Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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December 2009  •  Volume XII, Issue 20


Daniel’s Night Vision (2)

In the last News, we saw that the four beasts or Antichristian kingdoms of Daniel 7 arise out of the raging sea of human history. All this is decreed, governed and planned by the sovereign and just God of heaven and earth.

The three phases of the fourth beast are described in verses 19-21 and verses 23-25. Phase one is the dominion of the fourth beast (19, 23). Phase two is the time of the ten horns which come up out of the head of the fourth beast (20, 24). Phase three is the rising of the little horn out of the ten horns (20-21, 24-25).

The Roman empire fell in 476 (although part of it continued in the east until 1453 when Constantinople fell to the Muslims). One looks in vain for ten specific kingdoms since then. Ten is the number of completeness, as in the ten commandments (a complete summary of the law of God) and the ten plagues (a complete judgment upon Egypt). The various kingdoms and powers of Europe since the fall of the Roman empire have embraced aspects of the Roman empire and are unexplainable without it.

The fourth beast (Rome) is fallen. We live in the days of the ten horns. Next to come for us is the third phase of the fourth beast, that of the Antichrist or little horn. According to verse 8, the little horn arises out of the powers of the post-Roman empire world, thereby displacing the powers of that world (three horns) and subduing them (24).

As a "horn," Antichrist is powerful (the horn is a symbol of strength). He overcomes three horns and is different from the previous ten horns (24) because he is far greater. Yet, he is still a man, and not a demon or the devil. He has "eyes like the eyes of a man" and he is a "little horn" (8). But his overweening pride is something to behold. His "look [is] more stout than his fellows" (20). He has "a mouth speaking great [i.e., pompous] things" (8, 11). With that mouth, he speaks "very great things"—about himself (20)! He blasphemes God: "he shall speak great words against the most High" (25). The little horn is the "man of sin" and "son of perdition," who "opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God" (II Thess. 2:3-4).

In Daniel’s night vision, Antichrist persecutes the church and devastates it: "I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them" (Dan. 7:21). He grinds them down and wears them out, like a garment (25). He changes "times and laws" (25), for example, attacking the Lord’s Day and framing ungodly legislation, by which he impoverishes, imprisons and kills the saints.

Although the little horn has not yet risen, the Antichristian rulers in state and church in this period of the ten horns are developing in sin. Ungodly laws are being enacted, for example, against Christians who speak against the sin of sodomy and against preachers, as if the faithful proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ were a hate crime. Christians in Germany are forbidden to homeschool their children in the light of the Scriptures.

Think of the persecution of professing Christians in Muslim lands: thousands massacred in southern Sudan; church buildings destroyed and Christians murdered in Indonesia, southern Philippines and Nigeria; Christians fleeing from Iraq; etc. In many Islamic countries, evangelising Muslims is forbidden—in direct opposition to Christ’s great commission—and building Christian schools and churches or even repairing them is made very difficult by the civil authorities and hostile populace. The Antichristian world seeks to wear down and wear out the saints, "But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved" (Matt. 24:13).

The kingdoms of the beasts, the fourth beast and the ten horns and the little horn receive their power from the one true God alone who gives them their dominion (Dan. 7:6). The Antichristian kingdoms can only persecute God’s people because they are "given into [their] hand" by the living God (25). Even their time of power is limited. The four beasts rise one after another, with each destroying its predecessor. The fourth beast is succeeded by the ten horns which, in turn, are succeeded by the little horn. The saints "shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time" (25). One would think that the first two items in the sequence ("time and times") would be followed by three times (by addition) or four times (by doubling). Instead, the third item in the sequence is half a time. In other words, God cuts the time of the little horn short for the elect’s sake because they could bear no more (Matt. 24:22).

Finally, the Antichristian kingdoms are judged. Daniel 7 says most about the judgment of Antichrist himself, the little horn, for he is the last and greatest Antichristian power. The little horn is himself even called "the beast" (11); the book of Revelation picks this up.

At the end of the world, when Antichrist’s powers are at their height and he seems triumphant, God calls the final judgment. The court is assembled, the Ancient of days is seated robed with justice and honour, and "his throne [is] like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire" (9). He is surrounded by millions of angels and a fiery stream issues from before Him (10). When the books are opened and the records of the deeds of all men are read (10), one person especially is judged: the little horn or beast who is stopped right in the midst of his boasting and blasphemy (11). He is killed and cast into hell (11) and the other beasts are judged (12).

The kingdom is not Antichrist’s; it is God’s! At the last day, God will openly declare Christ, "one like the Son of man," the universal ruler with everlasting dominion (13-14; Rev. 11:15). Jesus is Lord; all must bow to and confess Him (Phil. 2:10-11)! Rev. Stewart

Are All the Children of Believers Saved?

