(Kersten, Heidelberg Catechism, Vol.1. part 26) Of the Author of Faith and the Means of Grace Appointed by Him Lord's Day 25 Psalter No. 322 st. 3, 4 Read Romans 10 Psalter No. 102 st. 2, 3 Psalter No. 278 st. 1, 2 Psalter No. 290 st. 3, 4 Beloved, In John 3:36 the Lord Himself distinguishes between those who will be saved and those who will be lost by saying, "He that believeth on the Son has everlasting life, and he that believeth not on the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him." Here the Lord declares in the first place the deep state of man's misery, viz., the wrath of God rests upon him. Because of their deep fall in Adam all people are children of wrath by nature and lie under the righteous judgment of the threefold death. They are lost. Even of the elect Paul tells us that by nature they are children of wrath even as all others. The wrath of God abides upon everyone who is not incorporated in Christ by a true faith. Throughout all the ages of eternity the wrath of God shall burn upon them as a fire that shall not be quenched. Out of that state of misery, however, the Lord Jesus redeems His own according to the pleasure of the Lord which shall prosper in His hand. To that end He gave Himself as a sacrifice for their sins. He has pacified the wrath of God for them, and by a true communion with Him He places them in a state of actual reconciliation with God. However great their sins may be, however terrible their enmity against God and His people, although with Paul they breathe out threatening and slaughter, the blood of Christ is abundantly sufficient to atone for their sins and for the sins of the whole world. Yet the whole world will not be saved by Him. "For this was the sovereign counsel, and most gracious will and purpose of God the Father, that the quickening and saving efficacy of the most precious death of His Son should extend to all the elect, for bestowing upon them alone the gift of justifying faith, thereby to bring them infallibly to salvation" (Canons of Dordt: 2nd Head, Art. 8). And that faith, being the gift of God, is faith in the Son of God which makes us inherit eternal life in Him. "He that believeth on the Son has eternal life." God's own and natural Son has life in Himself. He merited eternal life for His own in our human nature by bearing the wrath of God for His elect, and He grants them that life because by faith they are incorporated in Christ and receive all His benefits. That is why it is called saving grace, although Christ alone is a complete Savior and faith adds nothing at all to Him, as we heard in the previous Lord's Day. God's people are not justified because of their faith, but only because of the perfect satisfaction, righteousness and holiness of Christ which is imputed to them by free grace. Without faith, however, we can have no portion in Him, and no man can be saved. Eternal life can be obtained only by faith. "He that believeth in Me has everlasting life. In Me, not only historically, acknowledging that I am come according to the Scriptures, but in Me savingly, to seek and find salvation in Me, and in Me alone." But if everlasting life depends on faith in Christ, how can we obtain that faith? The twenty-fifth Lord's Day of our Heidelberg Catechism gives us an answer to that question as it speaks of the means of grace. Q. 65: Since then we are made partakers of Christ and all His benefits by faith only, whence does this faith proceed? A. From the Holy Ghost, who works faith in our hearts by the preaching of the gospel, and confirms it by the use of the sacraments. Q. 66: What are the sacraments? A. The sacraments are holy visible signs and seals, appointed of God for this end, that by the use thereof, He may the more fully declare and seal to us the promise of the gospel, viz., that He grants us freely the remission of sin, and life eternal, for the sake of that one sacrifice of Christ, accomplished on the cross. Q. 67: Are both word and sacraments, then, ordained and appointed for this end, that they may direct our faith to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, as the only ground of our salvation? A. Yes, indeed: for the Holy Ghost teaches us in the gospel, and assures us by the sacraments, that the whole of our salvation depends upon that one sacrifice of Christ which He offered for us on the cross. Q. 68: How many sacraments has Christ instituted in the new covenant, or testament? A. Two: namely, holy baptism, and the holy supper. This Lord's Day discusses the Author of faith and the means of grace appointed by Him and it draws our attention I. to the preaching of the holy gospel by which the Holy Ghost works faith in the heart; II. to the power of the sacraments which are instituted; III. to the purpose of the means of grace. I When the Lord Jesus was ready to ascend to heaven and had gathered His disciples upon a mountain in Galilee to which He had directed them, He gave them this commandment: "Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." During the Old Testament dispensation the oracles of God were committed to the Jews while the blind heathen were allowed by God to continue in their idolatry. But now, not only to the Jews, but also to these strangers of the Gospel the word must be preached, because the ceremonies were fulfilled in Christ and Israel as a specially privileged nation had had its day. Yes, the natural branches were broken off and the heathens were grafted into the olive tree in order that the entrance of the heathens might eventually provoke Israel to jealousy, and the full number of the elect out of all peoples, tongues and nations should be saved. To that end all peoples must be taught, and the disciples must reach all. For the