WCF 3.3 — Pastoral Comments

Posted on May 20, 2018 by admin

3.3  By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life; and others foreordained to everlasting death.2

1 1 Tim 5:21; Mt 25:41; 2 Rom 9:22–23;Eph 1:5–6; Prov 16:4.

The decree of God, as we saw previously, covers “whatsoever comes to pass” (WCF 3.1). However, the Scripture indicates that God has a special interest in His rational creatures, namely men and angels. Of all His creatures,-animate or inanimate,-God has assigned everlasting existence only to men and angels. But the Scripture also indicates that there are only two destinies appointed for them. They would either enjoy everlasting life or suffer everlasting death.

But notice how carefully our Confession is worded: those who are to be granted everlasting life,-i.e. the elect,-are said to be “predestinated unto everlasting life.” On the other hand, those who are to be condemned to everlasting death,-i.e., the reprobates,-are said to be “foreordained to everlasting death.” Notice how the elect are said to be predestinated while the reprobates are said to be foreordained.

Why this difference? Well, the next three paragraphs of our Confession will explain more fully. But for now, a simple way of looking at the difference is that in the case of the elect, God has appointed some extraordinary and supernatural provisions to bring them to their enjoyment of everlasting life; whereas in the case of the reprobate, no such special provisions are made. This does not mean that the reprobate is simply passed by, for as God has decreed that the elect comes to everlasting life by special grace, so He has decreed that the reprobate comes to everlasting death by his own fallen nature.

Why is this distinction important? Well, it is important because  the controversies that have arisen around this subject make it clear that the biblical truth beats a very narrow path that must be treaded carefully. On the one hand, a denial that God’s decree comprehends the destiny of the reprobate could lead one to conclude contrary to Scripture that the reprobates are masters of their own destiny. On the other hand, a failure to distinguish between election and reprobation may lead one to conclude blasphemously that God is the author of sin.

The framers of our Confession understood that we can only honour God by being true to His own revelation of Himself. Let us, beloved brethren, seek to cultivate the same attitude that we do not believe a lie or misrepresent Him.


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