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The Canons of Dort, First Head of Doctrine, Article 3

Synod%20of%20Dort.jpgArticle 3: The Preaching of the Gospel

In order that people may be brought to faith, God mercifully sends proclaimers of this very joyful message to the people he wishes and at the time he wishes. By this ministry people are called to repentance and faith in Christ crucified. For how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without someone preaching? And how shall they preach unless they have been sent? (Rom. 10:14-15).


The authors of the Canons are careful to link the end (God’s gracious desire to save sinners who do not deserve his favor), with the means by which those same sinners are called to faith in Christ--the preaching, teaching and communication of the gospel (the message of Christ crucified) to non-Christians.  

The Canons correctly remind us of Paul’s words in Romans 10:14-15, well worth quoting in their entirety:  “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed?  And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?  And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" (Romans 10:14-15)  

In 1 Corinthians 1:18-20, Paul points out that “the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart."  Where is the one who is wise?  Where is the scribe?  Where is the debater of this age?  Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?”  According to Paul, it is the preaching of Christ crucified that is power of God, and the specific means that God uses to grant us faith.  This is why in Romans 1:16, Paul can state, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” 

Although the preaching of Christ crucified is foolishness to the Greek, a stumbling block to the Jew, and probably both to a modern American, the preaching of Christ crucified is the only divinely ordained means through which God offers forgiveness of sins to sinners.  As Calvin has said, “every time the gospel is preached it is as if God himself came in person solemnly to summon us.”

As the Canons make plain, it is God, in his grace, who uses the proclamation of Christ crucified--the foolishness of preaching--to call us from darkness to light, and to grant us entrance into the kingdom of his dear Son.

Therefore, in this article, the Canons remind us that God has not only ordained the ends (those whom he will save), he has ordained the means by which he will save them--the preaching of Christ and him crucified. 

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