Posts Tagged ‘Predestination and responsibility

22
Apr
17

God’s Decree and His Declared will.

People often wish to hurl their meaningless insults [wicked heresy, damnable heresy, satanic heresy etc.] at Calvinists but seldom wish to engage in biblical investigation. Additionally, they often persist in their effort to demonstrate that we Calvinists believe a doctrine that we make no effort to deny, i.e., that God has decreed all that occurs in his universe. We take the words Paul wrote in Ephesians 1:11 seriously— “in whom [Christ] we have been predestined according to the purpose of him who works [energetically and effectively accomplishes] all things [not some things, not good things, not most things, not all the things we judge to be “good” but ALL THINGS] according to the counsel [God’s eternal, unchanging, wise decree that he is well-pleased to accomplish] of his will.” We live in this confidence based on the revealed truth, that “all things work [Some texts read “God works all things] together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28). “He does according to his will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth and none can stay his hand [prevent him from acting when he begins to act] or say to him ‘what have you done?’ [no one has the right to question what he has done] (Dan. 4:35). Daniel reminds Belshazzar of his father’s experience and charges that he has not learned the same valuable lesson that his father had learned. He said, “. . . but the God whose is your breath and in whose hand are all your ways, you have not glorified” (Dan. 5:23).
We do not live in a world governed by blind fate, chance or luck, encountering one purposeless event and meaningless action after another, but in a world that is guided by the kind and unseen providential hand of our sovereign God. The wise man tells us that even in those matters that seem most random and fortuitous, God is in control. He wrote, “The lot is cast into the lap [the dice are rolled] but its every decision is from the Lord” (Prov. 16:33).
Additionally, we do not deny that God is actively involved in every event that occurs and every action that is performed. He does not govern his universe by bare permission. Assyria and it’s king, is the rod of his anger (Isa. 10:5) the ax of judgment in his hand (10:15). He does not merely permit these wicked people to pillage an ungodly nation but says “I will send him against an ungodly nation” (Isaiah 10:6). Amos asked, “If there is calamity in a city, will not the LORD have done it” (Amos 3:6). One could multiply such verses almost endlessly.
What we deny is that God is the author of sin in the sense that he causes the evil perpetrated by wicked and ungodly people. He may, in his providence, determine that Achan will stumble across a beautiful robe from Babylonia and two hundred shekles of silver and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekles, but he does nothing to cause Achan to covet and steal those articles contrary to his holy law. The Scriptures clearly state that God cannot be tempted with evil, nor does he tempt any man, but every man is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed (see James 1:13-14).
Satan did not plant the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the middle of the garden in plain view of the newly created pair; God did. And he did so knowing full well that he had not designed human nature to act independently. He knew that the moment that Adam chose to act independently would be the moment of his fall. Though God had decreed what occurred in the garden, he did nothing to cause Adam’s fall. When Adam chose to act independently of God, he acted freely, voluntarily and culpably and not as a robot that had been preprogrammed by God to act as he did.
When God sent the king of Assyria against his people, he did not delight in the sinful actions of the pagan king though he had decreed to use him as the rod of his anger. In fact, the text makes it quite clear that God had intended to judge the Assyrians for their wicked designs, though he had decreed to use those very designs to accomplish his purpose. And he did so because those very actions suited his purpose though he did not delight in the actions themselves. Having spoken of his design, God says of the king of Assyria, “Yet he does not mean [intend] so; nor does his heart think so; But it is in his heart to destroy, and to cut off not a few [many] nations” (Isa. 10:7). In verse twelve we read, “Therefore it shall come to pass, when the LORD has performed all his work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, that He will say, ‘I will punish the fruit of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his haughty looks’” (10:12).
God’s declared will, that in which he delights, is often different from what he has purposed. He often uses second causes that act contrary to his revealed will to accomplish a higher purpose. He decreed the crucifixion (see Acts 2:23 and 4:27-28) which clearly violated commandments he had given Israel concerning the shedding of innocent blood (see such passages as Deut. 20 &. 21). That does not mean that he delighted in the sinful actions of these wicked men themselves. It simply means that he had determined to use their evil machinations to accomplish a higher purpose, i.e., to bring glory to himself and to secure the eternal redemption of his people.

13
Jan
13

Arminian Presupposition #6 Refuted

Arminian Presupposition #6. If God has truly chosen who will be saved and determined that they will certainly believe the gospel, there is no need to preach the gospel to anyone.

This presupposition is also shared by Arminians and Hyper-Calvinists. From it, the Arminian would argue there is a need to preach the gospel to everyone, therefore, election cannot be true. The Hyper-Calvinist would argue that since election is true, there is no need to preach the gospel. For him, all the elect will be saved whether they believe or not. Others would argue that if our doctrine is true, there is no need to pray. The error of both is their failure to understand that the same God who has ordained the end of all things has also ordained the means by which God’s decree are to be accomplished.

We are bound to get into trouble theologically if we put a “therefore” where God has put a period. Is it certain all the elect will be saved? Yes! Is it certain no one will be saved apart from the use of the means God has ordained? Yes! Consider what Paul wrote, “For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?”

I have no right to reject either the truth that God’s decrees are certain to be fulfilled or that we must be diligent in the use of the means God has ordained to fulfill those decrees. Both are clearly taught in Scripture.

Part of the difficulty results from a confusion of plan, accomplishment and application. Simply because something is planned, even if that plan is certain to be accomplished, does not obviate the need to implement the plan. If the most talented and detail oriented architect in the world designed the most fabulous dwelling ever conceived, no one could live in that house apart from a construction crew coming along and actually building the house. When the house is completed, someone can move into it. It makes no difference how elaborate the plan may be, no one can move into it. God’s blueprint is so perfect that it is without need of alteration, but it needs to be implemented in his works of creation and providence. Predestination is God’s blueprint; Christ’s work of redemption corresponds to the building of the house. Moving into the house is God’s work of application. The blueprint is neither the house nor what occurs on moving day.

God works all things according to his purpose. God’s purpose is not his providence. We must keep those aspects of God’s activity separate. Additionally, our responsibility is not determined by what God has decreed, but by what God has declared. One of the old writers stated it this way–“God’s decree and his acts of providence are to be the Christian’s diary, not his Bible.” We are not to be guided by God’s decree moving forward, but we can rejoice in it looking backward. It is God’s revealed will that must determine our duty, not what he has decreed. One reason we cannot expect to be guided by God’s predestined plan is we cannot know what God has decreed until after an event occurs, unless that plan has been revealed in the Bible. If it occurs, I can be sure God planned it to occur. Until the actual occurrence of an event, I must be guided by his will revealed in the Scriptures.

How do I know to whom I should preach the gospel? Am I able to peer into God’s book of life to learn whom he has chosen? Must I be certain a sinner has been awakened before I can invite him to come to Christ? Of course, the answer is clearly revealed in the Bible. I am to proclaim God’s good news to every creature under heaven and invite whosoever wishes to come and take of the water of life freely.