One Elected to Salvation, Others Elected to Reprobation


God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved1st Timothy 2:3-4

Arminians use the above verse as a proof-text for their erroneous belief that God tries to save everybody and gives people the same chance to go to Heaven. They pluck this verse off the page, slap it down, and say, “Ha!! See!! God wants to save everybody, and he gives everyone the same chance because God is love, all the time love, nothing but love, love, love!” To them, God would never mandate that a certain people were not yet wicked enough for Him to destroy them yet. A God who is all about love, love, love. And if this passage were the only verse in the entire Bible, one could make that case. However, there are thousands more verses in the Scriptures and many of them say the opposite — that Jesus did NOT die for every single person in the whole wide world ever. That Christ’s death was only for particular people, specifically His sheep. (He never said, “I lay down My life for My sheep–and the goats and the dogs and the swine”).  And this the same God once said “I can’t destroy them yet because they’re not bad enough.”

Let’s think back to the God of the Old Testament. Is He the same God that we find in the New Testament? To the Arminian, the answer is “no”. The Arminian says that the God of the Old Testament–the one who destroyed entire cities off the face of the earth (Sodom and Gomorrah and the ten surrounding cities), who decreed that entire people groups would come to an end (the Edomites)–is now an “everybody gets a chance” kind of God in the New Testament. But let’s think about it. Who did God give His Law to? The Israelites. Did He give His Law–with all its offerings and sacrifices that covered over sins until Christ came–to the Amalekites and the Hivites and the Jebusites and the Perizzites and the Hittites? No. Well that’s not fair! (PSSSST–Do you really want God to be “fair”? Think about it!) Did God tell Moses that on the Day of Atonement he should go out and gather all the people from all the lands all around them to come to the tent? Or did He tell Moses to gather only the people of Israel? I think we know that answer. The language of Sovereign election is all throughout Scripture, from God choosing Abram (which we will look at shortly) to God choosing the nation of Israel itself, all the way into Revelation, when God chooses which 144,000 descendants of the tribes of Israel will have His seal put upon them.

But there is another episode in Scripture that shows that God not only calls only certain people to Himself, but that He is perfectly willing to allow an entire people to be destroyed and wind up in Hell with no mercy and no chance at redemption. Turn with me to the first book of the Bible, Genesis. Specifically Genesis 15:12-1612 Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him. 13 God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. 14 But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions. 15 As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age. 16 Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.” Let us discuss this passage a moment, because we see God choosing certain people for Himself, and we also see Him will that certain others be damned.

First we see here that God chose for Himself Abram. What was Abram doing when God called Him? He was simply living out his days in southeastern Iraq where, according to many scholars, Abram and his father were idol makers. So there he was, carving his idols when one day he told his father, “Father, I have made a decision to serve YHVH, the God of heaven and earth!” GOD CHOSE HIM out of all the people living on planet earth at the time. Why? What was the reason God chose Abram? God obviously saw what great faith Abram would have, and as He looked down the corridors of time He saw that Abram would be faithful chose Abram because He wanted to. That was the good purpose of His will (Ephesians 1:5). Did He tell Abram to take along mom and dad and his uncles and aunts? NO. In fact, God told Abram to leave them all behind (see Genesis 12:1). So God chose one man.

Now, let’s come back to Genesis 15. This is the night God made the covenant with Abram And He tells Abram that his descendants will be slaves in another land. They will serve with rigour and be oppressed by a man–a man who freely chose to yield himself to God’s will was raised up by God Himself. Romans 9:17For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.” So Abram’s descendants would be slaves to Pharaoh, whom God raised up, but then look at what God says about that man, and those in the land that would oppress Abram’s descendants: “They will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. I will also judge the nation whom they will serve” (Genesis 15:13-14). God raised up Pharaoh, and by God’s will the descendants of Abram were put in bondage and oppressed by that Pharaoh that God raised up–and then God punishes them for performing His will! God would never do that! (Actually, He would, and He did)

But then look at what God tells Abram in His next declaration. Genesis 12:16“Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” Read that last clause again, carefully. “The iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” What is He saying? He’s telling Abram, “You’re not going into that land yet because I have not had a chance to save those people from Hell” “You’re not going into this land I have promised you just yet, because the people that are living there have not become wicked enough yet. I’m going to let them store up 400 more years of wickedness–THEN I’m gonna wipe ’em out.” And in the book of Numbers, we read that God sent Moses and the people of Israel, and they taught His Law to the Amorites so that they could worship Him and be saved attacked the Amorites, took all their stuff, and wiped them off the earth.

Think about that! God sent His people–a people whom HE CHOSE (see Deuteronomy 7:7-8) to destroy a people that God allowed to build up 400 years of wickedness. A people that God said “They’re not bad enough yet”. No mercy. No second chance. In fact, not even a first chance to repent. He did not allow them to hear His Law so their sins could be covered. And knowing that the Amorites were pagans who worshipped idols, where did they go when they were killed? So then we see God being perfectly content to allow an entire people to be destroyed with no mercy and no chance at forgiveness and then to go straight to Hell.

But the Arminian would have you think this is same Old Testament God would NEVER do something like in the New Testament because He wants to save everybody, and doesn’t want to send anyone to Hell. But such a one still finds opposition in the New Testament, and from no less than our Lord Himself. Luke 10:21At that very time He rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and said, “I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight.” God has chosen to hide things from certain people? That’s not fair! Those people will die without knowing these truths!

So what do we say then? Does God on one hand declare and command that all men everywhere repent? Does He want all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of God? Yes. But does He make it possible for all men to know Him and be saved? No. “Well, then you Calvinists don’t make much sense with your God who wants to save everybody but doesn’t do it!” And that response stems from the ignoring the very clear text in Romans 9:21-2421 Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? 22 What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? 23 And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, 24 even us, whom He also called. He wants all men to be saved, but He does not save all men. Why? In order to demonstrate His hatred of sin and to show the vessels of honor that He prepared for glory the infinite patience and grace He shows us by saving us, when we were, by all rights, just as wicked and evil as the vessels of wrath He made for destruction.

“The iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full”. These words should chill us all. To think that God allows some men to live longer than they probably should, just so they can grow more wicked and rebellious, and because they’re just not bad enough yet, and He allows them to become even more wicked so He can punish them even more. Unlike the God preached in many churches today–the One who gives everybody a chance because we’re wicked, wretched, depraved sinners who spend our lives rebelling against the God of all creation. And because we are so filthy and vile we deserve a chance to be saved. Er……something

51 thoughts on “One Elected to Salvation, Others Elected to Reprobation

  1. I’m not sure if I can comment because I’m unsure of the word “reprobation”. Can someone please give me a clear, full definitionof that word as used here by Fourpointer


  2. Simply put, “reprobate” (the adjective form of the noun “reprobation”) means “useless, unfit, worthless, rejected.” We find the word in the KJV rendering of Romans 1:28–“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.” We also find it in 2nd Timothy 3:8 (KJV)–“Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.” The NKJV and ESV translate it “debased”, while the NASB and NIV translate is “depraved”. So in the title of this post, the Amorites were Elected to Worthlessness, Unfitness, Uselessness, and, ultimately, Rejection.

    At any rate, God chose to let the Amorites wallow in their wretchedness until they were wicked enough for God to pour out the full measure of His holy wrath He intended to pour on them.


  3. The doctrine of sovereign election is a blessing to the saved and a bain to the unsaved. However, I am encouraged to remember that God’s Word says that no man can come to Jesus Christ unless the Father draws him. So the fact that I trust Jesus Christ, the true Son of God, declared to be my Savior in the Scriptures and to be the Son of God with power by His resurrection from the dead, is great consolation to me. There are the verses, though, that show God’s heart toward sinners. They are of equal comfort.

    Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last.
    (Luke 13:23-30)

    My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
    (1 John 2:1-2)

    And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
    (Revelation 22:17)

    In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
    (John 7:37-39)

    The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
    (2 Peter 3:9)

    And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
    (2 Peter 3:15)

    And so we share the gospel with all men, that God may have mercy on some as He has had upon us, who also, only deserve God’s just judgement in Hell, but have been delivered from God’s wrath by the singular work of His Son Jesus Christ upon the cross taking our sins and bearing our punishment that we can be the redeemed of God, and giving us His righteousness, who had no righteousness, and bestowing life upon us who were dead in our trespasses and sins. To God be the glory for His unfathomable grace, mercy and love.


  4. I think you are correct in your approach to 1 Tim 2, but I do not think that God takes an active role in election to reprobation. That would be double predestination and I do not see it on the pages of the Bible. An argument could be made for reprobation by default, that is not being elected toward salvation from the foundation of the world… But there God is not the one picking out the reprobates…. The reprobates are just not in the elect.

    I tend to view it like this: we are all destined for death, but just like a governor giving amnesty to a dearth row inmate, God chose some of us for an amnesty, ie election

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  5. Dear writer,

    God is love. Seventy times seven and many more chances than that will be given to every human. Why—because God desires everyone of us to be reconciled to Him. Will everyone choose God…unfortunately no. We see it everyday, but Jesus fulfilled the old law. The fulfilled law is love. We’re to encourage people to be reconciled to Christ. To encourage them, love them and inspire them to “sin no more” (woman at the well). Jesus himself walked in a “love ministry” and desired people to pick up their cross and follow Him.

    We all have been given “free will” but Christians have been called, chosen, and saved for one reason…to help others see Him. How do others see God by sharing scripture with a human interpretation? There is not one of us that has a right to judge or fully knows God’s judgement in heaven. We can know God’s word and even master it…His character and His was give us wisdom. It draws us into a closer relationship, but it is our relationship with God that calls us to love and correct others kindly, patiently and without judgement. Let God’s word convict and correct. I pray we choose to love and that His love never fails.

    – Joe


  6. Excellent FP! I just read Pink’s writings on God’s sovereignty, and reprobation. Perhaps your readers would like to read this as well –

    Briefly, from Pink….””And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: Depart from Me, ye that work iniquity” (Matt. 7:23). In the previous chapter it has been shown that, the words “know” and
    “foreknowledge” when applied to God in the Scriptures, have reference not simply to His prescience (i.e. His bare knowledge beforehand), but to His knowledge of approbation. When God said to Israel, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth” (Amos 3:2), it is evident that He meant, “You only had I any favorable regard to.” When we read in Romans 11:2 “God hath not cast away His people (Israel) whom He foreknew,” it is obvious that what was signified is, “God has not finally rejected that people whom He has chosen as the objects of His love—cf. Deuternomy 7:7, 8. In the same way (and it is the only possible way) are we to understand Matthew 7:23. In the Day of Judgment the Lord will say unto many, “I never knew you”. Note, it is more than simply “I know you not”. His solemn declaration will be, “I never knew you”—you were never the objects of My approbation. Contrast this with “I know (love) My sheep, and am known (loved) of Mine” (John 10:14). The “sheep”, His elect, the “few”, He does “know”; but the reprobate, the non-elect, the “many” He knows not—no, not even before the foundation of the world did He know them—He “NEVER” knew them!”


  7. Thank you for this great post! You have no idea how timely this is, as this very subject came up in a bible study and let’s just say the truth was not welcomed. I hope you don’t mind if I share this.
    Grace and peace,


  8. As we’ve been told in my church, men have free will, but one must define “free”. Every man is free to do as his nature desires and allows. Hence, a man still dead in sin can freely choose to sin – but his nature is at war with God and unable to choose to do good (as God calls it, not as man calls it). As a cow’s nature (given by God) keeps him from eating meat, he (OK, a cow is female) may eat a worm that happens to be in his grasing area – but he is not choosing to eat the worm, it merely consumed it while pursueing what his nature drew him to.

    If “all” in 1st Tim 2 does mean every human that ever lived, then God and Christ are the biggest failures of all time. Does that line up with Scripture? One of these things must then be false. “All” in this verse must mean something less that “all”. And, just as John used “world” to mean different things within different contexts, so Paul means different things by this word, depending on the context. There is, after all, only One Author of Scripture – and He never lies nor contradicts Himself.


  9. I have a couple of more links to share, if you’ll allow me….concerning 1 Timothy 2, I recommend this from Jim McClarty to compliment FP post…

    This link is for you and it concerns man’s will, I do hope you will consider reading this…
    Here is a sample for you – ‘But let us now inquire, What is the human Will? Is it a self-determining agent, or is it, in turn, determined by something else? Is it sovereign or servant? Is the will superior to every other faculty of our being so that it governs them, or is it moved by their impulses and subject to their pleasure? Does the will rule the mind, or does the mind control the will? Is the will free to do as it pleases, or is it under the necessity of rendering obedience to something outside of itself? “Does the will stand apart from the other great faculties or powers of the soul, a man within a man, who can reverse the man and fly against the man and split him into segments, as a glass snake breaks in pieces? Or, is the will connected with the other faculties, as the tail of the serpent is with his body, and that again with his head, so that where the head goes, the whole creature goes, and, as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he? First thought, then heart (desire or aversion), and then act. Is it this way, the dog wags the tail? Or, is it the will, the tail, wags the dog? Is the will the first and chief thing in the man, or is it the last thing—to be kept subordinate, and in its place beneath the other faculties? and, is the true philosophy of moral action and its process that of Gen. 3:6: ‘And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food’ (sense-perception, intelligence), ‘and a tree to be desired’ (affections), ‘she took and ate thereof’ (the will).” (G. S. Bishop). These are questions of more than academical interest. They are of practical importance. We believe that we do not go too far when we affirm that the answer returned to these questions is a fundamental test of doctrinal soundness.’


