(Kersten, The Heidelberg Catechism in 52 Sermons, Vol.2, Part 8) The Law of God Lord's Day 34 Psalter No. 428 st. 1 Read Malachi 4 Psalter No. 1 st. 1, 2 Psalter No. 222 st. 4 Psalter No. 431 st. 3, 4, 5 Beloved! Malachi, the last prophet of the Old Covenant, closes the canon of the Old Testament Scriptures with a very serious admonition to all who fear the Lord, to remember the law of Moses. We find this in the fourth verse of the chapter which we read to you, "Remember ye the law of Moses My servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments." A serious warning it is, for the day is coming that shall burn as an oven. The vengeance of God is pronounced upon wicked Israel, that tramples upon God's holy law and says, "It is vain to serve God; and what profit is it that we have kept His ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts? And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up." "But all they that work wickedness," says the prophet, "shall be stubble; and the day that comets shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch." They that fear the Lord, loving and keeping His commandments unfeignedly, will one day see the destruction of the enemies of God. For unto them shall the Sun of righteousness arise; they will have justice by and by and in that day God's righteousness shall arise over them as a shining sun. The judgment which is to fall upon the wicked will be to the eternal salvation of the righteous and they will tread down the wicked; for the wicked will be ashes under the soles of their feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts. Then comes that serious admonition, "Remember ye the law of Moses." Down through the history of the world and its troubles, the Lord is preparing the final redemption of His church, and they who fear His name are yearning for the fulfillment of God's promises. What then should their work be as they wait for the Lord? How are they to live to be found guiltless in the day of God's wrath? They are to remember the law of Moses. The law of Moses is the means given by God to believe in the Messiah. The word law signifies to show the way. "Good and upright is the Lord," sings David, "therefore will He teach sinners in the way." To remember the law of Moses means to meditate on it continually and to keep it diligently, so that the life of faith may be directed according to it and may become manifest in it. God has not given His law for men to build up their righteousness before God by the works of the law, but in the words of Moses God has revealed to His church what is necessary for salvation. In remembering the law of Moses, the Lord was glorified in His people and the life of faith was revealed in the true Israelite, whose heart was directed only to Him Who was symbolized in the law, namely the Messiah, the Great Fulfiller of the law. It was a very serious admonition to remember the law of Moses, because after Malachi, the Lord would not give another prophet among the people to direct them constantly to the law of Moses, until Eliah should come to prepare the way and announce the coming of the Sun of righteousness. The church was approaching a time of thick darkness of four hundred years' duration, that would make her more eager to seek refuge with the Sun of Righteousness, under whose wings alone healing is to be found. Hence it is stated with so much emphasis, "Remember ye the law of Moses", so that in time of darkness the church of God might be strengthened in her hope of the Messiah, and might not be carried away with the multitude of those who would rob the law of its force, as the Pharisees and the scribes, who in their blind hatred would cry out, "Away with Him; crucify Him, crucify Him." But this admonition: "Remember ye the law of Moses" applies also to the church of the new dispensation, for not one of God's words shall fall to the earth. The law of God given on Horeb in two tables of stone, has not been abrogated or abolished by the coming of the Lord's Christ, but God has given that holy law also to the church of the new testament as a rule of life, as a proof of the uprightness of faith and for the exercise and growth of sanctification. It is this law of God that we shall now consider with each other, and we shall follow the explanation of the instructor in Lord's Day 34 of the Heidelberg Catechism. Lord's Day 34 Q. 92. What is the law of God? A. God spake all these words, Exodus 20, Deuteronomy 5, saying: I am the Lord thy God, which has brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. I. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me. II. Thou shalt not make unto thyself any graven image, nor the likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, or in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them; for I, the Lord thy God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. III. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless, that taketh His name in vain. IV. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy; six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shalt do no manner of work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man servant, nor thy maid servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it. V. Honour thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. VI. Thou shalt not kill. VII. Thou shalt not commit adultery. VIII. Thou shalt not steal. IX. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. X. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house; thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his man servant, nor his maid servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor's. Q. 93. How are these commandments divided? A. Into two tables; the first of which teaches us how we must behave towards God; the second, what duties we owe to our neighbor. Q. 94. What does God enjoin in the first commandment? A. That I, as sincerely as I desire the salvation of my own soul, avoid and flee from all idolatry, sorcery, soothsaying, superstition, invocation of saints, or any other creatures; and learn rightly to know the only true God; trust in him alone, with humility and patience submit to him; expect all good things from him only; love, fear, and glorify him with my whole heart; so that I renounce and forsake all creatures, rather than commit even the least thing contrary to his will. Q. 95. What is idolatry? A. Idolatry is, instead of, or besides that one true God, who has manifested himself in his word, to contrive, or have any other object, in which men place their trust. Our subject for consideration is the law of God, and we ask your attention to: I. the giving, II. the division, and III. the maxim of the law. I The Giving of the Law You will understand that I can make only very brief remarks. It is with a purpose that I spoke of the law as something that is given. In the previous Lord's Day we were taught that only those works are good that are performed in true faith, according to God's law, and to His glory. Now the instructor is about to explain each commandment of that law with reference to gratitude, as a rule for those who are purchased by the blood of Christ and renewed by the Holy Spirit, to whom He fulfill His promise, namely, "I will cause you to walk in My statutes." That the law is given by the administration of God's grace is evident from the title of the law. The first question that arises is: Who gave the law? "I, the Lord, thy God, which has brought thee out of the house of bondage." It is Jehovah, the God of the oath and of the covenant, the Unchangeable and Faithful One, Who gave His holy law on Mt. Sinai. The law has a cursing power, saying "Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." The people therefore would have been consumed thereby, but the Lord gives the law in the glorification of His grace, so that the law, which was four hundred thirty years after, as Paul writes in the epistle to the Galatians, could not make the promise of none effect. Therefore when the Lord gave the law to His people Israel on Mount Sinai, and did not cancel the promise which He gave to Abraham and in him to all His elect, namely the promise of Christ and all the benefits of the covenant of grace, then it becomes evident that the law serves as a means of discovery for His people and as a rule of gratitude of which they have fulfillment only in Him Who has said, "From Me is thy fruit found." This law then was given by Jehovah, the God of the oath and of the covenant, as is said in Acts 7:53, "Who have received the law by the disposition of angels", that is to say, out of the hand of Christ. Now Moses received the law out of the hand of Christ, while at the same time there was laid upon the people not merely the Ten Commandments as such, but they were joined in the ceremonial ordinances to ceremonial and civil laws which the Lord gave Israel. Both of the latter laws pointed to the blood of Christ, and to the promise of Him Who should triumph as Zion's eternal King. Christ was glorified in the giving of the law, in order that He as the great Fulfiller of the law might deliver His people from the curse of the law and give His elect strength to seek Him and to do His commandments. The second question that presents itself is, "How was that law given?" It was given as a covenant at Sinai. Now beloved, we should notice especially in these days when such dreadful, erroneous doctrines are taught about the covenant, that at Sinai the covenant of grace was established. With man who had fallen in Adam, God could not establish a new covenant of works. The covenant of works existed before the fall and was broken by voluntary disobedience. Since man placed himself under the judgment of God and into the state of death, God does not again establish a covenant of works with man, nor does the covenant at Mt. Sinai deal only with external benefits. Here is the establishment of the covenant of grace, in which God testifies, seals and grants the salvation which is in Christ, to those whom He has purchased with His precious blood. Therefore the people are sprinkled with the blood of the covenant. For a second proof that it concerns more than external benefits, notice this: When the Lord said to Moses, after Israel had provoked the Lord with their golden calf, "I will not go up in the midst of thee, but I will send an angel before thee to Canaan," Moses continually pleaded until the Lord said, "My presence shall go with thee." Moses needed God to dwell in the midst of His people. Moses was concerned with more than just the land flowing with milk and honey. He needed the grace of God given to His church in Christ. God made a covenant with Noah which concerns all men, yea, even the beasts and the grass of the field. That covenant with Noah did not include a single promise of salvation, and was therefore not meant to glorify God's election; but it includes only the promise that the earth shall not again be destroyed by water. This is then the covenant of common grace and is outside of the atonement of Christ. Let me exhort you and especially the youth seriously to study this matter, namely that the world does not share in the atonement of Christ, and not one blade of grass springs up because Christ shed His blood; but because God upholds the world