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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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The Foreknowledge of God

Loraine BoettnerLoraine Boettner:

The Arminian objection against foreordination bears with equal force against the foreknowledge of God. What God foreknows must, in the very nature of the case, be as fixed and certain as what is foreordained; and if one is inconsistent with the free agency of man, the other is also. Foreordination renders the events certain, while foreknowledge presupposes that they are certain. Now if future events are foreknown to God, they cannot by any possibility take a turn contrary to His knowledge. If the course of future events is foreknown, history will follow that course as definitely as a locomotive follows the rails from New York to Chicago. The Arminian doctrine, in rejecting foreordination, rejects the theistic basis for foreknowledge.

Common sense tells us that no event can be foreknown unless by some means, either physical or mental, it has been predetermined. Our choice as to what determines the certainty of future events narrows down to two alternatives—the foreordination of the wise and merciful heavenly Father, or the working of blind, physical fate. (The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination)

God Governs the World and All Human Events

Loraine BoettnerLoraine Boettner:

Man’s sense of moral responsibility and dependence, and his instinctive appeal to God in times of danger, show how universal and innate is the conviction that God does govern the world and all human events. But while the Bible repeatedly teaches that this providential control is universal, powerful, wise, and holy, it nowhere attempts to inform us how it is to be reconciled with man’s free agency. All that we need to know is that God does govern His creatures and that His control over them is such that no violence is done to their natures. Perhaps the relationship between divine sovereignty and human freedom can best be summed up in these words: God so presents the outside inducements that man acts in accordance with his own nature, yet does exactly what God has planned for him to do. (The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination)

His All-Wise Providence

Loraine BoettnerLoraine Boettner:

Although the price of the sparrow is small and its flight seems giddy and at random, yet it does not fall to the ground, nor slight anywhere without your Father. “His all-wise providence hath before appointed what bough it shall perch upon; what grains it shall pick up; where it shall lodge and where it shall build; on what it shall live and where it shall die.” Every raindrop and every snowflake which falls from the cloud, every insect which moves, every plant which grows, every grain of dust which floats in the air has had certain definite causes and will have certain definite effects. Each is a link in the chain of events and many of the great events of history have turned on these apparently insignificant things. Throughout the whole course of events there is progress toward a predetermined end. (The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination)

God Determines

The Reformed Doctrine of PredestinationLoraine Boettner:

It is almost universally admitted that God determines when, where, and under what circumstances, each individual of our race shall be born, live, and die, whether it shall be male or female, white or black, wise or foolish. God is no less sovereign in the distribution of His favors. He does what He will with His own. To some He gives riches, to others honor, to others health, to others certain talents for music, oratory, art, finance, statesmanship, etc. Others are poor, unknown, born in dishonor, the victims of disease, and live lives of wretchedness. Some are placed in Christian lands where they receive all the benefits of the Gospel; others live and die in the darkness of heathenism. … And to a very large extent these external things, which are not the result of individual choice, decide the person’s life course and eternal destiny. Both Scripture and every day experience teach us that God gives to some what He withholds from others. If it be asked why He does this, or why he does not save all, the only available answer is found in the words of the Lord Jesus, “Yea, Father, for so it was well-pleasing in thy sight.” Only the Scripture doctrine of the fall and redemption will give us any light on what we see about us. (The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination)

God’s Works of Providence

Loraine BoettnerConsider below God’s works of providence. Loraine Boettner D.D. writes:

“God’s works of providence are His most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures and all their actions.” (Shorter Catechism, answer to Question 11.) The Scriptures very clearly teach that all things outside of God owe not merely their original creation, but their continued existence, with all their properties and Powers, to the will of God. He upholds all things by the word of His power, Hebrews 1:3. He is before all things, and in Him all things consist, Colossians 1:17. “Thou art Jehovah, even thou alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their hosts, the earth and all things that are therein, the seas and all that is in them, and thou preservest them all,” Nehemiah 9:6. “In Him we live, and move and have our being,” Acts 17:28. He is “over all, and through all, and in all,” Ephesians 4:6.

Throughout the Bible the laws of nature, the course of history, the varying fortunes of individuals, are ever attributed to God’s providential control. All things, both in heaven and earth, from the seraphim down to the tiny atom, are ordered by His never-failing providence. So intimate is His relationship with the whole creation that a careless reader might be led toward pantheistic conclusions. Yet individual personalities and second causes are fully recognized, -not as independent of God, but as having their proper place in His plan. And alongside of this doctrine of His Immanence the Scripture writers also present the kindred doctrine of His Transcendence, in which God is distinctly set forth as entirely separate from and above the whole creation. (The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination)

May God’s Plans be Defeated?

Loraine Boettner in 1917 at the age of 16Loraine Boettner D.D.:

The Arminian idea which assumes that the serious intentions of God may – in some cases at least – be defeated, and that man, who is not only a creature but a sinful creature, can exercise veto power over the plans of Almighty God, is in striking contrast with the Biblical idea of His immeasurable exaltation – by which He is removed from all the weaknesses of humanity. That the plans of men are not always executed is due to a lack of power or a lack of wisdom; but since God is unlimited in these and all other resources, no unforeseen emergencies can arise, and to Him the causes for change have no existence. To suppose that His plans fail and that He strives to no effect is to reduce Him to the level of His creatures. (The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination)

GOD ALMIGHTY!

