05 January, 2017

II Corinthians 2:14–15—“… to the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life …”

Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? (II Cor. 2:14-15 KJV)


Rev. Herman Hoeksema

The apostle [in this passage] is speaking of himself and of his co-workers as ministers of the Gospel of Christ. By this ministry of the Gospel, the apostle writes, they are a savour of Christ. And they are always a sweet savour of Christ unto God; that is, a savour that is pleasing to God both in those who perish and in those who are saved. The ministers are still a sweet savour of Christ also when some perish through the preaching of the Word, for this is according to His good pleasure and hereby God is glorified and justified in those who perish.

That is how it is.

A preacher may, from a human aspect, want to save and take along to heaven all who hear his word. He certainly will not desire, nor can he or may he desire to be a savour of death unto death. It is his calling to be a sweet savour of Christ and faithfully to preach the Word. When he does that he has done his duty, and he leaves the outcome to the Lord. However, let him beware that he does not present God as a beggar, who stands and knocks helplessly at the heart of the hardened sinner, waiting if per chance the sinner might be pleased to open the door for Him. Let him beware of the contention that grace and salvation are an offer of God that the sinner can accept or reject. That is no Gospel. But let him preach the full glory of God in Christ Jesus, the completely helpless and dead sinner, and the almighty and efficacious grace of God, whereby He saves His chosen people. And let him prepare himself, that he may be willing to be a savour of death unto death as well as a savour of life unto life. For that is according to God’s will. And only thereby is he always the victor.

If anyone is not willing to serve that divine purpose, if he thinks he must set his goal upon saving the whole world, then he cannot be a minister of the Gospel simply because he does not desire which God has determined according to the clear revelation of God’s Word.

Then one of two things happens.

Either he becomes discouraged and gives up because as he continues to preach there are so many who do not embrace the Gospel.

Or, and this happens very often in our day, the preacher goes through all sorts of antics, makes the Gospel the cheapest article on sale in the public market, corrupts God’s truth, maintains that he has converted many souls, and deceives many who have never experienced the efficacious grace of God in their hearts.

Woe to those preachers!

They drag the name of the Most High God and of His Christ through the mud when on the public market they bring it up for grabs.

And they deceive thousands for eternity. But in any case it must be evident that from God’s viewpoint the preaching of the Gospel is no general offer of grace and salvation to all who hear it; but that also by the preaching God always shows mercy to whom He will show mercy, and hardens whom He will.

We always [come] to the same conclusion: the preaching is definitely no offer of grace.



Joshua Engelsma

[Source: Protestant Reformed Theological Journal, vol. 45, no. 2, p. 89]

Paul is writing here about himself and all other preachers of the gospel. Those who faithfully proclaim the gospel are “unto God a sweet savour of Christ.” They are a sweet savour to God in those that repent, believe the gospel, and are saved. But they are also a sweet savour in those who reject the Word, refuse to repent, and perish in their unbelief. Both are according to God’s good purpose. The minister must understand that God uses him to be a savour of death unto death to some and a savour of life unto life to others. Through a man’s preaching, God saves His people and hardens the unbelievers. In both cases a man is a sweet savour to God.



More to come! (DV)

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