Pastor - Sovereign Grace Baptist Church
Greetings in the name of our Sovereign Lord, and merciful Savior, Jesus Christ.
I thank you for your letter of March 22, 1984, and for the literature you sent along with the letter. I am also grateful for the candid manner in which you presented your doctrinal postulates, nevertheless I take exception to them, and trust by Holy Spirit enablement to refute them in this epistle.
Let me say at the very outset, I am not as you assume a Calvinist. By the grace of God, I am a Baptist, and Baptists preached the gospel of free and Sovereign Grace fifteen hundred years before John Calvin was born (John Calvin: 1509-1564). Baptists and Calvinists are poles apart on ecclesiology, i.e., the origin of the church, the ordinances of the church, the government of the church, etc. Then too, Baptists strenuously oppose the Calvinistic doctrine which teaches there is soteriological benefit in the sprinkling of infants. Calvinismís pedobaptism is a compounding of heresy, first: it teaches sacramental salvation, and secondly, it is an utter departure from the Scriptural mode of baptism.
Thus it is, your presupposition that Baptists are Calvinists, is groundless, and a stigma that Baptists have for over four hundred years carefully avoided. Calvinís Calvinism is more than the Scriptures can bear, and is therefore rejected by all knowledgeable Baptists.
Salvation Of Dying Infants
1. First you ask: "Could you imagine how a holy, perfect, just, righteous, sovereign God who is also (not a respector of persons) just let a poor helpless innocent baby be cast into hell and the lake of fire because God did not elect that one before the foundation of the world?" I do not want to be, and will not be uncharitable toward you, but must say, your query concerning the destiny of infants who die in infancy manifests one of two things or both, and that is, you did not think the question through before you asked it, or you are grossly ignorant of the Sovereign grace missionary Baptists position as to the eternal destiny of all who die in infancy.
Sovereign grace missionary Baptists have never had the least room in their doctrinal structure for the infant damnation theory, and affinity with those who propagate this prevarication is on the part of true Baptists, nonexistent. You ill assume because Sovereign grace Baptists teach that human volition or will has nothing to do in bringing about the salvation of the soul, that they must of necessity also teach, all who die in infancy are forever damned.
I beseech you, and tell me please if you can, in what Sovereign Grace Baptist periodical did you find the doctrine of infant damnation taught, or even implied? Moreover and more importantly, I ask, in what Missionary Baptist confession of faith is found the least inference which gives credence to the infant damnation doctrine?
The oldest Baptist confession of faith in America (1742), the Philadelphia Baptist Confession explicitly states: "Infants dying in infancy are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit; Who worketh when, and where, and how He pleaseth; so also all elect persons, who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the word" (Chapter 10óEffectual Calling).
John Gill, a soteriological scholar of incomparable ability, said; "There may be the principle of faith implanted, where there is not the opportunity of showing it by a series of good works, or a course of godly living, as in elect infants dying in infancy, and in those who are converted in their last moments" (Commentary on JamesóPage 789).
You speak of a "poor helpless innocent baby." In the spiritual sense, babies are "poor and helpless," but innocence is not one of their characteristics. There was only one infant born on this earth Who was innocent, and that was the sinless Son of God, all others are born of corrupt stock and in the image of their fallen parents.
There is not a doctrine in all of Holy Writ that is more plainly taught or more irritating to human nature than the doctrine of absolute depravity of mankind. When Paul said: "there is none righteous, no, not one" (Romans 3:10), he did not append it with the words; "except babies," but he spoke indiscriminately of age. There is no age stipulated in Scripture this side of the saints final glorification in Christ, where man by nature is anything less than a total sinner. (Rom. chapters 1 & 3; Ps. 39:5, 58:3; Isa. 64:6; Jer. 17:9; Rom. 8:7,8, etc.).
Sovereign grace Baptists do no believe that infant mortality is proof of reprobation, but of Divine election. In an attempt to get around the Bible doctrine of hereditary depravity, Romanism and Protestantism (including Calvinists) invented pedobaptism, and the Freewill so-called Baptists did them one better by coming up with the infant innocence and age of accountability theory. But Godís covenant of redemption needs no such props or human augmentation, for the God of the Bible is absolutely sovereign, and His gracious decree of election includes the dying infant the same as it does the believing octogenarian.
