everyone and has a wonderful plan for his/her life. But the Bible contradicts that notion

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1 Book Report: Predestination by Gordon H. Clark John Robbins in his Forward states that false ideas of God prevail in many socalled Christian churches. He states, Nominally Christian churches teach that God loves everyone and has a wonderful plan for his/her life. But the Bible contradicts that notion from Genesis to Revelation. Gordon Clark s book Predestination, is a short yet comprehensive book on a controversial topic to most Christians. The overall book proceeds methodically from a discussion on creation and the meaning of create, to creation s relation to omnipotence, and the purpose of creation. Clark then quickly reviews another attribute of God that relates to the preliminary discussions of the topic of predestination, that of omniscience. Clark then gets to the eternal decrees of God, predestination (as he states), and then to regeneration. No discussion of predestination would be complete without a substantial inclusion of the topic of free will, and Clark tackles this subject in a clear and concise manner. Finally, after his conclusion, Clark includes a lengthy appendix on predestination in the Old Testament. In his introduction, Clark states, A study of the Bible will show that predestination is not an obscure doctrine or one infrequently mentioned. It permeates the Bible and turns out to be very fundamental. He also states that we should treat the subject carefully. Clark does this from the outset of his treatment of predestination by beginning with the doctrine of creation. He demonstrates from several Scripture verses that God created everything, physical and spiritual. Clark also takes great care to show from Scripture that God created everything ex nihilo, out of nothing, and how even one instance of creation ex nihilo would require an exercise of omnipotence. The foundation 1

2 of predestination lies in the Being of God, and creation and omnipotence demonstrate that there can be no question of God s power to predestinate. God could predestine everything, because there is no limit to His power. Clark then moves to an elaboration of the purpose of creation, because that purpose will ultimately impact the purpose and definition of predestination. God created for Himself. He did not need creation, nor was He missing something without creation. The purpose of creation was God s glory. Clark states, The purpose, then, of creation will be, not the production of God s internal or external excellence, but the display of his greatness to principalities, to powers, and to mere human beings. The purpose of creation is the glory of God. Only by realizing the glory and omnipotence of God in the purpose of creation can a proper understanding of predestination be accomplished. Predestination relates to God s purpose and intentions, and are therefore related to and impacted by God s knowledge. Consequently, Clark spends an entire chapter on God s omniscience. Creation must be evidence of God s omniscience, since God created the entire physical and spiritual world out of nothing. Since God created all things, He must have perfect knowledge of all that He created. And to continue the line of thought further, if God knows everything, then it follows that God is also everywhere, omnipresent. God knows everything because He is everywhere. If God knows everything and is everywhere, and is omnipotent, then God can exercise providence over all of His creation. God s knowledge is also eternal. God has never learned anything, nor has He ever forgotten anything. If God had ever learned something, then He must have 2

3 previously been ignorant of it. And if he had been ignorant and learned of something, then there is the possibility of God forgetting something. God does not discover truth; his knowledge is self-originated and it resides within Himself. Therefore, whatever God declares is true, and what He knows is certain. God knows the past, present, and future, and because He knows it, it will certainly come to pass. Because God knows it, God determines it, and it will come to pass. Clark has laid the groundwork in his initial chapters on creation, omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. Given these attributes of God and their implications, he then turns to define and explain God s eternal decree and its execution. God plans and acts. Many people today believe in a form of Deism, in which God knows everything, but doesn t necessarily cause everything. Deists states that God created, essentially wound up the universe, and now sits back and let s it operate under its own laws of nature. However, even the accomplishment of one prophecy requires absolute control, not just knowledge, of the whole universe. If one minor atom is out of place, then that may cause a chain reaction of events that prevents the prophecy from taking place. However, the Bible states that God created all things for His glory, and that the course of history from the beginning to the end are all parts of God s plan. God declares that His counsel, His plan, His decree, shall stand, and it will all be done according to God s pleasure. One aspect of this eternal decree that Clark explains is the fact that God determines human decisions. Especially troubling to many Christians is the idea that God causes evil events. However, the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, clearly 3

