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All Articles For Dykstra, Russell J

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What comes to mind when you hear (or read) of “the French Reformation”? Most, I suspect, have little knowledge of this aspect of the sixteenth-century Reformation that began in Wittenberg (Luther), and spread through many countries in Europe. The great majority of our readers come from a European context (ethnically and theologically) other than France. Many are tied to the Reformation in the Netherlands by blood lines. Theologically, we connect with Martin Luther in Germany and John Calvin in Geneva. A very small group has ties to French Huguenots (the term used to identify Reformed believers in France). Consequently, France...

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The Reformation is the work of God, not man. God reforms His church. God raises up men of understanding, courage, and strength for the purpose of using these men for church reformation, just as God raised up judges in the Old Testament. But even then, reformation begins in the heart of such men. The Spirit works a personal conviction of sin and unworthiness, a strong faith in Christ, and the assurance of salvation. The Spirit works in these men godliness and integrity. And God uses them in His time and way. No reformer sets out thinking that he is God’s...

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With heartfelt gratitude to God, we begin the ninety-seventh year of the Standard Bearer. It should be obvious that in order for the SB to find its way into your mailbox twenty-one times in the next year, many people put in significant effort. That starts with some forty men and women who have committed to write anywhere from three to twenty articles in the next year.1 Behind the scenes, managing editor Charles Terpstra sets the schedule for the writers (and reminds them when theirs are due), edits every contribution submitted, and along with the editors, proofreads every issue. Then there...

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The first “news” about the synod is that there was a PRCA synod in the year 2020. The Board of Trustees and the calling church (Trinity PRC) together examined the executive orders of the state of Michigan and concluded that it would be possible to hold the sessions of synod in Trinity PRC, provided that certain regulations were followed. The consistory of Trinity and delegates of synod and their wives scattered throughout the sanctuary for the pre-synodical service on Monday evening, June 8. Shortly after officially convening on Tuesday, synod adopted the regulations proposed by the Board of Trustees. Attendance...

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At the title indicates, this series of editorials examines the harmonious relationship between the doctrine of God’s covenant of grace and the Canons of Dordt. The premise continues to be that the doctrine of the covenant of grace must agree with the doctrines of sovereign grace taught in the Canons. For the truth of God is one, unified body, and no part in it conflicts with another. In addition, God’s covenant of grace is intertwined with God’s saving work. God saves His people and brings them into the living relationship of friendship, which is His covenant life. The doctrine of...

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The doctrine of God’s covenant of grace with His people must be fully in harmony with the Canons of Dordt. Of course, it is true that in a Reformed church the doctrine of the covenant must be in harmony with all the Reformed confessions. But the covenant must explicitly conform to the Canons because the Canons set forth the Reformed doctrine of salvation. And the covenant is salvation, for God saves His people in order to bring them into the covenant relationship of love and friendship. The soteriology or salvation theology of the Canons is, in a word, unconditional salvation....

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Assurance was a significant doctrine faced at the Synod of Dordt in 1618–19. The Arminians insisted no man could have assurance that salvation was his unless he was told: “God loves you and wants to save you.” And, said the Arminians, that might not be said to him unless it is true that God loves everyone, Christ died for everyone, and God’s desire is to save all. Assurance is also a significant issue in the doctrine of the covenant. The conditional covenant touts itself as the covenant theology that gives the most assurance. The assurance it gives (so it is...

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In the last editorial on the Canons’ explanation of faith in Head IV, we called attention to the fact that faith is an instrument that embraces and appropriates Christ and His benefits. This faith, however, it not a condition that man can or must fulfill in order to be saved. This is evident, first, from the fact that faith flows out of election. Second, faith, even the act of believing, is the work of God in the elect. To call a work of God in His people a condition that they must fulfill is wrong on the face of it....

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Key to a proper understanding of the Reformed doctrine of salvation and therefore also of the doctrine of the covenant, is faith. How faith fits as an instrument must be carefully taught, lest one slip into hyper-Calvinism or into Arminianism. That faith is an instrument is clear from the con­fessions. The Belgic Confession (Art. 22) teaches that “the Holy Ghost kindleth in our hearts an upright faith, which embraces Jesus Christ, with all His merits, ap­propriates Him, and seeks nothing more besides Him.” It goes on to maintain that believers “possess Jesus Christ through faith.” The article rejects the notion...

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The Canons’ positive treatment of the Reformed doctrine of total depravity is straightforward and relatively brief. And yet, all nine articles of the Rejection of Errors condemn errors of the Remonstrants connected with total depravity. The reason for this is simple. The Canons set forth the Reformed truth over against the specific teaching of the Remonstrants. However, the Reformed doctrine of total depravity was explicitly set forth in the existing confessions, the Heidelberg Catechism and the Belgic Confession of Faith. The Remonstrants did not write what they really believed about fallen man. If they had, they would obviously contradict the...

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