Monday, November 3, 2008

Loraine Boettner - currently reading

I am reading an excellent book by Loraine Boettner titled The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed Pub. Co., 1932). The following paragraphs have been a particular blessing to me.

In Chapter 17, That It Makes God the Author of Sin, Boettner addresses this objection. Beginning on page 233:
Many of the divine attributes were displayed through the creation and government of the world, but the attribute of justice could be shown only to creatures deserving punishment, and the attribute of mercy or grace could be shown only to creatures in misery. Until man's fall into sin, and redemption from it, these attributes, so far as we can learn, had been unexercised and undisplayed, and consequently were unknown to any but God Himself from all eternity. Had not sin been admitted to the creation these attributes would have remained buried in an eternal night. And the universe, without the knowledge of these attributes, would be like the earth without the light of the sun. Sin, then, is permitted in order that the mercy of God may be shown in its forgiveness, and that His justice may be shown in its punishment. Its entrance is the result of a settled design which God formed in eternity, and through which He purposed to reveal Himself to His rational creatures as complete and full-orbed in all conceivable perfections.

Chapter 27 is titled The Practical Importance of the Doctrine. Beginning on page 332:
He will be only a very imperfect Christian who does not know these deeper truths which are brought to light by the doctrine of Predestination. He can have no adequate appreciation of the glory of God, nor of the riches of grace which are given him through redemption in Christ; for nowhere else as brightly as in the predestination of the elect to life does the glory of God shine out in its full-orbed splendor, undimmed and unsullied by human works of any kind. It shows us that all that we are and all that we have that is desirable we owe to His grace. It rebukes human pride and exalts Divine mercy. It makes man to be nothing and God to be everything, and thus preserves the proper relation between the creature and the infinitely exalted Creator. It exalts one absolute Sovereign, who is the universal Ruler, and humbles all other sovereigns before Him, thus showing that all men in themselves and apart from God's special favor are on the same level. It has championed the rights of mankind wherever it has gone, in the State as well as in the Church.

The doctrine of Predestination emphasizes the Divine side of salvation while its rival system emphasizes the human side. It impresses upon us the fact that our salvation is purely of grace, and that we are no better than those who are left to suffer for their sins. It thus leads us to be more charitable and tolerant toward the unsaved and to be eternally thankful that God has saved us. It shows us that in our fallen state our wisdom is folly, our strength weakness, and our righteousness of no account. It teaches us that our hope is in God, and that from Him must come all our help. It teaches us that lesson of which so many are fatally ignorant, the blessed lesson of self-despair. Luther tell us that he "used frequently to be much offended at this doctrine," because it drove him to self-despair; but that he afterward found this kind of despair was profitable and near of kin to divine grace.


Anonymous said...

Mr. Brian I am not saying I disagree with this but doesnt that throw us into another discussion? Why would God put us through such misery to show us mercy and grace? Doesnt it still seem hard to come to grips with? I go to a men's bible study called bravehearts and we are going through Christ in the old testement. A month ago doing the bible study I felt God was showing me that without sin I would neve know the true sweetness of His mercy and grace. But still my flesh says why? Why not another way then to make me a sinner and hater of God?

J. Brian McKillop said...


"Why not another way" is an excellent question, and thank you for asking it.

I am not sure that I have an answer except to say that God did not make us sinners and God-haters. It was Adam who did that for us, and had any of us been in Adam's place we would have done exactly what he did. He was the representative for all mankind.

What is thrilling is that before God created Adam, the Cross was already a done deal. In other words God (the Son) obligated Himself to Himself (the Father) before the creation.

All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. [Revelation 13:8 - NKJV]

God was not obligated to create the world, nor was He obligated to redeem fallen man. He was only obligated to His own glory.

God is all-sufficient, and all life, glory, goodness and blessedness are found in Him and in Him alone. He does not stand in need of any of the creatures that He has made, nor does He derive any part of His glory from them. On the contrary, He manifests His own glory in and by them. [1689 Baptist Confession of Faith – Ch. 2, Par. 2]

The reason mercy and grace are so sweet is because they are so totally undeserved. Our pleasure as believers in eternity is going to be found in our worship of God.