Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Second Sunday in Lent.

The Collect

ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect from the First Day of Lent is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.

Daily Bible Verse

Friday, April 20, 2012

God Knows the Future and Determines Every Detail Through His Providence

God knows every twist and turn in the road.  (Luke 9:57).

Who Knows What the Future Holds?
by Charlie J. Ray

As I listened to a lecture on predestination in the Old Testament given at Covenant College by the late Dr. Gordon H. Clark and recorded some years ago, I noted that one of the moderators joked about Dr. Clark's contention that all things that happen are predetermined right down to even our evil acts. I found it odd that a Presbyterian school would question that doctrine but the moderator made a remark that a football player thought that he and Dr. Clark had a divine appointment to meet in the parking lot after the lecture. The contention of some of the students was that God's sovereignty over everything down to the last detail would remove human responsibility. But Dr. Clark's answer was that knowledge makes human free agents accountable to God and responsible for their actions and choices—even if their actions were predetermined by God Himself. Romans 1:18-21 reveals that the Apostle Paul thought that general revelation or natural revelation did indeed give men enough knowledge about God to make them without excuse and fully accountable to God—even if salvation is impossible without special revelation (Romans 10:7-17; Acts 4:10, 12; John 5:24, 25; John 14:6; Matthew 1:21).

It seems silly to me for anyone to trust in themselves to persevere to the end. Why would I say that? Well, first of all anyone reflecting on their pre-conversion experience must acknowledge that although they had a general knowledge about God most folks think that they are just fine and good people go to heaven. So what does the Arminian have to offer in addition to that view? Pragmatically nothing at all. After all for the Arminian it is keeping God's laws—albeit a lowered standard that men can attain by their own “free will”--that ultimately decides who will go to heaven or hell. Basically a general offer of salvation and a general atonement only makes salvation a possibility for all. Since Jesus died for all then all must save themselves by believing the Arminian gospel of faith plus good works. Unfortunately even modern Lutherans are essentially Arminians since the vast majority of them no longer believe Luther's doctrine of the bondage of the will. Rather modern Lutherans believe there is a common grace given to all men without exception—this is nothing more than the semi-pelagianism of Rome masquerading as Lutheran or Reformed theology.

If God simply provides prevenient grace for all and the death of Christ for all, including those already in hell, then ultimately it is not faith in Christ that saves or even the justification of Christ that saves but it is the sinner who must save himself by working up a faith of his own. How this is possible when the Bible clearly says that sinners are spiritually dead in their trespasses and sins and are in fact slaves to sin and unable to choose Christ in the first place is indeed a mystery (Ephesians 2:1, 2, 3, 4, 5; Romans 5:8; Colossians 2:13; John 8:33, 34; Romans 6:17, 18).

Faith is itself a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8, 9). If we could give ourselves faith we would have something to boast about. But even our conversion and repentance are gifts of God, not something we do in and of ourselves (John 1:13; John 3:3-8; Acts 11:18). If common grace gave actual power to change then salvation would be universal and no one would be lost whatsoever. Salvation is not by “chance” but by God's divine degree (Proverbs 16:33). The truth is conversion is God's action upon His elect people chosen before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4, 5, 11; Titus 3:5, 6, 7). If men had the ability to convert themselves who would want to go to hell? The reason they do not believe is because God has justly blinded them and rendered them unable to believe (John 12:40). A god who is unable to overcome sin and actually save anyone at all is a powerless and helpless god who is not God by any definition (Isaiah 45:20).

Trying to persuade dead men by mere reason is like trying to preach conversion and repentance in the graveyard. Dead men cannot and will not hear that the Law condemns them as unworthy sinners and justly damned to an eternity in hell. Dead men cannot and will not hear that God promises to save all who believe His Gospel and that Christ alone justifies. The catch here is that the “whosoever will” is limited to believers, not “potential” believers. Those who believe the Gospel do so because God opens their heart (Acts 16:14) and gives them repentance (Acts 11:18). Those who say that the doctrine of sovereign grace gives the reprobates an excuse that they are unable to believe have forgotten that Paul says they are without excuse (Romans 1:18, 19, 20, 21). Simply because they are commanded to believe (Mark 1:15; 16:16) but refuse to do so does not obligate God to grant them the ability to believe. Since they freely and willfully refuse and have enough knowledge from both general and special revelation they are accountable to God for their own unbelief (James 1:13, 14, 15). Only God can give good gifts to His elect and bring forth the fruit of faith and conversion (James 1:16, 17, 18; John 6:37, 44, 65).

The fact of the matter is that Scripture teaches that salvation is all of God (Exodus 14:13; 2 Chronicles 20:17; Lamentations 3:26). It is not our strength or our efforts that save us but literally God's sovereign will (Isaiah 31:1; Zechariah 4:6).

Furthermore, since God knows the future He determined it (Isaiah 46:9, 10; Deuteronomy 29:29). Nothing happens but by God's divine appointment (Hebrews 9:27). Even the crucifixion of Christ was predicted in the Old Testament (Psalm 22:1ff; Isaiah 53:1ff) and every single detail happened just as God had predetermined it, even down to Judas Iscariot and Pontius Pilate (Acts 2:22, 23; 4:27, 28). God knows His elect from before birth (Psalm 139:13, 16; Jeremiah 1:5; Galatians 1:15) and even every single thought they will think before they think it (Psalm 139:4). In fact, God knows all the days that His elect will live and the exact number of them and everything that will happen to them (Psalm 139:16).

God does not just have a general knowledge of the future or even a knowledge of many different possible outcomes. He knows exactly what will happen because in fact He determined it (1 Peter 2:8; Romans 9:11, 12, 13; Proverbs 16:33; Matthew 1:20, 21, 22, 23; John 1:47, 48). The idea that God provides a general grace that fails to save the vast majority of those it is supposed to provide salvation for is foreign to Scripture. Mere possibility is no guarantee that anyone at all will be saved. The doctrines of grace and the Scriptures, however, show that every single elect person God intended to save before creation will in fact be saved and all the sins of the elect were paid for on the tree by Jesus Himself (1 Peter 2:24; Revelation 13:8). All of the elect will be called from the four corners of the earth and it is not possible that even one of them will be deceived (Matthew 24:24, 31; Mark 13:22, 27).

It is not true that Calvinists need not evangelize because God's appointed instruments and means are the preaching of the Gospel and special revelation. Not one of the elect will be saved apart from God's normative means (Romans 10:7-17; Matthew 28:18-21). In fact famous missionaries like William Carey and Stanley Livingston were Calvinists.

The bottom line is that double predestination is a great comfort for believers because they know that the works of the law do not apply to them. All the promises of God in Christ are yes and amen! (2 Corinthians 1:20). Predestination is only discouraging for those who continually refuse to believe that they cannot earn or merit salvation and that salvation is completely a free gift of God. Those who refuse to accept that salvation is all of God thrust themselves into eternal insecurity and fear for their souls. The 39 Articles of Religion makes this doctrine clear in Article 17, which is itself drawn from the most certain warrant of Holy Scripture. (See Article 17).

God knows the obstacles ahead in the road. But nothing can separate God's elect from His love or His promises (Romans 8:28-33).

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