Saturday, November 13, 2010

Reprobation?

Martin Luther once wrote:
All things whatever arise from, and depend on, the divine appointment; whereby it was foreordained who should receive the word of life, and who should disbelieve it; who should be delivered from their sins, and who should be hardened in them; and who should be justified and who should be condemned.
What exactly is reprobation?  Wayne Grudem defines it as "The sovereign decision of God before creation to pass over some persons, in sorrow deciding not to save them, and to punish them for their sins, and thereby to manifest his justice. "

What is the Scriptural backing for such a view?
"What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction?" (Romans 9:22 NIV)

"They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for." (1 Peter 2:8 NIV)

"For certain individuals who were marked out for condemnation long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord." (Jude 1:4 NIV)

And also any verse like this:

"For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: 'He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn—and I would heal them.'" (John 12:39-40 NIV)

"When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed." (Acts 13:48 NIV)

It is implied that those who were not appointed for eternal life didn't believe.

If God foresaw that in creating a certain person that that person would despise and reject the Saviour, and knowing this beforehand He brought that person into existence anyway, then it is clear He designed and ordained that that person should be eternally lost. 

Many Christians objection to this teachings is basically the same as the one Paul presents in Romans 9:

"One of you will say to me: 'Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?'" (Romans 9:19 NIV)

They demand that God should act according to their idea of right, and do what seems proper to them - or else that He should cease to be God! So they reject the idea that God can have mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he can harden whom he wants to harden. They say that this is unloving and unjust. In their view, God must be kept in order! God has to be given a list of rules, and He is not to condemn any but those who have deserved it by their own reckoning!

"But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? 'Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, "Why did you make me like this?"' Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?" (Romans 9:20-22 NIV)

Paul's answer is simple: God does whatsoever pleases Him, and because it pleases Him, it is by definition equitable and right. We have no right, as mere creatures, to stand in judgment of God.

Luther makes the same point:

You may be worried that it is hard to defend the mercy and equity of God in damning the undeserving, that is, ungodly persons, who, being born in ungodliness, can by no means avoid being ungodly, and staying so, and being damned, but are compelled by natural necessity to sin and perish; as Paul says:'We were all the children of wrath, even as others' (Eph.2.3), created such by God Himself from a seed that had been corrupted by the sin of the one man, Adam. But here God must be reverenced and held in awe, as being most merciful to those whom He justifies and saves in their own utter unworthiness; and we must show some measure of deference to His Divine wisdom by believing Him just when to us He seems unjust.

The same reply should be given to those who ask: Why did God let Adam fall, and why did He create us all tainted with the same sin, when He might have kept Adam safe, and might have created us of other material, or of seed that had first been cleansed? God is He for Whose will no cause or ground may be laid down as its rule and standard; for nothing is on a level with it or above it, but it is itself the rule for all things. If any rule or standard, or cause or ground, existed for it, it could no longer be the will of God. What God wills is not right because He ought, or was bound, so to will; on the contrary, what takes place must be right, because He so wills it. Causes and grounds are laid down for the will of the creature, but not for the will of the Creator - unless you set another Creator over him!

Besides, the wicked condemned, and predestined to condemnation, not arbitrarily, but because of their own evil acts. Never can they point their finger at God, declaring, "God has forced me to do that which was contrary to your Law. It's all your fault God, not mine." The wicked reprobate consciously and willingly sin, and for that sin they shall surely receive eternal desolation. The fault is their own. They receive nothing but God's good justice for their crimes and offenses against Deity!

John Calvin also makes this same point:


The ground of discrimination that exists among the elect is the sovereign will of God and that alone; but the ground of damnation to which the reprobate are consigned is sin and sin alone.
Some may argue that a person cannot be punished for what he cannot help doing. If that is the case, then a Christian may not be rewarded for what his new nature compels him to do. Let us not forget that the nature of a person is not a thing he possesses. It is something he is. If that is the case, neither can we be justified by something someone else did in our behalf.

We shouldn't misrepresent the nature of divine grace, making grace and mercy something God is obliged to show equally to all people. How mercy and grace can be both gratuitous and obligatory at the same? It can't be. Otherwise it isn't grace.
Many say that God loves everyone the same way or that God is obligated to love everyone the same way! But God has the freedom to love as we love. You love your spouse more then any other person. The idea that God loves each person equally results in a denial of any particularity in God’s love, even in His redemptive love. God is free to love whom he wants how he wants and how much he wants. God’s love is the basis of His redemptive work in Jesus Christ. If you are a saved Christian, then you are part of the bride of Christ and were loved by God before the beginning of the world. Are you denying God a freedom that even we as humans have?

Besides, love doesn't and never overturns God's justice. As I have already stated, the unregenerate are condemned because they have sinned against God and violated his law and justice will be served. Love doesn't come into it. If a judge let a serial rapist go scott-free and said, "I'm a loving judge", I'd call him a liar. The loving thing to do would be lock the guy up forever.

While sometimes men may not understand fully the justice and righteousness of God's ways, God's ways are often mysterious to fallible and sinful men and we have no right to question God.

Martin Luther Wrote:
This question touches on the secrets of His Majesty, where 'His judgments are past finding out' (cf. Rom.11.33). It is not for us to inquire into these mysteries, but to adore them.

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