Studies in the Canons of Dort – Lessons 20 and 21



The Price of Election

The purpose of election proceeds “from everlasting love towards the elect.” I am writing this during the week before Christmas. How incomprehensible is the love of God towards the elect! His own Son had to come into the flesh, had to satisfy every jot and tittle of the law, had to become sin for us by suffering the agonies of hell, by agonizing on the accursed cross, and by being in his death with the wicked. Jesus’ birth meant our salvation, but it meant the first step in a horrible process of humiliation, the depth of which finally came out in the soul-agonizing cry, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?”

The Purpose of Election

“The purpose of election from the beginning of the world to this day has been powerfully accomplished and will henceforth still continue to be accomplished.” It is accomplished steadily from age to age through the irresistible work of the Holy Spirit who powerfully takes away stony hearts and gives hearts of flesh. The purpose of election was powerfully accomplished in Enoch and Noah, in Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in David and Isaiah, in Jeremiah and Daniel, in Zedekiah and Malachi, in John and Peter, in Stephen and Paul, in Lydia and Timothy, in Calvin and Luther, in Kuiper and Bavinck, in Machen and VanTil, in Berkhof and Eldersveld, in Nate Saint and the very man who killed him. It is thrilling to trace in history the powerful demonstrations of God’s grace in the covenantal line.

The Foes of the Elect

The elcct will come into the fold “notwithstanding all the ineffectual opposition of the gates of hell.” The devil cannot keep in his grip those whom the Lord effectually, powerfully calls into his fellowship. All opposition however strong, however cruel, must give way to the irresistible grace and power of God. The gates of hell cannot prevail against the church of Jesus Christ, the true church “composed of believers, the foundation of which is laid in the blood of Christ.” The church has been persecuted again and again, its people have gone into exile, its members have been martyred in large numbers, but it stood securely because its one foundation is Jesus Christ the Lord.

The Means unto Gathering the Elect

Today, as ever, the elect are still being gathered by his Word and Spirit. Today the elect are being gathered through the preaching of the Word, through the distribution of the Bible or portions of it in many lands, through the radio ministry of the true church, through the work of Christian book stores at home and abroad, through the translation of the Bible into more and more languages and dialects, through the witness of God’s people in devious ways—and all this accompanied by the Holy Spirit.

The Activity of the Elect

The elect “may stedfastly love and faithfully serve Christ as its Savior.” What a privilege to love such a Saviour! How eager we should be faithfully to serve him every day of our lives!

The privilege of the church, of believers, is also to “celebrate His praises here and throughout all eternity.” We are to celebrate his praises by giving thanks unto Jehovah with our whole heart (Ps. 111:1), by fearing Jehovah and delighting greatly in his commandments (Ps. 112), by praising his matchless name (Ps. 113 ), by recognizing gratefully his lovingkindness toward us and his enduring truth (Ps. 117), by singing praises to his name (Ps. 115), by putting our musical instruments to use for his glory, yes, by completely dedicating our time, talents, work, thoughts.

For Discussion

1. Name some of the ways in which Satan today opposes the gathering of the elect.

2. How is he trying to do it among the youth of the church? How among the educated of the church and of our land? How is he using even theologians to serve his purpose?

3. What comfort can ministers and missionaries derive from article 9?

4. What comfort can parents derive from Art. 9?


Note: If time permits, treat the Rejection of Errors at the end of part II, paying special attention, perhaps, to the first and its refutation.

1. Error stated – The Son was ordained to die without decree to save any. (Possibility – none saved.) Error refuted – Error tends to despise: 1. wisdom of God. 2. merits of Jesus. 3. truth of Scripture. 4. catholicity of Christian Church.

2. Error stated – Purpose of Christ’s death was not the confirmation of new covenant of grace, but the acquisition (for Father ) of right to establish arbitrary covenant. Error refuted – Hebrews 7:22 and Hebrews 9:15, 17.

