In our former article we called attention to I Peter 1:17. We noticed that our confession and walk must be in perfect harmony. Always it is the order of Confession and walk. These belong together. The moment the former is minim­ized in respect to the latter it is impossible to retain either one of the two. They who play out our walk over against our Confession as an antipole, rather than presenting them as root and fruit, certainly have no Christian walk left. And I may add, that they who speak so much of “moral issues” in our times and so little about the real implication of “heretical state­ments” certainly show in their walk that they are not able to retain a Christian ethics! The Lord, who judges according to every man’s work, is not mocked.

If we confess that God is our Father, then we are to walk as children of the new obedience in Christ in all of our conversation in holy fear and trembling. We are to be such that it can be said by the Consis­tory in good conscience: N.N. is sound in faith and upright in walk!

Now there is nothing that incites to a walk of godliness as the spiritual realization that we have been bought by a great and precious price, and thus have been made God’s dear children.

Of this we are reminded in the verses 18 and 19. These verses read as follows: “Knowing that ye were redeemed not with corruptible things, with silver or gold, from your vain conversation (manner of life) handed down from your fathers; but with the pre­cious blood, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot, even the blood of Christ.”

We ought to keep in mind, that the real subject of this passage is not simply that Christ died for us in the fulness of times. The matter that the Apostle wishes to call to mind here is not simply a Christological fact taken-by-itself, but that the subject is still our walk of conversion, of perfecting sanctification in the fear of God. These verses still deal with the exhortation of the apostle, as a precept of the gospel, that we who have the Spirit of the Son in our hearts, who call upon God as “Father” shall keep in mind the great redemption price with which we have been purchased. Doing this latter with spiritual sensitive­ness we shall discern the things that differ. The factness of our having been set apart will constantly stand out before the eye of our mind; then shall we be living having the loins of our mind girt up, in that sancti­fication without which no one shall see the Lord! For holy living is hopeful living.

In passing, it should be pointed out, that he who constantly keeps in mind that he has been purchased with a great price, will also clearly understand that the work of Christ on the cross is not the whole of the spiritual consideration unto a godly walk. They who walk in a pious and godly conversation, which does not merely have the form of godliness, denying its power, will be motivated by the whole counsel and decree of God concerning God’s bringing them to the final salvation in Christ!

Such was the case with our godly fathers of the Synod of Dordt. They understood that, unless the whole truth of God concerning our redemption to sal­vation was confessed, the solid comfort of the saints would be undermined. Only by preaching the full truth could they obey the summons of the Lord, who says: Comfort ye, comfort ye my people!

And this is also the clear teaching of Peter in this entire section. We know that our fathers speak of the “golden chain” of our redemption. All the ele­ments of this “chain” are here present. Notice the following elements:

  1. Notice that in verse 20 we read that the Christ Who has redeemed us was “foreknown indeed before the foundation of the world, but was manifested at the end of times for your sake.” All is anchored in eternal election and predestination. Take this away and you never have a Cross and a great redemption prince that is certain. This is the first and all-controlling link in the chain.
  2. According to this election of certain persons un­to life and holiness, Christ died to save this people from their sins. He paid the great redemption price. This is the second link in the chain, vss. 18, 19
  3. Those thus redeemed according to the purpose of election have also been regenerated unto a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ! effi­caciously they are called by the word of God, Who liveth and abideth forever, vs. 23.
  4. And to these come the exhortations to keep this “golden chain” in mind and to walk in the “ways of the elect” to perfect sanctification in the fear of God, walking in the conversion which flows forth from faith as the fruit on a good tree—fruit of election in our life.

Such is the golden chain presented here in this wonderful first chapter of I Peter.

All this is the spiritual motivation of sanctification. When this is lacking the very heart is out of our sanctification. For the heartbeat of the life of the Church is election. Not for nothing is election named the cor ecclesia, the heart of the Church. For this very reason election-preaching is the only preaching that really calls to faith and repentance. Election preaching is not simply a sermon on the topic “elec­tion” once in a while. That the out-and-out Arminian will do too in his own way. But election-preach­ing is such that all the preaching finds motivation in God’s sovereign and unchangeable love, whereby we have been called out of darkness into God’s marvelous light. And election preaching is preaching that calls to repentance not in that it says that we must “accept” Jesus, but rather that it says: ye are the children of light! Walk as children of light!”

