2003, Volume IX, Issue 12
Unbreakable Scripture (2)
Last time, we heard Jesus quote God in Psalm
82:6: "I said, Ye are gods," and then add that "the scripture cannot be broken"
(John 10:34-35). Thus according to the Son of God, the OT declaration, "Ye are
gods," cannot be loosened, undone, dissolved, annulled, subverted, done away
with or in any way deprived of its authority. Just as surely as God "cannot
lie" (Titus 1:2) and a man "cannot
see the kingdom of God" except he is born again (John 3:3), so it is absolutely
and utterly impossible for this statement to be invalidated: it cannot
be broken! And why can it not be broken? Because it is Scripture: "the
scripture cannot be broken" (John 10:35).
If this Scripture cannot be broken, then no
Scripture can be broken. (1) Psalm 82:6: "I said, Ye are gods" is an otherwise
obscure portion of the Bible. It is not found in the Decalogue or in a Messianic
prophecy or in a popular Psalm. If it were not quoted by Jesus in John 10, we
would otherwise have paid little or no attention to it. Yet if this obscure
verse cannot be broken, surely no verse can be broken. (2) The words, "I said,
Ye are gods," are found in poetic, hymnic material designed to be sung. Someone
could argue, "But can you base an argument on a song written by Asaph in glowing
lyrical verses?" Yes, we can, for the Son of God did so in John 10 and He said
that this Scripture cannot be broken. If poetic material cannot be broken,
surely explicit teaching material cannot be broken. (3) Someone could also say
that the declaration, "Ye are gods," is a hyperbole, an overstatement. It is
true that the judges in Israel were not gods in the sense that they possessed
divine attributes or were to be worshipped (cf. Ps. 82:1-8). Rather they were
called gods in the sense that God gave them the office of judge to exercise His
righteous judgment according to the standard of His Word (John 10:35). So these
words, "Ye are gods," when correctly explained, have binding, unbreakable force.
Thus other Scriptural statements, especially those in clear and literal
language, are unbreakable too. (4) If Psalm 82:6 had read, "Ye are judges,"
and not "Ye are gods," it wouldn’t have served Christ’s argument. Christ
here is teaching us plenary inspiration, namely that God breathes every
word of Scripture. This is necessary for Scripture to be inerrant,
without any mistakes. If even one word of Scripture was not breathed forth by
God, then it could be broken. And if not even one word of Scripture can be
subverted or annulled, how much more verses, or chapters or books?
So not just Psalm 82:6 or John 10:35, but
of the Scriptures are unbreakable and inerrant. Why? Because all Scripture is
God-breathed and the breathed Word of God is true and omnipotent. This is the
confession of true, saving faith. Rev. Stewart
Mysteries of the Kingdom (5)
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 understand
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
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
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
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. Prof.
Universal Atonement True? (6)
(15) Let us consider an argument from Romans
8 against a death of Christ for all men head for head. Romans 8:28-30 speaks
of a people whom God foreknew, predestinated, called according to his purpose,
justified, glorified and conformed to the image of His Son. The apostle draws
the following conclusion: "What shall we then say to these things? If God be
for us, who can be against us?" (31). "Then" or "therefore" indicates
that this is a logical inference based on his preceding statements, here
called "these things." The "us" can only be those predestinated
(or elected) and called according to God’s eternal purpose (28-30). Thus
Paul’s argument is this: if God is "for
us" (31) in predestination, calling, justification and glorification (29-30),
then "who can be against us?" (31). Or to expand on this: if God in His
eternal decree has chosen us to everlasting bliss, called us out of darkness
into His marvellous light, acquitted us of all our sins and reckoned us
righteous with the very righteousness of Christ Himself, and glorified us in
conforming us to the image of His Son, then "who
can be against us?" (31).
The apostle reinforces this already
compelling argument with another: "He that spared not his own Son, but
delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all
things?" (32). Who are the "us" referred to twice here for whom God
sent His Son to die? Again, they are those predestinated and called according
to God’s eternal purpose (28-30). The only conclusion is that Christ died for
If it is objected that Christ also died for
the non-elect, then we reply that the passage gives absolutely no hint of
this. In fact, this would make the passage teach that God sent His Son to die
for those who are not predestinated and not called, justified, glorified or
conformed to Christ. Moreover, if it is argued that Christ died for the
reprobate, this would make the passage teach that the reprobate will receive
all the blessings of His cross. For verse 32 teaches that God freely gives all
things to those for whom Christ died. The "all things" include freedom
from the law of sin and death (2), life and peace (6), adoption as God’s sons
(14), the witness of the Spirit (16), an eternal inheritance (17), the
redemption of the body (23), the ability to pray in the Spirit (26), etc.
Furthermore, the "all things" would also include the blessings of
justification, calling, glorification and conformity to Christ (29-30)
according to God’s eternal predestination! Thus the view that Jesus died for
the reprobate read into Romans 8:32 would mean that God freely gives the
blessings of justification, calling and glorification to the reprobate, those
whom He never calls, justifies or glorifies. This verse teaches an absolutely
inseparable connection between those for whom Christ died and spiritual
blessings. Some do not receive these blessings. Therefore Jesus did not die
The passage proceeds to say that no charge
(33) and no condemnation (34) can be laid against those who are justified
(33), those for whom Christ died (34). But many charges are righteously made
by the God of heaven against the reprobate wicked so that they are condemned!
This is the case because they are not justified (33) for Christ did not die
for them and does not intercede for them (34).Rev.
If you would
like to receive the Covenant Reformed News free by e-mail each
month (and/or by post, if you are in the UK), please contact
and we will gladly send it to you.