Discussion on the Canons (4)


Chapter II

Article 4:

  1. Why is the death of Christ of infinite value? Article 4 teaches that the death of the Son of God is of infinite value, because:

(1)  It was the Person of the Son that died.

(2)  His death was a bearing of the wrath of God. No human being could so taste death in our nature and suffer the feeling of the wrath of God as the Son of God Himself.

Article 5:

  1. Is the promise of the gospel general or parti­cular?

The promise of the gospel, according to art­icle 5, is in its contents not general, but parti­cular. For it is the promise of eternal life, not to all without distinction, but to them that believe only. And since faith is the gift of God to the elect only, it is essentially for these that the promise of the gospel is meant.

  1. How did the Christian Reformed Churches in 1924 interpret this promise?

The Christian Reformed Churches referred to this article as proof for the first point, which teaches that the preaching of the gos­pel is a well-meant offer of salvation on the part of God to all that hear the gospel, ac­cordingly they interpret the promise of the gospel as being general.

  1. Is the preaching of this promise particular or general? How general and how particular is it?

According to article 5 the preaching of the promise of the gospel is to all to whom God in His good pleasure sends the gospel. This is general in as far as it does not only come to the elect, but also to the reprobate; it is, however, particular in as far as God in His good pleasure does not send the gospel to all men that are, have been or shall be in the world.

  1. Is the command to repent and believe general or particular?

The command to repent and believe is gen­eral. For God does not abandon or relinquish His demand that man shall love Him with all his heart and mind and soul and strength. He cannot allow the sinner the right to sin and not to repent. To repent and believe is the obligation of all men. But from this obligation does not follow that they are also able of themselves or that God is willing to give them the grace of repent­ance. The latter He gives only to the elect.

Article 6:

  1. In what sense, then, are many called by the gospel?

That many, therefore, are called by the gos­pel, does not mean that God offers them grace while they reject this; but that outwardly the gospel is preached to them, and that they are sincerely placed before their obligation to repent before the living God.

  1. To what is their unbelief to be imputed, ac­cording to this article? Is this all that may be said of this in the light of Scripture?

The unbelief of those that do not accept the gospel, is, according to this article, not due to the insufficiency of the sacrifice of Christ, but must be imputed to themselves. This is, of course, true. The guilt of unbelief is man’s. Yes, although the guilt of their un­belief must surely be imputed to man, this is not the final word on this matter. For the Scriptures teach, that in His righteous judgment God hardens whom He wills, Rom. 9:18; and that because of this hardening judgment of God the Jews of Jesus’ time could not believe. John 12:39, 40.


Article 7:

  1. To what must the faith and deliverance of believers be attributed?

The faith and salvation of believers must be attributed, not to any merit of their own, but solely to the grace of God. In God’s counsel this grace is given to them in Christ from eternity. God, therefore, bestows this gift of faith on whom He wills, that is, on the elect. And these elect are not distin­guished by any merit, virtue or act of their own, but solely by that sovereign counsel. Nothing on the part of man precedes that gift of grace; it precedes every good work.

Article 8:

  1. What is the chief thought of article 8?

The chief thought of article 8 is that accord­ing to the sovereign counsel of God the death, of Christ is efficacious for the elect only and that Christ, therefore, should bestow upon them all the blessings of salvation merited by Him for them in the blood of the cross.

  1. Whom did God redeem through the blood on the cross? see II B. 1, 5, 6, 7.

The Arminians argued that God ordained His bon to the death of the cross, without a definite purpose or decree to save any. But as far as God is concerned all men have been received in the state of reconciliation. This grace of reconciliation is also freely offered to all without exception. But whether it shall be appropriated and, therefore, be effi­cacious, depends on the free will of man joining itself to that offer of grace, it will be evident that there is no conceivable difference between that view and the first point of 1924. The Arminians also argued that it would be folly to say that Christ died for those whom God already and eternally loved. These did not need the death of Christ. Over against these errors article 8 maintains that Christ, according to the sovereign counsel of God, redeemed the elect and them only.

  1. What did Christ purchase by His death? See II, B, 2-4.

It stands to reason that the Arminians must needs deny the vicariously atoning character of the death of Christ. They taught that Christ merely merited the right for God to open a new way to deal with man, that he might have another chance of life. This new way did not consist of justification by faith in the blood of Christ, but in this, that God would regard faith itself as the perfect obedi­ence of the law and worthy of eternal life. The fathers, however, teach in article 8 that Christ merited for His people justification and the justifying faith, all the saving gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as regeneration and sanctification, forgiveness and purification, and final perseverance and eternal life.

Article 9:

  1. What does article 9 teach?

This article teaches that this purpose of God unto the salvation of the elect as it pro­ceeds from everlasting love, has always been powerfully accomplished in the past, is being accomplished in the present and shall be ac­complished until the whole Church for whom Christ died, shall have been gathered. And all this in spite of all the powers of opposi­tion.