Is there a difference between an encouragement and a visit of the Lord?

Status
Not open for further replies.

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Junior
Is this portion, both the question and response, biblically sound?

Is there a difference between an encouragement and a visit of the Lord?
The question I received was larger and consisted of an entire paragraph, but I have summarized it. Much of the question deals with the degree of power in relation to when you know that something is of the Lord or not, whether it is saving or common grace, etc. In other words, does the power by which something of Scripture is revealed determine whether it is saving or not?

Questions like these are manifold. When is something a visit of the Lord and when is it not? When does something belong to the common work of the Holy Spirit, and when is it saving? I believe many serious-minded souls struggle with such matters. In the past I have addressed the differ- ence between common and saving convictions. For some, these questions occupy their whole way of life; for others, they never seem to be a problem. The fact that questions of this nature continue to surface proves that there is a wide field of labor not only for office bearers to give biblical guidance during catechism and house visitation but also for teachers in school and parents at home to guide young people in their struggles with these serious matters.

What came to mind while pondering an answer was what Joseph told the butler and the baker in prison:
“Do not interpretations belong to God?” (Genesis 40:8).
What a difference there was between the butler and the baker; both had dreamed, both were incarcerated, and both would be tried, but one would be freed and the other sentenced to death. Both were at a loss regarding the interpretation of their dream. Both needed and asked for light. I am convinced that there are serious and deep pitfalls on both sides of the extremes regarding the interpretation of whether something is a visit of the Lord or not.
In the case of the butler and the baker, let us observe that both dreams were of the Lord ... Have we learned, by grace and faith, to bow and submit to the whole truth of God’s Word? This will undoubtedly include a text like the one the baker received ... and I think the baker knew very well that it was of the Lord.

On the one hand, there is the danger of a total lack of discernment when every impression, conviction, or occur- ring truth is taken as the saving work of the Holy Spirit. Such people can be very serious-minded and mean well, but the least emotion or impression is taken as the Lord’s saving work in the heart. Hands are laid suddenly upon such a person and soon the way to the Lord’s Supper is paved. However, a foundation is missing, and the Person and work of Christ is altogether absent.

On the other hand, there are equally serious-minded individuals who are always questioning whether something is a visit of the Lord. Remember, I speak about extremes. We need to caution such souls that Scripture also speaks about quenching and grieving the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30 and 1 Thessalonians 5:19). Sometimes their questions border on what takes place in the laboratory: the dissecting of an organ or animal. Every part is carefully scrutinized to see what it is. Because of an excessive fear for self-deceit and presumption, every impression is treated with undue suspicion and distrust. Then I sometimes wonder: is the work of the Lord so vague, so doubtful, and so full of questions that it can never be discerned? This becomes worse if hands are laid on because “they don’t take it so easy...” I would
ask again,“Do not interpretations belong to God?” Is it to God’s honor and glory that His Word and work are consistently questioned? Is this how the Lord works? Having said this, it remains true that some children of God are too timid or doubtful to publicly profess grace, while yet others see the evidences. I do not believe, however, that this dubious walk is the Lord’s fault.
Often you will notice traces of what we just mentioned, and this is not to the Lord’s honor and glory.

The Lord’s saving work has fruits, and so does man’s work. Many books have been written about the difference. Sometimes reading such works can be beneficial; sometimes it becomes cumbersome. The tree is known by the fruits. We need the Lord Himself to interpret, confirm, and apply His own work. What is of the Lord and of saving faith draws one closer to the Lord, brings one in the dust before Him, and commits one’s cause and case to Him. There, all ground in self is lost and without a hope, but near the Lord, the soul commits itself to Him, the all-knowing and all-sufficient God. Whether this takes place by means of a refuge-taking faith or a more assured faith is secondary. Which form of true faith is not refuge-taking? What is of man stays with man, ends in man, and glorifies man. Although one can sound impressive and pious, man ultimately hates a free and sovereign salvation wherein God in Christ triumphs over the power of sin, Satan, and the world—a salvation in which God receives all the glory. ...
 
Last edited:

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Junior
More specifically. Maybe my misunderstanding is cultural, but if there are any takers....

  • What is a ‘visit from the Lord’?

  • What is the ‘common work of the Holy Spirit’ contrasted with the saving work?

  • What is the ‘power by which something of Scripture is revealed’ and how do we ‘determine whether it is saving or not’? Is this measured by our acceptance, our deception, or something more?

  • What are ‘common’ vs ‘saving convictions’ and how is this tied to grace? Are they spiritual gifts? Are they conditional or free? How are they ascertained?

  • How do the dream interpretations of the butler and the baker relate to having true faith in Jesus Christ?

  • How do we learn to bow and submit to the ‘whole truth of God’s word’ including what the baker received? What does this entail?

  • How can we avoid the ‘danger of a total lack of discernment when every impression, conviction, or occurring truth is taken as the saving work of the Holy Spirit?’ Is this actually possible? Is this a common pitfall for a believer in Christ? or merely a mark of a deluded would-be Christian? Who is responsible for these delusions? How can we discern when a ‘foundation is missing, and the Person and work of Christ is altogether absent?’

That‘s it for now.....
 

Hamalas

whippersnapper
Is there any way of asking Rev. Hofman these questions? Seems that he'd be the best person to clarify what he did (or didn't) mean.
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Junior
Is there any way of asking Rev. Hofman these questions? Seems that he'd be the best person to clarify what he did (or didn't) mean.
Isn’t this a Reformed Christianity discussion board? I will remove the name if that will make you feel better.

To answer your question, no there is not.





Just to add: I think a lack of clarity, and confusing, yet orthodox sounding, language, is a problem, right on the surface. Why write about these things in such a confusing, double-sided manner to a member of the congregation.
 
Last edited:

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Junior
Does not your op answer your question the man seams to be dealing honestly with our souls please consider post #3.
Is he above scrutiny? Not even scrutiny, I’m just asking if this is sound theology and teaching. Why are you threatened by closer analysis? If his teaching is sound it will stand, no? I sincerely desire clarity. I’m not looking just to critique. If souls are on the line and are to be dealt with honestly then these questions are to be embraced biblically. This is the clarity I seek.

Are you personally offended by any of these questions?
 
Last edited:

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Junior
  • What is a ‘visit from the Lord’?
I find that wording problematic. How does the Lord visit us?
  • What is the ‘common work of the Holy Spirit’ contrasted with the saving work?
I’ve never heard ‘common work’ as coming from the Holy Spirit. What is saving ‘work’? Is this grace?
  • What is the ‘power by which something of Scripture is revealed’ and how do we ‘determine whether it is saving or not’? Is this measured by our acceptance, our deception, or something more?
Im not sure how to approach this. Scripture is revealed by what power exactly? We embrace scripture if God has opened our hearts to his word. Is there more that I’m missing?
  • What are ‘common’ vs ‘saving convictions’ and how is this tied to grace? Are they spiritual gifts? Are they conditional or free? How are they ascertained?
Again, what are common convictions? How are we to distinguish common convictions from saving convictions? Who could discern such things. Thats why we fix our eyes on (and place our faith in) Jesus, not our own convictions.
I believe I am being respectful in my line of inquiry. I am open to further correction or clarification but I dont understand a mentality that shuts down any potential conversation or discussion. That would have to be explained to me.

Blessings!
 
Last edited:
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top