Is it actually gracious for God to allow the reprobate to live?

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by De Jager, Feb 13, 2019.

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  1. Bill Duncan

    Bill Duncan Puritan Board Freshman

    This line of thinking sent me back to Kline and "Kingdom Prologue" Part 1 Section B and his idea that Grace is not unmerited but rather demerited favor. Therefore any common grace to the reprobate whatsoever is grace abundant.
    Kline says:

    "A confirmation of the divine purpose of salvation was in effect given, therefore, when the Lord pronounced a temporal, common curse rather than an ultimate judgment against the generality of mankind. (Gen 3:16-17)"

    "These common blessings are not deserved by mankind, but are a benefit enjoyed only by the grace of the Creator in his forbearance with those who have forfeited all blessing by their rebellion against him."

    "A principle of common grace, a grace that provides benefits to the just and the unjust in common, thus informs the divine government of the postlapsarian world."

    "Another benefit of common grace was the continuation, even though in modified fashion, of the social-cultural order that had been established under the Creator's covenant with Adam."

    "Common grace was introduced to act as a rein to hold in check the curse on mankind and to make possible an interim historical environment as the theater for a program of redemption.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but common grace was designed to facilitate redemption not to benefit reprobates.
  2. De Jager

    De Jager Puritan Board Freshman

    Hey man,

    Would you not agree that just because the puritans spoke like that does not mean it is right? I mean, most of the Puritans believed in the baptism of covenant children - what do you think of that? As for the quote above, I don't agree with the language used there - I don't think it is biblical. The puritans are useful insofar as they point us to the Biblical position.

    This is a good verse and I will have to consider this when evaluating my position. Thank you for referring scriptural data.

    Yes, it is called kindness, no argument there. But we also have scriptures that say God hardens hearts. So I suppose we must hold both as being true - sometimes God uses providential goodness as a means by which hearts are hardened - by the rejecting of that providential goodness.

    I am trying to understand - I don't see the need for such a question.

    The fact is, that from all eternity God appointed some to eternal destruction, there's just no getting around it. The ultimate source of this is God himself. There is no secret about it at all - it's in the Bible. No, that doesn't give us the right to treat anyone poorly, but I'm not about to deny God's sovereign decree. Psalm 73 tells us that God sets the wicked in "slippery places".

    True, the wicked are punished for their sins, and their sins stem from a wicked heart, but but they sin because in his eternal decree, God ordained that they should be left in their state of wickedness and not be saved. Does that make God unjust? No - see Paul's argument in Romans 9.

    I perceive that you are going to great lengths to rescue God from what you perceive as a slanderous representation of who he is. Please consider these following verses:

    Matthew 11:25, 26 — “At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.”

    John 12:37-40 — “But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: that the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.”

    Romans 11:7-10 — “What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded (according as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear unto this day. And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumbling block, and a recompence unto them: let their eyes be darkened that they may not see, and bow down their back always.”

    I Peter 2:8 — “And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.”

    The Bible seems to pretty clearly teach that God has an active part in the hardening of sinners.
  3. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    The Puritans can be wrong. Sure. But in this case, I agree with them.

    Yes, God hardens hearts. But what is the manner of that hardening? It is the withdrawal of grace. God actively withdraws grace, but he makes no man sin. Man falls by his own weight and it is all his fault, not God's.

    Yes, I believe some versions of Supralapserianism makes God into a being who creates man merely to damn him (asserting that he decrees to damn the reprobate even before he decrees to create him).
  4. De Jager

    De Jager Puritan Board Freshman

    Also: there is a big difference between
    You talk about the withdrawal of grace, and I know that Theologians speak of this, but I just listed several verses where it shows that God has an active role in the hardening of people. I fail to see the scriptural data which says that God withdraws grace. I am however, willing to be taught!
  5. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior


    You may want to consider the following questions since scripture answers them:

    1. How does God harden?
    2. When does God harden?

    I don't believe the doctrine of God hardening in the verses you referenced contradicts what Perg said.
  6. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    In Romans 1 the language is that God "gave them over." This is hardening. God allowed them to fall and did not restrain their evil wishes. The sinner wants sin and God gives him leave to sin by withdrawing his grace.

    This hardening or being "given over" comes after a period of consistent disobedience. So it cannot be said that God is making the sinner do anything that the sinner does not already desire to do. God merely refuses to hold the chain any longer but lets the beast roam where it wants. He says, "ok then..have it at!"

    This is far from God making the sinner to sin.
  7. De Jager

    De Jager Puritan Board Freshman

    In Exodus it teaches that God actively hardened the heart of Pharoah.

