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Answering An Arminian Objection-1

It always amazes me how Arminians will take one set of scriptures and use them to try and disprove the Biblical doctrines of the Reformers. By doing so they commit the either or fallacy. By using this fallacious method they are only cherry picking the particular scriptures which they feel support their doctrines. They do not use the method of interpretation known as analogia fides (analogy of faith) and the analogia Scripturae (analogy of scripture). These two hermeneutical principles guide the exegete in determining the right interpretation of any and all scripture. “In other words, there is clearer light to be shed on every aspect of Scripture which is difficult to determine in and of itself; i.e., Scripture interprets Scripture, and the overall theology of Scripture, being consistent in and of itself as that which determines our faith and practice, clarifies itself in consideration of the organic whole.” 1

In my post entitled: ‘Arminian Errors Pt 6,’ I quote from Max MacLean’s ‘Arminianism-Another Gospel.’ In this post MacLean is showing that Arminians err concerning the doctrine known as the ‘Perseverance of the Saints.’ On this post I received a comment from an Arminian who provides some scriptures that is supposed to refute this Reformed doctrine.

Since all the scriptures are true and all scripture should be used to formulate our doctrines, then Arminians commit the hermeneutical fallacy known as eisegesis when they approach the scriptures. The hermeneutical fallacy known as eisegesis does not seek to draw out of scripture what scripture is saying, but instead reads into scripture what isn’t there. This is due to the fact that they hold a particular bias concerning scripture, before they ever approach scripture. Since they hold a particular bias before they approach scripture, they tend to pit scripture against scripture. The scripture that plainly states that an individual will be given eternal life and shall never perish, isn’t true in their minds. Only those scriptures, that they feel teach that a believer can fall away, are true in their minds. Arminianism holds to and teaches that a true saved individual can come to know Christ and then one day decide to give up, after which they lose their salvation.

Before I list and answer the scriptures that I received, I want to quote from some scriptures that teach the opposite of what Arminians believe.

 

Mat 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
Mat 7:16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
Mat 7:17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
Mat 7:18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
Mat 7:19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
Mat 7:20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
Mat 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Mat 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
Mat 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

 

There is no way that Christ could have told individuals, that he once knew, “depart from me for I never knew you;” if in fact at one time he did know them. But notice the context of verse 15 and one will easily see that Christ is speaking to false prophets.

Joh 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

Everlasting life is eternal, just as everlasting death is eternal. An individuals past sins did not keep God from electing that individual. Neither shall his future sins remove God’s gracious hands from him. If the believer falls into sin, God will chasten him. If he is without chastisement, then he never was a true believer. Hebrews tells us this:

Heb 12:6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
Heb 12:7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
Heb 12:8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

And Christ stated:

Rev 3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

Again Jesus said in John:

Joh 6:47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life

Again Jesus said:

Joh 10:28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
Joh 10:29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.
Joh 10:30 I and my Father are one.

Here Christ is claiming to be God. He is just as powerful as the Father. (This is proof for the doctrine known as the Trinity). No man can pluck a believer out of his hands. No man is able to pluck them out of the Father’s hands. Arminianism teaches that God and Jesus wish that individuals would stay with them, but that they are powerless to keep their own saved.

Notice that the Father gives individuals to the Son. Christ prays for those that are given to him by the Father:

Joh 17:9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.

Joh 17:20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word

Christ intercedes for those the Father gives him:

Rom 8:34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

The book of James chapter 5 teaches us that the fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much, but Arminianism wants us to believe that the one who is the very definition of righteousness, is weak in his prayers and accomplishes nothing by praying.

Php 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

God begun the work in his elect and will continue that work till Christ come.

Jud 1:1 Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:

Finally Jude writes his letter to those that are sanctified by God and preserved in Jesus Christ. The word ‘preserved’ means ‘to prevent escaping from full military lines, to detain, withhold, holdfast, and keep.

Many other scriptures could have been given to show that all those who have been given to Christ, by the Father, shall never fall away.

Now here are the scriptures, that were sent to me, that are supposed to teach that true believers can lose their salvation:

 

Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. (Peter)

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.

16 And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness;

17 And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.

2 Peter 2:20-22 ESV / 15 helpful votes

For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”

Romans 11:19-22 ESV / 10 helpful votes

Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.

Matthew 24:10-13 ESV / 7 helpful votes

And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

 

Now which set of scriptures are true? Are the scriptures that I gave true or are the scriptures that were sent to me true? Both sets of scriptures are true and are profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

Nevertheless, we have shown that Christ himself stated that he will lose none of those given to him by the Father. No man can pluck them out of his hand. When Arminians tell us that believers can lose their salvation, then they are basically denying Christ’s Prophetic office, Priestly office, and Kingly office. They are saying that Christ is a prophet who lies, that Christ is a Priest whose prayers and sacrifice are ineffectual, and they are denying that he as King, can so rule and govern his kingdom, that his elect stay safe from apostasy in his kingdom.

