As to the Schools (Epilogue) (2022)

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Posted bydengelsmaJuly 15, 2022July 15, 2022Posted inUncategorized

(This post was written by Mike Vermeer)

One thing I wrote in the last series, as an attachment to the first blog, may have caught your eye. In my letter to the school board—as well as in several other private letters that I sent around the early spring of 2021—I wrote the statement, “I judge no person for their decision to stay within the PRC or to leave it.”

Depending on who (and where) you are, you may have taken this statement differently.

If you remain in the PRC, you may read that statement and allow it to work as a balm on your conscience. You see “many problems” in the PRC. You may even agree that there is false doctrine being taught in the PRC. You may claim to be fighting against these errors in the PRC and experiencing trouble for all your efforts. For you, you read that statement as an affirmation that because I don’t judge you, that you do not need to fear judgment.

If you are in a position where you are leaving or have recently left the PRC, you may have found yourself using a similar expression. You know there is error in the PRC, and Christ has pulled you out of the fire, delivering you from that false doctrine that displaces Christ. For you, this expression is a bit of an olive branch. We think, “well, what if they just don’t see it? We need to give them more time and let them think about it a little more. We cannot judge them because they will stop seeking the truth.”

Let me explain my statement so that there can be no confusion. This is its meaning: I am not only carnal but also an unjust judge.

You ought not to seek my judgment or give any weight to it. You ought not even seek the judgment of a man who is accounted to be wise. You ought to only seek and give any weight to the judgment of God. When I judged, I did so according to my own wisdom and what would make my life here on this earth easier. As was explained in the series, I did everything possible to remain in the PR schools. A part of this was refusing to judge rightly and deliberately adding this statement as a balm on those who remained in a church that Christ had left. A part of this was also a desire to salvage relationships by glossing over the truth.

If you pressed me at that time, I might have defended the statement by saying that I cannot judge the eternal destiny of any person. That is true. That is a matter that remains with each individual and God. I do not judge the eternal destiny of any person. Only God knows.

However, not only is God the judge of all the earth, but he also calls us to judge—not the heart, but the actions and confession of men. When Christ was accosted by the rulers for healing on the Sabbath, he gave them and the people the calling to “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24). Likewise, the Spirit calls us to judge one another even as we will judge the ungodly and angels (I Corinthians 6:1-6).

When I claimed to judge no person for their decision to stay or to leave, I was judging according to the flesh, and according to appearance. It was in no way aligned with the judgment of God. God has shown that the truth of the Gospel is not and cannot be in the PRC.

Regardless of whether I judge you for staying within or leaving the PRC, you ought to seek true and righteous judgment. The truth is that God is judging the PRC and will judge those that remain in it. The truth is that all the emphasis on “a balanced gospel” and “but you really must do good works” is crowding out the gospel of Christ so that the gospel cannot remain in the PRC. The gospel is a gift. It is not a matter of your intelligence or ability to understand. And when Christ is kicked out of the PRC, his gospel cannot remain in it. The truth is that if the gospel has left a church, the kingdom of Man has replaced it. And the destruction will be terrible.

Do not let my unjust judgment be a balm on your refusal to seek the Kingdom of God.

Flee.

  1. Well put.

    Reply

  2. so mike when did it come to your knowledge that prc no longer had the truth

    Reply

    1. Hi Tom,
      I can point to several things in my life that showed me beyond a doubt that the truth in the PRC was dying.

      My first realization of it was when I noticed that we were never called to repentance in the preaching – that was something I had struggled with for years, my documentation of having seen this goes back to 2018, but I came to realize it only gradually. Our minister would call those with egregious, external sins to repentance, but he would never make the whole congregation to see their ungodliness, and therefore would never call the entire congregation to repentance. If we are not being shown our exceeding sinfulness, does it even matter if Christ is brought? Why do we need Christ if we are not sinners?

      This was made even clearer when the miserable false doctrine that we are no longer totally depraved began to be taught in the open – that was when the blister burst and the teaching I described above began festering like an open wound. We tried to discuss with our pastor and elders, but there was no interest in discussing the truth – there were only terse, political responses but no serious interest in discussing the truth.

      Rev. Koole’s Witsius articles were the final, clearest point for me – not merely that he wrote them, but that they were defended by my church among others, when concerns were brought against them. Especially the 3rd installment to me was terrible, because that is where he emphasized more clearly than elsewhere that our motivation to do good works is what we get in this life. Koole’s response to me was antithetical to the truth I have always been taught – he mocked at the idea that our good works are filthy rags.

      In response to that series, I asked our elders to send out a warning to the congregation about that false doctrine. They had prior sent out a pathetic warning about the Sword and Shield which did not call out any false teachings in that magazine. Here was real, living, false doctrine in the PRC. But even after my request, Peace PRC expressly refused to take up the pen and warn their congregation against that false teaching as was their duty.

      This also gives the lie to Rev. Koole’s apology. If he truly was sorry for teaching the wickedness that he taught, he would have scoured the PRC for those that defended him, and work to undo their errors in defending him. I will note two examples I know personally: the Peace PRC consistory and Rev. Engelsma, then in Doon.

      Although I saw these errors while in the PRC, I still did not know the gospel. It was not until sitting under the gospel for many months that I was able to really understand the gospel and internalize it. We grieve for you who remain in the PRC. It does not matter how knowledgeable you are – the devils also know the truth, and tremble. You do not – and cannot – have the gospel in the PRC, because the gospel in the PRC has been displaced by the law. Having been brought back under the law, you are sitting under the preaching of death. And it is in the process of killing you and your children.

      Reply

      1. Mike,

        Claiming as your foremost realization which showed to you beyond a doubt that “the truth was dying in the PRC,” you write, “we were never called to repentance in the preaching.”

        By your own admission, however, some were indeed called to repentance by your former PR minister. Egregious sinners.

        You write: “Our minister would call those with egregious, external sins to repentance, but he would never make the whole congregation to see their ungodliness, and therefore would never call the entire congregation to repentance.”

        Evidently, you distinguish between the “we” (yourself included), who you say “were never called to repentance,” as opposed to those guilty of egregious sins whom your former PR minister called to repentance.

        So that when your former PR minister called to repentance those guilty of egregious sins, you concluded that “we were never called to repentance.” Apparently you concluded the “we” (yourself included) to be exempt when your former PR minister called egregious sinners to repentance.

        Please explain how exactly it was possible that your former PR minister, when calling egregious sinners to repentance, did so to the exclusion of the “we” (yourself included), the “whole” or “entire” congregation, to the effect that you concluded “we were never called to repentance.”

        You also write: “Although I saw these errors while in the PRC, I still did not know the gospel. It was not until sitting under the gospel for many months that I was able to really understand the gospel and internalize it.”

        Please explain how it is possible that, concerning the truth of the gospel, you were able to discern errors of your former PR minister, and render judgement upon the PR denomination that “the truth was dying in the PRC,” prior to your knowledge and understanding of the truth of gospel.

        Then too, since the crucial and foremost realization for you that “the truth was dying in the PRC,” was that, “we were never called to repentance,” would you explain why you left the PR denomination, wherein your former PR minister called egregious sinners to repentance, and joined yourself to a denomination whose doctrine of repentance renders the call to repentance meaningless and unnecessary?

        Would you explain how that, while embracing such doctrine, you now accuse and condemn your former PR minister of never calling his “entire” congregation to repentance even in spite of your own admission that he called egregious sinners to repentance, yet concerning which call you concluded the “we” to be exempt?

  3. mike thanks for replying now looking at that the reply are you studying to be a minister or you should think about it from you reply. that you have knowledge of your truth and in your eyes the only truth. then when you become a minister you can call your pew people to repent all you want .then if they dont like it they can leave and say things about your preaching and what the elders said to them like what you said about ministers and elders you should repent of this they are GOD ordained men you may reply put this all i have say yours in Christ tom

    Reply

    1. Thank you for replying, Tom.

      What I wrote above is the truth. I am open if you cared to show me which part of the truth you believe I ought to repent of; there are many ways to contact me – no reply here is needed.

      In our churches, we follow the truth and not men, be they God-ordained or not. Notably, I have the right to speak the truth without being ordained, which I also saw was foreign to the PRC (as a side note, this makes bible studies in the RPC an polar opposite of those I experienced in the PRC). When these God-ordained men will not speak the truth, we conclude that God has ordained them as a curse on the churches. This is why I encourage all in the PRC to hasty and unprepared flight, for your lives and those of your children.

