THE GLORY OF GOD IN PREDESTINATION
Psalm 75:8 For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup with foaming wine, well mixed, and He pours out from it, and all the wicked of the earth shall drain it down to the dregs.
Matthew 26:39 And going a little farther He fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
So far we have seen how God is glorified by His sovereignty. That is, all that He has created was created for the purpose of glorifying Him; from the stars above our heads to the deepest bowels of the earth beneath our feet. It all exists to glorify Him.
We have seen how this includes even evil and suffering. He who is holy and just must glorify His holiness and justice by conquering evil and putting an end to suffering. In order to do this, however, evil and suffering must first be made to exist. This God has accomplished through the use of means, having decreed from eternity to work and to dispose of all things according to the counsel of His own will to the glory of His own praise.
But how exactly is all this to play out? How exactly is He going to conquer evil and put an end to suffering? And how exactly will He be gloried in the process?
The answer is the cross of Christ. It is by the cross of Christ that God will conquer evil and put an end to suffering, thereby glorifying His justice. But before we can approach the cross, we must first understand the significance of the cross. And that means hearing the truth about election.
What is election? Election means that from eternity, from before the foundation of the world, God decreed He would create some people for salvation and other people for condemnation and destruction. Theologians call this decree, “double predestination” or “equal ultimacy.” Election also means God’s decree was not based upon anything He foresaw in the people whom He would create. That is, He did not peer down the portals of time to see a choice each person would make, and then base His decision upon that choice. Rather, His decree was based entirely upon His own sovereign pleasure. His decree was unconditional in that sense. That is, His decree was not based upon anything in the people, but rather exclusively upon His own sovereignty.
You might think this means God’s choice was capricious or arbitrary, but this is not so. For instance, an Atheist once confided in me that he believed predestination was like winning the lottery; some people got lucky and some didn’t. This is not what the Bible means by election though. In a lottery system, from our perspective, there is no predetermined reason for why one number should appear rather than another. This is not what the Bible means by election.
What the Bible means by election is that God chose for own His own good reason to save some people and not others. What that reason might be we do not know, because He does not tell us. He tells us instead to regard it as one of the secret counsels of His own will. That is, He willed it, end of discussion. It was His choice, He had a reason for doing it, that reason had nothing to do with us, and we are to leave it there. In this sense it is unique. This means there is nothing in all creation I can compare it to.
You might think it unfair that God chose some and not others. The apostle Paul answered this objection in his letter to the Romans.
But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 25 As indeed he says in Hosea,
“Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’
and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”
“And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’
there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’”
Notice first that “not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel.” That is, God’s promise of salvation does not depend on a person’s nationality or parentage. John the Baptist expressed this to some Jewish religious leaders in the gospels.
“But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to be baptized, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children of Abraham.”
These religious leaders, the Pharisees and Sadducees, believed they were safe, because they could trace their ancestry back to Abraham. John warns them though, that if salvation were a mere matter of blood relation, then they were up the creek, so to speak, for God could turn even stones into Abraham’s blood relatives.
The promise of salvation is not a matter of nationality or parentage. Rather, it is a matter of God’s grace instead. In the Old Testament, we read that Abraham had two sons, Isaac and Ishmael. The promise God gave to Abraham was extended only to Isaac and not also to Ishmael. Likewise, Isaac had two sons, Jacob and Esau. Here again, the promise was extended only to Jacob and not also Esau. The promise is unconditional in the sense that it is not conditioned on anything in the person, but is instead conditioned entirely upon God’s purpose and intent.
Paul continues in his letter to the Romans.
For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
Notice carefully that although neither Isaac nor Jacob had yet been born and therefore had not yet done anything either good or bad, it was said, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
Jacob was the younger son. According to the customs of that day then, Esau should have received the promise, because he was the firstborn. But this was not God’s intent. God had already decided before either Jacob or Esau were born that He loved Jacob, but He hated Esau. His choice had nothing to do with anything either infant had done or ever would do. God instead had made His choice before either had any opportunity to have any part to play in God’s choice.
Paul anticipates the gripe some of his readers are going to have with this. What shall we say then, he asks. Is there injustice on God’s part?
In other words, someone is bound to say, if God’s choice was not based on anything either Jacob or Esau did, then doesn’t that make God’s choice unjust? By no means, the apostle answers! For God says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
In other words, God has chosen from eternity that He will have compassion for whomever He has chosen to show compassion, and He will have mercy for whomever He has chosen to show mercy.
