Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Positive-Negative’

In sharp contrast with the above, it should be pointed out that in many cases statements put in the interrogative form have the force of an emphatic negative

Arthur Pink11. In sharp contrast with the above, it should be pointed out that in many cases statements put in the interrogative form have the force of an emphatic negative. This is another simple rule which all expositors should keep in mind.

“Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?” (Job 11:7)

—indeed no.

“Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?” (Matthew 6:27)

—none can do so by any such means.

“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Matthew 16:26)

—nothing whatever, nay, he is immeasurably, worse off.

“Ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” (Matthew 23:33)

—they cannot.

“How can ye believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that cometh from God only?” (John 5:44)

—such is morally impossible.

“How shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?” (Romans 10:14)

—they will not. On the other hand, the question of Matthew 6:30, is a strong affirmation; while that of Matthew 6:28, is a prohibition.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Advertisements

The simple negative often implies, conversely, the positive

Arthur Pink10. The simple negative often implies, conversely, the positive. This is a very simple canon of exegesis, yet one to which the attention of the young student needs to be called. A negative statement is, of course, one where something is denied or where the absence of its opposite is supposed. In common speech the reverse of a negative usually holds good, as when we declare, “I hope it will not rain today,” it is the same as saying, “I trust it will remain fine.” That this rule obtains in Scripture is clear from the numerous instances where the antithesis is stated. “Thou wilt not suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption” is explained in “Thou wilt show Me the path of life” (Psalm 16:10, 11). “I have not refrained My lips, O Lord, Thou knowest. I have not hid Thy righteousness within My heart,” and then the positive side at once follows:

“I have declared Thy faithfulness and Thy salvation” (Psalm 40:9, 10).

“Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor… Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor,” (Ephesians 4:25, 28).

Many other examples might be given, but these are sufficient to establish the rule we are here treating of.

Now the Holy Spirit has by no means always formally drawn the antithesis, but rather has in many instances— that we might exercise our minds upon His Word—left us to do so. Thus,

“A bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax shall He not quench” (Matthew 12:20)

signifies that He will tenderly care for and nourish the same. “The scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35) is the equivalent of, It must be, it most certainly will he, fulfilled. “Without Me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5)

implies that in union and communion with Him we “can do all things” (Philippians 4:13)—incidentally note how the former serves to define the latter: it is not that I shall then be able to perform miracles, but fitted to bring forth fruit! “Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14) has the force of “Come out from among them and be ye separate,” as verse 17 shows. “Let us not be desirous of vain glory” (Galatians 5:26) imports Be lowly in mind and esteem others better than yourself (Philippians 2:3). “These things write I unto you, that ye sin not” (1 John 2:1) equals My design is to inculcate and promote the practice of holiness, as all that follows clearly shows.
Negative commandments enjoin the opposite good:

“Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain” (Exodus 20:7)

implies that we are to hold His name in the utmost reverence and hallow it in our hearts. Negative threatenings are tacit affirmations: “The Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain”: rather will He condemn and punish him. Negative promises contain positive assurances:

“A broken and contrite heart O God, Thou wilt not despise” (Psalm 51:17)

means that such a heart is acceptable to Him.

“No good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11)

is tantamount to saying that everything which is truly good for such will certainly be bestowed upon them. Negative conclusions involve their opposites: “The father of the fool hath no joy” (Proverbs 17:21) purports that he will suffer much sorrow and anguish because of him—oh, that wayward children would make conscience of the grief which they occasion their parents. “To have respect of persons is not good” (Proverbs 28:21), but evil. Negative statements carry with them strong assertives:

“Yea, surely God will not do wickedly, neither will the Almighty pervert judgment” (Job 34:12):

rather will He act holily and govern righteously.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Double Or Nothing: Martin Luther’s Doctrine of Predestination

December 22, 2014 1 comment

In fact, while many students of the Reformation today focus their attention to the obvious differences between Protestantism and Romanism, such as the Papacy, mass, indulgences, et cetera, Luther himself recognizes those issues to be entirely peripheral to the conflict. He wrote in 1525 to Erasmus of Rotterdam, with whom he had been debating the Sovereignty of God’s grace (in election and salvation) and the freedom of man’s will:

I give you hearty praise and commendation on this further account—that you alone, in contrast with all others, have attacked the real thing, that is, the essential issue. You have not wearied me with those extraneous issues about the Papacy, purgatory, indulgences and such like—trifles, rather than issues in respect of which almost all to date have sought my blood (though without success); you, and you alone, have seen the hinge on which all turns, and aimed for the vital spot.3

