Have you ever met an average young person, outside the pale of our churches, who has heard of the Antithesis, let alone meet one who may talk about it? That is, the Antithesis considered from a spiritual-ethical viewpoint. The likelihood is that such a young person is not encountered.
A young person who has had his religious training in a non-Reformed denomination of churches has not been taught the Antithesis because of one or more reasons: (1) his church does not teach it as a conscious element of Christian life; (2) his church has little or no continuous, systematic catechetical instruction.
If he or she is a young person who has received his religious instruction in a denomination that is corporately, or historically, Reformed, then he should know the Antithesis. But such is not the case. Usually he will not know much about the Antithesis with that of the Covenant of Friendship – that of God with His elect people, in Christ. (Really, the Antithesis, like every Reformed doctrine, comes to its own in our churches, because our teaching is basically Scriptural and exegetical.)
One may meet a young person who is familiar with the word “Antithesis” and its meaning, because he or she learned the word in school, used in connection with a course in English composition, or in a survey course of philosophy, or in some other field. But this young person is not acquainted with the antithesis from a spiritual-ethical, biblical point of view. The situation may prevail with respect to a word like “predestination.” A student may learn this word in a modern school, a college or university, and yet be ignorant of the spiritual content of this word.
Generally speaking, boys and girls are ignorant of the Antithesis unless the boy or girl is one who is taught in our churches, or has come under the influence of our teaching, if he has not been a catechumen. It is in this respect that our churches are distinctive – and thus distinctively Reformed. In our churches, our faithful pastors, in the course of their catechetical instruction given to their catechumens, teach the Antithesis, along with many other Christian subjects. Therefore, it is customary to find that our young people learn and understand the fundamentals of the Antithesis, from its spiritual-ethical viewpoint. From the teaching of this truth, our young people are impressed by the importance of the Antithesis to the whole of the revelation of God’s salvation of His Church.
That this conclusion may be drawn from our experience, and our knowledge of our young people, is indeed a healthy sign of spiritual growth. It makes us rejoice and return thanks to our Covenant God, that He is pleased to give unto our spiritual leaders and pastors a love of the truth, to such an extent that they confess this truth themselves and teach it as the pure gospel of the Word of God. It is this devotion, coupled with their deep spiritual insight into the truth, that God blesses to the hearts of our young people. All this is lost to young people of the wider American church world. On our part, we cannot boast in ourselves, and be filled with pride; we must be profoundly thankful to the Lord. It means, too, that we do not rest on our laurels, but that our pastors press on, continuing diligently in their pastoral labors, teaching and explaining clearly the basic Christian truths, and that we the young people continue to be diligent scholars in catechism.
Now the question arises: Why is it? That is to say: “Why do many of our young people grasp this truth?” Because many do, the convention theme chosen is: “The Antithesis.” Outside of our circle, where would you ever hear of a young people’s convention choosing as a theme, “The Antithesis”? Convention themes are often general and lifeless, in the wider American church world, as for example: “Victorious Living,” “ Forward with Christ,” or “Atom Age Gospel.” Given a thoroughly Reformed content, these themes are acceptable. But that content will have to come from thoroughly consistent Reformed theology.
There are three reasons to give as an answer to the question above. First, that many grasp this truth is a mark of the blessing of God. The Lord blesses His truth that is faithfully taught or proclaimed to the hearts of His young people. God does this, too, in the official ministry of His Word, in His Church. He blesses His truth that is taught in catechism for this instruction is official ministry of His Word, because it proceeds from the consistory, who have the spiritual oversight of the flock – the congregation. Thus, the young people, who have been taught the Antithesis in the catechism class, gather together around this portion of the truth being emphasized in the convention, and God continues to bless this, His truth, to His people. The truth that they have received officially, becomes the center of their convention addresses, and mutually instructs and edifies.
Secondly, God prepares the hearts of His people to receive the truth. Various means are used of the Lord: catechism, preaching, reading sound literature, discussion, fellowship, and private study. But God opens the heart first, even as He opened Lydia’s hard, sinful heart so that she heeded the message of the Word, spoken by Paul the apostle (Acts 16:14). Those who respond to the wonder of God’s regeneration of the heart say: “This is indeed the truth; I love it.”
Third, the deepest cause is certainly God’s sovereign, eternal election, whereby He pleases to love His people eternally, in Christ, before the foundation of the world, to forgive them their sins, to show them His covenant, and to reveal to them His truth, that includes the Antithesis. In the counsel of God, God’s election of the elect in Christ is first. God’s love of His people is everlasting. Thus it is seen that our young people’s comfort is this: All they have is of God, in Christ, through His Word and Holy Spirit. Without Him, they have nothing. The Lord Himself said: “Without Me, ye can do nothing.” (John 15:5).
May God bless the convention and enrich His truth to the young people’s hearts.