Category Archives: Herman Bavinck

“Christ is Himself Christianity” by Herman Bavinck

“Christianity stands in a very different relationship to the person of Christ than the other religions do to the persons who founded them. Jesus was not the first confessor of the religion named after His name.

He was not the first and the most important Christian. He occupies a wholly unique place in Christianity.

He is not in the usual sense of it the founder of Christianity, but He is the Christ, the One who was sent by the Father, and who founded His Kingdom on earth and now extends and preserves it to the end of the ages.

Christ is Himself Christianity. He stands, not outside, but inside of it. Without His name, person, and work there is no such thing as Christianity.

In one word, Christ is not the one who points the way to Christianity, but the Way itself. He is the only, true, and perfect Mediator between God and men.

That which the various religions in their belief in a mediator have surmised and hoped, that is actually and perfectly fulfilled in Christ.”

–Herman Bavinck, Our Reasonable Faith or The Wonderful Works of God (trans. Henry Zylstra; Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2016), 263.

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“After the cross, death is less” by Herman Bavinck

‘Mors post crucem minor est.’

‘After the cross, death is less.’

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Ethics: Created, Fallen, and Converted Humanity, Vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2019), 1: 493, fn. #168.

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“All of the work to which the church is called” by Herman Bavinck

“The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments constitute the foundation of prophets and apostles on which all Christian churches, in fellowship with each other, take their stand or claim to take their stand.

In their official confessions, all churches have acknowledged the Divine authority of those Scriptures and have appropriated them as a reliable rule of faith and life. There has never been a difference or conflict about this point of dogma in the Christian churches.

Formerly the attack on Scripture as the Word of God came from the outside, from such pagan philosophers as Celsus and Porphyrus in the second century; inside Christendom such an attack does not appear until the eighteenth century.

Now the church has not received this Scripture from God in order simply to rest on it, and still less in order to bury this treasure in earth.

On the contrary, the church is called to preserve this Word of God, to explain it, to preach it, apply it, translate it, spread it abroad, recommend it, and defend it—in a word, to cause the thoughts of God laid down in Scripture to triumph everywhere and at all times over the thoughts of man.

All of the work to which the church is called is the effort at, and the ministration, of the Word of God. It is a service of this Word of God when it is preached in the assembly of believers, is interpreted, and applied, when it is shared in the signs of the covenant and is maintained in discipline.

And in a larger sense much more is part and parcel of this service of the Word: this, for example, that in our own hearts and lives, in our profession and business, in house and field and office, in science and art, in state and community, in works of mercy and missions, and in all spheres and ways of life, this Word be applied, worked out, and made to rule.

The church must be the pillar and ground of truth (1 Tim. 3:15): that is to say a pedestal and foundation bearing up the truth and maintaining and establishing it over against the world.

When the church neglects and forgets this, the church is remiss in its duty and undermines its own existence.”

–Herman Bavinck, Our Reasonable Faith or The Wonderful Works of God (trans. Henry Zylstra; Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2016), 101-102.

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“The great disease of our age” by Herman Bavinck

“Inconstancy is the great disease of our age— agitation, restlessness.

This is manifested in many forms:

in seeking distraction and diversion,

in chasing exciting pleasure,

in pursuing recreation over solitude,

in being bored with oneself.”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Ethics: Created, Fallen, and Converted Humanity, Vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2019), 1: 126.

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“The Old Testament is the pedestal on which the Gospel rests” by Herman Bavinck

“The Gospel is the fulfillment of the promises of the Old Testament. Without it, the Gospel hangs suspended in the air. The Old Testament is the pedestal on which the Gospel rests, and the root out of which it came forth.”

–Herman Bavinck, Our Reasonable Faith (trans. Henry Zylstra; Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2016), 100.

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“He was not, and is not, ashamed of us” by Herman Bavinck

“Whether Christ acknowledges a person to be His or not and confesses Him before His Father, who is in heaven, determines everyone’s lot (Matt. 10:32-33). Our acquittal and salvation depend upon His public confession.

Christ was not ashamed of us at His incarnation. To be sure, He had many reasons to be. He Himself was the firstborn of the Father, the radiance of the Father’s glory and the exact image of His being– who thought it not robbery to be equal with God (John 3:16; 10:30; 17:5; Heb. 1:3; Col. 1:15; Phil. 2:6).