Lord works faith by means of the preaching of the gospel, and He strengthens it by the same Word as well as by the use of the sacraments, as the Catechism speaks in accordance with Scripture. The Word and the sacraments are therefore called the means of grace. The Lord, according to His sovereign good pleasure has ordained these means to work and strengthen faith. The Word has a two-fold operation while the sacraments have only one. The preaching of the gospel serves both to work and to strengthen faith, but the sacraments only to strengthen faith. Baptism does not regenerate and one does not go to the Lord's Supper to be converted. Only those who are partakers of the new life are invited to the Lord's table. And how is faith strengthened by holy baptism? Since God by baptism establishes His Covenant and promises, He reassures His believing people that He remembers His Covenant forever, so that they may be more and more assured for themselves and for the coming of God's Kingdom that the Lord will fulfill what He has promised. Since the working and strengthening of faith is accomplished by these means, it is evident that we as well as God's people are bound to the use of the means. You cannot say, "God can convert me in a tavern or at a circus," while you despise the means of grace, but for the salvation of your soul you are obligated to go with your children to the preaching of God's Word and to meditate on that Word. God's people are also bound to the means of grace, that they may be built up in their most holy faith, and may not go astray in their own light, nor float upon feelings that mislead. How clearly the Lord Himself tells us by His servant Paul, "Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God." When the Word of God is lacking, the means are lacking by which God the Holy Spirit works faith in the hearts of lost sinners. If there is one reason why the gospel must be brought to the heathens it is this. In the words which the Lord spoke to His disciples: "Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations," lies the missionary command, and when the church of God is unfaithful to this calling, it gives the thousands of blind heathens over to themselves, and deprives them of the means which God the Holy Spirit uses to work true saving faith in their hearts. All objections to this commandment are futile. There are indeed hundreds of "heathens" in our own country; but whoever uses this argument against mission work, not only disregards the fact that all those estranged from God and His service are in the possibility of hearing the Word of God, but is also guilty of an inconsistency, since he makes no attempt to help those "heathens." He sets up an argument which he does not wish to use himself. Should not our souls be grieved because of the guilt that rests upon us? Should not our debt to the heathens weigh heavily upon us, when we consider that thousands die without ever having had the possibility of being saved? "How shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?" (Rom. 10:14) The Holy Spirit works faith by the Word that is heard. He opened the heart of Lydia during the preaching of Paul so that she attended unto the things which were spoken by Paul. The Word is the seed of regeneration. Does not Peter say clearly, "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever"? Also James serves as proof when he writes, "Of His own will begat He us with the word of truth." By the preaching of the Word to the Galatians Paul sought to travail again in birth until Christ was formed in them. (Gal. 4:19) He had begotten the Corinthians in Christ through the gospel. (1 Cor. 4:15) Thus it cannot be contradicted what the instructor tells us in this Lord's Day, that God by His Spirit and His Word works faith in the hearts of God's elect. It is by His Spirit and His Word, for the preached Word alone, however earnestly and sincerely it is presented, cannot change our hearts. Therefore we distinguish between an internal and external calling through God's Word. In contradistinction to the Lutherans and others, we hold that in nature there is no calling to salvation. Only by His Word God makes the way of salvation known to all those to whom the gospel is preached. Yea, by His servants He urges them, as Paul says, "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." However seriously the judgment of condemnation is presented and the invitation is laid at our heart's door by the gospel, yet that Word does not bring forth fruits of conversion in all men. The Lord Jesus Himself tells us in the parable of the laborers in the vineyards, "Many are called, but few are chosen." Only in the elect does the Holy Spirit prepare a soil in which the Word shall bear fruit. And yet no one can lay the blame upon God if He hardens the heart under the preaching of the gospel. The fault lies with us, for the Word contains the complete revelation of God for our salvation. Our fathers of Dordt confessed, "The cause or guilt of this unbelief as well as of all other sins, is no wise in God, but in man himself; whereas faith in Jesus Christ and salvation through Him is the free gift of God, as it is written: 'By grace ye are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God,' Eph. 2:8 'And unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him,' etc. Phil. 1:29" (Canons of Dordt 1st Head, Art. 5) This is the preciousness of the true Reformed doctrine, while maintaining man's responsibility it gloriously displays the free grace of God in saving sinners. Everyone that lives under the preaching of the Word is externally called to salvation by God, and only by willfully rejecting it and hardening his heart will he deprive himself of it; and the Word