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 5. -The salvation of the elect was not the only nor yet the principal end of their being chosen, but God’s grand end, in appointing them to life and happiness, was to display the riches of His own mercy, and that He might be glorified in and by the persons He had thus chosen.
For this reason the elect are styled vessels of mercy, because they were originally created, and afterwards by the Divine Spirit created anew, with this design and to this very end, that the sovereignty of the Father’s grace, the freeness of His love, and the abundance of His goodness might be manifested in their eternal happiness. Now God, as we have already more than once had occasion to observe, does nothing in time which He did not from eternity resolve within Himself to do, and if He, in time, creates and regenerates His people with a view to display His unbounded mercy, He must consequently have decreed from all eternity to do this with the same view. So that the final causes of election appear to be these two: first and principally, the glory* of God; second and subordinately, the salvation of those He has elected, from which the former arises, and by which it is illustrated and set off. So, “The Lord hath made all things for Himself” (Pro 16:1), and hence that of Paul, “He bath chosen us – to the praise of the glory of His grace” (Eph 1).
* Let it be carefully observed that when with the Scriptures we assert the glory of God to be the ultimate end of His dealings with angels and men, we do not speak this with respect to His essential glory which He has as God, and which, as it is infinite, is not susceptible of addition nor capable of diminution, but of that glory which is purely manifestative, and which Micraelius, in his Lexic. Philosoph. col. 471, defines to be, Clara rei cum laude notitia; cum nempe, ipsa sua eminentia est magna, augusta, et conspicua. And the accurate Maestricht, Celebratio ceu manifestatio (quae magis proprie glorificatio, quam gloria appellatur), qua, agnita intus eminentia, ejusque congrua aestimatio, propalatur et extollitur. – Theolog. lib. 2, cap. 22 § 8.
Jerome Zanchius-The Doctrine of Absolute Predestination Stated and Asserted-Translated by Augustus Montague Toplady
Chapter 7-Whether any under Eternal Reprobation have Just Cause to Quarrel with God for not Electing of them?
THAT the answer to this question may be to edification, recall again what I have before asserted — to wit, that for a man to be left out of God’s election, and to be made a sinner, is two things; and again, for a man to be not elect, and to be condemned to hell-fire, is two things also. Now I say, if non-election makes no man a sinner, and if it appoints no man to condemnation neither, then what ground, hark any reprobate to quarrel with God for not electing of him? Nay, further, reprobation considereth him upright, leaveth him upright, and so turneth him into the world; what wrong doth God do him though he hath not elected him? What reason hath he that is left in this case to quarrel against his Maker?
If thou say, Because God hath not chosen them as well, as chosen others, I answer, “Say but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Behold, as the clay is in the hand, of the potter, so are ye in my hand, O house of Israel, saith the Lord God.” So then, if I should say no more but that God is the only Lord and Creator, and that by his sovereignty he hath power to dispose of them according to his pleasure, either to choose or to refuse according to the counsel of his own will, who could object against him and be guiltless? “He giveth no account of any of his ways, and what his soul desireth that doth he.”
Again, God is wiser than man, and therefore can show a reason for what he acts and does, both when and where at present thou seest none. Shall God, the only wise, be arraigned at the bar of thy blind reason: and there be judged and condemned for ills acts done in eternity? “Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or who hath been his counselor?” Do you not know that he is fax more above us than we are above our horse or mule that is without understanding? “Great things doth he that we cannot comprehend;; great things, and unsearchable and marvelous things, without number.”
But, I say, should we take it well if our beast should call us to account for this and the other righteous act, and judge us unrighteous and our acts ridiculous, and all because it sees no reason for our so doing? Why, we are as beasts before God.
But again, to come yet more close to the point, the reprobate quarrels with God because he hath not elected him; well, but is not God the master of his own love? and is not his will the only rule of his mercy? and may he not, without he give offense to thee, lay hold by electing love and mercy on whom himself pleaseth? Must thy reason, nay, thy lust, be the ruler: orderer, and disposer of his grace? “May I not do what I will with mine own? (saith he.) Is thine eye evil because mine is good?”
Further, what harm doth God to any reprobate, by not electing of him? He was, as hath been said, considered upright, so formed in the act of creation and so turned into the world; indeed he was not elected, but hath that taken anything from him? No, verily, but leaveth him in good condition; there is good, and better, and best of all; he that is in a good estate (though others through free grace are in a far better) hath not any cause to murmur either with Him that gave him such a place or at him that is placed above him. In a word, reprobation maketh no man personally a sinner, neither doth election make any man personally righteous: it is the consenting to sin that makes a man a sinner, and the imputation of grace and righteousness that makes gospelly and personally just and holy.
