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Objections to Election-Objection 3

Three: It represents God as arbitrary.

Answer: It represents God, not as arbitrary, but as exercising the free choice of a wise and sovereign will, in ways and for reasons which are inscrutable to us.

To deny the possibility of such a choice is to deny God’s personality. To deny that God has reasons for his choice is to deny his wisdom.

The doctrine of election finds the reasons for God’s choice of some men to be, not in men or their wills, but in God and his grace.

Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting (1 Tim. 1:16).

William Sasser-Objections to Election

Objections to Election-Objection 1

One: It Is Unjust to Men.

“It makes God to be unfair to those who are not included in the purpose of salvation.”

Answer: Election does not deal simply with men as neutral creatures, but with sinful, guilty and condemned creatures. That any sinner should be saved is a matter of pure grace. Those who are not included in God’s purpose of salvation suffer only the due reward of their deeds.

We may better praise God that he saves any, than charge him with injustice because he does not save all. God can say the following to all men, saved or unsaved:

Friend, I do thee no wrong.…Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own (Matt. 20:13, 15)? The question is not whether a father will treat his children alike (remember some people are the Devil’s children), but whether a sovereign must treat all condemned rebels alike. It is obviously not true that a Governor who pardons one convict from the penitentiary is obligated to pardon all. Such logic is nonsense.

In God’s government, there is still less reason for objection for mercy being shown to some; for God freely offers pardon to all.

 

William Sasser-Objections to Election

Heart Corruptions

O God, may Thy Spirit speak in me that I may speak to thee. I have no merit, let the merit of Jesus stand for me. I am undeserving, but I look to Thy tender mercy. I am full of infirmities, wants, sin; Thou art full of grace.

I confess my sin, my frequent sin, my wilful sin; all my powers of body and soul are defiled: a fountain of pollution is deep within my nature. There are chambers of foul images within my being; I have gone from one odious room to another, walked in a no-man’s-land of dangerous imaginations, pried into the secrets of my fallen nature.

I am utterly ashamed that I am what I am in myself; I have no green shoot in me nor fruit, but thorns and thistles; I am a fading leaf that the wind drives away; I live bare and barren as a winter tree, unprofitable, fit to be hewn down and burnt. Lord, dost Thou have mercy on me?

Thou hast struck a heavy blow at my pride, at the false god of self, and I lie in pieces before Thee. But Thou hast given me another master and lord, Thy Son, Jesus, and now my heart is turned towards holiness, my life speeds as an arrow from a bow towards complete obedience to Thee. Help me in all my doings to put down sin and to humble pride. Save me from the love of the world and the pride of life, from everything that is natural to fallen man, and let Christ’s nature be seen in me day by day. Grant me grace to bear Thy will without repining, and delight to be not only chiselled, squared, or fashioned, but separated from the old rock where I have been embedded so long, and lifted from the quarry to the upper air, where I may be built in Christ for ever.

 

Taken from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, edited by Arthur Bennett. Reformatted by Eternal Life Ministries.

The Everlasting Covenant

June 24, 2014 1 comment

Genesis 12:3: “I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

This is the first promise made to Abram by God, concerning those aspects of the promise given in Genesis 3:15, in which the Seed of the woman will ultimately bring about the grace of God to all nations through that Seed, which is Jesus Christ. [1]

Historically and Biblically, this is looked upon, in Covenant Theology, as the historical establishment of the Covenant of Grace; however, the covenant made with Abraham is not mentioned until Genesis 15:18, and the rudiments of that covenant, when it is mentioned, are the promises of the land for the people which shall spring out of Abraham’s loins. This is set forth in Genesis 17:

Genesis 17:7-13: “And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.” And God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring, both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant.

 
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Grace Active

O God, may Thy Spirit speak in me that I may speak to Thee. I Lord Jesus, great high priest, Thou hast opened a new and living way by which a fallen creature can approach Thee with acceptance.

Help me to contemplate the dignity of Thy Person, the perfectness of Thy sacrifice, the effectiveness of Thy intercession.

O what blessedness accompanies devotion, when under all the trials that weary me, the cares that corrode me, the fears that disturb me, the infirmities that oppress me, I can come to Thee in my need and feel peace beyond understanding!

