that is in Christ. Yet its Christless element nullifies it all. Do not forget that even the Pelagians, against whose heresy the Canons of Dordt were composed, speak of men who “through the grace of the Holy Spirit” believe in Christ. And yet they teach salvation by works rather than by grace.

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Afraid of the Gospel (8)

Conditional theology!

Christless sermons!

These go hand in hand. Hand in hand they must go. For conditional theology wants us to believe that there are works of men that precede the works of God and for which God waits, either before saving us or before he can and will give us the next installment of salvation. We must believe, so the particular phase of conditional theology which was smuggled into the Protestant Reformed churches declares, before the promise of God to save us will go into effect. God promises salvation to everyone who hears the gospel on the condition that they believe. They must, then, first believe, and then the promise is for them. Before that it is not for them. And so, this particular brand of conditional theology maintains, it is also for man after he has been brought by God into the kingdom by his act of believing. Then his receiving and enjoying of the blessings of that kingdom still depend upon his doing something before God will give the next installment. He must convert himself before God will send to him that blessing of the kingdom, namely, the joyful experience of being in it, the comfort, the peace of mind of being a citizen of it. Man’s work is prerequisite to God’s work! Let them not say that they do not mean that! Let them rather convert themselves and become like little children and confess that the word prerequisite does not fit in Reformed theology when we are speaking of the good works to which God calls us.

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Afraid of the Gospel (7)

Christ or conditions.

That is the issue! Either Christ and his work is the prerequisite for my entrance into the kingdom of heaven or else my act of converting myself is the prerequisite. Either Christ and his atonement is the basis for my salvation or else I am saved on the condi­tion of faith, and perhaps on the condition of a few other things demanded of me.

Christ and conditions?

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Afraid of the Gospel (6)

In response to our publishing of his statements that “Many people also speak this way about accept the terms of the covenant. We do indeed believe in covenant obligations and privileges, but never as con­ditions,” the Rev. Gritters objected by personal letter and declared that we could not find in any of his cur­rent writings that he now embraces conditional elec­tion.

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Afraid of the Gospel (5)

God cannot be mocked.

He may not be mocked; but he cannot be mocked either.

And when one departs from the straight line of the truth, he must come back to the point of depar­ture or else continue still further away from the truth.

That is not only a fundamental principle taught us in the scriptures, it is also the testimony of church history and even of our everyday life.

It makes no difference how little the departure may be, one must come back from it all the way, or else he will go still further in his way of error and of a sinful walk.

 

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Afraid of the Gospel (4)

In the article just preceding this one we stated that the seeds of conditional theology were planted into our churches from foreign soil.

That conditional theology was not here even dur­ing those days when our leaders used the word “condition” without having fully before their consciousness the implication of that word. Today, however, fully conscious of the use of that word among members of the Liberated Churches of the Netherlands who desire to become members of our congregation while still holding on to their conditional theology, fully con­scious of its implications because of thorough and ex­haustive discussions on the floor of Synod and Classis, there are those who still want that which manifestly they did not want and did not know only a few years ago.

There was a time when there was none in our churches who was afraid to preach the gospel. We like to show that at this time. We quote again from the work of the Rev. M. Gritters, “The Testimony of Dordt.”

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Afraid of the Gospel (3)

Seeds germinate.

Such is the process of life.

And if you do not root up or choke that which sprouts forth from the seed, the plant will soon come to that degree of growth that you can distinguish the plant from other types of plants.

You plant your flower seeds, and they grow. But in the soil are also the seeds of several obnoxious plants, the seeds of weeds. They also germinate. And as both that which your flower seeds send forth grows and that which these seeds of the not-wanted plants send forth grows, you are for a brief period of time at a loss to decide which must be uprooted.

So it is with the seed of the truth and the seed of the lie.

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Afraid of the Gospel (2)

Were you to assure the man, who was planning to break into an establishment in order to steal, that the night watchman of that building made a practice of leaving that structure at a certain hour every even­ing to spend one half of an hour seeking a bite of lunch and refreshment in some nearby cafe, you would un­doubtedly encourage him to go ahead and perpetrate his crime.

Were you to assure the visitor that the policemen in your city were instructed not to place parking vi­olation tickets on those illegally parked automobiles which had out-of-state licenses upon them, you would undoubtedly encourage him to break those parking regulations.

Were you to set a plate of candy on the table be­fore your children, were you to forbid them the right to take one piece and were you to assure them that, if they did, you would in no way and to no degree punish them, you could well expect to find some of that candy gone when you returned.

How, then, can we maintain what we did last time that we need not be afraid of the gospel, need not be afraid to tell our children that all the sins of all God's people are already paid for and that Christ suffered already all the punishment for which these sins call? How can we maintain that this doctrine of a full and free salvation which from beginning to end is the work of God does not make man careless and profane? How can we maintain that nothing must be put be­tween the elect and the cross, no conditions that must yet be fulfilled, no prerequisites that still stand in the way of their coming to the blessedness already merited by the cross? We find no difficulty here and that for very good reasons which we shall now present.

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Afraid of the Gospel (1)

Oh, no!

How could one ever be afraid of the gospel?

Why should we ever be afraid of it?

Even Webster tells us that the word gospel means good news, glad tidings.

How right he is, for the word used by the scrip­tures and translated in our English by the word gos­pel literally means good news, glad tidings.

That a man is afraid to open the envelope contain­ing a telegram, that he has inward fright when the telephone rings in the wee hours of the night is to be understood. These things often bring evil tidings, sad news. But the gospel is glad tidings. Why should we be afraid of it?

Did not the angel declare to the shepherds in the fields of Ephrata that their fear was out of place? Fear not, he said, for I bring you the gospel. That is literally what he said.

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Afraid of the Gospel - 3

Seeds germinate.

Such is the process of life.

And if you do not root up or choke that which sprouts forth from the seed, the plant will soon come to that degree of growth that you can distinguish the plant from other types of plants.

You plant your flower seeds, and they grow. But in the soil are also the seeds of several obnoxious plants, the seeds of weeds. They also germinate. And as both that which your flower seeds send forth grows and that which these seeds of the not-wanted plants send forth grows, you are for a brief period of time at a loss to decide which must be uprooted.

So it is with the seed of the truth and the seed of the lie.

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