"So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law" (Galatians 5:16-18).
Please keep the following individuals in your prayers:
1) Deborah asks for our prayers. She writes, "My mom has just learned she has gout all in her back and neck. it is very painful to top it all off the doct called and said she has a 3 in. mass in her lung and has to have a biopsy. we are so worried and in bad need of prayer!!! plz pray for her.";
2) "Pray for my husband and our family. He is in danger of losing his job in two months. Please pray that he will hold onto his job or find one that is more secure. Please also pray that we all grow closer to each other and our Lord Jesus through this situation." -NN;
3) Monica asks to be remembered in our prayers. She writes, "I would like for everyone to join me in prayer to restore my marriage. It's been 3 and half years since I got separated from my common law husband. We have a 7yr old daughter. She doesnt tell me much but I know she is hurting and wants us to get back together. I too want to get back together with him because I am still in love with him. I gave him my whole heart a long time ago and I never really got it back and I am not ready to get it back. I will not give up. Please please please help me. Thank you to everyone.";
4) "Please pray that I find employment soon or that my unemployment is extended a little bit longer. Please. I have a little boy to take care of." -Aaron's mom;
5) "My name is Rachel- I am going through some difficulty at this time in my life. My husband is leaving and the salary i am making just cannot maintain my children and myself. I need prayer in my life right now to heal. I pray the Lord will take care of my problems as i place them in his care. He knows our needs before we ask. also I need this depression to go away. this i ask in Jesus' holy might name. thank you Jesus."
6) Tammy asks for our prayers. She writes, "Please pray for my son Shaun 12, and his father Jeff. Shaun has a nervous tick of jerking his head, dostors say it is stress. Please pray for healing of Shaun and Jeff's heart,if it be God's will. Also,to bless our marriage.";
7) On Monday evening, I was able to visit the Greenville Detention Center (Greenville, SC). Much prayer and testimony was given by myself and several inmates. Bibles, gospel tracts, Bible studies and Daily Breads were handed out amongst many. Please keep the following individuals in your prayers: Vagler, Ted Butler, Frederick Downer, Juan Lupe, Orion Bullow, Artemio Gonzalez, Curtis King, Aaron Adams, Ron Alexander, Tom Lauritzen, Nathan Cooper, Chuck Hannah, Chris Worst, Charles Gardner, Brian Dodgens, Enrique Martinez, Joey Henry, Glendale Pruitt, Jody Allen, Barry Hall, Joey Owens, Thomas Smith, Sean Crawford, Isaac Rogers, Adam Burnett, Mike Cooley, Daniel Gosnell, Rodgers West, and Danny, Karen & Trenton Ellenburg. If you would like to make a donation towards this ministry, please send funds to: Mark Seay, 105 Quincy Drive, Greer, SC 29650.;
8) "Please pray that the work week ahead will go smoothly with NO problems for both my husband and myself, pray that I will be able to keep a positive and friendly attitude toward everyone, especially the customers. Please pray that God will bless my husband and I with the financial blessing we so need, we really need to either move out of this house, with all of it mold or to be financially able to fix it up the way that it should be, it is falling down all around us, please pray that God will help us with this. Pray that we will be able to retire from our jobs and be able to do some of the traveling and other things that we would really like to do. Please pray that God will watch over and protect Shelly, Isaac, Raymond and Bryant and keep them safe and well at all times. Thank You." -Lynn;
9) Dianne asks for our prayers. She writes, "I don't know how I'm going to pay the bills this month. Electric company won't work with me because I've been late with bills twice this year. Owe on rent. Am short $250. No family to borrow from. Had to borrow from church last month. Nowhere to turn. Had to miss a day at second job due to illness. No money to get diabetes medicine. Please pray for a miracle for me. I know God provides. I know prayer works. I'm scared.";
10) "Please pray that the horible pain in my shoulder and neck go away soon." -Laura;
11) Kakellum asks to be remembered in our prayers. She writes, "Yes, please pray for my husband and our family. That they may keep safe and healthy. I too need prayer that I can keep strong and prosper in the everyday life that I am living. That the Lord will guide me to do his will and be the person that he wants me to be.Thank You Very Much!";
12) "I ask that you pray for me, and ask the Lord that I have no illness or disease. May I be completly healthy." -Aaron;
13) Phyllis asks for our prayers. She writes, "Please pray for my surgery for both hip replacements on Wed AM. Pray for me to survive the surgery with no complications & for me to have a remarkable recovery afterwards. Pray for me to be able to walk well without pain right away. Please help this remarkable recovery be a witness for God's healing grace. Thanks.";
14) Carolyn asks for us to remember her cousin, Linda, who is
currently hopitalized and under treatment for leukemia.;
15) "Pray for my son to be delivered from homosexuality. Satan is a liar and cannot have my son. He was saved at age 12 and baptized. Salvation for his friend, Todd, also. May they both serve the Lord Jesus and seek Him with their whole hearts!" -Patti;
16) Please pray for Cindy as she has several domestic problems to which she would like to find relief.;
17) Omar asks for our prayers. He writes, "Pray for my family, friends and for my court case on Sept 17.";
18) "Pray for my family's well-being." -Dave;
19) Please say a prayer for Dawn & Chris as they celebrate the new addition, Roxie, to their family. Ask the Lord to have them raise her in a Christian home.;
20) Please remember Lisa and Tony in your prayers as they struggle in their marriage over bills. Ask the Lord to reveal Himself to the both of them if it be His Will.; and lastly ...
