I received the following letter under date of January 3, 1987, and referred it to Rev. Veldman for his reply.
Dear Prof. Hoeksema:
The December 1, 1986 issue of the Standard Bearer, which is devoted to the doctrine of regeneration, is very worthwhile and good for us to study.
However, concerning the leading article, “Begotten Again Unto a Lively Hope”, by Rev. H. Veldman, I do not understand why the Holy Spirit was not specifically mentioned.
After an excellent introduction, the author explained that the author of regeneration is the Triune God, as the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and that regeneration is the work of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, (page 99, 1st column, last paragraph). Then later on in that same paragraph the author goes on to say that it is this God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who regenerates us again and from above. It is true that we must ascribe all praise and honour to the Triune God. However, it would seem more clear and logical to refer to the author of regeneration as the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit and that the work of regeneration is accomplished by the Holy Spirit or as Prof. H.C. Hoeksema states on page 102 of this issue in “A Little Lesson In Dogmatics” that, “God through Christ by the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Christ sovereignly and efficaciously applies unto His elect people all the benefits which Christ merited for them.”
In the same paragraph on page 99, the author again chose not to mention the Holy Spirit in connection with the virgin birth. It would have seemed appropriate to give due honour to God the Holy Spirit who overshadowed the virgin Mary and caused her to conceive the only begotten Son of the living God, Matt. 1:20, Luke 1:35.
Finally, on page 100, 1st column, last paragraph, the author states: “This can be understood only if we bear in mind that the resurrection of Christ, as realized in our hearts, effects our regeneration.” Then later, “when that resurrected Savior works in our heart, dwells there, then you have the regeneration, the quickening of the people of God.”
Even though the author is referring to the conscious realization of our regeneration, never the less, this is the result of the quickening power of the Holy Spirit, I John 4:13. Here again, there was no mention of the Holy Spirit of Christ who assures me of eternal life and makes me sincerely willing and ready henceforth to live unto him. (Heidelberg Catechism Question and Answer 1, Question and Answer 49).
“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you,” I Cor. 3:16.
Are we to assume that this work of the Holy Spirit is implied in this article?
Yours sincerely and respectfully in Jesus Christ our Lord,
We wish to thank Larry Nelson for his criticism of my meditation in the December 1, 1986 issue of ourStandard Bearer. We appreciate his interest in theStandard Bearer and that our articles are being read. We also appreciate his sincere criticism of our meditation.
The brother does not understand why the Holy Spirit was not specifically mentioned in this meditation. And he asks whether he must assume that this work of the Holy Spirit (the work of regeneration) is implied in this article.
Of course, the work of regeneration is the work of the Holy Spirit. Or, let me state it this way: the work of regeneration is the work, not merely of the Holy Spirit, but of the Triune God by the Holy Spirit. Concerning this, we understand, there is no doubt.
Of course, were I to preach on Matt. 1:20, Luke 1:35 and I Cor. 3:16 (texts to which brother Nelson refers and which speak of the Holy Spirit) I would surely mention the Holy Spirit. And this also applies to Question and Answer 1 of our Heidelberg Catechism.
Now it seems to me that we must bear in mind that in I Pet. 1:3 the emphasis rests upon the connection between regeneration and the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. We read here that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. I concede that I did not emphasize the Holy Spirit in my meditation. But is it true that He is not specifically mentioned in my article? Do we not read on page 11, first column, last paragraph: “The author of this regeneration is the Triune God as the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ?” Here I surely refer to the Holy Spirit inasmuch as I speak of the Triune God, although we must bear in mind that the emphasis in this text in I Peter 1 rests upon the connection between regeneration and the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
I trust that this will satisfy the brother. If not, he may write again.