Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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September 2014  •  Volume XV, Issue 5


Hating Your Own Life (2)

Let me give you three biblical examples of men who hated their own lives (Luke 14:26). First, there is Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10). He gave half his goods to the poor and promised restitution to anyone whom he had defrauded as a tax collector, even saying, “I restore him fourfold” (8). Zacchaeus is a fine example of one who hated his own life with regard to his money, for, as Christ taught, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt. 6:24).

Second, consider the man blind from birth in John 9. Jesus healed and saved him. On his refusal to deny Christ, he was excommunicated from the synagogue (34, 35). He also was a man who hated his own life in the biblical sense.

A third example is Jason of Thessalonica in Acts 17. He gave hospitality to Paul and Silas in his home (7), for which he was seized and arraigned before the city rulers (6-8), and forced to pay bail and keep the peace (9).

What would people think, if you followed Christ and His Word in your life? In your family? In your church? How would they react if you obeyed the Saviour more faithfully? Many would not like it. They would swear at you as an extremist and a bigot. The fear of man, including being scared of losing popularity, brings a snare (Prov. 29:25).

What will happen as the end draws near, when, Jesus says, “ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake” (Matt. 24:9)? How would you or I cope if we were imprisoned for Christ’s sake? The apostle John writes, “And they overcame him [i.e., the devil] by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death” (Rev. 12:11). Some of God’s people are physically martyred; principally, martyrdom is for all Christians.

We know something of this, for example, in the fields of education and work. We may get marked down for our biblical views at school or university. We are excluded from various jobs because our society and employers trample underfoot the fourth commandment. Our Christian stance may result in our not getting promotion.

Hating one’s own life is not merely a suggestion or a recommendation, but a necessity. “If any man come to me, and hate not ... his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). Such a one can be a disciple of some man or a false Christ or a departing church, but Christ says he cannot be His disciple.

Hating one’s own life is necessary not merely for office-bearers or older Christians or more diligent church members. It is a necessity for all believers. It is also important that those who are not converted also understand this, for they must count the cost (28).

Christ’s instruction on the necessity of hating one’s own life must be honoured not just in one’s own church, but in all churches. Any church which does not teach and maintain the truth that its members must hate their own lives, is on its way to being a false church, nay, it is becoming a false church already.

After all, this is not merely the word of a minister. It is the Word of Jesus Christ Himself: “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). Moreover, He did not whisper this saying to a few, select believers; He proclaimed it to the “great multitudes,” to whom He “turned” and spoke these words, eye-to-eye, so to speak (25).

This requirement for discipleship is not arbitrary. There is a compelling rationale why a person must hate his own life to be Christ’s disciple. Here are three simple arguments. First, our salvation is salvation from sin: original sin and actual sins. Hating one’s sin is surely part of hating one’s life. Second, salvation is being under the lordship of Christ, the One who said that He has no disciples except those who hate their own lives. Third, citizenship in the kingdom of God involves radical self-denial, for Jesus commanded, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God” (Matt. 6:33).

We must also remember that Christ hated His own life in that His was a lowly birth and He submitted to being despised and rejected, spat upon and scourged, and condemned and crucified, both by His own people, the Jews, and by the world, the Romans representing the Gentiles. The Lord did it because He loved us, even “unto the end” (John 13:1). He died in our place, bearing the punishment due to us for our sins, “the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God” (I Pet. 3:18). And what is a “disciple” (Luke 14:26)? A learner. Here, a learner of Christ, one who follows and imitates Him, the “man of sorrows” (Isa. 53:3)!

You can understand this, beloved, from your own practical experiences, both in becoming a Christian and in remaining a Christian. How many opportunities have you not had to go back to the world or pagan religions or apostatizing churches (which would have made life so much easier for you)? But by God’s grace you said, “No”—no to family and friends and enemies, no to yourself and your own life.

Luke 14:26 provides a defining characteristic of a true Christian: someone who hates his own life. A believer is someone who hates his own life because he loves Jesus Christ, who has saved him from destruction and given him the knowledge of God.

