Sovereign Reprobation 6


Michael Jeshurun

You have heard of the truth of ‘Election’ and ‘Predestination’ and rejoice in it, but what of ‘Reprobation’? There are those who say, “We have not so much as heard whether there be such a thing as ‘Reprobation’! Well, THERE IS, and the Scripture has much to say about it, as we shall see.

The Church of the Lord Jesus was meant to be the “pillar and ground of the truth” [I Tim. 3:15]. And just as He came to bear witness to the truth, even so, the ministers of God are commanded to preach the whole truth which is synonymous to sound doctrine. Like everything else sound doctrine has two sides to it, the sweet and the bitter. When the Word of God says that, “men will not endure sound doctrine” [II Tim. 4:3], it usually means the bitter side of sound doctrine. Men generally will most eagerly welcome the doctrine of election but will not endure its opposite i.e., reprobation. They will eagerly welcome a doctrine which emphasizes the Lord’s blessings but will want nothing to do with one that demands the cost of discipleship.

There are those who not only ignore the doctrine of reprobation but at times out-rightly deny it. Take John MacArthur, Jr., for instance, he says,
“You’ll never find any place in the Bible that God sends people to hell, you’ll never find any place in the Bible that God damns people. If men choose to go to hell, they go there because they pronounce their own sentence in rejecting Jesus Christ” (Tape GC 1746).

Well, that is true, but it is only a part of the truth. It is the truth from the human side. But  there is a divine side too, and this side of the truth needs to be stressed or God will be robbed of His glory.


The very terms “elect” and “Election” imply the terms “non-elect” and “Reprobation”. Every choice, evidently and necessarily implies a refusal, for where there is no leaving out there can be no choice. If there be some whom God has elected unto salvation [II Thess. 2:13], there must be others who are not elected unto salvation. If there be some who are not appointed unto wrath [I Thess. 5:9], there must be others who are appointed to wrath. The scripture speaks of those who stumble at the word, being disobedient, whereunto also they were appointed [I Pet. 2:8].

Though the doctrine of reprobation is offensive to the carnal mind, there are those who are compelled to admit that the Bible does teach reprobation, only because there are explicit verses that establish this fact. But they subtly adulterate this biblical truth by speaking of it only as a judicial act of God. In other words, God, they say only hardens and reprobates those who have rejected His truth. Once again consider the words of MacArthur,

John MacArthur wrote:
“Those who perish and go to hell, go because they are depraved and worthy only of hell and have rejected the only remedy, Jesus Christ; not because they were created for hell and predetermined to go there.”
[MacArthur’s Commentary Bible 2 Peter 3:9].

While speaking on the doctrine of Reprobation, one fact needs to be established. i.e. that THE CAUSE OF THE DIVINE DECREE OF REPROBATION IS NOT TO BE FOUND IN ANYTHING ELSE OTHER THAN THE SOVEREIGN GOOD PLEASURE OF GOD. I quote below a commentary on Romans 9:18-20 by A.W. Pink.

A.W. Pink wrote:
“Therefore hath He mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth”. The “therefore” announces the general conclusion which the apostle draws from all he had said in the three preceding verses in denying that God was unrighteous in loving Jacob and hating Esau, and specifically it applies the principle exemplified in God’s dealings with Pharaoh. It traces everything back to the sovereign will of the Creator. He loves one and hates another, He exercises mercy toward some and hardens others, without reference to anything save His own sovereign will.

That which is most repellant to the carnal mind in the above verse is the reference to hardening—”Whom He will He hardeneth”—and it is just here that so many commentators and expositors have adulterated the truth. The most common view is that the apostle is speaking of nothing more than judicial hardening, i.e., a forsaking by God because these subjects of His displeasure had first rejected His truth and forsaken Him. Those who contend for this interpretation appeal to such scriptures as Rom. 1:19-26—”God gave them up”, that is (see context) those who “knew God” yet glorified Him not as God (v. 21). Appeal is also made to II Thess. 2:10-12. But it is to be noted that the word “harden” does not occur in either of these passages.

But further. We submit that Rom. 9:18 has no reference whatever to judicial “hardening”. The apostle is not there speaking of those who had already turned their backs on God’s truth, but instead, he is dealing with God’s sovereignty, God’s sovereignty as seen not only in showing mercy to whom He wills, but also in hardening whom He pleases. The exact words are “Whom He will”—not “all who have rejected His truth”—”He hardeneth”, and this, coming immediately after the mention of Pharaoh, clearly fixes their meaning. The case of Pharaoh is plain enough, though man by his glosses has done his best to hide the truth.

“Therefore hath He mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will he hardenteth”. This affirmation of God’s sovereign “hardening” of sinners’ hearts—in contradistinction from judicial hardening—is not alone. Mark the language of John 12:37-40, “But though He had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on Him: that the saying of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? And to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? Therefore they could not believe (why?), because that Isaiah said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their hearts (WHY? Because they had refused to believe on Christ? This is the popular belief, but mark the answer of scripture) that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.”

