Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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March 2003, Volume IX, Issue 11


Unbreakable Scripture (1)

So far we have seen that God’s hammer (Jer. 23:29), the "more sure word" of Scripture (II Peter 1:19), has its origin in God and not man (II Peter 1:21) for it is God-breathed (II Tim. 3:16). Because Scripture is God-breathed, it has certain perfections or characteristics, one of which is inerrancy.

The inerrancy of Scripture has been a battleground between conservatives and liberals for the last 150 years. Controversies have raged in churches, missions, theological seminaries and religious societies often bringing disruption and division. A large number of books, pamphlets and sermons have been spawned by the inerrancy debate and even some heresy trials. Today the majority of instituted churches and professing Christians don’t even see it as an issue worth considering. Evolution and higher criticism, they believe, have made it impossible for modern man to confess the inerrancy of Scripture. They say, "Sure everybody knows that there are mistakes in the Bible. And anyway whether you believe the Bible is inerrant or not doesn’t make any real difference to the Christian life." Thus inerrancy is both intellectual suicide and spiritually unnecessary.

But these are just the slippery words of compromisers who have been conformed to the world. Jesus did not believe that inerrancy was intellectual suicide, for He urged it in a theological debate with the Jewish religious leaders. Jesus did not believe that it was spiritually unnecessary, for He used it in defence of His claim to Deity. These are the words of the incarnate Son of God: "the scripture cannot be broken" (John 10:35).

Christ had been teaching that He was the Son of God (36): "I and my Father are one" (30). The Jews rightly understood Him to be claiming Deity (33) and so they are about to stone him (31). Jesus uses two arguments against them. First, He states that His good works sustain His claim (32). Second, He reasons from the OT Scriptures. He quotes Psalm 82:4: "Is it not written in your law, I SAID YE ARE GODS?" (34). Then he identifies the ones addressed as "gods:" "he called them gods unto whom the word of God came" (35). Finally, he makes a deduction: "If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?" (35-36). Note the linchpin of the whole argument: "the scripture cannot be broken" (35). Do you quote all Scripture’s declarations with absolute confidence? Those who deny inerrancy can’t for they don’t believe that scripture cannot be broken. This is Christ’s way of wielding God’s hammer; it must be ours. Rev. Stewart

The Mysteries of the Kingdom (4)

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 (Luke 8:10).

In the last three articles of the News, we have been answering this question about our text: "Is this election and reprobation, or just acknowledging that some just will not turn and believe (as some commentaries maintain)?" After a careful examination of the passage (and the parallel passages in Matthew and Mark) we have seen that indeed election and reprobation are taught in Luke 8:10.

At this point I would like to refer to four other passages for additional proof that God sovereignly accomplishes His purpose through the preaching of the gospel, both in the salvation of the elect and in the damnation of the reprobate.

(1) The first of these is Romans 1:16: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." This is a strong statement that the gospel is the means to accomplish election. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation. The gospel is God’s sovereign means to save. That it is such a power only to the elect is evident from the phrase "to every one that believeth." Who are those who believe? They are the elect, for they alone receive the gift of faith (Phil. 1:29).

(2) In Isaiah 55:9-11 we read, "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it." Not even once has the preaching of God’s Word returned void, nor does it ever fail in achieving God’s will regarding any individual. For God accomplishes His pleasure in election and reprobation through the preaching of His Word.

(3) Paul writes in II Corinthians 2:14-17, "Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: to the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ."

As he brought the Word to the heathen world of his day, Paul saw with his own eyes the fruit of the gospel in the gathering of the church. But he also met opposition, hatred and persecution—all of which arose out of hatred for the gospel. This rejection of the gospel was not a reason to be downcast or to despair. For even in this God gives the victory in Christ. Paul is victorious when the gospel saves; he is equally victorious when the gospel is rejected.

