(The following article is taken from the Reformed Dogmatics, pages 452-464, by Herman Hoeksema. For those interested in reading further in this important book, we refer you to the Reformed Free Publishing Association.)
The whole of Scripture testifies that a man must be born again in order to enter the kingdom of God, yea, even in order to see that kingdom. This follows already from the condition in which man is by nature. For "every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."1 And, "The imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth."2 As he is by nature, therefore, he does not have any place in the kingdom of God, does not have even a remote conception of the things of that kingdom. His heart does not go out to those things. With all his heart and mind and will and strength he lives in the very sphere of another kingdom, the kingdom of the prince of darkness. David confesses: "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me."3 In virtue of his first birth, therefore, he cannot have a place in the kingdom of heaven. That kingdom is spiritual, ethical, and heavenly in essence and nature. It is not of the world, but it is of the Father. It is not from below, but it is from above. For that reason anyone that is born according to the flesh cannot see that kingdom of heaven. For all that is born of the flesh is flesh, and minds never anything else than the things of the flesh, which are death.4 As long as a man is born of blood or of the will of the flesh, he can have no power to become a son of God. 5 The natural man is from below; Christ is from above. Whoever is born of the flesh is of the world; but Christ and His kingdom are not of the world.6 And the world loves its own, but hates those that are chosen out of the world.7 The world, therefore, cannot receive the Spirit of truth, for she neither sees nor knows Him.8 They that are from below seek the glory of men, but despise the glory of God. Therefore they can never believe in Him that always aimed at the glory of God, nor enter into His kingdom.9 They are of their father
the devil, and desire to do the lusts of their father, who did not abide in the truth, and no truth is ever in him; When he speaks of himself, he speaks the lie; for he is a liar, and the father of the lie.10 They are dead through trespasses and sins in which they walk according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience, and fulfill the desires of the flesh and of the mind, so that we are by nature children of wrath.11 Thus we come into the world by nature in virtue of our first birth. No one of men is righteous, no, not one. None understandeth. No one seeketh after God. All are gone out of the way. We are altogether become unprofitable. There is no one that doeth any good, no, not one. Our throat is an open sepulchre. With our tongues we have used deceit. The poison of asps is under our lips. And our mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Destruction and misery are in our ways. And the way of peace we have not known. There is no fear of God before our eyes. Such is the judgment of Scripture upon the natural man.12 Hence, it is the emphasis of Scripture that in order to enter into the kingdom of God a man must be born again, and must be born of water and of the Spirit.
This also implies that this rebirth, or regeneration, cannot be established by any work of men or by the power of man's will. This impossibility is already implied in the term rebirth, or regeneration. No more than any man can be the efficient cause of his own natural birth out of the flesh, no more can he be the efficient cause of his own spiritual, second birth and conception. He cannot renew himself. This also is implied in his natural condition. When he loves the darkness rather than the light, he certainly will not make any attempt to come to the light. He will rather avoid it, despise and hate the light. When by nature he is in such a condition that he cannot hear the speech of Christ, he certainly is by his very deafness excluded from all influences from without that could induce him to enter into the kingdom of God. When the minding of the flesh, of which he is born by nature, is always enmity against God, so that he is not subject to the law of God, yea, cannot be subject to that law, it is plain that his very heart is closed against the influence of the love of God in Christ Jesus. For the natural man there is no hope of improvement or reformation in the way of education or in the way of a better example or in the way of exercising himself in the discipline of external virtue. In that way he will never enter into the kingdom of God.
