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The Significance of the Power of Godliness

This summary was prepared for Beacon Lights by Mr. Roger Faber, First Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Rev. Hoeksema, as the first convention speaker, laid the ground-work for the development of the 1950 convention theme with the topic, “The Significance of the Power of Godliness”. As introduction he pointed out that Daniel’s faithfulness to Jehovah during the Captivity is a good example of the power of godliness. Faithfulness, he said, is the fundamental calling of the Christian. Daniel’s conduct clearly illustrates the two sides of godliness, namely, the inward relation of love with God and the outward manifestation of faithfulness.

Rev. Hoeksema divided his speech into three parts: Godliness, its Power, and its Exercise. Godliness, he stated, is a very practical virtue. It finds expression in all of our actions. Good evidence for that statement is the fact that the term is often used in the “pastoral” epistles to Titus and Timothy, where the practical problems of Christian living are given special attention. Godliness is composed of four elements. First, it includes knowledge of God. Because this godliness is distinct from pagan religion, the knowledge concerns the true God as He is revealed in Jesus Christ our Lord. Second, godliness is always present in all his thoughts and actions. Third, godliness includes reverence. This is the reverence which is often called in Scripture, “the fear of the Lord”, and is therefore the reverence or fear which is based on love. Fourth, godliness must find expression or manifestation in the Christian’s everyday life. The godly person is one who walks “before the face of God” continually. God is the reason, the power, and the purpose of all his actions. A few examples of the practical manifestation of godliness are the following: The godly person reveals his godliness in his relation to the church when he seeks and joins the true church and rejects all heresies. He also reveals his godliness when he seeks a marriage partner from the household of faith, and his godliness is again demonstrated in the family relations between parents and children in producing the atmosphere of a Christian home.

Rev. Hoeksema then proceeded to show that the power of godliness is a spiritual power. It is not a natural power like atomic energy or even natural juridical law, but is a special gift of the Holy Spirit. Christ always possessed perfect godliness: He was always faithful and always Walked “before the face of God ” And Christ’s perfect godliness is the basis and source of our partial godliness. Of ourselves we have no right to be godly—but in Christ we do. Of ourselves we have no ability to be godly—but Christ makes us able. Hence, godliness is a power of God, in Christ, through the Holy Spirit, which is revealed in our hearts and life. The power of godliness, he said, is the power that overcomes the world—not physically, hut spiritually by faith. For example, the power of godliness is the power of contentment and complete surrender to God’s way. Also, our possessing the power of godliness requires that we live a quiet and peaceable life: we will not strike or boycott, because our fighting is spiritual. In brief, the power of godliness causes us to stand before God so that we perform our part of the covenant as it is expressed in the Baptism Form.

Finally, Rev. Hoeksema considered the exercise of the power of godliness. He stated that although godliness is purely a gift of God, it nevertheless can and must and will be exercised by us. This exercise is neither mystical nor weak. It means simply that we act at all times as conscious, active Christians and Calvinists. However, in order to practice godliness, we must first be instructed in godliness and the knowledge of God. We obtain this instruction especially in our church activities. The preaching of the Word on Sunday is the principal source of this knowledge, and important supplementary sources are the societies and study groups. Only if we receive this instruction can we exercise godliness. And we must exercise it, for godliness and its instruction is profitable for all things, “that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” Then we can walk before the face of God throughout our lives. Then, God is with us and nothing is against us, all things work together for our good, and in the end Eternity and all its blessings are ours.