DOES GOD EVER CHANGE?
In GN, THE GOOD NEWS, (Whose editor-in-chief is Herbert W. Armstrong) of May, 1976 appears an article entitled: Does God ever change? Many passages are quoted which seem to indicate that a change in the Lord does occur. We need not quote all these passages. Exodus 32:14 is quoted, which reads: “And the Lord repented of the evil which He thought to do unto His people.” Also Jeremiah 26:19 speaks of such a repentance on the part of Jehovah. And the article also calls attention to the scriptural narrative concerning Nineveh, quoting Jonah 3:10: “And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that He had said that He would do unto them; and He did it not.” Many more passages can be quoted from the scriptures to this effect.
Now the Word of God speaks often of this “change” on the part of the Lord. However, we would remark in the first place that the Word of God surely emphasizes that the living God is unchangeable. Does not Malachi 3:6state it emphatically: “For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed”? Do we not read in Hebrews 13:8: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever”? What, then, do all these passages indicate which are quoted in this article? A change in God? Indeed, not! God never changes! He is everlastingly the same. He is and remains everlastingly the same in all His holiness and righteousness and love and mercy. What these passages indicate is not a change in God but in the sinner, and this change in the sinner is wrought by the almighty Spirit and grace of God, according to His sovereign will.
AND NOW—A NEW STAND ON DIVORCE?
The editor of THE OUTLOOK has an editorial in the May, 1976, issue on the above named subject. This article appears on page 14 of this issue. We need not quote the entire article. The editor calls attention to the fact that “throughout the history of the CRC, now well over a hundred years, except for a brief two-year period, adultery was recognized as the only Scriptural ground for permissible divorce. For a short time, 1894-1896, willful desertion by an unbeliever was also accepted as a ground for divorce in the light of I Corinthians 7:15 but the church soon reverted to the previous stand.” But now a committee will report to the Christian Reformed synod this year, advising a change in this stand, advising the synod that there can be other kinds of actions, situations, and conditions that in the judgment of the consistory can only be judged to be theequivalent of unrepentant unchastity in signaling the complete breakdown of a marriage and the unlikelihood of its restoration. And then the editor concludes his article as follows:
True, the Committee adds: “This ought not to be construed as opening the door to all kinds of justification for divorce.” (1976 Agenda, p. 335). But I make bold to say, when you once change our Lord’s specific rule for divorce to “a moral principle” to be applied in each case according to a consistory’s judgment, human nature being what it is, the result of taking such a liberty with Scripture can only be expected to accelerate the already mounting divorce rate among us.”
With this concluding remark of the editor of THE OUTLOOK we certainly agree. But we hasten to call his attention to the fact that this situation in the Christian Reformed Church is already hopeless, unless that church retract a previous decision. We do not know what the synod of that church will decide this year. But, what difference does it really make? Did not the Christian Reformed Church already decide some years ago that when a person divorces his (or her) mate on biblical or unbiblical ground, remarries, then confesses his (or her)’ sin of remarriage, such an one may continue in his (or her) remarriage? This is the bad decision that must be changed. And we do not believe that it will ever be changed. O, yes, now a committee will advise the synod to the effect that many divorces will rest on biblical grounds. We say to the editor of THE OUTLOOK: why try now to lock the door of the barn? The horse is already out of the barn.
O, the editor may wish that this synod will not adopt this advice of the committee. And, this advice is surely contrary to the Word of God. He is also glad that Dr. William Hendriksen will be a delegate to this synod. But, the Christian Reformed Church must repent of that previous decision.
CHURCH UNION IN HOLLAND
In the Banner of May 7, 1976, pages 10 and 11, appear two short articles as news items, which we would pass on to our readers. They are entitled: Church Union in Holland (I) and Church Union in Holland (II). The first article reads as follows:
A program of cooperation between the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (GKN) and the Netherlands Reformed Church (NHK) seems to be running smoothly. This effort at increased unity, call “Samen op Weg” (Underway Together), includes a combined meeting of the synods of both churches for the second time, to take place on September 17 and 18 of 1976.
On the agenda will be the confession of the church, cooperation on the local level, and questions of church order raised by such cooperation. Committees of both churches working on the mandate hope to involve local congregations of the two churches in this action. The two denominations are by far the largest on the Protestant scene in the low countries.
And the second article, which appears on page 10 and 11, is of a similar vein and reads as follows:
The Christian Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (CGKN) and the Reformed Churches (Liberated, Unaffiliated) of the Netherlands have issued a declaration that seems to have brought them one step closer toward unity. Far-reaching agreement was found to exist on the subject of the “appropriation of salvation,” involving questions such as rebirth, the experience of faith and conversion, the place of the covenant, and God’s promises in preaching. These issues have long separated the two churches.
The discussions between the two churches date back to the mid-sixties when the one group disaffiliated itself from the Reformed Churches (Liberated). A recent recommendation from the synod of the “Unaffiliated” stated that since they have no seminary of their own, their future ministers should undertake their studies at the school of the Christian Reformed Churches in Apeldoorn.
The Christian Reformed Church in the Netherlands number 173 congregations and a total of 71,000 members, and the Reformed churches (liberated, Unaffiliated) have 95 congregations and 29,000 members.
So, the merging of churches continues. What is disturbing is that there is in neither report any confession of sin. Sin, of course, was the cause why these churches drifted away from each other. And we fear that if sin be not confessed, then these mergers will occur only at the expense of the truth.