      “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.” Matthew 24:15-18

      Reply

  4. Dear Randy,
    I appreciate the opportunity to go into more depth on this topic. Your questions are cleverly devised; they show that you are well adapted to the use of language to make your point.

    Your first question is that I “explain how exactly it was possible that your former PR minister, when calling egregious sinners to repentance, did so to the exclusion of the ‘we’ (yourself included), the ‘whole’ or ‘entire’ congregation, to the effect that you concluded ‘we were never called to repentance’.”
    The word “egregious” means “outstandingly bad, shocking”. With this definition, the answer is in the same sense as Romans 2: “Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? Thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?” (v22) and “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh” (v28). The purpose of the law is to show us the righteousness of God and compare ourselves against that standard. When external sinful behavior is exposed and condemned but all hearers are not shown that they also stand condemned, the preacher creates a division between those who externally break a law and those who do not externally break that law. God himself does not make that difference: under the law, all stand condemned.
    As I explained, this became explicit with the new teaching that made us “no longer totally depraved”. With this teaching, instead of making us nothing by showing us the depth of our sin, we were exhorted that as regenerated, now we can do better.

    Your second question is that I “explain how it is possible that, concerning the truth of the gospel, you were able to discern errors of your former PR minister, and render judgement upon the PR denomination that ‘the truth was dying in the PRC,’ prior to your knowledge and understanding of the truth of gospel.”
    I affirm that I did not understand the gospel, and that I now hear it. That did not mean that I was ignorant of the truth. Even if I were ignorant, I knew that our preaching was empty, leaving me without comfort or hope as I walked out each Sunday; I struggled silently for years trying to understand why. I also knew, as I wrote to the SB editors in the Spring of 2021, that our good works are as filthy rags. Finally, I knew that it was not right to bring our good works to judgment day, as I was told that I must do, when I questioned a sermon at Peace PRC which taught us that we are not totally depraved.
    I knew these things, but many others also knew that there were errors which have not been corrected in the PRC. Why do others who acknowledge error and false teaching in the PRC not leave, and why did I leave? I cannot explain that. I only attribute it to the grace of God, pulling me out of the fire.

    Your third question is that I “explain why you left the PR denomination, wherein your former PR minister called egregious sinners to repentance, and joined yourself to a denomination whose doctrine of repentance renders the call to repentance meaningless and unnecessary?”
    By your question, I think you are referring to the oft-repeated claim that it is meaningless to call a child of God to repentance, if it is not our repentance that brings our forgiveness. If this sounds like a contradiction, then you may have left the Holy Spirit out of your theology.
    I ask you – what is the repentance that you are after? External behavior, or from the heart?
    If repentance of the heart is what you seek, then which happens first? External behavior or the repentant heart?
    If the repentant heart happens first, what creates that repentant heart? The Spirit of God or the will of man?
    To ask these questions should be to answer them. When the gospel of repentance comes to those who are made nothing in themselves, that gospel meets the Spirit of Christ that dwells in those hearts, making them abhor themselves and cling to Christ. And by the mysterious work of this Spirit “man is himself rightly said to believe and repent”.
    In contrast, the theology that you must repent in order to experience forgiveness neglects the work of the Spirit who dwells in the believer, and points the hearer away from God, and towards themselves.
    Or instead, if it is easier for you, you may pretend that the solution to your proposed contradiction is that I am irrational.

    You are indeed clever in your use of language, and seem to be quite capable in molding it to achieve your ends. If this were instead in the pursuit of the truth, I might call it logic. In this case, sophistry appears to be a better description. I recommend you follow Rev. Heys’ direction, and spend more time studying math.
    “We must think logically and apply the divinely established rule to these numbers. It requires careful thinking. It is a step by step application of the truth. Each step must be accurate or the product is wrong. Not along the way of intuition, nor of imagination but along the way of truth—directed thinking—will we arrive at the correct conclusion. And the teacher can emphasize that we must likewise follow God’s thoughts as they are revealed to us in the Bible, and only when we proceed according to the truth (His Truth) will we arrive at the right conclusions about this life and its problems. Our arithmetic book has ‘problems’. Life also has its problems. They must be solved as far as they can by Faith and in the way of Truth.” J.A. Heys, ‘ TRAINING FOR LIFE’S CALLING: Training In The Arithmetic Class’ SB Vol 25 Issue 13, 1949

    Earnestly,
    Mike

    Reply

    1. Mike,

      Thanks for your reply.

      I was quite surprised, given my straightforward and transparent questions, that at the outset of your response, and then again at the conclusion, you go about to discredit my questions, as well my intentions and pursuits.

      To your credit though, it’s certainly much easier to offer a critique rather than to provide direct answers to pointed questions.

      Be that as it may, after reading your response, wherein direct answers are fleeting due to your response being primarily focused on offering me instruction and recommendations, I did manage to find some answers.

      As regards your answer to my first question, you maintain your position.

      This is your position:
      Despite your former PR minister having called to repentance those guilty of egregious, external sins, you were never called to repentance due to the fact that you were not among those guilty of egregious external sin. The result was that you were left comfortless and struggling.

      Because:

      “Our minister…would never make the whole congregation to see their ungodliness, and therefore he would never call the entire congregation to repentance.”

      The word “never” means “at no time in the past, on no occasion, not ever.”

      Your readers have two options: take you at your word; or discover for themselves by listening to a variety of sermons preached by your former PR minister throughout the time period of which you claim to have documentation.

      I recommend the latter.

      Unmistakably characteristic of one who does not know the gospel, and therefore is ignorant of the truth, is to lay blame on others.

      Which brings us to your answer to my second question, in which answer you now change your story.

      Previously you wrote: “Although I saw these errors in the PRC, I still did not know the gospel.”

      Now you write: “I affirm that I did not understand the gospel, and that now I hear it. That did not mean I was ignorant of the truth.”

      Please explain how you reconcile your two statements: “I still did not know the gospel,” and, “That did not mean I was ignorant of the truth.”

      Certainly, if one does not know the gospel, that one is ignorant of the truth.

      Can one who does not know the gospel, and thus is ignorant of the truth, discern errors of a minister of the gospel or judge the truth to be dying in a denomination?

      Ludicrous!

      Repentance.
      A sincere sorrow of heart over sin.

      You write: “I can point to several things in my life that showed me beyond a doubt that the truth in the PRC was dying.”
      “My first realization of it was when I noticed that we were never called to repentance in the preaching – that was something I had struggled with for years.”

      “Why do we need Christ if we are not sinners?”

      “I knew that our preaching was empty, leaving me without comfort or hope as I walked out each Sunday; I struggled silently for years trying to understand why.”

      So you left the PRC and joined the RPC.

      Now you write: “…the theology that you must repent in order to experience forgiveness neglects the work of the Spirit who dwells in the believer, and points the hearer away from God, and towards themselves.”

      Interesting.

      Condemning your former PR minister for not calling you to abhor yourself, which left you comfortless and struggling, while simultaneously condemning as false doctrine the theology that one must abhor himself in order to experience forgiveness, because such theology neglects the work of the Spirit, pointing one away from God, and towards himself.

      Reply

      1. Thanks for responding Randy,

        By calling your questions clever and you well adapted in the use of language, I was expressing at the outset that you were a worthy opponent. I was taking your questions seriously, and wanted to express that before I pursued directly answering them. In your response, you continue to cleverly weave your web around me.

        You touch on something that was most difficult for me as I struggled in the PRC. I listened carefully in the preaching and heard many true things being taught; they lined up well with the various points of doctrine, and creeds were often quoted. if true things were being taught, then why do I leave the service empty? At essence, my question turned into: what does it mean to be fed in the preaching? Is the gospel merely to teach true things? Or is the gospel different?

        I had no answer to these questions while I remained in the PRC. My advice to all is that if you are questioning what it means to be fed in the preaching, you are likely being robbed of the gospel. What I learned only after leaving is that presenting true things – for example, that we are totally depraved – does not necessarily mean that the gospel is presented in the preaching. Many a vague but true statement is spoken from PR pulpits. However, when that true thing – for example, total depravity – is denied, the gospel cannot possibly be present.

        I trembled at your suggestion that we cannot condemn the statement, “one must abhor himself in order to experience forgiveness”. At what point do you abhor yourself enough? Do we have to abhor ourselves perfectly in order to have perfect assurance of forgiveness? And if we are in a season where we do not have the experience of forgiveness, what must we do to abhor ourselves more? Perhaps we take the scourge to ourselves as the Romish monks of old? Jezebel’s prophets of the cruel god Baal come to mind, but not my God. I curse that terrible doctrine, and cry to all who sit under preaching that tolerates those who teach of this doctrine that it enslaves them, and will give to them no peace until it kills them.