The grace that restores is necessary to preserve, lead, guard, supply, help me. And here Thy saints encourage my hope; they were once poor and are now rich, bound and are now free, tried and now are victorious.

Every new duty calls for more grace than I now possess, but not more than is found in Thee, the divine treasury in whom all fullness dwells. To Thee I repair for grace upon grace, until every void made by sin be replenished and I am filled with all Thy fullness.

May my desires be enlarged and my hopes emboldened, that I may honour Thee by my entire dependency and the greatness of my expectation.

Do Thou be with me, and prepare me for all the smiles of prosperity, the frowns of adversity, the losses of substance, the death of friends, the days of darkness, the changes of life, and the last great change of all. May I find thy grace sufficient for all my needs.

 

Taken from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, edited by Arthur Bennett. Reformatted by Eternal Life Ministries.

Appendix on James 5:14-16 Pt 4-The Dispensationalists

Arthur PinkFourth, there is the grotesque idea of the Dispensationalists. These is a class of men who pose as being exceptionally enlightened, and under the guise of “rightly dividing the Word of Truth” arbitrarily partition the Scriptures, affirming “this is not for us,” “that does not pertain to this present era of Grace,” “that relates to the Tribulation period,” “this will be fulfilled in the Millennium.” Because the opening verse of James reads, “To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greetings,” these robbers of God’s children declare this epistle is “entirely Jewish;” as well might they reason that the first epistle of Paul is designed only for Papists because it is addressed “To all that be in Rome” (Romans 1:1). The epistle of James belongs to all the “beloved brethren,” to all born-again souls (1:16, 18). It is surely striking that the very passage we are here considering (5:14-16) comes right between a reference to Job (a Gentile) who endured patiently his affliction and found the Lord to be “pitiful and of tender mercy” (v. 11) and to Elijah who is described as “a man subject to like passions as we are” yet mighty in prayer (v. 17)—as though the Spirit was anticipating and refuting this mad notion.

Now where such widely-different interpretations are given of a passage, it usually follows that the true one lies somewhere between two extremes, and such we believe is the case here. We are very loathe to regard our passage as being an obsolete one, that it refers to something which pertained only to the apostolic age and relates not at all to us. When referring to the Papish travesty of this “anointing with oil” Thomas Goodwin said, “The Reformed churches seeing that such a sacrament could not be and this must needs be a perversion of it, did justly reject it, only in rejecting it (as in some other things) they went too far, even denying it to have that use of restoring the sick as a seal of the promise, and an indefinite means to convey that blessing which God in mercy hath appointed it to be.” We are strongly inclined to agree with this eminent Puritan that the churches which grew out of the Reformation went too far when they set aside this passage as containing Divine directions to be followed by Gospel churches throughout this Christian era. Such a sweeping conclusion needs qualifying.

The knotty point to be settled is, how far and at which points is this qualification to be made? Personally we believe the general principle and promise of the passage holds good for all generations seasons of great spiritual declension and deadness only excepted. In normal times it is the privilege of the saint—when seriously ill, or suffering great pain, and not on every light occasion—to send for the “elders” (pastors, ministers) of the local Gospel church to which he belongs, for they who preach God’s Word to him should surely be the fittest to spread his case before Him: cf. Job 42:8. They are to pray over him, commending him to the mercy of God and seeking recovery for him if that be according to the Divine will: whether or not the “anointing with oil” should accompany the praying is a detail on which we are not prepared to dogmatize; but where the sick one desires it, his request should be complied with. The kind of oil is not specified, though most likely olive oil was used in the first century.

It should be pointed out that those promises of God which relate to temporal and eternal mercies are quite different from those pertaining to spiritual and eternal things, the former being general and indefinite and not unconditional and absolute as are many of the latter, and therefore as God reserves to Himself the freedom to make them good when, as, and to whom He pleases, we must ask in full submission to His sovereign pleasure. To illustrate: if I am starting out on a journey I ask God to preserve me from all harm and danger if that be His holy will (Romans 1:10), but I make no such proviso when I request Him to deliver me from those who assault my soul (2 Timothy 4:18). Thus “the prayer of faith” here is not a definite expectation that God will heal, but a peaceful assurance that He will do that which is most for His glory and the sick one good. That the promise of <590515>James 5:15 is an indefinite and not an absolute one is clear from this consideration: if it were not so, he could continually claim the promise and so never die— the “and IF he have committed sins” further confirms the indefiniteness of what is here in view.

