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The punishment of the non-elect was not the ultimate end of their creation, but the glory of God

Chapter IV

OF REPROBATION OR PREDESTINATION AS IT RESPECTS THE UNGODLY.

FROM what has been said in the preceding chapter concerning the election of some, it would unavoidably follow, even supposing the Scriptures had been silent about it, that there must be a rejection of others, as every choice does, most evidently and necessarily, imply a refusal, for where there is no leaving out there can be no choice. But beside the testimony of reason, the Divine Word is full and express to our purpose; it frequently, and in terms too clear to be misunderstood, and too strong to be evaded by any who are not proof against the most cogent evidence, attests this tremendous truth, that some are “of old fore-ordained to condemnation.” I shall, in the discussion of this awful subject, follow the method hitherto observed, and throw what I have to say into several distinct positions supported by Scripture.

POSITION 7. -The punishment of the non-elect was not the ultimate end of their creation, but the glory of God. It is frequently objected to us that, according to our view of predestination, “God makes some persons on purpose to damn them,” but this we never advanced; nay, we utterly reject it as equally unworthy of God to do and of a rational being to suppose. The grand, principal end, proposed by the Deity to Himself in His formation of all things, and of mankind in particular, was the manifestation and display of His own glorious attributes. His ultimate scope in the creation of the elect is to evidence and make known by their salvation the unsearchable riches of His power and wisdom, mercy and love, and the creation of the non-elect is for the display of His justice, power, sovereignty, holiness and truth. So that nothing can be more certain than the declaration of the text we have frequently had occasion to cite, “The Lord bath made all things for Himself, even the wicked for the day of evil” (Pro 16:). On one hand, the vessels of wrath are fitted for destruction,” in order that God may “show His wrath and make His power known,” and manifest the greatness of His patience and longsuffering (Rom 9:32). On the other hand, He afore prepared the elect to salvation, that on them He might demonstrate “the riches of His glory and mercy” (ver 23). As, therefore, God Himself is the sole Author and efficient of all His own actions, so is He likewise the supreme end to which they lead and in which they terminate.

Besides, the creation and perdition of the ungodly answer another purpose (though a subordinate one) with regard to the elect themselves, who from the rejection of those learn (1) to admire the riches of the Divine love toward themselves, which planned and has accomplished the work of their salvation, while others, by nature on, on equal level with them, are excluded from a participation of the same benefits. And such a view of the Lord’s distinguishing mercy is (2) a most powerful motive to thankfulness that when they too might justly have been condemned with the world of the non-elect, they were marked out as heirs of the grace of life. (3) Hereby they are taught ardently to love their heavenly Father; (4) to trust in Him assuredly for a continued supply of grace while they are on earth and for the accomplishment of His eternal decree and promise by their glorification in heaven; and (5) to live as becomes those who have received such unspeakable mercies from the hand of their God and Saviour. So Bucer somewhere observes that the punishment of the reprobate “is useful to the elect, inasmuch as it influences them to a greater fear and abhorrence of sin, and to a firmer reliance on the goodness of God.”

Jerome Zanchius-The Doctrine of Absolute Predestination Stated and Asserted-Translated by Augustus Montague Toplady

An Inalienable Right to Grace?

March 24, 2014 4 comments

By R. C. Sproul

My favorite illustration of how callous we have become with respect to the mercy, love, and grace of God comes from the second year of my teaching career, when I was given the assignment of teaching two hundred and fifty college freshman an introductory course on the Old Testament. On the first day of the class, I gave the students a syllabus and I said: “You have to write three short term papers, five pages each. The first one is due September 30 when you come to class, the second one October 30, and the third one November 30. Make sure that you have them done by the due date, because if you don’t, unless you are physically confined to the infirmary or in the hospital, or unless there is a death in the immediate family, you will get an F on that assignment. Does everybody understand that?” They all said, “Yes.”

On September 30, two hundred and twenty-five of my students came in with their term papers. There were twenty-five terrified freshmen who came in trembling. They said: “Oh, Professor Sproul, we didn’t budget our time properly. We haven’t made the transition from high school to college the way we should have. Please don’t flunk us. Please give us a few more days to get our papers finished.”

I said: “OK, this once I will give you a break. I will let you have three more days to get your papers in, but don’t you let that happen again.”

“Oh, no, we won’t let it happen again,” they said. “Thank you so, so, so much.”

