“We may ask, no doubt, why God does not extend his saving grace to all; and why, if he sends it to some only, he sends it to just those some to whom he sends it rather than to others. These are not wise questions to ask. We might ask why Christ raised Lazarus only of all that lay dead that day in Palestine, or in the world. No doubt reasons may suggest themselves why he raised Lazarus. But why Lazarus only? If we threw the reins on the neck of imagination, we might possibly discover reasons enough why he might well have raised others, too, with Lazarus, perhaps many others, perhaps all the dead throughout the whole world. Doubtless he had his reasons for doing on that great day precisely what he did. No doubt God has his reasons, too, for doing just what he does with his electing grace. Perhaps we may divine some of them. No doubt there are others which we do not divine. Better leave it to him, and content ourselves. facing, in the depths of our ignorance and our sin-bred lack of comprehension, these tremendous realities, with the O altitudo of Paul: ‘O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past tracing out!’ Or may we not even rise to the great consenting ‘Yea!’ which Christ has taught us: ‘Yea, Father, for so it was well-pleasing in thy sight!’ After all, men are sinners and grace is wonderful. The marvel of marvels is not that God, in his infinite love, has not elected all of this guilty race to be saved, but that he has elected any. What really needs accounting for — though to account for it passes the powers of our extremest flights of imagination — is how the holy God could get the consent of his nature to save a single sinner.
Visitor: Does the Bible really teach that there is no such thing as chance? My version still says that "time and chance happen to all."
If everything - absolutely everything mind you - was decided before that first "let their be" then Ryle's last paragraph simply makes no sense. All that talk about what we should seek and strive to do and believe is advice impossible to follow because what I believe as well as what I do were, apparently, fully and finally established before the foundation of the earth. Radical Calvinists will vehemently disagree with me about my ability to make any choice - however trivial - but only because God decided some time ago that they would. Nothing to do with them though, just grace that they back the right horse. Me though? Apparently there is a God in Romans who makes things he hates and will eventually destroy. Weird though, don't you think, not to mention any of that in Genesis 1, where things are only "good" and "very good"?
A two-part response:
1) The Bible teaches that God is all-seeing (Psalm 33:13-15), never-sleeping (Psalm 121:3-4) and cares deeply about His people (Romans 8:38-39). He assures us that He knows every hair on our head, and when every sparrow falls ... but He comforts us that we "are of more value than many sparrows" (Luke 12:6-7).
The text and all of Ecclesiastes is speaking from a human perspective, so time and chance refers to man who does not know his time. Please read the text in context:
by J.C. Ryle
The complete set of J.C. Ryle's classic expositions on the four gospels in one eBook
Observing this need in his own parish, J.C. Ryle prepared his Expository Thoughts on the Gospels which have enriched the earth for more than a century with undiminished popularity and usefulness.
Ryle's 'plain and pointed' words are a great stimulus to the reading of the Bible itself. While his chief aim is to help the reader to know Christ he also has another object in view. He writes so that his commentaries on the Gospels can be read aloud to a group. Unlike many authors he is equally good, read or heard. There are many other fuller commentaries on the Gospels, but no others make such compelling listening--whether it be in the family, in neighborhood groups, or over the air--as those of J.C. Ryle.
Ryle's own comments:
"Nothing whatever, whether great or small, can happen to a believer, without God’s ordering and permission.
The providential government of God over everything in this world is a truth of which the Greek and Roman philosophers had no conception. It is a truth which is specially revealed to us in the word of God. Just as the telescope and microscope show us that there is order and design in all the works of God’s hand, from the greatest planet down to the least insect, so does the Bible teach us that there is wisdom, order, and design in all the events of our daily life. There is no such thing as ‘chance,’ ‘luck,’ or ‘ accident’ in the Christian’s journey through this world. All is arranged and appointed by God. And all things are ‘working together’ for the believer’s good. (Rom. viii. 28.)
Let us seek to have an abiding sense of God’s hand in all that befalls us, if we profess to be believers in Jesus Christ. Let us strive to realize that a Father’s hand is measuring out our daily portion, and that our steps are ordered by Him. A daily practical faith of this kind, is one grand secret of happiness, and a mighty antidote against murmuring and discontent. We should try to feel in the day of trial and disappointment, that all is right and all is well done. We should try to feel on the bed of sickness that there must be a ‘needs be.’ We should say to ourselves, ‘God could keep away from me these things if He thought fit. But He does not do so, and therefore they must be for my advantage. I will lie still, and bear them patiently. I have ‘an everlasting covenant ordered in all things and sure.’ (2 Sam. xxiii. 5.) What pleases God shall please me.’”
Calvinism and Evangelical Arminianism: Compared as to Election, Rebrobation, Justification and Related Doctrines
by John L. Girardeau
PROFESSOR OF SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY IN COLUMBIA THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY, SOUTH CAROLINA.
