This short, little book started as three public lectures by Prof. Homer Hoeksema. He gave these speeches in the 1960s when the teachings of evolutionism, especially theistic evolutionism, were finding their way into Reformed churches and schools—especially colleges.The conflict between...
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.
And so it is that today things have come to a head; a crisis has been reached in our churches; congregations have split; individuals show by their absence from God’s house on the Sabbath that they have made up their minds to go even farther away from the truth and from the upright walk than they did before.
No longer do they manifest themselves as being afraid of the gospel. They DARE to show you that they despise it, do not want to hear it and go where they may hear that which is more palatable to their tastes. They may, perhaps, tell you that they are sick and tired of always hearing in the preaching that there are no conditions unto salvation and that man has no prerequisites to fulfill before God gives the next installment of salvation. But they then go and sit back with joy and complete satisfaction in the pews of a church that as vehemently or even more vehemently brands as heresy an unconditional promise of God to the elect that he will give them salvation thru faith. They may tell you that they are full to their chins of conditions, but that is not so. Their behavior shows that this is not so. For they run as fast as they can to go where they will be filled even more with conditional theology. After all that theology has something for man, flatters him and does not put him in such a hopeless and helpless light as the truth of an unconditional election to an unconditional promise of an unconditional salvation!
Some professing Christians deny the necessity of church membership. Others join a church for unsubstantial reasons or leave a church for trivial, often selfish reasons. Many remain members of apostatizing churches because of family or traditional ties. Some Christians find themselves in areas or countries where no true church exists or can be formed. They ask, sometimes in anguish, "What must we do?"
Seemingly forgotten today is the truth that Jesus Christ institutes his catholic church in organized congregations that are clearly identified by objective marks. These are true churches, in distinction from false and apostatizing churches.
In the form of letters to an inquiring (though not always appreciative) European audience, this book addresses the issue of church membership in the twenty-first century. This instruction is applicable to all believers and is based on scripture, the Belgic Confession, and the important, but little known, controversy of John Calvin with the Nicodemites.