R. C. Sproul Threads the Needle Again

Ligonier Ministries blog posts a section from one of R. C. Sproul’s books on election:

We conclude that fallen man is still free to choose what he desires, but because his desires are only wicked he lacks the moral ability to come to Christ. As long as he remains in the flesh, unregenerate, he will never choose Christ. He cannot choose Christ precisely because he cannot act against his own will. He has no desire for Christ. He cannot choose what he does not desire. His fall is great. It is so great that only the effectual grace of God working in his heart can bring him to faith.

Sproul’s approach to election leaves a man responsible for his choice because he chooses according to his own desires. He can be called to account for his rejection of Christ because nothing outside of him causes him to choose as he does. He is responsible before God to repent of his sins and believe the gospel.

Sproul also accurately describes a man’s bent toward evil. Men will not choose Christ without the intervention of the Holy Spirit to change their hearts.

Those who reject Christ are responsible. Those who accept Christ humbly acknowledge their dependence on God’s grace, His unmerited favor toward them.

That’s election as the Bible teaches it.


Anonymous said...

I originally thought you meant this post to be about the presidential election. The fact that we elected an individual who openly supports and promotes all forms of abortion confirms man's bent toward evil. Personally I was hoping that McCain would be among the elect.

I believe that election in the Bible refers to a corporate election - the fact that God chose us as His people, the church. It gets trickier when you get to individuals. I don't get how it all works, but I think we can all agree that our response should be to pray for our neighbors and compel them to come to Christ. The rest is in God's hands.

steve martin said...

Jesus said in the gospel of John 15:16, "you did not choose me, but I chose you..."

Also in John 1:13 "; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of man, but of God."

Did you catch that? It blows right by most people...."not born of the will of man."

So much for our free will.

When it comes to choosing God, our will is not free, but rather it is bound in sin. Bound TO sin!

So, Jesus has to call us and choose us.

Great post! Thanks!

- Steve Martin

J. K. Jones said...


The election was not favorable for political conservatives like me. I am upset at the general bend of recent politics.

I also think that the most important thing we can do to change the cultural landscape is to do what you said: “…pray for our neighbors and compel them to come to Christ. The rest is in God's hands.” Christ is our only hope for culture change, and He changes culture one person at a time.

I would like to say that my view of election is a comfort to me when I witness. I have every reason to believe that God can and will change the hearts of the people I witness to. His Spirit will work through the persuasive preaching of His word to change hearts.

It’s tricky business, but it does have practical implications.


J. K. Jones said...


Good to hear from you.

Just don’t forget the entire (!) sentence from our friends at Westminster:

“God from all eternity did by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin; nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.” - THE WESTMINSTER CONFESSION OF FAITH (1646) - CHAPTER III: Of God's Eternal Decree.

Free will, when understood in the limited sense of free agency, is a very important doctrine, especially in our times. Our cultural tendency is to blame someone else for our sins and problems.

We blame our grandparents (genetics), our parents (the way we were raised), our friends (the cultural situation we find ourselves in), and many others. The rightly understood doctrine of free will safeguards us from all of that. We did it. We did it because we wanted to do it! And we are responsible for doing it. There is no one else to blame.


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