|Predestination: That’s Not Fair!
Posted: 20 Apr 2017 01:57 PM PDT
Predestination: That’s Not Fair!
The accusation against God that predestination is unfair is foolish. God cannot be unfair or unjust because He is the very definition of righteousness. “What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid!” (Romans 9:14). When something seems to be unfair, we must remember that we are not competent judges, and really have no right to judge the Almighty. He judges us. We do not judge Him.
It is also wicked rebellion against God to label Him a cruel tyrant or an evil puppet master. God is not a cruel monster. He is, in fact, the sovereign Creator and Judge, and as such He can do with His creatures what He wills. All His doings are good and in accord with perfect righteousness and wisdom. Human beings are not puppets or robots—we are rational, moral creatures, who are accountable to God.
If God choose to save none, but punished all, He would be just to do so. None deserve salvation. All of us deserve to be condemned for our sins. If a governor had ten men on death row, all of whom were guilty of heinous crimes and worthy of death, and the governor, by sovereign prerogative, determined to pardon one, the other nine cannot complain that they did not receive the same pardon. All deserved justice. Nine received strict justice, were sentenced to death, and executed, while one received mercy and received a pardon. Similarly, God declares, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion” (Romans 9:15).
Therefore, the sinner has no ground for his complaint. If he hates God, loves his sins, and despises Jesus Christ, how will he complain if God gives him the hell that he so richly deserves? If a man lives as a rebel against God, why should he expect salvation from Him? And if another receives salvation, given to him freely by grace alone, why will any complain that he did not receive what another received—when none deserved it?
God chooses to give salvation to some as is His sovereign prerogative as God. God says to the complainer, “Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen (Matthew 20:15-16).
Instead of complaining, marvel at predestination and worship God for it.
Rev. Martyn McGeown
The Land (2)
Sung Psalm 105:6-12
Read Genesis 15
Note v19 where God for the first time is called “possessor of heaven and earth”, hence he is the dispenser of it. The geography is delineated─from Wadi-el-Arish? to the Euphrates.
Three great promises of the covenant:
Hence all of grace according to the will of the testator.
God unilaterally and unconditionally makes this covenant and will keep it, on pain of death (cut pieces).
The programme is laid out:
- The people (seed) will be strangers
- They will be slaves
- The nation who enslaves will be judged
- There will be an exodus
- There will be plunder
Why the delay (over 400 years)? Because Abraham’s seed must multiply and the inhabitants of the land must be ripe for judgment. Promise renewed (17:8).
In chapters 18 and 19 Sodom and Gomorrah are ripe for (miraculous) judgment c.f. II Peter 2:6
Lessons from Lot’s departure (from God):
- Left true church (Abraham)
- Loved money
- Fell grievously
- Was chastised severely-lost his family and the children of incest were ancestors of enemies of the church (Moab and Ammon v Israel).
Rev. Martyn McGeown
Whether we agree with predestination or not, it is the Bible’s teaching. Whether we react in a positive or negative way emotionally to this teaching, it is the truth of God’s Word. When God’s Word offends our sensibilities—and it often will because we are sinners—we must learn to submit to its teaching.
But before we react emotionally, we need to make sure that we understand the teaching. Often, we react emotionally to a misunderstanding.
First, predestination means God’s determination beforehand (pre) of the eternal destiny (destination) of His rational and moral creatures. Since God is God, He has the right to do this. Paul reminds us of our place before God: “Nay, but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to Him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay? (Romans 9:20-21). How absurd it would be for a creature to complain to the Creator!
Second, God’s predestinating choice is unconditional. We know what a conditional choice means—we make conditional choices every day. Why do you choose one breakfast cereal over another, or why do you choose eggs or toast (or whatever) for breakfast? Because of some quality in the food—that choice is conditional. An unconditional choice is one where the choice is not determined by any quality in the thing chosen. It is almost impossible for a human being to make such an unconditional choice. Things always influence us. God chooses His people unconditionally—He finds no attractive quality in them; they are not better, greater or nicer than anyone else. God does not even choose them because He foresees that there will be some good quality in them. God explains this to Moses: “The LORD did not set His love upon you, nor choose you [for such and such a reason], but because the LORD loved you” (Deuteronomy 7:7-8). The verdict—God loved His people simply because He loved them! There is no reason in us!
