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Random Selections: A Strong Proof (Lloyd-Jones)

This random selection (odd page, second paragraph) is from Romans 9: God’s Sovereign Purpose by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. For the first time, I will have to provide some context for this paragraph.


What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.” So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. —Romans 9:14–18

Lloyd-Jones had previously provided a long list of theological luminaries spanning the ages of church history that understood the doctrine of election, demonstrating that what has come to be known as “Calvinism” has been the consensus of the church from the beginning, and was reaffirmed by the Reformers and those who followed. He then singles out John Wesley as a notable exception. The question he anticipates, then, is, “How, then, can you reconcile these things, because Wesley was a man who undoubtedly was blessed of God and was used by God in the salvation of sinners, and yet you say that his whole attitude towards this subject was wrong?” Lloyd-Jones responds by pointing out that, although an understanding of the doctrine of election is indispensible to understanding how God saves, a detailed understanding of how he does it is not required in order to be saved. One who fails to understand the doctrine of election can still be a Christian, and “can even be used of God in the propagation of the good news of salvation.” Furthermore, Lloyd-Jones writes,


I would argue that this in itself is one of the strongest proofs of this doctrine, that it is not of man. God can use a man in spite of his being in a muddle intellectually. God can even use a man who may be wrong at certain points in his doctrine. Remember it is not a doctrine that is essential to salvation.* you have to divide doctrine up in that way. There are certain things that a man must believe before he can be a Christian at all, but that does not apply to every aspect of doctrine. And so I say that the fact that God can use and bless the ministry of men who are actually wrong at this point is ultimately the greatest proof of this doctrine; that it is not the understanding of the preacher that matters, but God, the election of God and the working of his purpose through the word and the Holy Spirit upon it.

—D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Romans 9: God’s Sovereign Purpose (Banner of Truth, 1998), 153.

* That is, the understanding of this doctrine. Divine, sovereign election is most certainly essential, as Lloyd-Jones would affirm.

Posted 2019·06·11 by David Kjos
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Posted in: John Wesley · Martyn Lloyd-Jones · Random Selections · Romans 9: God’s Sovereign Purpose · Unconditional Election

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