    In Romans 1 it does not say that "this is hardening" - that is your conclusion, but does scripture make this conclusion?
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2019
  8. De Jager

    De Jager Puritan Board Freshman

    Very good questions. Thank you
  9. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    What is the nature of the hardening of Pharaoh's heart:

    Machen writes:

    "When God causes the bringing to pass of the evil actions of men, he does that in still a different way. He does not tempt the men to sin; he does not influence them to sin. But he causes the bringing to pass of those deeds by the free and responsible choices of personal beings. He has created those beings with the awful gift of freedom of choice. The things that they do in exercise of that gift are their acts. They do not, indeed, surprise God by the doing of them; their doing of them is part of his eternal plan; yet in the doing of them they, and not the holy God, are responsible."

    In Exodus 5:2 the word of God is first delivered to Pharaoh, and he rejects it. Later in Exodus 7:13 we read that God harden's Pharoah's heart for the first time. It is not as if Pharoah had no choice in the matter. God merely withdrew His grace and let his restraints upon Pharoah go.

    I don't know exactly what you mean by God "actively" hardening Pharoah's heart, but here is a good reminder from Derek Thomas about what we cannot mean:

    "God is the “first cause” of all things, but evil is a product of “second causes.” In the words of John Calvin, “First, it must be observed that the will of God is the cause of all things that happen in the world: and yet God is not the author of evil,” adding, “for the proximate cause is one thing, and the remote cause another.” In other words, God Himself cannot do evil and cannot be blamed for evil even though it is part of His sovereign decree."
  10. De Jager

    De Jager Puritan Board Freshman

    This is a very helpful post. Thank you.
  11. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Izaak, having read most of the posts in this thread, I think we are all agreed that no one can say with certainty to an unbeliever that God loves them and has a wonderful plan for their life. We simply do not know that. However, there is a certain pleading that is part of the Gospel message. Is that pleading effectual? It is for the Elect, but even when the Gospel is proclaimed to the reprobate there is an element of pleading that is inherent to the Gospel itself. There is a pleading in 2 Cor. 5:20 even though Paul was writing to a wide audience. In Romans 10:1 there is a pleading in Paul's written voice for the Jews. Earlier in this thread, Vic cited Jonah calling the Ninevehites to repentance. Such a thing was unheard of in Israel, yet it was a beautiful Old Testament picture of a future New Covenant reality found in Ephesians 2:14 with Christ's breaking down the barrier of the dividing wall.
  12. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable

    WCF 5.6:
    As for those wicked and ungodly men whom God, as a righteous Judge, for former sins, doth blind and harden, (Rom. 1:24, 26, 28, Rom. 11:7-8) from them He not only withholdeth His grace whereby they might have been enlightened in their understandings, and wrought upon in their hearts; (Deut. 29:4) but sometimes also withdraweth the gifts which they had, (Matt. 13:12, Matt. 25:29) and exposeth them to such objects as their corruption make occasion of sin; (Deut. 2:30, 2 Kings 8:12-13) and, withal, gives them over to their own lusts, the temptations of the world, and the power of Satan, (Ps. 81:11-12, 2 Thess. 2:10-12) whereby it comes to pass that they harden themselves, even under those means which God useth for the softening of others. (Exod. 7:3, Exod. 8:15,32, 2 Cor. 2:15-16, Isa. 8:14, 1 Pet. 2:7-8, Isa. 6:9-10, Acts 28:26-27) ​

    The restraints of providence account for Pharaoh's change in letting the people go. His nature did not change, however. When the providential restraints are withdrawn by God, Pharaoh returned to his original purposes, thus hardened by the providence of God.

    Robert Shaw's exposition of WCF 5.6:
    God cannot possibly solicit or seduce any man to sin; for this is inconsistent with the purity of his nature. - James i. 13,14. But, in righteous judgment, God sometimes permits persons to fall into one sin for the punishment of another. He deals in this way even with his own dear, but undutiful, children. Sometimes he leaves them for a season to temptations, and to the lusts of their own hearts, for their trial, or to discover to themselves the latent corruptions of their hearts, to humble them, and to excite them to more fervent prayer and unremitting watchfulness. Thus, God left Hezekiah to try him, that he might know, or make known, all that was in his heart.—2 Chron. xxxii. 31. Sometimes God deals in this manner with his own children to chastise them for their former sins. Thus, "The anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go number Israel and Judah." - 2 Sam. xxiv. l. In Scripture, God is frequently said to harden wicked men for their former sins. This he does, not by infusing any wickedness into their hearts, or by any direct and positive influence on their souls in rendering them obdurate, but by withholding his grace, which is necessary to soften their hearts, and which he is free to give or withhold as he pleases; by giving them over to their own hearts' lusts, to the temptations of the world, and the power of Satan; and by providentially placing them in each circumstances, or presenting such objects before them, as their corruption makes an occasion of hardening themselves.​
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