It is now more then twelve years ago that my father passed away. He was taken to glory and before the throne together with numberless others he praises the Saviour Jesus Christ. In The Banner of Truth magazine a shortened version was published of a letter which I wrote to the editor. On my weblog I publish now the complete letter.
I just want to mention you that my beloved father died away peace-fully in Christ the 14th of September. From 1988 tot 1994 he visited with me every year the minister’s conference in Leicester. He en-joyed it he very much to be there. He valued not only the lectures, but also the fellowship with the brethren he had there.
Especially I must mention Simo Ralevic, to whom he felt himself spiritually so closely united in their common sight on the fact that a Christian remains in this life a debtor to free grace alone. Until his retirement in 1986 my father had a fulltime job as shipbuilding engineer first at a shipyard and later at the research department of a dredging company.
Besides that he served from 1973 until 2002 as a kind of teaching elder an Independent Reformed Congregation in Alblasserdam. I grew up in that congregation. When I was 20 I joined the (national) Dutch Reformed Church, but the fellowship with Christian friends in the circles in which I grow up remained and especially with my parents.
As a teaching elder my father had in the Netherlands not the right to preach himself in normal services. Besides Kolhlbrugge (on whom I wrote some years ago in the Banner) and Luther he felt especially attracted to the English and Scottish puritan writers and their spiritual heirs.
I can mention some names: Thomas Watson, Joseph Irons, J.C. Ryle, Andrew Gray, Hugh Binning. Ralph and Ebener Erskine, Thomas Boston, John Kennedy. I can also mention George White-field.
The Select Sermons of Whitefield was actually the first theological book in English he bought not long after it was published for the first time by the Banner. He read the sermons of these men in the services in the Independent Reformed Congregation of Alblasser-dam.
It just a significant detail that his own grandfather had held the same position in the congregation as he and had the preference for the same theologians as my father. After he died several people told us that they were again and again impressed by the way my father prayed in the services. He spoke so tenderly about Christ and to Christ as the only and all-sufficient Saviour.
My father considered himself a weak believer. He has low thoughts about the power of his own faith but great thoughts about the power and glory of God as He has revealed himself in Christ. I personally think that these are the traits of an exercised believer. I mention Luther whom we honour as a great man of God.
Luther once played with the idea to form fellowships of exercised believers in the congregations, but he laid this idea aside. The reason was that he himself could not participate, for in his own esteem he himself was not such an exercised believer. Because he considered his own faith as weak he liked to read sermons in which Christ and his cross were uplifted. That is the only thing he would remark that gives me consolation.
The last years littler by little his bodily strength diminished. Just a week before his death he was taken in hospital. His good courage was remarkable for my mother and his children.
He said: ‘When I see on myself and my shortcomings it is impos-sible for me to go to heaven, but I can say that I see on Christ. He has all power in heaven and earth and he has the keys of the death and of hell. I am sure that He, who received me here, will receive me soon in glory.’
Just two days before his deaths I ask him whether he could direct his thoughts on Christ. He answered that he would like to do that but he felt himself to weak for.
He continued: I know that Christ directs his thoughts on me. He is the Faithful One and that is my whole consolation. I myself conduc-ted his funeral. Many people were present. Not only the family and members of the congregation he had served, but also Christians from several denominations.
In his life my father showed to his children that he really believed the article of the Apostle’s Creed: I believe a holy, catholic church, the community of saints. He loved Christ and loved his people from whatever denomination they were, but above all he knew that Christ loved him and gave himself for him. Therefore: to God all the glory.