This is good news for you, O troubled saint! Despite your sins and weaknesses, and the difficulties of the way, you are Christ’s disciple. Jesus Christ Himself says so in Luke 14:26; be encouraged and press on!  Rev. Stewart

Blotted Out of the Book of Life

A brother asks, “Since we, Calvinists, believe that God predestinated some to eternal life and some to eternal damnation to the glory of His rich mercy and just power (Rom. 9:22-23), what does God mean when He refers to some as being blotted out of His book (of life)?”

Next follow the three texts to which the reader refers. “And Moses returned unto the Lord, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin—; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written. And the Lord said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book” (Ex. 32:31-33).

“He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels” (Rev. 3:5).

“And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Rev. 22:19).

The Arminians are fond of appealing to these passages and others like them to prove their terrifying doctrine of the falling away of true saints. I remember talking to a lady once who was brought up in Arminian circles who told me that she had accepted Christ at least six times and had been baptized three times, because every time she had accepted Christ, though she was sincere, she had fallen away again.

Such nonsense is contradicted by Scripture in John 10:27-30, a passage, by the way, that convinced the lady with whom I spoke that there could be no falling away of a  true saint. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.” Another passage is Philippians 1:6: “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Thus the Arminian denial of the preservation of the saints would rob the child of God of all his comfort.

The expression in Scripture, “the book of life,” is indeed the book God writes that contains in it the names of all the elect. It is written before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8; 17:8). The reader is correct in his assumption that the reference is to the doctrine of eternal election. But we must remember that it is a figurative expression. We must not think of it in earthly terms, as if God really has a book on some bookshelf, and in it are the names of all those whom He saves, and which book He consults from time to time to refresh His memory as to whom He must save. The expression is a very graphic way of referring to the truth of sovereign election, according to which God has determined eternally in Christ who are His people and who are not.

The references to God blotting people out of His book of life look at the term from the point of view of the church here in the world. Generally speaking, the church, which bears the marks of the true church (Belgic Confession 29), is composed of elect. But there are in the church those who, while they claim to be elect and to have their names written in God’s book of life are, nevertheless, not in that book at all.

Thus Moses, as an Old Testament type of Christ as mediator of God’s people, tells Jehovah that he wants so badly to have His people go to heaven that he is willing to go to hell to gain that end. That is, of course, impossible, but it tells us of the greatness of Moses concern for the people of God. It is a great confession on Moses’ part and one that few ministers, if any, would dare to make. But Christ did!

Where God points out great sins that are or might be committed by men in the church, He accompanies the description of these sins with this warning: “Those who do these things will be blotted out of My book.” That is, their names were never in that book, for they are not elect; but they claim to be elect and claim to be on their way to heaven. They claim to have their names written in the book of life. But they shall learn that the sins that they commit deprive them of heaven and show that they are not truly God’s people. This terrible threat is uttered to these wicked people that their just punishment is hell, and so they are urged to repent.

This is the meaning of these texts. The doctrine of election is a great comfort to the believing child of God, but knowing that our names are written in the book of life does not make us careless and profane. It rather brings us to our knees in humble thanksgiving for our heavenly Father’s rich mercy towards us in Christ Jesus.  Prof. Hanko


Canons of Dordt V, Of the Perseverance of the Saints

6. But God, who is rich in mercy, according to His unchangeable purpose of election, does not wholly withdraw the Holy Spirit from His own people, even in their melancholy falls; nor suffers them to proceed so far as to lose the grace of adoption and forfeit the state of justification, or to commit the sin unto death; nor does He permit them to be totally deserted, and to plunge themselves into everlasting destruction.

7. For, in the first place, in these falls He preserves in them the incorruptible seed of regeneration from perishing, or being totally lost; and again, by His Word and Spirit, certainly and effectually renews them to repentance, to a sincere and godly sorrow for their sins, that they may seek and obtain remission in the blood of the Mediator, may again experience the favour of a reconciled God, through faith adore His mercies, and henceforward more diligently work out their own salvation with fear and trembling.

8. Thus, it is not in consequence of their own merits or strength, but of God’s free mercy, that they do not totally fall from faith and grace, nor continue and perish finally in their backslidings; which with respect to themselves is not only possible, but would undoubtedly happen; but with respect to God, it is utterly impossible, since His counsel cannot be changed, nor His promise fail, neither can the call according to His purpose be revoked, nor the merit, intercession, and preservation of Christ be rendered ineffectual, nor the sealing of the Holy Spirit be frustrated or obliterated.

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