Paul Washer: Divine Election Explained

Some time back I posted a video of a conversation where seemingly unannouced, buy information pills a young man walked up to Paul Washer asking him if he could explain the doctrine of election (with another friend standing by with a video camera). The result was a very poor quality audio recording but with the transcript provided, it is fairly easy to follow.

Today I spent some time writing out a full transcript of the conversation. There are some people who for some reason find the viewing of videos to be problematic. I hope adding the transcript below serves you.

So, here’s the video once again, this time with the transcript (which starts after the initial question has been asked). God bless, John

What it all comes down to is this. You have to answer one question: is man radically depraved?

That’s the only question you have to ask. Because if he is truly dead in his sin, if he truly hates God, if all men are equally evil, and they are, then the question is, how are you standing here right now believing God while some of your friends who are more moral than you still hate Him?

What happened?

If you say you opened up your heart, I’ll say, “no you didn’t” because the Bible says God opened up Lydia’s heart.

If you say, “well I repented.” Well, repentance is an evangelical grace in all the confessions. That means it comes from God as a gift.

If you say, “well I believe.” Ephesians 2. It is also a gift.

Questioner: (I know the Bible says that no man can come to God unless he is drawn by God. I know that well. My question is, “is the offer of salvation for all men or did God sit back in eternity and say, ‘its for you, you, you and you, and you, you, you, you are going to go to hell”?)

See, first of all, your problem is this: let’s say there’s no election. None. Ok. Let’s just start fresh and say there’s no election. Alright.. now, let’s say that men really are radically depraved and no man can come to God unless God draws him. So God comes down to every man and says “Anyone who will bow the knee to Me, anyone who will accept my Son as their Savior will be saved.” Since every man is radically depraved, they all hate God, they all blaspheme Him, turn around walk away and go to hell. The whole world goes to hell. Is that God’s fault?


Alright, let’s say that really is the reality. Let’s say the Bible is true and that men hate God that much. So, who is going to be saved? Absolutely no one!

And if God saved no one because everyone is evil and rejects Him, is God wrong in doing that?

No, so that is what you’ve got without election – you’ve got the whole world hating God and going to hell.

That’s it…. and the other option is this:

Among these evil men, for His own glory and to demonstrate His own kindness before the foundation of the world He chooses a group of men out of there to demonstrate His glory in them. Is that wrong?

Did He rip the other men off?

What did He do?

You’ve got two choices: God saves a group of people by His own sovereignty or everybody goes to hell. Everybody!

Because men are that evil.

See, what you need to realize is that if God, right now, were to throw open the door of hell and say “everyone who wants out of hell, the only thing you have to do is bow your knee to Me and recognize My Lordship.” they’ll slam the door and stay in hell.

See what you don’t realize because of the humanistic Christianity in America, you don’t realize that men are really evil. They really ARE evil.

I’ll give you an example.
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Salvation is of the Lord

I am not sure why there is quite a delay between the audio and video portions of this video, but hopefully, this can still be a blessing:

UPDATE: Someone with far more technical expertise than me tells me that the time delay on the youtube video is due to me needing a video camera upgrade. – John

Acts 13:48

Sometimes, the most profound truths are captured in a single Scripture verse; sometimes, in half a verse. The great and essential salvation doctrine of justification by faith alone was based on half a verse in the book of Habakkuk, chapter 2 and verse 4, namely “the just shall live by faith”; a statement repeated in the New Testament at Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11 and Hebrews 10:38.

In the same way, a phrase in Acts 13:48 is loaded with profound insight for us. In context, the apostles had preached the word of God, and simply as a commentary on the event, Luke (the writer) tells us the result he observed:

“…and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.”

Luke does not stop to explain this statement. It seems to be just a casual observation on Luke’s part. Now Luke is ready to go on to the next thing. Pen (or more likely quill) in hand, he is ready to record for us the next event in the history of the ancient church.

But wait! Before we rush on to see the next thing that transpires in this exciting drama, lets just stop for a moment to think through the implications of Luke’s statement. Luke wrote it, but it was the Holy Spirit who inspired it, and no word here is wasted or superfluous. God intends us to see this event through the lens of His own perspective. He wants us to see something very powerful here.

What do I mean?

Well as we pause to consider the phrase, lets ask ourselves three questions:

“…and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.”

1. WHICH comes first – believing or being appointed to eternal life?

There is no getting around it, first there is the appointment to eternal life, and then there is the belief. There is a cause and effect relationship. The cause is the secret and unseen heavenly, eternal decree of God – the setting of an appointment; the effect is what is observed on the earth – the people responding in faith to the gospel. The cause is the appointment by God; the effect is the exercise of faith by man.