Is God unjust to choose between two people before either person has a chance to do anything either good or bad? No, answers the apostle, because God has already said long ago that His compassion and mercy does not depend on human will or human exertion, but instead exclusively upon His own choice. He will have mercy for whomever He chooses, and He will have compassion for whomever He decides. He is the Creator. The choice is His prerogative. He has the right by virtue of being the Creator to choose among His creatures whom He will love and whom He will hate. He has never lied about this. He has never changed His mind about it.
Was God unjust to raise Pharaoh up for the exclusive purpose of demonstrating His power and proclaiming His might by destroying Pharaoh? No, because first of all, God is worthy to be proclaimed, and secondly, He has not lied about His purpose in election. He has never said He chooses every human being, or that His mercy is dependent on human will. Rather, He has always said from the start His mercy is dependant on His own sovereign choice alone.
At this point, the apostle anticipates another gripe. How can God accuse us of anything if the choice to save and condemn is His from the start? Notice the apostle’s answer.
But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?
In other words, God is the Creator, and because He is the Creator, He has the right to design His creation for whatever purpose He sees fit. Like the potter, He has every right to create His pottery for whatever purpose He desires. If God, desiring to glorify His wrath and power, has decided to make some pottery for the purpose of destruction, does He not have this right? Of course, He does. And if He, desiring to glorify His mercy and kindness, has decided to make some pottery for the purpose of salvation, does He not have this right? Of course, He does.
American churchianity has lied to us. We have been fed lies from the pulpits of men who even this Sunday will tell their congregations God loves everyone and wants to save everyone.
If God wanted to save everyone, He would save everyone.
Matthew 22:14 For many are called, but few are chosen.
Matthew 24:24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.
Matthew 24:31 And He will send out His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Luke 18:7 And will not God give justice to His elect, who cry to Him day and night? Will He delay long over them?
John 5:21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom He will.
John 6:37-39 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will but the will of Him who sent Me. And this is the will of Him who sent He, that I should lose nothing of all that He has given Me, but raise it up on the last day.
John 13:18 I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, “He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.”
John 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
John 15:19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
Acts 13:48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.
Romans 8:29-30 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
Romans 8:33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
Romans 11:5 So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace.
Philippians 1:29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in Him but also suffer for His sake.
Colossians 3:12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.
1 Thessalonians 1:4-5 For we know, brothers loved by God, that He has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.
2 Thessalonians 2:13 But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.
2 Timothy 2:10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
Titus 1:1 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness.
1 Peter 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion.
1 Peter 2:4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious.
1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
2 Peter 1:10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.
2 Timothy 1:8-9 Do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of His own purpose and grace, which He gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.
Revelation 13:8 All who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.
Revelation 17:8 The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to rise from the bottomless pit and go to destruction. And the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel to see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come.
Blessed is the one You choose and bring near,
to dwell in Your courts!
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house,
the holiness of Your temple!
Ephesians 1:3-12 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of His will, according to His purpose, which He set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth. In Jim we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of His glory.
These are but a small sample of the many texts in the Bible which speak to the subject of election. If we had time, we could go through the Old Testament book by book, bringing out text after text after text which speak to the subject of God’s election. But perhaps it is best if we address another question. That is, why, with such an overwhelming testimony found in the Bible, are there still so many people who attend church and call themselves Christian, and yet do not believe, nor in most cases have they even heard of the truth about God’s election?
There are several reasons. One reason is that most people who profess to be Christian simply do not read the Bible, or when they do, they do it in bits and pieces, in a study group, with someone in the group telling them what each text “really” means.
Another reason is that most who profess to be Christian are Christian in name only. That is, they are not truly Christian. They call themselves Christian because that is what their parents called themselves. They go to this or that particular church because that is the kind of church their parents attended. These people read a passage like Ephesians 1 or Romans 9, which clearly spell out the truth of election, and rather than agreeing with it, they instead tell themselves the text could not possibly mean what it says.
But the biggest and most overriding reason why is because God in His sovereignty has been pleased to keep these people blind to His truth. Does it surprise you to hear it is God who keeps men blind to His truth? It is true. He does.
Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:
“‘“You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.’
But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.
When Jesus had said these things, He departed and hid Himself from them. Though He had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in Him, so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
“Lord, who has believed what he heard from us,
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said,
“He has blinded their eyes
and hardened their heart,
lest they see with their eyes,
and understand with their heart, and turn,
and I would heal them.”
Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him.
Jesus performed many miracles in the presence of these men, yet these men still refused to believe in Him. Why? The text tells us why. It was so the word of God spoken by the prophet Isaiah would be fulfilled. And that word which He spoke by the prophet Isaiah said plainly that He, God, has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, because His truth is so obvious and so plain that otherwise they would see and understand.
