30 August 2006

Westminster Wednesday: Election Is Not a Cause for Carelessness

Iain Murray brings up an objection that is commonly given to the doctrine of election: If God chooses persons to grace without consideration of their faith and good works and infallibly brings his chosen to eternal bliss, is not then the doctrine of election a cause for carelessness? The Puritans, according to Murray, answer with a resounding “No!”

God has not only ordained the persons who shall be saved, but He also ordained the means—namely faith, sanctification, and holiness. Now the only way any soul may know God’s secret will, namely his election, is by so diligently applying himself to the means of grace and striving after holiness. Only by obedience to the duties of God’s revealed will may anyone know his election. “As Dr. Preston says, if a man does not use those means that may evidence to his soul that he is elected, it is an argument he is not elected. If thou say, if God hath determined it, he will save me, whether I am holy or profane, and therefore I will never hear sermon, never pray in my family, never use holy duties; says Preston, if thou neglect these means, it as an argument thou art not elected…At that very instant wherein God did decree or determine to bring a man to life, at that very instant God did decree that that man would be holy before he died; he shall use all holy and sanctified means conducible to his salvation. Romans 8:29. Whome he did predestinate, them he did predestinate to be conformable to the image of his Son” (Christopher Love, Treatise on Calling & Election, pp. 197–98). So that rather than making men careless nothing could make men more serious and earnest than this doctrine (“The Puritans and the Doctrine of Election,” The Puritan Papers, vol. 1, p. 12).

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