All Articles For Dykstra, Russell J

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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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Head 2 of the Canons sets forth the Reformed truth that Jesus’ death is an effectual atonement for sin, because it was a substitutionary death and a satisfaction for the sins of the elect only. In harmony with that, the gospel never promises salvation to all who hear the preaching. Rather, in the preaching, though all hearers are commanded to repent and believe, the promise of eternal life is specifically spoken to those who believe. Only the elect can and do believe, for election is the fountain of faith. And since the sacrament of baptism is a sign and seal...

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The second head of the Canons teaches that Christ’s death on the cross was an effectual redemption of the elect. The Canons rejected the Remonstrants’ (Arminian) teaching that Christ died “for all men and every man.” The Remonstrants also maintained that not all for whom Christ died receive the saving benefits but only those who believe, which is to say, only those who fulfill the condition of faith. Accordingly, they perverted the preaching of the gospel, turning it into a general offer of salvation from God to all who hear the preaching. They insisted that God wills (desires) the salvation...

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Reprobation is God’s eternal decree to leave the reprobate in their misery of sin, not to give them saving faith and the grace of conversion, and to condemn and punish them forever. This is the teaching of the Canons in Head I, Article 15. Article 15 adds that this decree is righteous and unchangeable. Reprobation is also “out of His [God’s]…good plea­sure.” That, first of all, eliminates the possibility that God’s determination of who are reprobate is based on something in the person. Just as election is according to God’s good purpose and not based on something in the person...

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