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Editor’s Note: The March 1 issue contained a letter from Rev. A. Lanning and the first half of Rev. K. Koole’s reply. However, prior to that printing, Rev. Lanning had sent the SB a revised letter, one that we intended to print, and to which Rev. Koole is responding. We inadvertently sent the wrong letter to the printer. We apologize to Rev. Lanning for this error. Therefore, in this issue we print the revised letter that Rev. Lanning intended to be printed, as well as the second half of Rev. Koole’s reply.


Dear Editors,

I write regarding the editorial in the October 1, 2018 Standard Bearer entitled “What must I do…?” The editorial intends to teach that obedience is necessary and possible for the child of God. With this doctrine, I am in full agreement. However, I believe the editorial errs when it explains the relationship between man’s obedience and man’s salvation. The editorial teaches that if a man desires to be saved, he first must perform some obedient activity. By teaching this, the editorial teaches salvation by man’s work, rather than salvation entirely apart from man’s work, that is, salvation by faith alone.

Allow me to point out three places where the editori­al develops the idea that if a man desires to be saved, he must first do something. First, on page 7, the editorial poses the question, “And then, [is it altogether improper for preachers], in the end, to go so far as to declare that if a man would be saved, there is that which he must do?” The editorial answers that it is biblical and Reformed for a preacher to declare that if a man would be saved, there is that which he must do. In this statement, salva­tion is the desired goal. “If a man would be saved….” Man achieves this desired goal by doing something. “If a man would be saved, there is that which he must do.” Man’s salvation is withheld until man acts. “If a man would be saved, there is that which he must do.” This makes man’s salvation depend upon man’s doing the re­quired deed. “If a man would be saved, there is that which he must do.”

In response, I ask the editors: What precisely is the relationship between man’s obedience and man’s salva­tion? If a man would be saved, is there that which he must do? Is there that which he must first do? Is there that which he must do in order to obtain the desired salvation? Or what about this: Do any of the gifts or blessings of salvation in any sense whatsoever depend upon man’s obedience? Isn’t man’s obedience, rather, the fruit—and only the fruit—of God’s salvation of him?

Second, on page 8, the editorial asserts that the Can­ons of Dordt “confessed and taught that if a man with his household was to be saved and consciously enter into the kingdom, placing himself with his family under the rule of Christ as his Lord and Savior, he was called, he was required, to respond obediently to the call and command of the gospel—‘Repent and believe, that thou mightest be saved with thy house.’ Covenantal salvation is to be found in no other way.” Here again, the editorial teaches that if a man would be saved, he must first perform some obedient deed. “If a man with his household was to be saved…he was called.to respond obediently….” The same objections and questions as before apply. However, here the editorial adds the el­ement of man’s experience, his consciously entering the kingdom. “If a man with his household was to be saved and consciously enter into the kingdom…he was called…to respond obediently…” (emphasis mine—AL). This makes man’s consciousness of entering the king­dom depend upon his obedience.

In response, I ask the editors: In order to enter into or inherit the kingdom of heaven, is there some obedient deed that man must perform? In order to enter into the kingdom consciously and experientially, is there some obedient deed that man must perform? Does any of man’s conscious experience of salvation depend in any sense whatsoever upon man’s obedience? We all would reject DeWolf’s statement that our act of conversion is a prerequisite to enter the kingdom. But is it correct to say that our act of believing is a prerequisite to enter consciously into the kingdom? If that is incorrect, how is that statement different from the editorial’s declara­tion: “If a man with his household was to be saved and consciously enter into the kingdom…he was called…to respond obediently….”

In the preceding two points, I recognize that the ed­itorial is talking about faith. On page 7, the obedient deed that man must perform is believing. On page 8, the obedient deeds that man must perform are believing and repenting. I fully agree that God grants salvation to His people through faith. I also fully agree that faith is an activity—the activity of embracing Jesus Christ. The problem is that the editorial treats this activity of faith as though it were a work of obedience. The editorial consistently refers to faith as “obedience.” It develops the idea that faith is an obedient doing and an obedient responding to a command, which makes faith a work. The editorial especially makes faith a work by suspend­ing man’s salvation upon man’s obedient performance of the activity of faith. In reality, faith is not a good work of obedience, but the opposite of working. Even faith’s activity of believing—knowing and trusting God—is not working, but the opposite of working. Faith is the opposite of working because faith is the instrument through which I receive Jesus Christ alone and all His benefits. See Romans 4:1-5 where Paul develops this distinction between believing as one thing and working as an entirely different thing. When the editorial makes faith a work, it teaches salvation by works, rather than salvation by faith and by grace.

