Everyday Doctrines - Election

Today's everyday doctrine comes from the Canons of Dordt. The Christian Reformed Church, gives this brief introduction to the Canons of Dordt,

"The Canons of Dordt come from an international synod of Reformed people held in Dordrecht, Netherlands... The Decision of the Synod of Dort on the Five Main Points of Doctrine in Dispute in the Netherlands is popularly known as the Canons of Dort. It consists of statements of doctrine adopted by the great Synod of Dort, which met in the city of Dordrecht in 1618-19. Although this was a national synod of the Reformed churches of the Netherlands, it had an international character, since it was composed not only of Dutch delegates but also of twenty-six delegates from eight foreign countries.

The Synod of Dort was held in order to settle a serious controversy in the Dutch churches initiated by the rise of Arminianism. Jacob Arminius, a theological professor at Leiden University, questioned the teaching of Calvin and his followers on a number of important points. After Arminius’s death, his own followers presented their views on five of these points in the Remonstrance of 1610. In this document and in later more explicit writings, the Arminians taught election based on foreseen faith, the universal application of Christ’s atonement available to all who freely choose to accept it, limited human depravity, the resistibility of God’s grace, and the possibility of a fall from salvation. In the Canons the Synod of Dort rejected these views and set forth the Reformed teaching on these points with the purpose of offering a deeper assurance of salvation to believers in accordance with the teaching of the Scriptures.

The Canons are thus unique among the Reformed confessions because of their original purpose as a judicial decision on the doctrinal points in dispute during the Arminian controversy. The original preface called them a “judgment, in which both the true view, agreeing with God’s Word, concerning the aforesaid five points of doctrine, is explained, and the false view, disagreeing with God’s Word, is rejected.” The Canons also have a narrower scope than the Belgic Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism in that they do not cover the whole range of doctrine but focus on the five points of doctrine in dispute." (https://www.crcna.org/welcome/beliefs/confessions/canons-dort#3556)

The doctrine set forth for us to consider today is the doctrine of Election. The Canons of Dordt explain Election in this statement supported by God's authoritative Word,

Article 7: Election

Election is God’s unchangeable purpose by which he did the following:

Before the foundation of the world, by sheer grace, according to the free good pleasure of his will, God chose in Christ to salvation a definite number of particular people out of the entire human race, which had fallen by its own fault from its original innocence into sin and ruin. Those chosen were neither better nor more deserving than the others, but lay with them in the common misery. God did this in Christ, whom he also appointed from eternity to be the mediator, the head of all those chosen, and the foundation of their salvation.

And so God decreed to give to Christ those chosen for salvation, and to call and draw them effectively into Christ’s fellowship through the Word and Spirit. In other words, God decreed to grant them true faith in Christ, to justify them, to sanctify them, and finally, after powerfully preserving them in the fellowship of the Son, to glorify them.

God did all this in order to demonstrate his mercy, to the praise of the riches of God’s glorious grace.

As Scripture says, “God chose us in Christ, before the foundation of the world, so that we should be holy and blameless before him with love; he predestined us whom he adopted as his children through Jesus Christ, in himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, by which he freely made us pleasing to himself in his beloved” (Eph. 1:4-6). And elsewhere, “Those whom he predestined, he also called; and those whom he called, he also justified; and those whom he justified, he also glorified” (Rom. 8:30).

This doctrine, like all doctrine is useful. In Paul's verse above from Romans 8:30 the grace of God in election leads us to his grace in redemption leading to our justification. And justification never stands alone, but acts by love (Gal.5:6) through a heart saturated in God's mercy and overflowing in thankfulness. The doctrine of election is a display of the mercy and goodness of God that excites the heart of everyone who treasures this infinite God. So many people object saying this doctrine leads to a fatalistic life, but the apostle demonstrates to the Ephesians that this doctrine of God's free choice is for the purpose of creating in his beloved adopted children the holiness of their Redeemer. This holiness is the fulfilling of the law of love (Romans 13:8-10). It is this usefulness demonstrated by Paul that enables us to meet the forthcoming objections in the 21st century, just as the church in the Netherlands was met with in the 17th century.

This a helpful blog article on three objections to the doctrine of Election that I would encourage you to read, http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/3-objections-to-the-doctrine-of-election


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