that was brought to him will testify against him. Unbelief, which prevents him from bowing in the dust before the Word is his own fault. Oh, how that Word shall eternally burn upon his soul; it shall be a savor of death to death. Nevertheless, true faith proceeds from the Holy Ghost, Who works it in our hearts. To believe in Christ is therefore not a work of our own. "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man." (1 Cor. 2:14, 15) In order to understand the things of the Spirit of God, in other words, to believe them, to delight in them and to rest upon them, we must become regenerated, spiritual persons. In regeneration God the Holy Ghost plants faith in the souls of the elect. In opposition to those who make of the sovereign work of God a duty by urging men to believe, and who in reality lay the foundation of salvation in a historical assent to the truth, this answer of the instructor cannot be emphasized sufficiently. Urging people to go to Jesus with their sins, to accept Him and to believe in Him have become common place in our days. But how shall we go to Him if our sins have not been discovered to us, if our enmity has not been broken, if our own righteousness has not become as a filthy rag before God. "No man can come unto Me," said Christ, "except the Father which has sent Me, draw him." And lest we should seek to hide behind our inability, He said plainly, "Ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life." To come to Jesus by faith must be given to the sinner by the Father, and wrought in him by the Holy Spirit, Who works faith. All education, instruction, understanding of the truth, orthodox confession, or whatever else, are insufficient, because all, however good and necessary they may be, are unable to break our enmity. Because of the hardness of our hearts it is impossible for us to believe. We are in a state of unbelief, and it is our own fault that we can expect nothing but the terrible reproof uttered to the city of the great King, "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not." Unbelief comes from us; faith comes from the Holy Spirit. How then can the Lord by the preaching of the gospel offer Christ to the reprobate whom He has foreordained to condemnation according to His inflexible justice? Is such an offer sincere? Indeed it is, since God first of all seeks His honour as well in the just retribution of the disobedient, as in the glorification of His mercies in those who by His Word and Spirit shall become heirs of salvation The Lord will be more glorified in those that are lost according as He by His Word showed them the way of life, and it is the joy and comfort of God's servants that the Lord is glorified as well in those that are lost, as in those that are saved. Although the preaching bears little fruit, although few or no people are converted under their ministry, although they must cry out with Isaiah, "Who has believed our report and unto whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" let it not hinder them in their faithful labors, since Paul has planted and Apollo has watered, but God gives the increase. According to His good pleasure that fruit tends to the glory of God. Thus they are only servants of God to fulfill the task laid upon them by the Lord. Neither he that plants is anything, nor he that waters. God does what He pleases with His Word, and in the unconditional surrender to the good pleasure of God, the minister finds his happiness and courage and comfort. If he lacks that surrender he will be in great danger of trying to convert men himself and glorying in it instead of seeking that God might be glorified in him. However, God wants to draw His elect by the preaching of the gospel and to grant them faith. The reason why God grants faith to some and not to others lies in His eternal decree, according to which He graciously softens the hearts of the elect, however hard they may be, and convinces them to believe. Thus the preaching of the Word becomes the power of God unto salvation. The gospel, which is the entire Word, the full counsel of God for the salvation of His elect, abases the sinner. As a hammer it breaks the stony heart to pieces. God works irresistibly. Although we breathe out threatening and slaughter against the Anointed of the Lord, although we shout with all our might, "Let us break their bands asunder and cast away their cords from us", the Word has an all conquering power. Oh, what contrition does the Word produce when it is preached to us; what a powerful conviction that we are worthy of death before God. But when faith comes into exercise as wrought by God in the heart, what a blessed happiness does the Word produce as Christ is preached Who is the way, the truth, and the life and Who reveals Himself to the wretched sinner as the cause of his eternal salvation. Now let God's people testify what draws their souls to the preaching of the gospel, other than the revelation of Christ. What gladdens their hearts more than when their faith in Him is stirred up by and under the preaching of God's testimony. For it is the Holy Spirit that strengthens and increases the faith once wrought in the heart, using as means to that end not only that same Word, but also the sacraments. Thus the Word has a double use, but the sacraments have only a single use. The Word as preached is the milk of babes and the strong meat for adults. No one is too little in faith to receive benefit from the preaching for the strengthening of his faith, nor is anyone too far advanced in grace to hear the preaching and receive from it an increase in Christ Jesus. If the Holy Spirit makes the Word fruitful it will serve for the salvation of the unconverted and it will be meat for