This blog chiefly seeks to collate materials available elsewhere on the net by or about J Gresham Machen

Monday, 1 November 2010

On the Fear of God

Machen's piece on the fear of God can be found here. it was published in God Transcendent.

On predestination

I found this here

J. Gresham Machen (d. 1937) has an oustanding explanation of predestination in his little book The Christian View of Man. I realize this biblical doctrine is a tough one. If you’ve wrestled with it or know someone who struggles with this doctrine, I recommend reading chapters 3-6 of The Christian View of Man. I’ll give a few excerpts below. First, he says the main question at hand is

“…whether a man is predestinated by God to salvation because he believes in Christ or is enabled to believe in Christ because he is predestinated.”

After discussing a few different views of predestination, he notes this:

“[The Bible] is utterly opposed to the view that God does not know what man will decide, and it is equally opposed to the view that what God foreknows he does not foreordain. Over against such views, it tells us in the clearest possible way, not only in general that God has foreordained all things according to the counsel of his will but also in particular that he has foreordained the salvation of some men and the loss of others.”

“We do not, indeed know what the reason for God’s choice is. … But because we do not know what the reason is for God’s choice of some and his passing by of others, that does not mean there is no reason. As a matter of fact, there is without doubt an altogether good and sufficient reason. We can be perfectly sure of that. God never acts in arbitrary fashion; he acts always in accordance with infinite wisdom; all his acts are directed to infinitely high and worthy ends. We must just trust him for that. We do not know why God has acted thus and not otherwise, but we know the One who knows and we rest in his infinite justice and goodness and wisdom.”

“Little hope have we, my friends, if our salvation depends upon ourselves; but the salvation of which the Bible speaks is rooted in the eternal counsel of God. [Here Machen quotes Rom 8.28 & 30] There, my friends, is the true ground of all our comforts – not in our love, not in our faith, not in anything that is in us, but in that mysterious and eternal counsel of God from which comes all faith, all love, all that we have and are and can be in this world and in the world to come.”

Again, this is an outstanding treatment of predestination. Machen (as always) writes clearly, biblically, and pastorally. He deals with objections well, and ends this section with a brief discussion of the beauty of God’s gracious act of choosing and saving wicked rebels. If you haven’t read this book, The Christian View of Man, I’d say get it! It is written for the average layperson, so most thoughtful Christians will be able to benefit from it. While I’m at it, I also recommend What is Faith by Machen, which is one of the best presentations of faith alone and justification that I’ve read – its right up there with some of Luther’s sermons. [I also need to note that each of these books is less than $10 - probably under $5 if you get them used!]