Third, on page 8, the editorial offers its exegesis of Acts 2:37, 38 and Acts 16:30, 31. In these two passag­es, distressed sinners ask Christ’s apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” and “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” The editorial apparently understands the apostles’ answers—repent, be baptized, and believe—to mean that the sinners’ salvation depended on this re­penting, being baptized, and believing. As the edito­rial puts it, “There was something they were called to do. And they did it.” In my judgment, this explana­tion completely reverses the actual answers of Christ’s apostles. In both passages, the distressed sinners were asking what they should do. The premise of their ques­tions was that there was some work they could do to be saved from sin and death: “What must I do to be saved?” When the apostles answered, they did not af­firm the premise of the question. They were not saying, “You are correct, there is a work for you to do that will save you, and here is the work: repent, be baptized, and believe.” Rather, when Paul answered, he did not talk about good works of obedience at all. He called the people to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, which is the very opposite of working. When Peter answered, he called people to repentance as the fruit and evidence of faith, and to baptism as the sign and seal of the only ground of their salvation in the blood of Christ. By these answers, the apostles were denying the premise of the questions. In effect, the apostles answered, “What must you do to be saved? Nothing! There is nothing you can do or must do to be saved, because Jesus Christ has done it all. Therefore, disregard all of your obeying and working and instead believe in Jesus.” The editorial’s treatment of these passages continues the same earlier error of making man’s salvation depend on his obedience. For salvation, “there was something they were called to do. And they did it.”

I remind us that Herman Hoeksema exegeted Acts 16:30, 31 much differently than the October 1 editori­al. Hoeksema said that Paul’s answer to the question, “What must I do to be saved?” was: “Nothing!” See his sermon “The Calling of the Philippian Jailer” on SermonAudio at https://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=4612137350. Therefore, I ask the editors: Does the Standard Bearer agree with Herman Hoeksema’s exegesis of Acts 16:30, 31, and does the Standard Bearer agree with Hoeksema’s theology expressed in that exegesis?

Once again, I am in full agreement that good works are possible for the child of God by the work of God’s Spirit in our hearts, so that the believer’s good works are the beautiful fruit of his salvation. I also wholeheart­edly confess that obedience is necessary for the child of God, as Lord’s Day 32 of the Heidelberg Catechism explains. With the Canons, I repudiate the idea that the children of God are “stocks and blocks.” However, I object to the editorial’s explanation of the relationship between man’s obedience and man’s salvation. The editorial taught that if a man desires to be saved, there is some obedient deed he must first perform. In so doing, has not the editorial taught a doctrine of salvation by man’s obedient working, rather than salvation by faith alone in Christ alone?

Your fellow servant in Christ,

Rev. Andy Lanning

 

Response:

Brother A. Lanning:

In this second installment of my response to your criticism of my October 1, 2018 SB editorial we will consider the two passages on which I based my conviction that when the gospel call goes out, the hearer is called to do something, namely, to repent and believe; and that these two activities may properly be referred to as forms of obedience to the gospel call, indeed, that this is something the recipient of the gospel call must do if he will be saved (that is, if he will know that the salvation and Savior presented in the gospel is his, unworthy sinner though he be). And I contend that doing so does not jeopardize the truth that salvation is all of grace, sovereign and free, and neither does such language mean we have turned grace (and faith) into works, or made salvation to depend on man, on self.

The language I used in my editorial and summarized above is, I maintain, biblical and confessional.

The biblical support for my language is to be found in Acts 2:37ff. and Acts 16:30ff., as I stated in the editorial you challenge.

You claim that the questions of the Jews in Acts 2 and of the jailer in Acts 16 were misguided questions, betraying a commitment still to a work-righteousness, their need to do something to merit favor. And, then, that the two apostles’ answers, the one “Repent,” the other “Believe,” were informing the questioners there was nothing they could or had to do.

With this I disagree. Repenting and believing were precisely what they were called to do in obedience to the gospel call. And this does not turn faith into something meritorious, but simply sets it forth as a spiritual response to the gospel command.

