The first two articles in this series on the Canons of Dort (CoD, popularly known as the Five Points of Calvinism) focused on the historical context, and the first head of doctrine (unconditional election), respectively.
The theological conflict in the Netherlands in the early 17th century produced a statement of faith relating to five disputed doctrines which remains extremely useful to this day. The first point concerned God’s election. In contrast to the Arminian party, the Calvinists insisted that Scripture teaches an unconditional elect-ion. That is, God chooses some people to salvation completely irrespective of their future faith and obedience. Understanding this view of election is essential to grasping the second point, which is often the most difficult doctrine for “would-be” Calvinists. The idea of a “limited atonement” has given rise to so-called, “four-point Calvinists.”
The disagreement has to do with the answer to the question, “For whom did Christ die?” Arminians and “four-point Calvinists” insist that Christ died for everyone. They believe that because of the cross, all men come into a new relationship with God. It is up to the sinner to use the universal grace provided by God to meet his new condition of faith. Calvinists believe that Christ died for the elect. His death was designed to, and actually did, atone for a limited number of people.
Of course, the tremendous liability with the phrase “limited atone-ment” is that it sounds so neg-ative; it makes Christ’s death seem deficient. Alternate phrases such as “definite atonement” or “particular redemption” help convey the central issue: Christ died for those whom he actually saves. And the issue is a significant one.
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I’ve been asked to offer a prayer this evening for media. I’ve also attached (below) two prayers from previous “National Day of Prayer” services.
Prayer for Media
Creator God, we thank you that you are a communicator. You have chosen to reveal your will to us in nature as your invisible attributes are clearly seen in what you have made. You have revealed yourself more fully in Scripture, which is an infallible testimony of who you are, of what you promise in the gospel, and of what you expect from us. Most gloriously, you have revealed yourself in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. In him you have spoken in grace and truth. We thank you for sending your Son into this world to preach the message of the kingdom, to sacrifice his life for the sins of your children, and to intercede forever on our behalf.
Lord, we thank you for making us in your image with the ability to communicate with each other. We pray, then, for the various forms of media that affect us every day. Help these media to be a faithful reflection of your communication in this world.
Please cause reporters and news organizations to report the news in a way that is accurate, and edifying. Frustrate those agencies which would promote an ungodly agenda by praising wickedness and scorning righteousness. Grant courage to those individuals and organizations who have been enlightened by the gospel. Help them to speak according to their convictions and protect them from the backlash of those who hate the things of God.
Please keep your people from being consumed by overuse of media. Help us not to be overwhelmed by negative reporting. In the face of much bad news, drive us back to your word, to your church, and to your means of grace. Make us especially attentive to your voice as you speak through the preaching of the gospel and the administration of the sacraments. And help us to use our voices to speak what is helpful for building others up according to their needs.
Be pleased to answer our prayer for the sake of the kingdom and the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.
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The first article in this series on the Canons of Dort (popularly known as The Five Points of Calvinism) was a historical introduction focusing on the religious and civil upheaval in the Netherlands around the turn of the 17th century due to sharp theological disagreement.
Since the mid 1500s the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands had pledged their commitment to Scripture as summarized in The Belgic Confession and Heidelberg Catechism. Early in the 17th century the followers of Jacob Arminius, known as the Remonstrants, challenged this commitment. Given the close tie between church and state, the theological conflict boiled over into societal and political unrest. The problem became so urgent that in 1618 a synod convened with the express purpose of examining The Five Articles of the Remonstrants. The Synod rejected these articles and in issued instead, five counterpoints called the Canons of Dort (CoD). These statements are commonly rearranged from their historical order under the acronym “TULIP” for ease of memorization.
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My kindle book on Jonah is FREE until TOMORROW EVENING.
Joel Beeke kindly wrote, this “…little book on Jonah is everything that an introductory Bible Study guide should be: exegetically faithful, doctrinally sound, practically helpful, experientially warm, and colorfully written.”
Want to study what the Bible says about election, atonement, depravity, grace, and perseverance? Or know someone who does? The Canons of Dort is an extremely helpful historical guide.
Imagine what the people of God could do if their financial houses were in order. That paraphrase of a question often asked by a popular financial advisor is meant to be an exercise in hopeful anticipation of what actually could happen.
If the question doesn’t sound very “spiritual” we might have an unbiblical notion of spirituality. More than 2,000 Scripture verses deal with money and possessions. The way we manage money is fundamentally a spiritual matter (Luke 16:10-11). On top of this, consider the problems related to poor money management. In a recent survey 46% of Americans reported suffering from debt-related stress. Financial problems can lead to marital breakdowns and contribute to unethical behavior (Prov. 30:8-9).
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