Thursday, June 2, 2011

On election and faith

From Walter Marshall's work, The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification, we see a few things about election and faith:

1. All who hear the gospel are obliged to believe.

Though the Spirit works saving faith only in the elect, and others do not believe because they are not of Christ's sheep (John 10:26), and on that account it is called the faith of God's elect (Titus 1:1); yet all that hear the gospel are obliged to the duty of believing, as well as to all the duties of the moral law, and that before they know their own particular election, and they are liable to condemnation for unbelief, as well as for any other sin: 'He that does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed on the name of the only begotten Son of God' (John 3:18).

2. Before believing it is not possible to know if we are elect or not.

We cannot have a certain knowledge of our election to eternal life before we do believe; it is a thing hidden in the unsearchable counsel of God, until it be manifest by our effectual calling and believing on Christ.

3. We can be confident we are of the elect if we believe.

And it is no presumption for us to trust confidently on Christ for everlasting life, before we have any good evidence of our election, because God, that cannot lie, has made a general promise 'that whoever believes on Him, shall not be ashamed', without making the least difference among them that perform this duty (Rom. 10:11, 12). The promise is as firm and sure to be fulfilled as any of God's decrees and purposes, and therefore it is a good and sufficient ground for our confidence.

4. The evidence of election is seen in our believing and the evidence of our reprobation is apparent in our not believing.

And we need not fear that we shall infringe God's decree of election by believing on Christ confidently for our salvation, before we know what God has decreed concerning us, for, if we believe, we shall at last be found among the number of the elect and, if we refuse to believe, we shall thereby willfully sort ourselves among the reprobates, 'that stumble at the word, being disobedient, whereunto also they are appointed' (1 Peter 2:8).

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