Available in Kindle .mobi and ePub formats
-+ scanned and marked up by Lance George Marshall +-
In Christ alone is all our trust
For full and free salvation.
With His own blood He ransomed us
From ev’ry tribe and nation.
For us He lived and died.
Now, at the Father’s side,
Full knowing all our needs,
Our High Priest intercedes.
He lives to make us holy.
GARY A. PARRETT
It might seem that the best way to begin a study of God’s character, his holy-love, is to open a concordance and look up all the instances of holiness and all those of love and see if a synthesis is possible. This would yield much that would be helpful.
But there is a better way. It is to begin at the beginning and see how God revealed his character across time. In doing so, we find that as God’s redemptive history moved toward its goal, it provided what are the contours of our subject. It was moving toward Christ, in whom it culminated. From that time on, the Holy Spirit’s work became that of applying to sinners the benefits of Christ’s work on the cross. This progressive unfolding of the purposes of God is, at the same time, the unfolding of the character of God. We see more and more clearly what God’s redemptive plan was, as we move from Abraham toward Christ, and we also see the principles in that plan as it unfolded. That should be no surprise. It is the same triune God at work in this plan. It is the God who James says is one “with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17). And redemption means the same thing whether a person was born millennia before Christ or is yet unborn. It is redemption from sin, and that, in the nature of the case, can only be by grace.
Below I have some practical and devotional suggestions for your daily prayer life which includes a written list (below) of things you can prayer for which you can print out or cut and paste into digital index cards (like PrayerMate) for your hand held device.
Do you often end up separating your career and daily activities from your spiritual life? Do you find yourself working in the midst of so much confusion that, many times, you don't feel as if you are able to easily recollect your heart in the presence of God? Are your distractions so intense that God often appears far away? Why does this happen? Why is it that we often lose the knowledge of God's presence during the day and live with a kind of spiritual schizophrenia? Well, the explanation is probably fairly simple. Whenever we react in a fleshly manner to the various providences that God puts before us; whenever we are temperamental, rash, impatient, restless, self-willed, letting circumstances make us depressed or angry, and given over to our tyrannical passions, we can almost always trace it back to one foundational reason: prayerlessness.
The following sermons by Jonathan Edwards were hand selected for their helpfulness and tendency to bring honor to Christ and glory to God. Take your time to read and reflect on Edwards expositions and let his thoughts on Scripture carry yours to consider how great and glrious a God we serve.
This eBook is available in both
Kindle .mobi and ePub formats
Table of Contents
God Glorified in Man's Dependence
God's Sovereignty in the Salvation of Men
The Sole Consideration, that God Is God
A Divine and Supernatural Light
Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God
Men Naturally are God's Enemies
Treatise on Grace
The Admirable Conjunction of Diverse Excellencies in Christ Jesus
Concerning Efficacious Grace
Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God
Unbelievers Despise the Gloy and Excellency of Christ
God the Best Portion of the Christian
Christians A Chosen Generation, A Royal Priesthood, A Holy Nation, A Peculiar People
God Makes Men Sensible Of Their Misery Before He Reveals His Mercy And Love
Man's Natural Blindness to the Things of Religion
"...unless one is born again he cannot see...[or] enter the kingdom of God....The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:3,5,8
Jesus declared that unless a person is born again – unless he is regenerated, quickened or granted new life by the Spirit of God – he cannot "see" or "enter" the kingdom of God. The word "see" refers not to the perception of physical eyes, but to perception of the heart about spiritual things. That is, unless a person is supernaturally changed by God, he cannot have a heart which understands, or ears to hear or eyes to see the things of God (Deut 29:4; 30:6). Due to his unspiritual nature and corrupted condition it is utterly beyond his human powers to understand the truth about Christ or believe His revelation. The word "enter" refers to participation in kingdom life. That is, unless a man is born from above, he cannot be adopted into God's family. A citizen of God's kingdom must be born into it.
Bart Ehrman argues in his book The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture that in the early church there was not a composition of a single “orthodoxy” from which emerged a series of divergent and erroneous minorities, but instead there were various streams of Christian orthodoxy. No one stream represented “the clear and powerful majority of believers against all others.”[i] In other words, there was no monolithic “orthodoxy” in the early church. There were different streams that were obviously divergent of one another because of the divergent “books” that are found within the first three centuries of the Christian church. Ehrman goes on to argue:
To this extent “orthodoxy,” in the sense of a unified group advocating and apostolic doctrine accepted by the majority of Christians everywhere, did not exist in the second and third centuries. Beliefs that were, at later times, embraced as orthodoxy and condemned as heresy were in fact competing interpretations of Christianity, one of which eventually (but not initially) acquired domination because of singular and historical forces. Only when one social group had exerted itself sufficiently over the rest of Christendom did a “majority” opinion emerge: only then did the “right belief” represent the view of the Christian church at large.[ii]