Rev. Kamps is pastor of Southwest Protestant Reformed Church in Grandville, Michigan.
This is the second of two installments through which we share with our readers the lecture of Rev. Kamps on the above subject, in Southwest Church on April 18, 1991.
What is the purpose of Scripture? The answer to this question is given by the apostle Paul in II Timothy 3:16, 17, where we read: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” In order to understand the significance of this passage for the church, we must note carefully the circumstances under which it was written. Paul was in prison a second time in Rome. He was about to lose his life at the hand of wicked Nero, the Roman emperor. Chapter 46 makes this plain. But one thing was all-important to the apostle. Timothy must preach the Word in season and out of season. Paul declares, “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the Word . . . .” Paul therefore reminded Timothy of the great significance and source of the Word he was enjoined to preach. All Scripture is inspired of God. God is its author and source. Its great purpose is that the “man of God may be perfect.” And this perfection is defined as being “throughly furnished unto good works.”
The purpose of Scripture, then, is to give the knowledge of God in Christ Jesus that the church, the believers in an evil world, may be enabled to live a life that is God glorifying. Through the Word of the gospel we are enabled to live as the friends of God. We are to keep His commandments. We are to confess the truth of His Word. We are to be jealous for God’s honor. We are to hate all sin and flee from temptation. Through the Word we are enabled to repent of our sin and cleave in faith to Christ Jesus.
Please note carefully that this is God’s purpose. For this purpose God gave the Word. God so formed the Word that it is profitable for doctrine. Its purpose is to give doctrine. Doctrine is the truth of Scripture set forth by the church as biblical dogma. Doctrine is teachings and instruction in spiritual truths. Doctrine is the truth concerning God’s Being and world, truth as it is in Christ Jesus, and the truth about the fallen sinner. Doctrine is placed first by the apostle because doctrine is basic to life and forms the foundation of Christian living. Without right doctrine one cannot live the Christian life. It is that basic.
In our day the church more and more refuses to give instruction in biblical doctrine. People clamor for the satisfaction of their “feelings” and “emotions.” Our age despises doctrine. And yet that is exactly the great need of the day, as it is in every age. Doctrine is the chief means to make “the man of God perfect.”
In addition, the apostle writes that the Scriptures are profitable for reproof. That is, the authority of Scripture is both prescriptive and proscriptive. On the one hand the Bible tells us what we are to believe as the truth in Christ Jesus. On the other hand the Bible tells us what is the lie (of the Devil and what we may not believe. Scripture always exposes error.
Further, the Bible is given for the purpose of correction and instruction in righteousness. When a believer has been deceived and led into error, then the Word of God alone is the means to work correction and to lead him into the way of repentance. And, finally, the Bible is God-given that we may have instruction in righteousness. How can one know the way if he does not know God’s Word? How can the youth of the church be expected to walk in the old paths if they are not instructed in what constitutes those paths well pleasing to God? The people of God perish because of a lack of knowledge in our day. Instruction in righteousness is withheld. The Bible was given in order that we and our children may have that instruction. We must have instruction in righteousness in regard to marriage, the home, entertainment, work, and our responsibilities in the communion of the saints. Without this instruction we and our children go lost.
I would summarize the message of this text as being that the Scriptures are given us in order that we may be enabled to walk as God’s friends in the world. And remember, he that is God’s friend is an enemy of all unrighteousness. He is an enemy of false doctrine. He is offended by those who would lead the church into the path of false doctrine. He refuses to walk with those who will not heed correction and reproof. The psalmist confessed in Psalm 119:63, “I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts.” This confession must be our confession.
If we may apply the above to our present situation in the Reformed church community, then let it be known that we as Protestant Reformed Churches reject the very idea of women officebearers in the church. We do so because God’s Word forbids it. Our women do not clamor to be officebearers, because they have been instructed in what is their God-given place in the church and in the home. We honor our sisters in Christ. We recognize their talents and gifts even as God has richly blessed them; but their place in the church is defined for them not by haughty men, as the church has been wrongly accused, but by God Himself. In the second place, we not only reject the theory of evolution, but even abhor it as God-dishonoring, man-exalting, unbiblical, and as the lie of the Devil himself. That a Synodical Study Committee of our mother church should recommend that the highest ecclesiastical body of this church in 1991 adopt and defend this unbelieving theory is truly agrief to us. Thirdly, we reject as contrary to God’s Holy Word the entertainment provided by the dance halls and theaters of this world. Our world is drowning in a maelstrom of immorality and impurity that is greatly stimulated and excited by these two means. And yet our mother church has not the spiritual strength to condemn these forms of entertainment. Scripture itself proclaims: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (I John 2:15, 16). The Protestant Reformed Churches reject membership in the labor unions that have committed themselves to the “labor strike,” on the grounds that this is rebellion against authority and, therefore, a violation of the fifth commandment. And, finally, we reject as principally Arminian and Pelagian the so-called well-meant offer of the gospel to all who hear the preaching of the Word. Our mother church has developed in this error of Arminianism to the point where many claim that the doctrines of election and reprobation have lost in her midst any significant place in the preaching of the Word on the Lord’s day. As Reformed congregations we hold to the absolute sovereignty of God and to the particularity of His grace in Christ Jesus. We reject free-willism and proclaim the necessity of regeneration of the elect dead-in-sin sinner, whom God calls irresistibly by His Word unto faith in Christ Jesus. Our preaching is ruled by the biblical doctrines of unconditional election and reprobation. That is as it should be in Reformed churches.