Then came October 30. This time, two hundred students came with their term papers, but fifty students didn’t have them. I asked, “Where are your papers?”

They said: “Well, you know how it is, Prof. We’re having midterms, and we had all kinds of assignments for other classes. Plus, it’s homecoming week. We’re just running a little behind. Please give us just one more chance.”

I asked: “You don’t have your papers? Do you remember what I said the last time? I said, ‘Don’t even think about not having this one in on time.’ And now, fifty of you don’t have them done.”

“Oh, yes,” they said, “we know.”

I said: “OK. I will give you three days to turn in your papers. But this is the last time I extend the due date.”

Do you know what happened? They started singing spontaneously, “We love you, Prof Sproul, oh, yes, we do.” I was the most popular professor on that campus.

But then came November 30. This time one hundred of them came with their term papers, but a hundred and fifty of them did not. I watched them walk in as cool and as casual as they could be. So I said, “Johnson!”

“What?” he replied.

“Do you have your paper?”

“Don’t worry about it, Prof,” he responded. “I’ll have it for you in a couple of days.”

I picked up the most dreadful object in a freshman’s experience, my little black grade book. I opened it up and I asked, “Johnson, you don’t have your term paper?”

He said, “No”

I said, “F,” and I wrote that in the grade book. Then I asked, “Nicholson, do you have your term paper?” “No, I don’t have it.” “F. Jenkins, where is your term paper?”

“I don’t have it.”

“F.”

Then, out of the midst of this crowd, someone shouted, “That’s not fair.” I turned around and asked, “Fitzgerald, was that you who said that?”

He said, “Yeah, it’s not fair.”

I asked, “Weren’t you late with your paper last month?”

“Yeah,” he responded.

“OK, Fitzgerald, I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. If it’s justice you want, it’s justice you will get.” So I changed his grade from October to an F. When I did that, there was a gasp in the room. I asked, “Who else wants justice?” I didn’t get any takers.

There was a song in the musical My Fair Lady titled “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face.” Well, those students had grown accustomed to my grace. The first time they were late with their papers, they were amazed by grace. The second time, they were no longer surprised; they basically assumed it. By the third time, they demanded it. They had come to believe that grace was an inalienable right, an entitlement they all deserved.

I took that occasion to explain to my students: “Do you know what you did when you said, ‘That’s not fair’? You confused justice and grace.” The minute we think that anybody owes us grace, a bell should go off in our heads to alert us that we are no longer thinking about grace, because grace, by definition, is something we don’t deserve. It is something we cannot possibly deserve. We have no merit before God, only demerit. If God should ever, ever treat us justly outside of Christ, we would perish. Our feet would surely slip.

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Excerpt from R.C. Sproul’s contribution in Holy, Holy, Holy: Proclaiming the Perfections of God. Available in the Ligonier store.

 

 

Source [Ligonier Ministries]

The passing over of the reprobate was according to the sovereign will and determinating pleasure of God

March 21, 2014 9 comments

Chapter IV

OF REPROBATION OR PREDESTINATION AS IT RESPECTS THE UNGODLY.

FROM what has been said in the preceding chapter concerning the election of some, it would unavoidably follow, even supposing the Scriptures had been silent about it, that there must be a rejection of others, as every choice does, most evidently and necessarily, imply a refusal, for where there is no leaving out there can be no choice. But beside the testimony of reason, the Divine Word is full and express to our purpose; it frequently, and in terms too clear to be misunderstood, and too strong to be evaded by any who are not proof against the most cogent evidence, attests this tremendous truth, that some are “of old fore-ordained to condemnation.” I shall, in the discussion of this awful subject, follow the method hitherto observed, and throw what I have to say into several distinct positions supported by Scripture.

POSITION 4. -As the future faith and good works of the elect were not the cause of their being chosen, so neither were the future sins of the reprobate the cause of their being passed by, but both the choice of the former and the decretive omission of the latter were owing, merely and entirely, to the sovereign will and determinating pleasure of God.

We distinguish between preterition, or bare non-election, which is a purely negative thing, and condemnation, or appointment to punishment: the will of God was the cause of the former, the sins of the non-elect are the reason of the latter. Though God determined to leave, and actually does leave, whom He pleases in the spiritual darkness and death of nature, out of which He is under no obligation to deliver them, yet He does not positively condemn any of these merely because He hath not chosen them, but because they have sinned against Him. (See Rom 1:21-24; Rom 2:8,9; 2Th 2:12.) Their preterition or non-inscription in the book of life is not unjust on the part of God, because out of a world of rebels, equally involved in guilt, God (who might, with out any impeachment of His justice, have passed by all, as He did the reprobate angels) was, most unquestionably, at liberty, if it so pleased Him, to extend the sceptre of His clemency to some and to pitch upon whom He would as the objects of it. Nor was this exemption of some any injury to the non-elect, whose case would have been just as bad as it is, even supposing the others had not been chosen at all. Again, the condemnation of the ungodly (for it is under that character alone that they are the subjects of punishment and were ordained to it) is not unjust, seeing it is for sin and only for sin. None are or will be punished but for their iniquities, and all iniquity is properly meritorious of punishment: where, then, is the supposed unmercifulness, tyranny or injustice of the Divine procedure?

Jerome Zanchius-The Doctrine of Absolute Predestination Stated and Asserted-Translated by Augustus Montague Toplady

The Spirit bears witness to what has been written

March 19, 2014 1 comment

calvin.jpg_7MA21605611-0015Second Objection from the words of Paul as to the letter and spirit. The Answer, with an explanation of Paul’s meaning. How the Spirit and the written Word are indissolubly connected.

3. Their cavil about our cleaving to the dead letter carries with it the punishment which they deserve for despising Scripture. It is clear that Paul is there arguing against false apostles, (2 Corinthians 3:6,) who, by recommending the law without Christ, deprived the people of the benefit of the New Covenant, by which the Lord engages that he will write his law on the hearts of believers, and engrave it on their inward parts. The letter therefore is dead, and the law of the Lord kills its readers when it is dissevered from the grace of Christ, and only sounds in the ear without touching the heart. But if it is effectually impressed on the heart by the Spirit; if it exhibits Christ, it is the word of life converting the soul, and making wise the simple. Nay, in the very same passage, the apostle calls his own preaching the ministration of the Spirit, (2 Corinthians 3:8,) intimating that the Holy Spirit so cleaves to his own truth, as he has expressed it in Scripture, that he then only exerts and puts forth his strength when the word is received with due honor and respect.

There is nothing repugnant here to what was lately said, (chap. 7) that we have no great certainty of the word itself, until it be confirmed by the testimony of the Spirit. For the Lord has so knit together the certainty of his word and his Spirit, that our minds are duly imbued with reverence for the word when the Spirit shining upon it enables us there to behold the face of God; and, on the other hand, we embrace the Spirit with no danger of delusion when we recognize him in his image, that is, in his word. Thus, indeed, it is. God did not produce his word before men for the sake of sudden display, intending to abolish it the moment the Spirit should arrive; but he employed the same Spirit, by whose agency he had administered the word, to complete his work by the efficacious confirmation of the word. In this way Christ explained to the two disciples, (Luke 24:27,) not that they were to reject the Scriptures and trust to their own wisdom, but that they were to understand the Scriptures. In like manner, when Paul says to the Thessalonians, “Quench not the Spirit,” he does not carry them aloft to empty speculation apart from the word; he immediately adds, “Despise not prophesying,” (1 Thessalonians 5:19, 20.) By this, doubtless, he intimates that the light of the Spirit is quenched the moment prophesying fall into contempt. How is this answered by those swelling enthusiasts, in whose idea the only true illumination consists, in carelessly laying aside, and bidding adieu to the Word of God, while, with no less confidence than folly, they fasten upon any dreaming notion which may have casually sprung up in their minds? Surely a very different sobriety becomes the children of God. As they feel that without the Spirit of God they are utterly devoid of the light of truth, so they are not ignorant that the word is the instrument by which the illumination of the Spirit is dispensed. They know of no other Spirit than the one who dwelt and spake in the apostles — the Spirit by whose oracles they are daily invited to the hearing of the word.

John Calvin-Institutes of the Christian Religion-Book I-Chapter 9-Henry Beveridge Translation

The Wednesday Word: A Bad Case of SDS!

The Wednesday Word: A Bad Case of SDS!

 

There are many Christians who have not as yet grasped the applications of the gospel. They have no idea how much God loves them.

Let me ask you—do you enjoy being a Christian—a follower of Jesus? Some folks, if they are honest, would have to answer “no” to that. They are not satisfied; they have a bad case of ‘SDS’… They’re ‘Saved, Dissatisfied and Stuck!