Some are likely to object against what has been pointed out in the last paragraph and say, But faith must have a foundation to rest upon, and it has none other than the Word of God: if then there be here no definite promise to lay hold of and plead before God, the “prayer of faith” is impossible, for there is no assurance the sick one will be healed. That may sound very plausible and pious, yet it is wrong. There is a faith of reliance and submission as well as a faith of expectation. There is no higher, no stronger, no grander faith than one which has such confidence in the wisdom and goodness of God as leads me to present my case to Him and say “Do as seemeth Thee good.” It is always a help when we can plead a promise, but God is greater than all His promises and where some specific need or emergency be not covered by some express promise, faith may count upon the mercy and power of God Himself— this is what Abraham did: Hebrews 11:19!

Personally we greatly fear that there are very few “elders” now left on earth whom it would be any good to send for in an emergency: only those living close to God and blessed with strong faith would be of any use. This is a day of “small things,” nevertheless the Lord remains unchanged and ready to show Himself strong on behalf of those who walk uprightly. Though there be no spiritual elders available, yet God is accessible; seek unto Him, and if He grants you the “prayer of faith” then healing is certain either by natural means or by supernatural intervention. “The Lord is undoubtedly present with His people to assist them in all ages, and when necessary He heals their diseases as much as He did in ancient times; but He does not display those miraculous powers or dispense miracles by the hands of apostles, because that gift was only of temporary duration” (Calvin)

“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed” (v. 16). Here the scope of our passage is widened: in verse 13 the afflicted or tried one is to pray for himself, in verse 14 the ministers are to pray for the one seriously sick, now fellow-Christians are to pray for each other. But first they are bidden to confess their faults one to another, which does not mean revealing the secrets of their hearts or acquainting their brethren with that which is suited only for the ear of God: but cases where they have tempted or injured one another or consented to the same evil act—tattling, for example. A mutual acknowledgement of those faults which cause coldness and estrangement, exciting one another to repentance for the same, promotes the spirit of prayer and fellowship, The “healing” here is also wider, referring primarily to that of the soul (Psalm 41:4) and breaches (Hebrews 12:13), being the term used in 1 Peter 2:24, yet also includes removal of physical chastisements.

Arthur W. Pink-Divine Healing-Is It Scriptural?

Arminian Errors Pt 2

The cardinal doctrines of the everlasting gospel which Arminians wrest to their own destruction are:

(i) THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD IN HIS GRACE

God could have justly left all mankind to perish in their sin and misery, as He left the angels which kept not their first estate, but according to the good pleasure of His will, He chose in Christ, before the foundation of the world, all whom He purposed to save. “According as he hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love; having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will” (Ephesians 1:4,5). “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren. Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called; and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified them He also glorified” (Romans 8:28-30). These verses from among many which could be quoted, and the whole scheme of redemption from Genesis to Revelation, afford infallible and unqualified proof that salvation is of free and sovereign grace.

The ninth chapter of Romans is the Holy Spirit’s commentary on the eternal decrees of God. In connection with these sublime mysteries it becomes us, as sinful finite creatures, to be still and to know that He is God, just in all His ways, holy in His works all, that His judgments are unsearchable and His ways past finding out. As the election of all whom He purposed to save flows from His sovereign good pleasure, so the passing by the rest of mankind has also its source in the unsearchable counsel of His sovereign will, in all the actings of which He is holy, just, and true. “Election is the expression of the divine mercy; reprobation of the divine justice. Whoever hold the doctrine of election must hold the doctrine of reprobation. Reprobation implies that God simply passes by the sinner leaving him as he is. In election He makes choice of the sinner in His sovereign grace. Both are acts of the sovereignty of God.” (Rev. D. Beaton, Free Presbyterian Magazine, Vol. 35: p. 244). The non-elect are ordained of God, according to the unsearchable counsel of His will “to dishonour and wrath for their sin, to the praise of His glorious justice” (Confession of Faith, Chapter 3, section 7). It is not for their being passed by that they are punished, but for their sins. Their being passed by is a sovereign act: their condemnation is a judicial act of God in His capacity as a Judge. “Salvation is all of grace; damnation all of sin. Salvation of God from first to last—the Alpha and the Omega; but damnation of men not of God: and if you perish, at your own hands must your blood be required” (C. H. Spurgeon).