        You may know many true things. But especially these your last comments show you are also ignorant of the Gospel, as I once was. It is my earnest prayer to God that He deliver His elect who remain in the captivity of that doctrine. He is, and He will.

        Mike

      2. 1 Corinthians 3
        A must read!

  5. “BUT THEY FORGOT THE LORD their God. And He sold them into the hand of Sisera, commander of the army of Hazor, and into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the the king of Moab. And they fought against them. And THEY CRIED OUT TO THE LORD and said, ‘WE HAVE SINNED, because we have FORSAKEN the LORD and have served the Baals and the Ashtaroth. BUT NOW DELIVER US out of the hand of our enemies, THAT WE MAY SERVE YOU. And the LORD sent Jerubbaal and Barak and Jephthah and Samuel and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side, and you lived in safety. And when you saw that Nahash the king of the Ammonites came against you, you said to me, ‘No, but a king shall reign over us,’ when the LORD your God was your king …. And Samuel said to the people, “DO NOT BE AFRAID; YOU HAVE DONE ALL THIS EVIL. Yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. FOR THE LORD WILL NOT FORSAKE HIS PEOPLE, FOR HIS GREAT NAME’S SAKE, BECAUSE IT PLEASED THE LORD TO MAKE YOU A PEOPLE FOR HIMSELF. Moreover, as for me, FAR BE IT FROM ME THAT I SHOULD SIN AGAINST THE LORD BY CEASING TO PRAY FOR YOU, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way. Only fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart. FOR CONSIDER WHAT GREAT THINGS HE HAS DONE FOR YOU.” 1 Samuel 12: 9-12, 20-24

    For those who are IN CHRIST … blessings for obedience, judgment for disobedience.

    Sin against a holy God and needs someone to go between and mediate. That is JESUS.

    We break FELLOWSHIP with God when we sin and turn away from God, but not RELATIONSHIP. IN CHRIST we have a secure position.

    “Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul. I cried to him with my mouth, and high praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the LORD would not have listened. But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed His STEADFAST love from me!” Psalm 66:16-20

    But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may PROCLAIM THE EXCELLENCIES OF HIM WHO CALLED YOU OUT OF DARKNESS AND INTO HIS MARVELOUS LIGHT. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” 1 Peter 2: 9-10

    Praise be to God! “Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what He has done for my soul … I cried to Him … and high praise was on my tongue … truly God has listened and attended the voice of my prayer … he has not rejected my prayer or removed His steadfast love from me!”

    Reply

    1. Mike,

      Thanks for your reply.

      Regarding your doctrine, which has become increasingly exposed through your communication with me, your recent reply gives still more clarity.

      Previously you wrote: “When the gospel of repentance comes to those who are made nothing in themselves that gospel meets the Spirit of Christ that dwells in those hearts, making them abhor themselves and cling to Christ.”

      You now write: “I trembled at your suggestion that we cannot condemn the statement, one must abhor himself in order to experience forgiveness.”
      “I curse that terrible doctrine…”

      You curse that doctrine because, you say:
      “the theology that you must repent in order to experience forgiveness neglects the work of the Spirit who dwells in the believer, and points the hearer away from God, and towards themselves.”

      What then?

      Does the (effectual) testimony of the Spirit of Christ in the hearts and minds of God’s elect, to abhor themselves and cling to Christ, point the hearer away from God, and towards themselves?

      When you write: I curse that terrible doctrine; you curse the testimony of the Spirit of Christ in the heart and conscience of God’s elect, Who testifies: abhor yourself, and cling to Christ.

      “I abhor myself!
      That is the language of self condemnation…Such language is foreign to natural man…
      Have you noticed one thing in Job’s condemnatory speech of self? It is this: it is the speech of truth in the inward parts. God agrees with Job. The light of God’s attractive, lovely, beautiful glory shows us our rottenness. And the love of God in our heart is true in its evaluation of self. He that condemneth himself shall not be judged. He was found of God’s mercy.” –Gerrit Vos, Standard Bearer, Vol 38, Issue 2, 10/15/1959

      “Ahh!” you tauntingly inquire: “But how much? perfectly? more? scourgings?”

      “And the measure of his repentance is expressed in the addition of a twofold picture: dust and ashes. That was an Eastern term, and expressed the imagery of death. You cannot grow anything in dust and ashes. Yes, the picture is complete: we belong in the dust of death. What beautiful humility!”
      (GV-Source same as above)

      You see, one who abhors himself never asks these questions about which you inquire. Rather, these are questions indicative of one who must abhor himself: “You cannot grow anything in dust and ashes.”

      “Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.
      (Job 42:6)

      “Faith is wrought in our hearts by the Spirit of Christ. It is a gift of grace. And by that spiritual power of faith we first of all know our sins, are sorry for them before God, confess them in dust and ashes, and so do day by day. Without this spiritual experience of sorrow over sin, one cannot possibly lay hold upon the mercy of forgiveness. And secondly, by that same faith we look upon the cross and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ as the only means of salvation and the ground of our righteousness.”
      Herman Hoeksema, The Forgiveness of Sins, Reformed Witness Hour, November 13, 1955

      You publicly curse that doctrine. You curse that doctrine as the doctrine of Rome, Jezebel and the idol god Baal.

      I have a request.

      The next time you feel compelled to publicly curse that doctrine: that one must abhor themselves in order to experience forgiveness; first tell it to Nineveh, to David and Solomon, to Peter, to the malefactor hanging next to Jesus on the cross.

      And if that is not sufficient to deter you from cursing that doctrine; tell it to the Spirit. Tell the Spirit you do not have to abhor yourself, repenting in dust and ashes, in order to experience forgiveness.

      Oh no! It’s no doctrine that enslaves and kills.

      On the contrary! It makes alive! It gives life and freedom!

      “You see, when we pour out our heart to Him and tell Him how sorry we are for our sins, He comes to us and shows us the Redeemer, who died for all our sins. And he dries the tears of the heart.” –Gerrit Vos, Standard Bearer, Vol 40, Issue 1, 10/1/1963

      “Hence, if we would enjoy the blessing of the forgiveness of sins, we must surely repent daily in dust and ashes, and must surely lay hold by faith upon the atoning blood and upon the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead.” –Herman Hoeksema, The Forgiveness of Sins, Reformed Witness Hour, November 13, 1955

      One last thing.

      Judging me (as you have publicly done), to be ignorant of the gospel; you must also, necessarily, judge the ministers quoted above to have been ignorant of the gospel.

      Randy

      Reply

      1. No Randy, you have this wrong.

        If you abhor yourself or do anything else ‘in order to’ anything, you are acting as a mercenary. The child of God truly does abhor himself and repent of his sins by the operation of the Spirit within him, but when you suggest that he does so in order to experience forgiveness, you betray an ignorance of the Gospel. You do this by providing another motive power in addition to the work of the Spirit, as if the Spirit within us is not strong enough to move us.

        If ever the preaching comes and gives the totally depraved hearer anything to do ‘in order to’ enjoy any part of his salvation, that hearer will be pointed to himself. If the hearer has an anemic view of the law, he will self-righteously suppose that he meets the standard and has assurance, having repented (or forgiven, or…) enough. If the hearer has a wrong view of himself, he will suppose that he just needs to repent (or forgive, or do, or…) more and then he will get more assurance. Either way, self. Not gospel.

        You don’t solve the problem by finally adding in the Spirit into your theology – you merely highlight how weak you view the Holy Spirit to be, since he waits on man to perform his work.

  6. Randy makes some excellent points. To expand on his last one, it is noteworthy that the leaders of the RPC claim that the PRC has been apostatizing for decades by putting an activity of man before an activity of God. Their latest accounts say this was happening as early as 1967. However, there is a significant problem with this claim. Many of the ministers who faithfully fought for the truth in 1953 were still alive and active in these years. Men like G. Vos, H. Veldman, C. Hanko, J. Heys, M. Schipper, H.C. Hoeksema, and G. Lubbers lived several years or even decades after 1953 and would have witnessed the new apostasy that was supposedly taking place during this time. If anyone would have detected a new false doctrine and spoken out against it, it would have been these men. Yet, none of them said a word about it. Apparently we are to conclude from this, as Randy points out, that these old stalwarts were in fact ignorant of the gospel, or worse, that they were actually wicked, faithless men who tolerated the new lie if they did not actually speak it themselves. And if that be true, then the PRC has not had a faithful generation of ministers since the days of Hoeksema and Ophoff.

