"...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)

Book Review: The Intolerance of Tolerance, by D. A. Carson Reviewed by Nathan Pitchford

intolerance.gifThe word “tolerance” (together with its converse, “intolerance”) is one of the day's buzzwords, and constitutes something of a short-circuit to some of the most deeply held and passionately defended beliefs in just about every camp of political, sociological, or philosophical conviction vying for supremacy in courtrooms, universities, shopping malls, and television screens across the nation. It is presumptive, therefore, that a frank discussion of the hullaballoo surrounding the term, by an incisive thinker and lucid communicator, would be a helpful contribution for a wide array of readers. In this case, the presumption is warranted. I found D. A. Carson's latest effort, The Intolerance of Tolerance, both a stimulating and a practically useful book on a number of levels, and would not hesitate to recommend it to a diverse audience.

Carson's central thesis seems to be that the old tolerance, championed by a Modern (as opposed to Postmodern) society, assumed that there is a truth to be discovered, that right and wrong both exist and are worth searching for, but that it is a grievous crime against humanity to silence those who err or disagree by force or coercion. However, in one of the greatest “bait-and-switch” operations of modern history, a new tolerance has usurped its place, which wields the very hegemony that the old tolerance decried. I'm being simplistic, of course, in trying to distill and baldly assert what Carson was able to say with much more nuancing and documentation over the course of the book; but the case he lays out is compelling in its reasoning and striking in the categorical, black-and-white picture he paints of an overtly intolerant tolerance, that threatens not just to supersede, but entirely to subvert the tolerance of the past.

Ironically, the intolerance intrinsic to the new tolerance is totalitarian; it cannot stand any sincerely-held belief, no matter what its content. Drawing from Robert Bellah's book, The Good Society, Carson quotes a disillusioned Harvard graduate as saying, “They tell us it’s heresy to suggest the superiority of some value, fantasy to believe in moral argument, slavery to submit to a judgment sounder than your own. The freedom of our day is the freedom to devote yourself to any values we please, on the mere condition that we do not believe them to be true.” In other words, in the name of tolerance, the tolerance of any actual belief is utterly eviscerated. That is, any belief except the belief (of relativism and secularism) that drives the new tolerance.

This is the point that Carson continues to make throughout the book. Quoting representative and respectable proponents of the new tolerance, he demonstrates that it really and pervasively does intend to establish secular relativism as the only tolerable regime. He quotes, for example, The United Nations Declaration of Principles on Tolerance (1995): “Tolerance . . . involves the rejection of dogmatism and absolutism.” Or else Thomas A. Helmbock, executive vice president of the national Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity: “The definition of the new tolerance is that every individual’s beliefs, values, lifestyle, and perception of truth claims are equal. . . . There is no hierarchy of truth. Your beliefs and my beliefs are equal, and all truth is relative.” But not only does this open the door as widely to fascists or pedophiles as it does to philanthropists and champions of democracy; in actuality, it subtly closes the door to all of those whom it professes to be tolerating. When it rejects “dogmatism” and “truth claims” it is rejecting all those who believe that there is a truth and that they have it – that is, everyone but they themselves who believe in secular relativism.

Interestingly, Carson would suggest that while the ruse has largely deceived us who devised it, it has not been so effective with those for whom it was intended – that is, the “others” in our pluralistic global community, who are different from us ethnically, philosophically, and otherwise. When we are arrogant enough to make the claim that all cultures and truth-claims are equal, not only are we insulting Muslims, for instance, by saying that Buddhism is just as true as Islam, or feminists by saying that strongly patriarchal societies are just as valid as the one they envisage; but we are actually saying that our opinion that all truth claims are equal, which contradicts their opinion that their truth claim is superior, is not only true, but it is incontestable and intolerable to claim otherwise. Carson would suggest that this arrogant condescension is clearly perceived and found to be offensive by much of the world.