I want in this article to inform you of the essential ground of the Synodical Study Committee that is now defending the theory of evolution adopted by the CRC in 1989. What, do you imagine, is the main ground presented by this committee in their report, for their defense and propagation of evolution? The answer: the erroneous doctrine of Common Grace. It is common grace, according to the report, that makes it possible for ungodly scientists rightly to interpret God’s general revelation. This is not surprising to me. Nor should it be to you. The theory of Common Grace is a pernicious error that offers an iron-clad justification for the church’s adoption of the theory of evolution. That the theory of Common Grace should serve as the ground for the decision to declare that the theory of evolution is not contrary to God’s Holy Word should surprise no one. Why not? Because false principles allowed to grow and develop in the mind and will of the church impel that same church to further error and departure from the faith. We must ever remember that false doctrine works through, given time, to pollute the whole of the Christian faith.
Further, I want to say something to you about the conservative movement today within our mother church. They with us reject their church’s position on women in office and the theory of evolution. Let no one misunderstand! They do emphatically reject these unbiblical positions. For that we may be andare thankful to God in heaven. But one thing is painfully disappointing. If I may judge by printed critiques of the Synodical study committee’s report to the CRC Synod of 1991, they all fail even to address the committee’s central ground for its position. The issue of Common Grace is not even mentioned. How is it possible to offer a critique of another’s work and not even treat the issue of his main ground, especially when one takes great exception to the proposition of the report.
In this connection I wish to make an observation that may also serve as a warning. If the conservative element will not lead God’s people in their midst to reject the root of this, and other errors, in the church, the reformation they wish to bring about is doomed to failure. Let me demonstrate by way of example. At the end of my driveway, in the ditches on either side of the drive, grow shrub willow trees. These obscure my view of traffic on Ivanrest. Thus these willows occasion a terrible traffic hazard. I have cut them down two or three times, but they keep growing back. For a short time I feel safe and secure because my view of the traffic is not obscured. But then in a few months they grow back, filled with foliage, and threaten my and my family’s safety once more. The root has to be killed or removed. The source of the plants’ life must be cut off. Then my view of traffic on Ivanrest will not be obscured by those willows.
The same is true spiritually. False doctrine must be rooted out and cast away. Then its evil manifestations will be removed with the root. The error of Common Grace must be repudiated. Then the source of evil is rooted out. The Protestant Reformed Churches rejected this error in 1924 and are, therefore, free of its evil manifestations in the life of the church institute.
However, let me be quick to add, lest there be misunderstanding, that our faithfulness to God’s Word is of God Himself. Let us not boast in men. Heeding the Word, without regard to the cost, is the way of discipleship and the Lord’s blessing.
In conclusion, how is the purpose of Scripture achieved in our lives and the lives of our children? We must always be reminded of our responsibilities to our children. If we as parents minimize error and departure from Scripture, then our children will run in that error. That is God’s judgment upon the minimizing of His most holy Word. We are ever called to lead our children in the way of truth. This will be to their blessing.
In answer to the question of how we can achieve the purpose of Sacred Scripture in our lives, let me say that we must recognize the urgency of obedience to the Bible. Can we set the Bible aside and not experience the wrath of God upon us? Further, we must ask ourselves the question, may we go to the Lord’s table with those whom we know live in sin, who promote the lie in the church of Christ? The answer of the Bible is an emphatic NO!
Positively, one must be encouraged and instructed to watch and pray lest he fall into temptation, the temptation being once more to compromise the truth of Scripture and make peace with those who walk impenitently. That is the temptation. Watch and pray, Jesus commanded us in Luke 21:36: “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” Finally, prayer and the study of God’s Word give one the spiritual strength necessary to overcome and flee from all evil. We want to stand with those who will keep God’s Word and. commandments. Do you desire before God to do the same?