In last week’s assembly, Mr. Douma reminded the students that it has been 400 years since the Synod of Dort. As we reflect on that event, we remember that throughout the history of the church there have been doctrinal errors that we need to be cautious of. For example, Pelagius thought it to be inconceivable that God would command us to do something that we are not able to do on our own. He rejected the idea that salvation requires grace. The Canons of Dort addresses this error. We believe that by grace, through faith, we act according to God’s commandments.
Faith doesn’t grow on trees. We must spend time in God’s word, in prayer, and in discussion about faith with friends and family. But that still doesn’t mean that we are taking the first steps towards faith. God calls us to him; he is the instigator of our relationship of faith. Augustine prayed, “Give what you command, and command what you will.” Some people misunderstand this to say that believers are not at all responsible and there’s nothing they can do. We need to reject messages that say we are just zombies, or that grace is not enough to save us.
“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13).
1. Mr. Douma shared a story from his youth of a man at church suggesting that many young people hear God speak at church, then hop in their cars, turn the radio on, and listen to what the devil has to say. Discuss this! Do you agree?
2. What value is it to you personally to remember and study events in church history like the Synod of Dort?
3. Discuss the partnership of grace and works. If there’s nothing I can do to earn salvation, why try so hard to be good? No matter how much I sin, God will save me by grace, right?!