Every person who has any respect for the Bible will admit that there is a doctrine or teaching about ELECTION. Concerning this doctrine Christendom has split into two camps. Those denominations which believe salvation to be wholly of divine grace apart from any human merit at any and every point, have made deliberate statements in their confessions of faith, while those who have a place for human merit have left the matter out of their confessions. For example, when Mr. Wesley broke with the Church of England, he made certain changes in The Thirty Nine Articles, eliminating entirely the Seventeenth which relates to Predestination and Election. However, Mr. Wesley did express himself on the question. In one place he speaks thus: “The Scriptures tell us plainly what predestination is: it is God’s foreappointing obedient believers to salvation, not without, but according to His foreknowledge, of all their works from the foundation of the world.” God, from the foundation of the world foreknew all men’s believing or not believing. And according to this, His foreknowledge, He chose or elected all obedient believers, as such to salvation.
CONDITIONAL OR UNCONDITIONAL
Mr. Wesley has made the issue clear: those who believe election is conditioned upon something good foreseen in the sinner as the ground of the Divine choice are rightly called Arminians, while those who deny anything good in the sinner as the ground of the choice are rightly called Calvinists. In another place Wesley says that Arminians believe election is conditional. What does the Bible say? Paul speaks thus in #Ro 11:5,6: “Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more of grace: otherwise work is no more work.” Paul is alluding to conditions in Israel in the days of Elijah, who felt that he was the only true worshipper of God left in the land. God corrected the prophet by saying, “I have reserved to myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.” The obvious meaning is that God had graciously intervened to prevent the seven thousand from following the multitude into idolatry. “Even so,” says Paul, referring to the believing remnant of his day, who were naturally no better than the unbelieving mass, but who had been graciously chosen to salvation. To the same effect, the Apostle says to the Corinthians: “For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what has thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” (#1Co 4:7).
Spurgeon strikes oil when he says that those who do not believe in election as a matter of doctrine, do believe it in their hearts as a matter of experience. He was once preaching to a congregation composed largely of Methodists. They shouted their approval of his message until he said, “This brings me to the doctrine of election.” Expressions of disapproval became evident, whereupon, Mr. Spurgeon told the audience that they did believe the doctrine of election, and that he would make them shout “Hallelujah” over it. And this was the way he did it. He wanted to know if there were any difference between them and the wicked, such as drunkards, harlots, and blasphemers. They all united in saying there was a difference. He then put the question of who made the difference, saying that whoever made the difference, should have the glory of it. “Did you make the difference?” To this question they all said “NO”. He then told them that the Lord made the difference, and asked them if they thought it was wrong for Him to make a difference between them and other men? They agreed it was not wrong. Spurgeon then concluded by saying, “Very well then; if it was not wrong for God to make the difference, it was not wrong for Him to purpose to make it, and that is the doctrine of election.” Then they cried, “Hallelujah,” just as the preacher said they would. The martyr, John Bradford, once watched officers of the law as they led a criminal to prison, and exclaimed, “There I go but for the grace of God.”
Every real believer, when on his knees, subscribes to the doctrine of unconditional election. No person can really pray while boasting of anything good in and of himself. “Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (#Lu 18:10-14). Sovereign grace will come out in prayer, though it may be left off the platform. No saved man will get on his knees and claim before God that he made himself to differ from other who are not saved. And in praying for the lost we supplicate God to convict them of sin and convert them to faith in Christ. We do not depend upon the freedom of their wills, but beseech God to make them willing to come to Christ, knowing—that when they do come to Christ, He will not cast them out “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (#Joh 6:37). It is told that a Methodist minister once heard a Presbyterian, “That was a pretty good Armenian sermon.” “Yes,” replied the Presbyterian, “We Presbyterians are pretty good Arminians when we preach, and you Methodist are pretty good Calvinists when you pray.”
In praying for the lost just what are we asking God to do? What did Paul ask God to do for Israel? Did he not ask Him to spiritually enlighten them so that they would cease trying to save themselves and trust Christ for the righteousness they were trying to establish for themselves? “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth” (#Ro 10:1-4). It appears shocking to believe that any aspect of salvation is conditioned upon anything the sinner can do apart from the inwrought grace of God.