  10. As far as “double predestination” is concerned, I have wavered back and forth on that subject, whether the non-elect are reserved for judgment “by default” as Delight in truth said. But again, in chapter 9 of Romans, Paul mentions those vessels of wrath “fitted for destruction” (literally, “prepared for destruction”)–those vessels that God tolerates for the time being so that when their judgement comes, we vessels of mercy will glorify God for His mercy toward us, that He gave us the faith we needed to believe the truth and obey the truth.

    In fact, that’s the argument Paul makes concerning the clay and the Potter — if God wants to make one lump of clay into a vessel of mercy and another lump into a vessel of wrath, He being the One who owns every single inch of creation, then that is His right, any diluted, humanistic idea about Him being love love love, nothing but love all the time love notwithstanding. The Amorites are just one example of this truth. Certain vessels are elected to greater wrath than others. This truth should make us fall on our face even more, thanking Him for mercy and grace and faith to give Him the glory He deserves.


  11. For God so loved the world (cosmos, that is His perfect created order, which fell in the Garden). This does not mean all the people ever born after the fall are automatically included in His love for His perfect created order. Also at the fall, man’s free will became corrupt with Him as Manfred touches on above. Thus man in His reprobate condition is incapable of choosing rightly by the spirit, which he is dead to, for he can only choose based upon his corrupt flesh desires which continually chose sin!
    We must see ourselves by the Spirit, which must first be made alive for us, which becomes total destruction to our preemminence, as we see Him. For God’s will is that in everything Jesus would have the preemminence. “In the year king Uzziah died, I saw the Lord high and lifted up and His trane filled the temple.” The prophet’s next words were woe is me…” When we are made to see Him, we are able to see ourselves, and our wretched hopelessness-every last one of us are as soiled menstruel rags, and are due only the depths of the lake of fire forever. But for God, who chose to have an elect restored as part of Christ Jesus’ preemminence, all of us were destined for that lake. Yet He, to show His mercy chose from the foundation of His creation a remnant to be spared the wage that which all mankind was due to pay, first to the Jew only then in these last days elect from all nations. We on the other hand, while still picking up our cross and dieing daily to our flesh, somehow still battle over what part we played in being chosen or worthy of being chosen. This, it seems is the stumbling block of those men of methods and Arminius’ seed.
    We must accept His word as it is given in the context it is given. We are the clay of His creation which Jesus will restore to it’s perfection prior to the fall, as sin is cast out either with us or from us.


  12. Laurie,

    I’ve never analyzed the word “will”. My spirit and simple mind understands the word to be my desires, choices and actions that represent what I want in this world. When my choices go against God’s will and His plans for my life…it’s sin. When God helps me understand His will and gives me strength to live for Him…He helps me bring Him glory.

    Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. (James 4:15-17 NIV)

    I’m thankful for Jesus, His sacrifice and that He has drawn me to accept Him as my Lord and Savior. Even though satan weakens me and even though I sin, God’s power and love uses my life to bring Him glory—especially when I’m broken; I am a broken sinner, saved by His sacrifice, grace and mercy.

    For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38, 39 NIV)

    I’ve never been part of a Christian blogging community. I’ve also never witnessed Christians dissecting God’s Word to such degree—digging so much and so hard in order to find truth. I pray we never get lost in digging so much and we accept God’s Word based on the Spirit of truth He has given us and the intended application of it’s time. I pray He increases us in wisdom, truth, love and dicernment. amen.

    – Joe


  13. This article confuses me, is salvation so complicated Jesus said ” he who believes in me and the one that sent me” well that to me means for us change our ways,pray,thank Him for our salvation etc.I agree the calling for salvattion comes from the Lord and the Holy Spirit but every man made religion such as Baptist says that Jesus was the first CEO of Welches Grape Juice, where Catholics say its OK to drink wine,Pentlecostals say everything is sin and you have to be save every week!
    At the 7 year tribulation Revelations says an angel flys around the earth preaching in every language “DON’T TAKE THE MARK OF THE BEAST” which to me means its the final call for salvation. Why not take the mark of the beast if your going to hell anyway!
    I have to trust the Jesus I know the creator of the universe and His Word that holds up the universe rather than wondering about Bible debates and interpretations!


  14. Joe,

    I appreciate your comment and am not trying to argue for the sake of winning a debate. To understand the depravity of the human will is absolutely essential in understanding the Gospel and God’s grace, sovereignty and mercy. I would encourage you to dig deeper, we live in a time when God’s word is approached with much flippancy and little depth. The desire to go deeper is part of the growing process, this is how we mature as believers and followers of Christ. I used to scoff at those who seemed like they were in ‘high ivory towers’ with their theology, their wisdom…who do they think they are?! What a fool I was, to not desire to go deeper into His word is to not desire to know Him more intimately, to have a better understanding of this fascinating, amazing, and truly awesome God who knows us so completely and loves us so deeply.

    I also feel the problem with Christianity in America lies in our complacency towards His word. The false gospel of free will has led thousands to believe themselves saved based on ‘inviting Jesus into their heart’, or ‘making their decision for Christ’, ‘following the Roman Road’, and various other man-made methods of the way to accept God’s plan of salvation. None of this is biblical, if there was indeed a proclaiming of the true Gospel, the Gospel found in the Bible that says sinners are saved by grace and grace alone {Eph. 2:8-9}, then we would not have the train wreck we now see all across America.

    This is why I read and recommend the writings of A.W. Pink, Thomas Manton, Spurgeon, Thomas Watson, J.C. Ryle, Jonathan Edwards, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Jerry Bridges, Dr. John MacArthur and Dr. James Boice and a host of others. These men are from different eras in time, and yet, they are identical in their teachings. They have studied God’s word, they have prayed extensively, spent hours and hours alone with Him, seeking His face and crying out to Him. These are the men who truly are empowered by God the Spirit, and it shows. My own pastor, Gary Gilley, is a tremendous blessing to me as well. Most of today’s preaching is so shallow and superficial, it is geared towards the flesh and not towards the glory of God. Hence, tons of folks professing to be Christian based on their own work; the question is not do you know Jesus, the question is does He know you?

    May the Lord give you a desire to know Him, to study His word and hunger for a deeper understanding. If we would all do this, we would not argue and debate so extensively because we would all understand God; His attributes reveal who He is, His sovereignty answers the question of why He does what He does, His glory is the reason for His actions.


