Wilhelmus a Brakel – The External and Internal Call

Thus far we have discussed the Surety of the covenant and the partakers of this covenant, the church. We shall now proceed to consider the ways in which the Lord brings these partakers of the covenant into the covenant, and how He leads them to the ultimate goal of eternal felicity. The first aspect of this way is the calling.The Calling: God’s Declaration of the Gospel to Sinners

The calling is a gracious work of God, whereby He invites the sinner by means of the gospel to exchange the state of sin and wrath for Christ, in order that through Him he may be reconciled to God and obtain godliness and salvation. By means of this calling He also, by the Holy Spirit, efficaciously translates His elect into this state.

The calling is a gracious work of God: “And (the king) sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt. 22:3, 14); “…Him that hath called us to glory and virtue” (2 Pet. 1:3); “God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Cor. 1:9).

God calls neither by the law of nature nor by the works of nature , whereby, in doing good, He nevertheless does not leave Himself without witness to the heathen (Acts 14:17). “That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him” (Acts 17:27). For in all this Christ is neither proclaimed to them nor are they exhorted to believe in Him. The heathen are subject to the covenant of works, and whatever God does in and toward them has reference to that covenant. They are thus obligated to live according to this rule, “Do this and thou shalt live.” Therefore neither the law of nature, nor God’s works belong to the calling; the heathen are not called.

This call also does not occur by way of the moral law of Scripture . The moral law must be viewed in a twofold sense: It must be viewed either in its demands, whereby it reveals the perfect conditions of the covenant of works, or in its purpose, as having been given to the church as a rule of life and as the standard for true holiness. In its first sense the law is preached to convict man of sin (Rom. 3:20), thus bringing man to despair of being saved by his works. Here the function of the law ends. If, however, Christ is simultaneously preached by means of the gospel, man, being rejected by the law, is allured by the gospel. Thus, wherever Christ is preached, the law functions as a schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ (Gal. 3:24). The law, however, neither teaches about Christ nor calls to Him, and thus the moral law is not a functional element of the calling. This is different as far as the ceremonial law is concerned, which belongs to the gospel.

The true means whereby we are called, however, is the gospel. “Whereunto He called you by our gospel” (2 Th. 2:14). The word “gospel” means a good tiding , the content of which is as follows: “Poor man, you are subject to sin and to the wrath of God. You are traversing upon the way which will end in eternal perdition. God, however, has sent His Son Jesus Christ to be a Surety; in His suffering and death there is the perfect satisfaction of the justice of God, and thus acquittal from guilt and punishment. In His obedience to the law there is perfect holiness, so that He can completely save all who go unto God through Him. Christ offers you all His merits, and therefore eternal salvation.” He calls and invites everyone: “Turn unto Me and be saved, receive Me, surrender to Me, enter into a covenant with Me and you will not perish but have everlasting life.” This declaration is recorded in the Bible in both the Old and New Testaments. The first gospel declaration is found in Genesis 3:15, where we read that the Seed of the woman will bruise the head of the serpent . Since then, God has frequently and in various ways caused the gospel to be proclaimed (Heb. 1:1). “For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them” (Heb. 4:2). Prior to the coming of Christ it was called the gospel of promises . “…separated unto the gospel of God, (which He had promised afore by His prophets in the Holy Scriptures)” (Rom. 1:1–2). Subsequent to Christ’s coming it is called the gospel of fulfillment . “Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled” (Mark 1:14–15).

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William Sasser – Objections to Election

One: It Is Unjust to Men.

“It makes God to be unfair to those who are not included in the purpose of salvation.”

Answer: Election does not deal simply with men as neutral creatures, but with sinful, guilty and condemned creatures. That any sinner should be saved is a matter of pure grace. Those who are not included in God’s purpose of salvation suffer only the due reward of their deeds. We may better praise God that he saves any, than charge him with injustice because he does not save all. God can say the following to all men, saved or unsaved:

Friend, I do thee no wrong.…Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own (Matt. 20:13, 15)?

The question is not whether a father will treat his children alike (remember some people are the Devil’s children), but whether a sovereign must treat all condemned rebels alike. It is obviously not true that a Governor who pardons one convict from the penitentiary is obligated to pardon all. Such logic is nonsense. In God’s government, there is still less reason for objection for mercy being shown to some; for God freely offers pardon to all.