for the great purpose of showing His mercy to the elect and His wrath and justice to the wicked. This is the contents of the covenant with Noah. Concerning man's eternal state there are two covenants, two and not three. The two covenants concerning man's eternal state are: the covenant of works in the state of rectitude, and the covenant of grace which God revealed immediately after the fall. This is the covenant of grace of which I now speak, which was entered into by the people of Israel at Sinai and revealed to them. This covenant of grace is in Christ. It was established in Him before the foundation of the world. He stood before His Father in eternity. There He gave Himself, and His delights were with the sons of men, for the Lamb was slain before the foundation of the world. In that eternal covenant, Christ agreed to fulfill all the conditions. In that covenant all the elect were given to Him as His inheritance, and what He took upon Himself He accomplished in time. Ascending to heaven as their Head, He took the elect with Him to prepare their place at the right hand of the Father. They are set with Him in heavenly places. Christ is therefore called in Scripture the last Adam. Why? Because as Adam represented all men, Christ represented all His elect. He is the covenant head. Adam was the covenant head of all men in the covenant of works. Christ is the covenant head of His elect. Remember this, beloved. He is the Mediator of the New Testament because He stands between two. Is not a mediator someone who seeks to bring two parties together. Modern writers speak of a mediator of creation. But tell me: Who is it that stands between God and creation? Such new theories should not be credited among us. There is one Mediator between God and man. Christ stood between an angry God and an elect sinner, to bring them together. Therefore He is the Mediator of the covenant and He is the Surety of the covenant, because as Surety He obligated Himself to pay the debt of His elect. Read Romans 5:12-19 where the Apostle compares the two covenant heads. I repeat once more: the covenant of grace is established in eternity with the elect in their representative Head. We are all in the covenant of works, because God established that covenant of works with us in the state of rectitude in our representative head, namely Adam. The elect are in the covenant of grace in Christ and they are represented in Him before the foundation of the world. Justus Vermeer has written an excellent treatise on the covenant of grace, which I recommend to everyone for further study. That eternal covenant, also called the Council of Peace (to borrow an expression from those who advocate three covenants), is not different from the covenant of grace as to its nature and essence. All our fathers have taught this. In time the Lord delivers the elect sinner, who is also fallen in Adam in the broken covenant of works, from that broken covenant and from under the curse, and places him in the covenant of grace. This takes place at regeneration when he is actually in-stated in that covenant. The Form for the administration of baptism states very clearly that we cannot enter into the Kingdom of God, except we are born again. We must be born again in order to be included in the covenant of grace. In that covenant the Eternal Father grants salvation to the elect in Christ Jesus. In subscribing to that covenant they receive subjectively what they need for their salvation, namely Christ and all His benefits by faith, which God plants in the hearts of His people. The Lord gives His people exercises of faith concerning the firmness of this covenant of grace, so that His children may learn to understand more and more that they are saved by grace and are in covenant relationship to Him Who says, "I shall be to you a God, and ye shall be My sons and daughters." They who are in the covenant are made partakers of salvation. The covenant is not what it is often said to be, only an offer of salvation, for an offer does not place one in a covenant relation to God. If we are to enter into the covenant, it is necessary for us to have communion with Christ by faith, wrought by the Holy Spirit. I repeat: the covenant of grace actually makes those who are in it to become partakers of Christ and His benefits. Moreover, the immovable firmness of that covenant is indicated when it is called a covenant of reconciliation, of salt, or of peace. If it could be broken, the salvation of God's people would be uncertain, because then there would be something of ourselves in it. But the covenant is firm in God who has said, "For this is as the waters of Noah unto Me; for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but My kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of My peace be removed." The covenant of God is therefore unbreakable. But now a question rises. In the first place: The twelve tribes of Israel were encamped at Sinai, but with many of them God was not pleased; they were destroyed in the wilderness by unbelief and did not obtain the promise. Were they not all in the covenant? No! Read what Perkins says about it, who shows so clearly that they were indeed called the people of the covenant and therefore are said to have broken the covenant, but they themselves had never entered into the covenant. We must always make a difference between the external relationship to the covenant into which Israel as a people had entered and a personal in-being in the covenant by faith. We are all in an external relationship to the covenant of grace. This is confirmed in our baptism. They who live outside of the church cannot be baptized. They