Saturday, November 9, 2013

I Kings 22:20, God Deceives the Wicked

Arminians snarl whenever the Calvinist doctrine of reprobation comes up. Reprobation is God's intentional hardening of the hearts of those that He has passed over in election, leaving them to the judgment that their wickedness earns them. Arminians claim that this makes God the author of sin, in violation of James 1:13.

And it must be confessed that James does indeed say there that "God tempts no one."

Yet, in I Kings 22:20, the inspired text has Jehovah seeking a spirit to "entice" (some versions, "deceive") Ahab, the wicked king of Israel. See also Jeremiah 20:7 and Ezekiel 14:9, where the same Hebrew word is used for God's deceiving of false prophets.

I think that the distinction between these two contrasting concepts is that James is addressing Christians, while the Old Testament references are to unbelievers. That is, God does not place stumblingblocks in the paths of believers, His elect and beloved people, but does trip up hypocritical professors, using their own wickedness to bring consequences into their present lives as a foretaste of their judgment to come.

This is reprobation! This is God provoking the sin nature in those whom He has rejected! And it not to bring about their repentance, but rather to confirm them in their spiritual rebellion.

This should be a thunderous warning to unbelievers. If you are reading this, but have never submitted to the lordship of Christ, you have great reason for fear. Judgment isn't waiting for you to die and pass into eternity. Rather, it is happening now, in this life, and is a costly burden to bear. The last chapter of I Kings goes on to describe the death of Ahab, lost without any remaining hope of redemption. I beg you not to follow his path!



Why warn unbelievers if they've already been passed over in election?

Chris Cole said...

"Unbelievers" is not the same thing as "reprobate." Someone who is an unbeliever NOW won't necessarily be an unbeliever LATER. That is my hope, that the Holy Spirit would use the case of Ahab to enlighten an unbeliever reading this post, so that he would recognize his spiritual condition before it is too late. Ahab was a reprobate, but we can only know that after the fact. The secret decrees of God are unknown to us, except in hindsight.


How does someone dead in trespasses and sins (totally depraved, morally inable) "recognize his spiritual condition"?

Chris Cole said...

Through regeneration, in which the Holy Spirit gives him a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26, Philippians 2:13), and grants him repentance (II Timothy 2:25, Acts 5:31) and faith (Ephesians 2:8).This is summarized in the Westminster Confession of Faith X:1, "All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, He is please, in His appointed time, effectually to call, by His Word and Spirit, out of the state of sin and death, in which they are by nature to grace and salvation, by Jesus Christ, enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God, taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them an heart of flesh, renewing their wills, and, by His almighty power, determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ; yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace."


Thank you sir.