As Based on the Canons of Dordt, Popularly known as the Five Points of Calvinism.
By REV. ROBERT C. HAIIBAIZH
CALVINISM maintains with Scripture that the Lord chose us, not because we were holy, but “he hath chosen us in Him . . . that (in order that) we should be holy” (Eph. 1:4); nor because He foresaw our obedience; but we are “elect . . . unto obedience” (I Pet. 1:2); nor because He foresaw our faith. For “God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation, thru. . . belief” (II Thess. 2:13). The effect is that none believe except those ordained to eternal life, chosen to faith, and to every saving good. The word “ordained” pertains to the eternal, sovereign counsel of God. According to that counsel it means, “to place”: “as many as were placed-to eternal life believed,” i.e., to be rooted in and invested with eternal life; “to give”: “as many as were given to eternal life,” i.e., those under the dominion and ownership of eternal life believed. And since the word is a passive verb (“had been ordained”), it implies that a word omitted is to be understood. That word can be nothing else but “Lord,” which appears in the first part of the text. “As many as had been ordained”—by whom? by theLord! It is not man’s act, but God’s. “I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen” (John 13:18), for, “ye did not choose Me, but I chose you, and ordained you” (John 15:16). Our election does not depend upon anything in us, therefore, but upon His own sovereign ordination. From God’s point of view, it is absolutely and eternally firm and sure. Our diligence cannot make His decree any more secure; but rather furnishes us with the comfort and joy which knowledge of election affords (I Thess. 1:4). God’s election guarantees that none of His elect can be fatally deceived (Matt. 24:24), that none can perish (John 10:27ff), nor be lost (John 6:39). For His people, theirnames were forever written in heaven (Luke 10:20), and He unconditionally promises that He will not blot out their name from that record (Rev. 3:5).
4. ARMINIANISM bitterly repudiates the doctrine off sovereign reprobation. It is this point which raises the most controversy. When we ask the question, What of those who were not “ordained to eternal life”? the answer often given is, that “God never sends anyone to hell,” for His cross bars the way thence, so that the damned send themselves there, as a result of treading the cross underfoot: “who hath trodden under foot the Son of God? etc., (Heb. 10:29). Indeed, for the sake of Christ’s cross God does not determine, by an indisputable will to leave anyone in the Fall of man, nor to pass by or leave anyone in the state of sin and condemnation. For God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (II Pet. 3:9). Then it cannot be, absolute predestination which determines the reason why God sends the gospel to one people and not to another; but rather because one is better and worthier than the other to whom the gospel is not sent: “But seeing ye put it (the gospel) from you, and judge yourselvesunworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles” (Acts 13:46). Why is one consigned to perdition? Not as the result of an arbitrary partiality. (“there is no respect of persons with God,” Rom. 2:11), but because one is good and the other bad; the one is a believer and the other an unbeliever (“some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not,” Acts 28:24); or the one is obedient and the other rebellious (cf. “Come, ye blessed; . . For I was an hungered and ye gave Me meat,” etc.; with “Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire . . . For I was an hungered, and ye gave Me no meat,” etc. Matt. 25:34f, 41f).
CALVINISM declares that we know only so much about reprobation as God has seen fit to reveal, and it is important we know that much. The Bible teaches that the elect are by nature just as wicked, depraved and worthy of damnation as the reprobate: “Are ye not as the children of the Ethiopians unto Me, O children of Israel? saith the Lord” (Amos 9:7). Yet the Lord has chosen the Israel of God (Gal. 6:16), and rejected the rest. For there is a personal election of some to salvation (II Thess. 2:13). There must, then, be other persons who are not elected to salvation. God has not appointed His elect unto wrath (I Thess. 5:9); there must, then, be others who are appointed to wrath, and to fatal stumbling (I Pet. 2:8). There are some God gave to Christ (John 6:37); there are others He did not give to Christ (John 17:9). There are some whose names were written in the book of life (Rev. 21:27); there are others whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world (Rev. 17:8). To some “it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven; but to them (others) it is not given” (Matt. 13:11). “Art Thou not from everlasting, O Lord my God. . . ? we shall not die. O Lord, Thou hast ordained them for judgment” (Hab. 1:12). The reprobate are such children of disobedience that they judge themselves unworthy of eternal life; they make a covenant with death (Is. 28:15). To that disobedience they were sovereignly appointed (I Pet. 2:8)! and that unworthiness is their actual state and condition to which they were of old (from eternity) ordained (Jude 4). “For our God is a consuming fire.” He is not only sovereign in His goodness, but also in His severity. “He hath mercy on whom. He will, and whom He will He hardeneth” (Rom. 9:18).
(To be continued)