Does this description fit you? You are earnest, but you have no joy, you are sincere, but you have no peace. You are not sure whether or not God accepts you and your performance! You quietly think that if you can obey God He will accept you, but if you fail and disobey, He will reject you. You, my friend have caught a bad dose of religion! You are not walking in the gospel.

In the gospel, we learn that we are accepted with God, not because of our doing, but because of the doing of another, the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:19). This is good news—this is Gospel Truth. We are accepted because of His performance. And yes, we do obey the Lord …but not to gain acceptance, rather, we obey because we have already been graciously accepted (Titus 3:8).

Acceptance with God is a central benefit of the gospel (Ephesians 1:6; John 1:16). This is a demonstration of God’s wisdom. After all, there can be no acceptable worship unless there are acceptable worshippers. This is not the way that religion tells it. The religious man thinks that by worship and performing his religion he can find acceptance with God: But the truth is just the opposite. Man must first be accepted and only then can he worship. He must first be accepted before He can present any acceptable worship to the Father.

The great mystery, when we consider things, is how the all-holy God can possibly accept us. We are, after all, by nature corrupted and vile sinners (Psalm 148:2; Mark 7:21-23). The gospel, however, answers this question for, by the gospel, we understand that our acceptance is in Christ alone! He has bought and paid for us with blood … His blood! Faith grasps and confidently holds to this.Faith knows that our works, prayers and tears cannot save us! Faith grasps that we are saved by Christ alone apart from any contribution we might hope to make. Faith causes us to rest in the truth that Christ’s blood has powerfully redeemed us!

Someone once said it like this;

 

“Faith is looking to Christ, not to how much faith I have. It is not faith that saves, but it is Christ who saves!

Faith is looking to Christ and not to my prayers, my worship, nor my meditations.

Faith is looking to Christ and neither to the name I wear nor the doctrines I hold. It is not what, but Whom we believe.

Faith is looking to Christ and not the law. The law wounds but never heals; it kills but never gives life.

Faith is looking to Christ and not to His mother, nor His apostles, nor to an image of a cross. There is one God and one Mediator.

Faith is looking to Christ, and not to the brethren; neither the best nor the worst of them – we put no confidence in the flesh.

Faith is looking to Christ, neither to my strength nor to my weakness. All grace or strength we have is by His grace, and when I am weak, then I am strong.

Faith is looking to Christ, not my works! Without Him our righteousness is filthy rags.

Faith is looking to Christ yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Faith is looking to Christ at all times, and we never stop coming, looking, resting, trusting, believing, depending nor leaning on the Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles McKee

 

Minister of the Gospel

The Grace Centre

6 Quay Street, New Ross,

County Wexford, Ireland.

www.milesmckee.com 

Please forward the Wednesday Word to your friends and family.

The Reign of Grace Free-Ebook

reignofgraceThe Reign of Grace available in Kindle .mobi and ePub formats

READ THE INTRODUCTION HERE…

THE gospel of Reigning Grace, being a doctrine truly divine, has ever been the object of the world’s contempt. It was of old a stumbling-block to the self-righteous Jew, and foolishness to the philosophic Greek. Paul, who was a resolute asserter of the honours of grace, and indefatigable in preaching Christ, found it so by repeated experience; and that not only among the illiterate and profane, but also among the learned and the devout. Nay, he had frequent occasion to observe, that the religious devotees of his age were the first in opposing the doctrine he preached, and the most hardened enemies against the truth of God. The polite, the learned, the religious, were all agreed to load both his character and his doctrine with the foulest reproaches. Nor was this treatment peculiar to Paul, but common to all his contemporaries, who espoused the same glorious cause, and laboured in the same beneficent work. The doctrine they preached was charged with licentiousness. Their enemies boldly affirmed that they said; Let us do evil that good may come. Thus were their character and their labours impeached: that, as hateful to God; these, as destructive to man.

But what was the ground of this impious charge! Were they loose in their morals, or scandalous in their lives. No such thing. Had they not as much regard for practical religion and true morality as any of their objectors! More, far more than they all. Did they never mention good works as necessary to answer any valuable end in the Christian life? They often pressed the performance of them, as absolutely necessary to answer various important purposes, both in the sight of God and man. What then could be the reason of’ so hateful a charge? Because their doctrine was not in the least adapted to, gratify the pride of man. They taught, that without the atonement made on the cross, and the grace revealed in redeeming blood, the state of the best men would have been absolutely desperate ? desperate as that of the devils, and of those already damned. And as the apostles were free to declare, that the state of the most respectable part &mankind was evil ? dreadfully evil ? evil as to those things, for the sake of which they most highly esteemed themselves; so they boldly preached a perfect Saviour, and s finished salvation, to the most worthless and vile.