“The Sovereignty of God is the stumbling block on which thousands fall and perish; and if we go contending with God about His sovereignty it will be our eternal ruin. It is absolutely necessary that we should submit to God as an absolute sovereign, and the sovereign of our souls; as one who may have mercy on whom He will have mercy and harden whom He will” (Jonathan Edwards).

“All God’s people, sooner or later, are brought to this point to see that God has a ‘people,’ ‘a peculiar people,’ a people separate from the world, a people whom He has ‘formed for Himself, that they should show forth His praise. Election sooner or later, is riveted in the hearts of God’s people. And a man, that lives and dies against this blessed doctrine, lives and dies in his sins; and if he dies in that enmity, he will be damned in that enmity (J.C. Philpot).

“The Arminians, on the other hand, hold and teach conditional election on a ground of foreseen faith. This is contrary to the Truth. As long as men are unregenerate, they are in a state of unbelief, without hope in God and without faith in Christ. When saved by grace, they have faith, but that not of themselves. It is not of their own power or free-will, but the gift of God through the efficacious teaching of the Holy Spirit. Faith, therefore, cannot be the cause of election. It is the effect of it and is insured by it. ‘As many as were ordained to eternal life believed’ (Acts 13:48). ‘For by grace are ye saved through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them’ (Ephesians 2:8-10).

The text quoted by Arminians in support of their doctrine of conditional election on the ground of foreseen faith, is ‘Whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate, etc.’ (Romans 8:29). Such a view is superficial and untenable. “The word ‘foreknow’ in the New Testament usage, as pointed out by Dr. W.G.T. Shedd, is employed in the sense of the Hebrew yada (know) which denotes love and favour. ‘Not foreknowledge as bare prescience,’ says Calvin, ‘but the adoption by which God had always from eternity distinguished His children from the reprobate.’ The Scriptures represent election as occurring in the past, irrespective of personal merit. ‘The children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calleth, it was said unto her, the elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated’ (Romans 9:11-13). The sovereignty of God’s choice comes out clearly in the Pauline statement that Christ died for His people while they were yet sinners (Romans 5:8). It has been well said that Arminians take the choice out of the hands of God and place it in the hands of men” (‘The Reformed Faith’ by the Rev. D. Beaton, p. 24). ‘But of Him and through Him and to Him are all things to whom be glory for ever. Amen’ (Romans 11:36).

Another subterfuge resorted to by the Arminians in order to explain away the particular election of individuals, is to say that the text ‘Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated’ (Romans 9:13) means a national election, not particular persons, but Jacob’s children and Esau’s children—the children of Israel and the children of Edom. “Now, we ask them by everything reasonable,” comments C.H. Spurgeon, “is it not equally unjust of God to choose one nation and leave another? The argument which they imagine overthrows us overthrows them also. There never was a more foolish subterfuge than that of trying to bring out national election. What is the election of a nation, but the election of so many units, of so many people?—and it is tantamount to the same thing as the particular election of individuals. In thinking, men cannot see clearly that if— which we do not for a moment believe—there be any injustice in God choosing one man and not another, how much more must there be injustice in choosing one nation and not another. No! The difficulty cannot be got rid of thus, but is greatly increased by this foolish wresting of God’s Word. Besides here is the proof that it is not correct: read the verse preceding it. It does not say anything at all about nations; it says, ‘For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calleth: It was said unto her, the elder shall serve the younger… referring to the children, not to the nation. Of course the threatening was afterwards fulfilled in the position of the two nations; Edom was made to serve Israel. But the text means just what it says; it does not mean nations, but it means the persons mentioned. ‘Jacob’—that is the man whose name was Jacob—’Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.’ Take care, my dear friends, how any of you meddle with God’s Word. I have heard of folk altering passages they did not like. It will not do, you know, you cannot alter them; they are really just the same. Our only power with the Word of God is simply to let it stand as it is, and to endeavour by God’s grace to accommodate ourselves to that. We must never try to make the Bible bow to us, in fact we cannot, for the truths of divine revelation are as sure and fast as the throne of God. If a man wants to enjoy a delightful prospect, and a mighty mountain lies in his path, does he commence cutting away at its base, in the vain hope that ultimately it will become a level plain before him? No, on the contrary, he diligently uses it for the accomplishment of his purpose by ascending it, well knowing this to be the only means of obtaining the end in view. So must we do; we cannot bring down the truths of God to our poor finite understanding; the mountain will never fall before us, but we can seek strength to rise higher and higher in our perception of divine things and in this way only may we hope to obtain the blessing.” (From sermon on ‘Jacob and Esau’ by C.H. Spurgeon).