But again, seeing it is God’s act to leave some out of the bounds of his election, it must needs be, therefore, positively good; is that then which is good in itself made sin unto thee? God forbid! God doth not evil by leaving this or that man out of his electing grace, though he chooses others to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Wherefore there is not a reprobate that hath any cause, and therefore no just cause, to quarrel with his Maker for not electing of him.
And that, besides what hath been spoken, if you consider
1. For God to elect is an act of sovereign grace, but to pass by or to refuse so to do is an act of sovereign power, not of injustice.
2. God might therefore have chosen whether he would have elected any, or so many, or few, and also which and where he would.
3. Seeing, then, that all things are at his disposal, he may fasten electing mercy where he pleaseth, and other mercy, if he will, to whom and when he will.
4. Seeing, also, that the least of mercies are not deserved by the best of sinners, men, instead of quarrelling against the God of grace because they have not what they list, should acknowledge they are unworthy of their breath, and also should confess that God may give mercy where he pleaseth, and that, too, both which or what, as also to whom and when he will, and yet be good, and just, and very gracious still. Nay, Job saith, “He taketh away, who can hinder him? or who will say unto him, What dost thou?”
The will of God is the rule of all righteousness; neither knoweth he any other way by which he governeth and ordereth any of his actions. Whatsoever God doth, it is good because he doth it, whether it be to give grace or to detain it, whether in choosing or refusing. The; consideration of this made the holy men of old ascribe righteousness to their Maker even then when yet they could not see the reason of his actions; they would rather stand amazed and wonder at the heights and depths of his unsearchable judgments, than quarrel at the strange and most obscure of them.
God did not intend that all that ever he would do should be known to every man, no nor yet to the wise and prudent; it is as much a duty sometimes to stay ourselves and wonder, and to confess our ignorance in many things of God, as it is to do other things that are duty without dispute. So, then, let poor dust and ashes forbear to condemn the Lord because he goeth beyond them; and also they should beware they speak not wickedly for him, though. it be, as they think, to justify his actions: “The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.”
John Bunyan-Reprobation Asserted; Or, The Doctrine Of Eternal Election And Reprobation Promiscuously Handled: In Eleven Chapters Wherein The Most Material Objections Made By The Opposers Of This Doctrine Are Fully Answered, Several Doubts Removed, And Sundry Cases Removed Conscience Resolved.
1. Has not God offered life and happiness upon the performance of good works?
2. Have any of mankind ever been justified in that way?
None have been thus justified.
3. Why is this?
Because, having a sinful nature, no man can perform good works in an acceptable manner.
4. Since, then, we are saved by faith alone, does God still require good works?
He does, and gives us grace to help us do them.
5. Are they to be performed with any hope of attaining salvation?
They are not; for we can never perfectly perform them in this life.
6. From what motive then?
From a spirit of love and obedience.
7. What, then., is the position of works in God’s way of justification?
They are the fruits and evidence of a change of heart and of love to God.
8. With what motive should we let men see our good works?
With the hope that thus they may be led to glorify God.
James P. Boyce-A Brief Catechism of Bible Doctrine
A. The sixth commandment forbids the taking away of our own life, (Acts 16:28) or the life of our neighbor unjustly, (Genesis 9:6) or whatever tends to it. (Proverbs 24:11,12)
Charles Haddon Spurgeon-A Puritan Catechism
Chapter 8- The Power of God
We derive our knowledge of power from the consciousness of our will or purpose to effect an end, and from our experience that we have accomplished that end.
Over our own bodies our will acts directly, without the intervention of any means known to us. Thus, when we will to move the arm, the arm is moved, but whatever necessity there may be of nervous influence or muscular action, we know of no such connection between these and our will, save the fact that the will puts these into operation.
Over other material objects we can only act through our bodies and other necessary means of contact.
Experience teaches us, however, that mind can act upon mind without such contact, though the mode in which this is done is still mysterious.
The action of our minds upon our material structure and over other minds also suggests that mind, by some subtle connection, may act upon outward matter, as we see, that our minds act upon our bodies.
In this way many of the curious phenomena which have been falsely used for the proof of the spiritualistic theories of the present day will probably be accounted for.
But, whatever may be the power of man, it is evident that it is marked by limitations, not only as to what can be done, but also as to the way in which it may be done.
In ascribing power to God, however, we must exclude all such limitation. Not only is he all powerful (almighty), but he needs not instrumental contact.