    Reply

    1. Mike,

      Thanks for your reply.

      At the risk of sounding redundant; your response exposes your doctrine with even greater clarity.

      Mike, you make it perfectly clear; you are afraid of the Gospel.

      You write: “The child of God truly does abhor himself and repent of his sins by the operation of the Holy Spirit within him…”

      “But,” you say: “when you suggest that he does so in order to experience forgiveness, you betray an ignorance of the Gospel.”

      Just so we’re perfectly clear, I did not merely suggest, “that he does so in order to experience forgiveness,” rather, emphatically, that he must abhor himself and repent in dust and ashes in order to experience forgiveness.

      You, on the other hand, deny that man must abhor himself, repenting in dust and ashes in order to experience forgiveness. In doing so you pervert the Gospel–the call of the gospel–the promise of the gospel–which promise of the gospel is, indeed, a particular promise.

      “Hence, also the promise of the gospel is ‘unfeigned’ and ‘serious’. What is that promise? Is it that God will give eternal life and rest to all without distinction…? By no means…He promises these blessings only to those that come unto Him in the way of sincere repentance, and believe on Him.” –Herman Hoeksema, Standard Bearer, Vol 33, Issue 16, 5/15/1957

      (Although H.H. wrote the following words to defend against a different false doctrine, I take them as mine, and direct them towards you.)

      “I challenge him to show: 2. That the Confessions or, particularly the Canons ever speak of a possibility of coming to God except in the way of repentance. 3. That the Confessions, and, particularly the Canons ever teach that repentance is possible except by the grace of God.” -(H.H. Source same as above)

      (Time and space does not permit me to include the entire article from which I give the following 2 quotes, yet I humbly recommend that everyone read, carefully, this entire article.)

      Hoeksema commenting on Calvin, writes:
      “When he explains that in such passages as Ezekiel 18:23 God promises conditional life to all, he evidently means that through the gospel God declares that He will give life to all that repent. And since it is God who must give repentance, in reality He promises life only to the elect, and to none other. –Herman Hoeksema, The Text of a Complaint, Standard Bearer, Vol 21, Issue 19, 7/1/1945

      “What the reformer here teaches is that although the preaching of the gospel by men is general and promiscuous, the content is always particular. God saves those who fly to Him for pity and redemption, that come to Him, that forsake their wicked ways, repent and believe.” –(H.H. Source same as above)

      “Hence, the way of repentance is the only way to come to God. And this God “unfeignedly” declares in the gospel or in the calling of the gospel.” –Herman Hoeksema, Standard Bearer, Vol 33, Issue 16, 5/15/1957

      Regarding your accusation that I provide “another motive power in addition to the work of the Spirit”; the only possibility by which your accusation could be justified, is that you consider the promise of the gospel to be “another motive power in addition to the Spirit.” In other words: you consider the motive power of the Spirit to be different, and not in accordance with, the promise of the gospel, which promises life (forgiveness) to all who repent and believe.

      Your fears that the totally depraved hearer, when told he must repent in order to experience the forgiveness of sins; that he will be pointed to himself, demonstrate that you are afraid of the Gospel.

      Being afraid of the Gospel, then, you set out to “help” God by cursing the doctrine that one must repent in order to experience forgiveness. Imagining to “help” God point man away from himself and towards God, you directly oppose that which God expressly declares in the Gospel; that which the Spirit of Christ (effectually) testifies and works in the hearts and minds of the elect.

      In cursing the doctrine that one must repent in order to experience forgiveness, you curse the Gospel, the call of the Gospel, the particular promise of the Gospel.

      “As many as are called by the gospel (This is the same external calling mentioned in II, 5, which must be accompanied with the command to repent and believe, H.H.) are unfeignedly (seriously, H.H.) called. For God hath most earnestly and truly declared in His Word what will be acceptable to Him; namely, that the called should come unto Him (in the way of repentance and faith, see II, 5, H.H.), He moreover, seriously promises eternal life and rest, to as many as shall come unto Him (in the way of repentance and faith, see II, 5, H.H.) and believe on Him. III, IV, 8.” –Herman Hoeksema, Standard Bearer, Vol 33, Issue 16, 5/15/1957

      “Hence, if we would enjoy the blessing of the forgiveness of sins, we must surely repent daily in dust and ashes, and must surely lay hold by faith upon the atoning blood and upon the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead.” –Herman Hoeksema, The Forgiveness of Sins, Reformed Witness Hour, November 13, 1955

      Reply

      1. Hi Randy,
        To make sure I understand your argument correctly, I take as your main point that Hoeksema taught that salvation is a motivation for repentance, so that God gives the experience of salvation only after repentance; because I confess that God’s salvation is not the motivation for repentance, you declare that I both am at odds with Hoeksema and afraid of the Gospel.

        I also encourage the careful reading of Hoeksema in the articles you cite. Especially I encourage reading according to the truth, and according to the grammar that he articulated. Hoeksema was not teaching what you suppose he was.

        Hoeksema was describing in the articles you cite who, truly, is saved. Those who are saved are those who repent and humble themselves. In the same way, I could add that those who are saved are those who do good works. Those who are saved are those who forgive their neighbor. They are those who pray. They are those who seek God. These are infallible characteristics of those whom God saves. That does not make these characteristics things that are required in order to experience salvation. As Hoeksema stated in the concluding sentence of the section you quoted: “Briefly, therefore, they are the elect”. That is who is saved! You twist Hoeksema to suit your own ends by using him to support your argument that our motivation to repent is so that we might obtain forgiveness. He was not setting up that as motivation, he was describing the characteristics of the elect.

        Likewise to your questions – “That the Confessions or, particularly the Canons ever speak of a possibility of coming to God except in the way of repentance. That the Confessions, and, particularly the Canons ever teach that repentance is possible except by the grace of God.” You assume disagreement with HH; however has there been any question that the child of God repents? Has there been any question that those who come to God do so as those who are nothing in themselves and clinging to Christ – that is, in repentance and faith? There has not. It is for you to prove that these questions of HH imply a motivation, that we repent first *so that* we may come to God.

        Why do we repent? The answer is given by HC Q&A 89: “[mortification of the old man] is a sincere sorrow of heart that we have provoked God by our sins, and more and more to hate and flee from them.” Sorrow of heart! Because we have displeased him who is our God! Not for something in return, be it forgiveness or salvation! “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in Him”

        The Gospel that I confess is that I experience salvation full and free, and the Spirit who dwells in me works all the works of salvation in me as the outflowing of that gospel. The gospel that you declare is that I must repent enough so that I can experience salvation. I cannot possibly repent enough, because I don’t even comprehend the depths of my sinfulness. I am afraid of your gospel, “which is not another, but there be some which trouble you, and would pervert the Gospel of Christ.” That is another gospel, and it works destruction.

    2. Well, you were warned.

      “The cross is the entrance into the kingdom of God, the entrance through which we enter only as we are regenerated before. Christ is the entrance into the kingdom of God. In this connection I cannot refrain from issuing to all of you a word, of warning. I’ll do it. You know, we talk about so much in our day, and in our churches,—we talk about responsibility. We talk about the activity of faith. And similar things. I’ll warn you that on that basis and in that line we’re going to lose the gospel. We’re going to lose the gospel. We’re going to lose election. We’re going to lose reprobation. We’re going to lose the gospel, the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. O yes, we must preach the activity of faith. But by the activity of faith I mean not something that you and I must do, except that first of all, by the activity of faith we cling to Christ, and embrace Him and all His benefits. That is the activity of faith. Responsibility? Don’t you ever forget that the accusation that Reformed people cannot maintain responsibility has always been brought against,—Reformed people have always been accused of denying responsibility by those that are Arminians and moderns. We do not deny responsibility. We do not deny the activity of faith. Of course not. But I warn you that with the emphasis that is laid upon these things, upon conditions, upon activity of faith, and upon responsibility, you’re going to lose the gospel. That’s my warning.”

      Herman Hoeksema, 1958, https://sb.rfpa.org/transcript-of-address-and-question-hour-2/

      Reply

      1. Mike,

        Your warnings are clouds without water.

        Warning of impending doom, while teaching smooth things to all such who remain unrepentant is an exercise in futility.

