And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not hear (Luke 8:10).
In answer to the question, "Is this election and reprobation, or just acknowledging that some just will not turn and believe (as some commentaries maintain)?" we have explained that Luke 8:10 and its parallel passages in Matthew 13 and Mark 4 do indeed teach election and reprobation.
Augustine (354-430), Gottschalk (c.805-869), all the reformers, the great divines at Dordt and Westminster, and innumerable saints and theologians through the ages have insisted on these doctrines, yet very few in our day of doctrinal indifference and decline accept the truth of election, much less reprobation. And many of those who do believe that there is such a thing as election and reprobation have an erroneous conception of it. These doctrines are almost universally repudiated because these truths—more than any other—teach the absolute sovereignty of God. Thus election and reprobation have been the object of scorn, mockery, misrepresentation, and vicious slander.
Briefly, the doctrine of election means that God, from all eternity, chose unto himself a people in Christ to constitute His church upon whom He would bestow all the blessings of salvation earned in the cross. Election is God's sovereign good pleasure and in no way based on works; election is of particular individuals, specifically chosen by God; election is the fountain and cause of salvation and all its blessings, including the gift of faith and the spiritual ability to do good works.
Reprobation is the dark side of election, though part of the same decree of God. The following must be said about it.
1) Reprobation is necessarily implied in election, as Calvin already pointed out in a letter he wrote to the other reformers in Switzerland. If God chooses some, he rejects others. The first is election; the second is reprobation.
2) Reprobation is not conditional. That is, reprobation is not on the basis of unbelief. God does not reprobate because some do not believe in Christ. That God reprobated on the ground of unbelief was the position of Calvin's opponents, chiefly Jerome Bolsec and Castellio. It was the position of the Arminians against whom the Canons of Dordt were written. And it was the position of the Amyrauldians, who have had such great influence in the British Isles.
3) There is a judicial aspect to reprobation. That is, God, in His just and righteous fury against sin, punishes sin with more sin, and ultimately sends the sinner to hell. This is part of what is taught in the text we considered in recent articles. Parables were an instrument of instruction which our Lord used so that the unbelieving in Israel would be hardened in their sin and become ripe for judgment. This is the force, in part, of the quotations of Isaiah 6:9-10. Yet, even though reprobation is manifested in God's righteous judgment according to which he punishes sin with sin, yet the hardening is the sovereign operation of God, as it was in the case of Pharaoh (Rom. 9:17-18).
4) Reprobation is sovereign. And it is sovereign because behind sin stands a sovereign God. God did not helplessly witness the fall of Adam and Eve in Paradise; He willed it. So it remains with all sin. The classic passages teaching this truth are those describing the awful sin of the crucifixion of Christ: Acts 2:23 and Acts 4:27-28. But God's sovereign control of sin is carried out in such a way that the sinner always remains a willing sinner, and, therefore, responsible for his sin.
5) Reprobation is God's decree to reveal Himself as just and righteous through vessels of wrath, fitted by God for everlasting destruction (Rom. 9:22). Thus, reprobation always must be related to the sin of man. However, man’s sin is not the cause of reprobation. Nor is it true that reprobation is the cause of sin, for this would make God the author of sin. The wicked do not go to hell on account of their reprobation, but they suffer everlasting damnation on account of their sins.
Election is indeed the fountain and cause of faith. But reprobation is not the fountain and cause of unbelief.
Reformed and Presbyterian theologians have rightly formulated it this way: God eternally and sovereignly reprobates the wicked to hell in the way of their sin and as just punishment for it.
The issue is, after all, the question of the relation between a sovereign God and man's accountability for his own sin. God's will is always carried out. Man's will to sin is his own choice to sin, an activity of his will. God is just in His anger against sin, and just and righteous in His punishment of the sinner.
6) Finally, in God's all-wise purpose, the reprobate in the world serve the elect. They serve the building of the temple of the church as scaffolding serves the erection of a cathedral. They serve the grains of wheat gathered into God's granary as straw and chaff serve the growing crop. They are the stem, the husks, the cobs, the tassels of the corn plant, necessary for a time, but destroyed when the corn is ripe and harvested.
The believer can never show one ounce of pride when he considers all this, for he is elect only by God's sovereign choice and eternal good pleasure. There is never any room for boasting. God receives all the glory, always! He is sovereign. He does as it pleases Him. It is for us only to bow in worship and adoration.
- Volume: 9
- Issue: 2
Prof. Herman Hanko (Wife: Wilma)
Ordained: October 1955
Pastorates: Hope, Walker, MI - 1955; Doon, IA - 1963; Professor to the Protestant Reformed Seminary - 1965
Emeritus: 2001Website: www.sermonaudio.com/search.asp?speakeronly=true&currsection=sermonsspeaker&keyword=Prof._Herman_Hanko
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