December 2016 • Volume XVI, Issue 8
God’s Longsuffering and the Reprobate Ungodly
In the last five issues of the Covenant Reformed News, we
have been setting forth the Bible’s teaching concerning the
divine attribute of longsuffering. Now we shall consider
this perfection of God in connection with the impenitent
We start with the founder and first ruler of the Northern
Kingdom, Jeroboam I, whom Scripture repeatedly calls the man
who “made Israel to sin” (e.g., I Kings 14:16; 15:26, 30,
34; 16:2, 26; 22:52; II Kings 3:3; 10:29; 13:2, 11; 14:24;
15:9, 18, 24, 28). This wicked man rebelled against the
house of David and, hence, against Jesus Christ, the sole
king and head of the church, whom David typified. Jeroboam
forsook Jerusalem (a picture of the true church), its temple
(where Almighty God especially dwelt), its altar and
sacrifices (which pointed to Christ’s satisfaction for sin)
and the Aaronitic priesthood (which God had ordained).
Instead, Jeroboam began a new dynasty over the northern
tribes and established idolatrous shrines at Dan and Bethel,
where non-Levitical priests offered sacrifices to the two
golden calves that he had made, in keeping with his new
religious calendar (I Kings 12:28-33).
Given the height of Jeroboam’s abominations, why did not the
Holy One of Israel cut him off sooner? It was certainly not
that there was any divine love for him!
One factor is that God willed the development of the false
church in the Northern Kingdom over against the true church
in the Southern Kingdom, also called Judah. This served to
heighten the antithesis and to provide New Testament
Christians with an Old Testament example of the true church
and the false church existing side-by-side at the same time
(Belgic Confession 29). Another reason is that Jeroboam had
to live long enough to have a regenerate son, Abijah, of
whom was “found some good thing toward the Lord God of
Israel” (I Kings 14:13).
Our second example is King Ahaz, ruler of the Southern
Kingdom of Judah (rather than the Northern Kingdom of
Israel, established by Jeroboam). You can read about Ahaz’s
gross idolatry at God’s temple in Jerusalem in II Kings 16
and II Chronicles 28. Again the question arises, Why did God
not slay him earlier? It was not that God was longsuffering
towards him and desperately tried to convert him! Rather,
Ahaz must be succeeded by the son of his own loins, the
pious Hezekiah, who would begin cleansing the pollutions of
the temple on the very first day of the first month of the
first year of his reign (II Chron. 29:3, 17).
Our third individual is found in the New Testament
Scriptures: Jezebel, that wicked woman in the church at
Thyatira (Rev. 2:18-29). She was a false prophetess, who
promoted fornication and idolatry in the church, which she
defended by her antinomianism. Her deceitful claim was that,
unless one knows “the depths of Satan,” one can never fully
appreciate the greatness of God’s rich grace of forgiveness
Concerning Jezebel, Christ declared, “I gave her space to
repent of her fornication; and she repented not” (21). Was
this because God loved her and was longsuffering to her and
her reprobate followers? No! The Lord Jesus promised to
“cast her into a bed [of sickness]” (22), adding, “I will
kill her children with death,” so that “all the churches
shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and
Turning from these three individuals (Jeroboam, Ahaz and the
prophetess Jezebel), we will next consider a group of
people: the false teachers mentioned in II Peter 2 and Jude.
Do either of these holy men speak of those reprobate church
leaders (Jude 4) as the recipients of God’s longsuffering or
grace? No! Instead, they stress the certainty of their
punishment (II Pet. 2:1, 3-6, 9, 12-13, 17; Jude 5-7,
13-15). God will execute His severe judgment upon these
false teachers in accordance with His eternal plan! As Moses
says, “their foot shall slide in due time” (Deut. 32:35).
Our last biblical example is Judas, whose eternal
reprobation is underscored by Scripture (John 6:64, 70-71;
13:18, 21, 26-27; 17:12). Judas was a thief; he had the bag
and was pilfering all along (John 12:6; 13:29)! So why did
God not cast him into hell even then? First, Judas’ betrayal
of Christ was predicted in the Old Testament (Ps. 41:9;
55:12-14, 20-21; 109:6ff.) and so in the providence of God
this had to come to pass. Second, God had appointed Judas’
treachery as a crucial part of the way in which the Lord
Jesus would go to the cross, where He would die for all the
sins of His people.
Christ did not speak of any divine love or longsuffering for
Judas that desired his salvation. Instead, the Son of God
proclaimed regarding the traitor, “The Son of man goeth as
it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son
of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had
not been born” (Matt. 26:24). This is true of all who die in
impenitence. All those in hell wish that they had never
Christ declared this judgment upon Judas (and all who lead
others into sin): “It is impossible but that offences will
come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were
better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck,
and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of
these little ones” (Luke 17:1-2; cf. Matt. 18:6; Mark 9:42).
God does not immediately cut off the reprobate not because
He is longsuffering to them but because, in His inscrutable
justice, He is giving them more time and opportunity to heap
up wrath unto themselves (Rom. 2:5). Jehovah’s purpose with
the impenitent ungodly is “to shew his wrath, and to make
his power known” (9:22).