2. Do any MORE believe?

“… and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.”

The answer has to be “No.” The number of people who believe are NO MORE than the many who were appointed to do so.

3. Do any LESS believe?

“… and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.”

Once again, the answer has to be “No.”

ALL who had the appointment, made the appointment.

Selah. Think, pause and meditate.

Our Sovereign God

“The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.” – Psalm 103:19

In a pluralistic and relativistic age, Christian leaders in the Church must stand firm in proclaiming the one living and true God who is revealed in Scripture. The one true God is one in being or essence and three in person: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Triune God is holy and sovereign. Steven Lawson explains how these biblical truths are often attacked, and those who watch over the church must, therefore, be diligent to teach and defend them.

If you can carve out some time to watch a sermon online today, may I encourage you to view this one; Dr. Stephen Lawson on the subject, “Our Sovereign God.”

Is Faith a Work?

Dr. R. C. Sproul, Jr. writes:

The Reformation was born out of the biblical conviction that a man is deemed just in the sight of God, forgiven, adopted, not on the basis of his own goodness, but on the basis of the goodness of Christ imputed to him. Not everyone, however, is blessed with this imputation, but only those who trust in that provision, and in that provision alone. The debate at that time, and to this day, has been characterized as faith versus works. Though Rome would not affirm, and indeed rightly condemns crass Pelagianism, the notion that we can earn God’s favor outside His grace, she does see a vital role for our personal righteousness, even while affirming that our righteousness is the result of grace at work in us, with which we must cooperate. In framing the debate as works versus faith, however, some miss the very nature of faith.

One way to err on faith is in fact to turn it into a “work.” In this error we see “faith” as a substitute for our obedience. This view suggests that in the Garden God required total and complete obedience from us in order for us to be at peace with Him. When that failed, God graciously lowered His standard. Now all that He requires of us is that we trust in Him. The trouble with this view is that it wrongly makes faith the ground of our salvation. We stand before the throne of God and He asks why He should allow us into His kingdom. We boldly reply, “Because of my faith.” God then answers, “Faith? I love faith! People with faith, that’s just the kind of people I want to have around. By all means, come on in.” This error in the end is faith in faith, which faith will surely not save. It makes the cross gratuitous, which is blasphemy.

A second error turns faith into a work, and therefore rejects it as vital to our salvation. This view rightly recognizes that it is ultimately the finished work of Christ alone that saves. It rightly affirms that a man is justified because his sins were punished at Calvary, and the obedience of Christ is his. This view rightly affirms solus Christus, by Christ alone. In order, however, to fence off the first error, to be certain we don’t look at our faith as meritorious, it denudes faith of its true nature, turning it into bare assent. This view defines saving faith as agreeing to the truthfulness of the gospel message. This error suffers from two key problems. First, in diminishing the nature of saving faith to bare assent it leaves room even for, in principle, the demons. James says even the demons believe, and shudder (2:19). That is, they know God exists, and hate what they know. It is possible to know something and hate what you know. You can know, you can believe, as the devil himself knows and believes, that Jesus died for sinners, and still not have faith.

The second error here is that it doesn’t solve the problem. If we want to denude faith to be certain it doesn’t turn into a work, how does assent not become a work? Just as with true saving faith I am the one believing, trusting, resting, so even if it is mere assent I am the one assenting. In short, if faith is a work, why isn’t assent a work?

We avoid both problems when we embrace the wisdom of our fathers, the Westminster Divines. In their Shorter Catechism they ask, “What is faith in Jesus Christ?” and answer, “Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon Him alone for salvation as He is offered to us in the gospel” (question 86). Faith is not a work on two counts. First, it is a gift from God. It is not just received by grace, but is a grace. Faith is something God gives to us. On our own it is not possible, for we are dead in our trespasses and sins. And note that our faith has a specific object- as He is offered to us in the gospel.”

Second, faith, by its nature, is passive. We rest; we do not work. We receive; we do not earn. There is more to resting than mere assent, but there is not more work. Indeed there is no work at all, just resting and receiving the very ground of our salvation- the work of Christ for us.

Rest. Receive. And rejoice.

Concerning Spiritual Gifts

I was just asked what material I recommend regarding the exegesis of 1 Cor 12-14. That’s an easy question to answer. I highly recommend D. A. Carson’s book “Showing the Spirit: A Theological Exposition of 1 Corinthians 12-14.”