Why is that? Because the gospel and the effects of the gospel among men are always a pleasing odour to God in Christ. The effects of the gospel are a pleasing odour to God in Christ because the effect of the gospel is controlled by what God accomplished through Christ on Calvary where Christ died only for the elect and for none other.

The gospel and its effects are a sweet smell to God in them that are saved because the purpose of God in gathering His people through the gospel is accomplished. But the gospel and its effects are also a sweet smell to God in them that perish because in the death of the wicked, brought about sovereignly through the gospel, God accomplishes His purpose in their damnation. No wonder the apostle exclaims in astonishment: "And who is sufficient for these things?" And no wonder that he adds: "We are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but [we preach] as of sincerity, as of God." How many today corrupt God’s Word by preaching "smooth things" in order not to offend their hearers!

(4) The final passage is John 12:37-41: "But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: that the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? And to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him."

Here also Isaiah 6 is quoted, the same passage as Jesus quotes in explaining why He taught in parables. But here the doctrine of reprobation in connection with Jesus’ ministry is very sharply set forth. Because the prophecy of Isaiah had to be fulfilled, they could not believe. That is the final explanation for the unbelief of the Jews when they had seen so many mighty miracles. Jesus had come to accomplish all the purpose of the Father in the salvation of His own for whom He died, and in the damnation of the wicked who perish in their sin. Prof. Hanko

Is Universal Atonement True? (5)

Let us consider two more arguments against a death of Christ for all, head for head.

(13) Ephesians 1:3 teaches that we have been blessed "with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ." These blessings come to us "according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world" (4). That is, we receive all these blessings according to our eternal election (4) and predestination (5). Ephesians 1 enumerates some of our spiritual blessings: holiness (4), adoption (5), acceptance (6), redemption (7), the forgiveness of sins (7), the knowledge of God’s will (9), the sealing of the Holy Spirit (13) and an eternal inheritance (11, 14). Not only are we blessed according to our election (4, 5) but all the elect have "all spiritual blessings" (3). On the other hand, the fact that the reprobate are not blessed with any of these spiritual blessings is also according to the eternal "purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will" (11).

Now remember, one of the spiritual blessings is "redemption through his blood" (7). Thus Christ’s redemption and blood shedding are instances of those spiritual blessings which come to us "according as he has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world" (4). Therefore Christ redeemed, shed His blood and died for the elect and not for the reprobate. Thus the elect are forgiven (7), adopted (5), accepted (6), made holy (4) and sealed with the Spirit (13) for their eternal inheritance (11, 14) on the basis of Christ’s atoning death. The reprobate do not receive any of the spiritual blessings of Christ’s death, for He did not die for them.

(14) Another point not often considered in this connection involves the OT sacrifices which were types of Christ’s death. If Christ died for the sins of everybody then one would expect this to be reflected in the sacrificial system. Leviticus 1-7, the central passage on the Mosaic sacrifices, speaks of the burnt offering, the meal offering, the peace offering, the sin offering and the trespass offering. Always these sacrifices are particular, for Israel, the church (Lev. 1:2; 4:13; 7:36, 38), and nowhere do we read of a universal atonement, an offering for every individual Jew and Gentile.

Similarly, on the Day of Atonement, the high priest made atonement for the Israelites not the Moabites or the Jebusites (Lev. 16:16, 17, 19, 21, 34). Moreover, the high priest bore "the names of [the twelve tribes of] the children of Israel"—and not the names of the children of Esau—on the breastplate "upon his heart, when he [went] in unto the holy place," speaking of His representative and intercessory work for them (Ex. 28:29).

Lest it be said that the OT sacrifices speak of an atonement for every member of the nation of Israel, we recall that fact that "they are not all Israel, which are of Israel" (Rom. 9:6) and that the true Israelite is not one circumcised in the flesh but one circumcised in the spirit (Rom. 2:28-29). Christ died for the true Israel and the OT types point to His redemption of the spiritual "Israel of God" (Gal. 6:16). Rev. Stewart

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