Infants do not die as a result of an ancestorís sin who is some six thousand years, and untraceable generations removed. Adamís federal head ship, whereby he represented all of his posterity was mandated by God, and when Adam sinned, the whole family of man sinned in him (Rom. 5:12; 1 Cor. 15:22). Since the works covenant of Eden was voluntarily broken by all men, for all acted in Adam, sin has not been so much an overt act as it is a state in nature.
Yet, antedating the creation of Eden by an infinite duration, there was another Headship, immutable, and eternally well pleasing unto His Father (Matthew 3:17; Heb. 13:8; 1 Cor. 11:3). This glorious Head is none other than the sin conquering Son of God, Who in the date less past became the Representative and Mediator of all whom the Father had given Him in the eternal covenant of redemption (John 17:2,9; Heb. 13:20). In His office as Mediator between His covenant people and God (1 Tim. 2:5) He stood as the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world (1 Pet. 1:20). And in view of His vicarious suffering (2 Cor. 5:21), we can say without reservation or hesitation, all whom He represented in the blessed covenant of grace shall without the loss of one be with Him in glory, for all was as yet unborn, much less having infancy of days.
Infants are the children of wrath the same as others, but God can and does effect regeneration in the hearts of all who die in infancy. The God of the Bible, Who is verily the God of sovereign grace Baptists, cannot know a problem; for He "worketh all things after the counsel of His own will" (Eph. 1:11). So, He can and does communicate to His elect and dying infants all that is needful for their heavenly entrance.
From the womb to the tomb, God has never had but one way of saving His people, and that is by the atoning blood of Christ (Heb. 9:22). We can most confidently say of all infants who have gone through the door of death, "Beloved, knowing your election of God, ye shall eternally enjoy all that was procured for you by the person of your substitute, in the suffering of your curse" (1 Pet. 3:18).
One of the horrible and hateful things of the Arminian heresy is, it consigns all who die in infancy to the everlasting burnings. The Arminian system teaches no person goes to heaven unless the person by his own freewill and volition chooses Jesus to be his personal Savior, and then with the same stroke of the pen teach that infants do not have sufficient discernment to correctly distinguish between good and evil and cannot prefer the better over the inferior. So, it unavoidably follows according to their own theology, all infants who die in infancy; owning to the utter impotence of their will and intellect are eternally damned.
However, Arminianism has from its very beginning been double tongued, and with the duality of this organ can speak from both sides of their mouths at the same time. Seeing they were faced with an inextricable dilemma their genius was set in motion, and after much exertion of their extraordinary intellectual power, they came up with the religious invention of infant innocence and age of accountability.
This insidious invention did not in the least free them from their own self entrapment, but only served to aggravate and compound their insuperable dilemma, for if infants are innocent and unaccountable unto God, as the Arminian theory contends, then it may be irrefutably concluded that Christ did not die for them, for where there is no sin; there is no need of atonement.
Furthermore, the infant innocence theory is seen by the briefest Holy Spirit given reflection to be a glaring denial of the Divine inspiration of the scriptures, for it is plainly a disavowal of the Scriptural doctrine of hereditary depravity of mankind, and relieves an infinite number of Adamís fallen posterity of their responsibility to the holy, just and sin avenging God.
David, speaking of infants said: ". . . They go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies" (Ps. 58:3). That is, as soon as they are born, they painfully manifest what they were in the womb, and that was a sinner by nature. Thank God for His sovereign grace, and for all who teach it. Godís grace is never less than absolutely sovereign, it never leaves His August throne limping, and can never be enfeebled by the mock resistance of the puny and utterly depraved will of man. It is the sovereign grace of God that reaches the dying infant with quickening power, and translates its blood washed soul to its Christ merited place before God.
Foreknowledge Of God
2. Secondly, concerning the foreknowledge of God, you stand on a faulty and uncertain foundation, a foundation conjured up and laid by Arminianism, and made compatible with every false system of theology. God hates Arminianism, for He hates every "false way" (Ps. 119:104).
I ask: Is the God of the Bible omniscient? Surely, your answer to this question is in the affirmative. There is no room for ambiguity concerning the omniscience of God, for the inspired record unequivocally states: "Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world" (Acts 15:18). So, without reticence, I contend God possesses infallible knowledge of every creature, and of all events of time and eternity. You take variance with my contention, by saying, "God does not know beforehand who will accept Jesus as their Savior."
