(Continued from the previous issue)
We may very well ask: What does God Himself say in the gospel?
That is an important question.
What does God say when the gospel is addressed by God in one way or another to all who hear?
There are wrong answers given to that question, answers which have done untold harm to the preaching of the gospel. Answers, indeed, which really make gospel preaching impossible.
Some, among whom is to be found people who claim to be Reformed in their thinking, say that God addresses all men in the gospel in this fashion: "I love you very much. I love you so much that I have given Christ Himself to die for you on the cross. I have made salvation available to you as a token of my love for you. I solemnly assure you that I want nothing so much as that you be saved. And as a token of this my love for you, I have done all I can possibly do to save you. If, therefore, you will believe in Christ my Son, I will give you salvation."
That is the gospel address of the well-meant offer of salvation. The trouble is that it denies the truth of God, namely the truth of God's sovereignty. It denies the one crucial aspect of God's revelation of Himself, namely that He is God alone and that He does all His good pleasure.
It denies that great truth in the interests of leaving salvation up to man's free choice and making man's salvation dependent upon what man does.
If I had to preach such a gospel, I would resign from the ministry and forever hold my peace. And if I had to listen to such a gospel, I would despair utterly and forget altogether about going to church.
No, God says this in the gospel. He says: "I am the sovereign Lord of heaven and earth. I have created heaven and earth and all they contain for my praise. I rule sovereignly in the affairs of men and nations accomplishing my will and doing all my good pleasure. I show forth my praise in all ages, both now and forever."
That is what God says, first of all.
But He goes on to say: "I show forth my sovereign power and great glory especially in the work of salvation. I save a people whom I have chosen in Christ. I save them through the blood of Jesus Christ my Son Whom I have given for these people and for them alone. And I show forth my praise, especially the praise of my justice and righteousness in damning sinners to everlasting hell. I the Lord do all these things."
But He also says: "I save my people through the way of repentance and fleeing for refuge to Christ. And I damn the wicked through the way of their unbelief and hardness of heart manifested in their rejection of Christ my Son."
This too God says - in the gospel.
And so, to make that absolutely certain, God says in the gospel proclamation (and make no mistake about it, for He says it to everyone who hears the gospel): "Believe on Christ. That is your solemn calling. Turn from your sin and evil way and come to Christ. And, if you will come to Him, I will save you from your sins. Everyone who flees to the cross in sorrow for sin will find in me a merciful and gracious God, abundant to save."
But God also says in the preaching: "If you refuse to believe in Christ and turn from your sin, I will punish you in the fierceness of my anger and will throw you far from me into everlasting hell. You will not despise my Christ with impunity. For I am a just and righteous God Who hates sin and will surely punish it most terribly."
And so God specifically directs sweet and blessed promises to some who do turn from their sin and flee to Christ; and He hurls the thunder bolts of His anger against those who despise His Christ and mock His words.
That too is the address of the gospel.
- Volume: 5
- Issue: 16
Prof. Herman Hanko (Wife: Wilma)
Ordained: October 1955
Pastorates: Hope, Walker, MI - 1955; Doon, IA - 1963; Professor to the Protestant Reformed Seminary - 1965
Emeritus: 2001Website: www.sermonaudio.com/search.asp?speakeronly=true&currsection=sermonsspeaker&keyword=Prof._Herman_Hanko
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