But God, Who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together m heavenly places in Christ Jesus.13 What is impossible with men is possible with God. He is able to create in man a clean heart and renew in him a right Spirit.14 He is able to circumcise the heart of His people and their seed, in order that they should love the Lord their God with all their existence and life.15 He is capable and willing to give them a heart to know the Lord. and they then will be His people, and He will be their God. And they will turn to Him with their whole heart.16 He is willing to give them one heart and put a new spirit within them. And He will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh, in order that they may walk in His statutes and keep His ordinances, to do them. And so they will be His people, and He will be their God.17 He will sprinkle upon them clean water, so that they shall be clean from all their filthiness and from all their idols. He will give them a new heart and put a new spirit within them. And He will take away the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh. And thus they shall walk in His statutes and keep His judgments, to do them.18
Thus the apostles preached the gospel of the kingdom in a world of darkness, emphasizing the necessity of this radical change, through which man is translated first in the very depth of his inward existence, and then also in his entire conscious life and public walk in the world. Sometimes they call this radical change in men "rebirth," or "regeneration." In James 1:18 we read: "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures." And in I Peter 1:3: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." This rebirth, or regeneration, therefore, is the work of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He accomplishes this work according to His great mercy, a mercy which delivers His people out of the misery of sin and death, and which is called "great" because it does not simply deliver from that misery in order to cause them to return to their original state and condition, but exalts them far above that state to make them participants of a new and heavenly and glorious life. Hence, that regeneration is mediated through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. For not only is that resurrection of Christ the juridical ground for regeneration and the certainty of their salvation, but it is also the principle of the regeneration of all believers. Even as Christ in His resurrection certainly did not return to the earth, but was clothed with a higher, with a heavenly life, so the children of God receive in their rebirth the beginning of a new life, the same life with which Christ appeared from the grave. And for the same reason this regeneration is also the principle of a living hope, and stretches itself in hope unto the future realization and revelation of the complete salvation. The reborn elect have become strangers on the earth, for they have received the principle of a heavenly life through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. In virtue of that principle they seek not the things that are below, but the things that are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God.19
The same apostle in the same chapter speaks once more about regeneration as the fount and cause of that purifying of the souls of believers whereby they obey the truth and are able and called to love one another with unfeigned love. Writes Peter in verse 23, "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible seed, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever." Those who emphasize the doctrine of a mediate regeneration and who cause the rebirth to be preceded by the calling appeal to this word of the apostle Peter for a ground of their view, but unjustly so. They emphasize that the apostle here clearly teaches that regeneration takes place through the everlasting and abiding Word of God, while in verse 25 he adds that this is the same Word that is being proclaimed among them. But for this interpretation of I Peter 1:23 there is no ground in the text itself. It is true, of course, that the apostle here presents regeneration as taking place through the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever, and also that he adds that this is the Word which by the gospel is preached unto the church. But this does not imply at all that the apostle contends that regeneration occurs through the preaching of that living Word of God. The living and abiding Word of God and the proclamation of that Word are two different things. And when the apostle teaches here that regeneration takes place through the living Word itself, that is, through Christ, it certainly is not proper to replace this living Word simply by the preaching of the gospel. It is true that the preaching of the Word stands in connection with regeneration in the broader sense of the word: for without the proclamation of the gospel it is impossible that regeneration will ever become conscious in the people of God. And that the apostle here also speaks of this regeneration in the broader sense of the word, as it concerns our conscious life, is clear from the context, as we hope to indicate presently. But this does not remove the fact that even in this latter sense of the word regeneration does not take place through the preaching of the Word, but through the living and abiding Word of God itself. In the second place, however, it is evident that the apostle in the same verse also speaks of regeneration in the narrower sense, in its very first beginning, when he says that we are born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible. Theologians who favor mediate regeneration have tried to avoid this difficulty by contending that in both expressions, "out of the seed" and "through the word," the same truth is meant, and that the apostle in the first expression uses a figure, while in the second he speaks more literally. But, in the first place, this would avail nothing in order to defend the view of a mediate regeneration since, as we said, the Word and the proclamation of the Word cannot be identified. But, in the second place, there is no ground in the text for the interpretation according to which the seed of regeneration is identified with the abiding and living Word of God. The contrary is true. The apostle makes a very careful distinction here. This is especially plain from the use of the different prepositions. We are born again, s s but s s. It is evident that by this distinction the apostle means to describe rather carefully the mode of regeneration. The seed of regeneration, that is, the principle of the new life, is implanted by the Holy Spirit in the heart. And from that seed, or principle, sprouts forth the life of regeneration. However, this sprouting of the seed of regeneration is not realized except through a working of the living and abiding Word of God, through which He calls the quickened sinner efficaciously and gives him ears to hear and eyes to see. This, therefore, is the efficacious calling through the Word of God. And this efficacious calling receives content for our consciousness through the fact that this living and abiding Word of God is also proclaimed among us. Although, therefore, we will not deny that in a certain sense regeneration may be presented as taking place mediately, through the Word, nevertheless we maintain that the appeal to I Peter 1:23 has no ground.
