Hear, O my people, and I will testify unto thee . . . . I am the Lord thy God . . . . But my people would not hearken to my voice . . . . So I gave them up unto their own hearts' lusts . . . . Psalm 81:8-14.
Our readers will recall that the verses quoted above are parts of Psalm 81 on which we were asked to comment.
In the last issue, which I hoped you saved and which you should really now reread, we talked about the fact that God never deals with people only as individuals. This idea of God's individual treatment of people is basically an Arminian idea, and it is one reason why Arminianism is so popular in our day. Our age is an age where it is "every man for himself, and the devil take the hindmost." Every man thinks only of himself and has no concern about those whose lives he touches because of the God-created relationships in which a man lives.
Arminianism encourages that kind of thinking because an Arminian is, above all, concerned about the individual's personal relationship to God. This is a dreadful fault that leads to Arminian and Pelagian heresies. If only people would think about family and about church, and not always be thinking in terms of: What can I get out of it? the church would be much stronger.
However all these things may be, the Scriptures always speak in terms of family, church, nation, race, and, indeed, the whole human race which fell in Adam.
Because this is God's way of treating people, the Bible also uses many different figures to illustrate the church. We were using the illustration of a farmer and his field in which were wheat and weeds. So it is with the church which has in it elect and reprobate.
Just as a farmer calls his field full of wheat and weeds a wheat field (because his purpose is to grow wheat, not weeds) so God calls the nation of Israel (and the church), "My people." His purpose with Israel and the church is to save His people.
Just as a farmer cultivates, fertilizes, and irrigates both wheat and weeds, so God causes His Word and sacraments with all the means of covenant instruction to be given to elect and reprobate alike. But the care of the farmer is not for the weeds, but for the wheat. And the care of God for the church is not for the reprobate, but for the elect.
And just as sometimes there are more weeds than wheat, so sometimes there are more reprobate than elect.
But the same is true of a Christian. He is two people because of God's work of salvation. He is a totally depraved sinner, and He is a saint who walks in obedience to God. Both at the same time. And just as sometimes the evil in him dominates, and he walks in sin, so at other times the new man in Christ dominates, the old man is shoved into the background, and the elect child of God lives near to God, prays, meditates on God's Word and delights in walking in God's ways.
So it was also in the nation of Israel (and in the church). Sometimes the reprobate element dominated and the nation walked in idolatry serving all the gods of the heathen. The temple worship was neglected. The sacrifices were made only to idols. The law of God was trampled under foot. If you looked at the nation as a whole, you would say, as God said: "But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me."
Did that mean that even the elect walked in these sins? Well, I am afraid that often they did. Yet God reserved unto Himself 7000 who had not bowed the knee to Baal in those dreadful days of apostasy under Ahab.
But sometimes as in the days of David and Solomon, the worship of God flourished and God's laws were kept in the nation. Did that mean that all in the nation were elect? Of course not. But the elect element dominated and determined, under good kings, the whole moral and spiritual direction of the nation.
And so it is with the church. Sometimes the church is strong -- as at the time of the Reformation. Sometimes the wicked dominate in the church and apostasy overwhelms the church. Do times of great spiritual strength mean there are no wicked and carnal people in the church? Of course not. Do times of grave weakness and apostasy mean that there are no elect? Not if a church has not become the wholly false church. God reserves unto himself 7000 who do not bow the knee to the modern Baals of modern preachers.
Psalm 81 describes a period in Israel's history when the wicked dominated: My people would not hearken to my voice.
And so God sent His judgments upon the nation. Upon the whole nation, for He deals with men as a part of the nation. The whole nation is described in verse 12: "So I gave them up unto their own hearts' lust: and they walked in their own counsels."
But again, our space is taken. Will you please keep this Newsletter in a safe place so that you may review it when the next issue comes?
- Volume: 6
- Issue: 14
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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