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No Persecution in Belgium

In the May 1, 2002 issue of the Standard Bearer, I found the article of Rev. Kenneth Koole about an incident in Belgium interesting. I have written to friends in the Netherlands and Belgium about this and so I collected more information, more facts, about this overdone case. Allow me to give some footnotes: 1) The Assemblies of God are not a Church, even when they give themselves that name. It is a sect, a cult, related to the Pentecostal Movement. 2) A cult is a ‘fenomenology’ which had its origin in heathen Babel. In the history of the Netherlands, Pentecostal cults in the seventeenth century were forbidden by the Reformed Synod, because of unchecked dissoluteness. 3) Fear for sects and cults has come up this century about the dramas that have happened, like mass suicide, mass pseudo-healings, et cetera. Therefore they are no longer welcome in several countries in Europe. 4) Five women (volunteers) preaching the ideas of the Assemblies of God were deported by the police of Belgium because they had not taken the trouble to ask for the usual permits for preaching. They went back to the USA. There are yet 70 others working in Belgium. 5) Persecution of Christians in Belgium does not exist. Also the royal family, which I know well since May 1945, would never allow that to happen. The conclusions of Rev. Miles are farfetched. They do not serve God’s glory, in my humble opinion. Understand the time in which we live. Don’t defend those who try to undermine true, biblical Christianity. Please, no sects and cults at our doorstep.

J.P. deKlerk

Ashhurst, New Zealand

Opening to God’s Voice

I have finished reading Rev. VanOverloop’s meditation in the August 2002 Standard Bearer. It is an excellent meditation, except for one statement: “The humble spirit hears God’s voice in Christ, and opens to Him.”

It appears to this reader that now the sinner’s will becomes the determining factor as to whether he is in Christ or not.

Our Canons, however, teach something entirely different. They teach that according to the decree of election “He graciously softens the hearts of the elect, however obstinate, and inclines them to believe” (I/6).

Rev. VanOverloop quotesRevelation 3:20: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”

This is a quote that, to be sure, is out of context, for this text refers to the call of Christ for elect, regenerated children of God to come out of the apostate, false church. Is not a more appropriate text Philippians 2:13, which teaches us that both our will and our doing is not our work but God’s work?

With respect for his office, I nevertheless ask Rev. VanOverloop what is the essential difference between his statement and this hated, infamous statement of long ago: “Our act of conversion is a prerequisite to entering the kingdom of God”?

Mark Brooks

Sauk Village, IL

Response:

I appreciate your writing to express your concerns. However, I am troubled that you would take one of the statements I wrote and equate it with one of Hubert DeWolf’s heretical statements of the 1953 controversy in which he defended conditional theology. I believe that this application is in error. Allow me to explain.

I believe that you lifted a statement out of its context by applying it to justification, when the context clearly indicates that I was speaking about sanctification. You will notice that, under the subhead “With Whom He Dwells,” I spoke to justification. I emphasized that the judicial ground for God’s dwelling with man is the work of Christ. “Not only is Jesus the perfect fulfillment of God dwelling with man, but He is also the reason why it is possible. God cannot dwell with sinners, but He can dwell with sinners who have been forgiven and made righteous. Jesus, in His substitutionary life, death, and resurrection realized forgiveness of and righteousness for those given to Him.”

Further, I wrote about the one with whom God dwells. This one is not unconscious of God dwelling with him, but is aware of his justification by being humble. I wrote that God dwells with one “who is the conscious recipient of the undeserved favor and love of God…,” and that “His children, when standing before Him, know of no other posture than that of humility. They live in the awareness that they deserve only wrath and eternal judgment. And they know that their having been chosen to belong to God’s family and to the Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, was not because they made themselves worthy of being chosen. It was divine grace. It was and is only grace, always grace. The continued presence of their sinfulness and their continued sinning is a constant reminder of the tremendous power and undeserv-edness of grace. They are humbled to receive grace.”

Hardly is that conditional theology.

You suggest, however, that though I may have begun well, I fell in the end into heresy when I stated that “The humble spirit hears God’s voice in Christ, and opens to Him.” I would point out that when Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and they follow me,” it is very clear from the context that He did not mean that the sheep’s following Him becomes the determining factor as to whether he is in Christ or not. With respect to the sanctified walk of the child of God, the idea of “follow” (John 10:27Rev. 14:4), “seek” (Matt. 6:33Matt 7:7) and “open” have the same connotation. Or does the fact that Arminians delight to urge people to “open their hearts to Jesus” mean that a Reformed Christian may not even use the term? I believe that we ought to be bold to use the language of Scripture and not shy away from it because heretics misuse it. The Bible uses the word “open” to describe not only what God does but also the activity of a regenerated, justified, and sanctified believer. Confer Psalm 81:10Psalm 119:18, 113Song of Solomon 5:5, 6.

Further, I wrote: “From the view point of objective, dogmatic truth, God dwells only with the elect.” That is, only with those who are justified. Then there’s this: “However, the word of God in our text speaks from the real life, experiential perspective of God’s elect people as they live and walk on the earth. God dwells with him ‘that is of a contrite and humble spirit.'” That is, with those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus. And under the subhead “Unto What Purpose He Dwells,” I wrote this: “God’s first work of grace in His children is that He humbles them. He shows us His great majesty and our sin. Then reviving is needed. As a withered flower is revived by water, so God’s very presence is sufficient to revive or renew the spirit of the brokenhearted. The heart oppressed by the knowledge that it has sinned against God has no greater blessing than that the very God it has sinned against comes consciously near to be with it. God’s dwelling with us revives us. This shows that when God humbles us He does not squash or destroy us, but gives us life. Real life for man is to stretch out toward God, just as a flower does toward the sun.”

It was in this context that I wrote “The humble spirit hears God’s voice in Christ and opens to Him.” This is Reformed language. It agrees with Herman Hoeksema’s definition of sanctification as “that act of God in us whereby we are delivered from the power and the corruption of sin, so that with heart and soul, with mind and will and all our powers, we … seek Him….” We “stretch out” toward God. We “follow” Him. We “open” to Him.

That is the power of sanctification. The will, by the grace of God (as is abundantly clear from the context in my article), becomes active. The regenerated, justified child of God in sanctification seeks Him, opens to Him. The whole of the meditation makes clear that the child of God seeks Him because He is in Christ and that it is most emphatically NOT true that he is in Christ because he seeks Him. I believe that the truth ofPhilippians 2:12, 13 permeates the meditation I authored.

(Rev.) Ron VanOverloop