You will also find six messages by Dr. Carson at this link – The first five below were the basis for Carson’s book:

1. The Unity of the Body and the Diversity of Gifts (1 Cor. 12)
2. The Most Excellent Way: When Does Perfection Come? (1 Cor. 13)
3. Prophecy and Tongues: Pursuing What Is Best (1 Cor. 14:1-15)
4. Order and Authority: Restraining Spiritual Gifts (1 Cor. 14:26-40)
5. Unleashed Power and the Constraints of Discipline: Toward a Theology of Spiritual Gifts
6. Praying for Power (Eph. 3:14-21)

Semper Reformanda

Dr. John MacArthur writes:

Semper reformanda (“always reforming”) is one of the enduring slogans often associated with the Protestant Reformation. The origins of the phrase are murky and probably date from the late 1600s. But the kernel of the idea is true enough: Until we are glorified—until we are fully, finally, perfectly conformed to the exact likeness of Christ—we as saints individually, and the whole church collectively, must always be reforming.

The idea is not that we should change for the sake of change. You can be sure that whoever first penned that slogan was not urging Christians to stay abreast of every wind of earthly fashion in order to suit someone’s shallow notion of “relevance.” Nor does the principle of semper reformanda require us to rewrite our doctrinal standards every generation in order to keep in step with the constantly-changing dogmas of human philosophy.

On the other hand, real Reformation is not about slavish subscription to one particular set of seventeenth-century confessional standards—as if the magisterial Reformers or their immediate successors reached a level of ecclesiastical and doctrinal perfection beyond which further reform is impossible. According to that view, you’re not truly Reformed if, for example, you reject paedobaptism or you employ musical instruments and hymns in your worship rather than strictly limiting your singing to metrical psalms sung a capella.

John Calvin was under no illusion that the Reformation had reached its goal in his lifetime—or that it would get there in a generation or two. He wrote,

Christ “loved the church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish,” (Eph. 5: 25-27.) Nevertheless, it is true, that the Lord is daily smoothing its wrinkles and wiping away its spots. Hence it follows that its holiness is not yet perfect. Such, then, is the holiness of the Church: it makes daily progress, but is not yet perfect; it daily advances, but as yet has not reached the goal. (Institutes, 4.1.17)

Here’s the point: the only true and valid reformation occurs as we align our beliefs, our behavior, and our worship with the Word of God. In fact, the full, unabbreviated version of the Latin slogan is Ecclesia reformata et semper reformanda secundum verbum Dei (“The Church Reformed and always reforming according to the Word of God.”)

God’s Word is the only true standard we have a divine mandate to conform to, and it is the ultimate standard by which we will be judged. Success or failure in ministry therefore cannot be evaluated by numerical statistics, financial figures, popularity polls, public opinion, or any of the other factors the world typically associates with “success.” The only real triumph in ministry is to hear Christ say, “Well done.”

Exploiting the Sheep v. The Heart of a True Shepherd

Psalm 23: The LORD Is My Shepherd – A Psalm of David

1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

From “The Reformed Traveler”:

At first glance of this video, some might think it’s humorous, but what went on in my heart was sadness. The sheep represent the people, God’s people. God’s people, the sheep, are in need of honest, sincere, loving leaders who protect the flock, yet in this video you see their shepherds taking advantage of them for their own personal pleasure. They are using the sheep for their own entertainment. Shepherding them in and out of ridiculous circumstances instead of allowing them to graze and be at peace. These men have taken these sheep and are running them to and fro, for no purpose but their own. String them up with lights, run them ragged, send the dogs to make them obey, then stand back and laugh at what they have created, as if it glorifies some greater purpose. Just what we have in most modern churches today.

In this next video we see a Border Collie named Bo who helps keep the sheep together and their shepherd is walking in their midst. He is among them and walking with them. My fourteen year old daughter watched with me then quietly said, “The dog is the Holy Spirit keeping them all close together and directing them.” A very realistic look at what is and what should be within The Church today.

Retailers of second hand windbags

Who else, would call someone that fails to preach sound doctrine from the pulpit a “retailer of secondhand windbags?”