21) "Please pray for me as im struggling real hard with thyroid problems, sugar, digestive problems that either cause dehydration or overhydration and i blacked out a few days ago from causx eio try to rehydrate myself too fast with too much plain water and i cant find a balance and it causes me weakness, feeling faint and disoriented/confused and it is taking a toll on my body. please pray for healing and for all imbalances and for me to find a good balance where i feel good more days. also pray for my marriage as it is falling apart due to my hubby losing his job and cant find work and also for me to find friends as i feel so lost, empty, sick and lonely. even ,my in-laws dont like me right now from a fight i had with my hubby over finances. please i really need your prayers and so does my hubby and family. we have no income, savings or insurance and 4 children to feed and raise. thanks." -Deanna
**God bless you for caring enough to pray!!!**
A real friend is always and under all circumstances a friend (Proverbs 17:17a).
By Bill Keller
For those of us who are 50 and younger, we have grown up with television being a big part of our life. Even though when I was growing up in the '60s, there were only 3 or 4 stations. What was on television was a big part of mylife and the life of so many throughout our country. As the years have passed, television has increased in its importance in the daily lives of most people. We now live in the age of 100 plus channels that specialize in everything imaginable. Without even thinking about it, it is a bigger part of most people's lives than they even realize. In most homes, the TV is turned on from the moment you wake up, and is on until you go to bed. Most people get home from work or school and immediately turn the TV on. Again, without even realizing it, many ... no, most people have become so enslaved to television they cannot live without it.
Let me say right up front, that the purpose of this devotional today is NOT to bash the television industry. I am not here today to even talk about the programming that is on TV. My purpose today is to make you stop and think about what role the television plays in your life, and the life of your family. I can tell you from years of counseling, that the absolute number one cause of conflict between people is a lack of communication. Relationships are destroyed because of a lack of sitting down and talking about the problems that exist. I am a firm believer that with the power of God working on people's hearts, and honest, open communication, any conflictcan be overcome.
One of the biggest reasons we do not have the type of communication we should have with our loved ones, the people we are closest to in this life is because of the television. How many men come home from a long day at work, sit down in your favorite chair, and stare at the TV until you are ready to sleep. The only break is dinner, and even then, the TV is usually on and dominates your meal time. Women, aren't much better, though household chores tend to occupy your time initially, but when those chores are over, it is time for the television. Young adults and kids are also guilty of letting the TV dominate your time as well.
One of the things I try to bring home as much as possible is the importance of our daily walk with Christ. Spending time in the Word and prayer everyday. For many, it is a struggle to even devote an hour to that incredibly important time with the Lord. Yet, sitting down and watching what you enjoy on television is no problem at all. Again, my point is not to condemn you,or try to imply television is inherently evil, simply to get you to stop and think about how much time you spend each day in front of the television. Irecently shared with you a devotional on fasting. I mentioned that fasting does not always have to be food, but anything that you give up to spend that time with the Lord. Trust me when I tell you, getting a person to fast and give up food for 3 days is much easier than asking them to fast and give up television for 3 days.
Stop right now and ask yourself, how many hours a day do you spend watching television, than multiply that times 7. Now, take those hours each week you spend watching TV and ask yourself, if you took 25% of that time and did something else, what could you do? Pray more, read the bible more, do things with your family, do things with your friends, find ways to use that time at church or volunteering at some organization helping people. It is endless what you could do, that would make a positive impact on your life, by simply giving up 25% of the time that you now sit in front of the television.
I love you, and care about you so much. Part of what God has asked me to do each day is to help you deal with the very real world we live in, in accordance with your faith in Christ. Making your faith real in your very real daily life. Often, we fall into bondages without even recognizing them as such. Television is one of those subtle bondages that we never even think about in that way. I will pray for you today to pray and really seek theLord on taking 25% of the time you now spend in front of the television that time more productively. Ask the Lord how He would have you utilize that precious time. Time is the greatest resource we have in this life, yet we squander it, waste it, misuse it daily.
Just turning off the television and actually talking with your spouse, with your children, with your family members will make an incredibly positive impact in your relationships. We can't take our time in this life for granted. We can't take the time God gives us with our family and friends for granted. It won't last forever. It is a special gift. We miss so much of the joy, the abundance of this life by getting lost in the endless, often mindless things we watch on the television. For those who are single, DON'T USE THE TV AS AN ESCAPE ROUTE FROM LIVING LIFE! It is an entertainment medium, it is fantasy for the most part. God gave you only one life, LIVE IT, don't miss it.
The enemy uses all kinds of ticks and traps to minimize our effectiveness in serving the Lord. The television is a very seductive, common diversion the enemy uses to bind us and at least keep us off the battlefield. Today, you have heard this warning. It is a very real warning that you need to take seriously. God loves you very much. He only wants the best for your life. Allow Him to open your eyes to this trap today so that you may live a fruitful and victorious life!
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The Healing of Two Blind Men
By Dr. Curtis Hutson
“And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou Son of David, have mercy on us.
“And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord.
“Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you.
“And their eyes were opened; and Jesus straitly charged them, saying, See that no man know it.”—Matt. 9:27–30.
There were many blind people in the Eastern countries. I have read that at one time for every one hundred persons there were at least twenty blind people, ten who had sight in only one eye and twenty others who had some affliction of the eyes.
It was probably worse in the Saviour’s day. The fact that He healed so many blind people is an indication that many were blind. The Bible records several instances where Christ healed the blind. He healed blind Bartimaeus in Mark 10:46–52, the blind man in John 9 and others.
When I read the Bible, I am impressed with the fact that Jesus was attracted to the needy. And it seems the needier the individual, the more Jesus was attracted. For instance, in John 5, when He went to the pool of Bethesda, He was seemingly attracted to the man with the greatest need. The man he healed had been stricken with an infirmity for thirty-eight years. Where human sorrow was most conspicuous, divine power was most compassionate. Mercy met misery on its own ground. What an encouragement for the sinner! Romans 5:20 says, “But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.”
In the story in this text, Jesus healed two blind men. Blindness can be viewed as a picture of the unsaved man. All men without Christ are blind. They have intellectual light but not spiritual light. Everyone comes to Jesus under a cloak of darkness.
John Newton, in that wonderful song “Amazing Grace,” described his own salvation experience by saying, “I once…was blind, but now I see.”
“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
“In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not.”—II Cor. 4:3,4.
In this story of two blind men seeking Christ, I want us to consider several things:
I. The Seeking Blind Men
“And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou Son of David, have mercy on us.”—Matt. 9:27.
Notice, first, they were earnest. The word which describes their appeal is “crying.” This implies that the men were earnest, energetic, pathetic, imploring, pleading and beseeching. How eager they were! Far too many unsaved people are indifferent to their need.
I have had the happy opportunity of leading thousands to Christ. I remember once when I explained to a man that Jesus Christ had died to pay his sin debt, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “What do I care? I don’t want anybody to do anything for me. I’ll take care of myself!” I could not believe what my ears were hearing. The man seemed so indifferent. Indifference is the dry rot of the church, but in many cases, indifference is the damnation of the sinner. There was no indifference on the part of these two seekers. They were earnest.
Notice, second, they were persistent. Verse 27 says, “Two blind men followed him.” Think of that a moment—they followed Him. The Bible continues in verse 28, “And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him.” Remember, they were blind.
It is not easy for two blind men to follow anyone. I am sure they had to ask others which way He went. And sometimes He would almost get away from them. It must have been frustrating—two blind men following Jesus. But they were persistent. They would not give up! Being blind—I am sure they kept their ears open for every sound so as not to lose Him. Oh, how I wish that unsaved men were as persistent in seeking Jesus!
Not only were they earnest and persistent, but, third, they had a definite object in prayer. They knew what they wanted. They wanted their sight. There was no beating around the bush with these men. Too many blind souls do not know what they really want.
When I first started leading souls to Christ, I thought it was better for the person to pray his own prayer rather than lead him. But after several experiences, I found that it is wiser to lead the unsaved man in prayer. When he is left on his own, he will pray for everything except the main thing. He will pray “Lord, make me a better father. Lord, I thank You for this preacher. Lord, make me a better husband. Lord, help me to live a better life.” He may never get around to saying, “Dear Lord, I am a sinner. I do believe that You died for me, and here and now I do trust You as my Saviour.”
These blind men had a definite object in their prayer. They knew what they wanted. When the unsaved man comes to Christ for salvation, his prayer need not be long, but it should be to the point.
Then, in the fourth place, they confessed their own unworthiness. They cried out, “Thou son of David, have mercy on us.” They were not asking for justice. If the sinner received justice, he would be in Hell. There was no talking about merit with these two blind men.
When we come to Christ for salvation, we must approach Him as condemned criminals. Nobody ever receives his sonship until he recognizes his sinnership. Jesus Christ came to save sinners, and, if we expect to go to Heaven, we must realize that we are sinners and trust Christ as personal Saviour.
And now that we have seen the seeking blind men, notice:
II. The Saviour’s Question to Them
“Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this?”—Vs. 28.
His question concerned their faith. He did not ask what kind of characters they had been, nor if they would do right after they had received their sight. He was not so much concerned with their reputation or their resolution. His question was: “Believe ye that I am able to do this?”
No one is ever saved because he promises to do better. He is saved because Jesus Christ died for him and he trusts Jesus Christ as his Saviour.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
“Not of works, lest any man should boast.”—Eph. 2:8,9.
Faith has a receptive power. Faith is not the Saviour. It is an attitude of the soul through which Jesus saves.
When I was a young boy, we lived in a little two-room house. Just behind the house near the back porch was a well where we drew water for drinking and bathing. Many hot afternoons I have gone to that well to draw water to quench my thirst. There were a bucket and rope at the well, but that bucket and rope could not quench my thirst. On the other hand, I could let that bucket down into the well and draw it up with fresh water, and the water quenched my thirst.
Faith is the bucket. Faith never quenched the thirst of a poor sinner, but faith can reach out and take hold of a Saviour who gives living water springing up into everlasting life so that he would never thirst again.
I have often had people say to me, “But I don’t think I have enough faith to be saved.” Dear friend, the Bible never says how much faith you must have. It simply says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).
You can take a little faith and get a mighty big Saviour. It is not the degree of faith but the Object of faith that makes faith important. Take whatever faith you have and put it in Christ, and the Bible says you will have everlasting life.
Notice, too, that the question concerned their faith in Jesus. “Believe ye that I am able to do this?” The question was not: “Believe ye that ye are able to save yourselves?” or, “Believe ye that ye are able to live up to a certain set of rules which will produce your salvation?” No. No. The question was not: “Believe ye that ordinances and sacraments are able to save you?” The question was: “Believe ye that I am able to do this?”
I heard the story of a dear lady who was dying. She did not have peace in her heart about salvation, so she sent for the priest. He prayed and read the Scriptures, but she was not satisfied. After trying several things, the priest suggested that she receive communion, and he brought the bread and wine. After she had received communion, the priest asked, “Did it help you?”
Weeping, the lady cried, “I don’t need it. I need Him!”
The Bible never says, “Believe and be saved.” It is always very careful to tell us in Whom we must believe. For instance, John 3:16 says, “That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
And John 3:36 says, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.” The person who is trusting in Jesus Christ for salvation has everlasting life. But the Bible says that the one who is trusting anything other than Jesus Christ, no matter how good the thing may be, “shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
Now notice another thing concerning our Lord’s question. The question concerned faith for a specific thing. “Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this?” The question was not: “Do you believe that I am able to raise the dead?” or, “Do you believe that I am able to unstop the deaf ears?” The question was not: “Do you believe I healed the woman with the issue of blood?” The question was: “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”
I visited a man in the hospital, and before leaving the room I asked, “Have you ever trusted Christ as your Saviour?”
“Oh, yes,” he replied. “I certainly have.” I knew the man’s background and knew that he did not attend church regularly, and I wondered if he had really trusted Christ as Saviour.
I continued, “Would you mind telling me about it?”
He said, “Well, when they took me down for the operation the other day, I prayed before I left the room and told Jesus that if I came out of the operating room, He would have to do it, and I told Him I was trusting Him to bring me through safely.”
I said, “That is wonderful. Is there another time when you have trusted Christ?”
“Why, yes. There have been a number of times.”
“Could you tell me about another experience?”
“During the Depression,” he said, “when people were out of work and jobs were hard to find, I went several weeks without a job. My family was hungry. We had nothing to eat. And one day when I left the house, I prayed as I walked along the street, ‘Lord, I’m not going back home today until You give me a job.’ I meant that. And before the day was over, I had a good job,” he smiled.
“That’s wonderful. You have trusted Christ for your health, and it was given back to you. You have also trusted Christ for a job, and you got it. But now let me ask you this: Has there ever been a time when you prayed and said, ‘Dear Lord Jesus, I am a sinner; I owe a sin debt, but I believe You died on the cross to pay my sin debt; I will trust You as my Saviour, and if I die, I will trust You to get me to Heaven’?” I waited for his response.
There was silence for a moment, and he said, “No, I’ve never trusted Him for that.”
“Well, just like He gave you a job when you trusted Him, and just like He gave you health when you trusted Him, He will give you everlasting life if you will trust Him for that. Now would you pray with me and trust Him for salvation?”
He agreed. And with his hand in mine, he repeated a simple sinner’s prayer telling Christ he would trust Him as Saviour. The man was saved, and I took the Bible and led him to the assurance of salvation.
If any person will come to Christ and say, “I know You can save me; therefore, I trust in You completely,” that person will not be turned away.
Charles Spurgeon told the story of a dog in his garden. “I threw a stick at the dog to run him away,” said Spurgeon. “But the dog picked up the stick in his mouth and brought it to me wagging his tail. Immediately,” said Spurgeon, “he trusted me; he conquered me.”
Now we want to see one other thing about the Saviour’s question. It was a reasonable question. I say it was reasonable because they had followed Him into the house. If they did not believe, then why did they pray, and why did they follow Him into the house?
Many of you reading this are without the Saviour. In a few moments I am going to ask you to trust Jesus Christ—and my question is reasonable. The fact that you are reading this indicates that you are interested. It shows that you have some concern. It is reasonable that I should ask you to trust Christ.
III. The Answer They Gave
“Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord.”—Matt. 9:28.
There was no hesitation in their answer. They answered immediately, “Yea, Lord.”
Everything depends upon the right answer to the question: “Do you believe that Jesus Christ is able to save you?”
Can you say, “Yes, Lord”?
There was no making of excuses. There was no putting it off. The answer was “Yea, Lord.”
Suppose someone offered you a million dollars. Would you say, “Well, I believe it’s real money, and I know I need a million dollars, but I want to put it off awhile; I need to think about it”? Why, certainly not. You would accept it immediately. And if there were any reason you should not have the million dollars, you would be careful not to let others know about it.
Suppose a man is on death row awaiting execution and one day someone walks in with a pardon and says, “I’ve got good news. In my hand I hold a pardon from the governor.”
What would you think if the prisoner said, “Well, I know I need a pardon and if I don’t get a pardon I’ll be executed in a few days; to be honest, I would like to have a pardon, but I don’t want to rush into it; let me think about it awhile”? Why, you would think the man was crazy, and he would be.