Cautions Against a Wrong Use of the Doctrine of Election

The Westminster divines in Chapter 3, Section 8 of the ‘Confession of Faith’ state that “the doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care.” It is as far removed from the dead and blind doctrine of fatalism as light is from darkness. The book of God’s eternal decrees is in the hands of the Saviour (Rev. 5). In the days of His flesh He gave thanks to the Father for the sovereignty of His grace. ‘I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in Thy sight’ (Matthew 11:25,26). In the full light of that sovereignty which He as the eternal Son could fathom, and which to Him was the cause of praise and thanksgiving, He goes on in His mercy and love to give the gospel call, full, free and unfettered to sinners labouring and heavy laden to come unto Him as the One in whom alone they would find rest for their souls. If the sovereignty of God in His grace was a cause of praise and thanksgiving to the Great Prophet of the Church, who alone revealed to us the will of God for our salvation, how impious the caviling of those who reject the doctrine of election, or explain it away by attributing it to the fickle will of man, and not as the Scriptures do, to the good pleasure of God’s eternal will. When Christ gives thanks to the Father, the Lord of heaven and earth, let us seek to have the mind that was in Him, and to offer praise and adoration before the Sovereign will of the great I AM, on the one hand, and on the other to give the call and free offer of the gospel, which He by His Spirit is able to make effectual to salvation.

The Rev. R. M. McCheyne in his sermon on the words, ‘Unto you, O men, I call: and my voice is to the sons of man’ (Proverbs 8:4) says: “Very often awakened persons sit and listen to a lively description of Christ, and of His work of substitution in the stead of sinners; but their question still is ‘Is Christ a Saviour to me?’ Now to this question I answer: Christ is offered freely to all the human race. ‘Unto you, O men, I call.’ There is no subject more misunderstood by unconverted souls than the unconditional freeness of Christ. So little idea have we naturally of free grace that we cannot believe that God can offer a Saviour to us, while we are in a wicked, hell-deserving condition. Oh, it is sad to think how men argue against their own happiness, and will not believe the very word of God!

“‘If I knew I were one of the elect, I would come; but I fear I am not!’ To you I answer: Nobody ever came to Christ because they knew themselves to be elect. It is quite true that God has of His mere good pleasure elected some to everlasting life, but they never knew it till they came to Christ. Christ nowhere invites the elect to Him. The question for you is not, Am I one of the elect? but, Am I of the human race?

“‘If I could repent and believe, then Christ would be free to me; but I cannot repent and believe.’ To you I say, Are you not a man, before you repent and believe? Then Christ is offered to you before you repent and believe. Christ is not offered to you because you repent, but because you are a vile, lost sinner. If Christ be freely offered to all men, then it is plain that all who live and die without accepting Christ shall meet with the doom of those who refuse the Son of God.”

‘The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us, etc.’ (Deut. 29:29). It belongs not to us as sinners to pry presumptuously into the secret things which belong to the Lord our God. Let us rather concern ourselves with what the Lord says belongs to us. The free offers and invitations and warnings of the gospel belong to us, that we repent and turn to the Lord. ‘Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon’ (Isaiah 55:7).

“No man,” writes Christopher Ness, “may judge himself a reprobate in this life, and so grow desperate; for final disobedience (the only infallible evidence of reprobation) cannot be discovered till death.” (‘An Antidote Against Arminianism,’ p. 51).

