Posted in , , , ,

Catechism Buzz: Irony Intended

30 March 2011 by Daniel

Q. 13. What has God especially decreed concerning angels and men?

A. God, by an eternal and immutable decree, out of his mere love, for the praise of his glorious grace, to be manifested in due time, has elected some angels to glory; and in Christ has chosen some men to eternal life, and the means thereof: and also, according to his sovereign power, and the unsearchable counsel of his own will, (whereby he extends or withholds favor as he pleases,) has passed by and foreordained the rest to dishonor and wrath, to be for their sin inflicted, to the praise of the glory of his justice.

I want you to think about the moment that Pontius Pilate offered to release from custody either Barabbas or Jesus. Both of these men were already condemned to die, so when the crowd chose to have Pilate release Barabbas, it wasn't their choice that condemned Christ (since Christ was already condemned by Pilate), rather their choice simply set Barabbas free.

The crowd elected to show mercy to Barabbas (by releasing him), and in doing so they necessarily passed over our Lord (ironic pun intended). If Barabbas had not been condemned, he could not have been a recipient of mercy. In the same way in order for God to ordain that a person will be saved, it is necessary for God to regard that person as needing salvation (ie. the person must be condemned in the eyes of God) Thus when we speak of predestination to salvation, we must presume that God is regarding men as guilty and deserving of hell in the moment He elects to save them.

If all were condemned already when God made His choice, it stands to reason that it was not the choice itself that condemned mankind. Mankind was already condemned. Election doesn't save some, and damn others - it just saves some of the damned from damnation, and leaves the rest in the same state of damnation that they were already in.

In other words God predestined certain condemned sinners to be saved from His wrath and the rest remained as condemned as they were prior to election. It isn't that God, "mockests with a fruitless call whom he has doomed to die" as Charles Wesley sarcastically put to music so long ago, rather it is that God earnestly calls all men everywhere to repent and believe, but no one ever will because man is fallen, and cannot seek God apart from God's grace. Such is the nature of the fall of mankind, and such is the reason that each one of us needs a Savior.

God's decrees are not horrible. They do not declare the death of innocent folks, but instead declare the promise of life for every guilty person that turns to Christ in faith. Thus we can declare with confidence to every sinner that if they repent and believe, they will be saved - even though we personally have no idea which sinners will receive the grace to repent and believe - a grace that was predestined to them before the world began.