The apostle Paul mentions regeneration literally in only one passage, namely, in the well-known word of Titus 3:5. God saved us "not by the works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost." Often in these words an indication or reference to holy baptism is found. Baptism, according to this explanation, is the washing of regeneration. But although it is true that holy baptism can indeed be conceived as a washing of regeneration when regeneration is conceived of in the broader sense of the word, yet it is not correct to say that the apostle here calls baptism a washing of regeneration. Principally, there is no objection to calling baptism a washing or bath of regeneration. Scripture itself points us in that direction. For according to the Bible, in baptism we are buried with Christ into His death, and through baptism we rise with Him in newness of life.20 According to this presentation, the old man in principle is left behind in the bath of baptism. And from that bath the new man in Christ arises, justified and sanctified, and therefore, regenerated. When, therefore, we conceive of regeneration in the broader sense of the word, as, namely, changing and sanctifying our consciousness and recreating us in Christ Jesus to a new man, baptism in its essential significance is indeed the washing of regeneration. Nevertheless, the truth is that in Titus 3:5 the apostle probably very indirectly refers to baptism; however, he does not speak of it, but of regeneration only. He does not call baptism a washing of regeneration: but, on the contrary, he calls regeneration a washing. Regeneration itself is conceived as a bath, washing us from all iniquity.
But although the word "regeneration" occurs only once in the epistles of the apostle Paul, the fact itself is referred to in many places. Thus, he teaches us that he that is in Christ Jesus is a "new creature."21 Old things are passed away, and all things are become new. We are the workmanship of God, "created in Christ Jesus", created unto good works, which He has afore prepared that we should walk in them. When the apostle calls the believer a new creature, when he calls the work of grace whereby the sinner is changed and enabled to walk in all good works a new creation, this is not to be understood as if the sinner became essentially another creature. Yet it is plain that, according to Paul, the spiritual, ethical change which is wrought by grace in the sinner is effected by nothing less than a creative, even though it be a recreative, act of God. Besides, it must not be forgotten that the apostle Paul preferably speaks of the calling, in which the work of regeneration is implied and included. By this calling of God the apostle understands that creative and omnipotent act of God by which that which He calls also really comes into existence. For He quickens the dead, and calls those things that are not as if they were.22 And those whom He foreknew and ordained to be like unto the image of His Son He also called.23 And those that are called are quickened with Christ, raised with Him, and placed with Him in heaven, entered into death with Hint through baptism, in order to arise in newness of life.24 He and all the believers with him may rejoice: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." The contents of that almighty calling of God therefore is: "Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light."25 The work of God which the apostle denotes by the term calling, therefore, is the same as regeneration.
Even as with the apostle Paul the calling stands on the foreground, so the apostle John preferably speaks of regeneration. The main thought in his first epistle is undoubtedly that believers are partakers of the life of God in the light. For that reason he views believers constantly in the light of the fact that they are "children of God." They are born of God. Hence, they possess the life of God. And having communion with God through that life, they walk in the light: "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not."26 And again: "Now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when be shall appear, we shall be like him: for we shall see him as he is."27 He that committeth sin is of the devil, but "whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin: for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother."28And again: "We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error."29 This being born of God reveals itself in true faith: for "whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him." And in that faith he that is born of God overcometh the world.30 Thus throughout his epistle the apostle John emphasizes the true, spiritual, ethical sonship of God, caused by the work of regeneration.
