Skip to main content
Report this ad

See also:

High grace confession [Augustine]. Retrieved from:
See caption

1) The Particularity of Grace

a. The Well-Meant Offer - It is indisputable that the Gospel ought to be preached to everyone without exception. The Gospel, however, is the message that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and not the teaching that Christ died for one's sins. Those who believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God can be assured that Jesus died for their sins. The preached Gospel, however, is not a means of grace to the reprobate, but an expression of God's righteous displeasure, calculated to cause the reprobate to rebel against him in an aggravated manner, and thus incur greater condemnation(Rom. 2:4, 5, 7:1-13, 9:14-23, Ps. 73:1-28, esp. vv. 15-20, Prov. 16:4, 1 Pet. 2:8, Jude 4, Exod. 10:1-4, 1 Sam. 2:25, Isa. 63:17, Ezek. 20:25-26). It is indisputable that God in his providence restrains the evil of the unregenerate and reprobate and even works civic righteousness in such men (Ezra 7:6, 9, 28, 8:18, 22, 31, Neh. 2:8, 18; Isa. 45:13), but such restraint is an act of grace to the Church, because it inhibits the unrestrained venting of their wickedness to the Church, and is therefore an act of grace towards the Church, and not the ones restrained, as is abundantly clear from each of the passages cited.

The call to repentance is not, furthermore, a well-meant offer. God told Moses explicitly before having Moses demand Pharaoh's repentance that God's call to Pharaoh's repentance was not "well-meant," but, considered teleologically, was intended solely to spur Pharaoh to further disobedience and aggravate the severity of his condemnation (Ex. 10:1-3; cf. 1 Sam. 2:25; Ezek. 20:25-26; Rom. 7:1-13, 9:17; Gal. 3:21-23). We thus see that imperatives given to the reprobate commanding them to repent are understood in scripture teleologically, with the final destiny of the one aimed at in mind. Thus, the intention behind imperatives is not uniform, but the eschatological identity of the one to whom the Gospel being preached must be kept in mind; to the reprobate, the preached Gospel is pure judgment because it delivers an impossible command and spurs only further rejection and disobedience, along with the judicial aggravation issuing from it, and to the elect, it is pure grace because it delivers an unconditional promise. In both case, the behavioral result of the preaching is irresistible, necessary, certain, unalterable and immutable.

Nonetheless, the Gospel is to be preached to every individual indiscriminately (Ezek. 18:30-32, Matt. 3:2, 4:17, 11:1, 20; Mk. 1:15, 6:12; Lk. 9:6, 13:5, 24:47; Acts 2:38, 40, 3:19, 8:25, 17:20, 18:4, 5, 20:21, 26:20, 28:23, Rom. 1:14; 1 Tim. 2:25, 26). Given the contemporary meaning of "offer," we believe it ought to be abandoned, since the word in common usage tends to imply a sort of modal possibility or contingency which is incompatible with a biblical hard determinism and necessitarianism, according to which God works all things according to His will, and nothing could have been otherwise or contrary (Lam. 3:37-38; Eph. 1:11; Rom. 11:36). Nonetheless, there is a sense in which the Gospel proclamation is "conditional" only in the sense that it is the necessary instrumental condition by which the forensic benefits of Christ's active and passive obedience are applied to the elect sinner through faith, although this "condition" is not a meritorious condition, and if the word "condition" must be used, it ought never to be taken as implying modal possibility or contingency.

The same is likewise true of the word "offer." It may be wiser to abandon the word because in contemporary usage it tends to imply modal contingency or possibility, as though it were possible for the elect to reject the Gospel presentation, and thus contradict God's predestination (in which case "elect" and "predestination" are defined out of existence). Likewise, we affirm that it is the duty of every man without exception to believe the Gospel preached to them. If it can be said that creatures justify God if and only if we have faith in him (Lk. 7:29, 35), then it follows that those who fail to confess faith in Christ, fail to justify God, and thus fail in their duty to justify him (cf. Ps. 51:4; Rom. 3:4). If we maintain that it is incumbent upon us to not be deceivers (2 Jhn. 7) and to not be a liar (1 Jhn. 2:22) then it follows that the only way for us to do this is by confessing that Jesus Christ is Lord (1 Jhn. 2:22; 2 Jhn. 7) and it therefore follows logically that it is our duty to have faith in Jesus Christ, although we likewise maintain that this faith and the confession that accompanies it is only the non-meritorious instrument by which faith is imputed and not the meritorious condition of its imputation (Rom. 4:3; Gal. 3:6; Gen. 15:6).

b. The Saving Will of God - God's motivation for saving His elect is love (Deut. 4:37, 10:15, 33:3, 26, Cant. 1:2, Ps. 25:6, Jer. 31:3, Mal. 1:2, Hos. 11:1, 4, Eph. 2:4), and this love proceeds from His sovereign will(Deut. 7:6-8, Rom. 9:13, Eph. 1:5, 1 Jhn. 4:19). God does not in any sense desire the reprobate. Negatively, the scriptures consistently testify that God hates the wicked (Lev. 26:30; Ps. 5:5-6, 11:5, 95:10; Mal. 1:3; Prov. 6:16, 19; Hos. 9:15; Rom. 9:13) and desires(1 Sam. 2:25), delights in(Deut. 28:63), and intends(Ps. 73:17-20, 92:7; Prov. 16:4; Rom. 9:14-23; 1 Pet. 2:8; Jude 4), their ultimate destruction, which is precisely the opposite of what our opponents allege. Those passages erroneously appealed to in order to make the case that God desires the salvation of the wicked (e.g., 2 Pet. 3:9; 1 Tim. 2:4-6, Jhn. 12:32) fall under the following headings:

