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R.C. Sproul – Talking About Predestination

4 Mar

The very word predestination has an ominous ring to it. It is linked to the despairing notion of fatalism and somehow suggests that within its pale we are reduced to meaningless puppets. The word conjures up visions of a diabolical deity who plays capricious games with our lives. We seem to be subjected to the whims of horrible decrees that were fixed in concrete long before we were born. Better that our lives were fixed by the stars, for then at least we could find clues to our destiny in the daily horoscopes.

Add to the horror of the word predestination the public image of its most famous teacher, John Calvin, and we shudder all the more. We see Calvin portrayed as a stern and grim-faced tyrant, a sixteenth-century Ichabod Crane who found fiendish delight in the burning of recalcitrant heretics. It is enough to cause us to retreat from the discussion altogether and reaffirm our commitment never to discuss religion and politics.

With a topic people find so unpleasant, it is a wonder that we ever discuss it at all. Why do we speak of it? Because we enjoy unpleasantness? Not at all. We discuss it because we cannot avoid it. It is a doctrine plainly set forth in the Bible. We talk about predestination because the Bible talks about predestination. If we desire to build our theology on the Bible, we run head on into this concept. We soon discover that John Calvin did not invent it.

Virtually all Christian churches have some formal doctrine of predestination. To be sure, the doctrine of predestination found in the Roman Catholic Church is different from that in the Presbyterian Church. The Lutherans have a different view of the matter from the Episcopalians.

The fact that such variant views of predestination abound only underscores the fact that if we are biblical in our thinking we must have some doctrine of predestination. We cannot ignore such well-known passages as:

Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will… (Ephesians 1:4, 5).

In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will… (Ephesians 1:11).

For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren (Romans 8:29).

If we are to be biblical, then, the issue is not whether we should have a doctrine of predestination or not, but what kind we should embrace. If the Bible is the Word of God, not mere human speculation, and if God himself declares that there is such a thing as predestination, then it follows irresistibly that we must embrace some doctrine of predestination.

~R.C. Sproul~


Chosen By God (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1986), 9-11.

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John Piper – God is Happy and Sovereign

13 Aug

Can you imagine what it would be like if the God who ruled the world were not happy? What if God were given to grumbling and pouting and depression, like some Jack-and-the-beanstalk giant in the sky? What if God were frustrated and despondent and gloomy and dismal and discontented and dejected? Could we join David and say, “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1)?

I don’t think so. We would all relate to God like little children who have a frustrated, gloomy, dismal, discontented father. They can’t enjoy him. They can only try not to bother him, or maybe try to work for him to earn some little favor.
Therefore if God is not a happy God, Christian Hedonism has no foundation. For the aim of the Christian Hedonist is to be happy in God, to delight in God, to cherish and enjoy His fellowship and favor. But children cannot enjoy the fellowship of their Father if He is unhappy. Therefore the foundation of Christian Hedonism is the happiness of God.

But the foundation of the happiness of God is the sovereignty of God: “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases” (Psalm 115:3). If God were not sovereign, if the world He made were out of control, frustrating His design again and again, God would not be happy.

Just as our joy is based on the promise that God is strong enough and wise enough to make all things work together for our good, so God’s joy is based on that same sovereign control: He makes all things work together for His glory.

~John Piper~




Desiring God (Colorado Springs, CO; Multnomah Books; 2003) p. 32-33.

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Thomas Schreiner – God’s Sovereign Rule Seen in Acts

1 Aug

schreiner

God’s sovereign rule over all things does not mean that everything that occurs is intrinsically good. It was God’s plan that Jesus suffer and die for the sins of his people. A common theme is that believers must be prepared to suffer as well. The death of Stephen indicates that God’s plan is often worked out through the suffering of his own people. In Acts 12 Herod took action against the church and beheaded James the brother of John. Luke expresses no shock, recording the event abruptly and without detail. The death of James scarcely led to the conclusion that God is not in control, for Peter was released supernaturally, probably because of the church’s fervent prayers. Luke is not suggesting that the church failed to pray for James. He offers no explanation for the deliverance of Peter and the execution of James, proposing no neatly packaged answer for why some suffer and others are spared. God’s rule over the world does not lend itself to formulas by which evil can be easily explained. Given Luke’s worldview, he must have believed that God could have delivered James as well, and yet no reason for God’s actions are given. The rationale for much of what happens is obscured from human vision. Still, God’s control over all is conveyed powerfully by the conclusion of the story. The same Herod who executed James is struck dead by God when he fails to give God glory. God rules over the kings of the earth, and the evil that they inflict is under his hand, but God himself is untainted by evil.

~Thomas Schreiner~


New Testament Theology – Magnifying God in Christ (Grand Rapids, MI; Baker Academic; 2008) p. 141

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Jerry Bridges – God Made You

29 Oct

13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother ‘s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. – Ps. 139:13-14a

David praised God, not because he was handsome, but because God made him. We need to dwell on that thought. The eternal God who is infinite in His wisdom and perfect in His love personally made you and me. He gave you the body, the mental abilities, and the basic personality you have because that is the way He wanted you to be. And He wanted you to be just that way because He loves you and wants to glorify Himself through you. This is the believer’s foundation for self-acceptance. I am who I am and you are who you are because God sovereignly and directly created us to be who we are. Self-acceptance is basically trusting God for who I am, disabilities or physical flaws and all. We need to learn to think like George MacDonald, who said, “I would rather be what God chose to make me than the most glorious creature that I could think of, for to have been thought about, born in God’s thought, and then made by God, is the dearest, grandest, and most precious thing in all thinking.”

~Jerry Bridges~




Trusting God: Even When Life Hearts (Colorado Springs, CO; Navpress; 2008) p. 95

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Jerry Bridges – History and God’s Sovereignty

18 Jul

We see that God is firmly in control of history and of the nations and rulers that, from our human point of view, determine history. God establishes governments, determines who will govern and for how long, rules in the councils of state, causes officials to make both wise and foolish decisions, grants victory or defeat in war, and uses ungodly nations to carry out His will…

History is like a giant piece of fabric with very intricate and complex patterns. During the limited span of our lifetimes we see only a tiny fraction of the pattern. Furthermore, as has been observed by others, we see the pattern from the underside. The underside of a weaving usually makes no sense. Even the upper side makes little sense if we view just a tiny piece. Only God sees the upper side, and only He sees the entire fabric with its complete pattern. Therefore, we must trust Him to work out all the details of history to His glory, knowing that His glory and our good are bound up together.

~Jerry Bridges~




Trusting God: Even When Life Hearts (Colorado Springs, CO; Navpress; 2008) p. 95

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D.A. Carson – Prayer Discloses the True State of Affairs

6 Jul

Even a little reflective acquaintance with the God of the Bible acknowledges that he is not less than utterly sovereign, and not less than personal and responsive. Correspondingly, the Bible boasts many examples of praise and adoration, and no fewer examples of intercession. Indeed, “Christian prayer is marked decisively by petition, because this form of prayer discloses the true state of affairs. It reminds the believer that God is the source of all good, and that human beings are utterly dependent and stand in need of everything.”

~D. A. Carson~


A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers (Grand Rapids, MI; Baker Academic; 1992) p. 31

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