Saturday, April 2, 2011
Election and Reprobation in the Words of Jesus
"Then the disciples came and said to Him, 'Why do You speak to them in parables?' And He answered them, 'To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them." But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.'"
- Matthew 13:10-17
This exchange between the Lord and His disciples occurred immediately after His giving of the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:1-9). They wanted to know why He told truths in parables, rather than explaining them in plain words, i.e., in "layman's terms" as we might say today. His answer is astounding, verse 11: "to them it has not been given." The Arminian cannot explain His words, but they flow naturally from the Calvinist perspective: Jesus is teaching the doctrine of election, in that He has chosen them to understand. And He is teaching reprobation, in that He intentionally withholds comprehension from others.
This confronts the errors of some that hold that the doctrines of grace are somehow a distortion of the Gospel taught only by Paul (as if that would invalidate them anyway). And it also undermines the equivocations of those "red-letter" Christians who believe that the words of Jesus alone are authoritative. And there is no wiggle-room for the Arminians who seek to deprive election of any meaning by making it contingent on some foreseen quality in the elect. Jesus claims this choice as His own sovereign act of will.
I personally wouldn't have it any other way. I am content to depend on these other words of His, from John 15:5, "I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing."