As usual he does a great job- a much better one than I- but as is my want I will once again be slightly nit-picking. This is not so much because I think he and I really differ on this, but rather to make the point clearer for some of our readers.
I was a little surprised by the quote that he uses to describe Election, since it seems to say that God has chosen people both for salvation and for damnation.
The quote is a little too close for my comfort to “double predestination” or the notion that some people are eternally elected to be damned in just the same way as the elect are chosen for salvation. At its most extreme, any sense of human will being involved in salvation or damnation is lost. People are sent to hell according to the most extreme interpretation of this view simply because God wanted to send them there. This might sound like a logical step – some arent chosen therefore they are chosen not to be chosen. Unfortunately, as is usually the case in theology a rational step is in this case in my view a step too far.
The bible generally doesnt seem to equate damnation to hell with election to heaven. The closest we get to this view in scripture is in Ro 9:21-23 “Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honored use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory”
At first glance this passage appears to teach “double predestination”. In fact there is an assymetry here. The vessels of wrath are passively considered “fit” for wrath, but the vessels of mercy are actively prepared by God for salvation.
Thus, Gods will is the sole cause of our salvation. However this passage implies and the rest of scrripture clearly teaches it is mans own will that is soley responsible for damnation.
Our wills are involved both in the process of salvation, and more so in the reason for our damnation. Spurgeon in his masterful sermon on God’s will and man’s will says “There are two things, then, this morning I shall have to talk about. The first is, that the work of salvation rests upon the will of God, and not upon the will of man; and secondly, the equally sure doctrine, that the will of man has its proper position in the work of salvation, and is not to be ignored.”
This might sound like a contradiction, I do not believe it is.
Spurgeon preaches on Ro 9 in sermon No 327 as follows-
“Are there not some of you here present, who are being fitted for destruction?
God is not fitting you, you are fitting yourselves, by daily developing and indulging the depravity of your heart. You are seeking out every new pleasure, and every new sin,and though often warned to turn from your course of evil are there not some of you who are rushing headlong to destruction? Are not many of you by a course of sin and folly, ripening yourselves for the great harvest of the Lord? Are you not making yourselves ready to be as stubble fully dried, cast into the oven of his wrath? This is not to be laid to the charge of God, but at your own door the guilt must he. If you perish any one of you, on your own head shall be your blood. The eternal God is not guilty of the murder of men’s souls, they that die and sink in hell are suicides; they have rejected mercy, they have despised the Savior, they have chosen sin and hated holiness. As was their choice, such is their portion; as was their
rebellious will on earth, such must be their tormented destiny for ever…….You are filling up the measure of your iniquity, and preparing with all diligence to be fitting companions for the devils in hell…..
Hell’s thistles grow self-sown, but God’s wheat needs a husbandman.
Vessels of mercy fit themselves for destruction, but grace alone can prepare a soul for glory.
There is no reason in the world why any man should be saved apart from the sovereign and distinguishing grace of God. If the Lord had permitted the whole human race to perish he would have been infinitely just, and throughout eternity the angels must have hymned him in songs of adoration. If he had chosen to spare a few of mankind, the sparing of but a few would have been an act of surprising mercy, and mercy and judgment would have constituted the two elements of the eternal song. Inasmuch however, as he hath taken so much of the clayey mass, and hath been pleased to make vessels of mercy innumerable as the stars of heaven, unto his name be all the glory for ever and ever.
Take heed that when you think of the number of the redeemed you do not mar the idea that God is a sovereign still. Had he saved but one, you would have said it was an instance of absolute sovereignty, though he has saved tens of thousands the sovereignty is just as absolute as it was before.
Had the Lord left thee to become all that thine evil nature and Satan could have made thee, thou couldst not have murmured. If he had permitted thee to go on in thy drunkenness without sending the gospel to thee, and if he had allowed thee to reject that gospel as thou wouldest have done unless he had constrained thee to receive it, thou couldest not have impugned his justice, even though thou mightest have murmured at it. Thou hast been made what thou art, not as the result of any compulsion of merit demanding a debt from the Lord, nor by any effort of thine own, but thou art what thou art as the effect of the sovereign discriminating love of God
the Father in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Now let me ask my hearers again, have you learned this truth; have you learned how entirely you lie in God’s hand? Hast thou ever been brought my hearer to believe, that if saved it must be his will that saves thee, though if lost it is thy will that damns thee? Hast thou ever been stripped so naked, so thoroughly naked, that thou hast said, “I have no claim upon God. If he save me, it must be mercy, pure mercy, unmingled mercy? Oh! if thou hast never been brought here I tremble for thee. I pray the Lord to bring thee to this spot, for it is the very threshold of the door of grace; and when a man is brought here, he is not far from the kingdom of God. Be it
so with each of us, that we may acknowledge the sovereignty, and then admire grace in the sovereignty.
That is real preaching in my book! I will always believe with Spurgeon that there is an assymetry in Gods eternal decrees. Yes God chooses to overlook some and leave them in their sin, but he is not in himself willing that any should perish. He desires all men to be saved. He offers all men a free choice to accept salvation and turn and believe. All men reject this. He chooses to woo and over-rule some of those men and by his will make them willing. Thank God for him not leaving you to your free will. Beg him, if you are not yet saved that he will not overlook you and leave you in your sin. Know that if ANY should ask of him salvation he will not turn them away.
Do not worry about whether you are part of the elect, instead seek God. If you seek him, you will find him, and when you have found him then you will know that all along he was seeking you.