These primitive teachers and infallible guides were not in the least acquainted with those terms and conditions, prerequisites and qualifications, the performing and attaining of which are, by many, accounted so necessary to acceptance with God. They knew but of’ one way in which a sinner might be accepted of God, and justified before him; and that was entirely of grace, through the perfect work of Christ alone. The way of justification which they taught is absolutely pure and unmixed. In their doctrine, on this important subject, grace does not only appear; it shines, reigns, triumphs: it is the only thing. There is not discernible in it the least tincture of those notions which foster pride, or cherish self-esteem. All those fine distinctions, invented by the proud philosopher, or the self-righteous moralist, which tend in any degree to support the opinion of human worthiness, and to obscure our views of divine grace, are by them entirely set aside, and totally annihilated. The most shining deeds and valuable qualities that can be found among men, though highly useful and truly excellent, when set in their proper places, and referred to suitable ends, are, as to the grand article of justification treated as nonentities. In this respect, the most zealous professor, with all his laboured performances, stands on a level with the most profane. The apostolic truth addressing an to whom it comes, as guilty, condemned, perishing wretches, leaves no room for preference or boasting in any; that so the whole glory of our salvation may be secured to that grace which is infinitely rich and absolutely free.

At this, the devout Pharisee and the decent moralist are highly offended. Such doctrines being advanced, they think it incumbent upon them to stand up in defence of what they call an holy life: and to support the sinking credit of good works, as having a considerable efficacy in procuring our acceptance with God. This many persons frequently do, much more by talking about their necessity, than by performing them. Now they think it their duty to rail at the preacher as an avowed enemy to holiness; nor will they spare to give him the honourable title of, A friend of publicans and sinners. Now innumerable slanders are cast on the doctrine of grace, as being licentious; and on the ministers of it, as opening the floodgates of all iniquity. For they suppose that every thing bad may be justly expected from those who openly disavow all dependence on their own duties; and whose hope of eternal happiness arises, not from services which they perform, but from grace which the gospel reveals ? not from the worth which they possess, but from the work which Christ has wrought. Thus they despise the gospel under the fair pretence of a more than common concern for the interests of holiness.

Nor is this the only offence which the gospel gives. For as it is entirely inconsistent with the natural notions of men concerning acceptance with God, and contrary to every scheme of salvation which human reason suggests; as it will admit of no copartner in relieving a distressed conscience, or in bringing deliverance to a guilty soul, but leaves every one that slights it and seeks for assistance from any other quarter, to perish under an everlasting curse; so the pride of the self-sufficient kindles into resentment against it, as a most uncharitable doctrine and quite unsociable. Nor can the faithful dispensers of sacred truth fail to share in the honour of these reproaches. For while they dare to affirm that this gospel, so hateful to the sons of pride, exhibits the only way of a sinnner’s access to his offended Sovereign; and that all who oppose it, and all who embrace its counterfeit, are left in the hands of divine justice without a Mediator; they are sure to be accounted persons of contracted minds, and very far from a liberal way of thinking. They are considered as the dupes of bigotry, and little better than the enemies of mankind. He, indeed, who pretends to be a friend to revealed truth, but is cool and indifferent to its honour and interest; whose extensive charity is such, that he can allow those who widely differ from him in the capital articles of the Christian faith, to be safe in their own way; may enjoy his peculiar sentiments without much fear of disturbance. But though such conduct may be applauded, under a false notion of Christian can-dour, and of a catholic spirit; though it may be the way to maintain a friendly intercourse among multitudes whose leading sentiments are widely different; yet it will be deemed, by the God of truth, as deserving no better name, than a joint opposition to the spirit and design of his gospel. For such a timid and lukewarm profession of truth is little better than a denial of it ? than open hostility against it. To seek for peace at the expense of truth, will be found in the end, no other than a wicked conspiracy against both God and man. Such, however, as love the truth, will boldly declare against all its counterfeits, and every deviation from it: and, whatever may be the consequence, they will say with him of old; Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel, let him be accursed.