i. Intensive vs. extensive scope (Rom. 5:12-21, 1 Cor. 15:22). These passages do not teach that Christ made justification, or any component of salvation, either potentially available for, or actually operative in, everyone without exception, but only teach that the covenantal, legal and eschatological alignment with Adam or Christ has a certain necessary effect – See Col. 3:11
ii. Universality of kind rather than absolute universality (Isa. 45:22, 1 Tim. 2:4-5, Jhn. 12:32)
iii. Relative contrast in absolute terms for emphasis (Ezek. 18:23, 32, 33:11). Ezekiel’s hearers had concluded that since they were being punished for the sins of their fathers, it would be futile to repent because they would bear the punishment for these sins regardless. Ezekiel’s point is to correct this mistaken portrayal of God as som
iv. Exclusive reference to the elect (Jhn. 1:9, 2 Pet. 3:9).

c. The Scope and Object of the Love and Hatred of God
d. "Common Grace" vs. "Providential Gifts" – It is true that God gives temporal gifts to the reprobate(Ps. 145:9; Acts 14:17; Matt. 5:43-48; Lk. 6:27-36), but this does not mean that God's motive in giving such gifts to everyone is love. Rather, the only reason God gives good gifts to the reprobate is the desire to aggravate their condemnation and ripen them for judgment (Ps. 73:17-20, 92:7; Prov. 16:4; Rom. 2:4, 5, 9:14-23; 2 Cor. 2:15)

2) The Freedom of the Will - "Free" is a relative term, and there are many relations in which it can be spoken of either obtaining or lacking. It always presupposes a negative liberty (freedom from) and a positive liberty (freedom to). We employ a helpful distinction used by Paul Manata:

a. "Freed" Will (Nature Determinism) (Rom. 6:15-23, see also Deut. 29:4; Ezek. 36:26, 27; Jer. 31:33) - Man necessarily acts according to his nature. This, we affirm.

b. Free Will (Act Determinism) (Rom. 9:19-23) - Man possesses the power to do otherwise than God's decree. This, we deny.

The relation of the two is not paradoxical or incomprehensible, but is described simply and logically in the scriptures (Prov. 16:1, 9, 21:1; Jer. 10:23). A choice is when an option is presented to the mind, and the mind assents to a choice, or rejects it, according to the man's prevailing desire, and what this prevailing desire is, is itself the necessary and spontaneous issue of the man's nature. The choice is a real choice because it is a real assent by, or refusal of, the will (Jos. 24:15), but this does not mean that the will is 'free' in the sense of possessing the power of contrariety, since it is God who ordains all things, including all human decisions, as (Prov. 16:1, 9, 21:1; Jer. 10:23) plainly show.

3) The Righteousness of God in the Predestination of Sin – God always decrees in accordance with his righteous nature, so His decrees are always righteous. Although God does ordain sin, he does not commit sin, even in ordaining it. Likewise, His decrees proceed solely from His will, and His will is conditional on nothing external to it(Dan. 4:35, Ps. 115:3, 135:6).

a. God's Decree Active and not Permissive - The absoluteness and sovereignty of God's decree is absolute and exempt from nothing (Ecc. 3:11, 14, Esther 4:14, Isa. 45:7, Amos 3:6, Eph. 1:11, Rom. 11:36). He predestines all of our thoughts and behaviors (Prov. 16:1, 9, 21:1; Jer. 10:23), both good(Phil. 2:13, Col. 1:28, Eph. 2:10, Ecc. 9:1, Ezra 7:6, 9, 28, 8:18, 22, 31, Neh. 2:8, 18) and evil (Deut. 2:30; Jos. 11:20, Ezek. 14:9, Exod. 10:1-4, Lk. 22:34, Isa. 45:7, Lam. 3:37-38, Acts 2:22-23, 4:27-28, Dan. 5:23, 2 Samuel 24:1, 10, 1 Kgs. 22:21-23, Rev. 17:17, 1 Cor. 11:19, Matt. 18:7, Lk. 17:1, Jhn. 17:12, Matt. 26:24, Mk. 14:21), although humans are held accountable for their sin because our choices are made according to our own desires, rather than against them (Jas. 1:13). God's decree is likewise always active and positive, and never merely negative, passive or permissive. God positively and actively decrees:
i. The sins of believers (2 Sam. 24:1, 10; Lk. 21:31-34)
ii. The sins of unbelievers(Ex. 10:1-3, Deut. 2:30, Jos. 11:20, 1 Sam. 2:25; Dan. 5:23)
iii. The righteous acts of believers(Phil. 2:13; Col. 1:29)
iv. The righteous acts of unbelievers(Ezra 7:6, 9, 28, 8:18, 22, 31, Neh. 2:8, 18; Isa. 45:13; Rev. 17:17)

b. God's decree of reprobation unconditional - It is not upon an antecedent consideration of the demerit of the reprobate that God predestines the non-elect to damnation; rather, God has unconditionally predestined them to the very sin for which they are then justly condemned, and this, ultimately by virtue of His arbitrary will and decree (Prov. 16:4; 1 Pet. 2:8; Rom. 9:19ff)

Report this ad