Why Did God Choose Israel?

God did not choose Israel because Israel was already holy.  He chose them to make them holy.  Israel was called to be holy in two senses of the word.  They were called to be different, to be set apart as a vehicle of God’s plan of redemption.  They were also called to be holy in the sense of being purified.  Pagan practices were absent from Israel’s midst.  They were to be sanctified by drawing near to God.  Salvation for the nations was to come out of Israel.  The Promised Land was to be the breeding ground for the coming Messiah. There was no room for pagan shrines and pagan rites.  God ordained a scorched-earth policy to purge the land for future salvation.

– R.C. Sproul, The Holiness of God, Tyndale House Publishers, Carol Stream, Ill., Copyright 1985, Kindle Edition

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Disctinction Between Faith and Assurance

This distinction between faith and assurance had profound doctrinal and pastoral implications for the Puritans.  To make justification dependent upon assurance would compel the believer to rely upon his own subjective condition rather than on the sufficiency of a triune God in the order of redemption.  Such reliance is not only unsound doctrine, but also bears adverse pastoral effects.  God does not require full and perfect faith, but sincere and “unfeigned” faith.  Fulfillment of God’s promises depends on the matter received, Christ’s righteousness, and not upon the degree of assurance exercised in the receiving.  If salvation depended on the full assurance of faith, John Downame observes, many would despair for then “the palsied hand of faith should not receive Christ.”  Happily, salvation’s sureness does not rest on the believer’s sureness of his salvation, for “believers do not have the same assurance of grace and favor of God, nor do the same ones have it at all times.”  Pastorally, it is critical to maintain that justifying faith and the experience of doubt often coexist.

– Joel Beeke

as quoted by Sproul, R.C.; Grace Unknown: The Heart of Reformed Theology; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; copyright 1997; p. 206

The Goal of Atonement and The Father’s Ultimate Purpose

The goal of atonement was to save the lost.  Christ loved his church and gave himself for it.  He died in order to save his sheep.  His purpose was to offer reconcilation and redemption for his people.

The Father’s ultimate purpose was to save the elect.  he designed the Son’s atonement to accomplish the goal or end of redemption.  Every Arminian would agree with that.  The issue is this: Was God’s purpose to make salvation for all possible or to make salvation for the elect certain?  The ultimate aim of God’s plan of redemption was to redeem his elect.  To accomplish this end he ordained the means.  One was the atonement made by his Son.  Another was the Holy Spirit’s application of this atonement to the elect.  God provides for his elect all that is necessary for their salvation, including the gift of faith.

Sproul, R.C.; Grace Unknown: The Heart of Reformed Theology; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; copyright 1997; p. 175

J.I. Packer on the Difference Between Reformed and Arminian Theology

The difference between them is not primarily one of emphasis, but of content.  One proclaims a God who saves; the other speaks of a God who enables man to save himself.  One view presents the three great acts of the Holy Trinity for the recovering of lost mankind – election by the Father, redemption by the Son, calling by the Spirit – as directed towards the same persons, and as securing their salvation infallibly.  The other view gives each act a different reference (the objects of redemption being all mankind, of calling, whose who hear the gospel, and of election, those hearers who respond), and denies that any man’s salvation is secured by any of them.  The two theologies thus conceive the plan of salvation in quite different terms.  One makes salvation depend on the work of God, the other on a work of man…

– J.I. Packer

as quoted by Sproul, R.C.; Grace Unknown: The Heart of Reformed Theology; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; copyright 1997; p. 163-164

Christ Not Only Died for Us, He Also Lived for Us

Our salvation rests not only in Christ’s atoning death, but also in his life of perfect, active obedience.  If to secure our redemption Christ only needed to make an atonement for us, he could have come down from heaven and gone directly to the cross.  But he also had to fulfill all righteousness by submitting to every point to the law of God.  By his sinless life he achieved positive merit, which merit is imputed to all who put their faith in him.  Christ not only died for us, he lived for us as well.

Sproul, R.C.; Grace Unknown: The Heart of Reformed Theology; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; copyright 1997; p. 68

God Displays With Startling Majesty His Grace and Righteous Judgment

Sometimes a dispute arises concerning the goal or purposes of God’s plan of redemption.  The question is posed: Is the goal of redemption the manifestation of the glory of God?  Or is it the manifestation of the value of fallen humanity?  Is the goal man-centered or God-centered?  If we were forced to choose between these options, we would have to opt for the primacy of God’s glory.  The good news is that we need not make a “Sophie’s choice” here.  In God’s plan of redemption, we see both his concern for the well-being of his creation and his concern for the manifestation of his own glory.  It is even manifested in the punishment of the wicked.  God displays with startling majesty both his ineffable grace and his righteous judgment.

Sproul, R.C.; Grace Unknown: The Heart of Reformed Theology; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; copyright 1997; p. 26

It Was in View of God’s Mercy that Paul Urged Us to Commit to be Living Sacrifices

It was in view of God’s mercy that Paul urged the Romans and us today, to commit their bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God.  Undoubtedly Paul had in mind the mercy of God as he had displayed it in the preceding chapters [of Romans]: the mercy of God in our salvation.  He could have been thinking of the righteousness of God that comes to us by faith, of justification freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, or of God presenting Jesus as a holy propitiation for our sins that turns aside God’s just and holy wrath from us.

– Bridges, Jerry; The Disciplined of Grace:God’s Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness; NavPress; Colorado Springs; copyright 1994; p. 157-158