To support your criticism of this position you make reference to a sermon by H. Hoeksema on Acts 16:30, 31 dealing with the conversion of the Philippian jailer, an incident in which the jailer, having witnessed the great earthquake that he correctly connected to the unjust pun­ishment and imprisonment of Paul and Silas, cries out “Sirs, what must I do?” In that sermon HH makes plain that he is convinced that this was really an improper ques­tion, the jailer with his heathen background thinking that there was something he had yet to do or could do (some good work or sacrifice to be made) to placate God and be spared wrath. To which question, according to HH, Paul should (or could) have replied, “Nothing! There is nothing you should do, nothing you can do.” Meaning, of course, that when Paul responds by saying “Believe,” he is really saying there is nothing you are called to do (or required to do), and that even faith itself is not a doing, an act of obedience, to the call of the gospel. In response to the call of the gospel, the command to repent and be­lieve, there is nothing that one must (is required) to do. One must simply cling.

Although, in the interest of consistency, HH would not, really could not say, “One must cling.” In this ser­mon he wants nothing to do with the word “must,” not even “must believe.” Rather, faith is a clinging to, and that is all that may be said.

I was well aware of the sermon prior to writing the October 1 editorial. I have had that sermon (typed out by C. Hanko) for some time.

Simply put, there are aspects of HH’s explanation with which I do not agree. HH is mistaken when he views the question of the jailer as a wrong-headed ques­tion, claiming there was nothing that the Philippian jailer was called to do and that, when to that question Paul responds “Believe, and thou shalt be saved and thy house,” Paul was in essence saying, “There is nothing you are called to do, nothing you must do.”

Quite frankly, if it were anyone else than HH, at this point I would say, Nonsense! So all I will say is, I dis­agree.

The question of the jailer was a proper question arising out of a regenerated heart (in which a spiritual earthquake was taking place, as HH also states), and was a response to the gospel truth he had heard, but which, to this point, had rejected.

HH is of the mind the Philippian jailer, at this point, was completely ignorant of the gospel. I disagree. The text indicates that whole city knew the occasion for Paul being arrested, whipped, and then imprisoned, namely for healing the demon-possessed maid in the name of this Jesus of Nazareth, whom Paul had been preaching as Lord and God’s appointed Savior from death, wrath, and bondage to the devil. The jailer, part of the city’s law-enforcement force, of all the citizens, would have been an eye-witness of the trial and charges and would have known this Paul was preaching this Jesus as the one only Lord and Christ, supreme even over Caesar. He knew full well when the powerful, city-demolishing earthquake struck, that it was Paul’s God who had sent it as a judgment. It is in that light the jailer asks “What [now] am I to do?” meaning, “What does this God and Christ whom you represent and preach, require of me if I am to be spared their wrath, as I know full well at this point that the one God whom you preach must be the true God, and the gods I have been worshiping are false and powerless to save me and mine?”

One might argue: But there is no proof that the jailer had knowledge of the gospel of salvation by the grace of God’s Son, Christ Jesus. To read the jailer’s response to the earth­quake in the context of a gospel knowledge is speculation.

To which I reply, even if that were true, the same could not be said about the Jews on Pentecost, could it? Read Acts 2 and Peter’s sermon. It was exactly in response to hearing that sermon, one that clearly dis­missed the possibility of any work-righteousness and declared a salvation based on the sacrificial work of the Lord’s Christ alone, that the same question arose, and the same basic apostolic response was given.

The incident of the Philippian jailer is clearly paral­lel, only now with a Gentile hearer.

Surely, on a mission field where the gospel has been declared, the answer to the question “What then must we do to be saved?” is not, “There is nothing you are called to do (required to do, commanded to do) if you will be saved (that is, if you are to come to the knowl­edge of your own salvation).” At least I trust that is not what we as PR churches will start requiring of our missionaries as they preach Christ crucified and the question of the Jewish crowd or Gentile jailer comes to them. Not their saying, “There is nothing you must do, are called to do.” But rather this, “What are you as those convicted of your guilt and damn-worthiness before God called to do?” This: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved!”