No. No. If a man were offered a pardon, he would jump at it. When Jesus Christ offers to save all who will trust Him, I wonder that they do not jump at it. But in many cases, rather than jumping at it, they begin to make excuses as to why they should not have a pardon and be justified and given everlasting life. The answer of the blind men was immediate.
Now, finally, notice:
IV. The Lord’s Response to Their Answer
“Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you.
“And their eyes were opened.”—Vss. 29,30.
The Lord’s response was immediate: “Then touched he their eyes.…And their eyes were opened.”
The moment a man trusts Jesus Christ, he has everlasting life. The believer is not put in a position to have everlasting life eventually, provided he meets other conditions. Everlasting life is a present possession. John 3:36: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.” Salvation is instantaneous and complete.
The moment the blind men believed, they were healed. It makes no difference how deep you have gone into sin nor how hard your case may seem to be. If you will trust Jesus Christ for salvation, you will have everlasting life the moment you believe.
’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!
Tracing the Footprints of God in your Life:
The Pope, Billy Graham, and Oral Roberts were in a three-way plane crash over the Pacific Ocean. They all died and went to heaven together.
"Oh, this is terrible," exclaims St. Peter, "I know you guys think we summoned you here, but this is just one of those coincidences that happen. Since we weren't expecting you, your quarters just aren't ready... We can't take you in and we can't send you back...."
Then he got an idea. He picked up the phone, "Lucifer, this is Pete. Hey, I got these three guys up here. They're ours, but we weren't expecting them, and we gotta fix the place up for 'em. I was hoping you could put them up for a while. It'll only be a couple of days. What d'ya say?"
Reluctantly, the Devil agreed.
However, two days later, St. Peter got a call.
"Pete, Lu. Hey, you gotta come get these three clowns.
This Pope fellow is forgiving everybody,
the Graham guy is saving everybody,
and that Oral Roberts has raised enough money to buy air conditioning."
By Dr. R. C. Sproul
"A horrible decree ...." "Most ruthless statement. . . ." "A terrible theological theory. . . ." "An illegitimate inference of logic. . ." These and other similar epithets have been used frequently to articulate displeasure and revulsion at the Reformed doctrine of double predestination. Particularly abhorrent to many is the notion that God would predestinate (in any sense) the doom of the reprobate.
The "Double" of Predestination
The goal of this essay is not to provide a comprehensive analysis, exposition, or defense of the doctrine of election or predestination. Rather, the essay is limited to a concern for the "double" aspect of predestination with particular reference to the question of the relationship of God's sovereignty to reprobation or preterition.
The use of the qualifying term "double" has been somewhat confusing in discussions concerning predestination. The term apparently means one thing within the circle of Reformed theology and quite another outside that circle and at a popular level of theological discourse. The term "double" has been set in contrast with a notion of "single" predestination. It has also been used as a synonym for a symmetrical view of predestination which sees election and reprobation being worked out in a parallel mode of divine operation. Both usages involve a serious distortion of the Reformed view of double predestination.
Viewing double predestination as a distinction from single predestination may be seen in the work of Emil Brunner. Brunner argues that it is impossible to deduce the doctrine of double predestination from the Bible. He says:
The Bible does not contain the doctrine of double predestination, although in a few isolated passages it seems to come close to it. The Bible teaches that all salvation is based on the eternal Election of God in Jesus Christ, and that this eternal Election springs wholly and entirely from God's sovereign freedom. But wherever this happens, there is no mention of a decree of rejection. The Bible teaches that alongside of the elect there are those who are not elect, who are "reprobate," and indeed that the former are the minority and the latter the majority; but in these passages the point at issue is not eternal election but "separation" or "selection" in judgment. Thus the Bible teaches that there will be a double outcome of world history, salvation and ruin, Heaven and hell. But while salvation is explicitly taught as derived from the eternal election, the further conclusion is not drawn that destruction is also based upon a corresponding decree of doom.1
Here Brunner argues passionately, though not coherently, for "single" predestination. There is a decree of election, but not of reprobation. Predestination has only one side — election. In this context, double predestination is "avoided" (or evaded) by the dialectical method. The dialectical method which sidesteps logical consistency has had a pervasive influence on contemporary discussions of double predestination. A growing antipathy to logic in theology is manifesting itself widely. Even G. C. Berkouwer seems allergic to the notion that logic should play a role in developing our understanding of election.
It is one thing to construct a theology of election (or any other kind of theology) purely on the basis of rational speculation. It is quite another to utilize logic in seeking a coherent understanding of biblical revelation. Brunner seems to abhor both.
Let us examine the "logic" of Brunner's position. He maintains that (1) there is a divine decree of election that is eternal; (2) that divine decree is particular in scope ("There are those who are not elect"); (3) yet there is no decree of reprobation. Consider the implications. If God has predestined some but not all to election, does it not follow by what Luther called a "resistless logic" that some are not predestined to election? If, as Brunner maintains, all salvation is based upon the eternal election of God and not all men are elect from eternity, does that not mean that from eternity there are non-elect who most certainly will not be saved? Has not God chosen from eternity not to elect some people? If so, then we have an eternal choice of non-election which we call reprobation. The inference is clear and necessary, yet some shrink from drawing it.