are not in an external relationship to the covenant. My hearers, what led our fathers to speak of such a vital difference between the external relationship and a spiritual in-being in the covenant, when they said there is a twofold relationship to the covenant? The covenant is one; but the relationship in which we stand to the covenant differs. It is either external or internal. Let me give you an example. The Lord placed the entire nation of Israel in that external relationship to serve Him alone. Then when the Lord said, "You have broken the covenant", we must ask, how did they break the covenant? Thus: that they no longer served God alone, but bowed before the idols of the heathens. They broke the external relationship to the covenant, not the covenant itself. That is impossible because in God it is unbreakable. But they did break the external relationship. Just as when we go into the world and transgress God's commandments and so become guilty before the Lord, because of having broken the external relationship to the Lord; so the Lord pronounced Israel guilty and His judgments came upon them. If our nation forsakes God in unbelief and superstition and both the government and the people bow before those that are no gods, we must certainly expect God's judgments. So it was with Israel. Therefore the Apostle warns us, "Let us not fall into the same example of unbelief." We cannot rest in the fact that we are external members of the church and stand in an external relationship to the covenant, but we must become living members of the church. Is the doctrine of the three covenants as erroneous as we say? Yes, indeed! You will soon see the consequences of it. When it is said, "We and our children are children of the covenant; all of us have a right to the promises of the covenant and to eternal life; without question God gives us a right to eternal life, and if we believe this, all is well." Then I answer you, my hearers, just read your Bible and you will be filled with abhorrence for this covenant theory. I hope that we shall guard against it. The Lord says very simply in His Word, but very emphatically, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." To what do we have a right by nature? We have a right to the judgment of eternal death. When God opens one's eyes to show him the state he is in, what is it he then confesses? "I have deserved eternal death. Enter not into judgment with me; for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified." But when we say, "All of you have a right to eternal life", we become builders upon a false, sandy ground and as a minister said recently, we substitute a covenant relationship for the work of the Holy Spirit and the experience of God's people. At Sinai God established the covenant of grace. He makes the true Israel partakers of Christ by faith. In that covenant the Lord incorporates His holy law, as He wrote that law in the heart of Adam. As the law after the fall exercised its cursing power upon fallen man (before the fall the law also had its cursing power but did not exercise it) so the incorporation of the law in the covenant of grace means that God's people shall see the glory of the law in Christ Jesus as the Fulfiller of the law and shall behold the favour of God. Since we cannot possibly keep the law, neither have God's children any power to observe it, the Lord Himself (as we noted in the previous Lord's Day) works that gratitude in His people, granting them what they can never produce namely, that they are indebted to God for their gratitude to Him and not He to His people. He teaches them to understand that of themselves they are unable to do anything, but that it is in Christ Jesus through the administration of the covenant of grace. From Me is thy fruit found. There you have the giving of the law in its entirety, as it was delivered on Sinai, in which God's people find their delight, and which they long to keep. Their desire is: Oh, let Thy Spirit be my constant aid. II The Division of the law I come now to our second main thought, namely, the division of the law. The ten commandments were given on two tables of stone. The first contains four, and the second, six commandments. Here we differ immediately with Rome which has three on the first and seven on the second. Rome combines the first and second commandments into one and divides the tenth into two commandments. In this way there is conflict with either Exodus 20 or Deuteronomy 5, but Rome is not concerned provided the second commandment is deprived of its strength. The second commandment as you know forbids image worship. If there is one thing above all others that accuses Rome, it is the fact that they do not scruple to rob the second commandment of God's law of its power, saying, "We join image worship to the first commandment and use the images to serve God and to honour the saints." But the difference between the first and second commandment lies in this, that the first commandment tells us *whom* we shall serve (namely God) and the second *how* we shall serve God, not by dumb images, but according to His Word. Therefore we may have no images in the church and no images in our homes, as we shall learn from the following commandment. There are then four commandments in the first table and six in the second. The first table tells us what our soul's attitude to God shall be. God wants to be glorified and honored as the Lord says in Matthew 22: 37-40, where He summarizes the four commandments and says that we must honour God above all. The six commandments of the second table which are not inferior to those of the first tell us, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself; on these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." What then does God require in the ten commandments? Love to God and to our neighbor. "For all the law is fulfilled in one word," says the Apostle and that one word is love. This makes it so impossible to keep the law because by nature we are prone to hate God and our neighbor. That tendency lies deeply rooted in our hearts and so we reveal ourselves in our whole being. When we hate, it is impossible to love. Let us take a common example out of everyday life. In my ministry I have often met parents who demanded of their children that they choose that boy or that girl, while the children said, "I cannot love him or her." If it is impossible in our natural life to arouse love, how much less is that possible in spiritual life. How can we truly love God and our neighbor, while by nature we are haters of God and of each other. Whatever we do, however scrupulously we manage our lives to keep God's commandments, although we do not desecrate His day or blaspheme His Name, and though we abstain from sinning and walk according to His commandments in all things like the rich young man, notwithstanding all this we have never really kept one of God's commandments. For if the fulfillment consisted of doing or forbearing, we could compete with one another to see who excelled, as Paul says, "I was zealous with all that was in me to keep the law of Moses." That same Paul declared: I was alive without the law once. I knew not the law; I did not know the content and the spiritual scope of the law. I was alive without the law. I was a transgressor, yea I am the chief of sinners. In following the law I persecuted the church of God. Hence, God demands what we can never fulfill. Because we can never give God our love, all our works are of no value as ground of acceptance. We do not give anyone a license to sin, for our sin will testify against us and our punishment will be greater according to the measure in which we have multiplied sin. But God's Word takes away our confidence in our works and convinces us of the fact that we can never keep one of God's commandments. For God demands what we do not have and cannot produce. God demands love. Notice the fruit of the covenant of grace: He gives that love to His people, so that they learn to love Him because He first loved them. When He brings them into the bond of the covenant, He works that love in His children. He captures their hearts and they reach forth unto perfection in all they do, in order that they may apprehend that for which they are apprehended of Jesus Christ. In the division of the law lies the love to God and the love to our neighbor. What is the maxim of the entire law? Let us consider this briefly in the third place. III The maxim of the law. The maxim is given in the first commandment: "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me", that is: That I, as sincerely as I desire the salvation of my soul, avoid and flee from all idolatry, sorcery, soothsaying, superstition, and the invocation of saints or any other creatures. The first commandment demands that we acknowledge God as God. Now, the dreadfulness and the wretchedness of our deep fall lies in this, that we have robbed God of His glory and defied His authority, which is nothing but revolution against God. God must be thrust from his throne while we occupy it. We cannot acknowledge God as God, because we hate Him. The maxim of God's law is, "Have no other gods before Me," to acknowledge them as God or to rely upon them. Avoid all things that are contrary to this maxim, such as: First, idolatry: that is, instead of or besides the one true God ... to contrive or have any other object in which men place their trust instead of God, as the heathens who do not know the only and true God, but have idols whom they trust and to whom they ascribe such events as wars and adversities - but also besides Him. Although we say: "There is one God", in our hearts we trust in idols. Take, for example, the Roman Catholic Church or ancient Israel which served other gods besides the Lord. The Israelites cleaved to the God of their fathers, but also bowed to idols. Think also of idolatry in a spiritual sense such as is committed by the Remonstrants and advocates of free-will, who build their hope upon that which is no God. Let us not forget ourselves, how we trust in our own strength and in our own wisdom when we are young. Our idols are many. How often do we acknowledge our dependence upon God? We make idols of our confession and church attendance. In our very hearts we have many idols upon which we depend instead of or besides God. As travelers to eternity we base our trust upon our god fearing parents, upon our baptism, upon our ministers. Whatever it may be, God demands in the first commandment that we forsake all idols. Secondly, sorcery and soothsaying. That is the work of the devil. Only God can do miracles. He is God alone and does wondrous things. The devil tries to imitate them. What counterfeiting is done by Satan! The devil also does wonderful things. He imitated Aaron. The magicians did much by the power of Satan. Soothsaying is imitating God in His prophetical revelation. The soothsayer presumes to tell you what will happen next year or when the end of the world will come, or what your lot will be, but God only can do that. Why? Because it lies in God's eternal counsel in which no man ever locked. The devil says, "I will alienate men from God; I will show that I can also cause my servants to prophecy." If you go to a soothsayer or to a fortuneteller to find out what will happen