A Little Time With The 1689: Day 70


Day 70

Of God’s Decree

Chapter 3, Paragraph 7.

“…diligence, and abundant consolation, to all that sincerely obey the Gospel.

Scripture Lookup

Luke 10:20.


work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. -Philippians 2:12,13

The doctrine of predestination does not mean that we can simply sit back and do whatever we desire. Rather, we are still called to obey God’s commands. While we strive for holiness, we do not have to be anxious about doing it on our own. The outcome is assured because God has decreed it so; we can pursue holiness with confidence that we will obtain salvation.

Knowing that God has chosen some for salvation is a great comfort when it comes to evangelism. His elect are out there!  The pressure is off; there is no convincing on our part that will change someone’s mind apart from the work of the Holy Spirit in them. There is no need to “win souls”, to meet a certain quota of decisions for Christ. Be ready to defend the Gospel, proclaim the Gospel, and be a faithful witness to the Gospel. God will use us to reach those who are His.

Because of the doctrine of predestination, we stand amazed at the wisdom and power of God. He has freely chosen a people for Himself. He has decreed the means by which His elect obtain salvation, and He loses none of them. For that, we are forever thankful.

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. -Philippians 1:6

Questions to Consider

  • What have you learned about the doctrine of predestination? Will it affect how you evangelize?

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 69


Day 69

Of God’s Decree

Chapter 3, Paragraph 7.

“…reverence, and admiration of God, and of humility,

Scripture Lookup

Romans 11:5, 6, 20.


The doctrine of predestination should lead to reverence. That God has chosen some for eternal life, and that He has decreed the means by which this happens, demonstrates His excellent and superior character. He is good, and He is just. There is none like Him. Therefore, He is worthy of all worship.

The doctrine of predestination should lead to admiration of God. His love, mercy, and wisdom are infinite. That alone is worthy of admiration, but this righteous and holy Being is intimately involved with His creation, decreeing all things whatsoever comes to pass!

The doctrine of predestination should lead to humility. There are many who claim the name of Christian who grab hold of this doctrine and insist on beating everyone over the head with it. To speak of the doctrine of predestination, but have no humility, is brutal and boorish, the very opposite attitude than what this doctrine should produce. Because of predestination, there is absolutely nothing in us that is responsible for our salvation – it is all of God.

Questions to Consider

  • If you have acknowledged the truth of the doctrine of predestination, do you have a humble attitude about it?

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 68


Photo by Maarten ter Keurs (CC 2.0)

Day 68

Of God’s Decree

Chapter 3, Paragraph 7.

so shall this doctrine afford matter of praise,

Scripture Lookup

Ephesians 1:6.

Romans 11:33.


The doctrine of predestination should lead us to praise God.


He has selected a people for glory!

Slaves to sin? That is no longer who we are.

The eternal consequences of sin? We are rescued from enduring them.

We are new creations in Christ. We are growing in godliness every day. We will spend eternity in the presence of One who is most holy, most wise, most free, most absolute. The One who is infinite perfection has chosen a people to know Him and dwell with Him.

He who does all things well has decreed this. It is good. It is worthy of praise.

Praise the Lord!
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
For it is pleasant and praise is becoming.

-Psalm 147:1

Questions to Consider

  • Does the doctrine of predestination lead you to praise God?

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 58


Day 58

Of God’s Decree

Chapter 3, Paragraph 3.

“…others being left to act in their sin to their just condemnation, to the praise of His glorious justice.”

Scripture Lookup

Romans 9:22,23.

Jude 4.


Predestination. The word goes against all our notions of fairness and equality. The playing field should be level, right?

We look at the fact that some are predestined for eternal life, and we rightfully praise God for his grace. But if some are predestined to eternal life, then the opposite is true: there are those who are not, and they will be condemned. Immediately we have a knee-jerk reaction that this seems unfair. But is this reaction a right one?

To view predestination as unfair is to view life from our perspective, rather than what God reveals to us. First, we forget what we know about God. He is just. He is holy. He has all goodness in Himself. Nothing He does is unjust, because it goes against who He is!

We also do not realize the extent of sin. The unbeliever who, by our standards is the most wonderful, kind, and loving person we know, is still condemned as he has broken God’s law. God cannot be in the presence of sin.

