Concluding Remarks to the book "Predestination"

by Gordon Clark

After Moses rescued his people from slavery, God granted them a great revival of true religion. To be sure, they soon sinned be­fore the golden calf, but by the time of Moses’ death the nation as a community exhibited the pure worship of Jehovah. This high level of spirituality continued throughout the lifetime of Joshua, for “the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the Lord, that he did for Israel” (Judges 2:7). Then deterioration set in, “and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works he had done for Israel. And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served Ba’alim. And they forsook the Lord God of their fathers…and followed other gods…and provoked the Lord to anger” (Judges 2:10-12) .

Then followed a period of ups and downs for several centuries. Samuel in a sense may be called the forerunner of David, under whom the people in large numbers returned to God. This great revival of worship culminated in Solomon’s building the Temple. Then came rebellion with its sorry history in the north and the slower but equally fatal apostasy in the south.

The captivity chastened the people somewhat, and under Ezra and Nehemiah they once more obeyed God. But not for long. By the time of Christ the Pharisees systematically misinterpreted the Law and the Sadducees insisted on being modern and relevant to their times. Only a few awaited the consolation of Israel.

Through the Apostle Paul God was pleased to make his salvation known to the Gentiles. For four centuries the Pauline impetus con­tinued, in some theological respects reaching a higher level at the end than at the beginning, but in other respects marred by the continuance of pagan customs that eventually corrupted the forms of worship. Then came a thousand years of ignorance, superstition, and immorality.

After the first faint glimmerings of Wycliffe and Hus, the clear light of day dawned with Zwingli, Luther, Calvin, Knox, and the other Reformers. Though suppressed by fire and sword in many places, the Gospel was made known more fully than ever before — excepting only the preaching of the apostles themselves. This happy condition continued to its culmination in the Westminster Confession of 1647, although by that time Arminius had begun his evil work. From then on the history of the Christian churches has resembled the period of the Judges.

Today the most numerous, the most visible, and the best advertised groups that oppose total apostasy retain very little Reformation theol­ogy. Unlike the Westminster Confession with its thirty-three chapters, their official faith is exhausted in a half-dozen articles; and when they preach beyond these they are anything but Calvinistic. Men like Spurgeon are hard, if not impossible, to find. Perhaps Martin Lloyd-Jones is the nearest approach. J. I. Packer and other contributors to the symposia edited by Carl F. H. Henry, as well as some other scholars are known in learned circles. No doubt seven thousand of lesser stature have not bowed the knee to Baal. But there is no Elijah, and the Reformed church is only a remnant.

Only in such an atmosphere of deterioration could the following piece of immorality have occurred. A little before the middle of the century, in a controversial situation, a gentleman remonstrated with me: Believe predestination, if you want to; but don’t let people know you believe it. Such was the worldly-wise, hypocritical advice of an Ameri­can fundamentalist leader. But as bad as the personal recommendation of hypocrisy is the evidence of how far American fundamentalism has fallen away from the light of the Protestant Reformation.There are many ministers who say they believe the Bible and yet question whether pre­destination should be preached to their congregations, even if true.

Predestination is such a difficult doctrine, so the objection goes, and in fact such a controversial doctrine that perhaps it would be better not to mention it. Strange it is that anyone makes this objection, if he has any idea of how the doctrine permeates the Bible from cover to cover. But the objection is indeed made. Clever evangelists, whose facility of expression is exceeded only by their misunderstanding of Scripture, have frequently used the illustration of the sheep and the giraffe. Several times I have heard a person say, Christ told us to feed his sheep — he did not say to feed his giraffes. The idea is that grass is on the ground and represents the easiest of doctrinal teaching. The material is on a kindergarten or Sunday School level. Leaves in the trees, which only giraffes or geniuses can reach, represent very difficult teaching, and if this is all there were to eat, the sheep would starve. But giraffes would not starve even if the trees were denuded, so long as it there was plenty of grass. Such is the idea of the illustration; but such is not the idea of the Bible.

The Bible, of course, endorses feeding milk to babies. The simplest truths are to be taught to young Christians. Faith and repentance are said to be first principles; they are milk for babies. Even so, it is not clear that the doctrine of justification by faith alone and the doctrine of repentance are so simple and easy as the objectors would wish. After all, they depend on the doctrine of predestination with all the Scripture quoted in the present book. Some evangelists think that “You must be born again” is an easy doctrine; but learned Nicodemus found it too difficult to understand. Nor do the evangelists themselves succeed in making it simple for the uneducated. Popular evangelists might also wish to preach the deity of Christ; but as this involves the doctrine of the Trinity and the Chalcedonian creed, it cannot be said to be a very simple and easy doctrine. In fact, predestination is much simpler and easier. Predestination is very easy to understand. The real trouble is that the natural man does not like it.

The death of Christ, the atonement, or, as it is better named, the Satisfaction, must form a good part of evangelistic preaching. But is this very easy? I have heard many evangelists preach on the death of Christ without mentioning that Christ’s death satisfied the justice of his Father. These evangelists may have preached something simple, but they simplified by omitting the essential part. The principle of being simple is a dangerous and un-Scriptural principle.
It is so because, whatever doctrines may be milk for babies, the Bible does not recommend that our teaching end with them. Hebrews 5:12-6:3 condemn the desire to remain on a Sunday School or primary level. People who remain satisfied with the elementary doctrines are “unskillful in the Word of righteousness”; and God commands them to rise from milk to strong meat, “not laying again the foundation of repentance... faith... the doctrine of baptisms and of the laying on of hands, and of the resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment,” but God commands us to “go on unto perfection.”

Even more clearly, Christ’s last command brings into awful condem­nation those who wish to silence the preaching of predestination. “Go, therefore, and teach all nations...teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” Christ did not say, teach all things except some difficult, distasteful, controversial, advanced, college-level, giraffe-like doctrines.

Evangelists and preachers who disobey Christ’s command by omit­ting large and important sections of the Bible from their preaching are guilty of the blood of their people. Paul was not guilty. He said in Acts 20:26-27, “I am pure from the blood of all men, for I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” The large modern denominations are today apostate because disobedient preachers have shunned to declare all the counsel of God. Predestination was silenced; total depravity was softened; regeneration was misunderstood; the vir­gin birth was denied; the Bible was reduced to myth; and the so-called Christian nations became secular.

If, now, we hope to shake the nations again as Luther and Calvin did, we must return to preaching all the counsel of God. If, on the other hand, this hope seems unfounded, and like Jeremiah we must preach to those who will not obey, still Christ has commanded us to teach all things revealed. Jerome Zanchius, near the end of his book on Absolute Predestination, lists some reasons for preaching the doctrine. First, he says, without it we cannot form just and becoming ideas of God: Foreknowledge, perfection, omnipotence, and sovereign grace must be abandoned, if predestination is denied. Second, to expand the last named of God’s characteristics, the grace of God cannot be maintained without predestination: “There neither is nor can be any medium between predestinating grace and salvation by human merit.” Third, by the preaching of predestination man is duly humbled and God alone is exalted: “Conversion and salvation must, in the very na­ture of the case, be wrought and effected either by ourselves alone, or by ourselves and God together, or solely by God himself. The Pelagians were for the first. The Arminians are for the second. True believers are for the last.” An inquisitive reader may wish to get his book and see the remainder of his nine reasons. But the sum of all reasons is that God commands us to teach the world all that he has revealed in his Word. Let no one disobey.

Predestination. Gordon H. Clark. Published by The Trinity Foundation. P.O. Box 68, Unicoi, Tennessee 37692. Chapter 7. Pages 102-105.

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