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How to Understand Reprobation, the Rejection of the Gospel, and the Sovereignty of God

by | Mar 10, 2019

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Many professing evangelicals, perhaps even most (I think so), claim that the decision for belief or unbelief is made by the hearer of the Gospel, through his own independent, sovereign decision-making process. Every person is equally able to believe the word preached, or to reject it. Where that idea originates, other than the obvious spiritual explanation (Genesis 3:15), has always eluded me. Doesn’t calling oneself an “evangelical” include the belief in sola scriptura?

The reason I ask that is that such a major spiritual doctrine is asserted without biblical support. Not that its supporters don’t claim biblical support, of course. But show me a case which does not boil down to either a supposed requirement that God must respect “free will” (another extra-biblical doctrine), or to some supposed moral requirement that a choice necessarily implies the natural and equal ability to choose either option. Either way, the reasons aren’t biblical but based on a humanistic presupposition. God is not bound by humanistic presuppositions. Just sayin’!

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However, beyond the extra-biblical reasoning on which this choice doctrine is based, there is plenty of biblical evidence to the contrary. And here I refer not even to something that an Apostle wrote, but to words from the mouth of Jesus Himself. Surely no evangelical can question the final authority thereof!

In His final week of life, when He was performing ministry in Jerusalem, the earthly capital of the historical biblical faith, Jesus faced some Jews who were unsure of His messianic office. Most Jews still held to the erroneous view that the Messiah would be a political figure who would drive out the Romans and reestablish the Davidic kingdom. We are told, “Though He had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in Him” (John 12:37). If the passage stopped here, the average American Christian would claim that He had simply failed persuade the free will of these people to believe.

However, the passage continues, giving the inerrant, divinely-inspired explanation, which is very different.

[This ooccurred] so that the word spoken by the Prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: ‘Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?’ Therefore, they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, ‘He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, lest they should see with their eyes and understand with their hearts, and turn, and I would heal them’

(John 12:38-40)

Thus, the Holy Spirit tells us, through the Apostle John, what our eyes and minds could not otherwise have understood: the unbelief of these people was because God had blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts. He had made them unable to believe!

There is no respect for free will here. There is no sovereignty in the choices of men. Rather, there is a choice given to men, in which their natures were made able only to answer with unbelief.

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