Our reaction is also ultimately selfish. Our cry of unfairness seems to only apply to those we like. Notice that some angels are predestined to eternal life, and some who are condemned. Yet we do not react with a cry of “Unfair!” when hearing about fallen angels. So when we look at predestination, our ultimate source needs to be the Scriptures. They are clear: God has decreed that some will be left in their sin and condemned justly.

This realization that predestination is a true doctrine is tested when our beliefs are lived out. To embrace the doctrine of predestination, I had to admit that loved ones who died without claiming Christ did not posses eternal life, and that God had decreed it. It was crushing. I had to decide if I would accept what the Bible says, or what my heart wanted to believe. This must happen with every truth we learn in the Scripture. Do we trust that God’s Word is true?

What will you believe?

Questions to Consider

  • Does the fact that some are left in their sin offend you, or humble you ?

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 57


Day 57

Of God’s Decree

Chapter 3, Paragraph 3.

By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated, or fore-ordained to Eternal Life through Jesus Christ to the praise of his glorious grace;...”

Scripture Lookup

1 Timothy 5:21.

Matthew 25:34.

Ephesians 1:5,6.


There is nothing you can do to earn eternal life.

This goes against every notion our society has for succeeding. In Western culture, we are told that in order to get something, all we have to do is work hard. When we finally achieve “it” (whatever it is), it is because we deserve it. The more cynical believe that everyone has a price. Find the right dollar amount and you can obtain what you want.

But God can’t be bought. It’s not who your parents are, it’s not what you have, it’s not how hard you work that determines whether or not you have eternal life. It is only through God’s decree that anyone receives eternal life through Jesus. He decreed who would be His in eternity past, not on a whim, not based on a choice someone made today, not on any action made by an individual. Salvation is all of God.

By salvation being all of God, He gets all the glory. There is no boasting in ourselves; there is only praise for God. He has chosen a people and called them out to be His. Since we know that His decrees are sure, and that He does not change, we know that His people will be His. We can rest confidently that His people will have eternal life. Praise His glorious grace!

Questions to Consider

  • How does knowing that God has predestined some to have eternal life affect your evangelism?

Calvinism: The Only Soteriology Consistent with Prayerful, Spirit-Dependent Evangelism

This semester and last semester, I took two evangelism classes. One was a single credit undergraduate class, and the other was a three credit Masters level class. At the end of these two rather enlightening and challenging classes, I still am convinced that anyone who holds to a form of Calvinism that pushes him away from evangelism rather than toward it either does not hold to a historic understanding of Calvinistic soteriology or is not living consistent with it.

I have held to this view strongly ever since having been introduced to Calvinism as a young Christian. However, I have never thought about whether or not a person who holds to a soteriological view other than Calvinism could practice a prayerful, Spirit-dependent evangelism in a way that is consistent with his soteriological perspective. I say “in a way that is consistent,” because there are many Christians who share their faith who are not Calvinists.

I understand that it is the default to say that it is indeed consistent for non-Calvinists to share their faith. As such, Calvinists are often, if not always, the ones who are put on the defensive in this regard. Not only am I arguing here that it is consistent for Calvinists to evangelize, but I am also arguing that Calvinistic soteriology is the only soteriological system consistent with the type of evangelism prescribed in the Bible. Any soteriological commitments other than Calvinism fall short in this regard and are thus inconsistent with biblical evangelism.

Prayerful, Spirit-Dependent Evangelism

The Holy Spirit’s work is essential in the work of evangelism. There is no corner of orthodox Christianity where this truth is denied. The question is, outside of a Calvinistic understanding of salvation, does the Holy Spirit truly have any power in evangelistic encounters? If He does, as nearly every evangelist will claim, who gives Him that power?

The reason these questions are important is that the natural response of most to the necessity of the Holy Spirit’s work is to push the importance of prayer. Hence, professors, pastors, and parachurch gurus have long pushed church-wide prayer meetings, prayer walks, and persistent personal prayer for the lost. The idea is, if the Holy Spirit is not working alongside you in your evangelism, you have no reason to expect your evangelism to result in the making of disciples.

Here, our problem with a non-Calvinistic approach to evangelism arises. In this instance, it certainly seems as though a form of election is taking place, though it is obviously not divine election. In a non-Calvinistic framework, Christians, though they may not be able to elect people to salvation, can certainly elect them to reprobation through their unfaithfulness in prayer. According to many who write on the subject, Christians decide how effective their evangelism will or will not be based on how persistent they are in prayer.