It lies in the nature of the case that all rationalistic and Pelagian movements repudiate this radical and fundamental change in man that is called regeneration. According to them, man is not spiritually dead. He is not totally depraved, wholly incapable of doing any good, inclined to all evil. He is only sick. But his nature as such has remained unchanged. His salvation therefore depends on his own free will and is effected by human words of persuasion and wisdom. One must work upon the will of man through appealing to his intellect. He must be persuaded through word and example. And this change in his thinking and willing which is effected by human persuasion is really regeneration. Although, therefore, they still speak of rebirth, they attach an entirely different significance to the term than is meant by Scripture and the orthodox confessions. For a regeneration that is effected by almighty grace and which takes place even below the consciousness of man in the very depth of his existence and which consists in the fact that the sinner receives a new principle of life and that new spiritual powers are infused into him,--for such a regeneration they have no place. For by such a conception of regeneration every possibility is cut off that the sinner can cooperate with his own salvation. Regeneration in the Scriptural sense of the word leaves the sinner wholly passive, and attributes the work of salvation only to the absolutely sovereign grace of God, Who is merciful to whom He will be merciful, and Who hardeneth whom He will.
Our Reformed confessions emphasize this work of the new birth. Especially is this true of the Canons of Dordrecht. Also the Confessio Belgica mentions regeneration in Article 24, but there the reference is evidently only to regeneration in the wider sense of the word. This is evident from the fact that Article 24 speaks "Of Man's Sanctification and Good Works," and then continues: "We believe that this true faith, being wrought in man by the hearing of the Word of God, and the operation of the Holy Ghost, doth regenerate and make him a new man, causing him to live a new life, and freeing him from the bondage of sin." It is evident from these words that theConfessio Belgica does not speak of regeneration in its narrowest sense, but only in the sense of sanctification. But the Canons of Dordrecht, in the Third and Fourth Heads of Doctrine, gives us a beautiful description of that divine work that is called the new birth. In Article 11 we read: "But when God accomplishes his good pleasure in the elect, or works in them true conversion, he not only causes the gospel to be externally preached to them, and powerfully illuminates their minds by his Holy Spirit, that they may rightly understand and discern the things of the Spirit of God; but by the efficacy of the same regenerating Spirit, pervades the inmost recesses of the man; he opens the closed, and softens the hardened heart, and circumcises that which was uncircumcised, infuses new qualities into the will, which though heretofore dead, he quickens; from being evil, disobedient, and refractory, he renders it good, obedient, and pliable; actuates and strengthens it, that like a good tree, it may bring forth fruits of good actions." And in Article 12: "And this is the regeneration so highly celebrated in Scripture and denominated a new creation: a resurrection from the dead, a making alive, which God works in us without our aid. But this is in no wise effected merely by the external preaching of the gospel, by moral suasion, or such a mode of operation, that after God has performed his part, it still remains in the power of man to be regenerated or not, to be convened, or to continue unconverted; but it is evidently a supernatural work, most powerful, and at the same time most delightful, astonishing, mysterious, and ineffable; not inferior in efficacy to creation, or the resurrection from the dead, as the Scripture inspired by the author of this work declares; so that all in whose heart God works in this marvelous manner, are certainly, infallibly, and effectually regenerated, and do actually believe. --Whereupon the will thus renewed, is not only actuated and influenced by God, but in consequence of this influence, becomes itself active. Wherefore also, man is himself rightly said to believe and repent, by virtue of that grace received."
There always has been difference of opinion, and sometimes a rather heated controversy, among Reformed people and Reformed theologians about the question of the relation between regeneration and calling. In our opinion there is very little cause for such a heated controversy about this question, if only we distinguish correctly and accurately. In a certain sense it can indeed be maintained that calling precedes regeneration, if only it is clearly defined what is meant by the calling and what is meant by the rebirth. In another sense, however, it must very definitely be maintained that regeneration is the very first work in the heart of the sinner, and that there can be no question of a saving hearing of the Word of God without this regeneration of the heart.
