Handle with care
At the desiringgod.org blog David Mathis writes, "The doctrine of election is a sharp scalpel. It can be wielded with care and skill, and taken up to give life and heal. Or, in the hands of an untrained fanatic or detractor, it can be used to harm, to sever vital arteries and mutilate hurting people by spinning out untrue implications. In this five-minute clip, Dr. John Piper encourages us to follow the apostle Paul's powerful example in 2 Timothy 2:10 and wield the dear doctrine of election with gospel care."
"I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory." – 2 Timothy 2:10
Scripture and the Church Fathers
Here are excellent resources concerning the view of the early Church regarding Scripture.
Formal Sufficiency of Scripture
Stated and Examined from Scripture and the Fathers, with scholarly confirmation regarding the Fathers' views.
In an introduction section, we discussed the nature of formal sufficiency that we, the Reformed, affirm. In the next section, we saw Scripture's own testimony to its own sufficiency. If we were simply establishing the Reformed position, that would be completely sufficient. It would not be necessary to add anything to that.
Nevertheless, our challenger from the Roman side has requested some patristic confirmation. Frankly, we are not sanguine about the possibility that he'll actually carefully read and consider the evidence that we present, yet perhaps these evidences will be sufficient to help establish that our insight into Scripture is not a novel insight.
Saved at the Cross?
Question: If Christ actually “saved” the elect on the cross, isn't it true to say that the elect are born already justified and there is no need to exercise faith?
This is an important issue and the fact that someone would ask this question is a clear indication that they have failed to grasp the full measure of what the Bible teaches concerning Divine election.
Jesus said, “All that the Father gives to Me will come to Me” (John 6:37). Think about that for a moment, as a vital point is being made; namely this: THE EFFECTS OF GOD'S CHOICE IN ETERNITY (the Father's giving) ARE WORKED OUT IN TIME (the people's coming).
The elect are a love gift from the Father to the Son (in eternity past) but this does not negate the fact that these same people will (IN THE REALM OF TIME) come to the Son. It is not the coming to the Son that CAUSES the Father to give them to the Son. Just the opposite is true in fact. It is the Father’s giving (first) which results in the elect’s coming. All that the Father gives to the Son will come to the Son.
Christ was the Lamb slain BEFORE the foundation of the world (as the Scripture says in Revelation 13:8) yet this did not mean that Christ did not need to be slain in the realm of time. Christ was marked as the slain Lamb in eternity past, and yet Christ came into the space/time dimension with the purpose of dieing for the sins of His people. Likewise, it is also true to say that all the elect were purchased/redeemed at the cross, even though these elect would still need to come to the Son in time also.
It is not unregenerate man who authors the faith that saves. Jesus is the author and perfector of faith (Heb 12:3). Repentance and faith are GIFTS from God (2 Tim 2:25; Phil 1:29), given to the elect (in time). Jesus secured everything necessary for the salvation of the elect at the cross, including these precious gifts. Not all have faith. The elect will come to Christ in faith (John 6:37, Acts 13:48).
Was Christ the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world? Yes.
Were the elect saved in eternity past? Certainly, the Father's choice to save them took place in eternity past, yes.
Does this negate the need for events to be carried out in time? By no means. The choice in eternity past DETERMINED events that would undoubtedly take place in time.
Therefore the answer to the question is a resounding "No." No one is born justified. Since the Fall of Adam, all of us are born spiritually dead in need of regeneration and justification. Justification is by faith (Romans 5:1) not by election. Election merely explains who will come to Christ in faith (Acts 13:48). Christ redeemed His people by His blood, and secured their salvation there, even though the effects of His death would be carried out in time (past, present and future), as His people come to Him in saving faith – this being the gift of God, not as a result of works, lest no one should boast.
My own observation is that when people have an issue with Particular or definite atonement, when questions are asked and the issue is pressed, it is almost always due to the fact that they really have an issue with unconditonal election.
Sermons on Lamentations by C. H. Spurgeon
Lamentations 1:12 Is It Nothing to You?
Lamentations 1:12 Pleading with the Indifferent
Lamentations 2:19: Watch-Night Service
Lamentations 3:12, 13 Satan's Arrows and God's Watch-Night Service
Lamentations 3:21 Memory—the Handmaid of Hope
Lamentations 3:22, 23 The Novelties of Divine Mercy
Lamentations 3:24 Choice Portions
Lamentations 3:25 “How Good to Those Who Seek”
Lamentations 3:27 The Best Burden for Young Shoulders
Lamentations 3:28, 29 Solitude, Silence, Submission
Lamentations 3:56 Comfort for those Whose Prayers are Feeble
Lamentations 3:57 A Wonder Explained by Greater Wonders
Lamentations 3:58 God Pleading for Saints, and Saints Pleading for God
Lamentations 4:22 A Message from God for Thee
Is There any Injustice in Divine Election?
