6. Its Exemplification
Election and reprobation are plainly evident throughout the Old Testament. In the case of Abraham, who is the father of all them that believe, before God called him out of Ur, he was of an idolatrous stock which worshiped false gods. There in that heathen environment “the God of glory appeared unto our father, Abraham,” but not to the other citizens of that city. The Lord reminds us, “I called him alone, and blessed him.”
Then there is the case of Jacob. He and his brother, Esau, were born of the same father and mother, twins. They stand as the classic example of election and reprobation in the words, “For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calleth: it was said unto her, ‘The elder shall serve the younger.’ As it is written, ‘Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated'” (Rom. 9:11-13). Why did the Lord choose Jacob in preference to Esau? He was not particularly winsome, whereas Esau was of a much more attractive personality. Jacob proved himself deceitful and could lie a string of lies five times in nauseating succession. Yet God came to him when he had nothing, deserved nothing but condemnation, only to promise him everything and to protect him everywhere he went.
Consider next the case of the nation of Israel. God chose that nation. He set His love and favor on it, to the exclusion of all other nations. He provided the Passover lamb for that one single nation. There was no lamb of God for the other nations. To the Israelites God had declared, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth” (Amos 3:2), i.e., I have, from the beginning of the ages, known you with a knowledge of love—you, only you, have I so loved. But all the other, heathen nations I would that they should walk in their own ways. They shall be My battle axes, My weapons of war, that with them I may break in pieces and destroy the kingdoms of this world. Why did the Lord choose Israel, and not the other powers? .The Chaldeans boasted the advantage of antiquity. The Egyptians were experts in the whole range of worldly wisdom. The Canaanites had the fulness of number. But what had Israel? What, apart from Jehovah, was the excellency of Israel? Would we think to choose a nation, hard-hearted, stiff-necked, carnal, unappreciative and rebellious? Was it because Israel had one milligram of goodness? Was it because Israel had an atom of “common grace?” Or was it not rather that God chose Israel in absolute sovereignty? Is it not rather that God never works from the point of view of what is in the creature, but from what is found in Himself, in His own will?
Then in the New Testament, why did the Lord choose angels to deliver the message of the birth of His Son? Why not have kings or emperors make the glorious announcement? Why did He choose poor shepherds to first receive the news? Why not the representatives of government, or the ecclesiastical leaders in Jerusalem? If angels must bring the glad tidings, why not have them do so in the temple? This is what we would think, but our thoughts are not God’s thoughts.
The Lord himself, at the beginning of His ministry in Nazareth preached His first sermon on the truth of election and reprobation. “But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; but unto none of them was Elijah sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian” (Luke 4:25-27). Moses and Paul preached the same predestination: “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. Wherefore He hath mercy on whom He will, and whom He will He hardeneth.” But the people, unwilling to tolerate this great truth, “When they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up, and thrust Him out of the city” (vss. 28, 29). Take note of the fact that not the people off the streets manifested this hatred of the truth and its unique Proclaimer, but “all they in the synagogue”! In this connection, remember that the servant is not greater than His Lord. What, conceivably, would Christ’s attitude to such a response be? Certainly this: “Jesus rejoiced in spirit and said; I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hidden these things from the wise and the prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes; even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight.” What should be our attitude to the preaching of this truth? This: “In this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”
In the early history of the church, we have the oldest of the evangelical confessions, the Waldensian, which says of election, “God saves from corruption and damnation those whom He has chosen from the foundations of the world, not for any disposition, faith or holiness He foresaw in them, but of His mere mercy in Christ Jesus, His Son, passing by all the rest according to the irreprehensible reasons of His own free will and justice” (from The Doctrines of Grace, G.S. Bishop). Also from The History of the Churches of the Valley of Piedmont, by Samuel Morland, London, 1658, we have the following Waldensian statements of faith. “Christ . . . died for the salvation’ of all those that believe” (p. 33). “We believe that there is one holy Church, which is the congregation of all the elect and faithful ones from the beginning of the world to the end” (p. 37). “All those that have been and shall be saved have been elected of God before the foundation of the world” (p. 40). “It is impossible that those that are appointed to salvation, should not be saved. Whosoever upholds free will denieth absolute Predestination and the grace of God.” “God so loved the world, that is to say, those whom He has chosen out of the world” (p. 65). “The Church is the company of the faithful . . . having been elected before the foundation of the world.” “All the elect are upheld and preserved by the power of God. . .they all persevere in the Faith unto the end” (p.. 67). The first statement quoted at the head of this paragraph is also found on p. 64 of this book. “By the holy catholic Church is meant all the elect of God, from the beginning of the world to the end, by the grace of God through the merit of Christ, gathered together by the Holy Spirit and foreordained to eternal life, the number and names of whom are known to Him alone who has elected them; and in this church remains none who is reprobate” (p. 79). Compare that first statement with our own Canons of Dordt, which say, “This election was not founded on foreseen faith, the obedience of faith, or any other food quality or disposition in man as the prerequisite, cause or condition” of election (I, 9). The Canons were especially written against the philosophy of Arminius. His rotten errors were rampant long before he was born, as implied by the Waldensian creed.
The humanist we call an Arminian has always said, “God chooses people because he foresees their good, their faith and good works.” But in the whole human race, who has this good? “There is none good, no, not one.” Then if there is none good, where are the good works God is supposed to see? If by the deeds of the law no flesh shall be justified, neither can any works be the basis of election. Then the reason God chooses people is because He chose to choose them. He chose them because it was His will to choose them. He did not choose them on the basis of their foreseen faith (there is no such ‘faith’). He chose them on the basis of His own eternal grace. “Not according to our works (not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth), but according to His own purpose and grace which was given us before the world began. God does not elect men on the ground of faith. For faith is a gift of God. But that does not mean that God bestows faith on those He foresees would take it. What God foresees, if He foresees anything, is that man will not take it; that he must be given grace so that he will want to take it. Election is not on the basis of something seen in man, but on something in God-grace.
Arminian radio preachers, every so often, will admit that there is an election in Scripture, but then they proceed to becloud the scriptural election, and present one of their own, which is not a sovereign election, but one entangled with free will. Their parroting of some few favorite Bible texts no longer conveys the aura of scholarship. Nor is the way they often quote Scripture fair or complete. They frequently quote the, words, “him that cometh unto Me, I will in no wise cast out.” Why is it that they repeat and repeat this misquote? Why do they not also quote the first part of the text, “All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me”? Why is it that we never hear them repeat, much less preach, on such texts as, “NO man can come unto Me except the Father. . .draw him,” or “Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you that ye should go and bring forth fruit,” or “I speak not of you all, I know whom I have chosen” or Christ’s words from His high priestly prayer, “I pray not for the world, but for them which Thou hast given Me”?
That unconditional election is the doctrine taught in Scripture is apparent from the intense hatred Satan has always had against it. He attacks the truth, not error. The people of Nazareth were enraged against this truth. Many of Jesus’ disciples refused to walk further with Him because He preached this truth in His bread of Life discourse. Romanism, seed-bed of Pelagianism and Arminianism, opposed this truth in England, France and the Netherlands with murder and massacre. Today, Rome still opposes this truth under the guise of an angel of light, as the leading unifier of the ecumenical, world church. Modern churchmen despise it under the pretense of zeal for God’s honor, ridiculing the truth as that which makes God a cruel monster. Next time, D.V., we will show how apostate Presbyterians have done this.
(To be continued)