        “Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” (Mark 1: 14,15)

        Two thousand years later, Mike comes saying: “No Jesus, you have this wrong. The gospel of the kingdom of God that you preach, commanding that man must repent, points the hearers away from God and towards themselves. The gospel of the kingdom of God that you preach that man must abhor himself, repenting in dust and ashes; about which gospel of repentance I confess: “that gospel meets the Spirit of Christ that dwells in those hearts, making them abhor themselves and cling to Christ; that gospel makes man a proud and self-righteous mercenary. In fact, I curse that terrible doctrine. Rather, Jesus, instead of the gospel of the kingdom of God that you preach, commanding man to abhor himself, repenting in dust and ashes; to ensure that man does not exalt himself in abhorring himself, and even in spite of the fact that the Spirit never works apart from the Word, preach to man that he must not abhor himself in order to experience forgiveness.”

        “‘Turn ye unto me, and I will turn unto you. Harden your hearts, and nameless miseries shall be thy portion.’ There are no real conditions concealed in this exhortation. It is a mandate to repent, addressed to all, soul for soul. Implicit in it is the promise to the penitent that they shall be saved and a declaration to the impenitent that, unless they repent, they shall be destroyed. This is what Zechariah wants his hearers to know…For, as was stated, he comes to them with glorious promises, and he does not want the wicked, who do not repent, to imagine that these promises are also theirs. His purpose is to comfort and encourage by his Gospel the penitent, God’s elect. The impenitent have no need of comfort. They despise God’s Gospel.” –George Ophoff, The Prophet Zechariah, Standard Bearer, Vol 32, Issue 6, 12/15/1955

        “He that hears the Word of God as precept, hears it also as the promise. And only in the way of precept can the promise be attained.” –Herman Hoeksema, I Will Never Forget, Standard Bearer, Vol 21, Issue 18, 6/15/1945

        “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”
        (Isaiah 55:7)

      2. Evidently this and another quote were meant as a reply to me. I ask how these quotes prove that the ministers who fought tooth and nail for the truth in 1953 later apostatized and stayed silent when a young Rev. D. Engelsma supposedly reintroduced conditions into the churches in 1967? Seems to me that his heresy would have developed significantly over the decades and that the faithful ministers in 1953 would have called him out on it. There is also this to consider: When the Federal Vision heresy reared its ugly head in the Reformed and Presbyterian churches, Prof. Engelsma was the one theologian to identify and condemn the root error of the Federal Vision: the doctrine of a conditional covenant. All the theologians in other Reformed and Presbyterian denominations wanted to make the issue merely about a denial of justification by faith alone. They refused to see that the Federal Vision was rooted in the heresy of a conditional covenant. But Engelsma put his finger on the real issue and instructed both the PRC and the broader Reformed community on the truth of the matter. He stood virtually alone and compromised not one iota! What kind of man does that? A heretic? No, a man who loves the truth! If Engelsma harbored heresy in his heart, he would not have stood up as he did against the federal vision, but would rather have compromised and sought to make peace with it. But this he did not do. Read (or re-read) his books “Federal Vision: Heresy at the Root” and “Gospel Truth of Justification”. They speak for themselves.

  7. Actually, the warning was not mine… It was that of Rev. Hoeksema. Take it to heart or garnish his sepulcher, but his warning stands.

    “The cross is the entrance into the kingdom of God, the entrance through which we enter only as we are regenerated before. Christ is the entrance into the kingdom of God. In this connection I cannot refrain from issuing to all of you a word, of warning. I’ll do it. You know, we talk about so much in our day, and in our churches,—we talk about responsibility. We talk about the activity of faith. And similar things. I’ll warn you that on that basis and in that line we’re going to lose the gospel. We’re going to lose the gospel. We’re going to lose election. We’re going to lose reprobation. We’re going to lose the gospel, the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. O yes, we must preach the activity of faith. But by the activity of faith I mean not something that you and I must do, except that first of all, by the activity of faith we cling to Christ, and embrace Him and all His benefits. That is the activity of faith. Responsibility? Don’t you ever forget that the accusation that Reformed people cannot maintain responsibility has always been brought against,—Reformed people have always been accused of denying responsibility by those that are Arminians and moderns. We do not deny responsibility. We do not deny the activity of faith. Of course not. But I warn you that with the emphasis that is laid upon these things, upon conditions, upon activity of faith, and upon responsibility, you’re going to lose the gospel. That’s my warning.”

    Herman Hoeksema, (actually a 1954 transcript published in 1958), https://sb.rfpa.org/transcript-of-address-and-question-hour-2/

    Reply

    1. Mike,

      Subsequent to your being briefly distracted by issuing a warning regarding an unrelated matter, you presently return to the subject at hand, that of the motive power, or, motivation for repentance.

      Before getting into that subject, I briefly direct your attention to a couple related matters.

      Commenting on what you considered to be my main point, you write: “I take as your main point that Hoeksema taught that salvation is a motivation for repentance, so that God gives the experience of salvation only after repentance.”

      I take issue with your phrase, “so that God gives the experience of salvation only after repentance.” Never did I write to you those words. Rather, those words are a concoction of your own by which you intend to mislead the reader.

      I wrote: he [man] must abhor himself, repenting in dust and ashes in order to experience forgiveness.

      Second: At the conclusion of your response you unashamedly write: “The gospel that you declare is that I must repent enough so that I can experience salvation.”
      This statement, Mike, is nothing other than a boldface lie.

      I recommend that you reread, carefully, my correspondence with you. I also recommend you reread Hoeksema’s article exercising discernment.

      The matter of motive power, or, motivation for repentance, presently demanding attention, was fueled by my statement which was occasioned by your accusing me of providing “another motive power in addition to the work of the Spirit.”

      I wrote:
      Regarding your accusation that I provide another motive power in addition to the work of the Spirit”; the only possibility by which your accusation could be justified, is that you consider the promise of the Gospel to be another motive power in addition to the Spirit. In other words you consider the motive power of the Spirit to be different, and not in accordance with, the promise of the Gospel, which promises life (forgiveness) to all who repent and believe.

      You now respond with this written confession: “I confess that God’s salvation is not the motivation for repentance.”

      You confess before God and men: “God, Thou hast shown to me Thy great salvation in Jesus Christ; and Thy salvation does not motivate me to repentance. My desire for the forgiveness of sins may not be, and must not be, motivation for repentance. Where such is the case; that Thy salvation becomes motivation for repentance, I am working to earn my salvation. Therefore, Thy salvation remains powerless to move me to repentance.”

      Mike, you are at odds with more than just Hoeksema.

      The Spirit groans!

      Your confession is not the work of the Spirit of Christ. Your confession is the work of one who opposes the Spirit of Christ.
      Your confession is not a confession of faith, rather, your confession is a faithless one.

      Your confession: “I confess that God’s salvation is not the motivation for repentance,” clearly demonstrates exactly where your doctrine leads. It is a glaring reality of the end result for all such who continue to embrace and confess the same false doctrine which led you to your confession.

      They, together with you, will join in confessing that God’s salvation is not the motivation for repentance; because God’s salvation may not be, and must not be motivation for repentance. They, together with you, will confess that God’s salvation remains powerless as motivation for repentance; because in the case that God’s salvation is motivation for repentance, man is working to earn his salvation.

      Moreover, in one accord, your confession and testimony before God and men will be: the Gospel of Christ may not be, and must not be, and therefore is not the power of God unto repentance to everyone that believeth.

      You curse the doctrine that one must abhor himself, repenting in dust and ashes in order to experience forgiveness; and you now make this confession: “I deny that God’s salvation is motivation for repentance.”

      I recommend you listen to a sermon by your own minister entitled, Rending Your Hearts, in which sermon your minister teaches you the exact opposite of your written confession; and also in which sermon he brings to you, and instructs you in the same doctrine that you curse.

      Oh the irony!

      “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7)

      Reply

      1. Hi Randy,

        I was not distracted – I simply was not focused on you with that quote of Hoeksema from 1954. I was responding to ‘Jameson’ to demonstrate that Hoeksema prophesied exactly what ‘Jameson’ supposed to be ridiculous. It was a bug in WordPress that the response could not come after his comment.

        Your latest response charges me with being a boldface liar and at odds with my own pastor, with Rev. Hoeksema, and with the Holy Spirit. I will not defend myself. Let the reader judge your claims based on what has been written, and “let God be true, but every man a liar.”

        Mike

  8. Mike

    Thanks for your reply.

    It was indeed a very smooth and evasive reply in which you safely avoid giving any answer at all.

    Yet, your reply speaks loudly.

    Due to your refusal to deal with your previously written confession, you have made it perfectly clear that you continue to maintain, this, your confession: “I confess that God’s salvation is not the motivation for repentance.”

    Such confession grieves the Spirit of Christ.

    Regrettably, you neither defend, nor repudiate your written confession, but rather, are wholly content to allow the reader to be deceived by your public confession which stands in direct opposition overagainst the Gospel.