If one person or group receives the grace of God and another group does not, is there any violation of justice in this? If God passes over some, do they receive anything they do not deserve? Fact is, one group receives mercy and the other group receives justice, and no group receives injustice. And Paul demolishes human will as the basis for God's sovereign election in Christ. (Rom 9:15, 16) It is based rather on God's sovereign good pleasure in Christ. This removes all merit from me and puts the attention back on the sovereign and merciful God....
Even the very wisdom to believe is a gift of God's grace. Such that we cannot attribute our repenting and believing to our own wisdom, humility or good sense. 1 Cor 1 says, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” In other words, those who ascribe their believing to their own wisdom, and not to Christ alone, are boasting.
Hearts of Stone
Think about it:
Do people with hearts of stone ask God to give them a different kind of heart?
Ezekiel 36:26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
The Resolved Lamb of God
From Resolved 2012 - A most remarkable Christ centered, Cross centered, Gospel centered message by C. J. Mahaney.
The Sovereign Gospel
I highly recommend these two teaching sessions on the relationship between Divine Sovereignty and human responsibility. Outstanding material. - JS
Dr. John MacArthur - An Introduction to the Sovereign Gospel:
Dr. John MacArthur - An Explanation of the Sovereign Gospel:
A New Song
Check out this new song. The lyrics are based on Ephesians chapters 1 and 2. Here. There's even a Spanish version to enjoy. - JS
John 3:16 - Sermon Notes
Yesterday, for the first time ever in any of my sermons, I focused exclusively on the most famous verse in the Bible, John 3:16. Here are my sermon notes:
John 3:16 - For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
GOD SO LOVED - The word “so” often denotes intensity. For instance, a man may say to his wife, “I love you sooooo much,” as he wishes to express the measure and depth of his love. Though this is a popular understanding of this verse, that is NOT how the word “so” is being used in John 3:16.
There is another way of using the word “so” in English, which describes the way in which something occurs. When a mother is seeking to train her children how to place cutlery on the dining room table, she might well place the knife and fork in position and say, "now when you put the knife and fork down on the table, place them just so" (or in this way).
In John 3:16 it is this “just so” concept that is in view. We could rightly read the text as “God’s love for the world is seen in this way…” A note in the margin of the ESV states this concerning “For God so loved the world” as it reads, "Or For this is how God loved the world."
THE WORLD – There are at least ten different uses of the word “world” (Greek kosmos) in John’s gospel. Context is a most vital component in determining the meaning of words. Here, the word kosmos is being used in a general way to speak of humanity, of Jews and Gentiles.
GOD GAVE HIS SON - God’s love for the world is seen in tangible terms - the giving of His Son…
PURPOSE - God gave His Son with a particular goal in mind.
Notice there is a strong element of particularity (rather than universality) here. The purpose was not to save everybody on the planet (past, present and future) but to save those who believe in Christ.
WHOEVER BELIEVES - Literally, the text reads “in order that every the one believing in Him…” It says “every” or “all the ones believing…” That’s hard to express in English but in essence, it is saying “all the believing ones.” That’s what is being communicated. It is saying that there is no such thing as a believing one who does not receive eternal life, but who perishes. Though our English translation says “whoever believes,” the literal rendering is accurately translated as “every believing one” and the emphasis is NOT AT ALL on the “whosoever,” but on the belief.
The ones BELIEVING will not have one consequence, but will have another. They will not perish but will have everlasting life.
Because of the main verb – God GAVE His Son. God gave His Son for the purpose (Greek: hina) that every believing one should not perish, but that every believing one should have everlasting life.
As mentioned earlier, John 3:16 actually speaks of a limitation -- of a particular, rather than a universal, redemption. Clearly, not everyone will be saved. Only those who believe in Christ will be saved. The Father loved the world in this way: He gave His Son for the purpose of saving those who believe. The Son is given so that the believing ones will not perish, but by contrast, have eternal life. That is the purpose of the giving.
So, what John 3:16 teaches is:
ALL who do A (believe in Him) will not B (perish) but will have C (everlasting life)
PERISH - The word does not mean merely the end of physical existence or annihilation. We know this from the context. Verse 17 indicates that the perishing involves divine condemnation, complete and everlasting so that a person is banished from the presence of the God of love and dwells forever under His wrath.
"Imagine All the People Living Life in Peace"
The underlying message of John Lennon's song "Imagine" is not actually about peace, but instead, draws clear lines of hostility. He imagines a world where no one believes in heaven and hell, and then, at the end of the song, calls everyone to join him in HIS belief, which, he declares, would swiftly bring about utopia. In other words, he is asserting that "if you only thought like me, and not like them, then we would all live as one." So, in reality, all he is doing to calling people out of one ideology to another. There is nothing neutral about it.