“No person who is seeking God and salvation through His Son,” said the great divine [theologian], Dr. John Love, “ought to apply the doctrine of the divine sovereignty thus: God is sovereign and therefore though I am seeking salvation yet He may deny it to me. This is false. But thus, God is sovereign and therefore He might have left me as He left others not to seek Him, but to reject and despise Him, but this He has not done. That is the proper sphere of sovereignty. It is manifested in the wonderful working whereby in the course of His providence one sinner is made to seek after Him while another is left not to do so. But it is not manifested in this that any ever sought His face in vain. ‘They shall praise the Lord that seek Him.’ Yea, in every degree of seeking Him, this reflection should encourage and lead to say, ‘Blessed be God who has brought me thus far, further than others.’ The doctrine as to practice should be applied to things past, and not to anything that is to come. So it is always in Scripture. We know the divine determination concerning events by the events themselves.”

William MacLean-Arminianism-Another Gospel

By the preaching of predestination man is duly humbled, and God alone is exalted

Chapter V

SHOWING THAT THE SCRIPTURE DOCTRINE OF PREDESTINATION SHOULD BE OPENLY
PREACHED AND INSISTED ON, AND FOR WHAT REASONS.

UPON the whole, it is evident that the doctrine of God’s eternal and unchangeable predestination should neither be wholly suppressed and laid aside, nor yet be confined to the disquisition of the learned and speculative only; but likewise should be publicly taught from the pulpit and the press, that even the meanest of the people may not be ignorant of a truth which reflects such glory on God, and is the very foundation of happiness to man. Let it, however, be preached with judgment and discretion, 1:e., delivered by the preacher as it is delivered in Scripture, and no otherwise. By which means, it can neither be abused to licentiousness nor misapprehended to despair, but will eminently conduce to the knowledge, establishment, improvement and comfort of them that hear. That predestination ought to be preached, I thus prove:-

III. -By the preaching of predestination man is duly humbled, and God alone is exalted; human pride is levelled, and the Divine glory shines untarnished because unrivalled. This the sacred writers positively declare. Let St. Paul be spokesman for the rest, “Having predestinated us – to the praise of the glory of His grace” (Eph 1:5,6). But how is it possible for us to render unto God the praises due to the glory of His grace without laying this threefold foundation?

(1) That whosoever are or shall be saved are saved by His alone grace in Christ in consequence of His eternal purpose passed before they had done any one good thing.

(2) That what good thing soever is begun to be wrought in our souls (whether it be illumination of the understanding, rectitude of will or purity of affections) was begun altogether of God alone, by whose invincible agency grace is at first conferred, afterwards maintained, and finally crowned.

(3) That the work of internal salvation (the sweet and certain prelude to eternal glory) was not only begun in us of His mere grace alone, but that its continuance, its progress and increase are no less free and totally unmerited than its first original donation. Grace alone makes the elect gracious, grace alone keeps them gracious, and the same grace alone will render them everlastingly glorious in the heaven of heavens.

Conversion and salvation must, in the very nature of things, be wrought and effected either by ourselves alone, or by ourselves and God together, or solely by God Him self. The Pelagians were for the first. The Arminians are for the second. True believers are for the last, because the last hypothesis, and that only, is built on the strongest evidence of Scripture, reason and experience: it most effectually hides pride from man, and sets the crown of undivided praise upon the head, or rather casts it at the feet, of that glorious Triune God, who worketh all in all. But this is a crown which no sinners ever yet cast before the throne of God who were not first led into the transporting views of His gracious decree to save, freely and of His own will, the people of His eternal love. Exclude, therefore, O Christian, the article of sovereign predestination from thy ministry or from thy faith, and acquit thyself if thou art able from the charge of robbing God.

When God does, by the omnipotent exertion of His Spirit, effectually call any of mankind in time to the actual knowledge of Himself in Christ; when He, likewise, goes on to sanctify the sinners He has called, making them to excel in all good works, and to persevere in the love and resemblance of God to their lives’ end, the observing part of the unawakened world may be apt to conclude that these converted persons might receive such measures of grace from God because of some previous qualifications, good dispositions, or pious desires and internal preparations, discovered in them by the all-seeing eye, which, if true, would indeed transfer the praise from the Creator and consign it to the creature. But the doctrine of predestination, absolute, free, unconditional predestination, here steps in and gives God His own. It lays the axe to the root of human boasting, and cuts down (for which reason the natural man hates it) every legal, every independent, every self-righteous imagination that would exalt itself against the grace of God and the glory of Christ. It tells us that God hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in His Son, “according as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world,” in order to our being afterwards made “holy and blameless before Him in love” (Eph 1:).