Third, God’s choice of His people is eternal and therefore unchangeable. God did not wait and see how history and His people would turn out before He made His choice. It was before the foundation of the world, or, as Paul writes, “the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that purpose of God according to election might stand” (Romans 9:11).
That is humbling—salvation is not our choice; it is the Lord’s.
But where better place for salvation to be than in the wise hands of the almighty, always good God!
I should add that notwithstanding the decree of predestination every human being because of their sin in Adam AND their own rebellion against the most high God deserves eternal hell, and will rightly suffer that judgment unless by God’s grace they believe in Christ—JK
God has no need to breathe but breath represents God’s life. Without his breath, no life.
Psalm 33:6 “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.”
Are you breathing?
Of course you are; if not, you wouldn’t be conscious for long or even alive, much less reading this article. But how often do you think about the slow, regular breaths that keep you alive every minute of every day? To become more aware, let’s try something: Take a deep breath and hold it.
Are you starting to feel like something’s missing?
Your chest is probably feeling heavy. You might feel a sense of panic twirling in your stomach, and pretty soon your brain will be screaming for air. If you don’t relent, dark edges may start to creep into the edges of your vision. Before you pass out, breathe!
It’s amazing how we can be reduced to an…
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|The God Who Chooses
Posted: 08 Feb 2017 07:40 AM PST
The God Who Chooses
Part of God’s eternal purpose is election or predestination. We know what election is—it is a choice. In election, however, we mean God’s choice. Specifically, we mean God’s choice concerning salvation. Even more specifically, we mean God’s choice of whom He will save.
There are some who think that God has chosen to save everybody. Their argument is that God wants everyone to be in heaven, but He leaves it up to individual people to decide whether they want to be in heaven with God or not. Often salvation is described as an offer—God wants to give you salvation, but you have to be willing to accept it. Some portray Jesus as “knocking on the door of your heart,” hoping that you will invite Him into your life.
The Bible does not teach that. In fact, such a portrayal is very dishonouring to God. We have already seen that God is almighty, sovereign and majestic in His holiness. Does a beggar knocking on hearts sound like God? Would the God who is independent be reduced to depending on His creatures in such a way? In fact, Scripture says, “It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy” (Romans 9:16). If salvation depends on the freewill of humans, then God depends on the freewill of humans. Then humans—not God—are sovereign. God forbid!
The Bible teaches that before the world was created—in His eternal decree—God made a choice. First, He chose Jesus Christ to be the Saviour. Second, in that decree, He gave a certain, definite, limited number of humans to Jesus Christ. Third, He sent Jesus Christ into the world to save those humans—and only them—from their sins. Jesus explains: “And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which He hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day” (John 6:39). Jesus did not come to try to save as many as possible, and then fail in the attempt. Jesus came to save a definite number—as many as the Father had given to Him—and them He actually saves. Not one of them shall be lost. Is that not good news?
Paul writes, “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” (Ephesians 1:4).
Predestination is not a horrible teaching. It is God’s eternal choice of His people in love.
Rev. Martyn McGeown
Every time I read Genesis 45 tears well up in my eyes. The story evokes so much pathos. Joseph, the long-lost eleventh son of Jacob having been sold as a slave by his jealous brothers has risen to be prime minister of Egypt.
He has given his brothers a taste of injustice by returning their food money in their sacks and planting his silver cup in Benjamin’s. He has been testing their characters by demanding a hostage when they return home and now for the last time, having sent his steward to apprehend them, he finally cannot control himself any longer in their presence and leaves the room to weep returning to reveal his identity with much weeping and embracing.
Although not a type of Christ there are many parallels in the two lives:
- He is betrayed by jealous brethren (Christ and the Jews).
