In the attributes of God and in various graces of the Spirit, comparative and contrasting attributes and graces are often paired together. Our God is a God of mercy, and a God of wrath. He is love, and possesses a perfect hatred (Psalm 139:22). So also, in the graces which a child of God experiences, where faith is; so is trust; where regeneration is, conversion follows; where true evangelical repentance is, so too is godly sorrow.
In the decree of God, where election is, so also is reprobation. There can be no “election” if all are chosen. If we ever sing the song of the Lamb of God, we shall sing of both election to grace and reprobation to damnation. That song states:
“for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation”
To redeem us and not them is electing love; to redeem out of a people clearly indicates that some are not redeemed.
Both doctrines are, as is all Scripture, “given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”
(II Timothy 3:16-17)
The glorious doctrine of election is the most loved doctrine in Holy Scripture; it is also the most hated by man. To the child of God, the subject of election is a clear message of the love, mercy, and longsuffering of God to poor hell deserving sinners. To the man of the world desiring both sin and salvation…or a later “chance to be saved when he is ready” . . . election is hated and feared. To this man, electing love is discriminating, unjust, and illogical, if electing love kindles such a violent negative reaction in the ungodly, then imagine what reprobation must do to the wicked!
There is a strong need to preach reprobation: the hatred of God, His wrath and anger, and His judgment. Never before in the annals of American religion has ungodliness plunged to such depths. This is due, in some part, to an almost total lack of gospel preaching in pagan America. God is viewed as loving all men without exception, coddling sinners, forgiving men in their sins, and in general enjoying the permissiveness of the ungodly. As their humanitarian judges, so is their humanitarian god!
To graciously understand and love the doctrine of election, one must be brought sovereignly by the Holy Spirit to experientially know he is a sinner, justly and deservedly condemned by God. In the bleakness of such despair, and finding no works suitable to appease an angry God, he is led unerringly by the Spirit to “fall upon the Rock” and find safety in Christ’s atoning death.
With this experience, he knows the justice of God and has tasted the mercy of Christ. To reflect upon why he, and not others, finds abundant peace in salvation by free grace freely bestowed; leads the soul to admire and to rejoice in God’s election of grace. But, he equally can understand that multitudes are not given faith; have no godly wrought sorrow over sin; and possess no love of the Son of God. Thus, he can comprehend the doctrine of reprobation.
Election is a Biblical doctrine.
The words elect, election, chosen, the called, and ordained are used more times in the Scripture than more popular concepts such as hell, baptism, communion, and cross. Why then is it neglected? Primarily because it is a doctrine of Christ and can not be used to scare men into religious institutions. It is a stumbling block to easy-decisionism and revivalism. It calls upon a man “to make thy calling and election sure” (II Peter 1:10), and if such a man is not called by the effectual work of the Holy Spirit he can not make his election sure. In making his election sure, he is not making it sure to God, but rather to himself … searching out the evidences thereof. “For the foundation of God standeth sure, the Lord knows them that are His”.
While it is true that election is an immanent act of God before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4-6), and that calling is in time; yet there can be no utility in one’s attempting to be assured of election when his first concern should be whether God has called him. No man attempting to get “decisions-for-Christ” can afford to broach such a subject!
The ungodly invariably object to the doctrine that it increases or encourages sin. This certainly is not true in the lives of those who believe it. On the contrary, it is the Freewillers, or “self-willed” individuals that “take care of Number 1” and do things “my way”.
Not so, the election of grace:
“According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in Love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved.”
Does this sound as if the elect are chosen to abound in sin?
“For we are HIS workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath BEFORE ORDAINED (predestined) that we should walk in them.”
It is certain that if one performs good works, he performs that which God has ordained or predestined.
If he is “chosen in Him that he be holy and without blame”, how then can it be said the doctrine tends to permissiveness?
“Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have ALWAYS OBEYED, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh IN YOU both to WILL and TO DO of His good pleasure.”
What is the good pleasure of His will unless it be as Paul wrote saying:
“For this is the WILL OF GOD, even your SANCTIFICATION, that ye should abstain from fornication: that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour.”