But not only has the new tolerance been found insulting to outside cultures; it is causing similar frustration within our own nation, which has resulted in an escalating polarity and discontent among us on a variety of levels. The frustration does not come from the advocates of the new tolerance having the opinions they do: it is their totalitarian refusal to give any other hearing an audience. To quote Carson: “The point is that, while claiming the moral high ground, the secularists are unambiguously attempting to push their own agendas. They have every right to do so, of course, but they do not have the right to assume that their stance is “neutral” and therefore intrinsically superior.” And elsewhere: “while the secularist wants all other religions to retreat into the private sphere, he or she insists that secularists have the right to control the public sphere because they are right — completely unaware that they are trying to impose their worldview on others who disagree with it. Others, they say, are intolerant because they say those with whom they disagree are wrong. But of course the secularists are no less insistent that those who disagree with them are wrong, yet never entertain a guilty wisp of thought suggesting that perhaps they themselves are intolerant.”

More alarming yet is the well-documented point that the oppression is not merely intellectual, but is increasingly beginning to be felt on campuses and in courts throughout the land. We are getting to the point where “You cannot say that something is wrong just because it offends anyone who can whisper in the ear of power. And in subtle ways, in the name of tolerance, state-sponsored coercion — the very criterion of what (the old) intolerance consists in — is brought to bear.”
I have so far concentrated on Carson's logical case against the new tolerance – that it is inconsistent, incoherent, and, ironically, intolerant. In much of the book, that is what Carson competently sets his sights on (and he does a much better job of it than my summary would lead one to conclude). But the book is more than just an exercise in critique or logic. Several subjects were broached in a stimulating but preliminary sort of way. His chapter on the historical conversation regarding tolerance took a step away from the trees to scan the wider forest, for a moment, and had a freeingly humbling effect. I realized that my own limited perspective in history is not adequate to address the complicated issues that the new tolerance touches upon; and it struck me that the same sort of historical myopia that I discovered in myself must really be necessary, to a large degree, for the ironic triumph of the new kind of intolerance. At the least, a step back for a historical survey would help impede the kind of naivety in which a kind of tyranny can grow virtually unrecognized. In a similar vein, Carson's musings on democracy as a political ideal, while brief and largely tangential to his thesis, were scintillating and left me craving a fuller-orbed exploration (perhaps in a future book?).

Much more could be said; but maybe it would be more to the point just to read Carson for himself. You don't have to be an academic to follow him, and while his writing is closely reasoned and sure to provide stimulation both for proponents and adversaries of the new tolerance, it also includes some practical suggestions and insights directed toward conservative Christians who don't usually engage in ideological discussions.

The Intolerance of Tolerance, by D. A. Carson,
available at Monergism Books at a 45% Discount - Limited Time only.

January 31, 2012  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Why Arminian Conditional Election Makes God a Respecter of Persons

I often hear the charge against those who hold to a Reformed understanding of unconditional election and effectual grace that it cannot be true because it makes God a respecter of persons.

I think it is important to face up to this charge to see if it has any validity. To do this we need to understand how the Bible uses the concept "respecter of persons" and then let it interpret itself as to what it actually means, and then determine whether or not God would be guilty of it if unconditional election were true. Below is a wide sampling of its occurrence in the Scripture:

"Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour." (Leviticus 19: 15 KJV)

"Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous." (Deuteronomy 16: 19 KJV)

"For we must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again; neither doth God respect any person: yet doth he devise means,
that his banished be not expelled from him." (II Samuel 14: 14 KJV)

"Wherefore now let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts." (II Chronicles 19: 7 KJV)

"These things also belong to the wise. It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment." (Proverbs 24: 23 KJV)

"To have respect of persons is not good: for for a piece of bread that man will transgress." (Proverbs 28: 21 KJV)

"And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear." (I Peter 1: 17 KJV)

"God is no respecter of persons." (Acts 10: 34)

"For there is no respect of persons with God." (Romans 2: 11)

"My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors." (James 2: 1-9 KJV)

Here we have multiple instances of this phrase in both the Old and New Testament. So what are these passages talking about? They are clearly warning the believer against showing favoritism or partiality, because they declare that God Himself does not show partiality or favoritism. And. most importantly, in each of these instances it means neither we nor God give special treatment to a person because of his position, merit, wealth, influence, social standing, authority or popularity. Thus 'respecter of persons' means we are not to favor one person over the other because of ANY superior personal trait in the one favored, and likewise we are not to show prejudice toward those who lack these characteristics.