  15. Hmm, the only thing I think about is how Paul went and preached to hundreds and hundreds, thousands upon thousands I would assume, and how Jesus commanded us to go making disciples of every nation. I think the point is that we just go in faith trusting that God will open the eyes of those he chooses to have mercy on. I mean we literally are supposed to tell the gospel to everyone because God had mercy on us when we deserved mercy the same amount ( 0 ) as every person on the planet. I feel like just by the fact that we are so unworthy we are meant to go proclaim his name everywhere hoping some will hear by God’s grace, yeah of course God will open the eyes and ears of those he chooses to since we are his elect and yeah all of his elect will hear the gospel but I feel like thinking about it in the sense that the gospel is not for everyone is off. Because I feel like it is just as much for me as for the person who will reject it. I mean when Jesus was up on the cross he said, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” To me that sounds a lot like the love of Jesus even reached out to his murderers, I am sure that nearly all of those who saw never turned and repented yet Jesus said that anyways because he knew it was not within their heart to ever see how wicked they were. I feel like God’s love truly is for all of his creation. I haven’t spent a ton of time thinking about those in the OT that he wiped out just like that or about how he let them store up more wrath for themselves but I don’t feel like that means he doesn’t love his creation at all. I feel like someone who has been saved knows that God does love the whole world because they are just as wicked as those who have not yet been saved yet they were saved anyways. When I see a person around me I just see how that person is just as lost as I once was yet God had mercy on me so how can I not have mercy on that person. I don’t know if God will save them but I believe God had mercy on me so that I might spread that mercy to others as well and in God’s compassion he would save some by grace.
    I don’t know what to think when the doctrine of election is so pressed up in our face and we are told that God does not clearly love most of those he made because God is love and so when he makes someone I feel like his love is present there and his grace and mercy and yet he will bring his wrath on those who sin because he is justice but he is mercy so also he will choose some for compassion. When God calls some and blesses them with love and grace and mercy I believe he wishes for the rest of his creation to see the wonder he has done in that person’s soul so that they might even grow jealous or might have the longing for that eternally wonderful thing that we have. Most will not want it at all because they only want temporary pleasure of this life in the end like we all want in the flesh but we know God will save some. I don’t get why we have to stress that God doesn’t love everyone so much. We all know he won’t save everyone and that salvation does not and will not extend to all but it still feels a little off to me. I don’t know what the perfect biblical love is in this situation.


  16. The Doctrine of Election was hard for me, also, when I first heard about it around 2002-2003. I have been fortunate to have a pastor who preaches the Word of God verse by verse. It took a good year for the truth of the gospel to sink into my thick head…….that I have been saved by the grace of God, called out of darkness and into the light of His holy Word, seeing my horrible and gross sinful life for what it was – gross and sinful; given faith to believe that Christ died for my sin and redeemed my soul from an eternal hell with his blood; that Christ is the perfect sacrificial Lamb and there is no other name under heaven or earth in which man can be saved, and I now have a hope of eternal life in heaven with my Lord and Savior. There is nothing that I could have done or could do to earn any merit to be applied to my salvation. Christ did it all and paid it all in full …He took my sins upon Him and died in my place. I know I will sin again as long as I live on this earth but I can pray for forgiveness and strength to overcome sin and He will answer my prayer.
    I love fellowship with the saints of God. Sunday morning and evenings are the happiest moments of my life. I look forward to studying God’s word on a daily basis. (Got rid of TV and cable) He is everything to me. We still need to share the Gospel with others because “how will they know if we don’t tell them?” We need to equip ourselve with knowledge of God’s word to share the truth with JW’s, Mormons, and whoever God puts in our path and pray that God will open their eyes to the truth of the Gospel.


  17. @ Laurie… thanks for the Sproul link, it is well written… my position is probably close to what is written there. I reject the hyper-calvinistic description of double predestination, but what Sproul describes does not sound to me like a “sharp” double predestination. He writes that election and reprobation are not really mirror images, they are not parallel:

    “Thus, the mode of operation in the lives of the elect is not parallel with that operation in the lives of the reprobate. God works regeneration monergistically but never sin. Sin falls within the category of providential concurrence”

    So… it is clear that God does not furnish sin. He does not “force one to sin” like he unconditionally and irresistably saves his children…

    It may be that this “double predestination” term is a very poor one to use. We should instead refer to God’s active role in election and perhaps passive role in reprobation…?


  18. @ fourpointer… I too have wrestled in Rom 9 on the issue of vessels of wrath. Do you think that Paul is possibly presenting a hypothetical scenario there, since he prefaces the question with a “what if”? Paul sometimes takes arguments to extreme to prove points and in this case he may be doing that to press the issue of questioning God.


  19. I’m not one for hurling opinions and I’m doing my best not to mind read or predetermine intent—but the content being shared seems dogmatic in nature. I’m trying to read and learn more, but what I don’t understand is how the information about “predestination” has anything to do with our salvation.

    1) Jesus died to forgive our sins
    2) We accept Him as our savior
    3) The fruit of our lives displays the Holy Spirit glorifying God through us
    4) We continue desiring a deeper relationship with Jesus, asking for forgiveness and strength to repent.
    5) We help others do the same and we share God’s word with them.

    I’m not sure how we benefit by dissecting dogmatic opinions. Is it satisfying a curiosity? Is it a way to indirectly correct opinions that do not line up with scripture? What is the purpose?

    – Joe


  20. “The Arminian says that the God of the Old Testament–the one who destroyed entire cities off the face of the earth (Sodom and Gomorrah and the ten surrounding cities) , who decreed that entire people groups would come to an end (the Edomites)–is now an all-inclusive, don’t leave anyone out, let’s all get along kind of God in the New Testament.”

    Most Arminians I know preach hell-fire and brimstone. They believe people have a choice whether to know God’s love or face His wrath. They don’t diminish His wrath and justice at all.

    You are constructing a bit of a straw man here. You describe essentially universalism, but historically Arminians have rejected universalism. Historically, Arminians have believed the Gospel, even if their understanding of God’s decrees was limited. Universalism does not deserve to be given the credibility of being lumped in with Arminianism.

    I am not Arminian at all, but I could not agree with your categorisation of Arminians here. .

    “and He allows them to become even more wicked so He can punish them even more.”

    Could you cite a verse that says this is His reason? I see no basis in Scripture for this. The heart of God is, “Why will ye die?” He takes no delight in their death.

    He doesn’t have to allow more wickedness so He can punish even more. Their wickedness already justifies that. All have already committed the infinite crime of rebellion against an infinite God. There is no punishment too great for that.

    This was a horrible statement.


  21. Joe,
    From what I have learned or currently believe I think the point about learning about something like predestination or election is because it helps us see our total depravity. The fact that I am so sinful that there was nothing in me that had any desire to “accept” Jesus or as I would like to say, cling to him for my life like the woman in Luke 7:36, shows just how wicked my sinful nature is. It shows just how much I need a savior and just how much he saved me. It shows just how little the part I had in my salvation was. The point when I turned to Jesus from sin was the moment that God lifted the veil from my eyes, it was the moment he gave me sight to see because before for my whole life I had been blind to how badly I needed Jesus as the Lord of my life. The point is that God is 100% responsible for opening our eyes when we accept the gospel. Accepting the gospel is a sort of weak picture as I have learned in my walk with God. No person just accepts the gospel. They either reject it in the flesh or they cling to it when the veil is lifted from their eyes.
    To me the point of talking about this is because the deeper the understanding we have of all of this, the deeper we can know God and what he has done for us. I don’t think one needs to know all of this stuff at one point in their life of following Christ, it has nothing to do with the process of salvation to know all of this, but this is learning about what really happened when we are saved because when I was saved I didn’t exactly know what was going on, I just realized that I could finally see how wicked I was for the first time in my life. It was the first time in my life I was tired of trying to be my own king. The point is that it brings us joy to see what God has truly done for us all. I hope my insight is helpful in some way!

