Tuesday, September 21, 2010
The Pastor’s Perspective
“Baptists and Predestination”
First Published: August 2, 2005
Last week, we began a brief consideration of the Bible’s teaching on predestination. We said that predestination means God’s eternal and sovereign plan or purpose of salvation. We also said that the Greek word that we render in English as “predestine” or “predestinate” is found in several times in the New Testament (for instance, Acts 2:23, Acts 4:28, Romans 8:29-30, 1Corinthians 2:7, Ephesians 1:5, 11).
We looked briefly at each of these passages and observed how they emphatically affirm the doctrine of predestination. Acts 2:22-24 clearly teaches that God’s predetermined plan was for Jesus to be betrayed by wicked men. In Acts 4:27-28 the early Christians openly acknowledging in prayer that God predestined/predetermined/preplanned for Jesus’ enemies to oppose him. Romans 8:29-30 declares that God predestined everything in life (even trials) to work for our sanctification. 1 Corinthians 2:1-10 asserts that God predetermined to reveal his wisdom to believers in Christ, but not to the worldly wise. Ephesians 1:5- 11 joyfully acknowledges and praises God that he has predestined us, not simply to salvation, but also to adoption as sons and inheritance in Christ.
But isn’t predestination just a presbyterian thing? Isn’t it just a presbyterian interpretation of Scripture that nobody else agrees with? No. In fact, there was a time when almost all Protestants heartily embraced the Bible’s clear teaching on predestination. Baptists, Congregationalist, Independent, Episcopal, as well as Reformed and Presbyterian churches all used to have predestination as a part of their corporate statements of faith. Don’t believe me? Well, check this out, from the Second London Baptist Confession:
Chapter 3: Of God's Decree
1. God hath decreed in himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably, all things, whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin nor hath fellowship with any therein; nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established; in which appears his wisdom in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness in accomplishing his decree. ( Isaiah 46:10; Ephesians 1:11; Hebrews 6:17; Romans 9:15, 18; James 1:13; 1 John 1:5; Acts 4:27, 28; John 19:11; Numbers 23:19; Ephesians 1:3-5 )
2. Although God knoweth whatsoever may or can come to pass, upon all supposed conditions, yet hath he not decreed anything, because he foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions. ( Acts 15:18; Romans 9:11, 13, 16, 18 )
3. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestinated, or foreordained to eternal life through Jesus Christ, to the praise of his glorious grace; others being left to act in their sin to their just condemnation, to the praise of his glorious justice. ( 1 Timothy 5:21; Matthew 25:34; Ephesians 1:5, 6; Romans 9:22, 23; Jude 4 )
4. These angels and men thus predestinated and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished. ( 2 Timothy 2:19; John 13:18 )
5. Those of mankind that are predestinated to life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to his eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of his will, hath chosen in Christ unto everlasting glory, out of his mere free grace and love, without any other thing in the creature as a condition or cause moving him thereunto. ( Ephesians 1:4, 9, 11; Romans 8:30; 2 Timothy 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:9; Romans 9:13, 16; Ephesians 2:5, 12 )
6. As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so he hath, by the eternal and most free purpose of his will, foreordained all the means thereunto; wherefore they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ, by his Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by his power through faith unto salvation; neither are any other redeemed by Christ, or effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only. ( 1 Peter 1:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:9, 10; Romans 8:30; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:5; John 10:26; John 17:9; John 6:64)
7. The doctrine of the high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care, that men attending the will of God revealed in his Word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election; so shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God, and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the gospel. ( 1 Thessalonians 1:4, 5; 2 Peter 1:10; Ephesians 1:6; Romans 11:33; Romans 11:5, 6, 20; Luke 10:20)
How about that? That is what the Baptist ministers who founded the Southern Baptist Convention believed! And it’s the same thing our good friend Al Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky believes today. And we agree with them every step of the way. Because they are just affirming what the Bible teaches.
Next week, we take a look at the what the Episcopal Church has historically believed regarding predestination.
Posted by Ligon Duncan at 11:28 AM