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November 26, 2020 12:01 am
It's one thing to believe that God has elected some people for eternal life in Christ. But should we really believe that He has predestined others to damnation? Today, R.C. Sproul addresses the question of double predestination.
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What about those who do not receive regeneration. Why didn't God appear to Caiaphas for Pontius Pilate in the same Gracious Way, Christ was displayed to Saul of Tarsus. That's the question what about those who are not elected when the doctrine of election is debated that it certainly has been over the centuries. That's one of the questions that always seems to come up if God predestined some for salvation does he predestined others for damnation. Welcome to the Thursday edition of Renewing Your Mind.
We continue Dr. RC Sproul series on predestination with a lesson titled the other side of the coin remember the scene from Shakespeare's Macbeth with the gathering of witches as they declared double double toil and trouble fire burn and cauldron bubble on a wide is that I always think about that when I think about one of the issues and controversies that attends any discussion of the doctrine of predestination for election and it has to do with the question of so-called double predestination, double double toil and trouble double predestination. The question is this is predestination double in the sense that it has a flipside for a shadow side to it. It is one thing for us to consider the wonder of God's mercy and grace by which he snatches brands from the fire and unilaterally and monitor just the clay intrudes into the life of the sinner and brings that person safely home to heaven. Just as Jesus did when he interrupted Saul on the road to Damascus and redeemed him there in the desert. We have to ask the question what about those who do not receive that gift.
What about those who do not receive regeneration. Why didn't God appear to Caiaphas for Pontius Pilate in the same Gracious Way, Christ was displayed to Saul of Tarsus. That's the question what about those who are not elect. Now there been various answers to this. Some argue that predestination is single. In this sense that yes from all eternity. God has chosen to intervene in the lives of some people to bring them to faith through a special act of grace and yet the rest of the people who are not included in this category of the elect or the predestined are nevertheless still given the opportunity to be saved. In other words, you don't have to be elect in order to be say all of the elect most certainly will be saved. But if you're not part of the elect. That doesn't mean that you won't be say you still have the opportunity to respond to the gospel. If you wanted. I remember an incident that occurred when I was in seminary I mentioned this in another context earlier where our course was being taught by the president of the seminary and it happened to be a Presbyterian seminary in the Presbyterian Church.
Historically has been at the forefront of affirming the Augustinian doctrine of predestination in during this particular class. One of the students asked the seminary president. Do you believe in predestination and the professor was instantly angry and he responded abruptly and he said no I don't.
In a voice great hostility.
He said I don't believe in a God who brings some people kicking and screaming against their wills into the kingdom of God who don't want to be there and at the same time prevents other people from coming to the kingdom who do want to be there. I was absolutely astonished I would been astonished that a student given such a terrible caricature of the biblical doctrine, not to mention the president of a Presbyterian seminary, has he had such a distorted understanding of this doctrine. He thought that the doctrine taught on the one hand, that God forces some people to come into his kingdom, kicking and screaming against their will, where the Augustinian doctrine of election says this that nobody wants Christ. Nobody wants to come into the kingdom of God. The heart is desperately wicked that it desires only wickedly continuously there is none who seeks after God no not one. The apostle says so. If left to our own desires and left to our own inclinations.
None of us whatever incline ourselves to come to Christ that yes God does come in and regenerate us while we were dead in our sins and trespasses, but what's the point of regeneration. What's the point of quickening why the rebirth. It's not that the rebirth forces people who don't want to come to Christ to come to Christ. Rather, what regeneration does is changes the disposition of the heart, so that where before we didn't want Christ.
Now we do that, God the Holy Spirit creates that desire within the heart in a sense he makes us willing so that we then choose Christ, and we choose Christ because we want Christ and we want Christ because God in his operation by his Holy Spirit has created that desire in our hearts for Christ now.
The second part of the president's distortion was an God keeps people out of the kingdom who desperately want to be there and in the point is nobody desperately wants to be there. We are fugitives from God. And it's not God is saying to people if you want to come to Christ. You're not allowed because you're not on my list now. In fact, if you want to come to Christ. The biblical Christ. If that desire is real.
That's the surest evidence you can have that you are numbered among the elect, certainly not of the reprobate but over against this is the question of double predestination, which is concerned not only for the positive side of the coin, which is election, but also with the negative side of the coin that we call rep growth nation reprobation reprobation is just the opposite of election.