The Sovereignty of GodLoraine Boettner D.D.:

If the power of an earthly king is law in his kingdom, how much more shall the word of God be in His! For example, the Christian knows that the day is certainly coming when, willingly or unwillingly, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. In the Scriptures He is represented to us as God ALMIGHTY, who sits upon the throne of universal dominion. He knows the end from the beginning and the means to be used in attaining that end. He is able to do for us exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or even think. The category of the impossible has no existence for Him “with whom all things are possible,” Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:27. This, however, does not mean that God has power to do that which is contrary to His nature, or to work contradictions. It is impossible for God to lie, or to do anything which is morally wrong. He cannot make two and two equal five, nor can He make a wheel turn around and stand still at the same time. His omnipotence is as sure a guarantee that the course of the world will conform to His plan as is His holiness a guarantee that all His works will be right. (The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination)

Every Event that Comes to Pass

Loraine Boettner D.D.:

In a very illuminating article on “Predestination,” Dr. Benjamin B. Warfield, who in the opinion of the present writer has emerged as the outstanding theologian since John Calvin, tells us that the writers of Scripture saw the divine plan as “broad enough to embrace the whole B. B. Warfielduniverse of things, and minute enough to concern itself with the smallest details, and actualizing itself with inevitable certainty in every event that comes to pass.” “In the infinite wisdom of the Lord of all the earth, each event falls with exact precision into its proper place in this unfolding of His eternal plan; nothing, however small, however strange, occurs without His ordering, or without its peculiar fitness for its place in the working out of His purposes; and the end of all shall be the manifestation of His glory, and accumulation of His praise. This is the Old Testament (as well as the New Testament) philosophy of the universe; a world-view which attains concrete unity in an absolute decree, or purpose, or plan of which all that comes to pass is the development in time.” (The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination)

God’s Plan

Loraine BoettnerLoraine Boettner D.D.:

It is unthinkable that a God of infinite wisdom and power would create a world without a definite plan for that world. And because God is thus infinite His plan must extend to every detail of the world’s existence. If we could see the world in all its relations, past, present, and future, we would see that it is following a predetermined course with exact precision. Among created things we may search where we will, as far as the microscope and the telescope will enable the eye to see, we find organization everywhere. Large forms resolve themselves into parts, and these parts in their turn are but organized of other parts down as far as we can see into infinity.

Even man, who is but the creature of a day and subject to all kinds of errors, develops a plan before he acts; and a man who acts without design or purpose is accounted foolish. . . .

If this is true of man, how much more is it true of God! “A universe without decrees,” says A. J. Gordon, “would be as irrational and appalling as would be an express train driving on in the darkness without headlight or engineer, and with no certainty that the next moment it might not plunge into the abyss.” (The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination)

What Ever Happened to the Doctrine of Predestination?

Loraine Boettner D.D.:

The doctrine of Predestination receives comparatively little attention in our day and it is very imperfectly understood even by those who are supposed to hold it most loyally. It is a doctrine, however, which is contained in the creeds of most evangelical churches and which has had a remarkable influence both in Church and State. The official standards of the various branches of the Presbyterian and Reformed Churches in Europe and America are thoroughly Calvinistic. The Baptist and Congregational Churches, although they have no formulated creeds, have in the main been Calvinistic if we may judge from the writings and teachings of their representative theologians. The great free church of Holland and almost all the churches of Scotland are Calvinistic. The Established Church of England and her daughter, the Episcopal Church of America, have a Calvinistic creed in the Thirty-nine Articles. The Whitefield Methodists in Wales to this day bear the name of “Calvinistic Methodists.” (The Reformed Doctrine Of Predestination)

Regeneration And Sanctification

Loraine Boettner

Quoting Loraine Boettner:

[M]any people confuse regeneration and sanctification. Regeneration is exclusively God’s work, and it is an act of His free grace in which He implants a new principle of spiritual life in the soul. It is performed by supernatural power and is complete in an instant. On the other hand, sanctification is a process through which the remains of sin in the outward life are gradually removed . . . It is a joint work of God and man. (Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, 172)

Do You Reject God’s Sovereignty?

From the pen of Loraine Boettner:

Although the sovereignty of God is universal and absolute, it is not the sovereignty of blind power. It is coupled with infinite wisdom, holiness and love. And this doctrine, when properly understood, is a most comforting and reassuring one. Who would not prefer to have his affairs in the hands of a God of infinite power, wisdom, holiness and love, rather than to have them left to fate, or chance, or irrevocable natural law, or to short-sighted and perverted self? Those who reject God’s sovereignty should consider what alternatives they have left. (Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, 32)

Loraine Boettner: Do You Reject The Absolute Sovereignty Of God?

Quoting Loraine Boettner:

“Although the sovereignty of God is universal and absolute, it is not the sovereignty of blind power. It is coupled with infinite wisdom, holiness and love. And this doctrine, when properly understood, is a most comforting and reassuring one. Who would not prefer to have his affairs in the hands of a God of infinite power, wisdom, holiness and love, rather than to have them left to fate, or chance, or irrevocable natural law, or to short-sighted and perverted self? Those who reject God’s sovereignty should consider what alternatives they have left” (The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, 32)

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