Our question for this issue is quite lengthy, but very important. One reader points out: "A further problem with predestination where God does not allow man any part in his salvation - it is all dealt with by God - is where Jesus says in Matthew 6:29-30, 'If they right eye offend thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee ... for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.' Here Jesus is saying and repeating that man can and should do things which will prevent him from going to hell. If God does not allow men the choice or freedom to take steps, however drastic, to avoid damnation, all the foregoing would appear to be superfluous."
The question, of course, could be raised in connection with any of Scripture's demands and often is raised in connection with the command to repent and believe. Are these commands superfluous in light of God's sovereignty in salvation and His eternal purpose? Does predestination destroy the urgency of Scripture's commands?
We believe that God has sovereignly and eternally chosen some and not others to salvation, and that by the power of His Holy Spirit He graciously and irresistibly grants salvation to those who are chosen and withholds it from the rest (Rom. 8:30). But why then does He command repentance, faith, and the drastic sort of self-denial proposed in Matthew 6:29-30? Why command anything of those who are not chosen, if there is no "chance" that they be saved?
First, as far as they are concerned, that God continues to command obedience and faith of them is by way of His maintaining His own justice and judgments. The fact that a person renders himself incapable of keeping the law does not mean that the demands of the law should be relaxed or removed. Sinful, rebellious man can only be punished if God maintains His demands. To take them away would be to destroy all possibility of man's being punished for his wickedness (Rom. 1:17-20).
Second, those same demands, including the demands of the gospel, are the means God uses to harden the ungodly (Rom. 9:17-21, II Cor. 2:14-16) and so brings to pass His purpose with them. That is not easy teaching but is nevertheless a testimony to the sovereignty of God.
Third (and parallel to the previous reason), those same demands are the means God uses to bring His elect people to repentance, to faith, and to holiness, including the self-denial demanded by Matthew 6. The command is the grace to those whom God has chosen. In the same way those commands also warn them and keep them from falling into sin and falling away.
Finally, those commands are given that those who have received grace and salvation may know how to serve God and to be thankful for His great salvation. In obedience we show first that we are saved, and then also that we appreciate and are grateful for salvation received.
- Volume: 6
- Issue: 4
Rev. Ronald Hanko (Wife: Nancy)
Ordained: November 1979
Pastorates: Wyckoff, NJ - 1979; Trinity, Houston, TX - 1986; Missionary to N.Ireland - 1993; Lynden, WA - 2002; Emeritus October 15, 2017Website: www.lyndenprc.org/sermons/
Address13823 Clear Lake Rd.
State or ProvinceWA