“For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.”
This text, as we understand it, relates to the immutable counsel of the high and lofty One who inhabiteth eternity, and is designed to teach us that as he is too wise to err, he never has occasion to repent, or regret any act or decision of his power and wisdom. “God is not a man that he should lie; neither the son of man that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” - Num. xxiii. 19. This principle of the divine government is clearly set forth in the dealings of God with the Jews and Gentiles, as treated upon in the chapter in which our text is found. The chapter begins with the inquiry, “Hath God cast away his people?” Was the calling of Abraham, and all his seed in him, and the gifts bestowed on him, and on them in him, subject to change of purpose on the part of God? “God forbid,” says the apostle. “God hath not cast away his people whom he foreknew.” He has not repented that he called Abraham, and made him the father of many nations, nor that he bestowed on him and his seed special gifts. For in the promise made to Abraham, and his seed in him, as God could swear by no greater he sware by himself, saying, “Surely, blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.” In this calling, and in these gifts or blessings, repentance is hidden from his eyes. His words and oath forbid that he should fail to accomplish the things which have gone out of his mouth. So, also, in regard to the calling of the Gentiles and the gifts in store for them, nothing can prevent their fulfillment. Nor do the callings and gifts bestowed on the Gentiles, invalidate the promises made to Abraham and his seed; for they were embraced in that promise which made Abraham the Father of many nations. “If ye be Christ’s then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
It is thus in regard to all the gifts and callings of God. In giving the church to Christ, the covenant stands fast, according to the sure mercies of David, in which God has said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant, Thy seed will I establish forever, and build up thy throne to all generations.” “Then thou spakest in vision to thy holy One, and saidst, I have laid help upon one that is mighty; I have exalted one chosen out of the people. I have found David my servant; with my holy oil have I anointed him: with whom my hand shall be established; mine arm also shall strengthen him. The enemy shall not exact upon him; nor the son of wickedness afflict him. And I will beat down his foes before his face, and plague them that hate him. But my faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him; and in my name shall his horn be exalted. I will set his hand also in the sea, and his right hand in the rivers. He shall cry unto me, Thou art my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation. Also I will make him my first-born, higher than the kings of the earth. My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him. His seed also will I make to endure forever, and his throne as the days of heaven. If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; if they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not break nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. Once have I sworn by my holiness, that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before me. It shall be established forever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven. Selah.” - Psalm lxxxix. 3, 19-37. There is no repentance possible in regard to these provisions. God has confirmed them by his oath. He pledged his holiness, and by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, gave strong consolation to the heirs of salvation. He will not repent, or recall the gift he has made to his Son, our spiritual or antitypical David, therefore, All that the Father giveth him, shall come to him, and he that cometh unto him, he will in no wise cast out. (John vi. 37.) “As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.” - John xvii. 2. Neither will God repent or countermand the calling of the chosen generation in Christ, for he hath saved them and called them with an holy calling, not according to their works, but according to his own purpose and grace which was given them in Christ Jesus before the world began. (2 Tim. i. 9.)
Nor will our God rescind the unspeakable gift of his dear Son, whom he hath given to be the Head over all things to the church, which is his body, and the fullness of him. (Eph. i. 22, 23.) Nor any of the gifts which Christ received for them when he ascended up on high. (Psalm lxviii. 18.) Or that he gave them. (Eph. iv. 8, 11.) Thus we see that the gifts and callings of God are without repentance, without liability of failure.
Some have supposed that the text was designed to express the idea that the gifts and callings of God precede the repentance of his children, and are irrespective of it. It is undoubtedly true, that these gifts and callings of God, being given us in Christ Jesus, before the world began, according to 2 Tim, i. 9, were antecedent to our personal reception of the gift of repentance. But that repentance which is unto salvation, and which needeth not to be repented of, is among the gifts of God which are, on the part of God, never repented of, never recalled, never ineffectual. But the particular bearing of our text, in harmony with the argument of the apostle in the chapter and connection, is evidently to show the immutability of God, and consequent security of his people.
Middletown, N. Y.
May 15, 1857.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 3
Pages 452 - 455