This is not to deny that by the words “believe” or “repent” the preacher is banishing and dismissing a certain category of “doing.” He surely is, namely, the need for and the requirement of performing some good works, the need for making some household sacrifice of family or animal or possession. The preacher is banishing the fear of needing to bring or produce anything of one’s self if one is to be worthy of this salvation.

And that’s the point, is it not? Faith is not some­thing we produce of ourselves. Nor is the repentance that belongs to true conversion something we produce of ourselves. They are the evidence of grace working; they are grace’s gifts.

But all that does not discount believing as a “doing.” For what is believing? It is a turning from sin and self, a casting one’s self at the throne of God pleading for His mercy, and doing so in the name of Jesus and on the basis of His atoning work alone. Such can properly be called a “doing,” a response of obedience, because it involves an act of one’s will (set free) that involves a turning, a casting of self, and a trusting in God’s word of promise. Conscious conversion: “Turn ye, turn ye,” as God calls to sinners. This is confessional. And if one will know God’s mercy for oneself (and will hear that this covenantal mercy extends even to one’s house and family), it is a necessary doing (in the sense stated in our previous installment).

I say again, I am persuaded that HH’s criticism of the urgent question posed by the Philippian jailer, followed by his explanation of the implication of the apostle’s answer, is mistaken. In his zeal for the unconditional covenant and reaction to the conditional covenant con­troversy of our churches at the time, he went too far.

I am not in agreement with his exegesis.

But before you imagine this proves your challenge of the orthodoxy of statements in my editorial because I disagree with the highly-esteemed HH, there are a few matters that all parties interested in this dispute best consider carefully.

For my disagreement with HH and yourself, I take my cue from two sources. The first being the Scrip­tures, the other being that of John Calvin.

And, interestingly enough, there is another sermon by HH that all should consider as well; one on Romans 10:16, 17 (to be quoted later).

First of all, there is the Acts 2:37, 38 account. It is, for all intents and purposes, parallel to the Acts 16:30, 31 pas­sage. The apostolic gospel was the same in both locations, the question posed by those convicted of their guilt before God is the same, and the apostolic answer is basically the same, though in the Acts 2:37, 38 passage the apostolic command was to “repent” rather than to “believe.”

What is significant about the Acts 2 passage is that it informs us what it was that prompted the question “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” And it was not that the hearers were still of the mistaken impression that they had yet to perform some good work that would be suf­ficient enough to counter-weigh God’s wrath and make them worthy of God’s mercy somehow. The apostolic sermon, so thoroughly Christ-centered and Him cruci­fied, had disabused them of that. What prompted the question is stated in Acts 2:37, “And when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren….”

“Pricked in their heart.” Not just their consciences. Their hearts! By whom? By the Holy Spirit, of course.

This means that the question was one posed by re­generated (born-again) elect and prompted by the Holy Spirit. The reason they asked the question was that Peter’s preaching concerning Jesus of Nazareth (as God’s Christ and Son, the one only sufficient sacrifice for sin, which Jesus they as a nation had rejected and crucified) had convinced them there was nothing they could do for themselves to make themselves right with God, nothing to counter-weigh their guilt. All such was shut to them. What then were they called to do?”

Peter might as well have said, “Nothing”?!

No! Rather, “Repent!”

I say again, repentance is a “doing,” a spiritual ac­tivity. In the language of the Canons (having magni­fied the wonder of sovereign regeneration): “Wherefore also, man is himself [!] rightly said to believe and repent by virtue of that grace received” (III/IV, 12).

As such, one can be said to be obeying the gospel call.

And this brings us to my second source, the view of the esteemed John Calvin as he preached on Acts 2:37­-39.

Calvin preached a series of 44 sermons on Acts 1-7. We have no record of a sermon on Acts 16:30, 31. But we do on Acts 2:36-39—two of them, in fact. What Calvin has to say about the question put to Peter by the elect hearers, “Men and brethren, what must we do?” is instructive.

Calvin declared:

God gave such authority to Peter’s sermon that those who heard it were pricked and grieved in their hearts from committing such an egregious and villainous act. According to Luke’s account, that is the first fruit [!] produced by that sermon.

 

Then he added that they asked Peter and the other apostles what they should do. For it is not enough to be pained by the knowledge of one’s sin. One must seek the remedy [!]. And yet Luke says the answer they received was that they should repent, that through Jesus Christ they would receive remission of their sins, and that, as a sign thereof they should be baptized in his name.