God's people who sing, "Sweeter are Thy words to me Than all other good can be." Now let us in the second place consider II the power of the sacraments that are instituted. The word sacrament does not appear in the Bible. The Catholic Church asserts that it does, and to prove it refers not to God's Word as given in the original but to the Vulgate, a translation of the New Testament from the Greek into the Latin, in which Ephesians 5:32 is translated to read, "This is a great sacrament." From this translation Rome concludes that the word sacrament is indeed in the Bible, and therefore that marriage is also a sacrament. This is all beside the point, for Ephesians 5 does not say "this sacrament," but "This is a great mystery." A mystery is not a sacrament. You do not find the word sacrament in the Bible. This does not mean that we may not use the word sacrament, but we must understand what sacraments are according to the Scriptures: "holy, visible signs and seals, appointed of God for this end, that by the use thereof, he may more fully declare and seal to us the promise of the gospel." The sacraments therefore have something visible; they can be perceived by the eye, as it is with the water in baptism and the bread and wine in the Lord's Supper. The sacraments are not only spiritual, they have also a material side. Therefore it is not to hold the Lord's Supper when children of God may in their solitude enjoy blessed communion with God in Christ alone, and the Lord grants them to experience, "I will sup with him, and he with Me." However great that privilege may be the sacrament must be administered in the midst of the congregation. When Christ prescribed that the administration of it is to continue until His return upon the clouds, He taught us at the same time that the church will also have a visible manifestation until the end of time, however sad her condition may become. The visible signs portray the spiritual reality represented in the sacrament, in which there is a striking resemblance. What can signify purification better than water? What can signify nourishment better than bread and wine? How fitting it is then that the water in baptism signifies the cleansing from sin by the blood and Spirit of Jesus, and that the bread and wine point to Christ as the nourishment of His people and the refreshment of their souls by His crucified body and shed blood. The sacrament is, however, more than a sign. They who see in it no more than a sign make the sacrament superficial, as did Zwingli and the Arminians. The Catechism teaches us clearly that the sacraments are signs and seals, and it is not hard to prove this assertion with God's Word. Has not Abraham according to Romans 4:11 received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness of faith? Thus Abraham was assured that he had been justified by faith. Circumcision did not justify Abraham but served to confirm the faith by which he had obtained the righteousness in Christ. Thus for Abraham the sacrament of circumcision was not only a sign, but also a seal of his justification in Christ. By this example, the superficial view which underestimates the value of the sacraments is condemned, as well as the Catholic view (and partly also the Lutheran) which overestimates their value. For Rome links grace to the sacrament. It asserts that by administering the sacrament it confers grace to him who receives the sacrament. So the doctrine of the sacraments is darkened on both sides. Sacraments can give nothing, but are signs and seals instituted by God. How could any sign have a sealing power if it had not been instituted by God? Rome may speak of so many sacraments, and exalt confirmation, penance, extreme unction, orders and marriage to sacraments, but they have no value, since God has instituted none other than Baptism and the Lord's Supper for the church of the New Testament, as Circumcision and the Passover were for the Old Testament. The Old Testament bloody sacraments pointed to Christ who was to come, while both of the non-bloody sacraments of the New Covenant seal the grace and salvation merited by Christ. Their value depends on the divine institution. Without that no mystery has any sacramental power, but with it the sacraments are signs and seals to more fully declare and seal unto us the promise of the gospel. Thus the sacraments instruct and seal. The sign makes us understand the promise of the gospel more clearly. In the preaching of the Word the promises of God are presented to us, being in Christ yea and Amen to the glory of God. That preaching testifies of the reconciliation and cleansing by the blood of Christ: It cries to God's people, "Ye are bought with a price, forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ." It says that for Christ's sake God will not be angry with them nor rebuke them. But our susceptibility for these promises, and for Christ's mediatorial work is so slight, the knowledge of faith is so dim, and the mystery of which the church shall sing forever is so incomprehensible that we will need again and again a clear revelation and plain instruction. The Lord gave the sacraments in order that we might better understand the promises of the gospel. By the operation of the Holy Spirit during the administration of the sacrament one may be favoured with a deep insight into what Christ has become for lost sinners, and into the promises of God which proclaim salvation to those who are tossed with tempest and not comforted. Moreover, in addition to the instruction of the Spirit there is in the sacrament a sealing power. The want of clear, spiritual instruction causes us to lack so much the sealing power of the sacrament. Often the cause of the doubts in which many