    By the way Manfred, I remember that you mentioned you were a redskins fan at one point, looks like it will be a battle down to the very last game of the season for the playoffs…unless the giants keep on going, in that case we will both go home sad. Go Cowboys!


  22. Thanks, FP for this post. The doctrine of Reprobation has long been neglected by most pulpits. It could be classified as one of those “things hard to understand” (2 Pet. 3:16), but it is essential to a clear understanding of the true nature of the God who gave His Son for our salvation.

    2 Peter 2: 1-22 gives us a look at the mind of Christ concerning those who are not, nor ever shall be saved. It is horrifying to contemplate the fate of those “for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever”-v.17. Jude 4 reads: “For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation.” We do not have the right to pick and choose the attributes of God that we like and don’t like. If we pick some and reject other attributes we don’t understand or don’t like, then we have created a new god, one of our liking, one spawned from a wicked heart, one totally incapable of doing anything on our behalf except to deceive us even further.

    As one who experienced three ‘false starts’ from the mid-teens to mid-twenties and then proceeded to live a life in sin, I have often wondered why the Lord waited until I was 57 to save me. During those thirty years as my sins grew and deepened, I would remind God from time to time that when I died He was obligated to take me to heaven. Afterall, I had walked down the aisle, prayed the ‘sinner’s prayer’ and was dunked into the baptismal pool. So I was in-or so I thought. In Oct. ’04 my wife wanted to attend a church that she had gone to in her youth. I agreed, so as to please my wife. I went with no intention of seeking God in any way, most definately not to ask forgiveness for my sins. The thought of my heart was: “I’m going to see how God has changed.” We sang the songs, listened to announcements, and passed the plate as any good baptist church attendee would do. Then the little short, grayed haired Jewish guy ( last name a dead give-away) began to speak about Jesus and His death on the cross. Fifty seven years of my sins exploded in my heart as I confessed that God was right, I had sinned. The Holy Spirit regenerated me at that instant. I was not asking for Him to do so, didn’t seek God on any level, had no intention of confessing my sins to Him. I had no thought of my need to get right with God on that day, but He had other things in mind for me that day. Since that time I had often wondered why God had waited until I was 57 to save me. Why allow me to sin for so many years and to dishonor God every chance I got. A few years later, while reading 1 Timothy the answer was there in chapter 1, v.15&16: “Fot this is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, AS A PATTERN TO THOSE WHO ARE GOING TO BELIEVE ON HIM FOR EVERLASTING LIFE.” The Lord could have saved Paul at any time, just like you, just like me, but He waited for the time that PLEASED Him and in doing so maximised the glory to His Name for the salvation of the elect. Sin was allowed to accumulate in Paul’s life to glorify the longsuffering of our Lord. Can’t explain this & won’t try. Just as sin is allowed to build up prior to salvation to show God’s longsuffering to the elect, it is also allowed to build up prior to the death of an unbeliever to glorify God in His righteous wrath against the ungodly. Just as everything works together for good to those who are called and saved, everything that God does is for His glory. Whether it is the salvation of the elect or the damnation of the wicked, IT IS ALL FOR THE GLORY OF GOD.



  23. @Delight in Truth–Yeah, I’m still not settled on that subject. But it does seem that God makes at least some vessels of wrath to be public examples of His wrath. People like Pharaoh, Judas, and the Amorites. Still working on that, may never come to a concrete conclusion.

    @JonGleason–Not creating a straw man, but in the American church today, so many of the “seeker-sensitive” and “pragmatic” churches that use smoke and mirrors and every other type of human enhancement to their services in order to bring in the goats so they can “make a decision for Christ”–this is indeed the fruit of Arminianism. This notion that we foolish humans have to talk someone into accepting the gospel, and that we must make Christ “likeable” and “palatable” so that they can have as many people fill out “decision cards”. All the while they serve up a Fluffernutter-ized version of God, one who says “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” These are the tree that grows form the roots laid down by Jacob Arminius. But yes, the “hell-fire and brimstone” preaching is also Arminian–that once the church gets you saved, they have to do everything that can to “keep you saved”, and thus lay down all sorts of rules and regulations to make sure you “stay saved”.

    As far as the statement that God allows some to become more wicked in order to punish them even more–I simply give you the Amorites. I give you Pharaoh, whom God hardened so he would not let His people go. I give you the Pharisees, to whom Jesus preached time and again, and each time He preached He knew they were hearing more truth and their punishment was growing even greater (Hence His statement “It will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah than for you”), and yet God “hid these things from the wise and prudent”. That’s not “fair”, is it? I give you the many people who will live during the Tribulation, who will have the truth preached to them–either by the 144,000 or by the Two Witnesses or by the angel flying in the middle of the heavens–who will hear the gospel time and again but will not believe. God, knowing that they will not believe, will still send them the gospel, increasing their punishment. That’s not “fair”, is it?


  24. @ Fp… Why do you think Jesus was lamenting over Jerusalem and the lost people of Israel? If those are heading to perdition that means they were predestined to be reprobate. Why would Jesus lament over the result of His own reprobative plan… If one believes in predestination to reprobation this is an extremely difficult question.


  25. Darrell,
    What encouraging words! I did want to reply to the individual who said that we have free will. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that we have free will, what it does say is that we are wicked from the time we are born and always go astray. There is none that seeks God, no not one, they have all turned aside, They have together become unprofitable. That describes the entire human race whether Jew or Gentile. Then Romans 11:32 says that God has committed them all to disobedience, that He migth have mercy on all, meaning Jews and Gentiles encompassing everyone. Additionally, Galatians 3:22 says,”But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesuus Christ might be given to those who believe.” Then finally, Ephesians 2:1-3, And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. One more doctrine from Romans seals the deal when showing that we don’t have free will, For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death, Romans 8:2 Dead people have no will other than what agrees with death. It is God alone Who makes us alive through faith in Jesus Christ, and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast, Ephesians 2:8 & 9. God alone deserves glory for our deliverance from His just wrath, because dead, weak, helpless sinners cannot respond to God, nor do they have the desire to do so. There is nothing good about us that would elicit a response from us towards God and so it is that the work of salvation is of God from beginning to end. If not for the work of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, we would not believe. This delivers us from all human pride and presumption and we fall on our faces before God Almighty giving Him thanks for His indescribable gift. Left to ourselves Isaiah 59:10-15 speaks to our plight: We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes; We stumble at noonday as at twilight; We are as dead men in desolate places. We all growl like bears, and moan sadly like doves; We look for justice, but there is none; For salvation, but it is far from us. For our transgressions are multiplied before You, and our sins testify against us; For our transgressions are with us, And as for our iniquities, we know them: In transgressing and lying against the Lord, and departing from our God, Speaking oppression and revolt, Conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood. And then again Isaiah 64:6 & 7, But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf And our iniquities , like the wind, Have taken us away. And there is no one who calls on Your name…
    We have no free will. We are depraved sinners who God in His infinite mercy and grace has provided the way of salvation from start to finish.