Two: It represents God as partial.

“God appears in his dealings to be a respecter of persons.”

Answer: Since there is nothing in men that determines God’s choice of one over another, the objection is invalid.

It would equally apply to God’s selection of certain nations, as Israel, and certain individuals, as Cyrus, to be recipients of special temporal gifts. If God is not to be regarded as partial in not providing a salvation for fallen angels, he cannot be regarded as partial in not exercising the regenerating influences of his Spirit on the whole race of fallen men. The following verses are clear:

For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them; but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, because thou hadst a favour unto them (Psalms 44:3).

For who maketh thee to differ? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it (1 Cor. 4:7)

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Ligon Duncan – Total Depravity and the Believer’s Sanctification

Tullian Tchividjian of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, Ft Lauderdale, FL and Rick Phillips of Second Presbyterian Church, Greenville, SC have recently engaged with the doctrine of total depravity in its relation to Christians. That is, they are discussing not whether or not people in their natural state are totally depraved, but whether and in what sense believers may be spoken of as “totally depraved.” This is a very important issue, so I am glad to have it put on the front burner.

Years ago, Tabletalk magazine asked me to write an article on this subject. I was interacting primarily with forms of Christian perfectionist teaching on the one hand and carnal Christian teaching on the other. But I think the article still speaks to issues that the Reformed and evangelical community is debating today. So, here it is.

Total depravity is a reality, both taught in Holy Scripture and experienced in life, with important implications not only for pagans but also for Christians. Very often we think of this Biblical doctrine in connection with those who are unregenerate, or with regard to Christians before their conversion, but we reflect less frequently on the depravity which still infects those who have been saved by grace and reborn of the Spirit. This is a serious omission, for misunderstanding or underestimating the continuing corruption in the believer leaves the Christian unprepared for the warfare of sanctification and leads to a variety of spiritual problems.

There are many errors propagated in evangelical circles on this subject, the two main tendencies of which are: perfectionism and antinomianism. The former asserts that the Christian life is (or ought to be) characterized by complete victory over sin. Hence, Christian life as intended by God is “higher life” or the “victorious life.” Perfectionistic teachers not only distort the biblical teaching on holiness, but also dangerously underestimate the believer’s struggle with indwelling sin (setting up the tender-hearted Christian for a real struggle with depression and assurance).

On the other end of the spectrum, purveyors of antinomian dogma insist that true Christians may be no different in terms of vital godliness than pagans. They teach that the believer may be judicially free from sin, while “carnal” in the overall tendency of life. Oftentimes without realizing it, they teach that sin may still have dominion in the believer’s life (setting up many for tragic self-deception and encouraging spiritual lethargy in others).

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David Petrie – The Sovereignty of God

The Sovereignty of God: An Exposition On The Seventh Question of The Westminster Shorter Catechism

Perhaps the most neglected doctrine in the evangelical church today is the Doctrine of God. Just as the Bible starts with God,any study of theology must start with God. In fact, it is upon this doctrine that our faith will stand or fall. It was John Calvin who compared the Scriptures to “ a pair of eyeglasses”, in that through the written Word of God we may be able to have a correct view of our life, purpose, and the world around us. Well, in very much the same way, the only way to gain a clear understanding of the various doctrines found in scripture is to first have a correct understanding of the nature of God Himself. Unfortunately,in the mind of many in the church today, there seems to be a struggle between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. Although I do see great danger in over emphasizing one side and neglecting the other, the intent of this essay is to focus on the sovereignty of our God, to glorify the One who rightly sits on the throne.

We can ask ourselves ‘who’s in charge, God or man?’; ‘can dead men believe?’ or ‘does Jesus save, or, does He make salvation possible?’ It was perhaps best said by Steve Brown, a noted Reformed theologian and Bible teacher, who once remarked; “we are to work like an Arminian, yet trust like a Calvinist”. Amen! May we assume our responsibility to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to seek and save the lost, from first having confidence in the sovereignty of our God.May we know Him to love Him; may we love Him to serve Him; may we serve Him to glorify Him. Amen.

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