Monthly Archives: April 2008

God’s Love Necessitates Predestination

Justin Taylor posts Thomas McCall’s—assistant professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School—article: Two Cheers for the Resurgence of Calvinism in Evangelicalism: A Wesleyan-Arminian Perspective.

Just a recent thought of mine.

One of the determining tenets of Arminian/Wesleyan has been that in order for there to be genuine love there must be self-determining free will (libertarian free will; power to the contrary). Thus, love demands that humans have the ability—the choice—to reject or chose without any constraining factors (e.g. God, environment, history, biochemistry, personal nature, etc.).  If we can’t chose God, being compelled in any fashion to the contrary, means authentic love is dissolved.

With this thinking, individual predestination is ruled out of the court from the beginning, ipso facto. “For God so loved the world…”

But lets apply this notion of love demanding libertarian free will to God, something that is curiously never done. If love necessitates the free will of choosing or rejecting a person, situation, object, etc., then that must mean God has the same capacity to chose or reject us. If one is being consistent with what love encompasses in this understanding, then “God is Love” must entail at least the possibility of individual election/reprobation.

Yet this is the very thing that Arminians of all stripes viciously deny.

The two ways out of this dilemma are the following.

1) We can say that God’s notion of “willing” is limited. God has to love us, it is He’s very nature. He can do no other.

But this means that human’s are freer than God in this sense. We have libertarian free will (power to chose to the contrary) and God does not. We are not constrained by our nature, but God is.

Few would swallow this pill, because none can argue against the fact that God is the freest being in existence.

2) Or we can figure that God just chooses to love us even though He has the capacity to reject us.

If so, then one agrees that God could have possibly damned us in our sinned and was under no obligation to send a Savior or offer Salvation to us.

Either way, if one insists on the correlation between love and libertarian free will, then one must also apply it to God. As a result, this relationship not only evaporates all philosophical objections to individual election and reprobation, but God’s love becomes the necessary pre-condition for it. God’s love doesn’t contradict predestination. Rather God’s love must require that individual predestination is a very real possibility. To deny it is to deny God’s love.

For the Arminian, love, particularly God’s love, necessitates the option of predestination for individuals, if not more. If one is trying to be consistent with one’s theology.

But I still Hate Calvinism


A Great Free Resource

A great free resource for various talks and sermons is at Reforming My Mind – MP3’s

Of interest for me particularly

“The Gospel is for the Pagan”–NT Wright

In an interview with Trevin Wax in the Context of speaking of Piper’s The Future of Justification: A Response to N. T. Wright Tom Wright states the following,

I would prefer that [Piper] exegete Paul differently, of course, but the people I really want to fight are (like for Paul) the pagans out on the street who are reordering society in ways that are deeply dehumanizing. The gospel is for the pagans.

Now most Evangelicals would agree with this sentiment. But not Paul, I believe.

In Titus 2:11-14 Paul states,

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Paul emphatically contends that the Grace of God, the Gospel, is bringing salvation for all people (including the Pagan); and at the same time is training us (the Christian) to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives now as we wait for our blessed hope, the second coming of Christ.

Thus, the same Gospel that justifies (not the way Tom Wright contends) also sanctifies. If we as Christians desire to become “mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13), we must be like Paul and be “eager to preach the gospel to you [the Christian] also who are in Rome” (Romans 1:15).

Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages (Romans 16:25)

The Bible is about Jesus

I’ve always found itfascinating how all of Scripture points to Jesus Christ. Here’s the famous list that Tim Keller has often quoted.

