WCF 3.5-6

The Westminster Confession of Faith

5. Before the foundation of the world was laid, God chose in Christ those of mankind who are predestined to life for everlasting glory, according to his eternal and immutable purpose and the secret counsel and good pleasure of his will. He did this out of his mere free grace and love, without any foreseeing of their faith, their good works, their perseverance in either of these, or any other thing in the creature that might act as conditions or causes moving him to it. All of this is to the praise of his glorious grace.

6. As God has appointed those whom he chose to glory, so also he has, by the eternal and most free purpose of his will, foreordained all the means of bring it about. Thus those who are chosen, being fallen in Adam,

  • are redeemed by Christ,
  • are effectually called to faith in Christ by his Spirit working in due season, and
  • are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by his power, through faith, to salvation.

No others are redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but only those chosen by God. (WCF 3.5-6)

Many people can think that getting into Heaven is like this. You get to the pearly gates, your life is talked about for a while and if you’ve done a whole bunch of good things then you get into paradise, but if you’ve a done a whole load of bad things then the scales are tipped against you and you don’t have a chance. It’s all about the good outweighing the bad sort of thing. That view is catastrophic because (among other things) the onus to work one’s way to perfection is impossible, and without perfection no one will see the Lord (Lev 19:2, Matt 5:48 c.f. 1 Pet 1:16). And if we’re really honest with ourselves - we know we’re not perfect - not by any stretch of the imagination.

The bible actually reveals that we were created perfect and in perfect relationship with our creator from the get go (Gen 1:26-30, 2:7,15-17, 3:8a) , yet because our first parents Adam and Eve were tempted with being “like gods”, they fell and bought sin into this world (Gen 3:1-7 c.f Rom 5:12-14, 1 Cor 15:21-22), and with sin - death (Rom 6:23, 1 Cor 15:56). Thus because of the curse, our natural inclination is under the same delusion to believe that we are “like gods” and thus we all reject our creator and make our own rules for life to live by (Gen 6:5, 8:21, Job 14:4, Ps 51:5; Rom 1:18-32). In reality, we are blind and from birth have set ourselves up against God, or as the Apostle Paul puts it, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” (Ps 14:1-3, Rom 3:10-12, NIV).

Here in lies the problem. If God is perfect and we are not (because of sin), nor can we make ourselves so (because of the curse), is all lost? Well this is what the Confession is putting forward - without God choosing a people to rescue and redeem, then yes all would be lost. This is why we need God to be proactive in the human dilemma and choose by His own good and unmerited favour a people because if He waited to choose on the bases of our realisation of how things really are, no one would stand a chance simply because we’re dead in sin and as a result there is no one who seeks God.

And so if perfect holiness is the standard, then we have hope because that’s exactly what Jesus is. He is the perfect Son and perfect sacrifice needed for the sin of His people (Ps 2, Matt 3:16-17, Jn 1:29, Rom 3:25) and those in whom God has chosen will at some point come to grips with the reality we live in and realise we’re not perfect, that we need perfection to live with God and God has sent the perfect one for us to take hold of by faith. Take heart brothers and sisters - For those who have come to this realisation and put their trust in the Lord, they will never fall away because what God has started He will complete despite the very imperfect things that He came to rescue (Rom 8:28-30, Eph 1:3-14, Phil 1:6).

Published: April 26, 2024

Updated: April 26, 2024