18 February, 2017

Canons of Dordt, III/IV:9—“… those who are called by the ministry of the Word [but who] refuse to come …”

It is not the fault of the gospel nor of Christ, offered therein, nor of God, who calls men by the gospel, and confers on them various gifts, that those who are called by the ministry of the Word refuse to come and be converted. The fault lies in themselves, some of whom when called, regardless of their danger, reject the word of life; others though they receive it, suffer it not to make a lasting impression on their heart; therefore, their joy arising only from a temporary faith, soon vanishes, and they fall away; while others choke the seed of the word by perplexing cares and the pleasures of this world, and produce no fruit. This our Saviour teaches in the parable of the sower, Matthew 13 (Canons of Dordt III/IV, 9).


Rev. Herman Hoeksema

[Source: The Rock Whence We Are Hewn (RFPA, 2015), pp. 367]

[Article 9] teaches that the fault of rejecting the gospel, the sin of refusing to turn, to come to God through Christ and to believe, cannot and may not be attributed to the gospel, to Christ, or to God. The calling of the gospel is sufficiently clear. It speaks unambiguously. It reveals very plainly what is acceptable to God. If anyone refuses to turn to God, he cannot blame the gospel, as if it were not sufficiently clear and rich to lead him to repentance. Nor can the unbeliever blame God for his unbelief, for the Most High clearly reveals to him in the gospel that disobedience and unbelief displease him most terribly and justly. Christ is fully and rightly proclaimed, presented in the gospel, so that the fault of unbelief cannot be sought in him.

The teaching of article 9 is that all the responsibility is the sinner’s. The fault lies in his wicked and unrepentant heart, the evil nature, which under and through the preaching of the gospel is revealed to be more terrible. The guilt of the sin of unbelief is only his. Is this the same as the doctrine that those who reject the gospel were always the objects of God’s grace in and through the preaching and ministration of the word to them? Does this article even suggest such a thing? The contrary is true. If the gospel manifests the perversity and darkness of the sinful heart and mind, it certainly does not serve this purpose as a revelation of God’s grace to that particular heart. It would have been better, according to Scripture, that those who reject the gospel had never known the way of righteousness and life. The gospel to them is a fearful judgment. It aggravates their guilt and punishment. They will be beaten with double stripes, for they reveal plainly that they do not will what is acceptable to God. Article 9 does not teach a certain grace of God in the preaching of the gospel for the ungodly reprobate.



More to come! (DV)

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