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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • Rev. John Samson
  • Rev. David Thommen (URC)
  • John Hendryx
  • Marco Gonzalez

    We are a community of confessing believers who love the gospel of Jesus Christ, affirm the Biblical and Christ-exalting truths of the Reformation such as the five solas, the doctrines of grace, monergistic regeneration, and the redemptive historical approach to interpreting the Scriptures.

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  • « "Taste and See that the LORD is Good!"- Edwards on 'Bonum Utile' and 'Bonum Formosum' | Main | Love Constrained to Obedience »

    Tell 'em to choose Christ, to turn from sin, to repent, to believe, to come.. knowing only the elect ever will

    Jesus - "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matt 11:28

    Jesus - "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day." - John 6:44

    Dan Phillips at the Pyromaniacs blog wrote the article that follows below.. All I need to say is, "well said Dan!" - JS

    To be Biblical, theology at least has to deal with the raw data of Scripture. Any system will have parts it sings with, and parts it groans and sings with — but where you find yourself groaning too heartily, you should take a second look at your system. I think it's beyond rational debate that the Bible envisions man as by design a deciding creature. "The plans of the heart belong to man," Solomon writes (Proverbs 16:1a), and the word translated "plans" suggests "arrangements." A lot of decisions go into an arrangement: do this, then this, then either this or this, depending on what happens.... This is the assigned lot of man, and rightly so. All over Scripture.

    God faces Cain with a choice between doing well and yielding to sin (Genesis 4:7). Through Moses, God presents Pharaoh with a number of choices (cf. Exodus 8:1-2). To the nation, Moses cries, "I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live" (Deuteronomy 30:19).

    Fast-forwarding to the ministry of our Lord, we see many choices laid out, and the ringing command to choose rightly. "Repent," Jesus calls (Matthew 4:17); choose the narrow gate over the deadly broad way, Jesus warns (Matthew 7:13-14); come (Matthew 11:28), go (Matthew 28:19). Choices, choices. Yet behind and over it all is the sovereign will of God, which is exhaustive and invincible, and which always has both the first and the last word.

    So should we be reluctant to use the language of choosing and deciding? Evidently not. The Bible surely does it freely and frequently.

    I think where we get hung up is in failing to deal wisely and believingly with Deuteronomy 29:29 — "The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law."

    Part of the problem, then, is that we concern ourselves too much with the wrong side of the equation. We gum up a critical difference that this verse reveals. On the one hand, it is absolutely true that we can't do anything apart from God's sovereign will. We can't live (James 4:15) nor breathe (Daniel 5:23), let alone plan (Proverbs 21:1) nor do (Proverbs 16:9b). His sovereign will is a sure thing, and it is a secret thing. But how does that rubber meet the road? Does that mean we shouldn't do anything unless we know whether it's God's sovereign will? If that's our chosen path, then evidently it's God's sovereign will that we be useless, pathetic idiots.

    We needn't worry about whether God's sovereign will is done or not. It will be! Hel-lo, it's God's will! And it's sovereign! It simply isn't in our power to stop it from being done (Proverbs 19:21; 21:30)!

    So look at it this way. If you're leery about telling someone to choose to trust in Christ, or decide for Christ — what would you tell him? Do nothing? Is that Biblical? Tell him not to repent, not to come to Christ, not to believe in Him? Is that Biblical?

    But God urges him to do all these things! Isn't that sufficient authority for you and me telling sinners that they should? Isn't Jesus' invitation sufficient grounds for our invitation? If the King Himself invites them to come, commands them to repent, urges them to believe — what greater warrant would you ask?

    In fact, isn't it tempting God and rank unbelief to refuse to issue such exhortations and invitations? And if they tell us that they did in fact decide and choose to trust Christ as Savior and Lord, is it a godly and helpful thing to jump all over them and mock them?...

    Posted by John Samson on September 10, 2009 09:30 PM

    Comments

    Wow, EXCELLENT points! Thanks for sharing!

    Thank you for your ministry here. I have added you to my blogroll so I can continue to keep up with the latest articles

    Thank you for your ministry here. I have added you to my blogroll so I can continue to keep up with the latest articles

    Sometimes i think that we're too afraid that some of the non-elect might be saved by accident.