THE HISTORIC BAPTIST POSITION
Nearly all declarations of faith published by Baptists have dealt with the subject of election. The writer might state that he is in agreement with all these confessions since they are in virtual agreement with one another. The historic Baptist position on election has been succinctly and clearly stated in the “Abstract of Principles” of the Louisville Seminary. Article V of this confession reads as follows:
“Election is God’s eternal choice of some persons unto everlasting life—not because of foreseen merit in them but of his mere mercy in Christ—-in consequence of which choice they are called justified and glorified.”
In harmony with the above statement several things may be said by way of amplification:
1. Election is God’s choice. It is God’s choice in eternity of those He will save in time. There must be selection or universalism. The word election is associated with God, not with man. “And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect’s sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days” (#Mr 13:20), speaks of the elect, whom He elected, rendered in the King James version: “The elect whom he hath chosen.” The theology that God votes for us, the devil votes against us, and that we cast the deciding ballot is entirely outside the pale of Scripture teaching, and is almost too ridiculous to notice. Our Lord said to His disciples, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you.” “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:” (#Eph 1:4); “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” (#2Th 2:13). Self election is a bad form of self-righteousness.
2. Election is God’s choice of some persons. Universal election is a contradiction of terms. This is too obvious to need argument. In “What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded” (#Ro 11:7) Paul says that the election (elect) hath obtained salvation, and the rest were blinded.
3. Election is God’s eternal choice. In #Eph 1:3,4 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:” we read of the spiritual blessings we have in the heavenlies, “According as he hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world.” In #2Ti 1:9 Paul says that God “hath saved us and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.”
4. Election is God’s gracious choice. This means that there was nothing in the creature as the cause or ground of the choice, “but of His mere mercy in Christ.” Unconditional election finds illustration in the case of Jacob and Esau, “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” (#Ro 9:11). This naturally gives rise to the human objection: “Is there unrighteousness with God?” Paul replies in the negative and then asserts God’s sovereignty: “Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth” (#Ro 9:18). God’s own sovereign pleasure alone determines or selects the object of His mercy.
5. Election is unto salvation. It is not denied that there has been a Divine Choice of nations to external privileges and blessings, nor that individuals have been chosen to particular service; but we affirm that the Scriptures also teach an election of individuals to everlasting life. “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:” (#2Th 2:13). Election is not salvation, but unto salvation, which means it was before and not after salvation. Men are saved when they trust Christ not when they were elected. Eisenhower was not president when he was elected, but when he was inaugurated. There was not only an election to but also an induction into the office. And so God’s elect are inducted into the position of saintship by the effectual call the quickening work of the (Holy Spirit) through which they become believers in the gospel. “That no flesh should glory in his presence” (#1Co 1:29).
6. Election is a challenging doctrine. Article IX of the New Hampshire Confession says in part: “That it (election) may be ascertained by its effects in all who truly believe the Gospel; that it is the foundation of Christian assurance; and that to ascertain it with regard to ourselves demands and deserves the utmost diligence.” Peter exhorts to diligence in making our calling and election sure by which he means to make it sure to ourselves. There is ever the danger of one taking his salvation for granted without due evidence of it. No unbeliever or nominal Christian has any right to take comfort from the doctrine of election. This is the children’s bread. Sometime ago the writer attempted to witness to a man concerning his need of a Saviour. He used the doctrine to justify his indifference, nonchalantly saying that when God got ready to save him He would do it. I said, “There is truth in what you say, but it is not the truth you need, for unless you repent and believe you will go to hell.”
OBJECTIONS CONSIDERED AND ANSWERED
Many are the objections brought against the doctrine of unconditional election. Sometimes the objectors are loud and furious. The tirades of Mr. Wesley against the doctrine make one sick at heart. And many Baptists have been almost as harsh.