Question: "Prof. Hanko wrote, ‘On the mission field when parents are converted, their children are also saved ...’ It sounds as if all children of all believers are necessarily saved. With regard to the Bible passages he quotes, I would rather think that it is a promise to believing parents but not a guarantee, right? But why is a promise not a guarantee? Is it because of chapter 11 in Romans, where it says that also in the line of the covenant not everybody will be saved? So that we know that although it is a promise that some children of believers will be saved it won’t be every child."

The question is not at all unusual. I have discovered over the years that the biblical view of the covenant almost always elicits the same, or a similar, question.

The questioner quotes me accurately and is right when she says later in her e-mail, "It’s clear that he doesn’t mean that all the children born of believers are saved." It is not true, however, that a divine promise is not a guarantee. Man’s promise may not be a guarantee, but God’s promise is (cf. Heb. 6:13-20). What He promises, He will do.

How is it possible to say that God promises to save believers and their children, and yet He does not save all of them? First, note that I quoted Scripture itself. When God established His covenant with Abraham, He did not say that He would establish His covenant with Abraham and some of his seed. God said, "And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee" (Gen. 17:7).

When Peter addresses the anxious crowd that had heard him preach at Pentecost, he commanded them to repent, "For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call" (Acts 2:39). Peter does not say, "some of your children." He simply says, "and your children." God’s promise is the guarantee of salvation, and so salvation is promised to believers and their children. However, the promise is limited by this expression: "even as many as the Lord our God shall call," referring to God’s effectual call of His elect.

Never in Scripture does God say that the promises of salvation are for believers and all their children. It speaks of "children" in general and "generations" in general. That these expressions mean that God promises salvation to all our children is an unwarranted assumption, contrary to His Word. The lady reader rightly points to Romans 11, in addition to my reference in the last News to Romans 9. The history of the nation of Israel itself is not only a testimony that God does not save all the seed of believers, but also that the majority of the children of believers is not saved (cf. Isa. 1:8-9).

There are many who hold that the promise, especially made in baptism, means that God does give His promise to every baptized child, but the promise is conditional and will not be bestowed on any who do not fulfil the condition. And the promise preached on the mission field is also given to all who hear, for, so they say, the gospel is a well-meant, conditional offer. But conditional theology is Arminian theology!

We speak in exactly the same way as Scripture speaks in our normal, day-to-day language. A farmer is going out to harvest his field—so he says. But there are weeds in the field. Does he harvest the weeds? Does he say, "I am going to harvest some of what is growing my field?" No! He looks at the field from the viewpoint of his purpose. His purpose is not to sow and harvest thorns and thistles, although they are "harvested" as well as the grain. His purpose is his crop.

God always deals with men, and especially His covenant people, organically. In John 15, the whole plant of God’s professing people is called a vine but some branches are cut off for they bear no fruit (cf. Ps. 80; Isa. 5). In the prophets, God even calls apostate Israel "my people." He addresses the nation as a whole. He sharply and angrily condemns them for their sin and speaks to them of the approaching judgment of the captivity. But He also comes to the nation as a whole with precious promises of renewal, deliverance and blessedness. How can God do this? How can He address the whole nation as "my people" and speak both of judgment and of salvation? How can a farmer speak of his field as a wheat field when it is full of weeds?

When God addresses the nation of Israel (and the church of all time) graciously, He is viewing it from the perspective of election in Christ. God wills to gather and glorify His elect church. That is why the parables of the tares in the field and the fish net that gathers good and bad fish tell us that the wheat and the tares are not separated till the end of the world and that the bad fish are thrown out on the shores of eternity.

In the preaching (as well as in baptism, which is a sign and seal confirming the truth of the gospel), the command to repent and believe in Christ goes out to all who hear. That command places everyone before the demand to repent of sin—elect and reprobate alike. The promise that is always proclaimed in the preaching is this: "All who believe in Christ are saved." All hear that—elect and reprobate alike. But the promise is only to, or for the benefit of, believers, that is, the elect.

God uses that gospel to bring the elect to salvation, for the external call of the gospel is accompanied by the efficacious call. The rest are hardened in their sin and become ripe for judgment, for they will not and cannot obey the command to repent and believe in Christ. Thus God’s purpose is accomplished: His purpose of the salvation of His elect church, and His just judgment upon the reprobate for all their wickedness.

We must learn to think in terms of organism. God always deals this way with men. Arminianism is individualistic: it is every man for himself. It is a question only of an individual’s relation to God. It is, of course, true that every man must give account before God of his own deeds, but he also lives in organic union with his fellow saints, his family and his nation. On the basis of all these relationships, God judges him.

Last but not least, God’s judgment upon the wicked serves the salvation of the elect, for "Zion shall be redeemed with judgment" (Isa. 1:27). The Word of God in Hebrews 6:7-8 is fulfilled: "For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: but that which beareth thorns and briers [which plants also receive the rain] is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned."

God saves His elect out of the organism of the human race that fell in Adam to make a new organism, the church, in Christ, the second Adam.  Prof. Hanko

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