In this thought-provoking podcast episode, we delve into the third and fourth main points of doctrine in the Canons of Dort, focusing on human corruption and conversion. Our guest, Kim Riddlebarger, provides valuable insights into these topics and helps us understand the theological significance of these canons. The Canons of Dort were written as a response to the errors of the Arminians and the Remonstrants, who challenged the doctrines of election and the efficacy of the gospel. By examining these canons, we gain a deeper understanding of the nature of sin, the need for regeneration, and the role of faith in salvation.
The Nature of Human Corruption
The Canons of Dort begin by affirming that man was originally created in the image of God, with a true knowledge of his Creator and a righteous nature. However, due to Adam's rebellion, sin entered the world, and all of his descendants inherited a sinful nature. This corruption affects every aspect of our being, including our mind, heart, and will. We are blinded by sin, our judgment is distorted, and our hearts are hardened. The Canons of Dort emphasize that this corruption is not merely a lack of goodness, but an active rebellion against God. We are inclined to evil and incapable of reforming ourselves or disposing ourselves to reform. In other words, we are dead in sin and slaves to our sinful nature.
The Spread of Corruption and Total Inability
The Canons of Dort further explain that this corruption spreads to all of Adam's descendants, except for Christ. We are conceived in sin and born as children of wrath. Our sinful nature makes us neither willing nor able to return to God or reform ourselves. We are spiritually dead and enslaved to sin. The Canons of Dort make it clear that we cannot save ourselves or contribute to our salvation in any way. Our wills are in bondage to our sinful nature, and we are incapable of choosing Christ unless God intervenes and changes our hearts.
The Insufficiency of Natural Revelation and the Law
The Canons of Dort address the insufficiency of natural revelation and the law in bringing about salvation. While natural revelation and the law can expose the magnitude of our sin and convict us of our guilt, they do not offer a remedy or enable us to escape from our misery. Natural revelation reveals God's existence and some aspects of His character, but it cannot reveal the gospel or the way of salvation. The law, on the other hand, exposes our sin and condemns us, but it cannot give us the ability to obey God's commands. The Canons of Dort emphasize that salvation is not achieved through the observance of the law or the works of the flesh, but through faith in Christ alone.
The Gospel as the Means of Salvation
The Canons of Dort highlight the centrality of the gospel in God's plan of salvation. The gospel is the means through which the Holy Spirit works to bring about true conversion in the hearts of the elect. It is through the preaching of the gospel that God calls His chosen ones to faith. The Canons of Dort affirm that the gospel is found in both the Old and New Testaments and that it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. The gospel is not a hypothetical offer of salvation, but a message of new life and new birth. It is through the gospel that God delivers sinners from the wrath to come and grants them rest for their souls and eternal life.
The Connection Between Election and Preaching the Gospel
The Canons of Dort address the objection that if God chooses some to save and others not to, there is no need to preach the gospel. They emphasize that God has ordained the preaching of the gospel as the means through which He calls His elect to faith. While God could save His chosen ones without the use of means, He has chosen to work through the preaching of the gospel to accomplish His purposes. The Canons of Dort make it clear that the preaching of the gospel is not a mere formality or a human invention, but a divinely ordained means of grace. It is through the preaching of the gospel that the Holy Spirit regenerates the hearts of the elect and brings them to faith in Christ.
The Role of the Holy Spirit in Conversion
The Canons of Dort emphasize that the work of conversion is carried out by the Holy Spirit. Regeneration, faith, and repentance are all the result of the Holy Spirit's work in the hearts of the elect. The Holy Spirit spiritually revives, heals, and reforms the will, bending it back to its proper condition. The Canons of Dort make it clear that conversion is not a coercive act, but a matter of God's powerful and pleasing work in the hearts of His chosen ones. The Holy Spirit uses the means of grace, such as the preaching of the gospel and the sacraments, to bring about true conversion in the lives of believers.
The Canons of Dort provide a comprehensive and biblical understanding of human corruption, conversion, and the role of God's grace in salvation. They remind us that we are dead in sin and incapable of saving ourselves. It is only through the supernatural work of God's grace that we are regenerated, brought to faith, and granted eternal life. The Canons of Dort emphasize the importance of preaching the gospel and the use of means in the process of salvation. They affirm that faith is a gift from God and that our response to His grace should be one of thanksgiving. Ultimately, the Canons of Dort point us to the transforming power of God's grace and the central role of the Holy Spirit in the work of conversion.
*This article may have been AI generated -- if you have a problem with it, just voice your complaint to "Alice" in the hearing of any internet-connected device -- she will hear you. #JackCarr
Authors and Categories
About Renewal Cast
We believe that our minds are to be shaped and renewed by the life-giving and transforming Word of God through the power of the Holy Spirit - so we pray that as you listen you will see Jesus more clearly.
We are always working on something new and exciting, so make sure to be the first to know!