These days I received a letter from the Board of our paper, asking me to publish a speech which the Rev. H. Veldman spoke at a recent meeting of our paper. The brethren of the Board opine that this speech may help them in the work of propagating our paper among our people. And they are right. We gladly do so. And since in this issue there is no room anywhere else, we gladly give the space of our editorials for its publication.
The Rev. Herman Veldman spoke as follows:
OUR CALLING AS THE R.F.P.A.
The Standard Bearer, as all of us or most of us probably know, did not appear after the ministers, H. Danhof, H. Hoeksema, and G. M. Ophoff were deposed. These ministers were deposed at the beginning of the year 1925; our association, known as the Reformed Free Publishing Association, was born in the latter part of the year 1923. Secondly, our Standard Bearer is not a church paper. A church paper, such as The Banner or De Wachter, is controlled by the church—their editor, for example, receives his appointment from the Synod of the Christian Reformed Church. The Standard Bearer, however, belongs to this association, the R.F.P.A. We are FREE because we are not bound by ecclesiastical ties. This does not mean, however, that we may run amuck. Fact is, we are also a REFORMED association and have therefore pledged ourselves to advance and propagate the strictly Reformed truth. We are a PUBLISHING association because it is our desire to publish, to proclaim the blessed Reformed heritage which has been committed to us. And we are an ASSOCIATION because we are not bound synodically but represent a group of brethren who have pledged ourselves to preserve and proclaim the blessed truths of the Word of God. This association, the R.F.P.A., was organized because the official organs of the Christian Reformed Church were closed to us and we were denied the privilege to publish our views. With this brief history we are, and if not we should be, acquainted.
I have been asked to address you this evening on a very pertinent question. The question which we face this evening is not whether we are proclaiming or publishing the truth. This, I am sure, is certain among us. I have not been asked to fire you anew with zeal for the Reformed truth. Neither do we face the question whether we must proclaim that truth. This, too, lies in the very nature of the case. The exhortation of Holy Writ to proclaim the virtues of God Who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light is known and clear to all of us. What other calling could we possibly have than to proclaim the virtues and the knowledge of the alone blessed God?! That we must proclaim the truth and condemn whatever opposes the Word of God is surely beyond dispute. However, I am addressing you on the subject: Our calling as the R.F.P.A. The question is not whether we have the truth, or whether we must proclaim that truth, but whether we have that calling as an R.F.P.A. Let us understand and face this question. That the Church of God, institutionally, must proclaim the truths of the Word of God, we all understand. But, may we also as an association be engaged in the propagation of the truth? Do we, as an association, usurp the calling of the Church of God? Have we taken upon ourselves a task which is not rightfully ours? Should not the Standard Bearer become a church paper, controlled and supervised by our synod? Are we not trespassing in the undertaking of this work? Should we not disband? It is this question which I ask this evening and to which I would call your attention a few moments.
We need not emphasize this evening the calling of the Church of God. Indeed, the Church, yea, only the Church may preach the gospel. Preaching we define as the official proclamation of the Word of God through which it pleases Christ, the King and sole Missionary of His Church, to speak by His Spirit unto His own.
From Sabbath to Sabbath the Church preaches the Word of God. Also in our catechetical instruction we have official instruction in the Word of God. The preaching of the gospel to others outside the pale of the church is also a task entrusted to the Church of God. Besides these, however, are several other media of instruction which can be traced, directly or indirectly, to the Church. We certainly owe our Bible to the Church. Through the apostles the Lord gave us His inspired Word. And the Church is surely responsible for the translations of the Word in all the languages of the earth. We would have no Bible were it not for the Church of God! Then, we could also refer to the abundance of spiritual literature which has been written by the preachers of the gospel. And, finally, we would call attention to the task of the theological training of prospective ministers of the Word, also entrusted to the Church of God. However, to the Church’s task of preaching of the gospel we need not call attention. None disputes this calling.