1. It is objected that election limits God’s mercy.
Right here we criticize the critic, for he who makes this objection limits both God’s mercy and His power. He admits that God’s mercy is limited to the believer and that all others will experience the wrath of Divine justice. But our critic denies God’s power in causing the sinner to believe without doing violence to the human will. In conversion God does not slay the human will, but only the enmity of it. At this point we must face two selfevident propositions. First, if God is trying to save every member of Adam’s fallen race, and does not succeed, then His power is limited and He is not the Lord God Almighty. Second, if He is not trying to save every member of the fallen race, then His mercy is limited. We must of necessity limit His mercy or His power, or go over “boots and baggage,” to the Universalists’ position. But before doing that, let us “to the law and to the testimony,” which says, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion …. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy and whom he will he hardeneth” (#Ro 9:15-18). There is not space here for exegesis except to say that in hardening the sinner, God does not infuse a sinful nature, but allows the sinful nature to develop its natural enmity. The writer has always preferred the word preterition to reprobation in describing God’s dealing with the non-elect. In hardening God leaves the sinner to himself, so far as efficacious grace is concerned; in mercy He makes new creatures in Christ Jesus.
When Robert Morrison was about to go to China, he was asked by an incredulous neighbour if he thought he could makes any impression on those Chinese. His curt reply was: “No, but I think God can.” The writer often wonders why more sinners have not been saved in the past centuries, but he never attributes it to lack of power in God. If God could make children unto Abraham out of stones, then He is able to make children unto Himself out of all kinds of sinners.
2. It is objected that election damns a part of the human race.
But the objector is wrong. It is divine justice that condemns the whole race, and election keeps many from being damned. Election is for “the already condemned.” Election neither puts sinners under condemnation nor keeps them there. Election is not unto damnation, but unto salvation. Election harms nobody, but saves a multitude no man can number. If we are to object to a doctrine that saves only a part of the human race, then we object to the gospel, for that is all the gospel does.
3. It is objected that election makes God unjust.
This objection betrays a bad heart. It obligates the Lawgiver to save the Lawbreaker. It makes salvation a Divine obligation. It reverses the position of God and the sinner. It puts the sinner on the throne and God at his feet. Salvation is not a matter of justice, but of mercy. It was not the attribute of justice that led God to provide salvation, but the attribute of mercy. Justice is simply getting what one deserves. Those who go to hell will have nobody to blame but themselves, while those who go to heaven will have nobody to praise but God.
4. It is also objected that election is opposed to the doctrine of “Whosoever Will.”
But the objector is wrong again. Our view of election explains and supports the doctrine of “Whosoever Will.” Without election the invitation would go unheeded and nobody would believe. It is not natural for the sinner to trust Christ, and this is because the carnal mind is enmity against God. Salvation through trust in a crucified Christ is a stumbling block to the Jew and foolishness to the Greek; it is only the called, both Jews and Greeks, who see in it the wisdom and power of God in salvation. Christ said, “No man can come to me except the Father which hath sent me draw him; and I will raise him (the one drawn, C.D.C.) up at the last day” (#Joh 6:44). The human will is free, but its freedom is within the limits of fallen human nature. “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (#1Co 2:14). There must be the miracle of the new birth, for except a man be born from above he cannot see or enter into the kingdom of God.
The writer allows nobody to believe stronger in the doctrine of “Whosoever Will,” nor to preach it with more sincerity than he does. But he also believes that there would be no believers if the Holy Spirit did not convict the sinner of his helplessness and convert him to faith in Christ. The saved man is God’s workmanship, the product of His grace.
5. It is still further objected that unconditional election destroys the spirit of missions.
This objection deserves serious consideration. It is admitted that some have allowed belief in the doctrine to paralyze missionary endeavour. But this was because they held a limited view of the doctrine; they failed to see that the gospel is the means by which the elect are saved. On the other hand, the greatest names in the missionary enterprise were ardent believers in unconditional election. William Carey, often called the father of modern missions, was a staunch Calvinist. Andrew Fuller, first secretary of the society that sent Carey to India, held tenaciously to the doctrine of unconditional election. “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” Belief in election did not destroy the spirit of missions in Judson, Spurgeon, Boyce, Eaton, Carroll, Graves, Shields, and a host of other Baptist leaders. The First Baptist Church of Murray, Kentucky, once called by Dr. J.F. Love the greatest missionary church on earth, heard Boyce Taylor preach election for nearly forty years.
