Tuesday, 3 December 2013



Many attacks (and I am viewing the above as such) on Calvinism often prove to be a two edged sword. One problem with forging a big stick (to change the metaphor) to beat others is that the same club can be used to beat you.

Consider the above scenario for Calvinists. According to the tweet, we have nightmares because we are horrified that it is possible for our children not be numbered among the elect. My reply is as follows:

1) If by this it is meant that we fear that we should bring children into the world and watch them grow up unsaved, eventually to stubbornly die in sin without God and therefore without hope – then I say that such concern is entirely rational. Parenthood is a tremendous responsibility that no one should take lightly. However, it is the fear not only of the Calvinist Christian, but of any Bible Christian whether he subscribes to sovereign grace or not. I would hope that the non Calvinists have a burden for their children and desire and work to see them brought in saving faith to the feet of the Saviour. IOW: The issue is not exclusively a Calvinist one. Hence my title above.

2) While God has revealed certain great truths about election (and its related truth of reprobation) in His word – most notably in Romans 9 – yet such truths were never given so that any man interested in the salvation of his soul might despair. By extension, the same truth is that we should never despair of  the salvation of others who are still above the sod. The bare fact is this: If there was no such doctrine as election, then there would be no salvation. Without election, no one would seek the Lord while He is to be found nor call upon Him while He is near. (Isaiah 55:7) Without election,  absolutely no one would ever repent or believe the gospel. The doctrine either of election or reprobation does not in any way narrow the meaning of the word “whosoever” i.e. “all without exception” and any sinner can look at those words “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17) and conclude that he is a candidate for the invitation. 

3) Why are some sinners lost? Ultimately the cause is sin and sin alone. John 3:19 is so clear. So clear that Mr Calvin observed:

“19. And this is the condemnation. He meets the murmurs and complaints, by which wicked men are wont to censure — what they imagine to be the excessive rigour of God, when he acts towards them with greater severity than they expected. All think it harsh that they who do not believe in Christ should be devoted to destruction. That no man may ascribe his condemnation to Christ, he shows that every man ought to impute the blame to himself. The reason is, that unbelief is a testimony of a bad conscience; and hence it is evident that it is their own wickedness which hinders unbelievers from approaching to Christ. Some think that he points out here nothing more than the mark of condemnation; but, the design of  Christ is, to restrain the wickedness of men, that they may not, according  to their custom, dispute or argue with God, as if he treated them unjustly,  when he punishes unbelief with eternal death. He shows that such a condemnation is just, and is not liable to any reproaches, not only because those men act wickedly, who prefer darkness to light, and refuse the light which is freely offered to them, but because that hatred of the light arises only from a mind that is wicked and conscious of its guilt.”

Does God leave some people in their sins? Again, Calvinist Christians and non Calvinist Christians affirm. We both hold that he leaves the chronic stubborn and unrepentant wicked in their sins. We both agree that no man  - even the elect - is forced against his will to be saved. That God will ultimately intervene in the life an elect soul is undoubtedly true. As we observe above, unless He does so, then no soul can regenerate himself and so be made fit for Heaven. Hell would be full and Heaven empty unless there is a divine and supernatural intervention. Election is not of faith or because of foreseen faith but election is unto faith. Faith is the fruit of election. Unbelief is the fruit of sin. Reprobation never made anyone a sinner, but justly trusts him as such. Reprobation is God justly respecting the free will decision of some sinners to stubbornly love the darkness rather than the light and do their own thing.

You are always going to get into trouble if you play one truth in God’s word against the other. This is what the above tweet is trying to do. Divine Sovereignty and Man’s Freedom and Responsibility go hand in hand.

4) In his infinite wisdom, God did not give us a peek into the Book of Life to see who will or who will not eventually come to faith in Jesus Christ. God has given us reason to hope for the salvation of any sinner. Who would ever have thought that the Dying Thief would have been saved? Or the Christ hating, Christian murdering Saul of Tarsus? Not only did He give us hope, but again, invoking the attributes of His wisdom and mercy etc., He gave us a specific work to do as the means of the conversion of sinners, including our own offspring. It was God who commanded us to “Preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). On the practical side, that means that we not only brush the little curl from the forehead of our children as they fall asleep, but instead of trying to probe into something which we cannot know (short of their conversion) we also pray for their salvation and witness to them faithfully of the Saviour.

Calvinism isn’t fatalism. It recognises that God is in sovereign control and that salvation is of the Lord. History shows that this great truth spurred Calvinist missionaries and evangelists out of their beds and easy chairs and into the hottest part of the battle, assured that their labour could never be vain in the Lord.


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