So our presupposition, when approaching all other scriptures, has to be that Christ prophesies of the loss of non of his elect, that his prayers and sacrifice are effective in keeping his elect, and that Christ rules his elect so that none ever perish.

When cherry picking scriptures, those of the Arminian persuasion, ignore the context that surrounds the scriptures; of which they use to try and prove the doctrine of the ‘Perseverance of the Saints’ false.

Remember when we approach the scriptures, in order to interpret them, we must focus on context, context, context. So let’s now examine the scriptures that were sent to me:

 

Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. (Peter)

 

My response: This scripture can be found in the second epistle of Peter, chapter 3, verse 17. Here it is plain that Peter is not saying that we can lose salvation, but is admonishing his readers to beware of not falling from the steadfastness of the truth on which they have been clinging. There is always the danger of falling into error and not holding to the sound doctrines of which the scriptures teach us. Notice that Peter’s very words were that they should beware not to fall into the error of the wicked.

The second scripture is:

 

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

 

My response: Notice that the term ‘the faith’ is used constantly throughout this epistle. 1 Tim 1:2, 3:9, 3:13, 4:1, 5:8, 6:10, and 6:21.

“The Greek word here – ἀποστήσονται apostēsontai – is that from which we have derived the word “apostatize,” and would be properly so rendered here. The meaning is, that they would “apostatize” from the belief of the truths of the gospel. It does not mean that, as individuals, they would have been true Christians; but that there would be a departure from the great doctrines which constitute the Christian faith. The ways in which they would do this are immediately specified, showing what the apostle meant here by departing from the faith. They would give heed to seducing spirits, to the doctrines of devils, etc. The use of the word “some,” here τινες tines – does not imply that the number would be small. The meaning is, that “certain persons” would thus depart, or that “there would be” an apostasy of the kind here mentioned, in the last days.-Barnes”

In other words, there will be a great defection, in these last days, from the doctrines that constitute the Christian faith. Multitudes would go out and preach things that are contrary to the Christian faith. We have been in the last days since Christ’s coming into this world and this defection from ‘the faith’ had begun even during the days of the apostles. Paul rebuked the Galatian Church because they had allowed teachers to come in and preach to them ‘another gospel,’ which was not the gospel of which he preached. These teachers were the Judaizers. Those who came into the Galatia Church with the doctrine that the Galatian Christians must keep the law of Moses and be circumcised had departed from the faith. They were probably the “false apostles,” persons “brought in unawares,” etc., so often mentioned by Paul, and are known in history.

This is why Paul warned Timothy of the fact that many would depart from ‘the faith’ in their preaching of Christianity. Paul did not say that true believers would depart from ‘their faith,’ but that false teachers would depart from the sound doctrines of Christianity. Notice that Paul just gave Timothy an admonish to charge some that they teach no other doctrine, Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do. Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. 1 Tim 1:3-7 Paul told Timothy that Bishops should be blameless and not new converts, so that they would hold fast to sound doctrine, in order to lead their congregations. Paul explained the qualifications of Bishops and deacons, so that men who were faithful to the doctrines of ‘the faith’ would be in leadership.

The third scripture is:

 

Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.

 

My response: This scripture can be found in Hebrews 3:12. Let’s quote a few more scriptures in order to have some context in which to interpret the scripture given:

Heb 3:12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.
Heb 3:13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
Heb 3:14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;

The writer to the Hebrews was given them a warning that they should not be as Israel was in the wilderness. He goes on to say that they should exhort or warn one another daily, seeing that they had been made partakers with Christ if they hold fast the faith of which they had been given. A little insight on why the epistle to the Hebrews was written is needful at this point. Here is a comment from the introduction to Hebrews found in the Reformation Study Bible, edited by R. C. Sproul:

“Hebrews offers a fair amount of information about the original recipients and their situation, while leaving questions of date and destination without certain answers. The original readers spoke Greek and used the Greek translation of the Old Testament. They could follow arguments drawn from the Old Testament and were interested in the Old Testament sanctuary, sacrificial system, and priesthood. They had not heard the gospel directly from Jesus, but from apostles (2:3), had faced previous persecution (10:32-34) and were facing present persecution, including expulsion from Jewish institutions (13:12,13). They were in danger of falling away, perhaps fearing death (2:14-18), although their faith had not yet led to martyrdom (12:4). In addition, they may have been undergoing a transition in church leadership (13:7, 17), and were therefore concerned about security and permanence (6:19; 11:10; 13:8, 14). Finally, they receive greeting through the author from “those of Italy” (13:24).

Drawing these features together, we conclude that the recipients were Jewish Christians of the Dispersion (the scattering of Jews outside Palestine), probably in Italy. This would take 13:24 to be a greeting sent “home” by expatriates…..

Subject to suffering and shame for their confession of Jesus, stripped of the familiar and visible institutions of organized Jewish religion, and confused by the hidden character of Jesus’ glory (veiled in suffering when he was on earth and now hidden in heaven), the readers are tempted to turn from the faith (10:38, 39), to fall into unbelief and so to give up their pilgrimage toward God’s rest and God’s city (4:1, 2, 11; 11:10, 14-16; 13:14). “

The introductory note to Hebrews here shows that the Jewish Christians were tempted to turn from the faith. So being tempted to give up, they were given warning by the author of this epistle. But just because they were tempted and were given warning does not mean that Christ would lose those that belong to him. Jesus told the disciples that on the foundation of his being Lord, that he would build his church and the gates of Hell would not prevail against it. Arminians want us to believe that the gates of Hell can prevail against the church.

The fourth scripture given to me was:

 

16 And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness;

17 And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.

 

My response: These verses come from Mark 4. If one would take and read Matthew 13:1-16 (this portion of scripture also deals with the same parable) they would see that Jesus was teaching a multitude of people. Some were elect and some were not. The disciples asked Christ why he spoke to them in parables? Jesus stated that he spoke to them in parables so that they couldn’t hear and understand, so that they couldn’t see nor perceive what he was saying (Matthew 13:13-15). The mysteries of the kingdom of heaven is only given to the elect (Matthew 13:11). If Christ were trying to convert everyone in this multitude, then he wouldn’t have used the genre known as a parable in order to teach. We see that in this parable only those who brought forth fruit were they who had the knowledge of the kingdom and who were truly born again. The rest were mere professors for a while and then fell away. This is why Christ stated that: “they have no root.” Are we to believe the Arminian who claims that these were individuals who were “rooted and built up in Christ” (Col 2:7) and then one day they just lost their salvation, or are we going to believe Jesus when he declared that they had no root in themselves and so endured for a while? I am going to believe Christ, not the Arminian.

The fifth scripture I was given was:

 

2 Peter 2:20-22 ESV / 15 helpful votes

For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”

 

My response: Again I re-emphasize that we are to leave every verse in context, context, context, while interpreting scripture with scripture. The whole chapter, beginning at verse 1, is dealing with false prophets. It is the false prophet who reforms his outward acts while not being truly reformed within. Certainly a false prophet cannot have been converted and then lose his salvation. This is why he is called false. He appeared to have had salvation and then finally gave up his hypocrisy by turning from Christ. Since all scripture is to be interpreted with scripture, then we see in Matthew 7 that Christ warns us of false prophets and states that by their fruits we shall know them. These are they who appear before him and claim to have done many things in his name and he tells them to depart, for he never knew them. Again, if Christ once knew them, then he could never say that he never knew them. So as the scriptures in 2 Peter 2: 1-22 declare, these false prophets outwardly reform themselves and then they turned and went back to their vomit of living.

 The sixth scripture I was given was:

 

Romans 11:19-22 ESV / 10 helpful votes

Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.

 

My response: Here is another proof of ripping scripture from context. Paul is expounding on what he had been saying since Romans 9. Election is not based on one’s affiliation with a person (Abraham Romans 9:7), nor a nation (Israel Romans 9:6), but is given to whomsoever God chooses. Paul states that it is not of him that willeth or runneth and that God has a right to show his power in vessels already fit for destruction, in order that he might show his glory towards those of whom he prepared (ordained) to glory. This includes all that are called, both Jews and Gentiles Romans 9:24. Paul then begins to explain why natural Israel was cut off and continues this on up through Romans 11. They were cut off due to unbelief. All natural men have unbelief and God is not obligated to give them faith. Notice in Deuteronomy 29:4-5 Moses tells Israel that even though they had been lead through the wilderness for forty years, nevertheless God has not given them a heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day. Since faith is a gift from God (Eph 2:8), then no natural man will believe unless God intervenes and gives him a new heart. Therefore Paul warns the Romans about boasting against natural Israel. Just as the Jews went around boasting against the Gentiles, having the mindset that since they were Abraham’s descendants and part of the nation of Israel, then they had God’s favor. Even so Paul warns the Roman Gentiles against having this same mindset. Paul warns against the same unbelief of which natural Israel possessed. The warnings of scripture are spoken to the church and keep the true saints of God on the path of righteousness. Nevertheless, they shall bring greater judgment on the professors who hear them and yet continue in their hypocrisy of play acting as a Christian.

Finally the last scripture I was given is:

 

Matthew 24:10-13 ESV / 7 helpful votes

And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

 

My response: This final scripture is like the rest that were sent to me, in that it fails to show that Christ’s elect will fall away. Certainly many will fall away, from their professing of faith, of which faith they never truly possessed. The Hebrews had many among them who professed Christ and then when persecution came along they were offended or feared death and fell away. Even so many more will do this during the entire church age before Christ’s second coming.

 

Well this was just a quick response to an Arminian who ripped scripture from context and set out to prove that Christ will lose his elect. Nevertheless, his scriptures, when left in context, prove no such thing. I will leave you with this scripture.

 

Eph 3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
Eph 3:21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

 

 

Soli deo Gloria

 

 

1 Used this definition from an article by my friend Bill Hier. This a great article. Be sure to check it out. http://gracemeans.wordpress.com/2014/05/20/the-everlasting-covenant/

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