souls frequently are subjects of, is due to the scanty spiritual knowledge of Christ and His promises. But as soon as light is shed upon them, the heart is enlarged and given liberty to believe. Although there have always been only a few (as was also the opinion of Rev. Comrie) who come to a full assurance of their interest in Christ, nevertheless in the fruit of faith it becomes evident to them that assurance follows faith. It is especially by means of the sacrament that it pleases God to seal His grace and promises. He calls as it were to the soul, "I am thy salvation." Often in this effectual opening and sealing (of the promise) lies Christ's answer to the cry of the bride, "Set me as a seal upon Thine heart, as a seal upon Thine arm." For in the sacrament God opens and seals to His people "That He grants us freely the remission of sins, and life eternal for the sake of that one sacrifice of Christ, accomplished on the cross." So powerful is the language of God in the sacrament. Oh how our heart should be drawn to it to rest by faith in Christ alone, and by His one sacrifice accomplished on the cross, to find reconciliation with the Father. Consider the water of baptism, or the bread and wine of the Lord's Supper. In them we find represented not only the cleansing, reconciling, and nourishing power of the sacrifice of Christ, but also the path which Christ trod in order to be the Author of salvation for His people. He broke His body, as the bread is broken. He shed His blood as the wine is poured out. He did it for the lost children of Adam to save them from eternal perdition. Those are the wounds with which He was wounded in the house of His friends. Your sins, Oh people of God, could not rest until Christ entered into death. Behind the Jew's demand, "Crucify Him, crucify Him", was the guilt of your sins, which made you worthy of death before God. Now by means of the sacrament, Christ wants to seal to your heart that He entered into death for you, in order that you may taste the fruit of reconciliation with the Father. How precious the sacraments will become if we may understand something of their significance, and something of the purpose for which God has instituted them, "that by the use thereof, He may the more fully declare and seal to us the promise of the gospel." The sacraments are therefore closely connected with the preaching of the Word. They clarify and confirm the promises of the gospel for God's people. The preaching of the gospel and the administration of the sacraments serve the same purpose. That is our third main point. Question 67 speaks of the purpose of the means of grace. III The question reads, "Are both Word and sacraments, then, ordained and appointed for this end, that they may direct our faith to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, as the only ground of our salvation? Yes indeed." The sacrifice of Jesus Christ is the only ground of salvation. There is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved, and it is the function of Word and sacrament to direct us to that sacrifice. Neither Word nor sacrament can of itself give anything. The church of Rome, which does not understand this truth, is satisfied with outward things. For Rome, the outward administration of the sacrament is the important thing upon which everything depends, and in which saving power resides. This is contrary to Scripture. The sacrament is only a means ordained by God to strengthen our faith as it points to Christ, the only ground of our salvation, to which the Word directs us according to God's own appointment. Let us note this carefully. There is much preaching that does not point to Christ. I do not mean the preaching of the modernists, liberals, and others who deny Christ, but I have in mind especially an administration of the Word (if indeed it may be called that) in which more stress is laid on experience than on Christ. Do not misunderstand me. Would I contend for a superficial preaching that talks about Jesus but says nothing about the way in which the sinner learns to know Him? Would I advocate the kind of preaching that offers Jesus indiscriminately to all? God forbid! Objective preaching alone bears bitter fruit, and it is one-sided, while it fails to make the minister free from the blood of his hearers. No less objectionable is the doctrine which has become so common in our days, that the promises of the gospel are given to all men. No, beloved, the promises of salvation are given to God's elect, and God fulfills them at His time. But as serious as our objections are to this false preaching of the gospel, no less serious are our objections to the preaching that does not point to Christ, but builds souls upon innumerable conditions, and visions, and emotions, and experiences in the warfare against sin. Can anyone lay another foundation than that which is laid? Who would dare to show another way than Jesus Christ and Him crucified? May experience ever become the foundation? Will not experiences which lack the impress of the Spirit fail? Therefore God's people must examine themselves very closely whether their work is true. Moreover, no preaching is evangelical if it does not direct to Christ. The minister of the Word must lead the soul to Christ. It must allure those whose sins have been discovered to them, by presenting the Mediator in His preciousness as the All sufficient Savior, Who calls to lost sinners, "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest," Who never rejects anyone who comes to Him in truth, although his sins are scarlet and crimson. A faithful minister will not conceal how indispensable it is for our salvation to be a partaker of Christ in truth, and he will insist as a pastor ought