He who allows his belief of election to dampen his missionary ardour has a perverted view of the doctrine. Election does not determine the extent of missions, but the results of it. The gospel commission does not read, “to the elect” but “to every creature.” If it should read “to the elect,” then we could not preach to anybody for the simple reason that the elect cannot be identified until they exercise faith which works by love. And such would already be saved, and hence the gospel would not be the power of God unto salvation. The gospel is for men as lost sinners, and not as elect sinners. God has His elect, but they are not our elect, and His elect cannot be known until they are saved. Witnessing is our business, taking care of the elect is His business. Let us be faithful to our task and leave the results with Him, remembering that Paul may plant and Apollos may water, but that God must give the increase.
C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 2-Part 2
Augustine wrote City of God as an apologetic in response to those who were crediting Christians with the downfall of Rome. They argued that Christianity as a religion weakens cultures and makes them susceptible to overthrow by foreign powers. Augustine argued to the contrary that, whereas faithful commitment to the God of Scripture has always brought about flourishing in particular cultures, increased rebellion against Him has always resulted in their downfall. Within these cultures, Augustine recognized that there were two types of citizens: those of the City of God and those of the City of Man (also known as the city of this world or the earthly city).
A Necessary Dichotomy
Augustine distinguished the City of God from the City of Man. These two cities are organized societies with citizens who are respectively distinguished by the standards by which they live. Citizens of the City of Man live by the standard of the flesh, whereas citizens of the City of God live by the Spirit (cf. Galatians 5:13-26). Augustine emphasizes that what ultimately distinguishes the two cities are their loves: “We see then that the two cities were created by two kinds of love: the earthly city was created by self-love reaching the point of contempt for God, the Heavenly City by the love of God carried as far as contempt of self.” (Book 14, Chapter 28).
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Author: Charmley, Gervase N.
Augustine of Hippo is without doubt one of the most significant figures of the early Church, and perhaps the most important of all those to write in Latin. It has been said that, ‘Apart from the Scriptural authors, no other figure had a greater impact on Christian life and thought up to the time of the Reformation.’1 No less a figure than B. B. Warfield wrote that Augustine, ‘not merely created an epoch in the history of the Church, but has determined the course of its history in the West up to the present day.’2 Of all of his many writings, it is his book The City of God that is widely agreed to be his greatest.3
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COLCHESTER, June 25, 1851.
MY DEAR AUNT, —
I enclose this in Uncle’s note. Is he better? I have much enjoyed my three days in London, and am no happy at home. I am very thankful that, if spared, I am going back to Cambridge. Of my progress there I am not ashamed; it should and might have been greater, but still it is somewhat. My faults I have not learned there, I had the same at Maidstone, and I am not at all fond of having blame thrown on the place where Providence has placed me. I am all fault, but what God’s grace has made right. I am content to be evil spoken of, if I can but grow in grace and serve God. Where I have most opportunity of telling sinners the way of salvation, and of preparation for a future course of labor, I trust I shall always feel most happy. Human wisdom I desire to gain, but only in subservience, and as handmaid to spiritual knowledge and Divine instruction.
Grandfather is with us now; he preached last. night on “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee: He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” A blessed thing it must be for the new born sons of God to have such a stay in the hour of trouble; and he who having left his own righteousness, trusts alone on Jesus, has a perfect right to this promise.
Mother is gone to old Mr. Merchant’s 52st Anniversary at Layer Breton. He is almost past preaching, and stands a monument of the unchanging love of God, who, having once loved a person, will always love him. The motto over his pulpit is, “We preach Christ, and Him crucified.” I am sure you need all the comforts of the gospel now, and I wish I knew enough to be able to give them faithfully and successfully; that is reserved for future lessons of experience. None who rely on Jesus Christ will ever find their troubles too heavy; for all those who take Him as their whole Savior, He is a supporter. May God deal kindly with you, and support you!