 

Now that is how the teaching first bore fruit. To the extent that the Jews who had previously despised the Son of God and were hardened in that very damnable act they committed, to that extent they are so humiliated and dejected that they ask only to yield themselves to the will of God in all reverence and humility. That is the meaning of the expression ‘pricked in their hearts’ which Luke uses here (Sermons on the Acts of the Apostles, The Banner of Truth, 2008, p. 20; emphasis added).

Notice that Calvin calls the question “What must we do?” the first “fruit” of the sermon, and that by it they were seeking “the remedy.” In other words, a proper, spiritually prompted question.

In fact, Calvin viewed the question as an essential question and the evidence of spiritual renewal. As he states later:

Now we must join these two things together, namely, the goading of the heart and the counsel which the Jews asked for when wanting to know what they were to do. There are many who will keenly feel a goading and anguish in their heart but all the same will not allow themselves to wander and caper heedlessly to such a degree that they bring themselves to ruin. We see what happened to Cain and Judas [Iscariot]. It is true that Cain does say he offended, knows his sin, and has great anguish in his heart (Gen. 4:13). Judas admits he sinned by selling innocent blood and makes a proper confession (Matt. 27:4)…. And yet, what end do both men come to? They die desperate and lost because, while having that goading in their hearts and knowing their sin, they still refused to ask for advice about what to do. (pp. 21, 22; emphasis added)

Obviously, Calvin considers the question asked to be an important evidence of true contrition. He underscores this in his concluding practical applications:

Therefore, we see what we must do [!] if we want to profit from the teaching [of the passage]. We must sense our evil in order to be grieved by it and seek ways to shake it off. Are we so disposed? Let us understand that God is ready to receive us and that, when he condemns us, it is to cleanse us; when he pricks us, it is to heal us; and when he threatens us, it is to call us unto himself.

 

Therefore, let us be gentle and gracious so that when we feel the harshness [severity] of those who preach the gospel, we will realize they intend to strike like lightning so that we will conform to the word with all obedience and so avoid kicking against the goad (cf. Acts 26:14). [pp. 23, 24, emphasis added]

And then next, in connection with partaking of the Lord’s Supper, he states:

We must be all the more mindful of these things since we are to come to the table of Jesus Christ next Wednesday to make an open declaration that we wish to obey God and submit ourselves unreservedly to him and his word. (p. 24; emphasis added)

In the next sermon Calvin reiterates what he said pre­viously:

Furthermore, we have shown it is not enough to acknowledge our sins unless we put ourselves in God’s hands and are prepared to receive the counsel he gives us. Judas, Cain, and their ilk did indeed acknowledge their sin but consequently fell into despair because they did not seek counsel concerning what they should do [!]. Therefore, when God reproves us for our faults, we must take care not to lose courage, as the Jews did, who upon learning of their offence and being aggrieved in themselves for committing it, said “Brethren, what shall we do?” (p. 27)

What Calvin is saying, of course, is that, when we are reproved, we must not lose courage but rather must do as the elect Jews did, asking “What must we do?” a question that distinguishes the receptive hearer from the stony-ground hearer.

Such is Calvin’s explanation of the passage and his estimation of the importance of the question asked by those in whom the Spirit was working—the very evidence that the Spirit was working in them in contrast to others. And it is plain that, according to Calvin, their response of repentance and faith can be referred to as an obedience to the gospel call.

Are we now to find fault with, perhaps even to con­demn Calvin for his explanation and statements? Is now not even Calvin ‘Calvinistic’ enough for us? Historically, there is a label that has applied to such. And it is not complimentary, as we all well know.

I for one am satisfied with Calvin’s explanation of the Spirit-prompted question and of the apostolic answer, which were fundamentally the same in both Acts 2 and 16, preferring it to Hoeksema’s.

And now I refer you to another sermon of Hoeksema. This one on Romans 10:16, 17. The key phrase for our consideration is, “For not all have obeyed the gospel.” The sermon quotations are taken not from the volume Righteous By Faith Alone (RFPA, 2002), but from the earlier edition of HH’s sermons on Romans 9-11, God’s Eternal Good Pleasure (Doorn Printing, 1940; RFPA, 1979).

