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Johannes VanderKemp (1664-1718) on the Well-Meant Offer

August 14, 2009

[Note: 1) The following is a but a very brief selection from VanderKemp. What we do see here are some very pertinent comments, hence their selection. 2) In his exposition of the Catechism, VenderKemp first provides a positive exposition the catechism, after which sets out sets out applications by way of exhortations, first to the unbeliever, second to the believer. The following are his exhortations to unbelievers.]

VanderKemp:

1) 2 But ye, who seek not yet the suffering Jesus. who pursue your happiness in your own works, to whom Jesus is not yet precious in his sufferings, who mind earthly things, and are thus enemies of the cross of Christ j who once seemed to have chosen his side. but have again loved the present world, and do thus crucify the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame; who withstand the people of Jesus, and therefore Jesus himself, see in these sufferings of Jesus what will betide you also: for if these things were done in the green tree, what shall be done in the dry?” Luke xxiii. 31. If the Son of God experienced so much woe, when he was guiltless, and had done all things well, how will ye, O vile wretches, endure, when he will attack you not as a man. but when he will stir up all his wrath, and ring you to his seat at, that he may accuse you of all your misdemeanors, your sedition again4t him, your blasphemy, reproaching and transgressing of his law; that he map condemn you as guilty, and send you away as accursed, when he will say to you, standing on his left hand, bb Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels,” Matt. xxv. 41. How will ye then be crucified? for “your worm shall not die, and your fire shall not be quenched,” Mark ix. 44. Either ye must suffer, or Jesus for you. Since now ye evidence by your behavior, that ye have never sought him in truth, ye have therefore no proof, that he suffered for you: therefore be anxious and concerned, look unto him, that ye may be saved, He stretches out his hands, pierced with the nails, to you, and invites you to come unto him.       Johannes VanderKemp, The Christian, Entirely the Property of Christ, in the life and death, Exhibited in Fifty-three Sermons on the Heidelberg Catechism. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Reformation Heritage Books, 1997). 1:322. [Sermons originally published in 1717.] [Some spelling modernized; underlining mine.]

2) 4. Perhaps ye may think, all this doth not concern us, for we know God: we could prove by passages from the word of God that he exists, and show what and who he is, and w endeavor to live according to our knowledge, by forsaking evil, and doing good. It is well; but does your knowledge warm your hearts, unite you to God and Christ? and are your works “done in God,” as the Lord Jesus says? John iii. 21. But how few are there, who know God thus? there are many who have not been taught so by God; they nave only a literal knowledge of the void, which leaves their souls alienated from God, and doth not influence and urge them to do all things in union with the Triune God. Their knowledge puffs them up, and “their. zeal for God is not according to knowledge, leading them to establish their own righteousness,” Rom. x. 2, 3.

Whoever ye are, apply your hearts to this, and see whether ye be not in one or other respect thus disposed. And is it still thus with you? Hear then what God says to you, Titus i. 16. “They profess that they God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate,” Eph. ii. 12. ”Without Christ, aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.” Know that each Person will employ his wisdom, will, power and work to destroy you: the Father is your “righteous judge, and a God who is angry every day,” Psalm vii 11. The Son a will not pardon your transgressions; for the name of God is in him,” Exod xxiii. 21. The Holy Spirit is “turned to be your enemy,” Isaiah Ixiii. 10. Can your heart then endure, or your hands be strong in the day when God shall deal with you?” Ezek. xxii. 14. Hear what he says, Isaiah xlvii. 3. “I will take vengeance, and I will not meet thee as a man.”

Therefore be concerned and solicitous to flee from the wrath to come. Regard God and his favor more; the Lord is yet willing to become your God, and offers you for that purpose his free grace. Therefore refuse not, accept of it, and lay hold on his Son, that ye may be hidden from his indignation. Behold, now is the accepted time, the day of salvation: “To day then if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts,” Psalm xcv. 7. 8. Isaiah Iv. 6, 7.     Johannes VanderKemp, The Christian, Entirely the Property of Christ, in the life and death, Exhibited in Fifty-three Sermons on the Heidelberg Catechism. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Reformation Heritage Books, 1997). 1:186-187. [Sermons originally published in 1717.]  [Some spelling modernized; underlining mine.]

3) Let each one now inquire how he conducts with respect to these matters. Do ye rest in your own works? is your religious zeal the foundation of your hope, and would it appear strange to you, if God should not bestow heaven upon you and do ye with the Jews “exact all your labors?” Isaiah Iviii. 3. Know then that ye are yet under the law and the broken covenant of works, and therefore ”under the curse,” Gal. iii. 10. And so God mill not clear you,” according to Exod. xxxiv. 7. Do not flatter yourselves with the merits of Christ, for ye have surely no interest in them by an active faith, which would implant you into him; for ye would then reckon all your own doings as loss and dung; but ye are now so exceedingly pleased with your own works; and therefore ye are yet without the Mediator; “Christ is become of no effect to you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace,” Gal. v. 4. When God will enter into judgment with you, consider whether all your works will then justify you.

Do ye say, We trust not in our works, but in the merits of Christ through faith? But are ye implanted into Christ by faith, and do ye therefore bring forth fruits of thankfulness? this is well; but do ye think that works will not avail to save you, but faith only and do ye therefore live: as ye list, ye are then a reproach to our holy doctrine, and “the name of Cod is blasphemed through you, as it is written,” Rom. ii. 24. Your faith is without works, is a dead faith, as James speaks James ii. 17. Verily, your outward ado, and saying, Lord, Lord, will not procure you an entrance into the kingdom of God: Faith only, which works by love, avails in Christ Jesus,” Gal. v. 6. O that ye would all of you see your misery with anxiety, and that ye cannot deliver yourselves, that ye might cry out with concern, “What shall we do?” as those did, Acts ii. 37. Rest not, before ye are in the Son of God; he is willing and able to bestow a sufficient righteousness on you. Hear him cry to you, Isaiah xlv. 22 “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth : Surely shall one say, In the Lord have I righteousness and strength: to him shall men come.”    Johannes VanderKemp, The Christian, Entirely the Property of Christ, in the life and death, Exhibited in Fifty-three Sermons on the Heidelberg Catechism. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Reformation Heritage Books, 1997). 503-504. [Sermons originally published in 1717.] [Some spelling modernized; underlining mine.]

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