Now, reader, it is just a question as to whether or not you will believe what God has revealed in His Word. It is not a matter of prolonged searching or profound study, but a childlike spirit which is needed, in order to understand this doctrine of Sovereign Reprobation.

Before we close we propose to quote from the writings of some of the standard theologians since the days of the Reformation, not that we would buttress our own statements by an appeal to human authority, however venerable or ancient, but in order to show that WHAT WE HAVE ADVANCED ABOVE IS NO NOVELTY OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY, NO HERESY OF THE ‘LATTER DAYS’ BUT, INSTEAD, A DOCTRINE WHICH HAS BEEN DEFINITELY FORMULATED AND COMMONLY TAUGHT BY MANY OF THE MOST PIOUS AND SCHOLARLY STUDENTS OF HOLY WRIT.

Martin Luther is his most excellent work “De Servo Arbitrio” (Free will a Slave), wrote: “All things whatsoever arise from, and depend upon, the Divine appointments, whereby it was preordained who should receive the Word of Life, and who should disbelieve it, who should be delivered from their sins, and who should be hardened in them, who should be justified and who should be condemned. This is the very truth which razes the doctrine of freewill from its foundations, to wit, that God’s eternal love of some men and hatred of others is immutable and cannot be reversed.”

John Fox, whose Book of Martyrs was once the best known work in the English language (alas that it is not so today, when Roman Catholicism is sweeping upon us like a great destructive tidal wave!), wrote:—”Predestination is the eternal decreement of God, purposed before in Himself, what should befall all men, either to salvation, or damnation”.

John Bunyan, author of “The Pilgrim’s Progress,” wrote a whole volume on “Reprobation”. From it we make one brief extract:—”Reprobation is before the person cometh into the world, or hath done good or evil. This is evidenced by Romans 9:11. Here you find twain in their mother’s womb, and both receiving their destiny, not only BEFORE they had done good or evil, but before they were in a capacity to do it, they being yet unborn—their destiny, I say, the one unto, the other not unto the blessing of eternal life; the one elect, the other reprobate; the one chosen, the other refused”. In his “Sighs from Hell”, John Bunyan also wrote: “They that do continue to reject and slight the Word of God are such, for the most part, as are ORDAINED TO BE DAMNED”.

Commenting upon Romans 9:22, “What if God willing to shew His wrath, and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction” Jonathan Edwards (Vol. 4, p. 306—1743 A.D.) says, “How awful doth the majesty of God appear in the dreadfulness of His anger! This we may learn to be one end of the damnation of the wicked.”

Augustus Toplady, author of “Rock of Ages” and other sublime hymns, wrote: “God, from all eternity decreed to leave some of Adam’s fallen posterity in their sins, and to exclude them from the participation of Christ and His benefits”. And again; “We, with the Scriptures, assert: That there is a predestination of some particular persons to life, for the praise of the glory of Divine grace; and also a predestination of other particular persons to death for the glory of Divine justice—which death of punishment they shall inevitably undergo, and that justly, on account of their sins

George Whitefield, that stalwart of the eighteenth century, used by God in blessing to so many, wrote: “Without doubt, the doctrine of election and reprobation must stand or fall together. . . . I frankly acknowledge I believe the doctrine of Reprobation, that God intends to give saving grace, through Jesus Christ, only to a certain number; and that the rest of mankind, after the fall of Adam, being justly left of God to continue in sin, will at last suffer that eternal death which is its proper wages.

John Calvin wrote in his ‘Institutes’ – “Predestination we call the decree of God, by which He has determined in Himself, what He would have to become of every individual of mankind. For they are not all created with a similar destiny: but eternal life is foreordained for some, and eternal damnation for others. Every man, therefore, being created for one or the other of these ends, we say, he is predestinated either to life or to death”

“Fitted to destruction” (Rom. 9:22). After declaring this phrase admits of two interpretations, Dr. Hodge—perhaps the best known and most widely read commentator on Romans—says, “The other interpretation assumes that the reference is to God and that the Greek word for ‘fitted’ has its full participle force; PREPARED (by God) FOR DESTRUCTION.” This, says Dr. Hodge, “Is adopted not only by the majority of Augustinians, but also by many Lutherans”.

Were it necessary we are prepared to give quotations from the writings of Wycliffe, Huss, Ridley, Hooper, Cranmer, Ussher, John Trapp, Thomas Goodwin, Thomas Manton (Chaplain to Cromwell), John Owen, Witsius, John Gill (predecessor of Spurgeon), and a host of others. We mention this simply to show that many of the most eminent saints in bye-gone days, the men most widely used of God, held and taught this doctrine which is so bitterly hated in these last days, when men will no longer “endure sound doctrine”; hated by men of lofty pretensions, but who, notwithstanding their boasted orthodoxy and much advertised piety, are not worthy to unfasten the shoes of the faithful and fearless servants of God of other days.

“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been His counsellor? or who hath first given to Him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory forever, Amen” (Rom. 11:33-36).

[Much of the above is paraphrased and quoted from A.W. Pink’s ‘The Sovereignty of God’ – Baker publications]


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