A Transcript Of The Video Study
This is the twenty-first study in our series on Bible Doctrine, and I would like to speak to you on the subject of Supralapsarianism. In our previous study, I explained the meaning of Lapsarianism, distinguishing between two basic views—that of Sub or Infralapsarianism, which refers to God’s decree of the fall before that of election, meaning the human race was viewed in sin when the Father set His love upon the elect; and that of Supralapsarainism, which refers to God’s decree of election before that of the fall, meaning the human race was viewed without sin when the Father set His love upon the elect. For this study, I would like to share some of the reasons I believe Supralapsarianism is the correct view of God’s decree of election.
First, the teachings of Paul reveal it.
The whole of Romans chapter 9 sets out the Supralapsarian framework quite clearly, and that is something I have already expounded in our previous studies. For the purpose of this study, I wish to single out Paul’s analogy of the potter and the clay, showing how it is aligned with Supralapsarianism.
In Romans 9:21-23, the Apostle depicts God the Father as the potter, with the clay serving to illustrate the entire human race as a pure lump of humanity (without viewing them in sin). The potter has power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another vessel unto dishonour. The vessels unto honour are the objects of His special love (the elect), whereas the vessels unto dishonour are the objects of less love (the non-elect). At this point in the decree, the grace and wrath of God are not yet manifested, for sin has not yet been decreed. However, after electing some and reprobating others, it then pleased the Father to determine how the human race would come into existence—“What if God” decreed to bring the human race into existence by placing them into a time continuum and into a purpose built world? “What if [the Father]” then decreed to establish a covenant of works with Adam, appointing him the covenant head of the human race? “What if [the Father]” then decreed to arrange the fall, thereby bringing the entire human race into sin and condemnation. “What if [the Father]” then decreed to make the vessels of dishonor, the vessels of wrath, leaving them to themselves, in their sins, fitting them to destruction? And, “what if [the Father]” then decreed to save His elect people from their sins, giving them to His Son, appointing Him to serve as their Redeemer, thereby making them the vessels of mercy, prepared unto glory?
Do you see, my friends, how the teachings of Paul set forth the Supralapsarian framework of God’s electing love? Now, while one may disagree with this interpretation of Romans 9, yet it is certainly disingenuous to assert those who subscribe to the Supralapsarian view have no scriptural support for their teachings. Indeed, I believe the only consistent interpretation of Paul’s teachings in Romans 9 is that of the Supralapsarian view. This is not a teaching that is based on pure speculation, neither is it the exercise of mere human logic. The Supralapsarian framework is based on the teachings of Holy Scripture, and this is the first reason I believe it is the correct view.
Second, the order of vessels requires it.
I will have you notice, according to Romans 9, the human race is divided between vessels of honor and the vessels of dishonor, before they are made vessels of mercy and vessels of wrath. However, according to the Sublapsarian view, the Father ordains the fall of the human race before setting His special love on anyone, which obviously requires the members of the human race to be made vessels of mercy, before they are made vessels unto honor. You see, if it is from a sinful human race the Father chooses a people to Himself, then that sinful people cannot be vessels unto honor at the initial point of God’s election, until they are first made the vessels of mercy by redeeming grace. Of course, this reverses the order set out by Paul in Romans 9. Paul tells us the first thing the Father does with the human race is to set apart some as vessels unto honor, while setting aside the others as vessels unto dishonor. Now, the only way for some of these persons to be set apart as vessels unto honor, at this initial stage of God’s electing love, is if they are not yet viewed in sin. Henceforth, it is only after the Father has made this initial choice, that He thereafter decrees the fall of man, according to which the vessels unto dishonor are made the vessels of wrath, and the vessels unto honor are made the vessels of mercy. Do you see the order? If you subscribe to the Sublapsarian framework, then you must reverse the order of Romans 9, viewing the members of the human race to be vessels of mercy, before they are made vessels unto honor. Whereas if you subscribe to the Supralapsarian framework, then you keep with the order of Romans 9, viewing the members of the human race to be vessels unto honor before they are made the vessels of mercy, and the others as vessels unto dishonor before they are made the vessels of wrath. And so, I believe Supralapsarianism is the correct view of God’s electing love because it keeps to the order of that which is taught by Paul in Romans 9.