So when God unconditionally elects a person in Christ does he first determine who he will choose based on their position, wealth, good looks, influence etc? No. By definition unconditional election means unconditional. It is not conditioned on ANYTHING in us or potentially in us. God does not stand to gain from currying anyone's favor ... even those who are in high positions ... because God gave them that position, wealth, authority or social standing to begin with. The Bible unambiguously teaches, therefore, that God is no respecter of persons in election. Those who are chosen are chosen "in Christ" not because God is thinking about what he has to gain by helping them over others.. God has no need for such things, so, by definition, his choosing us cannot be tainted with such a motive.

Continue reading "Why Arminian Conditional Election Makes God a Respecter of Persons" »

January 25, 2012  |  Comments (7)   |  Permalink

James and John

Dr. James White and I (lurking somewhere behind the microphone stands) had a great time yesterday discussing my new eBook and Reformed Theology on James' "Radio Free Geneva" Dividing Line Broadcast. Here's the youtube video of the interview segment.

Dr. James White writes: Today on a Mega Radio Free Geneva: John Samson and Emir Caner

"I bet John never expected to see himself mentioned quite like that before. But, we did have John Samson in studio today to talk about his new book from, Twelve What Abouts, which you can find here. We then went back to reviewing Emir Caner's sermon against Reformed theology, and then took calls on the topic for the last half hour." Here's the full 2 hour program.

January 25, 2012  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)

I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. - Psalm 34:1

Matt Redman explains how he plays the song on his guitar:

Here is a live version, with lyrics added:

January 20, 2012  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Resources on Apostasy & Hebrews 6

Question: I'm just wondering if you have any e books, or articles on the subject of eternal security which is able to strongly refute the extremely difficult passages in Hebrews 6 and Hebrews 10 which is clearly understandable as I have had some particular issues and opposition from people who hold to the erroneous doctrine of losing salvation of which I oppose. Can you help or advise.

Response: Thank you for your email. People who erroneously affirm that one can lose their salvation are in danger of denying the gospel and more precisely, denying Jesus Christ. They are in essence, declaring there is something we (not Christ) can do to either attain or maintain our just standing before God. Such a belief completely is contrary to Christ and misapprehends the intent of the gospel. We have a God who saves us freely in Christ, who does not base His salvation or acceptance of his people if they only meet certain conditions or jump through certain hoops.

The passages in Hebrews, you must remember, are written in the context... a context which declares that Jesus Christ is better than the Sacrifice, the Temple, Moses, and the Levitical Priesthood. These are warnings for people who have heard the gospel against going back to the shadows and signs which merely pointed to Christ (the fulfillment of these signs). A severe warning against embracing the shadows rather than the substance, which is Christ. It is not saying that if you stumble and commit some particular sin in your Christian life that you have lost your salvation. On the contrary, those who think you can lose salvation because they sin are committing the very error these passages warn against because they are trusting in something other than Jesus Christ, like their own ability to keep or maintain their just standing before God with their works or perseverance. God alone "is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption. Therefore, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord." (1 cor 1:28-31)

I would recommend the following articles and books:

On Apostasy

on Perseverance

An Exposition of Hebrews
(eBook) Arthur W. Pink

Assured by God by Burk Parsons

Run to Win the Prize: Perseverance in the New Testament by Thomas R. Schreiner

January 18, 2012  |  Comments (16)   |  Permalink

From the Foreword...