    I have a question - I believe Scripture seems very clear that those who have been exposed to the Word of God will be held more accountable to God than those who have never heard it (James 3:1, Matt 11:21-24, Lk 12:47-48). If this is the case and we preach to the non-elect, aren't we making them more accountable even though they will never be saved? In a sense, won't we in fact be worsening their punishment by making them more accountable?

    Kez,

    The honest answer has to be "yes." To resist the command of God to repent and believe the Gospel is a treasonous act of defiance against the King, a sin of ultimate proportions and certainly adds to someone's punishment... Scripture talks of an impenitent heart leading to the storing up wrath on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed (Rom 2:4), so our sins do pile up and punishment will result.

    However, the King commands us to preach the Gospel to all people anyway. The elect are not running around the countryside with the letter "E" stamped on their foreheads so there's no way to distinguish between them and the non-elect so that we preach only to the elect... Election is God's business not ours. Our job is to preach the Gospel to all. We are commanded to preach the gospel to every creature.. . Of course, it is a delight to do so. But it must be understood that it is an eternal thing we do when we preach the Gospel - either it will be a means of someone coming to Christ (as the Holy Spirit works with and in and by the word of God), or else the word preached causes the hardening of the heart in defiance against God which will result in condemnation. Either way, God's word does not return to Him void and He accomplishes all His good pleasure.

    But won't the elect get saved anyway? They are predestinated for it, after all. Wouldn't it be better to leave the non-elect less accountable since the elect will get saved anyway?

    Kez,

    God has ordained both the ends and the means. The ends, are His elect coming to Himself in saving faith. The means, is the proclamation of the Gospel.

    In John 10: 16, Jesus, in speaking of His sheep amongst the Gentiles said, "I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd."

    Notice the experience of the early Apostles in Acts 13:

    43 Now when the meeting of the synagogue had broken up, many of the Jews and of the God-fearing proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, were urging them to continue in the grace of God.
    44 The next Sabbath nearly the whole city assembled to hear the word of the Lord.
    45 But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began contradicting the things spoken by Paul, and were blaspheming.
    46 Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, "It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.
    47 "For so the Lord has commanded us, 'I HAVE PLACED YOU AS A LIGHT FOR THE GENTILES, THAT YOU MAY BRING SALVATION TO THE END OF THE EARTH.'"
    48 When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed."

    Who was it who believed the Gospel here? "As many as had been appointed to eternal life."

    The ends - the elect's salvation; the means - the preaching of the Gospel.

    A. A. Hodge once asked, "If God has eternally decreed that you should live, what is the use of your breathing? If God has eternally decreed that you should talk, what is the use of your opening your mouth? If God has eternally decreed that you should reap a crop, what is the use of your sowing the seed? If God has eternally decreed that your stomach should contain food, what is the use of your eating?" (Evangelical Theology, 92-93).

    Hodge answered his own questions, by saying, "In order to educate us, [God] demands that we should use the means, or go without the ends which depend upon them. There are plenty of fools who make the transcendental nature of eternity and of the relation of the eternal life of God to the time-life of man an excuse for neglecting prayer. But of all the many fools in the United States, there is not one absurd enough to make the same eternal decree an excuse for not chewing his food or for not voluntarily inflating his lungs." (p. 93)

    Election does not negate evangelism Kez. The preaching of the Gospel is the means whereby His elect are brought to faith... and how shall they hear without a preacher?

    Ah, I see. Sorry for all the questions... I've only recently been looking into Reformed Theology and my questions are seemingly never-ending... Thanks for being so helpful! =)

    Kez,

    We have all the time in the world for people with honest and sincere questions. Please don't be sorry for asking them.

    Some time back I wrote answers to the top 10 questions I get asked on these issues. Perhaps this could be useful to you (as a means to the end of you understanding more about reformed theology) :-). God bless you Kez. May the Holy Spirit lead all of us further and further into the truth of His word. You will find the Q and A's here: http://www.reformationstudycenter.com/ElectionQandA.html

    Oh wow thanks for the link!! I really appreciate it!! =D

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