Love to self and Uncle from all.
Your affectionate nephew,
C. H. SPURGEON.
by Bob Gonzales
Reformed Baptist Seminary asked Dr. Michael Haykin to deliver three lectures on the practical piety exemplified in the teaching and practice of early English Baptists of the 17th and 18th centuries. In the first lecture, Dr. Haykin demonstrates how the 17th and 18th century Calvinist Baptists stressed the importance of the “means of grace” for promoting spiritual growth in the church. Baptist theologian Andrew Fuller’s teaching on the spirituality of baptism is the topic of lecture two. Finally, Dr. Haykin focuses on the life and ministry of Samuel Pearce, a contemporary and friend of William Carey and Andrew Fuller. These lectures constitute part of the curriculum for RBS’s course PT 501 Call & Cultivation. If you’d like to audit the lectures of the entire course, click here.
Lecture 1: The Means of Grace in English Baptist Piety, 1660s-1810s
Lecture 2: “A Garden Enclosed”: Spirituality of Baptism in Andrew Fuller
Lecture 3: “A Mind Wholly Given to God”: The Piety of Samuel Pearce
Source [It is Written]
by Lee Irons
The interpretation of Romans 11 is, of course, a highly controversial subject. Two of the major millennial positions — premillennialism and postmillennialism — go to this text, among others, to find biblical justification for their respective eschatologies. Although they differ as to the timing and character of the glorious, external, earthly phase of Christ’s kingdom, both the premillennial and postmillennial form of chiliasm agree that Romans 11 holds out the hope of a mass conversion of Jews and Gentiles during a long era of righteousness and peace upon the earth. Amillennialists, however, neither expect such a hope nor find it in Romans 11. They — and I include myself among them — take the view that this text does not promise such a massive eschatological harvest of Jews and Gentiles. O Palmer Robertson, in his important paper “Is There a Distinctive Future for Ethnic Israel in Romans 11?”, says,
The eye of man cannot tell whether this number is few or many. But the eye of faith is confident that the “full number” is being realized. For this reason, it is neither necessary nor appropriate to posit some future date in which the “remnant” principle will be superseded by a newly-introduced “fulness” principle.1
This is what I am calling the nonmillennial interpretation of Romans 11. I call it nonmillennial rather than amillennial (though it is certainly that) in order to accent the fact that this interpretation sees neither pre- nor postmillennialism in this passage. Paul does not address the millennial question. The question is not even remotely in the background of his thought (though the passage may contain teaching that would logically imply an answer to that question). thus, I have called my paper a nonmillennial interpretation of Romans 11.
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by James Dolezal
Paul Helm has recently offered criticism of certain aspects of K. Scott Oliphint’s book, God With Us (Crossway, 2012), and Reformation21 has published responses by Oliphint and Nate Shannon. (1) It is striking that neither Oliphint nor Shannon offers much discussion of Oliphint’s central thesis and arguably his most innovative proposal, that God relates himself to the world by taking on “covenantal properties” in addition to his essence.(2) Shannon’s article in particular contends that Oliphint advances the Reformed commitment to Scripture by rejecting presumably corrupt elements of the classical Reformed doctrine of God. In my estimation Shannon’s criticism of the tradition is somewhat overwrought and misguided. The question of the Reformed scholastics’ doctrine of God, and especially of divine simplicity, has been settled. They deny that God can add properties to himself. (3) And while the merits or demerits of that position may be debated, the issue at hand is whether or not Oliphint’s own doctrine of covenantal properties is a suitably orthodox alternative to the classical Reformed teaching on God. It is my contention that it is not. In what follows I aim to briefly set forth what I perceive to be the leading difficulties with the covenantal properties thesis. This critique is here stated tersely for the benefit of those just tuning in. (4) My objections are theological in nature and do not require that one adhere to any particular school of philosophy.
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