Friday, August 14, 2009

Predestination: neither speculation nor ingratitude

Calvin's Institutes (1559)
Book 3 of 4 - How We Receive the Grace of Christ
Chapter 21 - Eternal Election, by which God has predestined some to salvation, others to destruction

Sections 1-4 - Importance of predestination excludes presumption, and reticence to speak of it.
1. Predestination confuses some, and they raise unnecessary objections. "We shall never be clearly persuaded, as we ought to be, that our salvation flows from the wellspring of God's free mercy until we come to know His eternal election... He does not indiscriminately adopt all into the hope of salvation but gives to some what He denies to others." See Rom 11:5-6. Affirming predestination keeps us humble, and assured of our salvation (John 10:28-29). But "it is not right for man unrestainedly to search out things that the Lord has willed to be hid in himself."

2. "The Word of the Lord is the sole way that can lead us in our search for all that it is lawful to hold concerning Him." "To seek any other knowledge of predestination than what the Word of God discloses is not less insane than if one should purpose to walk in a pathless waste (Job 12:24)." Don't go beyond what the Word says about it!

3. "We must guard against depriving believers of anything disclosed about predestination in Scripture." "Scripture is the school of the Holy Spirit." "When He sets an end to teaching, [we should] stop trying to be wise." What is our rule, then? To search out what He has revealed to us - Deut 29:29.

4. Some say we shouldn't teach predestination, since some will distort or mock it. But they do the same with the Trinity and the 5,000 year-old creation, and we have to teach those! We shouldn't speculate about what isn't revealed; we shouldn't be ungrateful for what IS revealed. "Scripture proceeds at the pace of a mother stooping to her child, so to speak, so as not to leave us behind in our weakness." But if we pass over what God has told us about predestination, we act as if we had to cover up a mistake God made of saying something hurtful to His Church!

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