The following piece was written several years ago as a response to an article appearing in an Old School paper. The article was the product of one of their editors so they declined to publish this piece. Since that time the Editor left them and took up company with the conditionalists, along with several of his fellow-travellers. As an old proverb goes, “Water seeks its own level.”
Having never before written to the “...s,” it is with much fear and trembling that I take pen in hand to do so. I have taken this paper and enjoyed it for several years now, and I hope that I love the truths for which it has contended since 1832. I feel compelled at this time by that truth of Almighty God to set forth my thoughts on a recent article. The article to which I am referring begins on page 122 of the July issue and is entitled “Predestination”. On the surface one may not see anything too wrong in that piece, but, if carefully considered and weighed by the Scriptures, we will find it weighed in the balance and found wanting.
I will begin with the first paragraph of said article in which this statement is made “...one is left to wonder what is meant by predestination. I do not believe that a cardinal point of God’s decree has to have absolute or eternal in front of it, or in other words, a handle.” I cannot speak for anyone else, but I am not “left to wonder what is meant by predestination.” Now, if you look one page previous to this article you will find the original prospectus for the “....s”. This prospectus was issued before the paper was ever printed. It was published as the back page to a treatise by Elder Samuel Trott in 1832 entitled “The Image of the Beast”. In examining this prospectus, I would have you look at article two: “The absolute predestination of all things.” Therefore since at least 1832, this “handle”, as Elder.. would call it, has been a cardinal point of doctrine to those who are called Old School or Primitive Baptists. This shows the foresight given by God to those who were called to stand for the truth in those troubled times to make a clear statement of what they believed. Indeed, we can find no real questioning of the term “absolute predestination” until the death of those soldiers of the Cross such as Gilbert Beebe, Samuel Trott, Thomas Dudley, and J. F. Johnson. Even John Clark, who separated from the Old School Baptists around 1852, did not plainly deny the fact that God absolutely predestinated all things. It is only when we get to the time of Clark’s followers that we can see the denial of that truth. This unsoundness fully manifested itself at the so-called “Fulton Convention” in 1900. These Conditionalists who met together then gave rise to two terms “limited predestination” and “conditional time salvation”. Up until this time, those who did not believe this truth of God’s Word either remained silent or went out from us because they were not of us. I, for one, am glad that God raised up men and gave them the foresight to see that these grievous wolves would arise and so they used this so-called “handle” absolute in reference to the predestination of all things by Almighty God.
With all this historical evidence at our disposal, one should see the necessity of using the term absolute in reference to predestination. With all the many and varied theories trying to pass for Baptist doctrine these days, this term differentiates between those who hold the Truth of the Word of God in unrighteousness, and those who have been taught from above to love it.
I will not quibble with Elders’ translation of the Latin from which our English word “predestination” is derived. I think that it is just as important, however, to look at the Greek word proorizo which is translated predestinate in our Authorized Version of the New Testament. Though I do not profess to be a Greek scholar, yet I have looked up the word in several standard lexicons and I find that it means to “mark out or determine beforehand”. The force of the very word that was used in the Greek text and translated by those who God raised up is just the opposite of what Elder would have us believe it means. It (predestination) is, by definition, the causative force by which all things are marked out and made sure and certain.
Let us examine another point which is even more important to our quest for the truth. On the same page as our first quotation from this article we read: “...God...declared that they would be as He did forsee them.” What? Is the Almighty limited to “forseeing” things so that He will know how they will turn out? To quote again: “There is an order in the sovereignty of God, first His foreknowledge.” Where in the Sacred Volume of God’s Truth can such a statement be supported? We shall use the text that Elder ....quoted in this article: Isaiah 46:10, “Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, my counsel shall stand and I will do all my pleasure” (not pleasures, as the article states). Where can we find a statement in this text relative to foreknowledge being first in the “order of God’s sovereignty”? Indeed, where can we find mention of an “order of God’s sovereignty” anywhere in the Scriptures? Instead, here, in the plainest of language, it is stated that God declared the end (i.e. what the end will be) from (i.e. at or before) the beginning. Beginning of what, you may ask? At the beginning, before the dust of the highest hills was laid, the counsel and will of God determined what the end would be and all points in-between those points. Did He need to look ahead to determine the course of events that the world would take? Then you attempt to destroy His omnipotence. He who is the Creator of all things is also the determiner of the outcome of all events that transpire on this globe (and everywhere else in His creation). To quote again: “He knew Adam would fall.” How did He know it? Did He know it because He saw it, or did He know it because He purposed it? If He knew it because He saw it, then His knowledge is based on something outside Himself. Is God dependent on any outside help to know anything? If He is, He ceases to be the omnipotent One who inhabits eternity. We should be convinced then, that God not only knew that Adam would fall, but that He purposed it from all eternity.
