OUT OF TOMES
The writings of theologians and pastors who have come before us can serve as an invitation to think more prolongedly and with greater specificity on God, and His glorious works and ways. In this ongoing series, I cull quotations on passages of Scripture from Christian Classics Ethereal Library to help spur your consideration, discernment, mediation, and worship. You can link to the full sources below or start your own search on a biblical text here.
The very time when the election took place proves it to be free; for what could we have deserved, or what merit did we possess, before the world was made? How childish is the attempt to meet this argument by the following sophism! “We were chosen because we were worthy, and because God foresaw that we would be worthy.” We were all lost in Adam; and therefore, had not God, through his own election, rescued us from perishing, there was nothing to be foreseen. The same argument is used in the Epistle to the Romans, where, speaking of Jacob and Esau, he says,
“For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth.” (Romans 9:11.)
But though they had not yet acted, might a sophist of the Sorbonne reply, God foresaw that they would act. This objection has no force when applied to the depraved natures of men, in whom nothing can be seen but materials for destruction.
In Christ. This is the second proof that the election is free; for if we are chosen in Christ, it is not of ourselves. It is not from a perception of anything that we deserve, but because our heavenly Father has introduced us, through the privilege of adoption, into the body of Christ. In short, the name of Christ excludes all merit, and everything which men have of their own; for when he says that we are chosen in Christ, it follows that in ourselves we are unworthy.
[...] Where are the men who dread and avoid the doctrine of predestination as an inextricable labyrinth, who believe it to be useless and almost dangerous? No doctrine is more useful, provided it be handled in the proper and cautious manner, of which Paul gives us an example, when he presents it as an illustration of the infinite goodness of God, and employs it as an excitement to gratitude.
— John Calvin
The federal oneness between the Redeemer and the redeemed, the choosing of them in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4), by which a legal union was established between Him and them, is that which alone accounts for and justifies all else. “For both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Heb. 2:11). As the Covenant-Head of His people, Christ was so related to them that their responsibilities necessarily became His, and we are so related to Him that His merits necessarily become ours. Thus, as we said in an earlier chapter, three words give us the key to and sum up the whole transaction: substitution, identification, imputation—all of which rest upon covenant-oneness. Christ was substituted for us, because He is one with us—identified with us, and we with Him. Thus God dealt with us as occupying Christ’s place of worthiness and acceptance. May the Holy Spirit grant both writer and reader such an heart-apprehension of this wondrous and blessed truth, that overflowing gratitude may move us unto fuller devotedness unto Him who loved us and gave Himself for us.
— A. W. Pink, Doctrine of Justification
All who are chosen to happiness as the end are chosen to holiness as the means. Their sanctification, as well as their salvation, is the result of the counsels of divine love.
— Matthew Henry
And if we can say that to be perfect would be Heaven to us, then we are already on the road to Heaven—and God is working out in us His eternal purpose, which is, "that we should be holy." [...] We are chosen, not because we are holy, but that we may be made holy. The election precedes the character and is, indeed, the moving cause in producing the character.
— Charles Spurgeon
Eph. 1:4, "According as he hath chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy, and with out blame before him in love." Chap. 2:10, "Created unto good works, which God hath foreordained that we should walk in them." Holy practice is as much the end of all that God does about his saints, as fruit is the end of all the husbandman does about the growth of his field or vineyard; as the matter is often represented in Scripture, Matt. 3:10, chapter 13:8, 23, 30, 38, chapter 21:19, 33, 34, Luke 13:6, John 15:1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 1 Cor. 3:9, Heb. 6:7, 8, Isa. 5:1-8, Cant. 8:11, 12, Isa. 27:2, 3.75 And therefore everything in a true Christian is calculated to reach this end. This fruit of holy practice is what every grace, and every discovery, and every individual thing which belongs to Christian experience, has a direct tendency to.
— Jonathan Edwards, Religious Affections