With this admission by the Father of the Protestant Reformation, the present study becomes highly important in understanding the Reformation. The debate over single versus double predestination has certainly been an issue throughout church history, but was it an issue among the Reformers? Specifically, were Luther and Calvin at odds on this issue? 19th Century Scottish theologian William Cunningham asserts,

When Luther’s followers, in a subsequent generation, openly deviated from scriptural orthodoxy on these points, they set themselves to prove that Luther had never held Calvinistic principles. . . But we have no hesitation in saying, that it can be established beyond all reasonable question, that Luther held the doctrines which are commonly regarded as most peculiarly Calvinistic, though he was never led to explain and apply, to illustrate and defend some of them, so fully as Calvin did.4

Though Cunningham is confident enough to make this claim, his reader may be disappointed that he fails to make a comprehensive case for his assertion (though his claim is not entirely without defense). Another Reformed5 theologian, Loraine Boettner, in his work The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination claims that “Luther. . .went into the doctrine [of predestination] as heartily as did Calvin himself. He even asserted it with more warmth and proceeded to much harsher lengths in defending it than Calvin ever did.”6 Boettner’s work displays a far better defense of his claim than Cunningham’s, but both fail to fully analyze Luther’s position.

What Cunningham and Boettner both fail to support, the present work intends to prove. Where their assertions fall short, this work will provide ample evidence to support their claims. The Modern Lutheran church does not stand with Martin Luther on the issue of predestination, and thus suffers from an internal contradiction. It’s efforts to modify Luther’s views and to present a more moderate case for predestination ultimately end in conflict with Luther’s uncompromising doctrine of God’s Sovereignty. However, before critically analyzing the writings of Luther, an examination must be made of the various presuppositions possible in approaching Luther’s writings.

 

 
Read the entire article here (Pdf 112 Kb).

 

 

 

3 Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will, (Grand Rapids: Fleming H. Revell, 1992) p.319.
4 William Cunningham, The Reformers & the Theology of the Reformation, (London: Banner of Truth, 1967) p.109.
5 The term “Reformed,” unless otherwise indicated, denotes a scholar from the Calvinist tradition.
6 Loraine Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian & Reformed,
1932) p.1.

Objections to Election-Objection 5

August 1, 2014 2 comments

Five: It discourages efforts for the salvation of sinners.

Answer: Since it is a secret decree, it cannot hinder or discourage such efforts. On the other hand, it is a ground of encouragement since it guarantees that some sinners will repent and believe. It is a stimulus to effort; for, without election, it is certain that all would be lost.

Be not afraid, but speak…For I am with thee….for I have much people in this city (Acts 18:9, 10).

William Sasser-Objections to Election

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

Without a sense of predestination we will not depend on God, as we should, under every spiritual and temporal affliction

June 27, 2014 1 comment

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:-

IX.-Lastly, without a due sense of predestination, we shall want the surest and the most powerful inducement to patience, resignation and dependence on God under every spiritual and temporal affliction.

How sweet must the following considerations be to a distressed believer! (1) There most certainly exists an almighty, all-wise and infinitely gracious God. (2) He has given me in times past, and is giving me at present (if I had but eyes to see it), many and signal intimations of His love to me, both in a way of providence and grace. (3) This love of His is immutable; He never repents of it nor withdraws it. (4) Whatever comes to pass in time is the result of His will from everlasting, consequently (5) my afflictions were a part of His original plan, and are all ordered in number, weight and measure, (6) The very hairs of my head are (every one) counted by Him, nor can a single hair fall to the ground but in consequence of His determination. Hence (7) my distresses are not the result of chance, accident or a fortuitous combination of circumstances, but (8) the providential accomplishment of God’s purpose, and (9) designed to answer some wise and gracious ends, nor (10) shall my affliction continue a moment longer than God sees meet. (11) He who brought me to it has promised to support me under it and to carry me through it. (12) All shall, most assuredly, work together for His glory and my good, therefore (13) “The cup which my heavenly Father hath given me to drink, shall I not drink it?” Yes, I will, in the strength He imparts, even rejoice in tribulation; and using the means of possible redress, which He hath or may hereafter put into my hands, I will commit myself and the event to Him, whose purpose cannot be overthrown, whose plan cannot be disconcerted, and who, whether I am resigned or not, will still go on to work all things after the counsel of His own will.*