I will quote again from page 124 of this article: “He did foreknow what they would be in the time and in the seasons that He has appointed here in this world.” So, the times and the seasons God appointed but to know what His creatures would do in them He had to look ahead in His foreknowledge. He just looked out in ignorance to see how those whom He created would respond to the situations He appointed. God forbid! If this is not the same reasoning that the Arminians use, then I know not what it is. On this same page is another statement directly relating to this: “This doctrine of foreknowledge is the effectual cause, predestination is the power of God to make His foreknowledge come to pass.” Where is the Scripture which supports such a statement? God’s decree, God’s counsel, God’s absolute predestination is the effectual cause of all things. Both the London Confession of Faith and the Philadelphia Confession declare God to be the First Cause of all things. Is He the first cause by His looking ahead or by His decreeing how things should be? “As I have thought” (not looked ahead) “so shall it be, as I have purposed” (by decree and by command) “so shall it stand.”
On page 124 we find this assertion, “Peter declared that he would not do this thing (deny Christ thrice), yet, the Lord knew that he would.” Again, how did He know it? Jesus told Peter that he “would deny” Him that night. It was decreed by Divine commandment before the world ever was. That decree that made Peter’s act certain was the sole reason why the Lord Jesus Christ could make that statement to Peter.
Again, on page 126, we find “Therefore, it is God’s foreknowledge that causes predestination to be. ...It is the active will of God...”. God’s knowledge does no where of itself even imply control If God has not directly purposed something, we have no assurance that He can or does control it (I speak as a man) just because He knows it. The statement on page 124, “If there be a part of it of which He has no knowledge, there is a part of it over which He has no control” cannot be sustained. Foreknowledge and Predestination must, of necessity, cover the same ground. What God has foreknown, He has predestinated. Again, the question must be raised, did He predestinate anything because He foreknew it? And again, the answer must be an emphatic NO!
I thought in my short time upon this Earth I had heard all the various Arminian “theologians” dissect the will of God into numerous parts and parcels, but never have I heard of the will of God being divided as in the above citation. If God has an “active will” that implies that He must also have a non-active or passive will. If you can explain to me how any part of the Almighty can be passive, then I will accept the term “active will”. Secret will, revealed will, active will are all (to use Elder....’ own term) “handles” that the Word of God does not know. If we look into the volume of God’s truth then we will find reference to the will of God and only one will.
I must address two more points briefly then I will close. The first is the predestination of sin. In the prophecy of Jesus’ coming to this earth we read, “The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” If the sins of all of God’s people were not predestination, numbered, and decreed, then one sin of God’s elect could have been missed from being covered by the precious blood of Christ. Because the sins of God’s people were determined, they were covered by that precious blood, and the sins of God’s Elect became as the sins of Christ Himself.
Secondly, quoting from page 125, “He (God) looked down from heaven and out of this chaos, He has picked a few to embrace life eternal through the suffering of His Son, Jesus.” The election of Grace was not made from “sinners from Adam’s fallen race” in this earthly chaos, but the choice was made in eternity before ever the Earth was. The eternal Vital Union of Christ and His Church is a doctrine which has been upheld by all those who fear God and love His truth, but has always been villified by work-mongers, believers in “duty-faith”, and other Arminians from the time of the Apostles. “Chosen in Christ” is not in Adam or out of his corrupt posterity “from the foundation of the world” and not since the fall, or even the decree of the fall of Adam. This eternal unity of Christ and His Bride is that by which they receive from His fullness of Grace and are given the life from above which they possess. Because they were thus united with their Head from all eternity, they are considered one with Him, and their life is the life of the Son of God.
I will quote one last time from this article, “Yet, if we have a belief in God, we have to admit that the things that are here are by God’s purpose.” Why do we have to admit that? By force, logic, or human reasoning? Those who have been taught of God “have to admit” that because they, as Paul our pattern, have been taught it by Divine revelation. If we “have to admit” it by any other means, then we make manifest that we have not that necessary teaching to make us “wise unto salvation.” May we be blessed to see the Vital difference in the two positions and may God give us Grace to stand on the truth.
In that Blessed Hope,
R. N. Lackey
Volume 2, No. 4
May - June 1988