- He is sold for twenty pieces of silver (Christ was sold for thirty)
- He is unjustly bound and imprisoned
- God is manifestly with him throughout (Chapter 39 x4)
- Having suffered he is exalted to very high station
- He forgives his brethren
- He believes in the absolute sovereignty of God
- He is a saviour to his family
- He forgave them their sin against him
He is a godly example and man of faith (Hebrews 11:22), is there any wonder I named my son after him?
|The Eternally Active God
Posted: 05 Jan 2017 10:06 AM PST
God is the eternally active and living God. Never is God idle. Never is God bored. Never is God lonely or unfulfilled. Eternally within His own being, God has planned and purposed all things. We call God’s eternal plan His “counsel.” “Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18). “Being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will” (Ephesians 1:11).
God is perfectly free. He depends on no one. Therefore, He depends on no one when He determines His eternal counsel. No one gives Him advice—nor does He seek advice—in determining what He should do. Since God’s counsel is eternal, no one was there, no creature, neither man nor angel, to give Him advice, or to give input into His counsel. God could choose to create or not to create, and having decided to create, He could create whatever pleased Him in any way it pleased Him. “But our God is in the heavens: He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased” (Psalm 115:3).
God’s counsel is unchangeable. Never does God change His mind. And nothing happens in history to force Him to change His mind. From our perspective, God might sometimes seem to change, but in reality He has purposed all things from eternity. God’s counsel includes all things—every event, every person, every activity. Nothing is outside of the scope of God’s decree. The rise and fall of nations, the birth, death (and every detail of life) of every individual, and even the fall of a sparrow are included.
The doctrine of God’s sovereign counsel is a terror to the wicked. Try as they might, they cannot overthrow the God who sits on the throne. God laughs at their puny efforts to thwart His purposes (Psalm 2:4). Evil men are but instruments in His hand to fulfill His will, whether they know it and acknowledge it or not. However, the same teaching is of great comfort to God’s children: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Conversely God works all things to the destruction of the reprobate wicked (Psalm 73 and 69:22-15)—JK
It is a wonderful truth that all things are under God’s control and power, that all things serve God’s glory, and that all things serve the salvation of God’s people. There is no greater comfort and assurance than that!
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If you are like me you constantly need reassurance that you have no need to fear. In fact you are commanded 75 times in Scripture to “fear not!” Rev. John Heys wrote about this in the Standard Bearer in 1970.
“..the thought of death gives us fear and many an anxious moment.” But, “Let the eye of faith be fixed on Christ, and our fear will not be one of terror and fright but of reverence and awe, ” and I would add COMFORT. “Death does not seem such a terrible woe to the believer, because he sees it as his servant instead of his enemy…And he fears God rather than death which God controls so perfectly.”…”And if (God’s) mercy is ALWAYS upon us (Psalm 103:17) and was upon us from everlasting and will be everlastingly, what can or will harm us?” The Lord is constantly with us his people, ready and willing to meet every need. We have covenant fellowship with him. He is in us and we in him. NOTHING can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
Limerick Reformed Fellowship
Give unto the LORD the glory due unto His name (Psalm 96:8)
Live Broadcast: http://mixlr.com/limerickreformed/
Lord’s Day 1st January 2017
Order of Service
Missionary-Pastor Martyn McGeown
Evening worship – 5.30pm
Scripture Reading: Psalm 16:1-11
Text: Heidelberg Catechism, LD 22, Q&A 57
- Temporary Separation
- Immediate Joy
III. Future Glory
Psalms: 73:23-28; 107:16-21; 16:1-5; 16:6-11
Quotes to Consider
Calvin: “Though many talk much of God’s providence, and profess to believe that he exercises a special guardianship over his own children, few are found actually willing to entrust their safety to him” (Commentary on the Psalms, vol. 2, p. 477).
- H. Spurgeon: “This is noble encouragement to all the saints; die they must, but rise they shall, and though in their case they shall see corruption, yet they shall rise to everlasting life. Christ’s resurrection is the cause, the earnest, the guarantee, and the emblem of the rising of all his people. Let them, therefore, go to their graves as to their beds, resting their flesh among the clods as they now do upon their couches” (Treasury of David, vol. 1, p. 197).