May we as an association, however, be engaged in the propagation and advancement of the truth? And to this question I would answer that, as believers, maintaining the office of the believer, we may certainly speak, witness of and to the truth. If we may not preach the gospel, we may certainly be witnesses of that gospel. In the first place, I would remark that, as believers, we must witness of the truth. A believer must be a witness of the Word of God. Believing and witnessing are related as cause and effect. What else can we do as believers but witness?! Does not the flower open up to the sun and is not this action spontaneous? Does not the point of the compass point to the north because it must? Water rises from the earth in the form of vapor, does it not, because it is irresistibly drawn by the sun? As believers we must witness to the truth of the Word of God. Yea, to this we would add that, as believers, we must be witnesses especially of the Protestant Reformed truth which we love and profess. To believe implies, does it not, that we have learned, by the grace of God, to reject and deny ourselves, to confess our own sin and utter unworthiness, and to rely and trust solely in the living God of our salvation as revealed in our Lord Jesus Christ. This is also the heart and core of our Protestant Reformed doctrine, viewed from the viewpoint of the Church’s subjective, spiritual experience. The blessed heritage of our churches emphasizes, does it not, that salvation is of God alone, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and that according to the Lord’s eternal and sovereign good pleasure. That is the truth we profess. That is the truth held before us in the Word of God. That is also the living, glorious experience of the living Child of God. As believers, we live out of Christ, are solely dependent upon that Christ, live the very life of Christ and unto the glory of Christ. And, as believers, we must speak! We must witness! And we must witness particularly of our Protestant Reformed truth! We are witnessing believers—of course, we must be such!
Secondly, as believers we may witness of the truth. The Word of God supports me in this contention. Acquainted are we all with that short but beautiful word in Isaiah 43:21: “This people have I formed for Myself; they shall shew forth My praise.” Or, permit me to call your attention to the word of our Lord in Matthew 10:33: “Whosoever therefore shall confess Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father, which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father which is in heaven.” Or, I am reminded of the Word of God in Romans 10, verse 9: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” To believe in our hearts that God raised Christ from the dead implies, therefore, that we must confess Him with the mouth. And the apostle, John, declares to the Church of God in I John 2:20-21: “But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.” The last passage of the Word of God which I would quote we read in the gospel of Mark, chapter 5, verses 18-19: “And when He was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil, prayed Him that he might be with Him. Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.” We are all acquainted with the Scriptural narrative connected with these words of Mark. We recognize the man from whom the Lord had cast the devil. He is known in Scripture as Legion. Having been delivered by the Savior of his fearful plague he would ever remain with the Lord and depart with Him to the other side of the lake. The Lord, however, suffered him not, we read, but commands him to go home to his friends, and to tell them what great things the Lord had done for him. He must be a witness of his Lord and speak of the greatness of His power and grace. We may, therefore, be witnesses of the truth.
But, if we may be witnesses of the truth, then we also must be witnesses of the Word of God. In this matter we have no choice. And we surely can be witnesses of the truth also by giving this association and our Standard Bearer our active support. The Standard Bearer is a wonderful medium through which we may proclaim the clear and unadulterated truth of the Word of God. Permit me to give you three reasons why we should consider it our privilege and calling to support the R.F.P.A. First of all, our churches have received a glorious heritage. We proclaim an unspeakably blessed truth. We may proclaim the truth that God is God alone, also in the work of His salvation. We consider it to be the heart and core of our faith that the Lord establishes with His people in Christ Jesus His own covenant fellowship and communion and that He will complete it in eternal and heavenly glory according to His eternal and sovereign good pleasure. To this fact the Reverend H. Hoeksema calls attention in his pamphlet “The Standard Bearer as a Witness’’.
Secondly, we not only have a glorious truth but also a unique truth. I refer to the fact that the truth of the Lord’s sovereign realization of His covenant is being attacked today on many fronts. The Christian Reformed Churches denied us their fellowship because we would proclaim the sovereign glory of our God, They would have their people believe that the gospel is an offer of salvation to all that hear it, that the natural man can do good without regenerating grace, and that there is a restraint of sin, not only in the life of the community but also within the life of the individual man. We, on the other hand, hold fast to the Faith of our Fathers, proclaim that the gospel is a power of God, in those that are saved and also in those that perish according to the Lord’s good pleasure, that in us as we are of ourselves no good dwelleth, yea, that salvation is exclusively of the Lord. Need I at this time call attention to the general distortion of the truth of God’s sovereign grace? Over the radio and in literature of every sort the truth of the Word of God is being attacked from every quarter. Let us be witnesses of the truth that God is God alone, also by giving our full support to the Standard Bearer, our banner by means of which we give testimony to the truth of God’s sovereignty, and that in the midst of a world and church which are becoming increasingly hostile to the Word of God.
Thirdly, I would conclude by reminding you of your responsibility. We occupy a responsible position. Unto us has been entrusted a glorious heritage. We must confess it. We must proclaim it. We must safeguard it. God calls us unto this task. We have no choice. May we be true to this calling, and recognize the Standard Bearer as a wonderful means to safeguard the heritage which the Lord has entrusted unto us.