    This too grieves the Spirit of Christ.

    Maintaining such confession you deny God’s grace in Christ to be the motive power, the motivation for repentance. And, in doing so, you deny as well even the necessity of God’s grace in Christ for your repentance.

    You deny the Gospel to be motivation for your repentance.

    Denying God’s salvation, the Gospel, to be the motivation for repentance, you are left with two possibilities as the motivation for repentance.

    Man or Law.

    Since, for you, the motivation for repentance is not the forgiveness of sins; what, Mike, is your motivation for repentance?

    Law or Man?

    “Irony” I wrote, because by means of your public confession; “I confess that God’s salvation is not the motivation for repentance,” you confess and embrace the very lie you imagine to condemn.

    Relying on the testimony of men, you now call all others to join you; to flee from God’s salvation as motivation for repentance, and into the arms of man’s wisdom. Furthermore, even that all would make haste in fleeing from grace into the arms of Man.

    I encourage, even urge the reader to do exactly as you suggest. Let the reader judge based on what has been written here in our correspondence, and let God be true, and every man a liar.”

    Randy

    Reply

  9. The only true motive for true repentance is love for the Lord and hatred of sin. True love of God will always cause hatred of sin and sinfulness and thus true repentance happens. Only those united to Christ in the BOND of faith by the Spirit of Christ in their hearts are truely able to love the Lord and hate their sin and sinful natures. By that Bond they have Christ’s Spirit in them and have ears to HEAR God’s Gospel of salvation. That HEARING causes elect men to repent exactly BECAUSE in that Gospel the love of God draws them and CAUSES them to love their God and hate their sin. Love for God and hatred of sin is incited in a man by the Spirit (internal call) in his heart when he sits under (external call) pure Gospel preaching. True repentance happens because THAT man has just experienced God’s love in the preaching and already knows he is saved. He doesn’t repent to get saved…he repents in thankfulness BECAUSE he knows he is saved .

    If, in his conscious thinking, a man repents in order to obtain salvation it reveals his heart’s motivation to be love of self not love for the God whom he offended and hatred of his sin. That sort of repenting and faith is spoken of in Belgic Confession 24 as one that is done out of fear of damnation. On rhe contrary, Scripture speaks of a faith that worketh by love…love for God, not self.

    Men who teach or hold as true this sort of “repentance ” expose their own sinful hearts. BC 24 says it is not a repentance from a true and justifying faith They do something to get something from God. It is a pseudo repentance.

    In the face of this controversy, this article of the Belgic gives awesome instruction. Seems men in high places in our mother church would do well to take heed to it.

    May God grant TRUE repentance to all his own.

    Reply

  10. One doctrinal teaching is this:

    “Faith is wrought in our hearts by the Spirit of Christ. It is a gift of grace. And by that spiritual power of faith we first of all know our sins, are sorry for them before God, confess them in dust and ashes, and do so day by day. Without this spiritual experience of sorrow over sin, one cannot possibly lay hold upon the mercy of forgiveness.” –Herman Hoeksema, The Forgiveness of Sins, Reformed Witness Hour, November 13, 1955

    “There is in God never a will, a desire, to make the wicked happy. We must understand this. The central thought of the text is to emphasize that it is impossible for God to bless anyone, unless he comes to repentance. As long as he does not come to repentance, and as long as he despises and does not know the goodness of God, he cannot taste the blessing of God.” –Herman Hoeksema, Despising God’s Goodness, Standard Bearer, Vol 73, Issue 14, 4/15/1997

    No repentance = No blessing of God.
    No repentance = No experience of the blessing of God.

    “Hence, if we would enjoy the blessing of the forgiveness of sins, we must surely repent daily in dust and ashes, and must surely lay hold by faith upon the atoning blood and upon the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead.” –Herman Hoeksema, The Forgiveness of Sins, Reformed Witness Hour, November 13, 1955

    Another doctrinal teaching is this:

    “This is the gospel message of the Reformed Protestant Churches. The sinner has forgiveness without repenting. This is the gospel message of scripture. This is God-first theology.” –Nathan Langerak, Sword & Shield, March 15, 2022

    “We teach that there is forgiveness without repenting.” –Nathan Langerak, Sword & Shield, March 15, 2022

    The Spirit and the Word testify:
    “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:3)

    “Whatever the Bible says about salvation by grace alone also applies to man’s experience of salvation.” –Andy Lanning, Sword & Shield, Volume 1, Number 3

    Reply

    1. Or this:

      “But the marvel of grace is that before we have finished sinning, our sins are forgiven. So the poet says in Psalm 32.” – Herman Hoeksema, Righteous by Faith Alone, 151

      “Forgiveness is the blessing. The passage speaks of the blessedness. It looks at forgiveness from the point of view of our own personal, conscious experience of it. We become conscious of the forgiveness of sins when God gives us faith…On the basis of the consciousness of the forgiveness of sins, we have fellowship with God” –Herman Hoeksema, Righteous by Faith Alone, 152

      I stand amazed when I hear someone in the PRC lecture others about repentance. There is a word to that denomination. That word is found in James 2:18, “Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.”

      A man preached repentance once from a pulpit in Classis East. In that sermon he called for repentance ten times. Thirteen days later, he was taken care of. He was deposed, because his “application” was wrong.

      The Protestant Reformed Churches do not repent.

      Take Trinity PRC for example. We don’t need to read HH to know what Trinity thinks about repentance. They told us. That can be found here: https://astraitbetwixttwo.com/2021/05/04/repentance/

      That post also shows the inability of the PRC to apologize, much less repent.

      It is one thing to dig up quotes from theologians (and I like quotes from theologians!).

      But I recommend that the PRC stop lecturing others about repentance and actually try it once.

      A lot hinges on it for you, after all.

      Reply

  11. Dewey

    You quote this statement of Hoeksema: “We become conscious of the forgiveness of sins when God gives us faith…On the basis of the consciousness of the forgiveness of sins we have fellowship with God.”

    Blessed truth!

    However, you quote Hoeksema’s statement as though it were favorable, or even evidence affirming, or confirming, your doctrine that the sinner has forgiveness without repenting. By your doing so, I can only assume that you disagree with the latter part of the following statement by Hoeksema concerning faith.

    “Faith is wrought in our hearts by the Spirit of Christ. It is a gift of grace. And by that spiritual power of faith we first of all know our sins, are sorry for them before God, confess them in dust and ashes…”

    Again: “And by that spiritual power of faith we first of all know our sins, are sorry for them before God, confess them in dust and ashes.”

    You would rewrite Hoeksema to say: “and by that spiritual power of faith we first of all have forgiveness of sins, before we know our sins, before we are sorry for them before God, and before (without) confessing them in dust and ashes.”

    Faith?

    In light of all your accusations and condemnations against the PRC concerning apologies and repentance; I submit, for yours, and the readers consideration, discussion that took place at the January 2022 Classis of the Reformed Protestant Churches.

    ”Motion to apologize to Second RPC and apologize to the RPC denomination for hierarchy in deferring the overture by N. Langerak that came to the previous RPC Classis.”

    “I’m not in favor of the motion. First of all this body came together today, and is going to end today. The body that took the decision is gone never to be reconstituted. So who’s apologizing for what? We’re apologizing for something somebody else did?…This body didn’t make wrong, didn’t do wrong, it did right. So I’m against the motion. I don’t believe that ought to be a practice that is brought into our churches. I don’t want to see it. Assemblies rectify wrongs by judgement. We’re judges, and we make judgments and we render judgements. This body rendered judgement over the decision of a previous body and in that judgement, that just judgement, the wrong was righted…So I’m opposed, strongly opposed, to this Classis issuing an apology. That’s not what Classis do. They make judgments and they may issue warnings to the churches. But I can’t apologize for something somebody else did. Which, by the way, I see in that notion of an apology the very same error; hierarchy. This body’s going to be done just as that body was done. This is not a continuing body; classis, synods, super synods, particular synods, they’re finished when they rise. We have to get rid of the notion that they continue to exist.”
    (Nathan Langerak)

    “The issue is not whether there’s corporate responsibility, the issue is what is the Classis called to do. And a Classis is not called to make apologies for things other Classis did. It’s called to make a right judgement; render right judgement. That’s everywhere in the Bible. Judge. And in that right judgement the the corporate responsibility is taken up and corporately as representatives of the entire denomination we have now rendered right judgement…And when bodies make mistakes, and they do, then they’re rectified by right judgement.”
    (Nathan Langerak)

    “The churches are gonna apologize to the churches? That doesn’t make any sense…None of this makes any sense to me. That’s not our job. You’re judges, that’s it. Judge…I do not believe that an assembly can repent. Repentance is an individual thing. And it belongs to individuals and among, along with those individuals to a nation, or to a church; but how can an entity repent. Repentance is addressed to individuals: repent. And in those individuals to a nation: repent. I just think it’s confusing, the term repentance, to apply it to an entity…Classis renders judgement.”
    (Nathan Langerak)

    Upon having read that, reread your railing accusations against the PRC pertaining to apologies and repentance. Reread, as well, the entire link contained in your reply. Then, read again the discussion submitted above.