* The learned Lipsius thus writes to an unmarried friend, who appears to have referred himself to his judgment and direction:”Sive uxor ducitur, sive omittitur, etc. Whether you marry or live single, you will still have something or other to molest you, nor does the whole course of man’s present sublunary life afford him a single draught of joy without a mixture of wormwood in the cup. This is the universal and immutable law, which to resist were no less vain than sinful and rebellious. As the wrestlers of old had their respective antagonists assigned them, not by their own choice, but by necessary lot, in like manner each of the human race has his peculiar destiny allotted to him by Providence. To conquer this is to endure it. All our strength in this warfare is to undergo the inevitable pressure. It is victory to yield ourselves to fate.” – Lips. Epist. miscell. cent. 1, ep. 43, oper tom., 2, p. 54, Edit. Vesaliens, 1675. About two years after, this celebrated Christian Seneca wrote as follows to the same person (Theodore Leewius), who had married and just lost his wife in child-bed:”Jam fatum quid? AEterna, ab aeterno, in aternum, Dei lex: What is fate? God’s everlasting ordinance – an ordinance settled in eternity and for eternity, an ordinance which He can never repeal, disannul or set aside, either in whole or in part. Now, if this His decree be eternal, a retro, and immovable, quoad futurum, why does foolish man struggle and fight against that which must be? Especially, seeing fate is thus the offspring of God, why does impious man murmur and complain? You cannot justly find fault with anything determined or done by Him, as though it were evil or severe, for He is all goodness and benevolence. Were you to define His nature, you could not do it more suitably than in those terms. Is, therefore, your wife dead? Debuit:it is right she should be so. But was it right that she should die, and at that very time, and by that very kind of death? Most certainly. Lex ita lata: the decree so ordained it. The restless acumen of the human mind may sift and canvass the appointments of fate, but cannot alter them. Were we truly wise, we should be implicitly submissive, and endure with willingness what we must endure, whether we be willing or not. A due sense of our inability to reverse the disposals of Providence, and the consequent vanity of resisting them, would administer solid repose to our minds, and sheathe, if not remove, the anguish of affliction. And why should we even wish to resist? Fate’s supreme ordainer is not only the all-wise God, but an all-gracious Father. Embrace every event as good and prosperous, though it may, for the present, carry an aspect of the reverse. Think you not that He loves and careth for us more and better than we for ourselves? But as the tenderest parent below doth oftentimes cross the inclinations of his children, with a view to do them good, and obliges them both to do and to undergo many things against the bent of their wills, so does the great Parent of all.” – Ibid, epist. 61, p.82.

Above all, when the suffering Christian takes his election into the account, and knows that he was by an eternal and immutable act of God appointed to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ; that, of course, he hath a city prepared for him above, a building of God, a house not made with hands, but eternal in the heavens; and that the heaviest sufferings of the present life are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in the saints, what adversity can possibly befall us which the assured hope of blessings like these will not infinitely overbalance?

“A comfort so divine,

May trials well endnre.”

However keenly afflictions might wound us on their first access, yet, under the impression of such animating views, we should quickly come to ourselves again, and the arrows of tribulation would, in great measure, become pointless. Christians want nothing but absolute resignation to render them perfectly happy in every possible circumstance, and absolute resignation can only flow from an absolute belief of, and an absolute acquiescence in, God’s absolute providence, founded on absolute predestination. The apostle himself draws these conclusions to our hand in Rom 8:, where, after having laid down, as most undoubted axioms, the eternity and immutability of God’s purposes, he thus winds up the whole: “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.”

Such, therefore, among others, being the uses that arise from the faithful preaching and the cordial reception of predestination, may we not venture to affirm, with Luther, hac ignorata doctrina, neque fidem, neque ullum Dei cultum, consistere posse? that “our faith and all right worship of God, depend in no small degree upon our knowledge of that doctrine?”*

* De Serv. Arbitr., cap. 20.

The excellent Melancthon, in his first Common Places (which received the sanction of Luther’s express approbation), does, in the first chapter, which treats professedly of free-will and predestination, set out with clearing and establishing the doctrine of God’s decrees, and then proceeds to point out the necessity and manifold usefulness of asserting and believing it. He even goes so far as to affirm roundly that “a right fear of God and a true confidence in Him can be learned more assuredly from no other source than from the doctrine of predestination.” But Melancthon’s judgment of these matters will best appear from the whole passage, which the reader will find in the book and chapter just referred to.