Calvinism, More Consistent

But Calvinists must admit that they also hold to a strong view of prayer as it relates to evangelism. Spurgeon wrote on many occasions of the need for more prayer in order to see the gospel advance in the world. However, the argument is not that prayer is unnecessary for evangelism to be effective. It certainly is. The argument I am here making is that Calvinists are the only Christians who can account for such an emphasis on prayer without doing injustice to their soteriological framework. Calvinists have the only soteriology that makes sense of such fervent prayer for evangelistic effectiveness.

When a Calvinist prays for the salvation of unbelievers, he believes that one of two things is the case. Either he is praying in accordance with the will of God and, thus, God will work through his prayers to effect the salvation of the unbeliever in question, or the desired effect is not God’s will, in which case the Calvinist rightly prays, “Nevertheless, not my will but Yours be done.” Two questions that naturally arise then are, What exactly is the non-Calvinist praying that God will do to make his evangelistic efforts more effective? and, Based on your answer to that question, why would his evangelistic efforts be less effective apart from prayer?

Divine or Human Reprobation?

The question in evangelism is not whether or not someone is elect or reprobate, but who elects them and who damns them. In virtually all non-Calvinistic frameworks, the lost seem to have no more choice in the matter than they do in the Calvinistic framework, unless they have heard the gospel from someone who is “prayed up.” At the end of the day, they still remain subject to powers outside their own control. If the Christian prays, he has a chance. If the Christian does not pray, kiss that chance goodbye. In other words, the Christian wields the power to withhold salvation from others, salvation the Lord had hoped to grant.

In the end, only a Calvinistic soteriology, which sees God working through secondary means like prayer and the proclamation of the gospel to accomplish His will, is consistent with prayerful, Spirit-dependent evangelism. All other soteriological frameworks are woefully flawed at this point. Those who hold to them can pray for the Spirit to make their evangelism more effective, and they can exercise a fair amount of dependence upon the Spirit, but none of them can account for the fact that they assume something outside of the hearers’ control that hinders them from repenting and believing.

The Christian’s prayerlessness, and subsequent lack of aid from the Spirit, works toward the hearers’ reprobation. The best such a person can say is, “At least it wasn’t God’s will that the hearers perish. It was simply not my will that they be elect.”


As a Calvinist, I would urge Calvinists and non-Calvinists alike to pray and ask God that the Holy Spirit would be at work in their evangelism. I certainly believe this to be biblical. I would particularly urge Calvinists to do this more fervently and persistently. It is only when Calvinists do not pray and do evangelism that I believe they are acting in a way that is inconsistent with their soteriology. I would also urge all who hold to a soteriological framework other than Calvinism to re-examine their beliefs to see if what I have written here is true. In the end, none of us pray enough or evangelize enough. So, if you think anyone who makes others reprobate is a monster, consider pointing the finger at yourself before you consider pointing the finger at the God represented in Calvinism.

LBCF of 1677/1689 – Chapter Three, Of God’s Decree

1. God hath decreed in himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably, all things, whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin nor hath fellowship with any therein; nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established; in which appears his wisdom in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness in accomplishing his decree.
( Isaiah 46:10; Ephesians 1:11; Hebrews 6:17; Romans 9:15, 18; James 1:13; 1 John 1:5; Acts 4:27, 28; John 19:11; Numbers 23:19; Ephesians 1:3-5 )

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.
( Acts 15:18; Romans 9:11, 13, 16, 18 )

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.
( 1 Timothy 5:21; Matthew 25:34; Ephesians 1:5, 6; Romans 9:22, 23; Jude 4 )

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.
( 2 Timothy 2:19; John 13:18 )

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.
( Ephesians 1:4, 9, 11; Romans 8:30; 2 Timothy 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:9; Romans 9:13, 16; Ephesians 2:5, 12 )

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.
( 1 Peter 1:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:9, 10; Romans 8:30; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:5; John 10:26; John 17:9; John 6:64 )

7. The doctrine of the high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care, that men attending the will of God revealed in his Word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election; so shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God, and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the gospel.
( 1 Thessalonians 1:4, 5; 2 Peter 1:10; Ephesians 1:6; Romans 11:33; Romans 11:5, 6, 20; Luke 10:20)