February 26: Van Horn on Westminster Doctrines

“To God’s Glory” : A Practical Study of a Doctrine of the Westminster Standards.
by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn

THE SUBJECT : God’s Work of Grace.

THE BIBLE VERSES TO READ : Eph. 2:8; John 15:5; I Cor. 6:17; I Cor. 1:9; I Pet. 5:10.

REFERENCE TO THE STANDARDS : Confession of Faith, chap. X; Larger Catechism, Q. 67; Shorter Catechism, Q. 29 and 30.

God’s Word states, “for it is God which works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). This is a very necessary teaching today. There is too much preaching and teaching that contradict the Biblical view of man’s utter and complete dependence on God for saving faith.

It is true that in the midst of being saved by God it is sometimes difficult for man to understand the working of God. But the hymn writer was correct when he said : 

“I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew
He moved my soul to seek Him, seeking me; 
It was not I that found, O Savior true; 
No, I was found of Thee.” (George Chadwick)

Calvin’s definition of faith is found in his Institutes (III.2.7) : 

“Now we shall possess a right definition of faith if we call it a firm and certain knowledge of God’s benevolence toward us, founded upon the truth of the freely given promise in Christ, both revealed to our minds and sealed upon our hearts through the Holy Spirit.”

The difficulty in the minds of many people regarding how God saves sinners is understandable. There are two strong pressures in the evangelical world that cause many to become confused. The first is the overwhelming practice of putting pressure on people to “accept Christ.” The second is the excessive importance placed on success and popularity. A church is not a success unless it attracts people by much that is subjective experience rather than the teaching and preaching of the authoritative Word of God. The latter does turn some people away.

Certainly, those who follow the pressures will charge those who insist on direct adherence to the teaching of the Standards with lack of evangelistic zeal. But the question must be : Are the Standards correct when they teach it is God who draws His people by the irresistible regenerating grace of the Holy Spirit? What does the Bible teach? The following outline might be of help in thinking through how God saves sinners.

Repent (turn from) your sins in sorrow (2 Cor. 7:9-10).

Appropriate (take possession of) the righteousness of Christ (John 6:29).

Cast yourself on My mercy, the God who justified and adopted you (Matt. 11:28; 2 Cor. 5:21).

Submit yourself to the Bible which is the sum of the moral standard God requires of you (I Pet. 1:22).

Remember, the Bible is your only rule of faith and practice (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

Now : 

Christ is your Teacher (through His Word) – (John 5:24-25).

Christ is your Savior and Intercessor (John 14:6; Rom. 8:34).

Christ is your King in all areas of your life (Eph. 1:22).

Your responsibility and privilege now is to live to the glory of your God (Rom. 15:6).

This does not relieve the believer from evangelistic zeal. Biblical evangelistic zeal is for every believer to make known the Christ of the Scripture. This is the Christ that sinners need and the One who is sufficient for the salvation of all who will turn to Him, by His grace, as they repent, appropriate, cast themselves on Him, and submit to the Word of God.

The proclaiming of this Gospel is the responsibility and privilege of every believer. But our knowledge of what the Sovereign God has proclaimed should control our methodology. And the results are not up to man, nor are the results the measure of success or failure. The results are up to the Sovereign God!


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