But, although this is true, God accomplishes much that he does through secondary means which partake of the nature of instrumental contact. Such action, however, is with him not a matter of necessity, but simply his economic way of doing what he could as perfectly and as easily do by direct action.
Power in God, therefore, may be defined to be the effective energy inherent in his nature by which he is able to do all things. The exercise of that power is dependent upon his will or purpose, and is limited not by what he can do, but by what he chooses to do.
We ascribe power to God.
1. Because we perceive that its possession is a perfection in us, and is therefore to be attributed to the all-perfect being.
2. Because we cannot account for the existence and phenomena of the universe without ascribing to God the power which has produced them.
3. Because our own sense of dependence assures us that there must be power to create, preserve, and protect us, in him in whom we live and move and have our being.
4. The Scriptures also teach us to ascribe power to God.
(a) In such passages as directly ascribe power to him: Jer. 32:17; Ps. 115:3; Eph. 1:19; 3:20.
(b) By reference to his unlimited works: Jer. 10:12; John 1:3; Acts 17:24.
(c) By declaring that what he does is done by mere will without labour, by his word; as in the whole account of creation in the beginning of Genesis and in Ps. 33:9.
(d) By denying the necessity of great means and asserting that what he does can be done with the many or the few: 1 Sam. 14:6; 2 Chron. 14:11.
Rev. James Petigru Boyce, D.D., LL. D.,–Abstract of Systematic Theology–First published in 1887
The Wednesday Word: Misunderstood Matters about Grace-Part 3
When it comes to salvation, another misunderstood thing about grace is assuming that our faith creates the grace of God. However, the truth is that grace, righteous grace, already lived in the heart of God before anyone ever exercised faith. In our un-saved state, we were excluded from the life of God and lived in the lusts of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and the mind (Ephesians 2:1-4). But God graciously made us alive unto Himself (Ephesians 2:5). Faith came because of grace. In fact, faith is nowhere, in the scriptures, said to create grace; it’s quite the opposite. Our faith does not make God gracious. God’s righteous grace already existed before faith was given. For by grace you are saved (Ephesians 2:5).
Because of grace we are given faith. Faith will cause us to grasp that the sacrifice of Christ at Calvary is a righteous, finished sacrifice (John 19:30). As believers, faith continues to lead us to hug the truth that, in Christ crucified, righteousness and grace have already embraced and we are now covered, not merely by grace, but with the robe of righteousness.
When faith reads, “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, (Isaiah 61:10) it says a vigorous amen! Faith sees that the reason God loved us and took delight in us was not discovered in some goodness or worth within us but found, rather, in the gracious good-pleasure of God Himself (Matthew 12:32). Faith sees that Christ’s destiny is our destiny. Faith sees that He was made alive and that we were made alive together with him. Faith believes that He was raised up and that we were raised up together with him. Faith reckons that He was made to sit at the right hand of the Father in heavenly places, and we have been made to sit together with him. Why? There is one answer and only one. It’s grace, pure grace, sovereign grace (Ephesians 2:5-7).
So let’s say it again, faith does not bring grace into existence. If we have received grace, then it not because we gave anything to deserve it … and that includes faith! Let’s face it, if we believe that our faith brought grace into existence then we must conclude that we are co-providers of salvation. Perish the thought!
God saves us by his grace, and not because of our faith! Although we were dead in our sins (Ephesians 2:1), “God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, quickened (made us alive) together with Christ — by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4-5).
Nonetheless, someone objects saying, “But, we need faith.” I reply, “Of course we do; we are not suggesting that faith is not vital, but nowhere does God look and see if we have faith before He justifies us. We are saved “through” faith and not because of it (Ephesians 2:7). Faith is the instrument, the channel through which we receive salvation. Grace, on the other hand, is the very ground of our salvation.
We are dependent on Him, and not on our faith. He is completely reliable, He never fails. Our faith, on the other hand, often fails but the object of our faith, the Lord Jesus never does!
Faith receives salvation, but it is a very poor foundation on which to attempt to build our salvation. We build on Christ alone + nothing!
This God is the God we adore,
Our faithful, unchangeable Friend,
Whose love is as great as His power,
And knows neither measure nor end!
’Tis Jesus, the First and the Last,
Whose Spirit shall guide us safe home;
We’ll praise Him for all that is past,
And trust Him for all that’s to come.
And that’s the Gospel Truth
Minister of the Gospel
6 Quay Street, New Ross, County Wexford, Ireland,
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