4 show that God hardens hearts, causes calamities as well as good, and controls people s decisions and emotions. Up to this point in his book, Clark has methodically shown that God created all things, knows all things, is all-powerful, is everywhere, and controls and determines all events, history, and even human decisions. However, there is still a class of events and decisions which many Christians claim that God does not control, and those are the events of faith, salvation, and conversion. However, Romans 8:28-30 states that God chose a certain people on purpose, and He works every detail of their lives for good. Foreknowledge is not simply looking into the future and knowing what is there; it is certain because God determines it. God causes good, and God causes evil, both to bless His people. And whom God calls, he also justifies. And whom God justifies, He also glorifies. No one is lost along the way. It is the same group of people throughout the whole process, because God determines in eternity of whom this group will consist. Because of God s attributes discussed above, God can and does make this happen, all for His good pleasure. Clark expounds on Romans 9 to show how clearly this chapter explains the concept of predestination. Paul explains that the promises to Israel are not null and void due to salvation by faith, because the promises were not made to all who are born as an Israelite. They were made to spiritual Israel, the chosen people of God. This section of Scripture shows clearly that God s choice comes before our birth, and also shows that it depended not on any action or choice we make. It all depends on God s power and choice; therefore, it stands. Clark states, All objections presuppose that man is in some 4

5 way or other independent of God and has obtained from somewhere or achieved by his own efforts some rights over against him. Obviously such a view is totally destructive of Christianity. Predestination does not annul the promises; it makes their fulfillment inevitable. Clark, following his chapter on predestination, addresses the issues around regeneration and repentance. Clark first addresses sin, because no one can fully understand regeneration unless we first understand what the sinful condition of man is. The sinful condition of man shows the necessity of regeneration. Salvation must begin with the new birth, but it is God alone that chooses and works in regeneration. The problem is that the unregenerate man does not want to seek God nor does he desire to repent of his sins. He is dead, as the Bible describes him. No one is reborn out of his own free will; it is God that draws him. Clark shows with numerous Scripture verses that it is God that regenerates, and this drawing and regeneration is through irresistible grace. Arminianism, on the other hand, holds that God elects people to salvation, not of Hid own good pleasure, but based on an individual s voluntary reception of grace and perseverance. This makes God s decree depend on man s choice and ability. Likewise, Christ s death does not effectually save anyone, but His death rendered it possible for people to be saved. The Holy Spirit draws all men universally, but some are saved because they cooperate with Him and others are condemned because they do not cooperate. Salvation in the Arminian scheme does not make salvation certain for anyone, because it all depends on the will of man. 5

6 Faith, in the Arminian scheme, is something that we do voluntarily in order to be saved. However, the Bible, specifically Ephesians 2:8, states that faith is a gift of God, so that no one may boast. Faith does not come by an independent decision of man, but as a work of God. Whether a man believes anything, and how much he believes, is determined by God, not of a man s own will or decision. One of the standard objections to predestination is that it conflicts with man s free will. After a brief discussion of the philosophical concept of free will, Clark defines freedom of the will as the absence of any controlling power, even God and his grace, and therefore equal ability in any situation to choose either of two incompatible courses of action. This is the typical definition of free will given in philosophy and in common discussion. Men will, and have a will, but it is not exercised independently of God. The Bible clearly contradicts this concept of free will in all of its teaching. Clark bolsters his argument with numerous scripture verses and exegesis, such as Philippians 2:12-13, Proverbs 21:1, Ezra 6:22, and numerous others to show that God controls people s decisions, emotions, ideas, and thoughts. Finally, Clark addresses several of the Arminian objections and answers them with Scriptures and logic. In the Appendix to the book, Clark cites an abundance of Old Testament scriptures and how these demonstrate predestination. This section of the book is a treasure in itself for those who wish to understand a biblical theology of predestination. 6

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