I once heard the case for "single" predestination articulated by a prominent Lutheran theologian in the above manner. He admitted to me that the conclusion of reprobation was logically inescapable, but he refused to draw the inference, holding steadfastly to "single" predestination. Such a notion of predestination is manifest nonsense.
Theoretically there are four possible kinds of consistent single predestination. (1) Universal predestination to election (which Brunner does not hold); (2) universal predestination to reprobation (which nobody holds); (3) particular predestination to election with the option of salvation by self-initiative to those not elect (a qualified Arminianism) which Brunner emphatically rejects; and (4) particular predestination to reprobation with the option of salvation by self-initiative to those not reprobate (which nobody holds). The only other kind of single predestination is the dialectical kind, which is absurd. (I once witnessed a closed discussion of theology between H. M. Kuitert of the Netherlands and Cornelius Van Til of Westminster Seminary. Kuitert went into a lengthy discourse on theology, utilizing the method of the dialectic as he went. When he was finished, Dr. Van Til calmly replied: "Now tell me your theology without the dialectic, so I can understand it!" Kuitert was unable to do so. With Brunner's view of predestination the only way to avoid "double" predestination is with the use of "double-talk."
Thus, "single" predestination can be consistently maintained only within the framework of universalism or some sort of qualified Arminianism. If particular election is to be maintained and if the notion that all salvation is ultimately based upon that particular election is to be maintained, then we must speak of double predestination.
The much greater issue of "double" predestination is the issue over the relationship between election and reprobation with respect to the nature of the decrees and the nature of the divine outworking of the decrees. If "double" predestination means a symmetrical view of predestination, then we must reject the notion. But such a view of "double" predestination would be a caricature and a serious distortion of the Reformed doctrine of predestination.
The Double-Predestination Distortion
The distortion of double predestination looks like this: There is a symmetry that exists between election and reprobation. God WORKS in the same way and same manner with respect to the elect and to the reprobate. That is to say, from all eternity God decreed some to election and by divine initiative works faith in their hearts and brings them actively to salvation. By the same token, from all eternity God decrees some to sin and damnation (destinare ad peccatum) and actively intervenes to work sin in their lives, bringing them to damnation by divine initiative. In the case of the elect, regeneration is the monergistic work of God. In the case of the reprobate, sin and degeneration are the monergistic work of God. Stated another way, we can establish a parallelism of foreordination and predestination by means of a positive symmetry. We can call this a positive-positive view of predestination. This is, God positively and actively intervenes in the lives of the elect to bring them to salvation. In the same way God positively and actively intervenes in the life of the reprobate to bring him to sin.
This distortion of positive-positive predestination clearly makes God the author of sin who punishes a person for doing what God monergistically and irresistibly coerces man to do. Such a view is indeed a monstrous assault on the integrity of God. This is not the Reformed view of predestination, but a gross and inexcusable caricature of the doctrine. Such a view may be identified with what is often loosely described as hyper-Calvinism and involves a radical form of supralapsarianism. Such a view of predestination has been virtually universally and monolithically rejected by Reformed thinkers.
The Reformed View of Predestination
In sharp contrast to the caricature of double predestination seen in the positive-positive schema is the classic position of Reformed theology on predestination. In this view predestination is double in that it involves both election and reprobation but is not symmetrical with respect to the mode of divine activity. A strict parallelism of operation is denied. Rather we view predestination in terms of a positive-negative relationship.
In the Reformed view God from all eternity decrees some to election and positively intervenes in their lives to work regeneration and faith by a monergistic work of grace. To the non-elect God withholds this monergistic work of grace, passing them by and leaving them to themselves. He does not monergistically work sin or unbelief in their lives. Even in the case of the "hardening" of the sinners' already recalcitrant hearts, God does not, as Luther stated, "work evil in us (for hardening is working evil) by creating fresh evil in us."2 Luther continued:
When men hear us say that God works both good and evil in us, and that we are subject to God's working by mere passive necessity, they seem to imagine a man who is in himself good, and not evil, having an evil work wrought in him by God; for they do not sufficiently bear in mind how incessantly active God is in all His creatures, allowing none of them to keep holiday. He who would understand these matters, however, should think thus: God works evil in us (that is, by means of us) not through God's own fault, but by reason of our own defect. We being evil by nature, and God being good, when He impels us to act by His own acting upon us according to the nature of His omnipotence, good though He is in Himself, He cannot but do evil by our evil instrumentality; although, according to His wisdom, He makes good use of this evil for His own glory and for our salvation.2
Thus, the mode of operation in the lives of the elect is not parallel with that operation in the lives of the reprobate. God works regeneration monergistically but never sin. Sin falls within the category of providential concurrence.
