Sunday, January 4, 2015

Comment on Bonar, Truth and Error

The following is a response to a question of whether Bonar wrote like a five point Calvinist in his book: Truth and Error.

Bonar does not talk like a five pointer when he writes in chapter 4: 

"I believe most firmly that  'God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked.' I believe that 'God so loved the WORLD, that He gave His only begotten Son.' I believe that God is in earnestness and honesty making proposals of friendship to sinners, and beseeching all to be reconciled to Him. I believe that the invitations of the Gospel are to ALL without exception. Yet, while I believe all  this, I believe in election too. 'Many are called, but few are chosen'" (p 49) (All capital letters original text) Sounds rather Lutheran. 

And in Chapter 6 he writes:

"3. I also admit that there are passages in which there can be no doubt as the the universality of the terms. 'Such passages,' says Dr. Candlish, 'refer to the discovery which the work of Christ is fitted to make of the Divine character, especially of the Divine compassion and benevolence, and are to be regarded as giving intimation of the widest possible universality. This is particularly the case in that most blessed statement, 'God so loved the world,' etc.; for we would be little disposed to qualify or explain away the term 'world,' as here employed. We would rather rejoice in this text, as asserting that the gospel has a most gracious aspect to the world, or to mankind as such'" (pp 75, 76).

Such speech is blatantly rejected by the five point Calvinists of today who will allow God to love no one but the elect and earnestly proffer the gospel to no one but the elect.

Concerning Chapter 6, the work of Christ, all Bonar writes there is, by his own words, in refutation to the idea that the death and resurrection of Christ accomplish nothing unless and until it is united with man's will and choosing to receive Him. Who can find fault with this? This speech concerning the work of Christ does enter into the deep things of God who certainly, as He says, knows all of His works from the foundation of the world (Acts 15:18), and indeed they were finished from the foundation of the world (Heb. 4:3). How does the finite measure the Infinite? Yet we must draw from Scripture that God's will in Christ is eternal, defined and established by God, it is certain and cannot be hindered, and in His eyes it is, as Christ said from the Cross, "Finished." There is now no other will or work to be considered in who shall be built up in Him a living temple. But we do see in time the will of God in Christ accomplished through the word and Spirit as sinners are called to repentance and faith.

I note Bonar writes that the "definiteness of the work of Christ" is "an essential element." He does not say it is the only element.  Bonar writes that Christ has a peculiar relationship to His church. This is true and is clearly evident in Scripture, and therefore it is most proper and necessary to consider the work of Christ in light of His bride, His sheep, His church. It is of this element Bonar writes. God certainly has from eternity had in view the Church, the bride of Christ, and has moved to redeem and save her eternally. This reveals itself in many passages of Scripture. Notice how the foreordination of God carries with it His eternal purpose which is most certainly fully and eternally accomplished in Christ.

John 10:14
I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.
Ezekiel 34:12 
As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep,and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.
Ephesians 1:4 
According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
Matthew 25:34
Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
Revelation 13:8 
And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
Revelation 17:8
The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
Hebrews 4:3 
For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
John 17:24
Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.
Romans 8:29
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
1 Peter 1:2
Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
Ephesians 1:5
Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
Ephesians 1:10, 11
That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him; In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
Ephesians 5: 25, 26
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

The bride of Christ is not an uncertain ebbing and flowing gaggle of mankind moved this way and that by their own wills, neither are the lively stones comprising the spiritual Temple of God of uncertain number. God knows eternally with infinite fullness and certainty each and every elect soul built into the Temple, which is the Bride of Christ, and the will of God in Christ is irrevocably accomplished for Her from the foundation of the world.

Scripture demands that we consider the matter in this light, yet it does not take away from the universality of the love of God and the earnest preaching of the gospel of reconciliation to all mankind. It is true that many reject the love of God and despise the gospel, and they must perish justly for their own unbelief. Yet we know some will hear and be saved. Therefore we preach unvarnished truth and endure all things for the elect's sakes (2 Tim. 2:10).

In Christian love,

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