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October 6, 2022 12:01 am
God does not merely extend the opportunity for people to be saved. He unfailingly accomplishes His purpose to redeem some and pass over others. Today, R.C. Sproul studies the implications of the doctrine of predestination.
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If it pleases the Lord to choose me, it's his good pleasure in the choice and if it pleases the Lord not to choose me not to give me his grace, and let me perish in my sin than that pleasure of his will would be equally good… Not the way some people view salvation.
They wonder how that part of God's character lines up with his love and welcome to Renewing Your Mind. We will more than 30 years ago you could count me among those who raise an eyebrow at the doctrine of predestination viewed is unfair but over time I began to see that God is anything but unfair and undiscovered election is something that permeates all of Scripture.
It was the historic Westminster confession of faith and the faithful teaching of men, like RC scroll that help me understand and embrace this glorious truth and is my prayer that his message today will bring that kind of understanding for you. We continue now with our study of the Westminster confession still studying in chapter 3 on the eternal decree of God and in our last session we began to examine. Perhaps the most difficult dimension of those eternal decrees and that is the whole question of predestination. We looked at the historic understanding of double predestination and showed that God does not work in the same way to bring the elect to himself and in similar fashion working on belief in the hearts of the reprobate. He doesn't do that and we try to get into that question a little bit now the confession continues its focus now on this issue of predestination and there are several aspects that are brought up in the confession that I like to examine at least briefly with you now in section 4 we read these angels and men thus predestinated and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeable. He designed and their number so certain and definite that it cannot be either increased or diminished. This has to do with what we call the doctrine of particular redemption, which in the initial stages of it simply affirms that not every person in the world is saved by the work of Christ to make a distinction between universalism which teaches that all people ultimately will be saved and particularism which teaches no not each and every person that ever lives will be saved, but only some individual some particular individuals will ultimately be saved and so the basic difference between particularism and universalism is as I just explained it rather not all people are saved or only some people will ultimately be saying that when you get to the question of election and predestination, then we raise the much more serious question about why it is that only some are saved ultimately and not that all are saved ultimately. Some have answered that question as to why redemption is particular on the grounds that there is a defect in the human response and that ultimately our salvation rests totally upon what we do with the grace that's made available to us and in the final analysis, those who exercise faith will be saved but since not everybody will exercise faith. Not all people will be saved, but only those who believe. But again, we asked the question why is it that all people don't come to faith. Why is it that only some people come to faith in here is where we see the classic line of demarcation between historic semi Pelagianism and Augustinian is and the Augustinian-ism that is found here in the Westminster confession answers that question by saying that the reason why redemption is particular and not universal is because only some come to faith. As a result of God's eternal decree of election that we don't make ourselves elect by exercising faith. Rather, we are elected on to faith and that God gives the gift of faith to some and not to all and I think that's the thing that is most difficult for people to deal with with respect to the reformed doctrine of predestination because it has God intervening. Mercifully, to grant faith to some to work. Faith in the hearts of some and he gives that gift of eternal life to some but not to everybody. Now other people say no. He gives the opportunity to everybody and leaves it in the hands of the person whether they believe or not. Now we will see later on in our study. The Westminster confession, a radical difference in understanding the degree to which human beings have fallen in Adam semi Pelagianism believe that though sin has influenced and affected all human beings and has affected human beings to a serious degree there still remains a little core or island of righteousness in the soul whereby that fallen corrupt human being. Still has the power or ability when excited or confronted by an external wooing as it were of the grace of God that that center unregenerate before he is born again still has the ability to say yes to the gospel and come to Christ and those who exercise that marginal ability within their souls in the right way are numbered among the elect and those who don't exercise that ability and say no to the gospel. Of course, are not saved and they're not numbered among the elect. So again, in this view, election is determined by God's knowledge in advance of who will respond positively to the gospel and who will not again in the final analysis, the choice is ours rather than God. God chooses us because he knows that we will when offered the grace of the gospel that we will choose him, so that his choice is based upon something that we do or will do that. That's probably the majority report among evangelical Christians that I've just given that's not the view of classic Augustinian-ism, or of reformed theology, or certainly wasn't the view of Martin Luther. What were getting into. Here is one of the solos of the Reformation. We've heard a lot of the solos of the Reformation solar fee they sold script Torah Soli Christos Soliday of Gloria and someone at the solos that were encountering here is soul Grazie, which means by grace alone. Now Luther, who was voluminous in his publications considered his most important work. His work on the bondage of the will, in which he answered. The diatribe of Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam, Erasmus was distressed with Luther because he thought that Luther's view of election annihilated human free will and so Luther penned his response to arrest Mr. answer that objection and in the midst of that book on the freedom of the will, Luther made the observation that the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Solar fee they is not really understood and grasped unless or until a person understands that beneath the surface of the question of by faith alone is the doctrine of soul Grazie by grace alone and so if Luther were alive today, would see you know millions of Christians who would affirm justification by faith alone soul of the day.