Thus the genuine gospel will always appear like an insult on the taste of the public. Wherever it comes, if it be not received, it awakens disgust and provokes abhorrence. Nor can it be otherwise. For its principal design is to mortify the pride of man, and to display the glory of grace; to throw all human excellence down to the dust, and to elevate, even to thrones of glory, the needy and the wretched; to show that every thing which exalteth itself against the knowledge of Christ, is an abomination in the sight of God; and that He who is despised of men and abhorred by the nations, is Jehovah’s eternal delight. (Isa. xlix. 7 Matt. iii. 17) The ancient gospel is an unceremonious thing. It pays no respect to the academic because of his profound learning; nor to the moralist on account of his upright conduct. It has not the least regard to the courtier, because of his pompous honours; nor to the devotee, for the sake of his zeal or his righteousness. No, the potent prince and the abject slave, the wise philosopher and the ignorant rustic, the virtuous lady and the infamous prostitute, stand on the same level in its comprehensive sight. Its business is with the worthless and the miserable, whomsoever they be. If these be relieved, its end is gained. If these be made happy, its Author is glorified, whatever may become of the rest. Towards these it constantly wears the most friendly aspect, and rejoices to do them good. But the self-sufficient of every rank are treated by it with the utmost reserve, and beheld with a steady contempt. The hungry it filleth with good things, but the rich it sendeth emptor away.

These considerations may serve to show us the true state of the case, as it stood between Paul and his opponents. The situation of things was much the same between Protestants and Papists, at, and for some time after the Reformation. Nor will the apostolic doctrine ever fail to be attended with strenuous opposition and foul re-preaches, while ignorance of its real nature, and legal pride, prevail in the hearts of men. Many, indeed, are the methods that have been devised, to render the unpalatable truth more generally acceptable, and to obviate the offence of the cross. But what have been the consequences I The gospel has been corrupted; the consciences of awakened sinners have been left to grope in the dark, for that consolation which nothing but the unadulterated truth could give; and, instead of promoting holiness, the reverse has been awfully manifest. It therefore behooves every lover of sacred truth, to let it stand on its own basis, and not to tamper with it. To leave all its credit and all its success in the world, to its own intrinsic worth ? to that authority with which it is closed, and to the management of that sovereign Being who ordained it for his own glory.

But however the doctrine of reigning grace may be despised by the self-sufficient, it will ever he revered by the poor in spirit. For by it they are informed of an honourable way of escape from the wrath to come, which they know they have justly deserved. To the sensible sinner, therefore, it must always be a joyful sound. And though such persons as are ignorant of its nature, tendency, and design, are always ready to imagine that it has an unfriendly aspect upon morality and good works, when preached in its glorious freeness; yet we may boldly affirm, that it is the grand instrument ordained by a holy God, for informing the ignorant, comforting the disconsolate, and rescuing the profligate from that worst of vassalage, the servitude of sin, and subjection to Satan. Such is the benign tendency of the glorious gospel! Such is its friendly and sanctifying influence on the hearts of men!

It will indeed be acknowledged that this doctrine may be held in licentiousness by those that profess it. But then it will be as confidently maintained, that whoever holds it in unrighteousness never received the love of that sacred truth, or experienced the power of it. For, to have a bare conviction of divine truth in the mind, and to experience its power on the heart, are very different things. The former may produce an outward profession: the latter will elevate the affections, turn the corrupt bias of the will, and influence the whole conduct. With the steadiest persuasion, therefore, of the holy nature and tendency of the doctrine of divine grace, as it is in itself, and as it operates on the minds and manners of all those who know it in truth; I proceed to give, not a full display, (that is infinitely too high for mortals,) but some brief hints concerning that grace which reigns; and of the way in which it is manifested, so as to demonstrate its power, glory, and majesty, in the salvation of sinners. This I shall do by endeavouring to illustrate that important and charming passage, recorded in Romans the fifth and twenty-first; EVEN SO MIGHT GRACE REIGN, THROUGH RIGHTEOUSNESS, UNTO ETERNAL LIFE, BY Jesus CHRIST OUR LORD. And while the author, conscious of his own insufficiency, looks up to the Spirit of wisdom for divine illumination, that he may write with all the precision and sanctity of truth, in opening the noble subject of the ensuing treatise; he would entreat the reader to peruse, with candour and impartiality, the contents of the following pages.

 

Source [Monergism.com]

God did, from all eternity, decree to leave some of Adam’s fallen posterity in their sins

February 28, 2014 Leave a comment

Chapter IV

OF REPROBATION OR PREDESTINATION AS IT RESPECTS THE UNGODLY.

