Question and Answer

Double Predestination

Question:

What is the OPC stance on double predestination?

Answer:

The Orthodox Presbyterian Church states, in its official Confession and Catechisms, that God has chosen some out of the human race to be saved through the finished work of Christ, thus inheriting eternal life. It also acknowledges that others of the same human race are not chosen to eternal life and therefore foreordained to everlasting punishment. This teaching is clearly stated, for example, in the Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter III, section 3 which says this:

By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestined unto eternal life, and others foreordained to everlasting death.

In other words, God sovereignly ordains the eternal destiny of every human being—the lost as well as the saved. This has sometimes been called "double predestination."

However, a careful study of the Westminster Standards will show that this is never to be understood to say—or even imply—that these are parallel to each other in some symmetrical way (as if every aspect in the one case has a corresponding aspect in the other). In the case of the elect there is a divine intervention called regeneration. This is a sovereign work of God the Holy Spirit whereby a sinner who is spiritually dead is made alive. It is this that enables a sinner to see and enter the Kingdom of God (as Jesus teaches in John 3). In other words, God works in those whom he has chosen to enable them to repent and believe. It follows that all the praise, credit and glory belongs to him alone. It does not belong to the elect sinner who repents and believes. In the case of those who are not elect, however, there is no internal work of God. It is not God who makes them evil. They already are evil. In their case the Word of God only hardens them in their sin. And it is to them alone—and not to God—that the blame therefore must belong for their final reprobation.

There is a God-decreed finality in both the predestination of the elect to eternal life and the foreordination of reprobate to condemnation. But there is no symmetry between them. It was for this very reason that the Westminster Assembly never used the Scriptural term predestination in speaking of the lost, but instead the term foreordination.

Thanks for giving me this opportunity to say something again about this awesome subject.


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