Let us consider the term "foreknow" in Romans 8:29, and in reading the whole text we are confronted with the inviolable truth that the foreknown of Romans 8:29 are predestinated to be conformed to the image of Godís Son. Having correctly conceded that the one eternal mind is perfect in the absolute sense, and all comprehensive. That is to say: Adam and all of his posterity are forever and fully known of God. However the term "foreknow" of Romans 8:29 has an exclusive feature, for otherwise we are forced to conclude all men are predestinated of God to be conformed to the image of His Son. They who advocate the theory of the ultimate restoration of all mankind embrace this fallacious conclusion, but no Holy Spirit tutored mind is deceived by it.
The foreknowledge of God referred to in Romans 8:29 is more than mere pre-science or precognition. It is more than knowledge of people and events. It has a characteristic which does not infringe upon His omniscience, but teaches there are a people whom God foreknew in a peculiar sense, and only those whom He foreknew in this special or peculiar sense are predestinated unto the image of Godís Son.
While God knows all there is to know about all men, He only knows some of all men intimately, affectionately, and with preference. All men were not included in the covenant of election, and all whom the covenant decree passed over are strangers to the covenant, and aliens to the loving foreknowledge of God. To all whom God does not have any covenant knowledge of, to those whose names were never in the Lambís book of life, to those who are the spiritual children of the devil (John 8:44), He says: ". . . Depart from Me, ye that work iniquity" (Matthew 7:22).
Godís covenant love does not reach these "workers of iniquity," and where His redemptive love is absent, His eternal wrath is everlastingly present, and brings to pass their merited and woeful judgment. God does not know the "workers of iniquity" as children of mercy, He does not know them as penitents, nor as children of truth, but He knows them as unmerciful, impenitents, and children of soul damning error.
Christ, ". . . Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end" (John 13:1). Was there ever a time when Jesus did not love His own? Certainly not! So it is, Jesus not only knew them in the sense of perfect cognition, but He also foreknew them in the sense of forelove or covenant grace. Christ prayed for "His own which were in the world," saying unto His Father: ". . . Thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as Thou has loved me" (John 17:23). How long has the Father lovingly foreknown His Son? There is only one true and honest answer, and that is, eternally. With the same love, and for the same beginning less and endless duration has the Father foreloved all who are convenantly in His Son.
The Lord said unto Jeremiah: "Before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and ordained thee a prophet unto the nations" (Jer. 1:5). Later it is recorded that the Lord said unto Jeremiah: "... Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee" (Jer. 31:3). It is seen from these scriptures that Godís loving knowledge of Jeremiah antedated time, and that his being drawn to God is a direct result of Godís foreknowing love.
In Romans 8:29 Paul tells us that God predestinated, called, and justified all the foreknown referred to in this verse, and seeing all men are not thusly blessed, the word "foreknow" in the text must mean something more than apprehension or mere comprehension of the senses. In and by His infinite counsel, God has numbered every hair on every head, counted the steps of every man. He knows the down sitting and uprising of every person. He knows every manís thoughts long ere they ever reach the human intellect. Divine omniscience applies equally to all men, for God knows all there is to know about all of His creation. Thus it is, we are driven by honor of Godís word to conclude that the "foreknow" of Romans 8:29 is not restricted in its meaning to the infinite understanding of God, but has another and more important meaning which the effects of the term testify of, and that glorious meaning is, FORELOVE.
". . . The Lord knoweth them that are His . . ." (2 Tim. 2:19). Surely, no man indwelt by the Holy Spirit would be so crass as to construe these words to mean the Lord does not know those who are not His covenant children. To say in one breath, God is omniscient, and then say with the second breath, God does not know all things, is not only a glaring contradiction, but it also reveals a critical and urgent need for a closer familiarity with God. Yet, this is precisely what Arminianism teaches concerning the counsel of God. According to Arminian theology the Lambís book of life is incomplete, and God does not know who will be the next person to exercise their freewill and elect Jesus to be his Savior. Owing to this flaw in His wisdom, God must play the wait and see game before He can add another name to the Lambís blood bought book. Oí inconsistency, thou are a curse. The Scripture leaves no doubt as to the antiquity of the book of life (Rev. 17:8), and all the names written therein have Christ for their eternal Surety (Heb. 7:22; 13:20).
