(Continued from the previous issue)
We have talked at some length about the address of the gospel from the viewpoint of what God says in the gospel.
We must now discuss more particularly how God works through the address of the gospel.
This too is an important question. It is important because we have, throughout our discussion, proceeded from the viewpoint that God is sovereign in all that He does.
He is also sovereign in the preaching of the gospel. God always accomplishes all that He purposes to do.
The gospel is "the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth" (Rom. 1:16). Paul preaches Christ crucified because that preaching is foolishness to the Greeks and a stumbling block to the Jews, but "to them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God" (I Cor. 1:24). Paul stands in awe of the power of the gospel because those who preach it "are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: to the one . . . the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life" (II Cor. 2:14, 15).
God always accomplishes His purpose in the gospel, sovereignly. And God accomplishes His purpose not only in them that believe, but also in them that reject the gospel.
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How does God work through the address of the gospel?
Let us take a look at the wicked and unbelieving first of all.
We are talking now about the reprobate, who are such according to the eternal decree of God. They, in many instances, come under the preaching of the gospel and are, by the preaching addressed by God.
It must be remembered that they are sinners who are totally depraved. This is true of the elect as well as the reprobate; but we are not talking about the elect at this point. That will come.
They are so totally depraved that they are unable to obey the gospel, though they hear it. They are unable to heed its demands, though they well understand what those demands are. Their depravity is total. They are dead in trespasses and sins.
To them God speaks.
He says a great number of things.
He speaks of His truth. And in His truth God says to the wicked: "I alone am God Who am worthy of all praise and honor. Before me you must bow."
He speaks of man's sin. He says: "You have sinned against me grievously. You must repent of your sin and turn to me, for I am a holy God Who hates sin."
If man should respond and say: "We are totally depraved. We cannot turn to thee," God responds with the words: "I made you holy and without sin. It is your own fault that you are unable to turn to me. You are still obligated to do that which is right and pleasing to me. Do not blame me for your sin. It is your fault."
God also solemnly assures the wicked that He is in utter seriousness when He tells them to repent. He says: "You must repent and turn from your evil ways. And if you do not repent, I will destroy you. But if you do turn from your ways I will forgive you and bless you."
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At the same time, it is God's eternal purpose to damn the wicked. And God accomplishes that purpose through the means of their unbelief.
When the wicked hear these words of God, they become more set in their evil ways. They hurl their insults at God, crucify again His Son, turn in mockery and derision against His truth, laugh at His commands, and assure Him that they will not permit Him to punish them.
As the commands of the gospel bring out more and more of their wickedness, they become more and more hardened in their sin. And God, Who is never mocked, comes in His judgments upon them.
But in this, God is also sovereign. He hardens their hearts. His Word does not return void -- even in the case of the reprobate (Is. 55:11). But He hardens in such a way that the fault of their sin lies with them and the just judgment which comes upon them is deserved. In this way God is vindicated through the gospel, and preachers are a sweet savor to God.
- Volume: 5
- Issue: 17
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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