Who would not affirm soul Grazie and Luther say if you don't affirm soul Grazie you don't really understand solar fee today don't really understand the gospel solicit what this is about in section 5 we read these statements. Those of mankind that are predestinated on to life God before the foundation of the world was laid according to his eternal and immutable purpose and the secret counsel and good pleasure of his will has chosen in Christ unto everlasting glory out of his mere free grace and love without any foresight of faith or good works or perseverance in either of them or any other thing in the creature as conditions or causes moving him thereunto and alter the praise of his glorious grace. Here you see in this verse. The compact affirmation in section 5 of chapter 3.
One of the most precise and clear statements of the doctrine of what is called on conditional election. When we think of the classic acrostic that describes the five points of Calvinism with the remonstrance remonstrated against in all and in the 17th century that led to the U.S. Senate of Dordrecht the acrostic is a acrostic tulip DU L IP most beautiful flower in God's garden and that the tulip stands for T stands for total depravity the you is unconditional election. The elves limited atonement, the eyes, irresistible grace and peace. Perseverance in St. $100. Different aspects as we go in the confession, but right now were concerned about the you in tulip of unconditional election and very simply, what unconditional election mean is that God's choice of us in Christ and the salvation was not based upon any conditions that we have met or that we ever will meet, but from the foundation of the world before any of us were ever born before we ever did anything right or wrong, God was pleased, according to his secret counsel that the greatness of his mercy may be made manifest that he has unconditionally and immutably chosen to save a certain number of people from Adams fallen race no notice in this section, it says that this was done according to God's eternal and immutable purpose. Well let me ask you this. Do we believe that God is a God of purpose.
Certainly, God is not do anything willy-nilly, anything that God does, he does it with a purpose and if he purposes that something should come to pass. At what point in history the sea decide upon his purpose does God ever come up with a new purpose.
Whatever God designs. He designs eternally. As I said before, there is no plan B in the mind of God because all of history is open to him. To his mind from all eternity and whatever he designs to do whatever he plans to do whatever he purposes to do. Of course it be something that he purpose to do from all eternity. And so the epic the authors of the confession are really saying a lot.
When they say that the divine purpose is eternal. Of course it's eternal I could be anything less than eternal, and it also adds the other qualifier.
What he purposes he purposes immutably if he really purposes to do something if he decrees that a certain thing will come to pass, that decree is not done contingently. It's done immutably.
This is his plan is not going to depart from his plan because the only thing that would change his plan would be if he had new information that he lacked initially, but he has all the information when he draws up the plan. There's no reason that whatever caused him to deviate from that plan. So they say before the foundation of the world is laid according to his eternal and immutable purpose and according to the secret counsel of his will now this is very important that the concept of the secret counsel of the will of God is introduced here to a discussion about predestination. One of the things were going to look at later is the question how can I know if I am numbered among the elect. Is it possible to have the assurance of salvation.
I certainly believe it is in the New Testament makes it clear that we are to work. To that end, to make sure of our election. Now I think that I can be sure my election. You can be sure of your election. What I can't be sure of is anybody that I ever meets non-election. I know that not everybody select but somebody will come to me and say I well according to this doctrine and I am not a believer so I must forget about it because if I'm not a lockdown and talked to you don't know that you may discover your election tomorrow afternoon at 4 o'clock. You may not come the faith until the last breath that you breathe in this world you can't know for sure until you're on the other side of the grave that you're not numbered among the elect and so don't jump to the conclusion rush to judgment which are reprobate, you may be at the present time and impenitent unbeliever, but we all were at some point in our lives. In that condition. And so, since we don't know we know that whoever is numbered among the elect belongs to that aspect of God that Luther called the dais, absconded to us. They hidden this of God because God is not revealed to us in sacred Scripture, or any other way. The names of all of those whose names are in the Lamb's book of life. All those who are numbered among the elect that belongs to his secret counsel and the reason why it's his secret counsel was because he is not pleased to reveal it to us and watched as people say to me Oaxacan.