FROM what has been said in the preceding chapter concerning the election of some, it would unavoidably follow, even supposing the Scriptures had been silent about it, that there must be a rejection of others, as every choice does, most evidently and necessarily, imply a refusal, for where there is no leaving out there can be no choice. But beside the testimony of reason, the Divine Word is full and express to our purpose; it frequently, and in terms too clear to be misunderstood, and too strong to be evaded by any who are not proof against the most cogent evidence, attests this tremendous truth, that some are “of old fore-ordained to condemnation.” I shall, in the discussion of this awful subject, follow the method hitherto observed, and throw what I have to say into several distinct positions supported by Scripture.

POSITION 1. -God did, from all eternity, decree to leave some of Adam’s fallen posterity in their sins, and to exclude them from the participation of Christ and His benefits. For the clearing of this, let it be observed that in all ages the much greater part of mankind have been destitute even of the external means of grace, and have not been favoured with the preaching of God’s Word or any revelation of His will. Thus, anciently, the Jews, who were in number the fewest of all people, were, nevertheless, for a long series of ages, the only nation to whom the Deity was pleased to make any special discovery of Himself, and it is observable that our Lord Himself principally confined the advantages of His public ministry to that people; nay, He forbade His disciples to go among any others (Mat 10:5,6), and did not commission them to preach the Gospel indiscriminately to Jews and Gentiles until after His resurrection (Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47). Hence many nations and communities never had the advantage of hearing the Word preached, and consequently were strangers to the faith that cometh thereby.

It is not indeed improbable, but some individuals in these unenlightened countries might belong to the secret election of grace, and the habit of faith might be wrought in these. However, be that as it will, our argument is not affected by it. It is evident that the nations of the world were generally ignorant, not only of God Himself, but likewise of the way to please Him, the true manner of acceptance with Him, and the means of arriving at the everlasting enjoyment of Him. Now, if God had been pleased to have saved those people, would He not have vouchsafed them the ordinary means of salvation? Would He not have given them all things necessary in order to that end? But it is undeniable matter of fact that He did not, and to very many nations of the earth does not at this day. If, then, the Deity can consistently with His attributes deny to some the means of grace, and shut them up in gross darkness and unbelief, why should it be thought incompatible with His immensely glorious perfections to exclude some persons from grace itself, and from that eternal life which is connected with it, especially seeing He is equally the Lord and sovereign Disposer of the end to which the means lead, as of the means which lead to that end? Both one and the other are His, and He most justly may, as He most assuredly will, do what He pleases with His own.

Besides, it being also evident that many, even of them who live in places where the Gospel is preached, as well as of those among whom it never was preached, die strangers to God and holiness, and without experiencing anything of the gracious influences of His Spirit, we may reasonably and safely conclude that one cause of their so dying is because it was not the Divine will to communicate His grace unto them, since, had it been His will, He would actually have made them partakers thereof, and had they been partakers of it they could not have died without it. Now, if it was the will of God in time to refuse them this grace, it must have been His will from eternity, since His will is, as Himself, the same yesterday, today, and forever.

The actions of God being thus fruits of His eternal purpose, we may safely, and without any danger of mistake, argue from them to that and infer that God therefore does such and such things, because He decreed to do them, His own will being the sole cause of all His works. So that, from His actually leaving some men in final impenitency and unbelief, we assuredly gather that it was His everlasting determination so to do, and consequently that He reprobated some from before the foundation of the world. And as this inference is strictly rational, so is it perfectly Scriptural. Thus the Judge will in the last day declare to those on the left hand, “I never knew you” (Mat 7:23), 1:e., “I never, no, not from eternity, loved, approved or acknowledged you for Mine,” or, in other words, “I always hated you.” Our Lord (in John 17:) divides the whole human race into two great classes – one He calls the world; the other, “the men who were given Him out of the world.” The latter, it is said, the Father loved, even as He loved Christ Himself (ver. 23), but He loved Christ “before the foundation of the world” (ver. 24), 1:e., from everlasting; therefore He loved the elect so too, and if He loved these from eternity, it follows, by all the rules of antithesis, that He hated the others as early. So, “The children being not yet born, neither having done good or evil, that the purpose of God,” etc. (Rom 9:). From the example of the two twins, Jacob and Esau, the apostle infers the eternal election of some men and the eternal rejection of all the rest.