  26. Thank you Darrell for that wonderful edifying relation of God’s work in you. Rollins, please read Darrell’s testimony as it is a classic example of just how amazing this gift is to the elect. His story like ours is yet again proof of the soverign work of our Lord in we who deserve nothing but eternal damnation. As for those preachers who preach a broad road that includes us making a “decision” for Jesus, it is a cruel gospel indded that promises an easy believing salvation without generation, and THAT is what really not edifying at all.
    Your question is valid, and Darrell answered it beautifully in my eyes.


  27. FP, you contradict yourself. Do Arminians preach hellfire and brimstone and lay down rules to keep people saved, or do they believe He is an all-inclusive, don’t leave anyone out God? You’ve said both, but they are mutually exclusive.

    Arminians teach enough error without attributing to them the apostate inclusivism/universalism you’ve described in the fourth sentence of the second paragraph of your post. You are bearing false witness. Arminius didn’t teach that, and “The Arminian” doesn’t believe it. Your statement is not true. Some people who call themselves Arminians may believe it, but some people who call themselves Calvinists believe a lot of horrible things, too.

    It is also counter-productive. No Arminian will ever read past that sentence without deciding you are a liar, and they aren’t likely to read past it all to your exegesis. You damage your own credibility by attributing to them something they don’t believe. Furthermore, you make people more vulnerable to Arminian error, because when they encounter an Arminian preaching the Gospel on the street or witnessing somewhere, and they find out that they aren’t inclusivist, then they will think you don’t know what you are talking about. Finally, you distract from their real errors by talking about things they don’t actually believe.

    This site very properly recently linked to an article taking Mark Cahill to task for, among other things, misrepresenting Calvinism. You make the same error. It wasn’t necessary to your argument, it distracted from the doctrine you present, and it is wrong.

    As to your “in order to punish them more” defense, you have completely missed the point. The reprobation of the Amorites is Scripturally true and abundantly clear. The reason you have given, “in order to punish them more,” however, is not in the text and false. You have no more right to manufacture a reason for why God reprobates than the Arminian has the right to manufacture “free will” or the Charismatics have to manufacture so many of their absurdities. It isn’t in the text.

    God raised Pharoah up to show His power, not so He could punish Him more (Romans 9:17). Romans 9:21 says He reprobates to show His wrath and make His power known, and the following verses show the other side of the coin — to also show His mercy and glory. Acts 4 tells us that the reason Pilate, Herod, the Jews, and the Romans did what they did was to accomplish God’s purpose in the crucifixion, not so He could punish them more. Deut. 2:30 says of Sihon that God hardened him for the purpose of giving His land to Israel. In almost every case, we see the purpose is furthering God’s work of redeeming and blessing His people. We see something similar in Joshua 11:20. It isn’t about wanting to dish out more punishment.

    This “punish them more” purpose is your own invention. It’s not in the text. Calvin didn’t say it in his commentary on Genesis 15. None of the best Calvinist theologians go there.

    The Westminster Confession does not say reprobation is “to punish them more” but “for the glory of His sovereign power over His creatures” and “to the praise of His glorious justice.” The Canons of Dordrecht said it was “in order to display His justice.” Berkhof says it is “to the manifestation of His justice.” Bunyan gives four purposes, none of which are “to punish them more.” I could cite many others.

    Boettner has a great little section on the “Purposes of the Decree of Reprobation,” and I commend it to you. It has nothing of “in order to punish them even more.” Boettner:

    The condemnation of the non-elect is designed primarily to furnish an eternal exhibition, before men and angels, of God’s hatred for sin, or, in other words, it is to be an eternal manifestation of the justice of God. (Let it be remembered that God’s justice as certainly demands the punishment of sin as it demands the rewarding of righteousness.) This decree displays one of the divine attributes which apart from it could never have been adequately appreciated. The salvation of some through a redeemer is designed to display the attributes of love, mercy, and holiness. The attributes of wisdom, power and sovereignty are displayed in the treatment accorded both groups. Hence the truth of the Scripture statement that, “Jehovah hath made everything for its own end; Yea, even the wicked for the day of evil,” Prov. 16:4; and also the statement of Paul that this arrangement was intended on the one hand, to “make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He afore prepared unto glory,” and on the other, “to show His wrath, and to make His power known” upon “vessels of wrath fitted unto destruction,” Rom. 9:22, 23.

    This decree of reprobation also serves subordinate purposes in regard to the elect; for, in beholding the rejection and final state of the wicked, (1) they learn what they too would have suffered had not grace stepped in to their relief, and they appreciate more deeply the riches of divine love which raised them from sin and brought them into eternal life while others no more guilty or unworthy than they were left to eternal destruction. (2) It furnishes a most powerful motive for thankfulness that they have received such high blessings. (3) They are led to a deeper trust of their heavenly Father who supplies all their needs in this life and the next. (4) The sense of what they have received furnishes the strongest possible motive for them to love their heavenly Father, and to live as pure lives as possible. (5) It leads them to a greater abhorrence of sin. (6) It leads them to a closer walk with God and with each other as specially chosen heirs of the kingdom of heaven. (7) In regard to the sovereign rejection of the Jews, Paul destroys at the source any accusation that they were cast off without reason. “Did they stumble that they might fall? God forbid: for by their fall salvation is come to the Gentiles, to provoke them to jealousy,” Rom. 11:11. Thus we see that God’s rejection of the Jews was for a very wise and definite purpose; namely, that salvation might be given to the Gentiles, and that in such a way that it would react for the salvation of the Jews themselves. Historically we see that the Christian Church has been almost exclusively a Gentile Church. But in every age some Jews have been converted to Christianity, and we believe that as time goes on much larger numbers will be “provoked to jealousy” and caused to turn to God. Several verses in the eleventh chapter of Romans indicate that considerable numbers are to be converted and that they will be extremely zealous for righteousness.


  28. For free will, I just have a very simple answer. The whole Bible includes a lot of instruction by God asking people to respond, to choose to do this and not to do that. If we do not have the freedom to make certin decision, why would God spend the whole Bible to ask? No free will never make sense to me.


  29. Our corrupt free will is restored when He brings us to life by the Spirit. Yet we struugle so, because the corrupt free will of our flesh life still decides by our flesh nature, which is at war always with our restored free will of our Spirit life. Paul speaks to this in his internal war between the flesh and spirit when he cries out who will rescue me from this wretched man I am…Thanks be to Jesus our redeemer!
    Think about it! Which way do we always battle? Flesh verses Spirit lead! This is precisely why we need to be living by not my will but Your Will be done Lord, as we lay our flesh life down daily on our own cross and allow Him to live through us as Lord! Jesus plus me is a hinderence to Him as we rebel in our flesh. Now, Jesus through me! That is His way. Christ in/through me the hope of glory! Oh that I could apprehend this Truth 100% of the time! Amen? How about you!