Another significant difference between the activity of God with respect to the elect and the reprobate concerns God's justice. The decree and fulfillment of election provide mercy for the elect while the efficacy of reprobation provides justice for the reprobate. God shows mercy sovereignly and unconditionally to some, and gives justice to those passed over in election. That is to say, God grants the mercy of election to some and justice to others. No one is the victim of injustice. To fail to receive mercy is not to be treated unjustly. God is under no obligation to grant mercy to all — in fact He is under no obligation to grant mercy to any. He says, "I will have mercy upon whom I will have mercy" (Rom. 9). The divine prerogative to grant mercy voluntarily cannot be faulted. If God is required by some cosmic law apart from Himself to be merciful to all men, then we would have to conclude that justice demands mercy. If that is so, then mercy is no longer voluntary, but required. If mercy is required, it is no longer mercy, but justice. What God does not do is sin by visiting injustice upon the reprobate. Only by considering election and reprobation as being asymmetrical in terms of a positive-negative schema can God be exonerated from injustice.
The Reformed Confessions
By a brief reconnaissance of Reformed confessions and by a brief roll-call of the theologians of the Reformed faith, we can readily see that double predestination has been consistently maintained along the lines of a positive-negative schema.
The Reformed Confession: 1536
Our salvation is from God, but from ourselves there is nothing but sin and damnation. (Art. 9)
French Confession of Faith: 1559
We believe that from this corruption and general condemnation in which all men are plunged, God, according to his eternal and immutable counsel, calleth those whom he hath chosen by his goodness and mercy alone in our Lord Jesus Christ, without consideration of their works, to display in them the riches of his mercy; leaving the rest in this same corruption and condemnation to show in them his justice. (Art. XII)
The Belgic Confession of Faith: 1561
We believe that all the posterity of Adam, being thus fallen into perdition and ruin by the sin of our first parents, God then did manifest himself such as he is; that is to say, MERCIFUL AND JUST: MERCIFUL, since he delivers and preserves from this perdition all whom he, in his eternal and unchangeable council, of mere goodness hath elected in Christ Jesus our Lord, without respect to their works: JUST, in leaving others in the fall and perdition wherein they have involved themselves. (Art. XVI)
The Second Helvetic Confession: 1566
Finally, as often as God in Scripture is said or seems to do something evil, it is not thereby said that man does not do evil, but that God permits it and does not prevent it, according to his just judgment, who could prevent it if he wished, or because he turns man's evil into good. . . . St. Augustine writes in his Enchiridion: "What happens contrary to his will occurs, in a wonderful and ineffable way, not apart from his will. For it would not happen if he did not allow it. And yet he does not allow it unwillingly but willingly." (Art. VIII)
The Westminster Confession of Faith: 1643
As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so hath He, by the eternal and most free purpose of His will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Wherefore, they who are elected . . . are effectually called unto faith in Christ by His Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by His power. through faith, unto salvation. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.
The rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of His own will, whereby He extendeth or withholdeth mercy, as He pleaseth, for the glory of His Sovereign power over His creatures, to pass by; and to ordain them to dishonour and wrath for their sin, to the praise of His glorious justice. (Chap. III — Art. VI and VII)
These examples selected from confessional formulas of the Reformation indicate the care with which the doctrine of double predestination has been treated. The asymmetrical expression of the "double" aspect has been clearly maintained. This is in keeping with the care exhibited consistently throughout the history of the Church. The same kind of careful delineation can be seen in Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Zanchius, Turrettini, Edwards, Hodge, Warfield, Bavinck, Berkouwer, et al.
Foreordination to Reprobation
In spite of the distinction of positive-negative with respect to the mode of God's activity toward the elect and the reprobate, we are left with the thorny question of God predestinating the reprobate. If God in any sense predestines or foreordains reprobation, doesn't this make the rejection of Christ by the reprobate absolutely certain and inevitable? And if the reprobate's reprobation is certain in light of predestination, doesn't this make God responsible for the sin of the reprobate? We must answer the first question in the affirmative, and the second in the negative.
If God foreordains anything, it is absolutely certain that what He foreordains will come to pass. The purpose of God can never be frustrated. Even God's foreknowledge or prescience makes future events certain with respect to time. That is to say, if God knows on Tuesday that I will drive to Pittsburgh on Friday, then there is no doubt that, come Friday, I will drive to Pittsburgh. Otherwise God's knowledge would have been in error. Yet, there is a significant difference between God's knowing that I would drive to Pittsburgh and God's ordaining that I would do so. Theoretically He could know of a future act without ordaining it, but He could not ordain it without knowing what it is that He is ordaining. But in either case, the future event would be certain with respect to time and the knowledge of God.
Luther, in discussing the traitorous act of Judas, says:
Have I not put on record in many books that I am talking about necessity of immutability? I know that the Father begets willingly, and that Judas betrayed Christ willingly. My point is that this act of the will in Judas was certainly and infallibly bound to take place, if God foreknew it. That is to say (if my meaning is not yet grasped), I distinguish two necessities: one I call necessity of force (necessitatem violentam), referring to action; the other I call necessity of infallibility (necessitatem infallibilem), referring to time. Let him who hears me understand that I am speaking of the latter, not the former; that is, I am not discussing whether Judas became a traitor willingly or unwillingly, but whether it was infallibly bound to come to pass that Judas should willingly betray Christ at a time predetermined by God.3
We see then, that what God knows in advance comes to pass by necessity or infallibly or necessity of immutability. But what about His foreordaining or predestinating what comes to pass? If God foreordains reprobation does this not obliterate the distinction between positive-negative and involve a necessity of force? If God foreordains reprobation does this not mean that God forces, compels, or coerces the reprobate to sin? Again the answer must be negative.