Excerpt from the foreword to John Samson's new book “Twelve What Abouts – Answering Common Objections Concerning God’s Sovereignty in Election,” John Hendryx writes:

John 3:19-20 states that natural men love darkness and will not come into the light. Left to themselves men will always choose to stay in darkness. Whether or not someone believes or rejects Christ, it depends completely on the disposition of the heart. Apart from a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, the Bible says our disposition is, by nature, hostile to God and we cannot understand spiritual truth (Rom 8:7 & 1 Cor 2:14). But thanks be to God, the new birth or regeneration, is where God, the Holy Spirit applies the redemptive blessings of Christ, which give us the spiritual life that empowers us to do what we must do (repent and believe the gospel), but cannot do (while in the flesh), because of our bondage to sin (John 6:63, 65).

Clear and plain as the words of Christ regarding His identity may now seem to be, it is important to consider that there was a time when even Jesus' disciples (who spent 3 years with him) did not understand them. Seeing they did not see, and hearing they did not hear (Matt 13:13). They could not comprehend that the Messiah was to be "cut off" (Isaiah 53:8). They refused to receive the teaching that their own Rabbi must die. Therefore, when He was finally crucified ... when the Shepherd was finally struck down … they were confounded and His sheep were scattered each to his own way. Although Jesus had often told them of it, they had never internalized it as a fact. They were blinded to it.

Let us watch and pray to God against such prejudice in our own heart. Let us beware of allowing traditions, preconceived notions and unaided logic to take root in our hearts and blind us to Jesus. There is only one test of truth: what the Scripture says. Before this all the prejudices in our hearts must fall.

But even the disciples who read the Scripture still did not understand. And when they finally did, what was it that made the difference? How did they finally see Jesus for who He was? In Matthew chapter 16:13-17 Jesus asked His disciples the most important question they were ever asked. Jesus asked, "...who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven."

Notice that the first thing Jesus wants to make certain Peter understands when making his declaration is that this mystery cannot be truly known by human reason, but only by God's revelation through the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:3; Matt 11:25-27). "Flesh and blood" simply refers to the natural resources of man without the Holy Spirit.

Left to himself with his natural depravity blinding him, Peter would never have understood the truth, beauty and excellence of Christ and His true identity. Left to himself, Simon wouldn’t have marveled at Jesus as the Son of God, the Savior of the world. But God Himself had revealed this truth to him by giving him a new heart (Ezek 36:26) in which the Spirit cries ABBA FATHER (Rom 8:14-17), and so his eyes were opened for the first time to recognize who Jesus really is. Apart from the Spirit of God there is no understanding of Spiritual truth (1 Cor 2:10-14) even when it is staring you in the face. You may intellectually understand what the words mean, but the heart is so naturally prejudiced against Christ, that the Spirit must disarm those hostilities if we are to see the truth in them.

Apart from a new heart, the problem in our natural state is that we are all spiritually blind (not merely short-sighted). 2 Cor 4:3-4 says: “If our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.” So if God does not open our spiritual eyes, we will never be able to recognize Jesus. Unless God intervenes to replace our eyes, we are, like the disciples, incapable of recognizing Christ as He really is.

In the flesh we can go listen to a preacher, we can read the Bible, yet unless God reveals Himself directly to us, we are dead to spiritual truth (Eph 2:1). While reading the text we will actually fail to recognize Him, just as the disciples on the road to Emmaus, until Jesus opened their eyes. And that is why we need God to intervene, to take away our spiritual blindness, so that we can see clearly what otherwise is beyond our natural resources to comprehend.

It seems that Jesus believes it is critical to remind Peter of this truth as of first importance in Peter's "follow-up". Many in this day and age are reluctant to speak to a new Christian about God's sovereign grace in salvation for fear it is a hard truth. Yet when Peter makes his first confession of Christ, Jesus puts it first before all other truths.

The entire eBook is available for $4 at this link.

January 16, 2012  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

New Book Published

The long awaited eBook is now published and available. My prayer is that God will use this to change many hearts and minds and cause His people to be overwhelmed by the magnitude of His all conquering grace. - JS

Full details can be found here.

January 13, 2012  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Wordsmithy Douglas Wilson | Review by: John Starke

wordsmithy.jpgDouglas Wilson. Wordsmithy: Hot Tips for the Writing Life. Moscow, Idaho: Canon Press, 2011. 120 pages. $11.20 @Monergism Books.

