Blessed Antithesis

343

Today, 16 September, is the 100th birthday of Rev Dr Pieter van Gurp. Some readers may remember that he was the first Free Reformed minister of Albany (1955-1964) and, after serving GKv churches in the Netherlands returned to Western Australia in 1989 for some months to help the Free Reformed Church of Bedfordale (later Mt Nasura) during its vacancy.

Church Council FRC Bedfordale October 1989. Rev P van Gurp 4th from right.

He remains active! The following article by Rev van Gurp appeared in the current (September 2021) issue of de Bazuin under the title “Gezegende Antithese”. This English translation is by Br Jan Eikelboom.

Blessed Antithesis

EXPECTATION in the face of APOSTASY

The history of salvation begins with trouble and sorrow. Perfect man in Paradise listened to the lies of the serpent, who led them to believe that man would be like God, deciding for himself what is good and what is evil. That’s how history began with man’s expulsion from Paradise. And all of history will henceforth be the history of that antithesis. That is: it went up and down, faithful expectation and apostasy, while the church expected the coming of the seed of the woman in the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Christ Himself then asks the key question: The Son of Man, will He find faith on earth when He comes? (Luke 18:8). This is the faith that calls the Son of Man to judge. A blessed antithesis, even if there’s only one person who refuses to bow to the idol of unity among men all pursuing their own religious beliefs.

THE CURRENT PRACTICE OF LIVING WITH DECISIONS OF ECCLESIASTICAL ASSEMBLIES

Such religious beliefs have been emerging in all kinds of church communities, like the position of the woman in the church, the practice of admitting homosexuals to attend Holy Supper, and allowing divorce. All of these are being permitted as though they were legitimate interpretations of Scripture. The varying application of these practices in the church is being glossed over on a broad front, yes even where it concerns a contradictory practice of faith. Opinion has it that we must grow towards each other, also in the face of such differences. Then it seems that peace is being promoted, especially by not making any binding statements of faith. No yes or no, no cold or hot. As if that would bring about peace. But the Lord tells us instead: I will spit you out of My mouth (Rev 3:16).

HOW THEN SHOULD WE AS ORDINARY CHURCH MEMBERS DEAL WITH THESE ANTITHESES?

Is it possible to take a justifiable position before the Lord in all these matters? The answer to that question is found in 2 Peter 3:12. There we read the exhortation about the walk of life and godliness:

     you who expect and long for the coming of the day of God, the day when the heavens shall perish.

A better translation is:

     you who are looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God.

How can we, mere people, hasten the coming of the day of God? When we live out of the blessing of the antithesis! All of history, after the LORD declared the antithesis, is marked by the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. A blessed antithesis. Even if in a large crowd there is only one who refuses to kneel before the image.

When, after the return from exile, Nehemiah takes stock of the situation a large part of God’s people appears to have mingled with the Gentiles, with the result that half of their children cannot even understand Judean anymore. They speak the language of Ashdod, which is the language of the Philistines (Neh.13:24). And when in the people’s assemblies the law of the LORD is read, they understand nothing of it.

THE CLIMATE OF THE OATH

How should the church deal with the ever-increasing number of divorces? Because in practice divorce is more and more being allowed and church discipline not exercised. On the same plane lies the acceptance of the sexual experience of homophily. How easy it is for the sinful heart to use the excuse that Paul, too, was only a human being who lived in a certain culture. When the Lord Jesus then very clearly points out His way with regard to divorce, and also calls the vow that is sworn at marriage an oath, He quotes the rule of the covenant: Let your yes be yes and your no, no; and whatever goes beyond that is from the evil one (Matt 5:37). In other words: in the church we are standing in the frame of swearing an oath. In several church communities we see a refusal to speak in that way.

But then there is that serious word from the LORD, addressed to the congregation at Laodicea:

     This says the Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the beginning of God’s creation:
I know your works, and know that you are neither cold nor hot. If only you were cold or hot!
But because you are lukewarm and not cold or hot, I will spit you out of My mouth. For you say, “I am rich and getting richer, and        have no want, but you do not know that it is you who are miserable, wretched, poor, blind and naked. Rev.3:14-17.

A SNIPPET OF CHURCH HISTORY

Now I would like to draw attention to a piece of church history from after the Liberation in 1944. In those days a great deal of time was spent on unification talks between the deputies of the Christian Reformed Churches (CGK) and the Reformed Churches Vrijgemaakt (GKv). This was one of the first issues addressed immediately following the Liberation of 1944, and discussed at length at every synod since then. It seemed that these talks with the CGK deputies had provided much clarity. Unfortunately, not in a favourable sense. There was, in particular, the question concerning a specific form of Scripture criticism within the CGK.

For it had come to light in various discussions that one of the professors at the Apeldoorn Theological School[1] had clearly stated his support for the Bible criticism concerning Genesis 2 and 3. From the reports of the discussions between deputies it became increasingly clear that this view was tolerated within the CGK. This then was a matter to be judged by the GKV synod Arnhem 1981. It looked as if the synod would have to make a very far-reaching decision about whether or not to continue the discussions on ecclesiastical unity with the Christian Reformed. Therefore the moderamen of synod decided to propose to synod not to continue these discussions. The most important ground for this far-reaching proposal was the fact that it was one of the professors who practised this Bible criticism and who, despite the exposure of his error, ignored it. And then not only that he stood by his erroneous teaching, but especially that the Christian Reformed deputies supported him and reproached us for condemning him unjustly.

It was a radical proposal: put a definite end to the talks. It was about choosing for the truth and against the lie. The proposal was given to synod’s members and sent to the professorial advisers in Kampen. Panic in the shop! Just imagine that this would be decided. What about the cooperation with Apeldoorn? So the brothers advisers trotted to the synod to turn the tide. And indeed, there was such great opposition that the moderamen immediately decided to withdraw the proposal. But it was also decided that in that case a ‘firm’ letter would go to the Christian Reformed deputies. That letter was printed: LEAVE THE WORD UNTOUCHED – A call to make a choice. [2]   

It is a history that shows how easily Bible-critical theology nestles down.

LOOKING FORWARD TO THE COMING OF CHRIST

False doctrine spreads like a sprawling poisonous weed, and is far from being eradicated. We can expect many more ‘such cases’. And that in the final quarter of an hour. When the darkness is going to spread.

COMFORT!! We are expecting Him back on the clouds and we shall see Him. Will we really keep this up? Yes, we will. Because it’s not only the difficulties of the journey, the struggle of ‘How long, Lord?’ But we may even be grateful for that centuries-old antithesis. It is not merely waiting for His day, but even hastening it!

On the one hand, those who are dirty must become even dirtier. That’s the one side of the antithesis. And those who do wrong, let them do even more wrong. But there is still another side.

Whoever is righteous must be justified still more. And whoever is holy must be sanctified still more (Rev. 22:11).

For us, it comes down to simply living every day before the Lord and expecting Him. You who are looking forward to the day of God and are hastening its coming. He says to you: Behold I come quickly, and My reward is with Me.

How can an ordinary boy or ordinary girl, a man or a woman, old or young, mean anything for the coming of the day of Christ? Yes, even hasten it? Without seeing that those eternal powers of our Lord and King are being set in motion? Is it enough that we have our place in His church?

God spoke in Paradise to apostate man that He is setting enmity between the woman and the serpent, her seed (Christ with those who belong to Him) and the enormous power of the serpent’s seed.

He ‘is coming with haste’. The Spirit and the Bride say: Come.

 

[1] The theological school of the CGK.

[2] HET WOORD LATEN STAAN – Een Oproep tot keuze. Vijlbrief Publishers.