Predestination or Freewill Part 9: The Unfathomable Depth

Job 37:23; Job 37:5; Romans 11:33, 34
       Touching the Almighty, we cannot find him out.
       Great things doeth he, which we cannot comprehend.
       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.

A. W. TOZER (1897-1963): There is in the awful and mysterious depths of the triune God neither limit nor end.

JOSIAH PRATT (1768-1844): Say what you will of Arminian difficulties, no difficulty can be greater than reconciling the sovereignty of God with the responsibility of man.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): Why should Paul exhort a believer to persevere, if it be impossible for him to fall away?

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Do not imagine for an instant that I pretend to be able thoroughly to elucidate the great mysteries of predestination. There are some men who claim to know all about the matter. They twist it round their fingers as easily as if it were an everyday thing; but depend upon it, he who thinks he knows all about this mystery, knows but very little. It is but the shallowness of his mind that permits him to see the bottom of his knowledge; he who dives deep, finds that there is in the lowest depth to which he can attain a deeper depth still.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): First, then, when they inquire into predestination, let them remember that they are penetrating into the recesses of the Divine wisdom, where he who rushes forward securely and confidently, instead of satisfying his curiosity will enter into an inextricable labyrinth. For it is not right that man with impunity pry into things which the Lord has been pleased to conceal within Himself, and scan that sublime eternal wisdom which it is His pleasure that we should not apprehend but adore, that therein also His perfections may appear. Those secrets of His will, which He seen it meet to manifest, are revealed in His Word―revealed insofar as He knew to be conducive to our interest and welfare.

JOHN LELAND (1754-1841): To reconcile the eternal designs of God with the freedom of the human will, is a question that puzzles all men―but there is a great doubt whether the mind of man is large enough to reconcile the question: if it is, why is not the matter settled long ago? It appears to be one of the deep things of God, which we are to believe without comprehension. Should the Lord use ever so many words to elucidate the subject, still, the mind of man is so limited, that the matter should remain in the profound.

C. H. SPURGEON: This is not a subject for understanding, it is a matter for believing because it is revealed in the Word of God. It is one of the axioms of theology that, if man be lost, God must not be blamed for it; and it is also an axiom of theology that, if man is saved, God must have all the glory of it.

ALEXANDER CARSON (1776-1844): This is a depth we cannot fathom; but it is a truth necessary for the honour of the character of God; and one which the Scriptures leave no room for doubt.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): Two grand truths have always seemed to me to pervade the whole Bible―that if we are saved, it is entirely of God’s grace; and if we are lost, it will be entirely from ourselves. I know full well a man may easily force me into a corner with things seemingly or really related to the truth of either these affirmations; but he will not shake my confidence in either, while I can read, O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself: but in me is thy help, Hosea 13:9. The connection is like a chain across the river; I can see the two ends, but not the middle; not because there is no real union, but because it is under water. Lower the water, or raise the links, and I shall see the centre as well as the extremes.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): There are extremes in everything. I pray God to shew you the golden mean.

CHARLES SIMEON (1759-1836): I deplore what is called “the golden mean” in matters of Biblical interpretation, and maintain that the truth is not in the middle, and not in one extreme, but in both extremes. Thus I am a high Calvinist sometimes and a low Arminian at other times; so that if extremes please you, I am your man. Only remember, it is not one extreme we are to go to, but both extremes. So, my beloved brother, if I find you at the zenith [height] at one side, I shall hope to find you at the nadir [bottom] at the other.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): We acknowledge the need for preserving the balance of Truth…To emphasize the sovereignty of God, without also maintaining the accountability of the creature tends to fatalism; to be so concerned in maintaining the responsibility of man, as to lose sight of the sovereignty of God, is to exalt the creature and dishonour the Creator.

BROWNLOW NORTH (1810-1875): Paul clearly teaches the doctrines of divine election and human responsibility. I cannot reconcile them. Neither could Paul. But there they are; and the election is God’s, the responsibility is ours.

C. H. SPURGEON: Cling to the two great collateral truths of Divine Sovereignty and human responsibility…That God predestines, and yet that man is responsible, are two facts that few can see clearly. They are believed to be inconsistent and contradictory, but they are not. The fault is in our weak judgment. Two truths cannot be contradictory to each other. If, then, I find taught in one part of the Bible that everything is fore-ordained, that is true; and I find that in another Scripture, that man is responsible for all his actions, that is true; and it is only my folly that leads me to imagine that these two truths can ever contradict each other. I do not believe they can ever be welded into one upon any earthly anvil, but they certainly shall be one in eternity. They are two lines that so nearly parallel, that the human mind which pursues them farthest will never discover that they converge; but they do converge, and they will meet somewhere in eternity, close to the throne of God, whence all truth doth spring.

JOHN BRADFORD (1510-1555): Let a man go to the Grammar school of faith and repentance, before he goes to the University of election and predestination.

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): All objections to predestination proceed from the wisdom of the flesh.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): But I would be tender on this point, and leave persons to be taught it of God. I am of the martyr Bradford’s mind.

C. H. SPURGEON: Remember, no one will be responsible for your damnation but yourself, at the last great day. God will not be responsible for it. “As I live saith the Lord”—and that is a great oath—“I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth. but had rather that he should turn unto me and live.” Do not fancy that election excuses sin—do not dream of it—do not rock yourself in sweet complacency in the thought of your irresponsibility. You are responsible. We must give you both things. We must have divine sovereignty, and we must have man’s responsibility. We must have election, but we must ply your hearts, we must send God’s truth at you; we must speak to you, and remind you of this, that while it is written, “In me is thy help,” yet it is also written, “O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself.”


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