  30. To All,

    In Revelation, churches had opportunity for improvement. They were examined and given direction with wisdom and love from Jesus. My prayer is that we help bodies of believers and encourage them in the living word of God. Even in error, how many people will come to know Jesus? We’re in this together and we truly are one body. I pray our vision is expanded and we’re able to see opportunities to unite instead of segregate.

    Q: If a world disaster (a pandemic) were to take place, would we not all unite in prayer to our Father in heaven? Do you think He would hear all of us, or only the small few who believe a specific doctrine?

    Scripture: Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues ? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. (1 Corinthians 12:12-18, 20-31 NIV)


  31. @Stand–God does command all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30). But He does not give all men that ability (Matthew 11:25).

    @Joe and Mickey–Romans 6:22 says, “But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.” We were slaves to sin. We were free to commit whatever sins we wanted, but in the end we were in bondage to sin, Satan and the flesh, to yield ourselves to them.

    @JonGleason–I have since revised the sentence you questioned. Upon further review, I suppose it did sound like I was saying Arminians are Universalists, a position which I do not hold. I think the correction I have made more accurately depicts my intentions.

    However, I must disagree with your assessment of some of my other statements. “FP, you contradict yourself. Do Arminians preach hellfire and brimstone and lay down rules to keep people saved, or do they believe He is an all-inclusive, don’t leave anyone out God? You’ve said both, but they are mutually exclusive.” That was not what I said. The point was along the lines of “all squares are rectangles but not all rectangles are squares”.

    What I said was that the pragmatic churches who employ smoke and mirrors and all sorts of dog-and-pony shows to get people in the door so they can sign a decision card for Christ are Arminian in their beliefs–their belief that they have to appeal to people’s flesh in order to get them saved. Almost all pragmatists are Arminian, but not all Arminians are pragmatists.

    By the same token, the hell-fie and brimstone churches are also Arminian in their beliefs–their belief that they have to keep people scared enough to follow a pre-determined list of rules in order to “keep them saved”. Again, most hell-fire and brimstone churches are Arminian, but not all Arminians are hell-fire and brimstone.

    As for the Amorites–God would have been perfectly just in wiping out the Amorites in Abram’s day. He could have very easily done so and manifested His justice to all. But He didn’t. He told Abram, “They’re not wicked enough yet”. He could not pour out the fulness of His wrath upon them because they were not abominable enough.

    John Gill–“wicked people have a measure of iniquity to fill up, which is known of God; some are longer, some are quicker in filling it up, during which time God waits patiently and bears with them; but, when it is completed, he stays no longer, but takes vengeance on them.”

    Matthew Henry–“The righteous God has determined that they shall not be cut off till they have persisted in sin so long, and arrived at such a pitch of wickedness, that there may appear some equitable proportion between their sin and their ruin; and therefore, till it come to that, the seed of Abram must be kept out of possession. Note, (1.) The measure of sin fills gradually. Those that continue impenitent in wicked ways are treasuring up unto themselves wrath. (2.) Some people’s measure of sin fills slowly. The Sodomites, who were sinners before the Lord exceedingly, soon filled their measure; so did the Jews, who were, in profession, near to God. But the iniquity of the Amorites was long in the filling up. (3.) That this is the reason of the prosperity of wicked people; the measure of their sins is not yet full. The wicked live, become old, and are mighty in power, while God is laying up their iniquity for their children.”

    Joseph Exell (in The Biblical Illustrator)–“This passage…teaches us the following important truth: God waits until sinners have filled up a certain measure of iniquity, before He executes the sentence by which they are doomed to destruction; but when this measure is full, execution certainly and immediately follows…When we say, God waits until sinners have filled up a certain measure of iniquity before He destroys them, we do not mean that He waits upon all, till they have filled up the same measure. In other words, we do not mean that all sinners are equal in sinfulness and guilt at the hour of their death. To assert this would be contrary to fact and daily observation….Though the measure of every impenitent sinner’s iniquity is constantly filling up; it falls much more rapidly in some cases, and at some seasons, than at others.”

    God could not, at this time, cut off the Amorites because they had not filled up the measure of wickedness God had determined for them. He waited until they had sinned more so He could punish them more than if He had punished them in Abram’s day.


  32. Thanks, FP. First as to the change you’ve made, it is a good one, and I thank you for it.

    “Almost all pragmatists are Arminian, but not all Arminians are pragmatists.” In general, I agree. Although perhaps I would differ in that I believe Arminianism, as taught by Arminius and believed by many, while erroneous, is still in the “saving belief in Christ” category, while many modern pragmatists are not, and perhaps it is giving them too much credit to call them Arminian. We wouldn’t, for instance, call a Pelagian “Arminian”, though they share many beliefs, and the same man-centered focus.

    Lord willing, I’ll comment on the Amorites tomorrow, I can’t do so this evening. You are still saying something here that the men you’ve quoted aren’t saying, and I think it matters.


  33. FP, as to “filling up” wickedness, note Henry’s words: “that there may appear some equitable proportion between their sin and their ruin;”

    The Scriptures repeatedly use wording indicating that this is for a manifestation, a revealing, of God’s justice.

    God knows the wicked heart of man, what man would do if given the chance. Therefore, He would be totally and completely just if He destroyed and judged man for all that sin which is in man’s heart, even if a person has only actively committed a tiny fraction of that sin. The desire and the propensity for sin, and the sin which has been committed, is sufficient grounds for complete and utter destruction and eternal punishment of the greatest severity. God’s hands are not tied.

    But one of the purposes of reprobation is to reveal God’s justice, to cause it to be visible. For that purpose, man’s wickedness has to be seen, and so they are allowed to complete or fill it up, or as we see in Joel 3:13, their wickedness is allowed to “ripen.”

    But it is not accurate to say that God could not have punished them as fully earlier. That is effectually a denial of His sovereignty and His complete knowledge of the hearts of men (though you obviously didn’t mean it that way). The person who commits adultery in his heart is still guilty of adultery even if he has not filled up his wickedness by committing the physical act. God would still be just for punishing him for it, but the justice of that punishment would not necessarily be understood and visible to mankind. Thus, God will often wait until wickedness has ripened before judging — but not because He has to.

    The other objection is that your statement implies, whether you meant it that way or not, that God desires to dish out more punishment. You almost then make God the author of sin, sending people on to sin more just so He can dish out more. This is not the heart of our God. He does not delight in the death of the wicked.

    These men you have quoted talk about reprobation, but they do not attribute the same motive to God for it that you are doing. Their words, and the Scriptural ones, give a sense of a measure of wickedness which is already present in the wicked, and for which the punishment is due. It is not a question of wanting to punish them more — that punishment is already due, because they really are that wicked already.