3. Error stated – Christ’s death was not meritorious in relation to man (merits neither salvation nor faith). Christ’s death was meritorious in relation to the Father (Father merits authority to deal again with man). Error refuted – Minimizes value of Christ’s death.

4. Error stated – The new covenant of grace consists not in justification by faith, but in a modification of the demands of obedience of the law (faitb plus imperfect obedience sufficient to merit reward of eternal life. Error refuted – Romans 3:24, 25.

5. Error stated – the grace of the covenant embraces all mankind. Original guilt wiped out. Error refuted – Ephesians 2:3.

6. Error stated -Salvation is a matter of free will. Error refuted – A destructive poison. Pelagianism.

7. Error stated – the death of Christ was not vicarious. Error refuted – Galatians 2:20, Romans 8:33, 34, John 10:15, John 15:12, 13.





A Glorious Being

What a glorious being God made man! He came forth from the hand of God bearing God’s image, adorned with true knowledge, righteousness, and holiness. “And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Gen. 1:27). “And Jehovah God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul” (Gen. 2:7). Yes, what glorious creatures Adam and Eve must have been while in their state of perfection! Man’s “understanding was adorned with a true and saving knowledge of his Creator, and of spiritual things.” He knew truly everything he knew. He knew his Creator truly. He knew spiritual things truly. He knew natural things truly. In his state of rectitude “man interpreted the universe under the direction of God” (c. Van Til). Although finite, man had no false concept of God, man, nor the world. What he knew he knew truly. Furthermore, “man’s heart and will were upright.” That center out of which are the issues of life was upright. Yes, he willed to will what was right. Even all his affections were pure, since the whole man was holy. Lust had no place in their affections. All was pure, whiter than snow. It was only in this state that man could be unconscious of his nakedness. It was only in this state that man could be naked and not sin.

An image-bearer of God with true knowledge, true righteousness, and true holiness—that characterized man in his state of rectitude. What dignity, honor, respect that represents! He was a prophet, priest, and king par excellence! A perfectedly integrated man! Ds. J. G. Feenstra high lights this so well when he mentions that as a prophet Adam had true knowledge not only, but was also truly righteous and truly holy. As a priest Adam was not only truly holy but also possessed true knowledge and righteousness. As a king Adam had true righteousness not only but also had true knowledge and true holiness. A perfectly integrated image-bearer of Cod. What a glorious creature God made man!

A Created Being

The creation process as revealed in Genesis was very different from the evolutionary process scientists accept by faith. Rather than accepting the belief of the scientist that amphibia evolved from fish, and the reptiles from amphibia and mammals from reptiles, we should accept what God reveals to us, namely, that He created everything after its kind, and that he crowned his creation by making man after his own image, having breathed into him the breath of life, and so making him a living soul.

Did the picture of the scientists, E. Moser and C. Matthews, recently appear in your local paper? It did in ours. As a result of the discoveries made in the Mansanto Laboratory in S1. Louis, Mo., Matthews concludes that we have emerged from the “scum of proteins” formed when water is added to poisonous gas called hydrogen cyanide. And where is his scientific reason for saying that we have emerged from that scum? Where is any evolutionist’s proof for that on which he bases his whole structure?

Kerkut, who is an evolutionist, admits that evolutionists base their theory on seven assumptions which by “their nature are not capable of experimental verification.” Why, then, are Christian scientists so hesitant to base their belief on God’s say so in Genesis One and Two? There is just no comparison between accepting God’s own revelation concerning creation and accepting the assumptions of man, even though he be a scientist, of man who revolted from “God by the instigation of the devil and by his own free will.” Why replace God’s revelation for the assumptions of man “who became involved in blindness of mind, horrible darkness, vanity, and perverseness of judgment,” and man who “became wicked, rebellious, and obdurate in heart and will, and impure in his affections”? Do you believe God or do you believe the evolutionists? Or are you perhaps a middle-of-the-roader who wants the good will of believers in creation and believers in evolution? I believe God Who, having been the only one present, is the only authority we can safely accept.

