30 June, 2016

The Bohemian Confession (1575)


Rev. Herman Hoeksema

No one can obtain or become partakers of the saving and justifying faith by his own efforts or free well, or by the ability of flesh and blood, unless God implants His grace in the heart by the Holy Spirit and by the preaching of the gospel, in whom and whenever He wills, in such a way that one can receive all these benefits offered and assured unto salvation by the external preaching of the divine Word and by the sacraments instituted by Christ. Of which John the Baptist says: “A man can receive nothing except it be given him from heaven.” Even as our Lord Christ Himself has said: “No one can come unto me, except my Father which hath sent me draw him.”

But these keys belong to the special office and ministry, or an observing of the power of Christ and of His Holy Spirit, which is entrusted to the church of Christ and its officebearers, even unto the end of the world, not only (although this is of first importance) in order that they should proclaim the holy gospel through the preaching, that is, in order that they should preach this Word of true comfort and this glad and new tidings of peace in regard to the grace which God offers. But also in order that they should proclaim and point out to the believers and to the unbelievers, to the former the grace and to the latter the wrath of God in general, and publicly to each and every one in particular.

The first paragraph emphatically teaches that the benefits offered in the preaching of the Word and in the sacraments cannot be embraced except only by the grace of God. This surely already points out that also in this confession “offer” (offere) is used simply in the sense of presenting, setting forth, showing.

In the second paragraph the word has the same meaning, not in the idea of showing that one is willing to give something to everyone, so that the acceptance still depends upon the willingness of the person to whom it is offered, but in the sense of “presenting.” The Gospel is glad new tidings in regard to the grace which God offers. But do not fail to notice, that even as He offers or presents He also grants; namely, to all who believe in the crucified Christ, which faith, however, He only can and must give, and which He only gives to His elect. It is exactly for that reason that the paragraph ends by making a distinction between the preaching to the believers and to the unbelievers, to the former God’s grace and favor are proclaimed, to the latter His wrath and sore displeasure.



Check out the fine collection of quotes in the following article entitled "The Meaning of 'Offero' and 'Offer'":



More to come! (DV)

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