Saturday, November 16, 2013

God Keeps His Appointments: the Basic Case for Sovereign Grace

The temptation with which Satan brought about the fall of Adam was, "You will be like God" (Genesis 3:5). This is repeated (in the mouth of an anthropomorphized Babylon) in Isaiah 14:13, "I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high." And again (in the voice of the prince of Tyre) in Ezekiel 28:2, "I am a god, [and] I sit in the seat of gods." And the nature of man hasn't changed. Isn't it the thought of every unbeliever, wagging his finger in the face of God, "You aren't the boss of me"?

It is this fallen nature, which plagues even the hearts of believers, that causes the umbrage so many people, believers and unbelievers alike, take, when exposed to the biblical doctrines of election and reprobation. Yet, the word of God expresses these doctrines in simple and straightforward language.

Election is God's choice, before the creation of the world, of specific men to be saved from the judgment that their sins have earned. The simplest text for this principle is Acts 13:48, "When the Gentiles heard this [i. e., the proclamation of the Gospel], they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed."

In contrast, reprobation is God's choice, again before the creation of the world, of specific men to be passed over and left under the judgment that their sins have earned. We find this stated most simply in I Peter 2:6-8, which ends with, "They stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed" [NASB].

The immediate response to this, at least among Americans, is, "That's not fair!" Well, the Scriptures address that objection, even though God certainly owes no explanations. The Apostle Paul, in Romans 9:20-21, says, "Who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, 'Why have you made me like this?' Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use, and another for dishonorable use?" The very question of "fairness" presupposes that we and God are equal. The biblical view is that we are no such thing. He is God; we aren't. So, when He acts like God, ours is to receive in gratitude and worship, not with the wagging finger of Adam's sin.

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