If God, when He is decreeing reprobation, does so in consideration of the reprobate's being already fallen, then He does not coerce him to sin. To be reprobate is to be left in sin, not pushed or forced to sin. If the decree of reprobation were made without a view to the fall, then the objection to double predestination would be valid and God would be properly charged with being the author of sin. But Reformed theologians have been careful to avoid such a blasphemous notion. Berkouwer states the boundaries of the discussion clearly:
On the one hand, we want to maintain the freedom of God in election, and on the other hand, we want to avoid any conclusion which would make God the cause of sin and unbelief.4
God's decree of reprobation, given in light of the fall, is a decree to justice, not injustice. In this view the biblical a priori that God is neither the cause nor the author of sin is safeguarded. Turrettini says, "We have proved the object of predestination to be man considered as fallen, sin ought necessarily to be supposed as the condition in him who is reprobated, no less than him who is elected."5 He writes elsewhere:
The negative act includes two, both preterition, by which in the election of some as well to glory as to grace, he neglected and slighted others, which is evident from the event of election, and negative desertion, by which he left them in the corrupt mass and in their misery; which, however, is as to be understood, 1. That they are not excepted from the laws of common providence, but remain subject to them, nor are immediately deprived of all God's favor, but only of the saving and vivifying which is the fruit of election, 2. That preterition and desertion; not indeed from the nature of preterition and desertion itself, and the force of the denied grace itself, but from the nature of the corrupt free will, and the force of corruption in it; as he who does not cure the disease of a sick man, is not the cause per se of the disease, nor of the results flowing from it; so sins are the consequents, rather than the effects of reprobation, necessarily bringing about the futurition of the event, but yet not infusing nor producing the wickedness.6
The importance of viewing the decree of reprobation in light of the fall is seen in the on-going discussions between Reformed theologians concerning infra- and supra-lapsarianism. Both viewpoints include the fall in God's decree. Both view the decree of preterition in terms of divine permission. The real issue between the positions concerns the logical order of the decrees. In the supralapsarian view the decree of election and reprobation is logically prior to the decree to permit the fall. In the infralapsarian view the decree to permit the fall is logically prior to the decree to election and reprobation.
Though this writer favors the infralapsarian view along the lines developed by Turrettini, it is important to note that both views see election and reprobation in light of the fall and avoid the awful conclusion that God is the author of sin. Both views protect the boundaries Berkouwer mentions.
Only in a positive-positive schema of predestination does double-predestination leave us with a capricious deity whose sovereign decrees manifest a divine tyranny. Reformed theology has consistently eschewed such a hyper-supralapsarianism. Opponents of Calvinism, however, persistently caricature the straw man of hyper-supralapsarianism, doing violence to the Reformed faith and assaulting the dignity of God's sovereignty.
We rejoice in the biblical clarity which reveals God's sovereignty in majestic terms. We rejoice in the knowledge of divine mercy and grace that go to such extremes to redeem the elect. We rejoice that God's glory and honor are manifested both in His mercy and in His justice.
Soli Deo Gloria.
A SHORT HISTORY OF MEDICINE:
"Doctor, I have an ear ache."
2000 BC - "Here, eat this root."
1000 BC - "That root is heathen, say this prayer."
1850 AD - "That prayer is superstition, drink this potion."
1940 AD - "That potion is snake oil, swallow this pill."
1985 AD - "That pill is ineffective, take this antibiotic."
2000 AD - "That antibiotic is artificial. Here, eat this root!"
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A Minister was walking down the street when he came upon a group of about a dozen boys, all of them between 10 and 12 years of age.
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One of the boys replied, "This dog is just an old neighborhood stray. We all want him, but only one of us can take him home. So we've decided that whichever one of us can tell the biggest lie will get to keep the dog."
Of course, the reverend was taken aback. "You boys shouldn't be having a contest telling lies!" he exclaimed. He then launched into a ten minute sermon against lying, beginning, "Don't you boys know it's a sin to lie," and ending with, "Why, when I was your age, I never told a lie."
There was dead silence for about a minute. Just as the reverend was beginning to think he'd gotten through to them, the smallest boy gave a deep sigh and said, "All right, give him the dog."
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"The Computer is Down"
Two priests died at the same time and met Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates. St. Peter said, "I'd like to get you guys in now, but our computer is down. You'll have to go back to Earth for about a week, but you can't go back as priests. So what else would you like to be?"
The first priest says, "I've always wanted to be an eagle, soaring above the Rocky Mountains."
"So be it," says St. Peter, and off flies the first priest.
The second priest mulls this over for a moment and asks, "Will any of this week 'count', St. Peter?"
"No, I told you the computer's down. There's no way we can keep track of what you're doing."
"In that case," says the second priest, "I've always wanted to be a stud."
"So be it," says St. Peter, and the second priest disappears.
A week goes by, the computer is fixed, and the Lord tells St. Peter to recall the two priests. "Will you have any trouble locating them?" He asks.
"The first one should be easy," says St. Peter. "He's somewhere over the Rockies, flying with the eagles. But the second one could prove to be more difficult."
"Why?" asketh the Lord.
"He's on a snow tire, somewhere in North Dakota."