[Editor’s Note: This reply of the Rev. Heys is in response to comment by Mr. Jacobson in the March 15 issue, p. 273].
To reject the interpretation of a particular passage of Holy Writ, one that appeared in the Standard Bearer, and in the first articles of a series on the book of Esther-is one thing. It is quite a different thing when the accuser charges the one who wrote these articles with writing ‘below the standard of the Standard Bearer‘ and of missing a point no Calvinist should overlook. This is especially true when the accuser does not give his own interpretation with undeniable proof from the Scriptures that it is the correct interpretation. Such actions call for a reply which is necessary lest silence be misconstrued to mean agreement and a guilty conscience and lest as much as one Standard Bearerreader is misled by this public charge sent not to the writer of the articles but to the Standard Bearer. This reply is belated because at the moment the accused is in New Zealand working for our churches, so that hundreds if not thousands of Standard Bearer readers knew the unfounded, unproven charges at least two weeks before the accused did. And even with airmail it will come long after the charge appeared.
In a letter to the Editor-In-Chief of the Standard BearerMr. Warren Jacobson states unequivocally that I “missed the forest for the trees” and also missed a point that no Calvinist should overlook. Now I know full well what that expression about the forest and trees means. But I find it difficult to understand what the brother means by it. I can only wish that he had waited with his criticisms until the whole series had been published, so that he would have the whole forest before him instead of the few trees of the early articles in the series. I can only wish that he had waited until he read the two articles which I wrote this past week—the week of March 25, 1984—and which will not appear in print until July or August, since I have four or five articles at the printer that come before these two. The one is entitled “Human Craftiness and Divine Faithfulness” and the other “The Enemy Beginning to Fall.” He just might have realized then that I do see the forest, and that as a Calvinist. For in them I draw the picture all the way to the second coming of Christ and the blessedness of God’s people in the new Jerusalem. And I can only wonder how carefully he read the first two articles entitled “Our Sure Salvation'” and “A Comforting Pinpoint of Light”. In these, as well, the whole picture of the salvation of God’s people is set forth, and that before I even begin to speak of Esther and Mordecai.
I am at a great disadvantage in that I am 10,000 miles away from my files and must answer to a great extent from memory. But although the brother fears that I missed the point of “God’s sovereign grace being played out in behavioral patterns in people which we might never expect, in ways which we might never suspect, to bring to pass purposes which we might never expect,” I fear that he has not come out with his basic criticism of my articles because he wants to defend Esther and Mordecai as elect, believing children of God. Then his statement really means, “God’s sovereign grace (is) being played out in the behavior of Esther and Mordecai in ways we would not expect, in deeds we would not expect that grace to produce, and for purposes we do not expect.” But does the brother mean to say that God’s graceproduces the sinful deeds of these two, and that it makes them behave as sinfully as they did? God’s grace makes His elect, believing children refuse and fail to use His name, to confess Him, to worship Him openly? Is that a point no Calvinist should overlook? James tells us that faith without works is dead. And now I am running ahead of my series, but can the brother show me and our readers from this book or anywhere from Scripture that Esther and Mordecai confessed their sins, and that they gave ONE word of thanks to God for the enlargement and deliverance? THAT is what God’s sovereign grace produces. Those behavioral patterns we will always find in those who receive God’s grace. Everywhere in Scripture where an elect’s sins are made known to us there is evidence given of repentance and thankfulness. O, we did not expect anything like that of that thief on the cross. Minutes before he became the recipient of that grace he too railed on Christ. But grace brought a beautiful confession before he died. In two articles, if my memory does not fail me, I ask those readers who want to maintain that Esther and Mordecai were elect, believing children of God to give me one word, one deed that even suggests of faith.
A Calvinist must not confuse God’s grace with His providence. That providence serves the grace, but they are very distinct in what they produce but also as far as in whom they work. When we accuse others of missing the forest for the trees we had better be sure the forest we have in mind is not a mirage that is then a forest of man’s imagination, and/or that it is the forest that at the moment must be looked at, and which God wants us to see in this passage of Holy Writ as being on the foreground.
A Calvinist lets Scripture speak and does not try to say something for Scripture. Scripture deliberately shows these children of Abraham making absolutely no use of God’s name. And grace always produces this use in fear and reverence. That is not unexpected in those born again in that grace. A Calvinist sees the chaff in God’s providence serving the wheat. That is the picture in the book of Esther. That forest I had before me in every article.
The brother is entitled to his opinion provided it is in harmony with Scripture. And he owes our readers his proof that Esther and Mordecai produced any behavioral patterns that Scripture presents as the work of God’s grace. Paul says that we are saved by grace. Now that salvation is not merely from hell fire and the punishment we deserve, A Calvinist always stresses the point which we may never overlook, namely, that we are also saved from the love and power of sin and receive, as we read in I John 3:9, a life that cannot sin. The brother must show where that life ever came to manifestation anywhere in the lives of Esther and Mordecai. He must show where Scripture shows this of them.