Jerome Zanchius-The Doctrine of Absolute Predestination Stated and Asserted-Translated by Augustus Montague Toplady

The Law-Gospel Contrast

February 24, 2014 3 comments

by Tom Hicks

I submit that we need a clear understanding of the law/gospel contrast, if we want to be healthy in our preaching, churches, families, and individual sanctification. The law/gospel distinction is often misunderstood or overlooked, but it is thoroughly biblical and vital. Consider three different places in Scripture that teach the law/gospel contrast:

Galatians 4:22-26 says, “For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.”

These verses contrast the two covenants of law and gospel, which are typologically revealed in Hagar and Sarah. The law covenant is a covenant of slavery to guilt and condemnation. The gospel covenant is a covenant of freedom to life and justification.

 

Read the entire article here.

The Meaning of “Alone” When We Confess Grace Alone or Christ Alone

February 24, 2014 4 comments

“Even Roman Catholics believe that salvation is by grace… that is not the issue…and never has been … the issue is that salvation is by grace ALONE. In other words, Jesus is not only necessary but sufficient to save us to the uttermost.”

 

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The true believer ought to believe his own election and those of fellow-believers

February 21, 2014 Leave a comment

Chapter III

CONCERNING ELECTION UNTO LIFE, OR PREDESTINATION AS IT RESPECTS THE SAINTS IN PARTICULAR

HAVING considered predestination as it regards all men in general, and briefly shown that by it some are appointed to wrath and others to obtain salvation by Jesus Christ (1Th 5:9), I now come to consider, more distinctly, that branch of it which relates to the saints only, and is commonly styled election. Its definition I have given already in the close of the first chapter. What I have farther to advance, from the Scriptures, on this important subject, I shall reduce to several positions, and subjoin a short explanation and confirmation of each.

POSITION 8. -The true believer ought not only to be thoroughly established in the point of his own election, but should likewise believe the election of all his other fellow-believers and brethren in Christ. Now, as there are most evident and indubitable marks of election laid down in Scripture, a child of God, by examining himself whether those marks are found on him, may arrive at a sober and well-grounded certainty of his own particular interest in that unspeakable privilege; and by the same rule whereby he judges of himself he may likewise (but with caution) judge of others. If I see the external fruits and criteria of election on this or that man, I may reasonably, and in a judgment of charity, conclude such an one to be an elect person. So St. Paul, beholding the gracious fruits which appeared in the believing Thessalonians, gathered from thence that they were elected of God (1Th 1:4,5), and knew also the election of the Christian Ephesians (Eph 1:4,5), as Peter also did that of the members of the churches in Pontus, Galatia, etc. (1 Peter 1:2). It is true, indeed, that all conclusions of this nature are not now infallible, but our judgments are liable to mistake, and God only, whose is the book of life, and who is the Searcher of hearts, can absolutely know them that are His (2Ti 2:19); yet we may, without a presumptuous intrusion into things not seen, arrive at a moral certainty in this matter. And I cannot see how Christian love can be cultivated, how we can call one another brethren in the Lord, or how believers can hold religious fellowship and communion with each other, unless they have some solid and visible reason to conclude that they are loved with the same everlasting love, were redeemed by the same Saviour, are partakers of like grace, and shall reign in the same glory.

But here let me suggest one very necessary caution, viz., that though we may, at least very probably, infer the election of some persons from the marks and appearances of grace which may be discoverable in them, yet we can never judge any man whatever to be a reprobate. That there are reprobate persons is very evident from Scripture (as we shall presently show), but who they are is known alone to Him, who alone can tell who and what men are not written in the Lamb’s book of life. I grant that there are some particular persons mentioned in the Divine Word of whose reprobation no doubt can be made, such as Esau and Judas; but now the canon of Scripture is completed, we dare not, we must not pronounce any man living to be non-elect, be he at present ever so wicked. The vilest sinner may, for aught we can tell, appertain to the election of grace, and be one day wrought upon by the Spirit of God. This we know, that those who die in unbelief and are finally unsanctified cannot be saved, because God in His Word tells us so, and has represented these as marks of reprobation; but to say that such and such individuals, whom, perhaps, we now see dead in sins, shall never be converted to Christ, would be a most presumptuous assertion, as well as an inexcusable breach of the charity which hopeth all things.

Jerome Zanchius-The Doctrine of Absolute Predestination Stated and Asserted-Translated by Augustus Montague Toplady

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