to, that we must be found in Christ, not having our own righteousness but the righteousness that is in Jesus Christ. In this way our reliance upon our experiences will be taken away and we shall see Jesus only in the preaching of the Word. The Word is directed, and what is more, it is ordained by God to direct our faith to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as the only ground of our salvation. He who in his preaching does not comply with that ordinance of God, is unfaithful in the service to which he was ordained. He does not understand his ministry. The same holds true of the sacraments. They point to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The water in baptism refers to that sacrifice for the cleansing of our souls. Only the blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, cleanses us from our sins. The bread and wine of the Lord's Supper direct us to the only sacrifice accomplished on the cross. The bread is broken and the wine is poured out to show us more clearly that Christ broke His body and shed His blood on the cross in order that He might be the only meat for our empty souls. He that seeks any other shall hunger eternally. This is God's message to us in the Lord's Supper. Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness the Lord wishes to direct to the salvation that is in Him, and to assure them of it, in order that they shall never more thirst. The Word and the sacraments have the same purpose to teach, comfort, and establish His people. In the New Covenant or Testament the Lord has instituted two sacraments, holy baptism and the Lord's Supper. What the church of Rome has added are her own inventions, as we have already pointed out. Those Romish sacraments are not of divine institution and therefore lack the sacramental power. Oh, let us notice how Rome is a total stranger to the true doctrine. We do not share a common root of faith with Rome. If that were true our (Dutch) fathers would not have had to shed their blood in the 80 Years War. The pretensions of Rome in our country today also are so great that we must arm ourselves lest we be delivered entirely into their hands. The main issue is not the scaffold and the stake but true liberty, and the authority of the gospel which is violated when Romish influence is supreme. Or will the Lord smite us with our own rod and chastise our Protestant country for its foolishness in making an alliance with Rome? Is not what is called a coalition resulting in strengthening the power of Rome, so that other nations were amazed at what Rome is able to do in our country, and is not our sending a delegate to the Pope, which is a denial of the puritan character of our nation, a slap in the face of the God of our fathers, Who once delivered us from Rome? Let us place the truth of God against the soul-destroying doctrine of the Roman Catholics and make that truth more and more familiar to ourselves and our children. The Lord in the New Testament gave us two sacraments, non bloody ones, that refer us to the sacrifice already accomplished by Christ on the cross, as the bloody sacraments of the Old Testament referred to Christ Who was to come in the fulness of time. It is the nature and the character of both the Word and the sacraments to point to Christ, to the perfect redemption by His blood, and the cleansing by His Spirit, to Him Who is the spiritual food for His people and their continual refreshment and joy. He is the Surety and Mediator, the only Savior of His people. He pacified the wrath of God and restored them into communion with God, so that God Himself loves them. Let us sing of that love out of Psalm 103. "The tender love a father has For all his children dear, Such love the Lord bestows on them Who worship Him in fear." Psalter No. 278 stanzas 1 and 2 Application Thus the minister must preach Christ and Him alone as the way of salvation. With Paul he must say, "I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified." But, oh, my fellow traveler to eternity, how severe will your condemnation be if you should be lost under such preaching. Why? Must not God work faith in us? We cannot convert ourselves, can we? No, we cannot, and they who preach an offer of salvation which you have only to accept, are misleading you. Nevertheless God does not deal with man as with a stock or stone. In our fall we became neither devils, nor irrational animals. God let us remain rational creatures, and will work in us through His Word. Oh, may it please him to enlighten our dark understandings and to renew our corrupt wills in order that the Word may be of saving benefit to you. I pray you, use the means God has given you. Do not despise the impressions that you sometimes feel in your conscience. Do not stifle them. May the Lord humble you before Him and grant that you may find salvation in the blood of the Lamb. Oh what precious moments are oftentimes experienced by God's people under the preaching of the Word. No persons or things can disturb them when a word is spoken to their hearts, and their souls may admire the beauty of the Lord. May the necessity of winning Christ be your most pressing concern. For your comfort look to the fulness of His grace and the greatness of His love, that you may embrace Him as your own by that faith which the Holy Spirit not only works, but also strengthens through the means which He has ordained. May the Lord bless those means and accompany them with His presence in order that our walk and conversation may be with Him Whom we expect from heaven for our complete salvation. Amen. (continued in part 27...) ---------------------------------------------------- file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-02: krhc1-26.txt .