Spurgeon: “Trapp’s note on the heavenly verse which closes the Psalm is a sweet morsel, which may serve for a contemplation, and yield a foretaste of our inheritance. He writes, ‘Here is as much said as can be, but words are too weak to utter it. For quality there is in heaven joy and pleasures; for quantity, a fullness, a torrent whereat they drink without let or loathing; for constancy, it is at God’s right hand, who is stronger than all, neither can any take us out of his hand; it is a constant happiness without intermission: and for perpetuity it is for evermore. Heaven’s joys are without measure, mixture, or end'” (ibid, p. 197).
Edward Willan: “‘In thy presence is the fullness of joy;’ and herein consists the consummation of felicity; for what does any man here present wish for more than joy? And what measure of joy can any man wish for more than fullness of joy? And what kind of fullness would any man wish for rather than this fullness? And where would any man wish to enjoy this fullness of joy rather than in the presence of God, which is the ever-flowing and the over-flowing fountain of joy? And when would any man wish for this enjoyment of the fullness of joy in the very fountain of joy rather than presently, constantly, and incessantly? Now all these desirables are encircled within the compass of the first remarkable, to make up the consummation of true felicity. ‘In thy presence is fullness of joy’” (quoted in ibid, p. 211).
John Cragg: “This then may serve for a ground of comfort to every soul distressed with the tedious bitterness of this life; for short sorrow here, we shall have eternal joy; for a little hunger, an eternal banquet; for light sickness and affliction, everlasting health and salvation; for a little imprisonment, endless liberty; for disgrace, glory. Instead of the wicked who oppress and afflict them, they shall have the angels and saints to comfort and solace them, instead of Satan to torment and tempt them, they shall have Jesus to ravish and affect them. Joseph’s prison shall be turned into a palace; Daniel’s lions’ den into the presence of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah; the three children’s hot fiery furnace, into the new Jerusalem of pure gold; David’s Gath, into the tabernacle of the living God” (quoted in ibid, p. 212).
Zacharias Ursinus: “Flesh and blood being mortal and corrupt, as it now is, cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Therefore flesh and blood, simply such, cannot inherit the kingdom of God. But this does not legitimately follow. Hence flesh and blood, understanding by this, that which is sinful, and corrupt, cannot inherit the kingdom of God; but as glorified and immortal it shall obtain an entrance there. The Apostle expressly teaches this when he says, ‘It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.’ … The apostle means by a spiritual body, not that which is changed into the Spirit, or which is in all its properties equal to the Spirit, but that which is ruled by the Spirit of God, which is immortal and free from all misery, adorned with heavenly splendour, glory, activity, strength and holiness. So he also calls a natural body, not that which is changed into the soul, or which is equal to it in all its properties, but that which in this mortal state is quickened, controlled, and directed by the soul. That this is the meaning of what Paul calls a spiritual body, is proven. 1. Because he says it is raised a spiritual body, but a spirit is no body. 2. He also adds, ‘this corruptible (body) must put on incorruption'” (Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism, pp. 315-316).
Heidelberg Catechism, LD 22
Q 57. What comfort doth the “resurrection of the body” afford thee? A. That not only my soul after this life shall be immediately taken up to Christ its Head; but also, that this my body, being raised by the power of Christ, shall be reunited with my soul, and made like unto the glorious body of Christ.
” We must bear in mind that one of the greatest glories of God’s power and infinite wisdom is that sin and evil, Satan and hell, are made to serve his purpose.” (Homer Hoeksema in Unfolding Covenant History vol. 3, 106).
Joseph is a key example. Sold into slavery by his brothers who would later bow before him and be saved by his wisdom and industry. As he himself testified, “You thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.”(Gen.50:20)
Similarly, but in a much more important way, God used the evil Sanhedrin, Jewish rabble, Roman soldiers and Judas under Satan to crucify Christ who by his death would redeem his elect church from the beginning to the end of the world.