In C. S. Lewis’s fantasy world Perelandra, a place with no sin or evil, repetition is like “asking to hear the same symphony twice in a day.” Perfection has the concept of “enough,” where pleasure is complete and repetition is vulgar. For those of us who read and re-read writing how-to books like Harry Potter novels, we look for that sense of “enough,” where the formula works and we’re satisfied.

Douglas Wilson’s Wordsmithy offers no such promise, since it’s not his to give. Besides, it probably doesn’t exist outside the world of Forms. But Wilson provides a guide to the “writing life” that doesn’t simply excerpt good writing from classic literature to illustrate his principles but attempts to be the model of good writing itself.

For example, Wilson offers a real gem when warning against “writing by rules” for fear coming up with something “like verbal tapioca pudding made with skim milk. Our world already has too much verbiage in it that comes off like it was written by a committee or a computer—or maybe a committee of computers.” Or when mocking aspiring writers who quote the right people so they can be known as someone who quotes the right people. “They quote Austen like Mary quoted her 18th-century bromides, and were Austen here to see them do it, she’d slap them right into her next book, and it wouldn’t be pretty.”

To be clear, Wilson doesn't live in Greenwich Village and boast a contract with a New York publishing house. He’s a pastor in Moscow, Idaho, who started his own classical education movement and a college to follow. His periodical, Credenda Agenda, stirs up no small wrangles among Presbyterians. None of this slights Wilson. He has lived his own counsel: “Live an actual life, a full life, the kind that generates a surplus of stories.” He types with dirt under his fingernails.

Bad Form

Though Wilson never says so, writers quickly realize there is such a thing as bad style. But to perfect your style, you don’t spend all your time reading manuals. Wilson doesn’t include sections on brevity, unity, or usage. Rather he instructs us to get a life, read until our brains creak, get to know how language works by reading dictionaries, and learn a foreign language. In other words, Wordsmithy isn’t a manual on how to write a great novel so you can go home and write it this afternoon. Rather, if you want to be a writer, Wilson offers tips for what you do for the next 30 years.

The mindful reader will realize that to follow Wilson all the way will make you a certain kind of writer. He does not dispense generic tips. To be sure, any writer who wants to improve would need to follow the spirit of Wilson’s tips, but to be a Wilson-kind-of-writer means to value a certain rhetorical style. Maybe there’s a label for this school of writing, but if there is, I don’t know its name. I only have a sense of it, a rhythmic prose that follows the Austen-Chesterton-Wodehouse-Lewis line of quick wit and belly-laughs. You probably know the kind.

If an author is going to give us tips for a writing life, he only knows one kind of life, his own. He only knows to suggest certain books, the ones he's read. So we need to choose our writing manuals wisely, just like we need to choose our teachers wisely.

Let’s suppose, though, for a moment that you, like Mark Twain, despise writers like Jane Austen. “Every time I read Pride and Prejudice, I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin bone,” Twain said. I can imagine that Twain would be impatient with Wilson as well. Does it follow, then, that we should neglect a book like Wilson’s? There certainly are other books like Stephen King’s On Writing, which gives writing lifestyle instructions without the Anglo-Saxon wit that Twain despised as flighty.

But here’s my case for Wilson’s Wordsmithy. Wilson doesn’t give tips for taking command of Lewis or Wodehouse, but he shows us a lifestyle that takes command of the English language. He doesn’t teach us to be mockers but to be deft wordsmiths.

You shouldn’t be as cranky as Twain anyway. Austen will make your nose snort with laughter, and so does Wilson. He’ll spin your head with prose and make you wonder how he did it. He won’t tell you how he did it, but he’ll write five more and then point to authors who do it all the time. He shows young writers still looking for their voice how to find one. You’ll read this book fast and go back to it again. Wilson has wisdom only a wise man knows.

John Starke is an editor for The Gospel Coalition and lead pastor of All Souls Church in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. You can follow him on Twitter.