    And in so doing, I’m confident that most readers, if not all, will wonder in amazement at such a profound double standard.

    Reply

    1. Randy,

      I’ve read what you’ve written a few times and I have to admit I don’t know what you are talking about.

      I wouldn’t re-write what HH wrote at all. I love it. God gives faith, which results (inevitably) in repentance which then characterizes the entire life of the believer.

      Isn’t repentance a beautiful fruit of faith? And you know what? You know it when you see it. And you know it when you don’t. Which is why when you see the PRC fake repentance it is so repulsive. You can take Hope PRC, Rev. Koole, Grandville PRC, Trinity PRC, Classis East, the abusers in the PRC that shed a tear and were then declared repentant by their consistories, and others as examples.

      Regarding what Rev. Langerak and apparently the RPC Classis said about an assembly not having to repent or apologize, I disagree with them. I think an assembly should apologize when they err and when they have a chance to apologize for it. I don’t think that I have a double standard.

      But even that is not the point, so before you and the readers wonder in amazement at a perceived double standard, didn’t your classis say that assemblies don’t apologize (when they clearly do)? Didn’t the classical committee say (on which I believe Rev. Langerak of Trinity PRC served) they could find no examples of an apology when it took about 10 minutes for a layperson to find an example of one?

      So you can add hypocrisy on top of the PRC’s inability to repent.

      You have a lot of demands in your comment. Read this, reread that, reread this, read that…I’ve read all of that a number of times. I’m tired, frankly, of reading it. Because when I read it, I think to myself, how can the members of the PRC tolerate such blatant hypocrisy? And that is rather discouraging for me to consider.

      You casually dismiss what I write as “railing accusations” but they aren’t railing accusations at all. I am simply laying out the facts showing how hypocritical the PRC truly is.

      All of this does raise the question though; if repentance inevitably follows faith, and the PRC are not able to repent, what does that say about the spiritual condition of the PRC?

      Reply

      1. Dewey

        Bewildered by what I wrote: that you would rewrite Hoeksema, you deny such, at all, to be the case, but rather, write that you love “it”.

        Irrespective of what you write, by your maintaining that the sinner has (experiences) God’s blessing of forgiveness without repenting, you would rewrite Hoeksema.

        Hoeksema writes:
        “God promises to you salvation, provided He works in you faith and repentance, the fruit of which you may discern in yourselves by believing and repenting.” –Herman Hoeksema, Standard Bearer, Volume 29, Issue 5, 12/1/1952

        You teach that God promises to you salvation provided He works in you faith without repentance, the fruit of which you may discern in yourselves by believing without repenting. That is, you teach that God promises to you salvation without His provision of salvation. Furthermore, you teach that the unrepentant sinner has (experiences) the promise of salvation without God granting the realization of that promise.

        But now, even as your response clearly illustrates, you operate by not only one, but two double standards.

        First, in an attempt to rid yourself of the double standard previously brought to your attention, you have instead emphatically confirmed the same to be true of yourself.

        Holding one party to a certain standard (apology & repentance), you separate yourself from them, publicly accuse and condemn them. Simultaneously, and even in the same breath used to confess disagreement with the party to which you now belong and are an office-bearer; you remain content to allow for your party that very thing concerning which you spew forth railing accusations and condemnations against another party.

        Double standard.

        The second double standard by which you operate concerns you, and God.

        You maintain that the sinner experiences God’s blessing of forgiveness without repentance. That is, God allows for, and gives to the unrepentant sinner the experience of God’s blessing of the forgiveness of sins, without the sinners repentance.

        On the other hand, even whereas you confess and teach that God allows for, and gives the unrepentant sinner the experience His blessing of forgiveness without the sinners repentance; you do not. While confessing and teaching that God allows for and gives to the unrepentant sinner the experience of forgiveness without repentance; you neither allow for, nor give to the unrepentant sinner that which you claim God does allow for and gives to that unrepentant sinner.

        God, (you claim), gives the unrepentant sinner the experience of His blessing without repentance. You do not. You condemn the unrepentant sinner.

        Who then remains just?

        Do you remain just in condemning the unrepentant sinner even while teaching that God blesses the unrepentant sinner with the forgiveness of sins without that sinners repentance?

        ‘Fortunately,’ for those same men and ecclesiastical bodies that you condemn as unrepentant sinners; by means of your own doctrine, those same unrepentant sinners remain unscathed. Those whom you condemn as unrepentant sinners not only stop your mouth against themselves by means of your own doctrine, but also find you guilty of denying that same doctrine you confess and teach: that God grants His blessing of forgiveness to the unrepentant sinner, who does not repent.

        Indeed, every man head for head, all such who do not repent revel in this “gospel” that you bring:
        “We teach that there is forgiveness without repenting,” so that, “the sinner has forgiveness without repenting.”

        They, that is, all such who do not repent, love to have it so.

      2. Hi Randy,

        You have a lot of words in which you tell me what I believe and what I teach.

        This is what I believe and what I teach about the forgiveness of sins:

        “…that He grants us freely the remission of sin and life eternal, for the sake of that one sacrifice of Christ accomplished on the cross” (HC LD 25)

        “We believe that our salvation consists in the remission of our sins for Jesus Christ’s sake, and that therein our righteousness before God is implied; as David and Paul teach us, declaring this to be the happiness of man, that God imputes righteousness to him without works. And the same apostle saith that we are justified freely by His grace, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (BC, 23)

        Freely.

        I believe in free forgiveness for the sake of Jesus Christ.

        In other words, I believe justification by faith alone.

        I again confess that I don’t understand what you are writing. It is confusing to me. (And if you wish to attribute that to my stupidity, then you will get no argument from me).

        Randy, when I read your writing with your multitudinous quotations of Hoeksema and others, this is what I hear; “I have Abraham as my father.” And, “The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these.”

        To put it bluntly, who cares what someone said about repentance 70 years ago?

        Or, put differently, do you think God cares one bit about your ability to quote an old theologian, or do you think he cares about a church and her members actually repenting? Simply talking about repentance and actually doing repentance are worlds apart (HT: MVW).

        Let me give another example.

        One of my last articles as editor of Beacon Lights was to rebuke us and call us to repentance. That article is here. What was the response of the people? There was an uproar of angry people and angry comments about how we mustn’t speak to our children in such a fashion and how we have to keep our children from reading that article and so on. Attitudes like this result in a perfect training ground for raising little Pharisees.

        Those remarks are representative of the denomination’s response to any rebuke calling for repentance.

        Ok, another example.

        Rev. Lanning was deposed for his application of Jeremiah 23:4,14. What was the grievous sin that Rev. Lanning committed that required this extreme remedy? This: Rev. Lanning can’t apply that to the church world today! He is not a prophet with divine inspiration! So what does Prof. Griess do in the August 2022 editorial? Applies Jeremiah 23:26 to Rev. Lanning. (You can’t make this stuff up).

        I don’t know what else to say, so I will end with this.

        Please stop mining the internet for quotes from long-dead theologians. That does not do a thing for you or your denomination, except further cement them in their pride.

        The question you should be asking is this, “Why can’t my church and her members actually repent?”

  12. Dewey

    Feigned ignorance is no defense.

    However, in the event that one is unable to offer any sustainable defense, feigned ignorance may be an effective method to discredit an opponent in the mind of the reader.

    You ask, or state: “who cares what someone said about repentance 70 years ago?”

    Obviously not you, Dewey. If you did care, you would not teach that there is forgiveness without repenting.

    Previously, you stated concerning that which was said by someone 70 years ago: “I love it.”
    Presently you write to me concerning that which was said by someone 70 years ago: “who cares” [about it].

    Unlike you, I do care what Hoeksema said about repentance 70 years ago. Never have I cared more than at this very moment; as some go about to deceive.
    I thank God for His covenant faithfulness; the rich heritage God has given, that He has passed down to us from our fathers.

    Who cares? I do. I care.

    You ought to care too, Dewey, but have made it plain that you do not care. You ought to care what those men said and wrote, Dewey, because God gave those men for the good of the church.