Of course, whatever truly and spiritually good thing is found in any person, it is the especial gift and work of God, given and wrought in consequence of eternal unmerited election to grace and glory. Whence the greatest saint cannot triumph over the most abandoned sinner, but is led to refer the entire praise of his salvation, both from sin and hell, to the mere goodwill and sovereign purpose of God, who hath graciously made him to differ from that world which lieth in wickedness. Such being the tendency of this blessed doctrine, how injurious both to God and man would the suppression of it be! Well does St. Augustine argue: “As the duties of piety ought to be preached up, that he who hath ears to hear may be instructed how to worship God aright; and as chastity should be publicly recommended and enforced, that he who hath ears to hear may know how to possess himself in sanctification; and as charity, moreover, should be inculcated from the pulpit, that he who hath ears to hear may be excited to the ardent love of God and his neighbour, in like manner should God’s predestination of His favours be openly preached, that he who hath ears to hear may learn to glory not in himself, but in the Lord.”*

* De Bono Persever. cap. 20.

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

The Wednesday Word: Our Gracious High Priest

Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may … find grace to help in time of need.

Everything that Christ does as our priest flows freely from His finished work. Having redeemed us, He entered into the heavenly sanctuary to apply the benefits of His finished work to us (Romans 8:33-34). Since this is true, we may now come boldly to the throne of grace … and find grace to help in time of need.”

But how should we approach Him? According to our verse, we are to come ‘boldly.’ To come ‘boldly’ means we are to come with confidence, pouring out our hearts to Him, holding nothing back. It means, “saying it all” with assurance and frankness. It is there, at His throne that we confess our sins, our fears, our hopes and our griefs to the One who is filled with tender compassion for us. Horatius Bonar says;

“Tell the High Priest, not what you desire to be, nor what you ought to be, but what you are. Tell him the honest truth as to your condition at this moment. Confess the impurity of your motives; all the evil that you feel or that you don’t feel; your hard-heartedness, your blindness, your unteachableness. Confess everything without reserve. He wants you to come to Him exactly as you are, and not to cherish the vain thought that, by a little waiting, or working, or praying, you can make yourself fit, or that you can persuade Him to make you fit.”

Notice how our verse tells us of our freedom in the gospel. Under the law, every mouth was shut because of guilt (Romans 3:19), but now, under grace, our mouths are open wide because we have a faithful high priest (Hebrews 4:16). We may tell Him everything.

Notice also that our high priest sits on the Throne of Grace. It’s not the Throne of law, it’s the throne of love. It’s not the throne of religion, it’s the throne of rescue. It’s not even called the Throne of Majesty, although it could have been. If verse 16 had said, “Let us come to the place of enthroned sovereign majesty,” we would have been afraid to go there because we know our failings and fallings. Sin makes cowards of us all (Proverbs 28:1).The thought of God the majestic ruler strikes fear into us. He’s too boundless, too big, and too powerful. How wonderful then to read that, the throne of our royal Priest is the Throne of Grace.

The One who is enthroned and seated in grace, is grace incarnate. Wonder of wonders, in His doing and dying, He became our substitute. He is the One who is touched by the feeling of our infirmities. He is the One who is headquartered on the Throne of Grace, and there is no wound the law can make that His grace cannot heal.

To go to His Throne, the only 4 things we need to be convinced of are that;

(1) We have a great high priest.

(2) We are sinners.

(3) Our high priest has a sympathetic ear.

(4) He freely invites us to come to Him.

This is why we can come freely and without pretending to be what we are not. We have already been accepted apart from our works. What we do or haven’t done can neither improve nor diminish that. Our High Priest knows our failures and He, in spite of what the legalizers tell us, is not recording them (Romans 4:7-8).

Our High Priest is entirely ours, His perfect obedience, His perfect prayer life, worship, sacrifice at Calvary and perfect resurrection are all ours! When He sat down on the throne of grace, He was ours. We are constantly in His thoughts for we are precious to Him. The more we are convinced of these things, the more we will come boldly to Him.

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 

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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

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