WCF 3.4 — Pastoral Comments

Posted on May 20, 2018 by admin

3.4  These angels and men, thus predestinated, and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished.1

1 2 Tim 2:19; Jn 13:18.


We saw previously how the framers of our Confession speak of the elect as being predestinated unto life whereas the reprobates are foreordained unto death. This careful choice of word reflects the difference between the way that God deals with the elect and the reprobate. He deals with elect persons with a very special providence that includes not only the Crucifixion of Christ, but divine intervention in the life of the individual with the gift new birth. On the other hand God deals with the reprobate largely according to the inclination of their fallen nature. There is, therefore, very little that is similar between the elect and the reprobate in the plan of God. Indeed, the Scripture teaches us that although it may not be apparent to us, every individual is being dealt with by the LORD according to His eternal purpose for him or her. In other words, there is no point in the life of any person or angel at which it is uncertain to God how He would deal with him or her.

This fact is so important for us to understand if we are to grasp the doctrine of our salvation, that the current paragraph of our Confession emphasises: (1) That the number of elect and reprobate are fixed from eternity; (2) that the number of elect and reprobate can neither be increased nor diminished; (3) that individuals are predestinated or foreordained particularly and unchangeably so that none can, for example, be an elect but somehow loses his election for some reason.

But why is this truth important? It is important because the doctrine of the sovereignty of God is difficult for fallen man to appreciate and to receive. Man would rather believe that he is the master of his own destiny. Thus many in the history of the church rejected the doctrine outright. Others are not so bold seeing that Scripture is clear on the doctrine. Instead, they try to tamp down the doctrine by suggesting that there is no individual election, but national election; or that there is predestination but no reprobation; or that whether one is elected or not is dependant not upon God’s predetermination, but on the individual’s exercise of his freewill; or that even though God has foreordained whom would be saved, those who are not in the list could make it if they work hard enough. All these ideas are, of course, unbiblical. Let God be true and every man a liar. Let us rather submit humbly to what God has revealed in His word. Let us ascribe glory entirely to God for our salvation.

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Westminster Confession of Faith — With Brief Pastoral Comments
© 2017 by Pilgrim Covenant Church