God had not chosen them for salvation. He chose them for condemnation. Therefore, He kept them blind to His truth.
2 Thessalonians 2:9-12
The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
But wait a minute, you might say. What about John 3:16? “For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” Doesn’t this verse tell us God loves the whole world? No, it does not.
There are several things to keep in mind about John 3:16. First, we must keep in mind that we are dealing with an English translation of an ancient Greek text. The New Testament was written in Koine Greek. This means some words will be difficult to translate into English without turning them into an entire paragraph in order to make the meaning more clear. This simply would not be feasible though, because the English translation would swell to a gargantuan size making it financially unfeasible to publish and print. Therefore, some words must remain to be defined by the context itself. This is precisely the case in this instance. The word in question is the word, “world.”
The Bible uses the word, “world”, in at least seven different ways. Each way means something different. This is true even in English. We say things like “the world of sports”, or the “world of the internet”, or the “world of music.” We also say things like, “in my world” and “in your world.” Sometimes we say things like, “the world is a cruel place”, or “it’s a small world.” In none of these cases do we mean the entire population of the planet earth. So it is with the Bible.
Sometimes, when the Bible uses the term, “the world”, it means a specific group. At other times it refers to a particular way of thinking such as “worldly desire.” And sometimes it does indeed mean the entire population of the earth.
So which meaning is John 3:16 referring to?
The context of John 3 tells us what meaning John 3:16 is referring to. The subject of John 3:16 is Christ as the free gift of God. The first clause tells us what moved God to gift Christ; His “love”. For God so loved, that He gave. What did He give? His Son. Why did He give His Son? Because He loved.
But who did He love, and to whom did He give His Son? The second clause tells us. “Whosoever believes”, or “every one who is believing”. For God so loved every one who is believing that He gave His only begotten Son that every one who is believing shall not perish but have everlasting life. The term “world” then, in this instance, is being used to describe the world of believers. The context of John chapter 3 verifies this. Jesus is talking to Nicodemus in John 3. He tells Nicodemus in no uncertain terms that unless a man is born again then he cannot even see the kingdom of heaven.
Well then, you might ask, since all this stuff about election is the case, then what is the point of evangelizing? After all, if God has already decided who He will save and who He will not, then doesn’t that mean I can just remain seated here for the rest of my life and never tell another person about the gospel because God will do it all? No, it does not.
First, do not forget the use of means which we discussed earlier. The gospel message, the message which glorifies God’s justice, is itself the means God uses to convert His elect and provide them with assurance. (We will talk more about this in another chapter.)
But more importantly for now it must be said the elect do not themselves know who all the elect are. I do not know whether you, dear reader, are one of God’s elect. I am not privy to that information. Only God knows that. And so I have been instructed to explain the gospel to you. To everyone.
But won’t all His elect be made to believe? Certainly, but not all at the same time. Not one of His elect will die before they are brought to faith, and not one of His elect will be saved apart from the hearing of the gospel. No one is born into faith. (We will talk more about this later too.)
It is enough to say for now that God does not love everyone. The Bible is very clear about this. God loves only those whom He has chosen for salvation. He hates everyone else. Yes, I said hates!
This is not a new teaching. This has been exactly what Christianity has asserted for the last two-thousand years. It was what the Old Testament asserted for the last three-thousand years prior. If you doubt this is what Christianity has always asserted, then we need only to examine some of the confessions.
Canons of the Council of Orange, 529 AD
CANON 8.If anyone maintains that some are able to come to the grace of baptism by mercy but others through free will, which has manifestly been corrupted in all those who have been born after the transgression of the first man, it is proof that he has no place in the true faith. For he denies that the free will of all men has been weakened through the sin of the first man, or at least holds that it has been affected in such a way that they have still the ability to seek the mystery of eternal salvation by themselves without the revelation of God. The Lord himself shows how contradictory this is by declaring that no one is able to come to him “unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44), as he also says to Peter, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 16:17), and as the Apostle says, “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:3).
Belgic Confession, 1561
Article XVI. OF ETERNAL ELECTION
We believe that all the posterity of Adam, being thus fallen into perdition and ruin by the sin of our first parents, God then did manifest himself such as he is; that is to say, merciful and just: merciful, since he delivers and preserves from this perdition all whom he, in his eternal and unchangeable council, of mere goodness hath elected in Christ Jesus our Lord, without any respect to their works: just, in leaving others in the fall and perdition wherein they have involved themselves.
