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Canons of Dordt (41)

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Canons of Dordt (41)

7 minuten leestijd

The renewing, the regeneration, of a sinner is not the work of man, but it is the work of an almighty God. It is a supernatural, irresistible, most powerful, most delightful, astonishing, and mysterious work.

God meets an unwilling, rebellious enemy, conquers him, and gives him new life. This new life will be evident in the fruits of faith and repentance. The Lord makes him to walk in the paths of His commandments.

This work He will also complete, and that is the comfort for those who learn, that, left to themselves, they would destroy everything and perish in their foolish and evil ways. But they are kept by the gracious hand of God, who leads and preserves them.

How God works this wonder of regeneration is a mystery that they cannot understand completely now. It is a mystery, though, that they will experience. It is only by the grace of God that they may believe and love the Savior of lost sinners such as they. Of this we read in the Third and Fourth Heads, Article 13.

The manner of this operation cannot be fully comprehended by believers in this life. Notwithstanding which, they rest satisfied with knowing and experiencing that by this grace of God they are enabled to believe with the heart, and love their Savior.

Man has become such a proud creature that he tries to explain everything and reasons about things that we never can understand. We see this very much in our days also. Scripture criticism subjects God’s holy Word to the judgment of man’s limited and corrupt understanding. This is the foolishness of man who wants to be like God.

Things we cannot understand

Scholars and theologians try to reason away all they cannot understand. They call events in the history of salvation, as revealed in God’s holy Word, “myths,” which perhaps have educational value but are not to be taken literally. Thus they try to reconcile what God’s Word says about the creation of heaven and earth with the theories of the evolutionists. They deny the reality of Adam’s fall. What God’s Word says about the virgin birth of Christ and about His death and resurrection are rejected as historical facts. What God has spoken by His Spirit is treated as the fallible and often erroneous impressions or imaginations of the disciples. Yes, God has given us a mind, and we are able to think and to reason; but by our fall in Adam our reasoning is not pure and reliable, but often erroneous because we do not understand the truth. Even when by God’s grace our understanding has been enlightened and we are no longer living in the darkness of ignorance and error, we have but a limited knowledge of God’s eternal truths. The apostle says in 1 Corinthians 13:12, “For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”

There are many things which are too high or too deep for us here, which we cannot fathom and comprehend. God is great; He cannot be comprehended but must be adored and worshipped by us.

This does not mean that what God does is irrational, but it is beyond and above what we can understand. We are but little creatures. As an example, we find in John 3:8 that the Lord Jesus says, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” It cannot be explained, but by grace it may be known.

They are known by faith

It is true that God’s work is a mystery. This does not mean, however, that nothing of it will be known. God gives His people knowledge by experience. When He regenerates the sinner, He teaches him, by His Spirit, how great his sins and miseries are, but also how he may be delivered from them and how to express his gratitude to God. Our Heidelberg Catechism in Lord’s Day 33, when speaking about the conversion of a sinner, which is a process that will last all his life, mentions two very essential matters in it.

• There is a sincere sorrow of heart because of his sins.

• There is a sincere joy of heart in God, through Christ, and love and delight in living according to God’s will.

When the Holy Spirit works in human hearts, there will be a godly sorrow, a weeping because of what we have done against a good-doing God. There will also be a fleeing, by faith, to the only Remedy, taking refuge to the Lord Jesus Christ, when He calls them by His gospel.

Not everyone knows the exact moment of his new birth, of his regeneration. We might perceive it as having begun when as yet it has not, or not having begun when there has already been a beginning. The man born blind said in John 10:25b, “One thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see.”

When God regenerates sinners, the new life becomes evident in the fruits. There is repentance, a turning around, a change in the course of life; there is also faith. And although they do not comprehend it, they may see and may know the grace of God glorified in their hearts. By the light of the Spirit they may see the marks, the evidences, of this true saving faith in their own hearts. When the Lord Jesus speaks of the citizens of the kingdom of heaven in Matthew 5 and He calls them the poor in spirit, the mourners, the meek, and those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, and when He sheds light upon it, they cannot deny that they are not strangers of these things. There is faith that hungers and thirsts after Christ Himself, flees to Him and finds refuge in Him, but also may live out of Him.

Faith worketh by love. And although they find so much rebellion, unbelief, and unfaithfulness in their hearts, when they are asked as the Lord once did to Peter, “Lovest thou Me?” they will say, “Lord, Thou knowest all things, Thou knowest that I love Thee.”

A knowledge which gives rest and humbles them

When they may see these things in their hearts, they will acknowledge that it is only by the grace of God, and this gives rest in their hearts. They do not need to comprehend everything if only they may know that God’s hand leads them. Then they sing with the poet, “The work Thou hast for me begun will by Thy grace be fully done.”

This knowledge of God’s grace will humble them before His countenance. But they will also supplicate that their faith may be strengthened and that they will be made more holy. They desire to know Him more and more, that they may grow in the grace and the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Such a growing will not make sinners big in themselves, but will humble them and cause them to praise Him for His undeserved mercies.

Young and old, beg the Lord that His mercy may also be shown to you. We have given our hearts, our love to that which dishonors God, destroys our souls, and leads us to destruction. Yet God calls you to return to Him and to repent, and sinners, though unworthy in themselves, are welcome at the feet of the Savior. Ask the Lord to show you your need and lead you unto Him.

Blessed are those who may know, “We love Him, because He first loved us.” They will mourn about their lack of love and the sins that so often grieve Him. They will also long for the time that they will not dishonor Him anymore but give Him all the honor.

— Rev. C. Vogelaar
(Kalamazoo, MI)

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Bekijk de hele uitgave van woensdag 1 maart 2006

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Canons of Dordt (41)

Bekijk de hele uitgave van woensdag 1 maart 2006

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PDF Bekijken