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Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

Election and Reprobation

Written by Rev. G. Procee
Election May Not Predominate
We may not begin with election. The Bible does not do this either, but it starts with God's dealings with man. He earnestly calls him to life and salvation. God intends election to be for our comfort, but the devil tries to use election to lead to despair.

We are to fear our sinfulness and the power of sin, and its dreadful consequences, but we are not called to fear God's decrees. After the Lord has led us to faith and repentance, He can give very rich comfort from the doctrine of election. Especially when our inner corruption is seen and the question arises whether a sinner like me can be saved. What comfort then is found in God's rich and gracious election of sinners! Then it becomes a miracle of grace that God has looked down upon me and has chosen me! For if it had been up to us to come to Him, we would never have come. What certainty and security the doctrine of election then provides! It becomes as a mountaintop in the life of faith. In God alone lies the reason and the cause of the salvation of God's children.

The doctrine of election does not exclude man's responsibility. Election is not like a lottery ticket. There is no indifference or randomness of operation with God, as if He were like a farmer who has six kittens. He has to get rid of three of them because only three can be kept alive. The farmer chooses to kill three kittens at random and allows the others to live. That is not what God's election is like. The example of the kittens is a caricature and a gross distortion of His electing grace.

The issue at stake is that God does not choose in order to cause people to become reprobate. We make that choice ourselves, by our sins. We have sinned against God and turned our backs on Him in paradise. Thereby we have caused His wrath and punishment to come upon us. We have fallen away from God wilfully.

When God leaves people in the misery into which they have plunged themselves, it is not God who has plunged them into this state. But fallen people have chosen to do so themselves and are still doing so. In reprobation God is merely confirming the action of sinful man.

Election and Reprobation Do Not Carry the Same Weight
Election and reprobation are not on the same level. When at the Synod of Dort (1618/19) some members of synod wanted to place these two decrees on the same level there was a strong reaction from the majority. They strongly opposed the view that God's decree of reprobation is as much the cause of unbelief and damnation as election is the cause of faith, good works and salvation.

The Synod was right in this matter. Reprobation is but the shadow side of election. Reprobation means not being elect. Our unbelief and sin are never to be traced back to a decree of God. They are our own fault. What God does is to leave people in their self-chosen, sinful ways and deep fall.

Reprobation is not anchored in Christ the same way as election is anchored in Him. Election is not a random choice. The issue of man's guilt enters into God's decree. God chooses guilty, unworthy sinners. Unworthy, guilty people are the object of God's electing love. The miracle of election is that the Lord comes to us as we are--lost in sin--with His offer of love and grace. Because no one will come to Him, He draws sinners with the irresistible power of His Holy Spirit.

God was under no obligation whatsoever towards sinful man. Why does God come to you and me with His offer of grace? Why do we hear God's Word while there are many who do not? It is all because of His electing grace!

What a miracle that God comes to us with the preached Gospel. In Ezekiel 33:11 He promises with an oath: Say unto them, [as] I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? In Matthew 23:37 He calls: O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, [thou] that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under [her] wings, and ye would not!

We Must Have a Right View of Election
Election can be compared to the blazing sun, which is of great blessing and advantage, except when you stare straight into it. Then it blinds the eyes. Election may also be compared to the high beams of car lights. When at night you are driving and a car comes from the opposite direction, its lights can blind you and you can easily drive off the road. But if you have the high beams turned on when you are driving along a dark road, you can see very well. That is how it is with election. It depends on which side of the high beams you are. It either blinds and dazzles you or it gives light and direction.

Spurgeon speaks of a narrow gate. On this side of the gate it says: Knock and it shall be opened unto you. On the inside of the gate it states: ye have not chosen Me but I have chosen you. We can also say that on the outside of the gate is written: Let him that is athirst come and whosoever will let him take of the water of life freely. On the inside of that gate, however, we read: So then [it is] not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy (Rom.9: 16).

Election can also look like a great, thick and massive wall that people run into, killing them; but in reality it is a gate--a wide, open gate through which heavenly light is flowing. Without election there would be no salvation. Because of God's election there is salvation. Otherwise all would perish and no one would ever ask for God. Without election there would have been no Bible, no Gospel, no grace, no hope--nothing. All these means were included in the eternal council of God where He planned salvation before the devil was even created and was still a good angel.

A right view of election does not lead to despair, but to amazement and holy adoration of this great God. Election should never lead us to accuse God, but it should silence us before Him, for we are sinners. Paul asks in Romans 9:20, Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?

We can never figure these things out with our reason, but we should adore and worship the God of grace Who was willing to choose lost sinners to save them.

Are You Elect?
Many people of God have concerns about their election. They wonder if they are elect. It is good to remember what John Calvin said about election. He stated that Christ is the mirror of our election. "Christ is the mirror, in which it behooves us to contemplate our election" (Institutes, III, 24,5). "The fountain whence all the blessings God bestows on us flows is, that He hath chosen us in Christ" (Commentary on the Psalms, I, 473). "It becomes all believers to be assured of their election, that they may learn to behold it in Christ as in a mirror" (Antidote to the Council of Trent, Tracts, III: 155).

Without knowledge of Christ we will never attain to a knowledge of our election. Election would remain hidden behind the massive wall of Gods decrees. We can never look over that wall. But then Someone comes and holds a mirror above the wall so that we can see over the other side of that wall. It is Christ Who holds that mirror; actually, He is the mirror! Looking to Christ we see our election. Those who have true faith in Christ are elect in Him.

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