Archive for December 2014

Herman Hoeksema – The Influence of Uncommon Grace

December 28, 2014

51QMyhPvFGLBack in September I picked up Herman Hoeksema: A Theological Biography.  When I first started reading it I quickly realized I wasn’t really in the mood for anything so heavy.  Doug Douma warmed me it was pretty weighty.  So instead I read biographies on Peter Gabriel, John Martyn (which, as it turned out, was heavy), Jack Bruce, Mahavishnu Orchestra II, one on Frank Zappa’s last final tour in 1988, and I’m currently reading one on the life of my favorite bluesman Howlin’ Wolf, and I have another waiting in the wings on the life of my favorite jazz pianists, Thelonious Monk.

In any case, yesterday I decided to take a break from my music bio feeding frenzy and picked up the Hoeksema again and so far it is excellent.  The author, Patrick Baskwell, does a nice job portraying the man with warts and all, and, so far, paints a fair picture of an imperfect man of unwavering conviction and who was doggedly committed to some very basic theological principles.  One of those principles that would inform his entire life was his rejection of Kuyper’s theory of common grace.  It has always been interesting to me that so many of Kuyper’s admirers seem to discount the political import that drove his theory rather than the other way around. Concerning an early piece of Hoeksema’s that appeared in “The Banner” Baskwell writes; “With one stroke of the pen Kuyper’s concept of common grace, one that entered the world after the fall to save humanity and thus make room for the preservation of the ‘cultural mandate,’ is summarily swept away.”  Here is a little of what Hoeksema wrote and is an argument I find particularly compelling and one that completely destroys the prevenient and even Arminian nature of grace that has informed so much of the Reformed theology since Kuyper:

Never must we stretch the doctrine of common grace till we speak of two kinds of grace. There is only one kind of grace, and that one kind of grace is special grace, and thru that special grace all the world, with man as king, is to be saved.  It saves humanity, but it also saves the world as kingdom. But there are two kinds of people in Adam, separated  thru the injections of special grace into the human organism.  They are the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent, the elect and the reprobate, the children of obedience and the children of disobedience. Outwardly, all the children of the serpent share in the blessings of grace.  Also they develop, also they have a history, also they develop their kingdom under Satan. But inwardly, even these outward blessings of grace are a curse to them, for they are totally depraved, and there is no receptivity for the grace of God in their hearts. But the seed of the woman is saved in Jesus Christ. He is their Redeemer and their King, and through His grace they become His willing subjects. – pg 119

Clark Not-So-Quick Quote

December 25, 2014

The following passage is from the section on assurance taken from Today’s Evangelism: Counterfeit or Genuine? (reprinted in What is the Christian Life)  and transcribe in part by James (I just filled in a few blanks).  Since so many people seem very confused regarding the relationship between knowledge and assurance, often confusing the one for the other, the following should help sort things out.     _________________________________________________________________

The Gospel promises the possibility of assurance. It does not quite promise every Christian actual assurance. It is strange that some preachers, some evangelists, even those and especially those already described, talk as if one cannot have faith without having assurance. They give the impression that you must know you are saved, if you are saved. But this is not what the Bible says. The verse from 1 John [5:13], quoted just above, said that John wrote the epistle in order that those who read it might be assured. But if regeneration ipso facto guaranteed assurance, it would not be necessary to write an epistle encouraging assurance and giving direction on how assurance can be obtained.

…II Peter1:5 does not explicitly mention assurance, but the section has to do with God’s “exceeding great and precious promises” with which he “called us to glory and virtue,” so that the remainder of the section describes how we may be assured of profiting by those promises.  Verse five then says, “Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, and to your virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance … for if these things be in you, and abound, they shall make you that ye shall be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Without minimizing the other items in this list, it is well to emphasize knowledge. If one wishes assurance, he will try to increase his knowledge.   Knowledge is mentioned twice in the section.  Therefore, if one wishes assurance that he is regenerated, let him ask himself, Do I study the Scriptures?  How much of it do I know?  Some people know so very little; some people believe so very little; some evangelists must have so very little assurance.

… The Westminster Confession puts the matter very strongly. “this certainty is not a bar conjectural and probable persuasion, grounded upon a fallible hope; but an infallible assurance of faith, founded upon the divine truth of the promises of salvation, the inward evidences of those graces unto which these promises are made, the testimony of the Spirit of adoption witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God: which Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance, whereby we are sealed to the day of redemption.”

Though the wording is very clear, it may be necessary in this age to point out two places where misunderstanding may arise.  First, the infallibility mentioned is not ours, as if we are infallible. The infallibility belongs to the promises of God. There is no hint here that we rise to the level of the inspired authors of the Bible. This would be a reversal to the Romish position that a supernatural revelation is necessary.  All that is necessary is the Scripture. The second point at which a misunderstanding may occur is the reference to the Spirit witnessing with our spirits. Here too, the same idea is involved. The Spirit witnesses with our spirits as we study the Bible. He does not witness to our spirits, as if giving an additional revelation.  Aside from these two matters, the Westminster Confession is clear.

The fourth and last point with reference to assurance is that, although salvation can never be lost, assurance can. That this is so, and that in addition assurance can be restored, is all seen in a very fine passage in Micah 7:7-9: “Therefore I will look unto the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me. Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy; when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me. I will bear the indignation of the Lord because I have sinned against him, until he plead my cause and execute judgment for me.  He will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness.” When David was thus bearing the indignation of the Lord, he prayed, “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation…. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O Lord, thou God of my salvation, and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.”

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