Thursday, December 27, 2007

A cause for worship and rejoicing

While I’m on Winter Break, I’m trying to catch up on some of my reading. One of the books I’ve begun but haven’t had a chance to finish is Arnold Dallimore’s two-volume biography of George Whitefield. Since the school year started, I generally only read this work when my sons and I make our semimonthly trip to the barbershop, as I wait my turn to sit in the barber’s chair, or as I sit in the car waiting for my boys while they have their weekly piano lesson. I hope to finish Dallimore’s first volume this week so that I can get started on volume two before school resumes on January 7.

This morning, I was reading and came across this quote from Whitefield’s Journals, regarding election and predestination:

“Whatever men’s reasoning may suggest, if the children of God fairly examine their own experiences—if they do God justice, they must acknowledge that they did not choose God, but that God chose them. And if He chose them at all, it must be from eternity, and that too without anything foreseen in them. Unless they acknowledge this, man’s salvation must be in part owing to the free-will of man; and if so,…Christ Jesus might have died, and never have seen the travail of His soul in the salvation of one of His creatures.”

Before I came into a fully biblical understanding of election and predestination, I used to wonder about Christ dying for all when so many of those for whom He supposedly died go to hell anyway, in spite of the price He paid for them. In regards to those who ultimately reject Christ, I used to wonder to myself was Christ’s blood wasted on them. Now, thankfully, I understand that not a drop of the blood of Christ was wasted. All for whom Christ died will be saved. It makes perfect sense: Jesus came to “save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21), He laid “down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). God “gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish” (John 3:16). In other words, those who believe are those for whom God gave his Son. Jesus said about those who do not believe, “You do not believe because you are not part of my flock.” Speaking of his “flock” or his “sheep”, Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:26-27). Is it not clear that only those who hear and obey Christ are his sheep, and that it is his sheep—his people—whom he came to save and for whom he shed his blood?

Nevertheless, Whitefield continued in this quote I read today with a wise word for those of us who embrace the biblical doctrines of election and predestination and are adamant in their defense:

“But I would be tender on this point, and leave persons to be taught it of God. I am of the martyr Bradford’s mind. Let a man go to the grammar school of faith and repentance, before he goes to the university of election and predestination.” (Arnold Dallimore, George Whitefield: The Life and Times of the Great Evangelist of the Eighteenth-Century Revival, Volume I [Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust], p. 570).

That’s a good word: “Leave persons to be taught it of God”. Let the Holy Spirit do His work. Don’t be known as a contentious Calvinist. Let God’s sovereignty in election be cause for worship and rejoicing, not a cause for divisiveness and strife.

No comments: