Mrs. Meyer is a wife and mother in Hope Protestant Reformed Church of Walker, Michigan.
There is a truth about which we as parents must teach our children. It is a truth that must be well understood and preserved among us, for it is a truth that is under relentless and increasing attack. The kingdom of Antichrist seeks to manipulate and twist it into its own service and evil purposes. In these last days it is imperative that we see this truth clearly, increase in knowledge of it, and grow in love for it. It is crucial, as well, that we instill this into our children.
Jesus prayed for it. As we look with earthly eyes, we might think that His prayer in John 17 has gone unanswered. “Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are” (v. 11). “That they all may be one” (v. 21). “That they may be one” (v. 22). “That they may be made perfect in one” (v. 23).
One? There are countless different sects, churches, and denominations. Where is this unity He so desired? But the question begs a different viewpoint—a deeper, spiritual one. Many churches and denominations are indeed joining into one. Their oneness, however, is not the unity for which Jesus prayed. Their unity is based on ecclesiastical compromise and lies,all with the guise of ecumenicity. With a god of common grace, universal atonement, and salvation by at least partial works, they do indeed have a basis for communion. There is a basis for fellowship and cooperation with the secular world as well. There was this brand of unity already in the days of Babel. “Behold, the people is one,” said the Lord in Genesis 11:6. We are beholding it again.
Where is the oneness that Jesus spoke of? Note again John 17:11, for it is “through thine one name.” “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (v. 17). To know His holy name is to know His truth. Indeed, there is unity. Real unity. True unity. Lasing unity. It is found in the sanctified holiness of His truth. It is found in the hearts of all His people—where the Spirit of truth abides. It is found in Him whose name is Holy One and True.
His people experience this unity as they together proclaim, hear, and love the truth. We confess in the Apostles’ Creed that we believe “the communion of saints.” What a wonderful, beautiful thing to partake of and behold! “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Ps. 133:1). To know that being members together in Christ we are “in common partakers of him, and of all his riches and gifts,” and that it is not only our duty but also our joy to employ these gifts “for the advantage and salvation of other members” (L.D. 21). This is a very blessed thing. This communion is very precious and dear to us.
This is very practical. Our children need to see that as we confess the communion of saints, we also live it. It will be our joy and delight to find opportunity to commune with fellow believers, to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. Our fellowship will be with children of light, for “what communion hath light with darkness?” (II Cor. 6:14). We will find that our fellowship is ever so sweet when it is based on the light of the truth, and the truth is, in fact, the topic of conversation. Indeed, in our homes we will commune with our children and spouse in such a way that is not possible outside of the body of Christ because we know we have the same mind and goals—the glory of God in His kingdom and truth.
But example is not enough. Our children will have fellowship outside of the home as well. The question is—with whom? This has always been a vitally important issue for covenant parents, but, generally speaking, the role of friends in the lives of young people (for both good or for bad) seems to be increasing. Perhaps it is the weight of work or pleasure in the lives of parents as a whole that lets the influence of peers become more important in children’s lives. Perhaps it is the affluence of young people themselves that lets them live almost in a culture all their own. Perhaps it is simply Satan’s subtle attempt to wean covenant children away from their rightful instructors before they have been taught all they need to know. Whatever the reason and case may be, the issue of friendship has become extremely significant. It is wise for parents, even parents of very young children, to consider these things and talk of them with their children in the light of Scripture. As our children grow older, the opportunity for them to err in this area greatly increases, and so do the consequences. It is a subject that well deserves our time and attention.
Solomon considered it so. Proverbs is full of instruction in these matters. “My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not. If they say, Come with us…, cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse: My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path” (Prov. 1:10-15). “Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away” (Prov. 4:14, 15). David, his father, was just as antithetical. “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the way of the scornful” (Ps. 1:1). In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul laid down the line unequivocally. “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing” (II Cor. 6:17). The instruction is clear. There are those with whom you have fellowship, and those with whom you do not.
Though the same life in the blood with its platelets and plasma may be coursing through the veins of the whole human race, from the spiritual point of view the life that flows in the hearts and souls of some is very different. There are two races. There are two seeds. Adam is the father of all. By him we are all heirs of sin and death. Yes, there is a unity there—a sorry one. But there is a Second Adam! And it is life in Him that is our main concern, for flesh and blood cannot inherit eternal life. In Him we are a peculiar, holy people, spiritually set apart for His service. Our children need to be made consciously aware of this. They also need to know that there is real unity only within the bounds of this peculiarity. As Rev. Herman Hoeksema expounded on L.D. 21,
…one Lord has received the Spirit, and through that one Spirit He dwells in the whole Church, His body, and in all its members. And this indwelling Christ is the sole basis and fountain for the unity of the saints. Through that indwelling Lord there is in all believers … a unity of nature, of life, of love, of faith, of hope and purpose….¹
This is the ground of our communion. “The believer does not confess a ‘brotherhood of men,'”² as Rev. Hoeksema put it. How can we live being joined to those who have not this same faith, hope, love, and life, all of which is only in Christ?
But note again this ground. It is one faith. It is one knowledge and one confession. “All the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the Lord hath said will we do” (Ex. 24:3). They answered with one voice. So do we. The Holy Spirit has guided the church into objective, knowable truths of Scripture, truths that unite her. They are the Reformed creeds, including the Three Forms of Unity. Note that—of unity. They unite us! What a glorious heritage He has given all believers in all lands! It matters not from which hemisphere we hail or which province, state, or nation is ours; when we together subscribe to these creeds, we know we are (organically speaking) brothers in Christ. This is cause for great joy and is striking to such “strangers” who meet. As the world clamors for the unification of all nations, we rejoice in the unity of truth and creed that transcends all national boundaries.
Again, this is very practical. It means we will have a great appreciation for our creeds and a great concern for knowing them and understanding them. It means we will teach our children to know and appreciate them as well. The centuries-old documents will not remain on the shelf. Especially is this important because many who say they hold to these confessions, upon closer examination, in reality do not. It has been demonstrated elsewhere³ that the theory of common grace flatly contradicts the Canons, yet those who defend this theory use the very Canons of Dordt to support their position. This is only one example. A keen knowledge of our creeds is essential. Our children need to know this. The confessions are a very real part of our study, our devotions, and our lives.
But there is more to consider as we peer into the depths of this principle of unity, and to that, we will look next time (D.V.).
¹Herman Hoeksema, The Triple Knowledge, vol. 2, (Reformed Free Publishing Association, Grandville, Michigan), p. 239.
³This has been well documented. For just one example, see “Total Depravity and ‘Common Grace’—in the Light of the Confessions,” by Prof. H. Hanko, in the March 1, 1983 issue of the Standard Bearer, vol. 59, p. 257.