“Rousing appeals to the affections are excellent, but if they are not backed up by instruction, they are a mere flash in the pan, powder consumed and no shot sent home. Rest assured that the most fervid revivalism will wear itself out in mere smoke, if it be not maintained by the fuel of teaching. The divine method is to put the law in the mind, and then write it on the heart; the judgment is enlightened, and then the passions subdued. Read Hebrews 8:10, and follow the model of the covenant of grace. Gouge’s note on that place may with fitness be quoted here: “Ministers are herein to imitate God, and, to their best endeavor, to instruct people in the mysteries of godliness, and to teach them what to believe and practice, and then to stir them up in act and deed, to do what they are instructed to do. Their labor otherwise is like to be in vain. Neglect of this course is a main cause that men fall into many errors as they do in these days.” I may add that this last remark has gained more force in our times; it is among uninstructed flocks that the wolves of popery make havoc; sound teaching is the best protection from the heresies which ravage right and left among us. Sound information upon scriptural subjects your hearers crave for, and must have. Accurate explanations of holy Scripture they are entitled to, and if you are “an interpreter, one of a thousand,” a real messenger of heaven, you will yield them plenteously. Whatever else may be present, the absence of edifying, instructive truth, like the absence of flour from bread, will be fatal. Estimated by their solid contents rather than their superficial area, many sermons are very poor specimens of godly discourse. I believe the remark is too well grounded that if you attend to a lecturer on astronomy or geology, during a short course you will obtain a tolerably clear view of his system; but if you listen, not only for twelve months, but for twelve years, to the common run of preachers, you will not arrive at anything like an idea of their system of theology. If it be so, it is a grievous fault, which cannot be too much deplored. Alas! the indistinct utterances of many concerning the grandest of eternal realities, and the dimness of thought in others with regard to fundamental truths, have given too much occasion for the criticism! Brethren, if you are not theologians, you are in your pastorates just nothing at all. You may be fine rhetoricians, and be rich in polished sentences, but without knowledge of the gospel, and aptness to teach it, you are but a sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. Verbiage is too often the fig leaf which does duty as a covering for theological ignorance. Sounding periods are offered instead of sound doctrine, and rhetorical flourishes in the place of robust thought. Such things ought not to be. The abounding of empty declamation, and the absence of food for the soul, will turn a pulpit into a box of bombast, and inspire contempt instead of reverence. Unless we are instructive preachers, and really feed the people, we may be great quoters of elegant poetry, and mighty retailers of secondhand windbags, but we shall be like Nero of old, fiddling while Rome was burning and sending vessels to Alexandria to fetch sand for the arena while the populace starved for want of corn.” – C. H. Spurgeon – Lectures to My Students (pp. 74-75). Hendrickson Publishers. Kindle Edition.

HT: Reformed for His glory

God and the Theology of Risk

Well said Dr. Piper! I could not agree more. God has never taken a “risk.”

John Piper writes:

What Is the Basis of Risk?

Risk is “an action that exposes you to the possibility of loss or injury.” (“Risk Is Right” in Don’t Waste Your Life, 79). “Possibility” is a key word. If you know what you will suffer, it’s called sacrifice, not risk. God requires both from us. God demands a life of intentional sacrifice (Philippians 2:4-8), and he demands risk for the gospel — in smaller ways of dying daily (1 Corinthians 15:31), and possibly in the bigger way of martyrdom (Luke 14:26).

The basis of that demand for sacrifice and risk is the absolute, God-given assurance that in the end there is no ultimate risk. We risk life now that we may gain it forever. Risk persecution for Christ’s sake “for your reward is great in heaven” (Matthew 5:12). Risk the loss your goods, “for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just” (Luke 14:14). Risk being treated unjustly, for “vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord” (Romans 12:19). Risk being counted as sheep for the slaughter for nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:36, 39).

The promises of God that all things will work together for our ultimate, Christ-exalting good is the basis of our risk (Romans 8:28). And corporately the basis of global missions, with all its risks, is the total assurance that “the kingdom of the world [will become] the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever” (Revelation 11:15). The mission cannot fail.

Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost write in The Faith of Leap:

It seems correct to say that God took something of a risk in handing over his mission to the all-too-sinful human beings who were his original disciples—and all the sinful disciples beyond them. We wonder what Jesus must have been thinking on the cross, when all but a few powerless women had completely abandoned him. Did he wonder if love alone was enough to draw them back to discipleship? The noncoercive love of the cross necessitated a genuinely human response of willing obedience from his disciples. Given our predispositions to rebellion and idolatry, it is entirely conceivable that history could have gone in a completely different, indeed totally disastrous, direction if the original disciples hadn’t plucked up the internal courage to follow Jesus no matter where. (36–37, Locations 464)

The view of God embodied in this quote from Hirsch and Frost is

1.false to the Scriptures;
2.built on a false philosophical presupposition;
3.damaging to the mission of Christ in the world;
4.and belittling to the glory of God.

1) False to the Scriptures

Their view of God and Jesus is that they are so little in charge of the success of the Great Commission that “it is entirely conceivable that history could have gone in a completely different, indeed totally disastrous, direction if the original disciples hadn’t plucked up the internal courage to follow Jesus no matter where.”

This is false. God is fully in control of his mission on earth: a) Jesus did not wonder if it would succeed; b) God can be utterly counted on to finish it, and c) every person ordained to eternal life will be drawn into the mission.
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