(I Thessalonians 4:3)
No, dear reader, the doctrine of election does not promote immorality.
“Freewillism” is that culprit!
Reprobation concerns those not selected, or “chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world”. Common observation is that most are not righteous, nor chosen to salvation. It is a harsh -doctrine to those who love sin. This we freely admit. But just because it is harsh does not in the least mean it is to be ignored.
But, says one, “God would not be just to send a man to hell without giving him a chance.” We disagree with this. If God dealt with all men outside of election in Christ, and rendered to all that strict judgment: “the wages of sin is death”; then justice, not mercy, demands it. “For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse. .who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” (see Romans 1:20-32)
If God merely left the wicked alone in this life He would still be just, for they are without excuse and knowing the judgment of God, not only commit sin but have pleasure in them that do it. Salvation is by GRACE, not by chance. Salvation is due to electing love; and judgment is earned by the Reprobate.
“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient:”
(Rom. 1:28-31, see complete context).
What if God is willing to use these lovers of sin and wickedness to demonstrate His justice and power?
Does He violate their will or “freedom” (so-called) to give them over to that which they love, desire, and in which they delight?
Of course not!
“What if God, willing to shew His wrath, and to make His power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath FITTED (made fit) to destruction: and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had afore prepared unto glory?”
(Romans 9:22-23. Read whole chapter for context)
The ninth chapter of Romans deals specifically with both election and reprobation in perhaps the most emphatic defense of any Biblical doctrine.
“Therefore (speaking of God hardening Pharaoh’s heart) hath He mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth He yet find fault? For who hath resisted His will? Nay but, 0 man, who art thou that replieth against God? Shall the thing formed say to Him that formed it, Why hast Thou made me thus? Hath not a potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?”
Again, in I Thessalonians, Paul joins the two doctrines together thus:
“For God hath not appointed us to wrath, (as others) but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ”
(I Thessalonians 5:9)
In II Thessalonians, he again joins the two together in an extensive context covering the whole of chapter 2. Of the reprobate, he declares the “man of sin” the “son of perdition” would deceive the reprobate saying: “ . .. and for this cause God shall send them strong delusion that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believe not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (Verses 11-12), and: “But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit AND belief of the TRUTH: whereunto HE CALLED YOU by our gospel, to obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (verses 13-14).
Thus, there is no escaping the truth of both election and reprobation.
Most people are familiar with the empty shallow morality (and immorality) of preaching done by modern evangelists and psychologists. Yet, the doctrine stated in the Scriptures addresses these religious peddlers in this wise:
“For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained (foreordained) to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”
We realize reprobation is not a popular evangelical subject in our day, yet, the contrast between the elect and reprobate; and the fact that it was God who made the difference is a well-spring of joy and praise in the heart of a child of God. In all justice, he knows that God could have (I speak as a man) left him “a vessel of wrath even as others”; that if it were not for God’s free and sovereign grace in providing a substitute sacrifice for his sins in the person of Jesus Christ, he would yet remain in his sins.
Surely if every pulpit in this land were to resound again with the balanced preaching of both doctrines, the effect should be as during the Great Awakening when it was done so powerfully and faithfully to the alarming and converting of multitudes. Even the soundest of ministers today appear afraid to alarm their hearers. Ministers should preach not fearing what man would do, for both children of grace and men of the world should know that “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of an angry God”.
By an experience of grace one sees that it was the “good pleasure of God” according to His electing love and tender mercy that salvation is freely given to such who were “without strength”.
To feel that God “calls not the righteous, but sinners to repentance”; and leaves the “ninety-and-nine” in the wilderness and turns to seek and to save the one lost sheep, is a humbling experience. An enlightened view of the naturally rebellious and sinful state from which one has been called (while yet in sin, without any commendable works) excludes all boasting and motivates to the highest praise of the God of all grace.
Brethren may it be given to us to think on these things so that our adoration of Christ might increase more and more as we see the approach of His glorious appearing with all His saints.
By Stanley C. Phillips