I know the Allman will of God said you mean like the hidden Willow Glen they say yes it will. You can't unless God is pleased to reveal it sometime yet, but I needed not I said let me tell you something the hidden counsel of God is none of your business. It's God's business, and here's where Luther again stands up and says what God be God. God has things that he is plan he is not yet revealed to us. Remember what the old fitness of the secret things belong to the Lord our God, but that which he has revealed belongs to us and to our seed for ever. And so again the idea of the secret counsel of God is mentioned here, but the next part. The part I really want us to grasp and it said that this was done.
This predestination was done according to God's eternal purpose.
According to God's immutable purpose according to his secret counsel, according to what else. According to the good pleasure of his will on this. It is language taken right out of the Bible right on in Ephesians and so on. In Romans, Paul talks about God's electing. According to the good pleasure of his will and every time I've taught this in seminary or anywhere that inevitably somebody says will that makes God an arbitrary or that that makes God whimsical. Is there any arbitrariness in God.
Now we several of the reason for his selecting me rather than that person over there is not in us.
Then it's like God is just throwing darts you know when and wherever the dart lands in whoever's name and it is numbered among the elect and it's it is arbitrary.
It is capricious it is whimsical when people say that I should be careful not be very careful because if this doctrine of election is true and you start accusing God of being whimsical and capricious.
You're on the very edge of serious blasphemy because accuse God of being arbitrary is to accuse God of being evil. Now here's the thing to be arbitrary is to do something for no reason.
What we've already heard here is that what God does in election is for reason is to accomplish his eternal purpose is to accomplish his eternal plan. The point is as though the reason is not in us does not mean that there is no reason for his doing this and he's doing it out of the good pleasure of his wellness of all there… He just doesn't because he gets his jollies out of doing this is that one of the things we have to understand is that when the Bible speaks of the pleasure of God's will is always is qualified with the single word that should be of redundancy should not even be necessary to be included in the sacred text when speaking of the will of God or of God's pleasure, but to condescend our weakness, knowing that you and I are creatures whose pleasures are often anything but good. Want to project upon our creator the same kind of tendency to exercise his pleasure in a way that is less than good but God being God only has one kind of pleasure. And that's a good pleasure. There's no such thing as the evil pleasure of his will, and I can say that and you can nod your head, say well that's right, but I would like you to really contemplate if it pleases the Lord to choose me, it's his good pleasure in that choice and if it pleases the Lord not to choose me not to give me his grace, and let me perish in my sin, then that pleasure of his will would be equally good because there would be no unrighteousness whatsoever in God.
If God overlooked me and withheld his grace for me that's the hardest principle in this doctrine, and in the whole Christian life that we have to grapple with because somehow we think that if God is truly good he'll save us all. If he's truly righteous will give equal grace to everyone and distribute his executive clemency to all human, but the one thing that was very clear is that he does not do that in Circe's role with a message from his series on the Westminster confession of faith in your listing to Renewing Your Mind on this Thursday like you for joining us. Bagley web why are we studying something that was written so long ago. In the early 17th century was we heard RC say today is because this confession so clearly explains the deep truths that we find in Scripture and we like to help you continue your own study by sending you a copy of Marcy's book truths we confess it's a helpful introduction to this remarkable confession explaining its insights and applying them to our lives. He walks to the confession line by line and shows how the doctrines of the Bible from creation to covenant send the salvation fit together to the glory of God. Contact us today with a donation of any amount and we will send you the hardbound addition of truths we confess you can find us email@example.com or you can call inherently good or our number is 800-435-4343 and let me thank you in advance for your generous donation.
It is the faithful support of our listeners that allows us to provide the kind of clear teaching that you heard today on theology apologetics Christian worldview and church history. If you do appreciate what were doing. I hope you'll contact us today with a generous donation of any amount and request Dr. Sproles book truths we confess our number again is 800-435-4343 or if you prefer, you can make a request firstname.lastname@example.org if were going to be biblical in our theology is not a question of whether we have a doctrine of predestination. We have to have a doctrine of predestination. The question is, is doctrine of predestination. The correct one. The biblical one is obviously there is a biblical doctrine of election predestination. That's a preview of what you'll hear tomorrow. We do hope you'll join us for the Friday edition of Renewing Your Mind