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Canons of Dordt (26)

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Canons of Dordt (26)

8 minuten leestijd

It is a privilege when we may hear the gospel and are called to repent and believe in Christ. However, many perish in their unbelief, but this is not because of any insufficiency in the sacrifice of Christ. It is our own fault if we perish.

When the Lord opens our eyes, we see the reality of our state of enmity against Him. By nature we might indeed seek to be delivered from punishment and to escape the terrible judgments of God, but we have no desire to be restored into His blessed fellowship, to love and serve Him. Therefore it is so necessary that the Lord break the enmity of our heart and draw us irresistibly unto Him. Man perishes because of his own unwillingness and rebellion. But if he is saved, it is not because he is wiser or more willing than others. It is only by grace. Of this the Second Head, Article 7, speaks.

But as many as truly believe, and are delivered and saved from sin and destruction through the death of Christ, are indebted for this benefit solely to the grace of God, given them in Christ from everlasting, and not to any merit of their own.

It is true that many reject the preaching of the gospel. The seed of the gospel often falls by the wayside, on stony places, and among the thorns. However, there are also hearers who may attend unto the word that is spoken to them and learn to believe and who will be saved by Christ. It is not the preacher, who, if he is faithful to his calling, preaches the same gospel to all his hearers, that makes the difference. This difference is not caused by the method of preaching, by human gifts, by a persuasive way of bringing the message; it is also not caused by the free will of man. The Remonstrants also must admit that there always have been believers and unbelievers. They explain the difference by teaching that the free will of man must be joined to the offered grace. Our Reformed fathers, however, say that it does not depend upon the willingness of man, but solely upon the grace of God.

True faith

Faith is indeed indispensable. Without faith it is impossible to please God. It is important that we do not forget that this must be a true faith. Our fathers state: as many as truly believe. So much is presented as faith which is not the true faith.

There is a historical faith, by which we believe the facts recorded in God's Word as being true. But this faith does not change man's heart.

There is also a temporary faith that may stir up the feelings and emotions, but it has no depth and it leaves a man as he is, without a new heart or true grace.

There is also a miraculous faith, by which we may believe that a wonder will be performed by us or unto us. But this faith ends in the miracles and not in God, and it does not bring man at His feet.

When the article speaks of “truly believe,” this is saving faith. This faith has its characteristics and activities. It is planted in the heart o f a sinner when he is regenerated by the Word and the Spirit of God. But it also will be seen in its actions. This faith believes the whole Word of God. It believes that we have sinned against a holy and righteous God. It believes that God's judgment requires payment of our debts. It believes that we can never give restitution of what we owe God. It believes that God's judgments will be just. But, oh, what a wonder of grace and mercy it is when the Lord reveals His way of salvation. Faith believes that salvation lies outside of us, in Him alone. This faith makes the sinner to go out to Him and cry with the leper, “If Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean.”

This faith makes us as poor as a beggar, without any merits from our side. It teaches us to lose all grounds outside of Christ, but also to flee to Him. And whosoever findeth Him findeth life. That faith may also rest in His fïnished work and complete satisfaction. By faith they may embrace this Mediator, and by Him they may receive deliverance from all their sins and from destruction.

Faith brings a person to Christ with empty hands, poor, needy, and unworthy; but those beggars will not be sent away empty. There are different degrees of strength of faith. There are those with a weak faith and those with a strong faith. But this faith is as an outstretched hand, given by God, to receive unsearchable riches from the Mediator, Jesus Christ.

Through Him they receive deliverance from sin. This is mentioned first, not deliverance from destruction. Those who may truly fear God have a great burden, and that is sin; not just the consequences, the punishment of sin. Oh, how would they like to be delivered from that awful pride and the wickedness and rebellion of their heart. How do they desire to be holy and never to grieve the Lord any more by their sin. Therefore it is such a great benefit of which we read in this article, that true believers are delivered and saved from sin through the death of Christ. He paid the price with His own precious blood. He gave His life for His sheep. And thus He delivers them from sin, but also from destruction. Those true believers will not perish like the unbelievers, but will be restored into the blessed fellowship with God. These benefits are received by faith, which is not a work of man, but it is only by grace.

By grace only, for Christ's sake

So much religion of our days speaks a lot about man's faith. Then it is man who opens his heart for God and Christ, lets Him come in, accepts Him as his Savior. It is all man's decision, made by his free will. God's Word speaks a different language in Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.”

We recently commemorated the Reformation. The religion of Rome was a religion of “pluses,” that is, Scripture, plus tradition; faith, plus good works; grace, plus merits. The Reformation brought out the scriptural message of salvation by faith alone, by grace alone, by Scripture alone.

That is a humiliating doctrine for a proud man. The Roman Catholic or the Remonstrant lives in our human heart. It is such a painful process when the Lord, in a way of emptying and stripping grace, takes everything away from us in which we seek some value to make us acceptable before Him.

However, for poor and needy sinners who have lost everything, it becomes such a wonder that it is God's gift alone.

The Fountain of this free grace

This grace of God is given to them in Christ from everlasting. That means that they are chosen from eternity in Christ Jesus. It speaks of the counsel of peace, of the covenant that the Lord made from eternity, a covenant between the Father and the Son in which Christ willingly gave Himself as a Surety to suffer and die for sinners. The great benefits that may be received by faith through the death of Christ come from this eternal covenant, the good pleasure of God. Before Adam sinned and broke that covenant of works, the plan of redemption was ready. Christ finished the work that He had promised to do, and therefore salvation is by grace alone. There will be no boasting in anything of the creature, but God teaches His children what we read in 1 Corinthians 1:31, “That, according as it is written, he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”

What a precious work it is to glory in Him, to give Him all the honor for what He has done for such undeserving sinners.

The King's Birthday

John Brown of Haddington, in his last illness, heard the bells ringing and asked what it meant. He was told it was the birthday of their king, King George III. His comment was, “Oh, blessed be God, however worthy our sovereign is, we have a better King's birthday to celebrate. Unto us was born in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord! On account of that event the gospel bells have been sounding for ages past, and they will ring louder and louder still. Oh, the Savior! The Son of God, our Savior.”

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Bekijk de hele uitgave van woensdag 1 december 2004

The Banner of Truth | 28 Pagina's

Canons of Dordt (26)

Bekijk de hele uitgave van woensdag 1 december 2004

The Banner of Truth | 28 Pagina's

PDF Bekijken