A Corrupt Being

Man whom God made a glorious being after his own image, soon fell from his glorious state with his “excellent gifts” and “became involved in blindness of mind, horrible darkness etc…” When Adam and Eve decided to think independently of God, they decided against God, against the will of God, against the command of God. When Adam, who was our representative, fell, we all fell. We became “involved in blindness of mind,” a blindness very evident in the scientist who holds that we emerged from the “scum of proteins.” Fallen man’s “senseless heart was darkened.” Rebellion took the place of obedience, so that men “hindered the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18). Holiness gave way to “impure affections.” “Wherefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts unto uncleanness, that their bodies should be dishonored among themselves; for that they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator” (Rom. 1:24–25). The perfect prophet, Adam, was turned into a sinful prophet with “perverseness of judgment” which has marked all his descendants, the scientists included. Adam’s choice to obey Satan rather than God was the acme of perversion in judgment. What perversion to doubt God! What perversion to trust human reason and human observation rather than implicitly to heed the command of God just be· cause he is God. Adam’s deliberate disobedience cast the whole human race into sin, and except for the redeeming work of Christ entering in at once, Adam and all his progeny would have been lost forever.

A Responsible Being

Lest someone should say that since “God ordained all things to come to pass,” Adam couldn’t help sinning, we can’t emphasize strongly enough that Adam willed to sin. Adam’s sin was Adam’s decision, not the result of “inexorable fate” which we never ascribe to our great and holy God. Dr. P. Y. De Jong puts it so well when he says: “The sin of our first father was voluntary. Although capable of willing agreeably to the will of God, he willfully subjected himself to sin…Never does the Scripture countenance the notion that man was compelled to sin. The eternal de. cree of God, indeed, rendered the entrance of sin into the world by man’s voluntary transgression certain. Yet this may never be construed as if God were in any sense responsible for man’s fall….Not God but man is fully responsible for sin and all its con· sequences in the world” (The Church’s Witness to the World, Vol. I, pp. 258–259 ).

Satan induced Adam and Eve not to listen to God.

Don’t you detect satan’s influence today in such advice as this:

a. Don’t listen to your Christian parents; make your own decisions.

b. Don’t listen to the church; make your own decisions.

c. Don’t listen to God’s Word as the authoritative revelation of God; make your own decision on the basis of “observation and reason.”

d. Don’t listen to the supernatural God; make your decision on the horizontal level. Existentialism, not supernaturalism, is the order of the day.

For Leader

1. Obtain from TORCH AND TRUMPET, for 25¢, a copy of Dr. Whitcomb’s lectures entitled “Creation according to God’s Word,” and read lecture three on “The Creation of Mankind.” Also obtain, for 10¢, Dr. Vos’s article, “Surrender to Evolution Inevitable or Inexcusable.” (Special price on either in quantities of 50 or more. )

2. Read from Dr. De Jong’s book mentioned in the lesson, chapter 14 of Vol. 1.


1. Prove from Colossians 3:10 and Ephesians 4:24 that God’s image consisted in true knowledge, righteousness, and holiness.

2. May we blame Satan for Adam’s fall? May we ever blame an outside force for any sin we commit? May 1 ever say that my sin is really satan’s sin?

3. On what kind of reasoning did Eve base her decision to eat of the forbidden tree?

4. Does the fact that something is not inherently evil always justify me in doing that thing? What other factors enter in? For example, it is good to read a good book. Does this mean that it is therefore good for me to read that book this evening when I have to neglect the call of someone who needs my help? It is good to be a doctor. Does this mean that I should therefore be a doctor?

5. In what sense did man lose the image of God when he sinned? In what sense did he retain it?

6. When do even university professors give evidence of “perverseness of judgment”?

7. In what sense is the mind of the most brilliant nonChristian thinker in “horrible darkness”?