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Friday, March 03, 2017

HISTORY FOR YOU: SILVER and the SPANISH EMPIRE.


In which John Green explores how Spain went from being a middling European power to one of the most powerful empires on Earth, thanks to their plunder of the New World in the 16th and 17th centuries. Learn how Spain managed to destroy the two biggest pre-Columbian civilizations, mine a mountain made of silver, mishandle their economy, and lose it all by the mid-1700s. Come along for the roller coaster ride with Charles I (he was also Charles V), Philip II, Atahualpa, Moctezuma, Hernán Cortés, and Francisco Pizarro as Spain rises and falls, and takes two empires and China down with them.



Thursday, March 02, 2017

The Truth of Predestination



"We must ask ourselves, first of all, what is meant by the doctrine of predestination? We must be brief, although it would be very easy to devote an entire lecture just to this subject.

The word "predestination" itself is not used very frequently in Scripture. When it is used, it is used to refer to God's sovereign purpose with regard to the elect only. Nevertheless, in the history of the church, going all the way back to Augustine, the bishop of Hippo who lived in the last part of the fourth century and the first part of the fifth century, predestination has generally been defined as including both election and reprobation. The term "double-predestination" has been the battle-cry of those who have maintained the sovereignty of God. And by "double predestination" is meant that God is sovereign in election and sovereign in reprobation.


What is election? Briefly, election is that eternal and unchangeable decree of God to choose unto Himself from before the foundations of the world a church in Christ as the object of His grace and love and to glorify that church in everlasting blessedness in heaven.

Election is, first of all, a decree of God's counsel that He determined before He began the work of creation and providence and the ultimate redemption of all things. It is a part, a decree, of His eternal plan and purpose. In the second place, election is the choice of a specific people. It is not a vague and indefinable determination on God's part to save some people. It is a definite and specific decree to save certain, specific people whom He knew before they were ever born or before they had ever done good or evil. In the third place, that decree of election is a choice of a people in Christ.I cannot emphasize that strongly enough. Christ and the elect in the decree and purpose of God are one. There are no elect apart from Christ. But there is no Christ apart from the elect. They go together. Christ is the elect, par excellence. Say "Jesus Christ" and you have said "election," an elect church, for they are one in the decree and they are destined to be one in everlasting glory and blessedness in heaven. In the fourth place, that decree of election is absolutely free and sovereign. It does not depend on what man does. It does not depend on what God is able to predict men will do. It is simply, without any modification whatsoever, God's decision to save a certain, definite number of people. And if you should look for the reason why God chose some and not others, the only reason that Scripture gives is God's own sovereign good pleasure. He decided to do it. It is His own determination. It is His will. Let it be driven home to our consciousness, because that is extraordinarily humbling. And that is what the doctrine of election ought to do to you and to me — it ought to humble us!

Finally, election, as the decree of God, is, according to our Reformed standards and particularly the Canons of Dordrecht, the fountain and cause of all salvation. All of the blessings of salvation, including faith, holiness, justification, and everlasting glory, and all the good works that the believers do in time, have their origin, their cause, and their efficacy in the decree of election. Election is the fountain from which flows all the salvation of the people of God, including all their good works. Ephesians 2:10 says: "We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." This text follows hard upon Ephesians 2:8, 9: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast." In verse 10, Paul anticipates someone in his audience saying, "Yes, that's all right, Paul, but what about our good works?" Paul says, All right, you want to talk about good works? This is the explanation for our good works: We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which good works God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. That is, God determined those works before we were born, each good work for each one of us. God determined from before the foundations of the world that we would walk in them. Christ merited every last one of them on the cross. And each good work is worked within the hearts of the elect by the irresistible power of the Spirit. That includes also faith, the faith whereby the believer confesses the truth of the Scriptures and lays hold on Christ as the fullness of his salvation.

Election, I say, is the fountain and cause (I use the word "cause" deliberately) of all good works. Reprobation, on the other hand, is that sovereign, eternal, and unchangeable decree of God according to which He determines to reveal the infinite justice of His own divine being, His supreme holiness, and His fury against sin by creating vessels of wrath that are everlastingly punished for their sins in hell.

The enemies of sovereign grace and those who are intent on salvaging out of the wreckage of man's fall some elements of human good and some reasons for man to boast, and who do that by attacking the truth that God alone is sovereign, always make predestination the object of their attack. If you are interested in some of the attacks that have been made over the years against the doctrine of predestination, I urge you to read the Conclusion to the Canons of Dordrecht. Our fathers sum up there, in a brief statement, all the caricatures of the doctrine of predestination, all the arguments that have been raised against it, all the vicious slanders that were brought during the time when the Arminian conflict was going on -- all directed against the doctrine of predestination. But when the doctrine of predestination is attacked, reprobation is without fail attacked first. Men hate reprobation. Men especially deny and attack reprobation because they consider it to be the Achilles' heel of the church; they are persuaded that the church will be reluctant at best, and frequently unwilling, to defend the sovereignty of God in reprobation. You will find, therefore, if you read the history of the church, that it is reprobation, first of all, that must suffer the fiercest attacks.

Reprobation and election are one decree of God. Our Canons make that clear in I, 6: "That some receive the gift of faith from God and others do not receive it proceeds from God's eternal decree (in the singular), according to which decree He graciously softens the hearts of the elect, however obstinate, and inclines them to believe, (and now the rest of that decree) while He leaves the non-elect in His just judgment to their own wickedness and obduracy." So, there is one decree that includes election and reprobation; that is, contrary to the insistence of some, it is impossible to believe in election without maintaining at the same time reprobation. The two are one decree. If you deny reprobation, you deny election. That God chooses some means, necessarily, that He damns others. The two belong together. They are two sides of the same coin.

Reprobation is sovereign. Reprobation does not mean that God determines to punish in hell those whom He foresees will not believe. That was and is the Arminian position. Strangely enough, insofar as Reformed churches still talk about reprobation today, that is what they make of it. They make reprobation conditional, dependent upon whether or not man accepts or rejects the gospel. If he rejects the gospel, he makes himself by his rejection a reprobate. That is contrary to Scripture and the Reformed confessions. God is sovereign in determining who are reprobate.

There is a relationship between reprobation and election that is important. The relationship between the reprobate and the elect is the same as the relationship between the stalk, chaff, and straw of a wheat field and the kernel of wheat itself. The relation between reprobate and elect is identical to the relationship of a cornstalk, a tassel, a root, the husks of the ear, and the cob, to the kernels of corn — the kernels of corn being the elect and all the rest the reprobate. What is true in God's eternal purpose is true also in creation. The reprobate are to the elect as the scaffolding is to the building — necessary for its erection, built for the purpose of erecting the building, but useless, torn down, and destroyed when the building is completed. In the purpose of God reprobation serves election." - Extracted from The Sovereign God and Man's Will You can read the whole article by Clicking HERE.
 
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