Is God equally active in causing the salvation of the elect and the damnation of the reprobate?

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This question is addressed in the conclusion of the Canons of Dort. The Canons say that there is equal ultimacy in the sense of the decrees. God is sovereign both in the decree of election and in the decree of reprobation, but there is not a symmetry in the exercise of those decrees. They are not exercised in the same manner. Eodem modo is the Latin expression in the conclusion of the Canons of Dort.

The Canons want to say that, while God is in charge both of electing the elect and reprobating the reprobate, and while He sovereignly gives the gift of faith to the elect that they might come to salvation, He does not sovereignly give the gift of sin to lead the reprobate to hell. The Synod rejects that. Traditional Calvinism rejects that. Sinners are responsible for their own sin. They have chosen sin. They will to be sinners. They pursue sin.

A great example of this is Judas. In John 6 Judas is introduced, and the first thing John records about Judas is that he was a devil (John 6:70–71). What John means by this is that Judas was in alliance with the devil and pursued that alliance despite seeing all the goodness, miracles, and teaching of Jesus. Judas was and remained a devil because he exercised his sinful will to pursue sin. Then in John 12 we’re told that Judas was a thief (John 12:6). This too is the exercise of his will to pursue sin.

So Judas is in hell because of his sins. God didn’t give him those sins the way God gives the elect faith, but God allowed the sin of fallen Judas to lead him to where he wanted to go. It is important to see this distinction between the ways in which the decrees are exercised, while also recognizing that both decrees are ultimately to be found in the will of God.

This transcript is from a live Ask Ligonier event with W. Robert Godfrey and has been lightly edited for readability. To ask Ligonier a biblical or theological question, email or message us on Facebook or Twitter.