We know that God uses evil for good in the case of the elect, but how does God act toward the reprobate?
In essence, God gives sinners over to their sin and hardens their hearts. This is taught in Romans 1, where we are given a picture of men being given over to more and more sin. This is not the final manifestation of God’s wrath, but it is a form of it (Romans 1:18). • • • Read More • • •
Last week’s article explained how God can use evil while not being the author of it. This week’s article explains how this doctrine often works in the case of believers.
Christians who fall into seasons of defeat with a particular sin will often feel that God has abandoned them. They pray for deliverance from their cruel taskmaster, but no relief is given and they consequently feel as if God is standing off in the distance, unwilling or unable to help. • • • Read More • • •
Calvinists are often accused of making God out to be the author of evil, even though the reformed confessions say just the opposite. Because of these accusations, however, some Calvinists will define a difference between God’s ordaining of something and His permitting or allowing it. Today’s article from the Westminster Confession addresses this issue:
While the Scriptures do speak of God permitting certain things to happen, they also speak of God ordaining every single thing that happens (Ephesians 1:11). There might be more verses that speak of God permitting things than there are that speak of His ordaining all things, but this is not a right way to understand the Scriptures. Verses are not foot soldiers, battling one another on the ground until the last one is left standing. We seek to believe all the verses and and we trust that they are all consistent.
Last week we discussed the fact that when your friend spills coffee on your lap, God as the first cause used second causes like physics to burn your lap. God built rules into the world. We have discovered many of these rules discovered through science. Some of them, we can understand how they work. Others, we merely pretend to understand.
As the one who wrote the rules, however, God is not bound by them. We observe the movements of planets and see that this movement is what causes day and night. The movement is caused laws within physics and can’t be stopped—except when one fellow got the idea to call on the God who built the thing to make it it all stop. God condescended and the heavenly bodies heeded a sort of divine pause button. • • • Read More • • •
Many people misunderstand what Calvinists believe. The Westminster Confession can often be very helpful in clarifying Calvinist beliefs and that is the case this week.
Some people think that Calvinists teach that because God is the first Cause for all things, that means that there are no other causes. This article firmly refutes that belief by stating the opposite. Although God is the first Cause, yet He in His providence He causes things to occur by means of second causes. This plays itself out in a variety of ways. It can be through things like physics and chemistry or it can be through human decision and action. Often, it’s through a combination. • • • Read More • • •
After seven straight articles about predestination in chapter three of the Confession, the Westminster Divines thought it wise to clarify how the doctrine is to be used.
The notion that Calvinists are jerks is a common one today because many have not heeded this article. Predestination is a doctrine that needs to be handled carefully. It should result in assurance of salvation, humility, hard work, and worship for those who believe it. Calvinists who make Balaam’s donkey appear to be a more amiable messenger have done something wrong. They do not know what Spirit they are of.
The doctrine of predestination teaches us that we had nothing whatever to do with our salvation. It teaches us that we were so bad, only God could save us. It humbles us by telling us that we could never even have a part in our salvation, then it reassures us by teaching us that the whole of it has already been accomplished for us. Let’s pray that God will use this doctrine to move us to worship and humility.
When thinking about election and reprobation, we must remember that because all men fell with Adam, God is not obligated to save anyone. When you give a gift to a family member, other people do not have the right to demand that you therefore give them a gift as well. Salvation is a gift and God dispenses it as He pleases.
The Potter, says Paul, has rights over the clay (Romans 9:21). He has the right to save whom He will and pass over whom He will. If His goal were to promote pots in general, then creating some destined for destruction would be silly. But His goal is His own glory, so He uses some pots to show His grace and some to show His justice. In all this He not only maintains His righteousness, but also manifests it.
This post is a continuation of my series on the Westminster Confession.
One of the teachings that keeps Calvinism from becoming stagnant is the belief that God has ordained the means whereby the elect are saved. That means is faith, but how can anyone believe without hearing? Moreover, how will they hear unless someone is speaking? (Romans 10:14) • • • Read More • • •
If you’ve ever felt like you have nothing to offer God, then this doctrine is very good news. If you’ve ever thought that there is nothing in you that makes you more acceptable to God then your unbelieving neighbors, this doctrine says that you are right and that it’s all a part of the plan. • • • Read More • • •
A common explanation for God’s election of certain persons and not others is to say that God chose the elect based on foreseen faith. This position not only lacks biblical evidence, it also runs directly contrary to biblical teaching regarding God’s sovereignty and man’s depravity. • • • Read More • • •