We were laden with guilt, unclean from head to toe, and subject to decay (Ps. 38:4; Rom. 8:20-21), yet He was not ashamed to call us His brothers (Heb. 2:11). He was not ashamed of us before God or before the holy angels (Mark 8:38).

He took on our flesh and blood, assumed our nature, and became like us in everything apart from sin. In Christ, even God was not ashamed to be called our God (Heb. 11:16).

Therefore, He will likewise not be ashamed of us in the day of His future. To be sure, at that time He will come again not as a servant but as Lord, not to suffer but to be glorified, not to a cross but with a crown (Rev. 6:2; 19:16).

Nevertheless, He will not be ashamed of us, for the One who ascended far above the heavens is the same One who descended to the lowest parts of the earth. The One who judges is the Son of Man who once came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10).

Our Judge is our Savior; He never forgets nor forsakes His people (Deut. 31:6; Isa. 33:22). ‘So everyone who acknowledges Me before men, I also will acknowledge before My Father who is in heaven’ (Matt. 10:32).

In full view of the whole world so that all of creation may hear it, He will publicly stand up for His faithful confessors. However despised they may have been in this world, Christ will take their name upon His lips and proclaim it to every ear that they are His– the ones whom He has bought with His own blood and of whom no power in the world or in Hell will be able to rob Him (Rom. 8:38-39).

As Christ says, so it will be. His judgment will apply to the whole of creation. His confession will concern all creation. No one will be able to criticize it. No one will dare to oppose it. His judgment will be exalted above all criticism and will stand high above the judgment of all men and devils. The heavens and the earth and Hell and all creation will eternally submit to it.

Of greater importance than all of this is that the Father will rest in this work of His Son (Heb. 4:9-10). Just as after creation God saw all that He had made and, behold, it was very good, in that way at the end of days He will look down with divine pleasure upon the great work of redemption that Christ accomplished (Gen. 1:31).

When the church without spot or wrinkle is set before Him, and the perfected kingdom has been given to Him, then the Father will adopt all of the redeemed of the Son as His children, inviting them to participate in His communion and enjoy His presence (Eph. 5:25-27; Rev. 21:2, 7).

The public confession on behalf of believers by Christ before His Father, who is in heaven, will be the guarantee of their eternal salvation and glory (Matt. 10:32).”

–Herman Bavinck, The Sacrifice of Praise: Meditations Before and After Admission to the Lord’s Supper, Trans. and Ed. Cameron Clausing and Gregory Parker Jr (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2019), 80-81.

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“A letter from one’s Father sent from heaven to be a guide to the Father’s house” by Herman Bavinck

“It is a true mark of spiritual life when our heart yearns after and longs for the Word. It is completely natural, just as one who is hungry longs for bread, the thirsty for water, and the sick for medicine.

Just as naturally, the one who is spiritual with a holy longing reaches for the Word of God and for Christ, who is offered in that Word. Those who are spiritual never grow beyond that Word.

Unlike the mystic’s dreams, the Word is not used as a ladder to ascend to a certain height, and then to spread one’s own wings and support oneself.

Anyone who tries to do so will soon fall to earth broken.

Anyone who refuses food will soon starve.

Anyone who does not heed the word of Christ does not love Him (1 John 5:3).

Anyone who rejects medicine has no need of a physician.

But the spiritual person, as long as one lives and with all one’s soul, feels bound to that Word as the means of communion and fellowship with God, because God has bound Himself to that Word.

It is only in the proportion one is planted in that Word that one grows and becomes stronger.

As ivy to a wall, the spiritual person holds fast to the Word.

As one leans upon a rod or a staff on a pilgrimage, so one leans on the Word. One becomes increasingly attached to it, and increasingly devoted to it.

The spiritual person’s love for the Word becomes stronger, considers it ever-increasing in value, and always finds in it a rich treasure for both heart and life.

For the one who is spiritual, it becomes increasingly God’s Word, a Word that comes to that person from God, a letter from one’s Father sent from heaven, to be a guide to the Father’s house.

‘Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path’ (Ps. 119:105). ‘Oh how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day’ (Ps. 119:97).”

–Herman Bavinck, The Sacrifice of Praise: Meditations Before and After Admission to the Lord’s Supper, Trans. and Ed. Cameron Clausing and Gregory Parker Jr (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2019), 24-25.

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