Of interest, first of all, is that in this sermon HH makes reference to Peter’s Pentecost sermon in Acts 2. And there HH states that the Holy Spirit was working in the questioners and then used the Word of God to prick their hearts, which word then “.filled them with

sorrow after God…and caused them to repent. And then impelled them unto the obedience [!] of faith.” (p. 199) I urge all and sundry to read pages 198-99. For that matter, the whole sermon.

Further on, HH says: “For there is a twofold hearing [of the gospel] even as there is a two-fold fruit of the preaching of the gospel. There is the hearing of obedience [!], and there is a hearing of disobedience” (p. 200). At the conclusion of the sermon (p. 207) HH states:

Faith is out of the preaching that is heard!

 

And that faith is obedience. Even as unbelief is disobedience to the gospel of God in Christ, so faith is obedience….By faith we abhor sin and love righteousness, flee from the former and seek the latter….

Clearly, here HH views faith as a “doing,” speaking of it even in terms of an obedience. Honesty with the text would not allow him (or us) to put it any other way. Clearly, to use the word “obedience” in describing faith as it responds to the gospel call was not something HH found fault with, at least not in this sermon.

And while we are on this sermon, there is a most significant phrase that HH uses that also has bearing on the debate being carried on in our circles about acceptable language, one worth considering.

HH points out that the apostle’s putting the refusal to believe the gospel and to respond by faith in terms of disobedience proves that the call of the gospel is not then a free offer or invitation, but is a demand. He then proceeds to state:

“This stands to reason; for it is the gospel of God. And God always demands, just because He is God. And in the way of obedience to what He demands, He blesses us with life and glory [!]” (p. 204; emphasis added).

We do not say that HH is the standard by which all orthodoxy is to be judged. All are but earthen vessels. But if HH’s name and statements are to be appealed to in our present controversy (as we are prone to do), this statement needs to be carefully weighed!

And while we are lifting quotations from books writ­ten by men of our own circles, a couple of quotations from David Engelsma’s book Hyper-Calvinism and the Call of the Gospel (RFPA, 3rd ed., 2014) would not be out of place. In his concluding chapter, “The Threat of Hyper-Calvinism,” he writes,

If the fruit of the preaching of the gospel is that men, pricked in their hearts, cry out, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” or that a Philippian jailer says, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” it is not in place, it is not typically Reformed, to launch into a fierce polemic against free will or to give a nervous admonition against supposing that one can do [!] anything towards his own salvation. The answer to such questions, the Reformed answer, is “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…,” and “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Acts 2:38; 16:31). [p. 194]

Again, words worth weighing carefully. And then this:

When hyper-Calvinism has developed somewhat, there is a failure, even a refusal, to preach the admonitions and exhortation of the Scriptures to the saints on the ground that good gospel preachers should not tell God’s people what to do. [!] At the very least, the admonitions and exhortations are not proclaimed with the sharpness, urgency, boldness, and freedom that obtain in the Scriptures. From this stage, it is but a little way to the disorder and license of open antinomism: “Let us sin that grace man abound.” (p. 210)

To state it simply, in this whole controversy swirling in our circles, this is precisely what I fear—that we become so restrictive in what certain words and phrases might imply, handled by the wrong men, that the free­dom to preach using scriptural phrases is muzzled, es­pecially in the realm of exhortations, admonitions, and warnings to God’s church and people. Yes, to God’s own people too! This must not happen. And this I am convinced the Canons in Head III/IV was guard­ing against by its refuting the allegation of the Arminians, namely, that consistent Calvinism must maintain that no preaching may really imply that the hearers are called to do something—either in faith and practice—lest salvation be made to sound as if it depends some­how on man. And so the urgency and sincerity of the gospel calls are really muzzled.

Calvinism as defined by the Canons has never con­ceded the validity of such a charge. To do so would give credibility to the charge of antinomianism.

It was to make this point that I wrote the October 1, 2018 editorial. I stand by that editorial.

We must not become a denomination that, out of fear of being misunderstood, loses the “imperative,” daring really only to speak in the “indicative.” The Scriptures we are called to preach are filled with imperatives con­cerning our calling, that which, in response to the Word declared, we are commanded to do. And we must see to it that the freedom to preach such is preserved. Without them, we will surely drift into a dead orthodoxy.

From this may Christ’s Spirit keep us.

Yours for the cause of God and truth,

Rev. Kenneth Koole