God spoke to Israel, saying: "You only have I known of all the families of the earth . . ." (Amos 3:2). God knew at the time and yet knows every family or nation that has or shall ever dwell on the earth. So, it must be a peculiar and restricted sense in which He knows numberless elect within Israel, and that sense is one of forelove. All whom God knows today, He has known eternally, and all whom God loves today, He has loved eternally. There is no way to separate Godís omniscience from His forelove.
God does not decree an event because He knows it will come to pass, but the event comes to pass because God decreed it. The "whom" of Romans 8:29 are synonymous with the "glorified" of Romans 8:30, and their glorification is not realized because God foreknew it, but because God decreed it. Please note the past tense of the verbs in Romans 8:30, this declares more than omniscient fixation of events, for it is "whom He did foreknow," and not merely what He did foreknow.
Arminianismís Volitional Salvation
from your letter: "In order for one to acquire life an individual must
believe God at His word and of his own self choose to have life." A casual
scrutiny of your words in the above quote reveals that in your notion, God is
utterly passive in the salvation of souls, and that man accomplishes his own
redemption. However, the Scripture emphatically declares that Jesus is the
Sovereign and unassisted Savior of His people (Matthew 1:21; Acts 4:12; etc.).
Christ actually procured life for all whom He represented in His substitutionary
death, and it borders on blasphemy to say His intercession on the cross needs to
be underwritten by the volitional power of man. God never acts except
sovereignly, and He needs not nor solicits the approbation of man upon any of
In an effort to validate your notion of salvation by the freewill of man, you refer to the Old Testament account of the brazen serpent lifted upon a pole. In reference to this type you say: "To Ďlook and liveí was a matter of a choice of their will to exercise." The brazen serpent of Numbers 21 is a vivid type of Christ lifted up on the cross, where He bore the penal judgment of His people. I do not agree with you that the type teaches salvation by human volition.
Did the snake bitten Israelites look at the serpent in order to believe, or because they already believed? Can a man by carnal intellect see the true Christ before He believes in Him, or is his looking to Christ the effect of a previous Divinely imputed faith? Did not Christ, the Anti type of the brazen serpent in dialogue with Nicodemus use this very type to remind him: ". . . Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3)? The new birth is not wrought by man seeing Christ, but seeing Christ is the immediate and blessed effect of the new birth.
The Israelites (Num. 21) were saved from physical death by a look of God given faith toward the brazen serpent, their looking and healing was the result of their faith, and not the cause of it. Saul of Tarsus saw the Lord when utterly destitute of physical sight (Acts 9:9,27). It was by the eye of faith that he saw the Lord, for at the time he was both spiritually and physically blind (1 Cor. 2:14). It is God Who opens the hearts of His people, and plants saving faith therein, so as they may see Christ, their eternal and glorious redeemer (Acts 16:41).
Your love for the Arminian fable of self salvation has not only deceived you as to how God saves His people, but it has also made you careless in the handling of Scripture. You quote God as saying through the medium of Joshua: "I have set before you this day life and death, but why will you die, therefore choose life." Would you please cite the text or immediate context where these words are recorded? You have, and I believe unintentionally, taken words from two different books of the Bible, and from four different chapters and put them together as a singular text of Scripture. I will not at this time accuse you of deceitfully handling the word of God, but it is obvious that your exercise of undue liberty in bringing together the words of your quote, was an attempt by you to defend your indefensible and beloved Arminianism.
In Deuteronomy 30 Joshua is speaking to Israel as a theocratic body. His words had to do with civil matters, with temporal blessings or cursings, and not with eternal life or eternal death, i.e., heaven or hell. Israelís stay in the promised land was conditioned on their obedience to the law of Moses, but their salvation typically wrought by the blood of the passover lamb was unconditional. When any person interprets the words "Why will you die?" which are addressed to Israel to mean, "Why will you go to hell," they flaunt all exegetical propriety, and thereby show gross disrespect for the word of God.
Our variances on the doctrines of sovereign grace and human freewill has not gendered any malice in my heart toward you, for if it were not for the unmerited favor of God wherein He caused me to see myself as the suppliant, and Himself as the Sovereign, I would be found in the Arminian camp. Whatever knowledge of God we have is owing to the Spirit of truth, and not to our vain and puffed up wisdom, for "no flesh shall glory in His presence" (1 Cor. 29,30).
Brother Oscar B. Mink
To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. (Ephesians 1:6)
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