Whereas God puts up with or forbears or “endure[s] … the
vessels of wrath fitted to destruction,” He does this “with
much longsuffering” towards His elect “that he might make
known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which
he had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom he hath
called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles”
(22-24). Reprobation and forbearance serve God’s election
and longsuffering towards His beloved people in Jesus
Christ! Rev. Stewart
Christ, Original Sin and Pain
Our readers will recall that in the last News we discussed
whether our Lord could be sick. I answered in the
affirmative for He was like us in all things, sin excepted
(Heb. 4:15). The thought occurred to me that the fact that
our Lord was without sin, even though He was born into our
human race, requires some further explanation. In fact, one
reader asked me personally how that could be: How could the
Lord escape original sin and original corruption, for He was
born of Mary and in the line of Adam?
The answer to this question is not stated in so many words
in Scripture. The answer must be deduced from other truths
the Bible tells us about our Lord Jesus Christ.
So that all our readers may know what original sin
(consisting of original guilt and original corruption) is, a
short explanation will assist us.
Original guilt is the guilt imputed by God to the whole
human race for the sin Adam committed. That is, Adam was
guilty before God for eating of the forbidden tree and he
transgressed this divine command as the federal head of all
who descended from him. What then of Christ Himself, for He
was born a member of the human race?
The central proof for original guilt is found in Romans
5:12-14: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the
world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men,
for that all have sinned: For until the law sin was in the
world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over
them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s
transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.”
Although the truth of the above text is denied almost
universally, it stands firm against all enemy attacks. Adam
sinned. Death came into the world because of Adam’s sin. Why
did death come on all men, even though they had not sinned
as Adam did? Death came on all because all have sinned in
Adam. People go to hell because mankind is guilty in Adam of
eating of the forbidden tree. God also, of course, punishes
the impenitent for their actual sins, the sins they commit
Furthermore, Adam was a “figure” of our Lord, for Christ was
eternally appointed to be the federal head of the elect. The
result is that the righteousness that our Lord earned on the
cross is imputed to all the elect for whom Christ is head
and for whom He died.
Original corruption is the lot of all men, for death, which
is the penalty for sin, came on all men. Paul reminds the
Ephesians that they were “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph.
2:1). All men are totally depraved (which is what death in
sin means) who carry in them the corruption of sin. Total
depravity is the punishment on guilty sinners that comes on
all from guilty Adam.
Our Lord escaped original guilt because, although He was a
part of the human race, His Person is the Second Person of
the Holy Trinity. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit who
preserved Him from the corruption that is passed on from
parents to children through conception (Luke 1:35). And so
our Lord was like us in all things except sin.
Some also use the following argument: guilt is transmitted
through the father; our Lord had no earthly father; God was
His Father; therefore, Christ was without original guilt and
corruption. In this argument, the last three statements are
true but where is the proof that “guilt is transmitted
through the father”?
In connection with this discussion, another reader wrote
asking the following: “Could Christ feel pain? Could He have
an accident?” I take the last question to mean, Was Christ
subject to unintended injuries through some mishap?
In answer to the first question, yes, of course, He could,
and did, feel pain. He could feel the slap in the face
during His trial by the Sanhedrin. He could feel the crown
of thorns pressed into His head. He could feel the whipping
by the Roman soldiers. He could feel the excruciating pain
of being nailed to a cross and hanging from those nails in
the heat of the blazing sun. He felt the wrath of God as the
very torments of hell, a pain we shall never have to feel,
if we believe in Him who suffered for us. He suffered
terribly in both body and soul.
The question about “accidents” is somewhat different. The
reader should understand, first of all, that there is no
such thing as an accident. We might be hurt if something
happens to us that we did not expect. But God’s providence
determines all things down to the smallest detail (Eph.
Nothing could happen to Christ without His will as the
eternal Son of God. He could not drown in a ship sunk by a
storm on the Sea of Galilee. He could not be killed when the
wicked tried to push Him off a cliff in Nazareth. Because He
was “true God of true God” (as our beautiful Nicene Creed
expresses it), nothing could take Him by surprise or happen
to Him without His will.
But whether Christ’s divine nature, which is omniscient,
always revealed all He knew to His human nature, I do not
know. He knew, without being told, what His disciples were
thinking. He knew that the cross lay at the end of His
ministry. He knew what the Jews would do to Him, what Pilate
would do to Him and what God would do to Him.
But did He know the identity of the woman who touched the
hem of His robe? He asked, “Who touched me?” (Mark 5:31).
Was that merely to bring the person forward? Or did He
really not know? His divine nature did but did it always
reveal things to His human mind? I do not know.
This is part of the great mystery of Immanuel, God with us.
I know what the Creed of Chalcedon confessed: that Christ
united in His divine Person both the divine and human
natures without separation, without confusion, without
mixture and without change. And I know whom I have believed
and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have
committed unto Him against that day (II Tim. 1:12). This is
enough and this is my salvation! Prof. Hanko
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