The reprobate is one who has not been chosen who does not receive the benefit of saving grace now. I believe that the argument about double predestination in large measure is based on confusion and some serious misunderstandings and I have to say that unless we believe that God predestines analects. Everybody in the world to the salvation that unless we are Universalists if we believe in predestination at all and if we are particular us if we say that not everybody is predestined on to salvation than we have absolutely no option but to affirm some kind of double predestination because if there are certain people and some people who are chosen on two election and not all people receive that gift than manifestly.
It's obvious that there are some who are not elect and the so and let's everybody select then we have two categories. The elect and the non-elect and as long as we have two categories. We have some kind of double predestination. Now the question is how we understand that doctrine of double predestination. Now there are different kinds of double predestination. One kind is called the symmetrical view of predestination.
The symmetrical view. You know what it means to be symmetrical. You know what symmetry is that which has symmetry is that which is proportionate and is balanced and the symmetrical view of predestination would teach that God operates in the same manner in the lives of the reprobate that he does in the lives of the elect, namely, in terms of the elect. God through his power in the agency of his Holy Spirit unilaterally creates faith in the hearts of the elect. He intrudes into their souls makes them alive. He re-creates them re-generates them and affects saving faith in their soul, and in like manner, according to the symmetrical view of election God. Then, in the case of the non-elect or the case of the reprobate creates fresh evil in their souls and forces them directly and immediately to reject the gospel because he doesn't want them in his kingdom, so that on the one hand, God is forcing people to sin by his direct intervention by which he creates fresh evil in their hearts. This view is also sometimes called the doctrine of equal ultimacy equal ultimacy ultimacy has to do with things that are ultimate and final and equal ultimacy means that God works just as ultimately in the hearts of the reprobate to create evil there as he does in the hearts of the believer to create the faith there for his elect. Now obviously the destiny of the reprobate and the elect is in fact equally ultimate, because ultimately one goes to hell than the other one goes to heaven but equal ultimacy means more than the ultimate destination but rather it describes how God works in the hearts of the reprobate now. The Augustinian view of double predestination is all symmetrical. It is not the doctrine of equal ultimacy and were going to make some distinctions here that again I'm going to ask you to visualize my blackboard here in the studio and I have a little chart up on the blackboard on one side the line I have the word positive and on the other side of the line. I have the word positive again fell underneath that on the left side line where I have the word positive I write the word positive again and then on the other side to the right of it. This time I write negative light poles on a battery positive and negative positive and positive. Now the symmetrical view of predestination is what I call the positive positive view.
In summary, that means again that God positively acts and works in the hearts and souls of the elect to bring them to faith and to salvation, and he positively interacts with the hearts of the reprobate to create evil in them. That's the equal ultimacy view the symmetrical view of election which I am rejecting that's kind of double predestination that I don't think we want to have me to say here quickly in parentheses.
So often when people ask about double predestination. What they have in their minds is this idea. This is what they perceive double predestination to me. Again, a positive positive balanced way of divine working in the hearts of people now under that.
I put the distinction between positive and negative, which, in my judgment, is the historic view the Augustinian view positive negative meanings this that in the doctrine of predestination in the lives of the electric God is a positive work whereby he intervenes to rescue us from spiritual death by making us alive by creating life and faith in our souls. That is, he works positively, not with respect to the reprobate or the non-elect. It's not that God comes down and creates fresh evil in their hearts and forces them to reject Christ. Rather, he merely passes them over like the pass over in the Old Testament. He does what is often described in the New Testament as a kind of divine punishment which is poetic justice.
It's the kind of punishment that the Scripture speaks of.
For example, in the final judgment where God will abandon sinners to their sin. Give them up to their sinful dispositions. He will stop restraining them from their own evil wastes. God doesn't have to create unbelief in the heart of the reprobate it's already there. God doesn't have to create wickedness for evil afresh in the heart of the unbeliever. It's already there and remember that when God elects he elects a child of a mass of humanity that together is fallen but together is dead in sin in trespasses and what he does in his gracious act of intervention is that he intervenes to do something, saving only in the hearts of some that he does not do for the others. He doesn't prevent the others from coming to Christ. He doesn't have to prevent them from coming to Christ they prevent themselves because they don't want to come to Christ they are already alienated from God. They are dead in their sin in trespasses and so it's not the God forces them to say no, they say no on the basis of their own desires and on their own will. Now there the word is finally, because there is never a discussion of predestination that doesn't sooner or later, and almost always sooner become a discussion about free will and people think that if I believe in election. If I believe in predestination.