Wordsmithy: Hot Tips for the Writing Life.

January 09, 2012  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Not the full story...

Question: If God is Sovereign, why pray? Answer: It is BECAUSE God is Sovereign that we do pray. He is Lord of all and can change things, even putting it on our hearts to pray that He would do so.

John Wesley said, “God does nothing except in response to believing prayer.” There is some truth there but its not the full story. Creation took place before there ever was a prayer meeting. God made His plans long before anything else ever existed. God gave a people to His Son in eternity past who in time will come to Him (John 6:37) and He did so when no one asked Him to. God is not merely a responder, He is a master planner. He is found even by those who never sought Him (Romans 10:20). Lets always be people of prayer but let us be forever thankful that God is not limited to our prayer life before He can act in this world; otherwise we would be Sovereign and not Him. - JS

January 06, 2012  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Election Ensures the Concept of Salvation by Grace

“So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.” Romans 11:5, 6

From an article entitled, “What Difference Does it Make? A Discussion of the Evangelical Utility of the Doctrines of Grace,” Mark Webb writes:

The most casual Bible student admits that scripture indeed employs the language of election when speaking of God’s eternal purposes. Yet most seek to dodge the implications of that language by fleeing to the refuge of “conditional” election (i.e. that God’s choice, or election, of certain men to salvation is “conditioned” by his foreseeing faith in those men). I’ll leave the task of showing that this “time tunnel” hypothesis will not fly to the many excellent works on the subject. Better yet, see it yourself by getting out your Bible and thoroughly studying the many references of scripture concerning this subject. I intend to deal not so much with the proof of the doctrine as with its ramifications.

If “conditional” election is true—if God’s choice of me is determined by my choice of Him—the practical effect of this teaching is no different than if there were no election at all! The proof of this assertion is seen in the fact that the groups who hold this view seldom, if ever, mention the subject. And why should they? To what purpose? Since it’s taught that God has done all He can do to save, and now it’s up to man, the will of man becomes the determining and dominant factor in salvation. Whenever you make God’s choice of men to salvation hinge upon what He foresees in man—be it his work, his faith, or his choice—you have effectively undermined the whole concept of salvation by grace alone! Either salvation depends upon God’s free choice and good pleasure, which is the principle of “grace,” or it depends upon something man himself produces, which is the principle of “works.” It really matters not whether this “thing” which God foresees is something tangible, seen outwardly in the man’s life, or something intangible, seen inwardly only by God. It matters not whether it’s a huge thing, or whether it’s a tiny thing. So long as man’s part is the critical, determinative part, you have a system based upon “works” not grace.

Let me illustrate. Suppose you came to me and said, “Mark, I have a $15,000 car here. If you’ll pay me $15,000, I’ll give you the car.” We’d all agree, that’s not “grace,” that’s “works.” But suppose you said, “Mark, I’ve a $15,000 car here, and I’ll simply give you the car.” We’d all agree, that’s “grace,” not “works.” But now let’s try to mix the two concepts. Suppose you said, “Mark, here’s a $15,000 car. I’ll be $14,999 gracious to you if you’ll simply pay me $1.” Have we succeeded in mixing “grace” and “works?” No! For what’s the practical difference between that last offer and you simply saying, “Mark, here’s a $15,000 car—I’ll sell it for $1?”

Do you see? You’re still coming to me on the basis of “selling,” not “giving.” You’ve not changed your principle, you’ve simply lowered your price! This is precisely Paul’s point in Romans 11:5-6. An “unconditional” election is the only concept of election consistent with salvation by free grace!

Election Excludes Man’s Boasting

Scripture tells us in passages like Rom. 3:27, I Cor. 1:26-31, and Eph. 2:8-10, that God intentionally designed salvation so that no man could boast of it. He didn’t merely arrange it so that boasting would be discouraged or kept to a minimum—He planned it so that boasting would be absolutely excluded! Election does precisely that.

January 02, 2012  |  Comments (15)   |  Permalink