Divina predestinatio,”

says he, “Libertatem homini adimit”; Divine predestination quite strips man of his boasted liberty, for all things come to pass according to God’s fore-appointment, even the internal thoughts of all creatures, no less than the external works. Therefore the apostle gives us to understand that God “performeth all things according to the counsel of His own will” (Eph 1:), and our Lord Himself asks, “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? yet one of them falleth not to the ground without your Father” (Mat 10:). Pray what can be more full to the point than such a declaration? So Solomon, “The Lord hath made all things for Himself; yea, even the wicked for the day of evil” (Pro 16:), and in chap. 20:, “Man’s goings are of the Lord:how then can a man understand his own way?” To which the prophet Jeremiah does also set his seal, saying (chapter 10:), “O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” The historical part of Scripture teaches us the same great truth. So (Gen 15:) we read that the iniquity of the Amorites was not yet full. In 1Sa 2: we are told that Eli’s sons hearkened not to his reproof, because the Lord would slay them. What could bear a stronger resemblance to chance and accident than Saul’s calling upon Samuel, only with a view to seek out his father’s asses? (1Sa 9:). Yet the visit was fore-ordained of God, and designed to answer a purpose little thought of by Saul (1Sa 9:15,16). See also a most remarkable chain of predestinated events in reference to Saul, and foretold by the prophet (1Sa 10:2,8).

In pursuance of the Divine pre-ordination, there went with Saul a band of men, whose hearts God had touched (1Sa 10:26). The harshness of king Rehoboam’s answer to the ten tribes, and the subsequent revolt of those tribes from his dominion, are by the sacred historian expressly ascribed to God’s decree: “Wherefore the king hearkened not unto the people; for the cause was from the Lord, that He might perform His saying, which the Lord spake by Abijah the Shilonite unto Jeroboam the son of Nebat” (1 Kings 12:15). What is the drift of the Apostle Paul (Rom 9:and 11:), quam ut omnia, quae fiunt, in destinationem divinam referat, but to resolve all things that come to pass into God’s destination? The judgment of the flesh, or of mere unregenerate reason, usually starts back from this truth with horror; but, on the contrary, the judgment of a spiritual man will embrace it with affection. Neque enim vel timorem Dei, vel fiduciam in Deum, certius aliunde disces, quam ubi imbueris animum hac de predestinatione sententia:you will not learn either the fear of God or affiance in Him from a surer source than from getting your mind deeply tinctured and seasoned with this doctrine of predestination.

Does not Solomon, in the Book of Proverbs, inculcate it throughout, and justly, for how else could he direct men to fear God and trust in Him? The same he does in the Book of Ecclesiastes, nor had anything so powerful a tendency to repress the pride of man’s encroaching reason, and to lower the swelling conceit of his supposed discretion, as the firm belief, quod a Deo fiunt omnia, that all things are from God. What invincible comfort did Christ impart to His disciples in assuring them that their very hairs were all numbered by the Creator? Is there, then (may an objector say), no such thing as contingency, no such thing as chance or fortune? No. Omnia necessario evenire scripturae docent; the doctrine of Scripture is, that all things come to pass necessarily. Be it so that to you some events seem to happen contingently, you nevertheless must not be run away with by the suggestions of your own narrow-sighted reason. Solomon himself, the wisest of men, was so deeply versed in the doctrine of inscrutable predestination as to leave this humbling maxim on record. “When I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done upon the earth, then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun, because though a man labour to seek it out, yet he shall not find it. Yea, farther, though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it” (Ecclesiastes 8:16,17).

Melancthon prosecutes the argument much further, but this may suffice for a specimen; and it is not unworthy of notice that Luther so highly approved of Melancthon’s performance, and especially of the first chapter (from whence the above extract is given), that he (Luther) thus writes of it in his epistle to Erasmus, prefixed to his book “De Serv. Arb., ” “That it was worthy of everlasting duration, and to be received into the ecclesiastical canon.” Let it likewise be observed that Melancthon never, to the very last, retracted a word of what he there delivers, which a person of his piety and integrity would most certainly have done had he afterwards (as some have artfully and falsely insinuated) found reason to change his judgment on these heads.

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