Third, the motivating factor calls for it.
By the motiving factor, I am referring to that which has motivated the Father to elect some and reprobate others. According to Romans 9, the love of God is viewed as the leading factor for both election and reprobation. You see, when the Father envisioned the entire mass of the human race as one pure lump (without sin), there was not at this point in His decree a reason for His saving grace and damning wrath to be manifested. Sin was not yet part of the equation. All that the Father did at this initial stage was to set apart some members of the human race as special objects of His love, while setting aside the others as objects of less love. There was in this initial stage of God’s decree a variant degree of love exercised by the Father towards the elect and the non-elect. There was a special love for the elect, wherein He made them vessels unto honor, whereas there was less love for the non-elect, wherein He made them vessels unto dishonor. All that is in view at this stage of God’s decree is the measure of the Father’s love towards the elect and the non-elect. There was not, at this point, any degree of hostility towards the members of the human race. Why would there be? Sin had not yet been decreed.
To show you want I mean, look at Paul’s explanation in Romans 9:13: “As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” Jacob is used as a metaphor, representing the objects of God’s special love—the elect; whereas Esau is used as a metaphor to represent the objects of God’s less love—the non-elect. But of course, you might ask, “How can you say God has any measure of love for Esau, or the non-elect, since we are clearly told in the text that God hates Esau?” Well, the Greek word (miseō) that has been translated hate may certainly carry the meaning of pure hatred, in the sense of one’s hostility or animosity towards another. Indeed, sometimes the Greek term is used in precisely that way, meaning to abhor or detest something, or someone. However, the same Greek term is also used as a simple measurement of one’s affection for one thing over another. It may simply mean, “to love less”, without any hostility playing a role. For example, the term is used by Christ in Luke 14:26: ”If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” Do you see? Christ is not telling His people that they must nurture hostility towards their family members, detesting and abhorring them. Rather, He is saying they are to set a special love upon Christ, loving Him supremely, while setting less love upon their family members, loving them less than Christ. Now, that is how Paul is using the term in Romans 9:13. He is showing how the Father, in the initial stage of His eternal decree, distinguished between the elect and the non-elect, based purely upon the measure of love He shows to one more than the other. At this stage in the decree, sin was not part of the equation, so neither was the saving grace or damning wrath of God.
Henceforth, the motivating factor in election and reprobation is not the saving grace or the damning wrath of God, but rather, it is the love God extends to the two groups of the human race—a special love towards the elect and less love towards the non-elect. Is this not what the Lord Himself says to Jeremiah in Jeremiah 31:3: ”The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” Do you see? The Father draws His people by grace, or His lovingkindness, based on His everlasting love in election. It is the Father’s everlasting love in election, which is the motivating factor for the lovingkindness, or grace, of His redeeming purpose in Christ. We find the same thing in John 3:16, where we are told—“For God [the Father] so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son…”. The motivating factor for the Father giving His only begotten Son to redeem His people from their sins, is the everlasting love He set upon them when making them the objects of His special love.
Now, what has been said about the motivating factor in election, holds true for the motivating factor in reprobation. If the love of the Father in election is MAGNIFIED by His grace to save His people from their sins, then the less love the Father has towards the non-elect in reprobation is INTENSIFIED by His wrath when leaving them in their sins and fitting them to destruction. Do you see? The love of the Father is the motivating factor which leads to the grace He extends to the elect, as well as the wrath He pours out upon the non-elect, which is the third reason I believe the Supralapsarian framework is the correct view.
Fourth, the doctrine of redemption necessitates it.
The word redemption refers to “the action of regaining possession of something in exchange for payment.” It is derived from a Latin word which means to “buy back”. For instance, in Revelation 5:9, this word is used by the four beasts and the four and twenty elders, who fell down before the Lamb, singing a new song, saying, “Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation…”. Please notice, if redemption is REGAINING possession of something in exchange for payment, then the only way for Christ to “buy back” the elect to the Father, is if the Father previously owned them prior to their sins. Do you see that, my friends? Redemption is not a payment made for the initial ownership of a possession, but rather, it is a payment made for the regaining of a possession that was already owned. Henceforth, the Father must have initially owned the elect prior them being sold into sin, in order for the Son to regain possession of the elect after they are sold into sin. The only Lapsarian view, therefore, which supports the doctrine of redemption, is Supralapsarianism—the Father viewing the human race without sin, setting apart a people as objects of His special love, after which He arranged for the human race to be brought into existence under the headship of Adam, and therefore in sin, after which He drew up the plan of redemption to “buy back” His elect people from their sins, by the redeeming work of Christ. However, if the doctrine of redemption is lined up with the Sublapsarian view of God’s decree, then at no point does the Father own the elect prior to their sins, and therefore how can He redeem that which He never initially owned? Yes, my friends, I believe Supralapsarianism is the correct view because the Father cannot redeem the elect from their sins, unless He owns them prior to their sins.