  34. I supposed Satan had free wills before he sinned as well. Do born again Christians have free wills then? For they should have a new nature by reconciliation with God. Do real Christians have he ability to choose to obey God at will?


  35. Will is a product of nature.

    Since people are born dead in their sin, they have a ‘natural-man’ nature, and their deadness necessitates that their will follows that nature. Once a person is reconciled to God, however, they not only have a new record in Heaven (righteous), they have a new nature as well. Upon that gracious act of regeneration, their will is changed forever (for the good), and their actions will necessarily follow that conversion.

    The Christian still sins, of course. Yet it is the Spirit within the Believer, acting in conjunction with the new nature/will/heart which causes them to choose to obey God, honor God, glorify God, love God, serve God, worship God, give to God, love their neighbor, be sanctified, and ultimately enjoy eternity with their Lord.



  36. I might be wrong. But I thought the argument of no free wills is to ensure the absolute sovereignty go God. Then free wills exist for some creations: Adam before sinned and angels without sins. To me this is a contradiction: God gives some with free wills while some without. You can well say God gives those who will not sin with free wills, but those without free wills sin anyway. Personally I do hope I have no free will, that God stops me from sinning always. But my will of asking God to stop me sinning is a free will or not? Or does it matter? So to me this free wills only for a small or selected group is still confusing.


  37. JonGleason,

    The answer to the statement But it is not accurate to say that God could not have punished them as fully earlier is this: men are punished according to the depth of their sin and the amount of truth they acquire (among many other things). We find this answered in 2 places.

    First, the gospels. Jesus told Chorazin and Bethsaida, “It will be more tolerable in the day of judgment for Sodom and Gomorrah than for you.” God can (and does) punish some more severely than others. That is obvious from Jesus’ woes to the impenitent cities. Sodom and Gomorrah did not have the knowledge these other cities had, so Chorazin’s and Bethsaida’s punishment will be more severe.

    Second, we find the reason God allowed the Sihon (king of Heshbon, king of the Amorites) to fill up the iniquity of his sin is so He could destroy him. Deuteronomy 2:30–Moses tells the people, “But Sihon king of Heshbon was not willing for us to pass through his land; for the Lord your God hardened his spirit and made his heart obstinate“–why? “in order to deliver him into your hand, as he is today.” God hardened the heart of Sihon so that He would be justified in giving him over to the Israelites to destroy him and all his people. “Then Sihon with all his people came out to meet us in battle at Jahaz. The Lord our God delivered him over to us, and we defeated him with his sons and all his people. So we captured all his cities at that time and utterly destroyed the men, women and children of every city. We left no survivor” (Deuteronomy 2:32-34).

    Yes God is perfectly just in punishing every single one of us. But He is also a righteous judge, and metes out punishment in accordance with the measure of the person’s guilt. Does He not reward each of us according to the measure of our works? Of course He does (see 2 Corinthians 5:9 and other passages). Does He not then also punish the wicked according to the measure of their works? It only makes sense (See 2nd Corinthians 11:15; 2nd Timothy 4:14; Revelation 18:6; Revelation 20:12-13). Yes, all the wicked will suffer, but there will be some who will suffer greater torment than others. And the measure of one’s guilt–the amount that a person will sin before God destroys them–is, as are all things, determined by God.


  38. FP, we’re probably just going to go around in circles. You are reading things into texts that simply aren’t there. Deuteronomy 2:30 does not say God hardened Sihon’s heart so He could be justified in giving him over to Israel. There is nothing about God being justified in that passage. Surely you know that the sins of the Amorites were already such that God would have been justified in destroying them, anyway. Completely justified.

    So to make this about God being justified simply can’t be right. I’ll provide two other possible reasons which do fit Biblical truth. The first would be the practicalities of it — that God brought Sihon’s army out of his cities as a way to facilitate their destruction. Certainly, God could have destroyed them in their cities as well, but God can use hardened hearts and military foolishness as surely as He can use the waters of the Red Sea. So this is one possible explanation of the words “in order to deliver him” in the text.

    But more likely is the explanation we see elsewhere — that His justice may be seen. Israel, and the nations around them, may not have seen it as just for God to give them the land if Sihon had not come out against them. It surely would have been just, but it was God’s purpose that the justice be visible (which came into play in Jephthah’s history, hundreds of years later).

    The purpose of reprobation is not to make God just, but to reveal His justice so that all can see it. It’s an important distinction. The wording I’m using is consistent with all the great historical confessions since the Reformation and the words of the great Reformed theologians. Not one of them, to my knowledge, has framed it the way you have. I would think it would give you pause.

    Yes, God punishes some more than others. That is not in the least inconsistent with what I’m saying, nor does it require us to draw the conclusions you have drawn here.


  39. I still disagree with your assertion that I am reading things in to the text. The text is actually quite clear, both in Genesis 15:16 (“The iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full”) and in Deuteronomy 2:30 (“the Lord your God hardened his spirit…in order to deliver him into your hand”) Taken together, these two passages say very clearly that God was willing to let the sins of the Amorites build up for over 400 years in order to fill up the measure of their wrath (as John Gill, Matthew Henry and Joseph Exell also agree) and that God hardened the heart of Sihon so He would be justified in handing him and the entirety of the Amorites into Moses’ hand (as these same men also agree). On Deuteronomy 2:30, see John Gill (emphases mine): “had he been peaceable and flexible, he had continued in the enjoyment of his land, and Israel would not have had that advantage against him; but God…so wrought upon him that he should take the steps he did, which made way for the delivery of him and his country into the hands of the Israelites.” and Joseph Exell: “in Sihon’s refusing to let them pass, there was already an actual beginning of the fulfillment of God’s purpose to deliver him into the hand of the Israelites.” Both of these men tell us that God is a just judge and hardened Sihon so that He would have cause to destroy him.

    No, God does not take pleasure in the wickedness of men, nor from their destruction. He hardens them, blinds them, and hides His truth from them that they may be left to the whim of their own sinful wills that the mercy He shows to those whose eyes He opens, whose hearts He softens, whose wills He bends may be made even more manifest. All the while He is angry with those wicked ones, and if He did not restrain His hand He would entirely cut them off in a moment.


  40. Nothing in the text (or these men) says God would have been unjust to destroy and hand the land to Israel, without Sihon’s aggression. Much in Scripture tells us God would have been entirely just to destroy the Amorites even without this particular sin.

    God had cause to destroy before the hardening described in Deuteronomy 2:30. There’s that total depravity thing. 🙂 Therefore, we simply can’t say God “hardened Sihon so that He would have cause to destroy Him.” Cause was already there. You have to take reprobation in the context of everything else we know about man’s corruption and God’s justice.

    We can say God hardened Sihon as the means of destroying him. We can say He did it so His justice in destroying could be clearly seen. We can’t say He did it to have cause to destroy.


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