Monday, September 5, 2016

Reprobation: A Sorrowful Truth

"You are our Father,
though Abraham does not know us,
and Israel does not acknowledge us; 

You, O Lord, are our Father,
our Redeemer from of old is Your name.
O Lord, why do You make us wander from Your ways
and harden our heart, so that we fear You not?
Return for the sake of Your servants,
the tribes of Your heritage.
Your holy people held possession for a little while;f
our adversaries have trampled down Your sanctuary.
We have become like those over whom You have never ruled,
like those who are not called by Your name."

- Isaiah 63:16-19 

These are very sad words, near the end of the prophecies of Isaiah. Much of the Book of Isaiah is God's declarations of the apostasies of Israel, and her coming judgment at the hands of the Babylonians. And, as a member of the society, Isaiah has natural feelings of sorrow over the spiritual condition of his nation. In these verses, he gives vent to that sorrow. However, we don't see what we often see people say in the face of impending tragedy. At no point is he mystified about why things are happening. He never wonders why God can't seem to do anything. His reaction is very different.

Look at the questions he asks: "O Lord, why do You make us wander from Your ways and harden our heart?" His gut reaction is to attribute all to the sovereignty of God. This is the doctrine of reprobation. In our modern society, even among professing evangelicals, we have a serious problem with this doctrine. After all, aren't we the masters of our own fate? Of course, that very reaction is proof of how far bald-faced humanism has come to dominate both society and professing church. The goal of every man is self-actualization, happiness, self-fulfillment. And, of course, religion is supposed to serve those goals.

However, the Bible-believer must reject that worldview. What does the Bible say? "So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (I Corinthians 10:31). Ah, that is quite the reverse, isn't it? Life isn't for our fulfillment but for God's! That's why my own Presbyterian forefathers started both of our catechisms with that precept: "What is the chief end of man? Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever." The cite as proof both this verse from First Corinthians and Romans 11:36.
Notice that the principle of both Scripture and the Catechisms is God-centered, while society is man-centered. Not only are those contrary principles, they are hostile principles, necessarily in conflict with each other. Thus, I understand the hatred that people, whether professing Christians or otherwise, have for this doctrine. It is because it is a declaration of war on their comfortable self-love.

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