Loveland Protestant Reformed Church
709 East 57th Street; Loveland, CO 80538
Services: 9:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. (7:00 p.m. June through August)
Vol. 5, No. 21 Pastor: Garry Eriks Phone: (970) 667-9481
Homepage on Internet: http://www.prca.org
The last step in the order of salvation is "glorification," that is, the receiving of God's elect into heavenly glory. In our glorification God finishes the work of salvation that He began with regeneration. He not only delivers His people from all their suffering and from death, but delivers them too from all their sins.
A discussion of our glorification really belongs, therefore, to the doctrine of the last things. Nevertheless, though we intend to write in more detail of such matters as the intermediate state and the resurrection of the body in future articles, it is necessary to say something about glorification here. It is in our glorification that God's great work is finished and we fully fitted for the glory of God in Jesus Christ our Saviour.
There are, then, three steps in our glorification. There is first the gift of eternal life that we receive when we are regenerated. As a result of that gift, we are risen with Christ and sit at God's right hand (Eph. 2:5-6), our conversation (way of life) is in heaven (Phil. 3:20), and we have the new life of Christ in us (Gal. 2:20). Second, there is the gift of eternal life we receive when our souls after death enter immediately into conscious glory and blessedness in heaven (II Cor. 5:1-8). Third, there is the gift of eternal life that we receive when our bodies are raised and made like the glorious body of Christ and we enter into the new heavens and earth with Him (Phil. 3:21).
It needs to be emphasised, therefore, that we have the beginning of eternal glory NOW, even as we shall have it in the last day. That is one of the greatest motives for obedience that we have - that we are already, as it were, partly in heaven. In Colossians 3:1-4 Paul speaks of this. Because we are risen with Christ and our life is hid with Him in God, we must seek the things that are above and set our affection on them.
That we have the beginning of eternal life now, is also the reason we long for heaven and long too, sometimes, to be delivered from this world and from the flesh. That, Paul says, is far better than remaining here (Phil. 1:21-24).
That glory is described in Scripture in glowing terms and very often in pictures and types, but that is only because it includes things which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered into man's heart to understand (I Cor. 2:9). It involves the things that God has prepared for those who love Him.
But we should not forget that while we ourselves will be wonderfully changed (we shall not grow weary, shall not be corruptible, or able to suffer or die any more), and shall receive all that God has promised, the real glory of heavenly life is that God is there and Christ. That is the blessedness, the joy, the glory, the peace of heavenly life (Rev. 21:3, 7, 22, 23, 22:3).
For that those who have the hope of being glorified purify themselves, are willing to lose the whole world, and do indeed forsake it for the things of the kingdom of heaven. They walk by faith and not by sight as they wait for that glory.
What about you? Rev. Ronald Hanko
(Continued from the previous issue)
We have a few more articles to write on the general subject of the address of the gospel. We have spent a great deal of time on this subject, but it is our hope and prayer that a discussion of these important matters will give to our readers a better understanding of why the preaching is not, in any sense, a well-meant offer; but is, on the contrary, the "power of God unto salvation" (Rom. 1:16).
The subject we still have to address (a subject, by the way, which is certainly implied, if not explicitly stated, in many questions) is this: Why do the Scriptures call, through its admonitions, to a perfection which we can never attain in this life?
The Scriptures never call to a half-holiness, to a less-than-perfect obedience. The Scriptures never tell us to do the best we can. The Scriptures never leave us any doubt but that we are to live in such a way that all sin is expelled from our lives and we become, in all we do, holy as God is holy.
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This is an important question; and to it different answers have been given.
There have always been in the church people who do claim that it is possible to live a life completely free from sin while still in the world. The story is told of a minister in the Netherlands who announced one Lord's Day to his congregation that he had an important announcement, namely, that he was celebrating an anniversary. It was, so he said, exactly one year ago that he had committed his last sin.
Usually people who are Perfectionists are also Arminians. And Arminians have a very low view of sin. They do not understand that sin is in the nature, deeply imbedded in our whole being. Any child of God not only knows that he is not perfect, but that indeed he has only a very small beginning of the new obedience.
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It is, strangely enough, characteristic of both Arminians and Hyper-Calvinists that they hold to the idea that God never demands of anyone that which he cannot perform. The Arminians, however, say that man is able, with supreme effort and some help from divine grace to do anything which Scripture requires. The Hyper-Calvinists say that the gospel can and must come only to the elect because God never requires of a man that which he cannot perform.
The Reformed say: God indeed requires of both elect and reprobate (of all that hear the gospel) that they live a life of perfection. None can. None will -- on this earth. None are able to do what Scripture requires. But all must.
Because they do not, the reprobate go to hell. But the elect do not keep all the requirements of the gospel either. And yet they are called to perfection. Why?
In my own ministry I have had people come up to me after the service and say something to this effect: "Pastor, that was a good sermon, but I can't do what you said." Probably what they meant to add, but usually didn't was: "Why preach it if I can't do it anyway?" In a certain sense they were right. We are unable to do fully what the Scriptures require of us.
It must be understood that we are primarily interested in God's people. God works in them sanctification so that they are made holy through the power of the gospel as applied to them by the Holy Spirit.
But God does not save them perfectly in this life. He gives them a small beginning of the new obedience. He saves them in such a way that they only start on the road of sanctification, but do not arrive at perfection until they are in glory.
And so, as they struggle to walk in holiness, these saints of God attain only a very small principle of the holiness which God requires.
Why? Why preach such absolute perfection, when it is unattainable in this life?
We will answer this in another article. Prof. H. Hanko
We have been emphasizing the truth that evangelism is nothing more nor less than the preaching of the gospel. If this is true then ALL gospel preaching is, strictly speaking, evangelism, whether it be to the heathen, to the scattered sheep of apostatizing churches, or to the congregation of God's people.
Evangelism can be described, however, as preaching the gospel to those who are outside the true church with a view to their salvation. There is a difference between preaching the gospel in the church and to those outside, to Christians and to the heathen, whether to the heathen living in foreign countries who have not heard the gospel, or the to the heathen who are so numerous in our own Western countries where the gospel has been preached for many years. These differences while important are not essential.
The differences, we believe, are three.
First, in preaching to those who have not heard the gospel before, the message must be simplified and preached in such a way that those who hear understand clearly what the evangelist is saying. This is especially difficult when preaching to heathen who have never heard of sin, grace, redemption, and of so many other gospel truths.
Let us remember here that Jesus, when He preached to the people, preached to them in parables, so that even those who continued unbelieving would hear and see what Jesus was saying. Thus, in His parables he used illustrations taken from their everyday life to make the truths of the gospel as plain to them as possible.
Second, this kind of gospel preaching will address the audience as unsaved in showing them the need for repentance and faith in Jesus Christ as the only way of salvation. The preacher will beseech and persuade those who hear, pressing upon them the demands of the gospel and the urgency of their own need (II Cor. 5:18-21, cf. also Matt. 3:7-12).
There is, however, no essential difference in the message that is preached to professed unbelievers and to the church. The difference is in the audience and their need, and in the aim of the preaching (saving the unsaved). This will to some extent affect the presentation and emphasis of the message, but it is the gospel which must be preached.
Indeed, we must see that even in preaching to the heathen and unbelieving, the whole counsel of God must be preached, including predestination, limited atonement, the Trinity, creation, providence, and all the other truths of Scripture. Jesus and the apostles preached these truths even to those who were not saved (Jn. 10:11, Acts 2:23, 13:17, 14:15-17). We must continue to preach them today.
These truths are very often neglected in mission preaching and even rejected as unsuitable for preaching to the unsaved. This is not only contrary to the example of Jesus and the apostles, but cuts out the heart of the gospel message, i.e., that GOD was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself (II Cor. 5:19).
Third, mission preaching involves going out to preach to the unsaved (Matt. 28:19). We have already pointed out that the church is seen in Scripture as the gathering of believers and their children and that the presence of unbelievers is thought of as an unusual and exceptional thing (I Cor. 14:23). It will not do, therefore, for the church to attempt to carry out its calling to engage in missions by holding an "evangelistic service" every Lord's Day evening. Rev. Ronald Hanko