Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with a perfect hatred: I count them my enemies. Psalm 139: 21, 22.
In the last issue, we began our discussion of an important question submitted by one of our readers. It reads as follows: "When asked what is the greatest commandment, the Lord said, 'Love the Lord your God . . . ,' and 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' This being the case, and neighbor meaning anyone who is in need and crosses our path, how can David say what he does in Psalm 139: 21, 22, and Jesus say that we are to hate even our family members?"
In that issue I called the attention of our readers to a quote by Herman Hoeksema in which he explains what Scripture means by "love," and how we are to love our enemies. It would be well if you would pick up the last issue and read again what he said.
I also called attention to how Psalm 139:21, 22 itself explains what it means by "hate," and how that idea is found elsewhere in Scripture, notably James 4:4.
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One more aspect to this question must be discussed for us to understand it well.
You will recall that Herman Hoeksema called attention to the fact that in our love for our enemies, we are particularly obligated to show them the way of salvation, call them to repentance and faith in Christ, and seek the eternal welfare of their souls. That is that love is really all about. We are to feed them when they are hungry -- but always in the name of Christ. We are to cloth them when they are in rags -- but in the name of Him Who loved us. And to provide for their earthly needs in the name of Christ is to seek their eternal well-being. It is no love on our part to give a man something to eat while refraining from calling him to belief in Christ in Whom alone is salvation.
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This necessary testimony which the believer must make and by which he demonstrates his love for his neighbor is what we sometimes call "witnessing." Love for the neighbor comes to expression in the Christian witness of the believer.
God calls us to such witnessing. He calls us to speak to others of the salvation He has given us in Christ and of the riches of His grace and mercy through faith in Christ.
But -- and here is the important point -- God uses that witnessing in the same way that He uses the preaching of the Word. Just as the gospel is a means of saving the elect, but also hardening the wicked, so is Christian witnessing the power both to save and to harden.
The result of the Christian's witness is, therefore, of two kinds.
God is pleased, if the object of our love is an elect, to use our witness to bring such a one into the church and to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. But God may also use that same witness to harden the one who hears our witness and is the object of our love.
If the former is true, that is, if God is pleased to save such a one, then our love becomes a bond of fellowship and is enjoyed between us to the fullest. Love is then a "two-way street": we love our fellow saint, and our fellow saints love us.
But the opposite can happen. Any child of God knows that it can happen and has experienced it in his own life. He may witness to someone, and call that person to repentance and faith. But if that object of our witness is not a child of God, that person will reject our witness.
But, because our witness in fact hardens the one to whom we witness, he will become increasingly hostile and hateful. The result will be that he will pour out his hatred against God upon us and refuse not only to receive our witness any more, but also refuse our help of material things. He will say something like: "Keep your food, if all you are going to do is preach to me. I don't want to hear it any more" -- and this probably accompanied by some curse words.
And so, loving our neighbor, as we are called to do, becomes increasingly difficult and finally impossible. The wicked man himself will refuse to have anything to do with us and will, if possible, persecute us. He will mock our witness, refuse our help, curse our testimony concerning Christ, and show his contempt for all that is holy.
And so we will be brought, in quite a natural way, to the point where we must say with David what he said in Psalm 139. We will be grieved that the wicked rise up against God. We will not only count them increasingly our enemies, but the very nature of the effect of our witness will make them our enemies.
God wills it this way. God works to accomplish His purpose -- also through the witness of the saints.
And it is well that we notice too that our witness, the stronger and more faithful it is, will surely bring persecution.
- Volume: 7
- Issue: 2
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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