    But, for now, you do not care.
    Why do you not care, Dewey?

    What explains your “who cares” attitude towards that which Reformed fathers said and wrote 70 years ago, to be so strong, that, now despising it, you advise others not to read it?

    Reply

    1. Hi Randy,

      Thanks for the lecture.

      Regarding feigned ignorance, it isn’t feigned. What I am telling you is that your writing is very unclear. Hard to understand.

      The verse, Abraham is our father is the word of God to you (John 8:39). Hearing you argue about repentance is like hearing a Roman Catholic insist that the Roman Catholic Church is correct on justification because of Augustine.

      (I do find it deeply ironic that the PRC now wants to garnish HH’s tomb when they were all perfectly ok with an editor calling his theology “nonsense.”)

      It appears you forgot to read my following sentence which explained the previous sentence. I will re-type it for you: “Or, put differently, do you think God cares one bit about your ability to quote an old theologian, or do you think he cares about a church actually repenting? Simply talking about repentance and actually doing repentance are worlds apart (HT: MVW).”

      I will put it to you simply, in question form. If a man, or if a church does not repent, in fact, makes a mockery of repentance, but they can quote one of their theologians who made correct observations about repentance 70 years ago, is God pleased by that man, or by that church?

      The answer of course, is no, God is not pleased by that church. Randy, the Pharisees did exactly what you are doing.

      So let me finish my involvement in this completely fruitless discussion this way.

      I love HH. I love what HH wrote about salvation, faith, election, and yes, about repentance. I will continue to listen to sermons by HH and read articles and books by HH, voraciously. I am, by God’s grace, a spiritual son of HH, and my church is the spiritual descendant of HH. We are thankful to God that we are able to continue HH’s beautiful legacy of teaching and defending the sovereignty of God in salvation.

      So, while you and your church continue to tear down HH’s legacy and continue to fight tooth and nail for the glory of man in salvation, just know that there is a denomination in the world, where, rather than garnishing HH’s tomb, you will hear the same truths taught from the pulpit as HH taught from his.

      You are welcome and encouraged to attend.

      We would love for you to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, which gospel is freedom from all of the conditions and prerequisites that your denomination is so busy erecting.

      Reply

  13. “How blest is he whose trespass hath freely been forgiven” Truly. How blest. And, also, “While I kept guilty silence my strength was spent with grief, Thy hand was heavy on me, my soul found no relief. But when I owned my trespass, my sin hid not from thee, when I confessed transgression then thou forgavest me” (Psalter 83)

    In my faith, I can believe these two things at once.
    1. Free forgiveness
    2. Confession then forgiveness.
    Can you?

    Reply

  14. 4. His errors who can know?
    Cleanse me from hidden stain;
    Keep me from willful sins,
    Nor let them o’er me reign;
    And then I upright shall appear
    And be from great transgressions clear.

    Psalter# 38

    Does the previous commentor apply the Psalter song he/she quoted as proof that in order to experience forgiveness one must first repent?

    In light of the verse I quote here how is it possible for the sinner to confess all his sins and also do it good enough in order to experience the forgiveness of them?

    A correct understanding of faith is why we can say repentance is not necessary to experience forgiveness.
    1) Faith is essentially our BOND to Christ.
    2) By faith we are IN Christ.
    3) Being IN (by faith) Christ, his perfect righteousness is ours and all our sins are forgiven even before we repent.
    4) Being IN Christ, when we hear the Gospel preached, with spiritual ears to hear and understand (experience) that we have been eternally loved by God and eternally forgiven of all our sins.
    5) This knowledge is ours ‘by faith’ (because of Bond made by Christ’s Spirit in us) before we have the chance to repent and causes hatred of our sinfulness and of our sins.
    6) This hatred of sin then causes us to repent. This is because of our great love for and thankfulness to God for savingus from sin and eternal death.

    Now consider the PRCs WRONG teaching about faith. (According to Rev. McGeown redefinition of it in his PRC blog posts) Namely, that faith is NOT PASSIVE, (HH taught that all of salvationis passive) and that it is 1) a BOND with Christ, and 2) the ACTIVITY of believing.

    According to this understanding of faith we would say the following:

    1) Faith is my Bond to Christ AND my activity of believing.
    2) Because I believe, I repented. (I did this by Grace which means Jesus helped me do it because I’m bonded to him)
    3) I repented, in obedience to the law, so that I can experience God’s love.
    4) Because I repented and am obedient, I know am forgiven and that Christ died for me.
    5) In order to have assurance of forgiveness (salvation), you must repent.
    6) I believe in Christ and I repented so now God will take me to heaven.

    What an awful thing to have in your head on your deathbed.
    I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

    2. The Lord is just and good,
    Instructing those that stray;
    The meek He will in judgment guide
    And make them know His way.

    Consider this verse of #61. The Lord (in love) “instructs those that stray”…wait, aren’t they supposed to repent first? If indeed ypu mus repent before ypu are forgiven, why would the Lord instruct the straying sinner who hasn’t repented yet?

    Reply

  15. 3. Sins of youth remember not,
    Nor my trespasses record;
    Let not mercy be forgot,
    For Thy goodness’ sake, O Lord.
    Just and good the Lord abides,
    He His way will sinners show,
    He the meek in justice guides,
    Making them His way to know.

    Consider this verse of #64. In the 6th line, will God show his way to sinners who have not repented? If you truly believe experiencing God’s favor is because of repentance, the line should read “He His way will REPENTANT sinners show”

    I guess I could go on and on with this sort of thing. But I’ll stop because I think I made my point.

    I would think that within a generation or two, if the Lord tarries, and the PRC continues to teach and develop the idea that repentance is UNTO salvation, they will also not want to sing the Psalms anymore.

    Reply

    1. Hi Mary Lou,
      I’d like to just restate my question. If you or any one else who might like to reply could just leave aside any implications or biases you think I may have that would be appreciated.
      Can you agree with the Psalmist and this setting of the Psalm in Psalter 83 that you
      1. “Have freely been forgiven”
      And
      2. “When I confessed transgression then Thou forgavest me”
      Thanks

      Reply

      1. Hi Musicmoods,

        Before I answer, I ask why you comment in cognito. It seems disingenuous to me, but maybe you have a good reason for it.

        I assure you that I do not reply with bias. I detest the sin of “respector of persons” (that God is small and man is big in a person’s mind) because this sin has been the cause of much personal grief in my life. I also hate it because it is THE sin which hinders people from wanting to look at the facts of what really happened in the split between the PRC and the RPC and to study for themselves the truths which were compromised. WHAT IF WHAT DEWEY WRITES IS ALL TRUE!?! Oh! Then they would be call to do something their flesh doesn’t want to do! The carnal fleshly nature of men and women WANT to defend the people they look up to and the institutions they are a part of RATHER than God’s truth and right.

        I replied then and now reply again with genuine concern for the truth of God’s word which is currently under attack and which caused a Reformation in the PRC. Your comment attacks that truth with a seemingly innocent question so I am loathe to answer you. Please let me explain. The truth that God is first in ALL aspects of salvation is being denied by men in the PRC. It is being taught that God cannot and will not act (forgive sins) UNTIL man repents. That is a blatant lie. God does not forgive our sins because WE repent. We repent BECAUSE we experience and know his forgiveness when we hear Gospel preaching, repentance and love for God is a automatic response in the elect child of God. Also consider this…God forgave us our sins before we were born when and because Jesus paid for those sins on the cross. Also consider this…God loved his elect from eternity and NEVER sees sin in Jacob (his people), he only sees us in Christ, never apart from Christ.
        Your comment was as disingenuous as your identity. It was designed to trick readers. I didn’t appreciate that at all. That’s why I looked up other Psalter numbers to show the opposite side. Maybe you could answer my questions about those Psalter numbers.

      2. Please read the words of the Psalm which Psalter 83 is based on. 1) Notice that verse one states the fact of forgiveness before any repentance is spoken of. 2) Verses 3 and 4 express the misery God’s people feel because of their actual sins and also because of the depraved natures they inherited from Adam. 3) Then comes the acknowledgment of sin by the sinner. Understand…a SINNER!!!! agrees with God that he IS a sinner! THAT is THE miracle of God dwelling in the heart of sinners by his Spirit. THAT is why the Psalm starts out the way it does.

        Everyone should take the last part of verse 2 to heart and acknowledge that they are SINNERS by nature.

        Psalm 32
        1 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

        2 Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.

        3 When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.

        4 For dayI and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah.

        5 I acknowledge my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah

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