Fifth, the election of angels affirms it.
There are two species of spirit beings created by God—angels and humans. Both species are made in the image of God (they are spirit beings), and therefore capable of having a personal relationship with Him. While we seldom think of the angels in this way, the scriptures certainly bear testimony of the fact. It should not surprise us, therefore, to learn from the scriptures that God has elected and reprobated members of the angelic host, in a similar way that He has elected and reprobated members of the human race. For instance, when writing to Timothy, the Apostle Paul makes reference to the elect angels in 1 Timothy 5:21: ”I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels…”. Likewise, Jude makes reference to the reprobate angels in Jude 6: “The angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.” And so, we have a reference by Paul to the elect angels, which kept their first estate, having been created in righteousness; and we have a reference by Jude to the non-elect angels, which kept not their first estate, having been created in righteousness but fell in sin. The question which follows, then, is this—did God decree to elect and reprobate the angels before decreeing some of them would fall in sin, or after decreeing some of them would fall in sin? Well, God must have elected and reprobated the angels before decreeing they would fall in sin. You see, God could not have viewed the angelic host in sin, when electing some as objects of His special love, for then they would be in need salvation, which God has never provided for the angels which sin. The only possible framework around which God elected and reprobated the angels is that of Supralapsarianism—He viewed them without sin when electing some and reprobating the others. Henceforth, what we ultimately have according to the masterplan of God for the ages is this:
From eternity, the first thing God envisioned and decreed was the whole mass of the angelic host, viewing them without sin, setting some apart as objects of special love, making them vessels unto honor, and setting the others aside as objects of less love, making them vessels unto dishonor.
In like manner, the second thing God envisioned and decreed was the whole mass of the human race, also viewing them without sin, setting some apart as objects of special love, making them vessels unto honor, and setting the others aside as objects of less love, making them vessels unto dishonor.
It then pleased God to determine how the angelic host would be brought into existence—in a time continuum and a purpose built world. All of the angels were made in righteousness and true holiness, the elect angels remaining in their righteous state, whereas the non-elect angels fell into sin.
It then pleased the Father to determine how the human race would be brought into existence. They would be brought under the headship of Adam, and therefore in sin. The Father would devise a plan of salvation for the objects of His special love, making them vessels of mercy and vessels of gold and silver; whereas He would leave in their sins the objects of less love, making them vessels of wrath and vessels of wood and earth.
I hope you can see, my dear friends, the only possible framework around which God elected and reprobated the members of the angelic host is Supralapsarianism, which affirms, this is the same framework around which He elected and reprobated the members of the human race.
And so, for this study, I have sought to show you why I believe Supralapsarianism is the correct view of God’s decree of election.
First, Supralapsarianism is the correct view because it is clearly revealed to us in the scriptures.
Second, Supralapsarianism is the correct view because it keeps in the right order the vessels of honor and the vessels of dishonor, before they are made vessels of mercy and vessels of wrath.
Third, Supralapsarianism is the correct view because the motivation of God in election and reprobation is love—not grace, wrath and justice.
Fourth, Supralapsarianism is the correct view because the Father can only redeem the elect from their sins if He owns them prior to their sins.
Fifth, Supralapsarianism is the correct view because it is in precisely the same way the Father elected and reprobated the angelic host.
I therefore leave with you these considerations, trusting the Lord to lead you into all truth. Until we meet again for our next study, may you know the blessings of the Lord!
Jared Smith served twenty years as pastor of a Strict and Particular Baptist church in Kensington (London, England). He now serves as an Evangelist in the Philippines, preaching the gospel, organizing churches and training gospel preachers.