Canons of the Council of Dort, 1618
Article 7: Election
Election is God’s unchangeable purpose by which he did the following:
Before the foundation of the world, by sheer grace, according to the free good pleasure of his will, God chose in Christ to salvation a definite number of particular people out of the entire human race, which had fallen by its own fault from its original innocence into sin and ruin. Those chosen were neither better nor more deserving than the others, but lay with them in the common misery. God did this in Christ, whom he also appointed from eternity to be the mediator, the head of all those chosen, and the foundation of their salvation. And so God decreed to give to Christ those chosen for salvation, and to call and draw them effectively into Christ’s fellowship through the Word and Spirit. In other words, God decreed to grant them true faith in Christ, to justify them, to sanctify them, and finally, after powerfully preserving them in the fellowship of the Son, to glorify them. God did all this in order to demonstrate his mercy, to the praise of the riches of God’s glorious grace. As Scripture says, “God chose us in Christ, before the foundation of the world, so that we should be holy and blameless before him with love; he predestined us whom he adopted as his children through Jesus Christ, in himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, by which he freely made us pleasing to himself in his beloved”. And elsewhere, “Those whom he predestined, he also called; and those whom he called, he also justified; and those whom he justified, he also glorified”
Westminster Confession of Faith, 1642
III. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life; and others foreordained to everlasting death.
IV. 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.
V. Those of mankind that are predestinated unto 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, has chosen, in Christ, unto everlasting glory, out of His mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith, or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving Him thereunto; and all to the praise of His glorious grace.
London Baptist Confession of Faith, 1689
Chapter 3. Of God’s Decree
Paragraph 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.
Paragraph 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.
Paragraph 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.
Paragraph 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.
Paragraph 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.
This is not a new message. This has always been what Christianity has asserted. Why then are there so many people who call themselves Christian today who do not believe this?
Again, multiple reasons, but chief among them is this: there will be an end to this world. Christ will return in final judgment to destroy forever those who are not His. He has promised this world will continue to grow worse before that happens. In fact, He promised that He Himself would send a strong delusion across the land in order that many will be deceived.
2 Thessalonians 2:9-12
And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
This is exactly what has been happening. There have been prolonged periods of intense deception throughout history, but the more recent began in the seventeenth century in the Dutch colonies during the Thirty Years War.
Following on the heels of the Dutch Reformation, a Dutch theologian turned heretic by the name of Jacobus Arminius began to assert that men had free will. He was challenged, but not before he managed to raise a number of followers who became known as the Remonstrants. In opposition to the Remonstrants, the Dutch churches composed the Synod of Dort, of whose words concerning election we just read. All would have ended there had God not been pleased to raise a devil for the purpose of deceiving those who are not His in the New World. This man, inspired by Arminius’ heresy, would take deception to a whole new level.
His name was John Wesley. He was a British man who came to America during the 18th century. He began preaching Arminius’ heresy voraciously, traveling from town to town, terrifying the rough and tumble miners and ranchers with a message of hellfire and brimstone. He told these people they had the ability to escape the eternal torments of hellfire by simply using the power of their free will and determination. He even managed to establish a denomination called Methodism.
The Methodist heresy caught fire in the New World and spread quickly west. With help from other heretics who were inspired by Wesley, men like Charles Finney, for example, the message quickly gained a foothold in the hearts of early Americans. Steadily, as Wesley’s free will heresy began to take hold, the Puritans in New England, who had been preaching true Christianity from the start, found themselves pushed out. If you have ever seen the remake of the movie, True Grit, you may note the directors of that movie managed to capture this period of time in America’s religious history. The Methodists are viewed as outsiders and criminal folk, people generally always up to no good, while the knowledge of God’s sovereignty and election hangs over everything as though it were a truth every bit accepted as true as the air we breath. A scant two-hundred years later and hardly anyone alive even so much as knows about, much less believes the truth about God’s sovereignty.
The majority of American churches today are woefully ignorant of church history. The writings of the first reformers, men like Luther, Calvin, Knox, and Zwingli are absent from the minds of the men behind the pulpits as well as in the pews. Few, if any, even know Martin Luther penned an entire book against free will, entitled, “The Bondage of the Will”. Their successors, the Puritans, faithful men of God like Owen, Gill, and Crisp, are misrepresented today as ignorant, self righteous, moral hounds.
The age is coming to a close, the end is near, and things look exactly as God said they would look.
He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.”
Coming Soon: PART 4: THE GLORY OF GOD IN IMPUTATION