to you, remember that it is the work of the devil. Anyone who will venture upon such means entrusts himself to the guidance of Satan to his own destruction, however pleasant it may seem. Remember, Satan had no part in God's council. God only knows and works all things after the counsel of His own will. Further, the Catechism speaks of superstition. We think of Rome with its superstitions, its patron saints to ward against evil, its attention to enchantments and to the howling of a dog to frighten people, telling them falsely that this or that will happen. Add to these the invocation of saints. Rome says: "Saint Peter, Saint John, Saint Mary, pray for us." Are there no saints? Yes, they are in heaven. They are also on earth, washed and cleansed in the blood of Christ. But they are not to be worshipped. The angel said to John on Patmos, "Worship God." The saints may not be worshipped because they are saved only by grace. Therefore worshipping the saints is desecration instead of adoration. We should sincerely loath such practices and not be so indifferent about them. Do realize that it concerns God's honour and glory. "Learn rightly to know the only true God." In the first commandment we are taught in the first place to refrain from that which is forbidden, but in the second place to do that which is commanded, namely, to learn to know the only true God rightly, for we are without the knowledge of God; but we must learn to know Him rightly and we must set our hearts upon His Word, so that He may reveal Himself to us as He is known in Christ Jesus. "Trust in Him alone"; that is depend so entirely upon Him as to commend our souls to Him for eternity, but also to trust in Him alone for our temporal life, to reject all that is outside of Him so that He alone becomes our refuge, who never puts to shame them that trust in Him. "With humility and patience to submit to Him alone", in bitter and difficult ways. This is hard for flesh and blood. Think of Asaph in Psalm 73 where he objected to God's government. Asaph was peevish and fretful until he entered the sanctuary. We cannot acknowledge God as God; we cannot resign ourselves to God. We cannot, but neither do we want to resign ourselves. It is required of us to be submissive to Him in quietness and confidence as a child weaned of his mother, so that He may be glorified and we may "expect all good things from Him only." That means: Look not to the right nor to the left, but above, for with Him there are deliverances for His people, even in the face of death. "Love Him with all my heart." This is the main thing, namely love, of which I spoke earlier. There is also a fearing of Him with childlike fear. Think of children with respect to their parents. If there is love there is also childlike fear. Love leads to obedience. Love brings no grief to the parents. This childlike fear springs from love. So the Lord should not find it necessary to complain about His people. They will honour Him alone and do His will, although the whole world should oppose it, and it should cost them their goods and their blood. And all this "as sincerely as I desire the salvation of my own soul," for my salvation depends on it. Not honoring God as God leads to destruction, but salvation lies in acknowledging and trusting in the living God. Salvation is dear to God's children. They are not indifferent about it whether they are saved or lost. Salvation is precious to their souls. They cry for it, as it was evident on the day of Pentecost: "Men and brethren, what shall we do to be saved?" They learn to know, fear and glorify the only true God in order that He may be glorified in His saints, and that they shall offer no strange worship as we now sing from Psalter No. 222:4: "O My people, hear My pleadings; O that thou wouldst hearken now: No strange worship shalt thou offer, Nor to idols shalt thou bow." Now just a few words more. I could wish that every one of us would study diligently the doctrine of our old fathers. I foresee our congregations becoming engaged in a severe battle, because most of those who can still be labeled Reformed, have departed from the old truth, especially regarding the covenant of grace. Therefore I counsel you not only with all boldness, but admonish you most seriously to study what our old theologians taught. Boys and girls, I see the value of your societies; I appreciate them and would have all of you attend them if you reject the new theology. Otherwise it is better to break them up. For I wish to make myself free, not only of your blood but also of the blood of all the congregations. Perhaps my time here is short, but you will never be able to say that I have taught something different from our Reformed theologians. Arminius was the first to make a difference between the Council of Peace or the Covenant of Redemption from eternity and the Covenant of Grace. This Arminius did in his oration. Let us consider whose footsteps we follow with the new doctrine and if we follow it, remember that we are placing our feet on paths that will lead us astray. If God makes us partakers of the promises in Christ, in Whom all the promises are yea and amen, then we shall be saved, because God cannot lie. "Shall I speak and shall I not do it or have I spoken and shall I not make it good?" saith the Lord. When He gives us and our children the promises and applies them to us, will He not fulfill them? What kind of a covenant doctrine is it that says, "If you do not fulfill the condition of believing, you will not get there?" Where must I go to obtain such a faith? Is the granting of faith not included in the covenant? Is that not precisely the promise of the covenant that God will grant faith? Now we have the privilege of living under the revelation of the covenant and under its administration. God's Word is brought to us. We stand in a certain relationship to the covenant of grace. Some day God will call us to account. For that reason it is so necessary to enter personally into the covenant, so that there may be covenant dealings between God and our souls. Now the Lord requires you to love God and to trust in Him. That kind of disposition of heart does not consist in an outward inclination only. I can rejoice when I see that there is a desire to go to God's house, and that many of our young people are inclined to come, while many outside of us leave the truth. However, we must learn to know something more than an outward inclination and an outward delight in the Word of God. The work of God the Holy Spirit in our hearts is indispensable to our salvation. Set your heart upon seeking the Lord, lest He cast you aside in the end. Then the separation will come. For the Lord will separate the wheat from the chaff and the sheep from the goats. Then the verdict will be weighed in the balances and, with all our righteousness, found wanting, because we have not learned to know Christ as our portion, and because His righteousness has not become our righteousness before God. It is written very plainly, except we are born again, we cannot enter the Kingdom of God. My poor, unconverted hearer, seek this covenant relation with God in Christ. May the Lord confirm His Word and bind it upon your heart as the means He has given you. May He bless this word for your eternal welfare. Then you would gain what a thousand worlds cannot give you: A benefit that is constant and durable, one that no one can take from you, because God has laid it away in Christ for those who fear Him. Who knows how soon the world will be ablaze, what wars we are facing, more terrible than we have ever experienced. Even when the whole world burns up, the work of the covenant shall endure. God confirms His covenant eternally to gather His people and to bring them through all the woes of the world into the glory that He has prepared before the foundation of the world. Do seek that one thing needful. Seek that above all. Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and the Lord will care for your temporal needs; all these things will be added unto you. Allow me to repeat: God demands love and we do not have it nor can we make it. God Himself works that love in our heart. He has loved them with an everlasting love. Here in time they become subjectively objects of His love and by the glorification of God's love in their hearts, they learn to love God. Thus a childlike fear enters their hearts, so that they forsake sin and are displeased with all that displeases God. So it is in the hearts of God's people. It is not only a speaking about love, but it is the practice of their inmost hearts. Even the smallest in grace can testify that it is so. But oh, how that first commandment condemns us. We are to hate all idols in which we place our trust instead of or besides the Lord. Our manner of life, however, shows that we do not. Flesh and blood will not inherit the Kingdom of God. How much there is outside of Christ upon which you place your trust. How much there is which prevents you from embracing God as the God of your salvation. How hard it is to surrender ourselves in order that He may be all and in all. What then is necessary for us to obtain that blessing? The discovering work of the Holy Spirit, which will enable us to die more and more unto self and to trust in God alone. Bear in mind throughout the course of life that we are to walk through this world in such a way that we agree with God always and in all things. How great is the number of adversities! Notwithstanding this, we are to agree with God unconditionally. I have known people who praised God while looking at the ruins of what was once their home. They had lost everything, but said in sweet submission, "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." We must agree with God unconditionally, however deep His ways may be. For we are but clay in His hands. In life and death, to practice total submission, that is what the first commandment requires of us. Now I am willing to be the first to say: How little do we find of this in ourselves. If we had more of the love of God in our hearts so that we could always say with Asaph, "Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart", then we would walk more with the Lord, we would have more union with Him and more submission to Him. That would enable us to wend our way cheerfully in all our circumstances since He is Jehovah, the God of the oath and of the covenant Who keeps faith forever. He will certainly fulfill His promises to His people in His own time and way, however impossible it may seem. They will then glorify God with songs of praise. Soon, when all that is in part shall be done away, they will ascribe to Him perfectly all glory and honour and blessing. They will then be before His throne to serve Him day and night without sin. To honour this God as God, even in the greatest distresses will enable us to walk according to His commandments and to keep His precepts. May He cause His kindly face to shine upon us in Christ, so that we may rejoice in Him. For this God is our God for ever and ever. He will be our guide even unto death. Amen. Kersten, Heidelberg Catechism in 52 Sermons, Vol.2 (continued in part 9...) ---------------------------------------------------- file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-02: krhc2-08.txt .