  • Jesus is the true and better Adam who passed the test in the garden and whose obedience is imputed to us.
  • Jesus is the true and better Abel who, though innocently slain, has blood now that cries out, not for our condemnation, but for acquittal.
  • Jesus is the true and better Abraham who answered the call of God to leave all the comfortable and familiar and go out into the void not knowing wither he went to create a new people of God.
  • Jesus is the true and better Isaac who was not just offered up by his father on the mount but was truly sacrificed for us. And when God said to Abraham, “Now I know you love me because you did not withhold your son, your only son whom you love from me,” now we can look at God taking his son up the mountain and sacrificing him and say, “Now we know that you love us because you did not withhold your son, your only son, whom you love from us.”
  • Jesus is the true and better Jacob who wrestled and took the blow of justice we deserved, so we, like Jacob, only receive the wounds of grace to wake us up and discipline us.
  • Jesus is the true and better Joseph who, at the right hand of the king, forgives those who betrayed and sold him and uses his new power to save them.
  • Jesus is the true and better Moses who stands in the gap between the people and the Lord and who mediates a new covenant.
  • Jesus is the true and better Rock of Moses who, struck with the rod of God’s justice, now gives us water in the desert.
  • Jesus is the true and better Job, the truly innocent sufferer, who then intercedes for and saves his stupid friends.
  • Jesus is the true and better David whose victory becomes his people’s victory, though they never lifted a stone to accomplish it themselves.
  • Jesus is the true and better Esther who didn’t just risk leaving an earthly palace but lost the ultimate and heavenly one, who didn’t just risk his life, but gave his life to save his people.
  • Jesus is the true and better Jonah who was cast out into the storm so that we could be brought in.
  • Jesus is the real Rock of Moses, the real Passover Lamb, innocent, perfect, helpless, slain so the angel of death will pass over us. He’s the true temple, the true prophet, the true priest, the true king, the true sacrifice, the true lamb, the true light, the true bread.

The Bible’s really not about you – it’s about him.

(HT: gilbert)

T4G Audio

Here are the main sessions of the Together For The Gospel Conference. (HT: JT)

Sound Doctrine: Essential to Faithful Pastoral Ministry
(Ligon Duncan)
Listen Download*
Bearing the Image: Identity, the Work of Christ, and the Church
(Thabiti Anyabwile)
Listen Download*
The Sinner Neither Able nor Willing: The Doctrine of Absolute Inability
(John MacArthur)
Listen Download*
Improving the Gospel: Exercises in Unbiblical Theology
(Mark Dever)
Listen Download*
The Curse Motif of the Atonement
(R.C. Sproul)
Listen Download*
Why Do They Hate It So? The Doctrine of Substitution
(Albert Mohler)
Listen Download*
How the Supremacy of Christ Creates Radical Christian Sacrifice
(John Piper)
Listen Download*
Sustaining a Pastor’s Soul
(C.J. Mahaney)
Listen Download*

Updated Audio Resource Page

I updated my audio resource page: Recommended Audio Talks and Sermons

I haven’t added much as of yet, but I intend to do so more in the future.


Food for Thought

A.W. Pink marvelously proclaims the wrath of God (found in Knowing God by J. I. Packer at the end of the chapter on the wrath of God).

The wrath of God is a perfection of the Divine character on which we need to meditate frequently. First, that our hearts may be duly impressed by God’s detestation of sin. We are ever prone to regard sin lightly, to gloss over its hideousness, to make excuses for it. But the more we study and ponder God’s abhorrence of sin and His frightful vengeance upon it, the more likely are we to realize its heinous. Second, to beget a true fear in our souls for God. ‘Let us have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: for our God is a consuming fire’ (Heb. 12:28, 29). We cannot serve Him ‘acceptably’ unless there is due ‘reverence’ for His awful Majesty and ‘godly fear’ of His righteous anger, and these are best promoted by frequently calling to mind that ‘our God is a consuming fire.’ Third, to draw out our soul in fervent praise [to Jesus Christ] for having delivered us from ‘the wrath to come’ (1 Thess. 1:10). Our readiness or our reluctancy to meditate upon the wrath of God becomes sure test of how our hearts really stand affected towards Him.

Dennis Johnson in Him We Proclaim: Preaching Christ from All the Scriptures quotes on page 57 from Select Sermons of George Whitefield (London: Banner of Truth, 1958), 81-83, on the continually propensity for all of us to become legalists at any moment of our lives. Thus, implying the constant need for the Gospel to be at the forefront of our minds and heart.

When a poor soul is somewhat awakened by the terrors of the Lord, then the poor creature, being born under the covenant of works, lies directly to a covenant of works again. And as Adam and Eve hid themselves…and sewed fig leaves . . . so the poor sinner, when awakened, flies to his duties and to his performances, to hide himself from God, and goes to patch up a righteousness of his own. Says he, I will be mighty good now—I will reform I will do all I can; and then certainly Jesus Christ will have mercy on me.