We can speak, first of all, of regeneration in the deepest and narrowest sense of the word. In this sense it is the saving act of the Triune God whereby He takes hold of the elect and in himself dead sinner through the Spirit of Christ, translates him in the very depth of his existence, and infuses into him the principle of the life which is in Christ Jesus, thus translating him in principle out of death into life and placing him in abiding communion with the body of Christ. In this sense it is the act of God whereby He implants the seed of the new life into the heart of the sinner. It consists in the granting and infusing of new spiritual qualities. It is the circumcision of the heart. It takes place not in the consciousness of the sinner as such, but in the very depth of his heart, in the center of his spiritual, ethical life, from which are the issues of life. It is the implanting of the seed of the new life as it is not yet sprouted into the consciousness of the sinner. It is a new creation, through which in principle the sinner becomes a new man in Christ Jesus: old things have passed away, and all things are become new. The Holy Scriptures speak of regeneration in this sense when they refer to an incorruptible seed, out of which regeneration sprouts forth through the Word of God into the consciousness of man. This is the meaning of I Peter 1:23. From the point of view of this principle of the new life in regeneration the new man cannot sin, for his seed remaineth in him, and he is born of God. Of this regeneration the Savior also speaks to Nicodemus in the well-known words: "Except a man be born again, he can not see the kingdom of God."31 There is a difference of opinion with regard to the meaning of the word "born again. According to some, the term means "from above;" according to others, it signifies the same as "again." The fact is that avw in the Holy Scriptures always means "above," and therefore the significance of the term as meaning "from above" cannot be excluded here. However, it is to be remarked that Nicodemus evidently understands the Word of the Lord as meaning "to be born once again." And therefore also this meaning cannot be excluded from the text. Hence, the meaning is that regeneration is an entirely new birth, a being born from the very beginning, and that in such a way that through this second birth we receive the life from above. Through the first birth we are entirely from below, natural, earthy, children of darkness. Through the second birth we are born from above, spiritual, holy, heavenly, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. But at any rate, it is evident that the Lord speaks of this regeneration in the deepest sense of the word as preceding even the possibility of seeing the kingdom of heaven. To other passages of Scripture we already referred. In I Peter 1:3 we read of "being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever." And that we must clearly distinguish between the prepositions and has already been explained. Significant is also the word in I John 3:9: "whosoever is born of God does not commit sin...," which can only refer to the seed of regeneration, according to the text itself. With Paul we find regeneration described in the terms "new creature"32 "quickened us together with Christ",33 and also in Ephesians 2:10: "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus..."
Summarizing, we come to the following conclusions concerning the work of regeneration in this sense of the word: 1) Regeneration is exclusively a work of the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, through the Spirit of Christ.
2) That it takes place in the very depth of man's existence. It is a new birth, a being born from the very start. It is a new creation, and the regenerated man is a new creature.
3) It precedes all mediate work of God in us, for without this work of regeneration one cannot even see the kingdom of God. It is an immediate work of God, an act of the Spirit in our hearts, without us, in which we are entirely passive.
4) This new creation, however, does not mean an essential change of man's nature. In regeneration he does not receive another soul in the essential sense of the word. Regeneration has a spiritual, ethical character. Through that work of God the sinner is translated from death into life.
5) It consists of an infusing, implanting, of new life, of the principle of the life of God as it exists first in the exalted Christ and from Him flows through the Spirit of Christ into His church. It is implanted out of Christ into the heart of the sinner, the center of his existence from a spiritual, ethical point of view.
From all this it is evident that regeneration is exclusively a work of God, wherein man is strictly passive in the sense that he does not and cannot cooperate in his own rebirth. In that deepest sense regeneration is not even as such a matter of his own experience, seeing that it does not take place within, but below the threshold of his consciousness. It is therefore independent of age and can take place in the smallest infants. We may even take for granted that in the sphere of the covenant of God He usually regenerates His elect children from infancy.
The question now is: what is the relation between the calling and regeneration? In a certain sense it may be said indeed that even this regeneration, in the narrowest sense of the word, conceived as the implanting of the new life, is the fruit of the calling of God. But then it is necessary that we carefully define this calling. There is, of course, an immediate calling of God, which precedes all the being of the creature, and through which the creature comes into existence. Thus it is in creation. When God says, "Let there be light," the light comes into existence through that efficacious and almighty calling. He calls the things that are not as if they were.34 And thus it is also in recreation, or in the work of salvation and of regeneration. And when reference is made to this almighty calling of God in the work of regeneration, we have no objection to say that the calling precedes regeneration. However, usually the reference is to another calling, to the calling through the preaching of the Word. And when one refers to this calling of the preaching, which is usually distinguished as inward and outward calling, it cannot he applied to regeneration in the narrowest sense of the word. And therefore, when we speak of regeneration in this sense, as the work of God through which the very first principle of life is wrought in the heart of the sinner through the Spirit of Christ, it precedes every work of salvation, also that of the calling.