Somehow I'm going to have to abandon the notion of human free agency and that if the Augustinian doctrine of election is true, it seems, does it not to utterly demolish freedom of the will know.
I think that particular question is the biggest issue that we ever face with respect to the doctrine of predestination. In fact, I think it's so big and so important that I decided not to have a separate lecture on the subject of free will in connection with this series on predestination, but rather at a later date.
Not too far in the future. I want to do a whole series on free will as it relates to this and two other questions about our faith.
In other words, the doctrine of human freedom is so controversial and so important to our complete understanding of the grace of God and our salvation that I want to reserve a whole series of lectures, five or 10.
Haven't decided yet on that subject.
And so I would ask you to be patient now and just remember here that in the positive, negative view of double predestination is not that God forces people to reject Christ. They reject Christ out of their own inclination out of their own hearts and out of their own will. They do not come to Christ because they do not want to come to Christ. And so the positive negative schema is the one I think we need to see and it brings us right back to where we were a few lectures ago when we saw Paul's discussion of this when we had a kind of mini example of elect and non-elect persons in the personages of Jacob and Esau. Obviously Jacob received a blessing of God's grace that Esau did not Jacob have I loved Esau have I hated and Jacob received that blessing, not because of anything that he did for will to do and that the decision was made by God before either of them were born four had ever done anything good or bad, and in responding to that example of the elect and the non-elect Jacob being elect the subbing non-elect Paul reminded his readers of God's sovereign authority and right to dispose his grace. However he sees fit. When he said I will have mercy upon whom I will have mercy. The double predestination is simply this, the elect to receive mercy. The reprobate, receive justice, nobody receives injustice, understanding and embracing the doctrine of predestination that can be a difficult journey. There's no question about that were thankful for.
RC Sproul's explanation of it here on Renewing Your Mind and were grateful for the fact that you joined us today.
Maybe you're like me you were raised in a tradition that the doesn't embrace this doctrine. If you're wrestling with it, but would like to learn more. Let me encourage you to request the complete series that RC taught because they're wearing only a portion of it this week for a donation of any amount will send you all 10 lessons on four audio CDs just go to Renewing Your Mind.org to make your request. Our staff's home celebrating Thanksgiving today so were unable to take your call but ordering online is easy again that web address is Renewing Your Mind.org and if you have a link in your app after you've completed your request, you'll be able to hear the entire series online while you wait for the CDs to arrive.
Just look for my learning library in your online account and if you don't have the app it is free and you can find it in your favorite app store. Just look for linear before we go today.
Let's listen to a final thought from RC one of the difficulties we have been wrestling with the doctrine of election and predestination is that we are not privy to the inner thoughts of God's own mind, except insofar as God is pleased to reveal them to us in sacred Scripture.
We don't know why he doesn't choose to elect all people. We know that he doesn't. We don't know why he has grace on some were has mercy on some to a special degree that he doesn't give to everyone, but as one theologian remarked in history where God closes his holy mouth.
I will desist from inquiry and again we make bridal under this idea and protest against us because our basic democratic defendant is to say if God gives that grace the sum he must give it to all.
But we don't ask the real question and that is why does God give this gift to anyone. He's under no obligation to ever save the sinner to ever intervene in the heart of a wicked person and rescue them from spiritual death, at least in this doctrine we have God doing that mercy, to that extent, in the pressing doctrine. God leaves everybody to themselves inwardly and only outwardly calls them, but gives them no direct gracious change of their hearts.
It's a very pessimistic view.
When you look at it carefully. Well, as we celebrate Thanksgiving. If you were a follower of Christ, the most important thing we can give God thanks for is the fact that he opened her eyes to see our ears to hear, and gave us hearts of flesh rather than hearts of stone.
He gave us the faith to believe in him and that is worthy of all our thanks so we hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving day today as you celebrate perhaps with family and friends and we hope you'll join us tomorrow and here's a preview of the lesson will hear if it is true that God from all eternity has chosen to save certain people and not others. Why then should we be busily involved in the task of evangelism. That's another question that always seems to pop up when we talk about the doctrine of election RC will answer tomorrow, so we hope you'll join us for Renewing Your Mind