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Election

(4 posts)

Chosen to Be Holy

Wednesday··2017·01·04
Ryle lists twelve propositions for the purpose of defining the nature of sanctification. Among them, “Sanctification . . . is the only sure mark of God’s election.” The names and number of the elect are a secret thing, no doubt, which God has wisely kept in His own power, and not revealed to man. It is not given to us in this world to study the pages of the book of life, and see if our names are there. But if there is one thing clearly and plainly laid down about election, it is this—that elect men and women may be known and distinguished by holy lives. It is expressly written that they are ‘elect through sanctification—chosen unto salvation through sanctification—predestinated to be conformed to the image of God’s Son—and chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world that they should be holy.’—Hence, when St. Paul saw the working ‘faith’ and labouring ‘love’ and patient ‘hope’ of the Thessalonian believers, he says, ‘I know your election of God.’ (1 Peter 1:2; 2 Thess. 2:13; Rom. 8:29; Eph. 1:4; 1 Thess. 1:3, 4). He that boasts of being one of God’s elect, while he is wilfully and habitually living in sin, is only deceiving himself, and talking wicked blasphemy. —J. C. Ryle, Holiness (Banner of Truth, 2014), 25–26.

Many Widows, Many Lepers

Tuesday··2018·04·03
God does what he does because of who he is, not because of what we expect. In Luke 4, a brief incident occurred that had tremendous impact. Jesus was speaking in the synagogue in Nazareth. He was handed the scroll of Scripture, and He turned to the next regular reading from Isaiah. Luke 4:18–19 says He read, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” Then He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed upon Him. And He said to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (v. 21). In other words, the One the prophet said would come to preach had come. Then Luke records, “And all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips; and they were saying, ‘Is this not Joseph’s son?’” (v. 22). They knew Joseph. But they didn’t know anything about Joseph that could cause his Son to be as special as this man seemed to be. And then He said to them, “No doubt you will quote this proverb to Me, ‘Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we heard was done at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well’” (v. 23). Christ knew that they would want to see some proof that He was who He claimed to be—some miraculous manifestation of His power. Then He said: Truly I say to you, no prophet is welcome in his hometown. But I say to you in truth, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months, when a great famine came over all the land; and yet Elijah was sent to none of them, but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian. (vv. 24–27) What kind of an answer is that? What was He saying to them? His point was simple: God has not ordained that everyone be healed. Furthermore, God Himself has determined which widow gets healed and which leper gets healed. It doesn’t hinge on human free will. Even Christ’s miracles would be done according to the sovereign will of God, not in answer to the demands of people in Jesus’ own hometown. He was saying, in effect, “You may expect me to do in this town what was done in Capernaum, but God doesn’t work that way. God sovereignly chooses what He will do.” Then, verse 28 records the first New Testament reaction to the doctrine of election: “And all the people in the synagogue were filled with rage.” —John MacArthur, None Other (Reformation Trust, 2017), 5–7.

To Be Conformed

Thursday··2018·04·05
For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren. —Romans 8:29 The purpose of election is not merely initial justification. It encompasses the whole of redemption, including continual growth in holiness. From heaven’s perspective, the ultimate end of election, the ultimate purpose behind God’s grace poured out on us, is the eternal glorification of the Son. But to understand God’s individual purpose in electing His people for salvation, we need to consider Romans 8:29: “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.” Two things stand out among the many points that could be addressed in that verse. First, we were predestined to be conformed to the image of God’s own Son. God’s elective purpose is not merely about the beginning of our salvation—He predestined us to the absolute perfection we will (by His grace) enjoy at the end of the process. Paul didn’t say, “He predestined them to be justified,” but, “He also predestined them to become conformed to the image of His Son.” When will that happen? It’s happening now, if you are a believer, even if the progress seems so slow as to be imperceptible. And it will be brought to instantaneous completion “when He appears” (1 John 3:2). That is a reference to the second coming, when the bodies of the saints are resurrected and glorified. Thus redemption will be complete. The verse goes on to say, “we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.” That’s what Romans 8:19 refers to as “the revealing of the sons of God.” And Christ then becomes the chief One among many who are made like Him. As much as glorified humanity can be like incarnate deity, we’ll be like Christ, and He will not be ashamed to call us brothers. Paul said, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14). What’s the prize of the upward call? Christlikeness. If someone is saved in order to be like Christ in glory, then his goal here is as much as possible—by the power of the Spirit—to be like Him now. That’s the goal all believers must press toward. We will be made like Christ, conformed to the image of the Son, and He will be the chief one among us all. This is the elective purpose of God. And no one’s going to fall through the cracks. His perfect plan will come to pass, without fail. —John MacArthur, None Other (Reformation Trust, 2017), 21–22.

Monergist Father: Augustine of Hippo (2)

Friday··2018·09·07
Augustine on election and predestination: Augustine writes: “Let us, then, understand the calling by which they become the chosen, not those who are chosen because they believed, but those who are chosen in order that they may believe. ‘You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you’ (Jn. 15:16). For, if they were chosen because they believed, they would, of course, have first chosen Him by believing in Him in order that they might merit to be chosen.” . . . Augustine clearly affirmed that God’s choice of individual sinners is not based on anything in them. He writes: “This is the calling which he means when he says, ‘Not of works, but of Him who calls, was it said to her, “The elder shall serve the younger.”’ Did the Apostle say, ‘Not of works but of him who believes’? No, for he took this entirely away from man, so that he might give it all to God. Hence he said, ‘But of Him who calls,’ not by any kind of call but by that call whereby one becomes a believer.” . . . Furthermore, Augustine maintained that God’s choice of individual sinners to salvation was made in eternity past. He writes, “He knew all the names of His own saints, whom He predestinated before the foundation of the world.” He adds: “They were chosen before the foundation of the world by that predestination by which God foreknew His future actions, but they were chosen out of the world by that calling, by which God fulfilled that which He predestined. ‘For those He predestined, He also called,’ that is, with that calling which is according to His purpose.” . . . The reasons for God’s choice in election, Augustine declared, are incomprehensible to men. He writes: “As to why God delivers this person rather than that one, ‘How incomprehensible are His judgments, and how unsearchable His ways.’ For it is better for us here to listen or to say, ‘O man, who are you that replies against God?’ than to dare to explain, as if we knew, what God has chosen to keep a secret—God who in any event could not will anything unjust.” . . . Augustine did not see divine election as a harsh truth, but as a display of the unconditional love of God. He strongly denied that it diminishes or weakens God’s divine love in any respect. Rather, Augustine knew that election is a glorious display of God’s love in light of man’s corrupt and depraved nature. It is no wonder that he thus remarks, “He [God] loved us also before the foundation of the world, and then foreordained what He was to do in the end of the world.” . . . Augustine believed that God intentionally chose to set His love on a broad cross-section of sinners. He writes: “What is written, that ‘He wills all men to be saved,’ while yet all men are not saved, may be understood in many ways, some of which I have mentioned in other writings of mine; but here I will say one thing: ‘He wills all men to be saved,’ is so said that all the predestinated may be understood by it, because every kind of men is among them.” Here Augustine affirmed the biblical teaching that the elect include those from every tribe, tongue, and nation. —Steven J. Lawson, Pillars of Grace (Reformation Trust, 2011), 238–240.

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