That is the very warp and woof also of this entire chapter. He that readeth let him take note!

For to him that hath is given and from him that hath not is taken away even that he thinketh to have! And it is with a view to this “receiving” more and more from this fulness of Christ, also in the life of sanctification, that Peter here appeals to the sancti­fied consciences of his readers, when he says: Know­ing that ye have been redeemed….with the pre­cious blood as of a lamb without spot and blameless!

We said that the motivation unto a godly walk in the redeemed saints is exactly what God did on the cross in Jesus; that this consideration cannot be a fear­ful one unless it pulsates with the heartbeat of elec­tion. Look at all the anemic children of God who are robbed of this sweet and solid comfort of elective love and grace of God on the cross! How are they not harassed all their life with fears. Never do they stand in that grace wherein they rejoice even in tribulations in the hope of the final glory. As far as their hope and joy is concerned Christ might as well never have died. For they groan under the law rather than to rejoice in grace. And our fathers of Dordt say: Evil and wicked people pervert the doctrine of election to their own destruction, while to the godly this affords the sweetest consolation. Our fathers at Dordt were not “hair-splitting theologians, filled with ice-cold and hard logic,” but they were men of God, shepherds of the flock of God. And their great concern is the com­fort of the hearts of God’s people. This people must be refreshed in the great consciousness of redemption. But shall this be done, then the source of comfort may not be polluted at its source, that is, election and eternal predestination may not be perverted into a condi­tional contingency that has lost all certainty!

The “golden chain” must remain our sweetest con­solation and the incentive to a holy and Godly walk.

Thus it is here in I Peter 1:14 to the end of the chapter.

Thus it is also in the mind of all who will walk in the footsteps of the sons of Abraham, the fathers of Dordt.

Shall we do this, then we must stop speaking of faith as being a condition and we must confess in child-like obedience that faith is a means, an instru­ment which God works in our hearts by the preaching of the gospel, and which he stirs up in us unto a liv­ing faith by the exhortations of the gospel. For let it be clearly understood, that our Fathers of Dordt, the Counter-Remonstrants, exactly had to battle for their very life’s sake with the Remonstrants, who made faith a “condition” and not a “means.” They defined faith as they did because only thus could they main­tain their nefarious conception of predestination, based upon foreseen faith and the excellencies of man.

The following excerpt from a book written in 1924 by Rev. Meijering on the “Dordtsche Leeregels” is quite revealing on the issue of whether faith must be defined as a “means” and “gift” or whether faith is a “condition, cause, or prerequisite.”

The Remonstrants said that the entire decree of election is that God elects believers. Quote: “that the will of God to save those who would believe and who would persevere in faith and obedience is the whole and total decree of election unto salvation, and that God’s word reveals to us nothing more concerning this decree.”

On January 19, 1619 Professor Lubbertus from Franeker answered the question whether from such passages as John 3:36 and similar passages it could be proved that God’s purpose to save believers was the whole decree of election. On the next day this was also done by Gomarus and some of the Theolo­gians from other countries. And shortly afterwards Thysius, Professor from Gelderland, answered the questions:

  1. Whether the decree to save believers (eligendi) was the whole of the decree of Predestination.
  2. Whether faith was a condition, which is requir­ed in those who are elected, or whether faith is a fruit that flows from election.

And Rev. Meijering adds: the point of controversy between the Remonstrant and the Counter-Remon­strants is exactly on this point of what “faith” is.

This is very instructive.

It teaches us to beware of any definition of faith that fits in that teaching which breaks the “golden-chain,” making faith a pre-requisite condition rather than a fruit of election, as a “means” to obtain the salvation of election. Only the latter is the incentive to a walk of conversion.

(to be continued)                

G. Lubbers