This, however, does not alter the fact that on the basis of Scripture we may also speak of a regeneration in the broader sense of the word, as including the sprouting out of the seed of the new life, and as the first revelation of that new life in the consciousness of the sinner. With the apostle Paul, both of these conceptions of regeneration are included in the term calling. Of regeneration as such, literally, he speaks only once, as we have already said. Usually he speaks of the calling. And through that calling of God the whole of regeneration is accomplished, as it also comes to manifestation in the consciousness of the sinner. Of this, as we have said before, also the apostle Peter speaks in I Peter 1:23, when he says that we are regenerated not of corruptible, but of incorruptible seed, through the living and abiding Word of God. As we have emphasized repeatedly, in the first part of this description of regeneration the apostle views the rebirth in the narrowest sense of the word. Then we are regenerated out of incorruptible seed, which God through the Spirit of Christ plants into the heart of the sinner. But in the second part of this same text he views regeneration as the sprouting forth of the seed in the consciousness of the sinner. And this part of the work of regeneration is through, , the Word of God that is proclaimed among us. Thus also we read in James 1:18 that God begat us through the word of truth. And this word undoubtedly refers to the conscious birth of the new life that always is connected with the preaching of the gospel. We may compare the first implanting of the seed of regeneration to natural generation and conception; and the first manifestation of this principle of the new life in the consciousness of the sinner we may compare to the birth of a child. And, of course, if we conceive of regeneration in this sense, in the sense, namely, in which James 1:18 speaks of it, as the manifestation of the rebirth in the consciousness and life of the sinner, it is preceded by the calling, the latter always conceived as the efficacious calling of God through the preaching of the gospel. This is not the place to elaborate on the idea of the calling, for this we must do in a later connection. But even now we must remember that the calling through which the life of regeneration sprouts forth in the consciousness of the sinner is distinguished as internal and external calling. Also this calling is not simply a human persuasion, but is the work of the Holy Spirit. Also this calling is efficacious and an irresistible operation of God through the Spirit of Christ whereby the regenerated sinner is also as far as his consciousness is concerned translated out of darkness into the marvelous light of God. But in any case, there is no need of a controversy about this question. If we conceive of regeneration in the broader sense of the word, it is preceded by the calling and is connected with the preaching of the gospel. And if, besides, we also are mindful of the fact that our fathers. as is evident from Article 24 of the Confessia Belgica, spoke of a regeneration in a still broader sense of the word, as including the continued process of sanctification, which arises out of faith and is being realized by the Word and Spirit, it ought to be evident that definite and clear and careful distinction is necessary whenever we discuss this question of the relation between regeneration and calling, and that the difference between Reformed theologians on this point and the heated controversy in regard to this was often the result of confusion of terms and conceptions. And whatever may be said about this question, all Reformed theologians are agreed in this, that the application of the work of salvation is entirely a work of God and is wrought only through the sovereign and almighty grace of God in Christ Jesus through the Holy Spirit.
12. Romans 3:10-18. Return
22. Romans 4:17. Return
Herman Hoeksema (1886-1965) was born in Groningen, the Netherlands on March 13, 1886 and passed away in Grand Rapids, MI on September 2, 1965. He attended the Theological School of the Christian Reformed Church and was ordained into the minitry in September of 1915.
"H.H." is considered one of the founding "fathers" of the Protestant Reformed Churches in America. He and his consistory (Eastern Ave. Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, MI) were suspended and deposed from their offices in 1924-1925 because of their opposition to the "Three Points of Common Grace" adopted by the Christian Reformed Church in the Synod of Kalamazoo, MI in 1924. He, together with Rev. George M. Ophoff, Rev. H. Danhof and their consistories continued in office in the "Protesting Christian Reformed Church" which shortly thereafter were named the "Protestant Reformed Churches in America."
Herman Hoeksema served as pastor in the 14th Street Christian Reformed Church in Holland, MI (1915-1920), Eastern Ave. Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, MI (1920-1924), and First Protestant Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, MI (1924-1964), He taught in the Seminary of the Protestant Reformed Churches from its founding and retired in 1964.
For an enlarged biography, see: Herman Hoeksema: Theologian and Reformer