The Role for the Reprobate
When one views an action movie or a dramatic stage play, he expects glory for the protagonist and destruction for the antagonist. Without this tension, there is no story. Moses has far less glory without Pharaoh. Jesus is deprived of some glory without Judas Iscariot.
Each day, I walk our dog and multitask by discarding trash in the dumpster/skip. All that is disposed, served a temporary purpose. When the dog defecates en route to the dumpster, I bag it, and it too is removed. Some things are saved, and other things are gathered to be disposed.
I am not a fan of August heat, but I love the sweet corn at the end of that month. To get to the golden kernels, I must “shuck” each ear of corn, removing the husk. The non-edible parts of the corn all served a temporary purpose before being burned on the campfire, but the whole purpose for growing corn is for the love of the kernels.
To understand the biblical doctrine of God’s reprobation, He has given helpful illustrations from the created world. Just as the Egyptians, Babylonians, etc. served Israel in Old Testament history, so reprobation serves election (Rom 9:22–23).
God loves His elect people with an infinite, eternal love. He ensures that all things, even troubles in this world, work together for good, for His beloved who love Him (Rom 8:28). At the end of history, that is, God’s story at its consummation, the trash will be collected and burned. This includes the present creation, both the earth and the heavens (2 Pet 3:10–12).
Adam had dominion over the earth, but his dominion and this earth proved temporary. Temporary does not function in eternity. It has no purpose but to be destroyed. Christ, the second Adam, is Lord of all His dominion, which is eternal and indestructible. The new heavens and earth, void of the fall and of sin, will be eternal (Is 65:17).
In order for God to demonstrate His exclusive love for those He has chosen to spend eternity with, in the new creation, He has placed antagonists into His story. God’s eternal decree of reprobation is the purposeful creation of temporary antagonists to His people. The wheat and tares are together for a time. The sheep and the goats share the fold for a night.
As God bestows grace upon His beloved elect, they receive gifts from God. The fruit of their being grafted into Christ manifests and multiplies until the day of harvest. These chosen people bear indefatigable witness of Christ and His love for them. Such love grants them the title, “children of God (1 Jn 3:1, 10).”
In the same field, the reprobate children of the devil are sown like tares (1 Jn 3:10). They grow fast and furious in the ways of their father, who is a murderer from the beginning. All that is wrong with fallen, sinful humanity is represented in them. At the end of the day, they are void of faith in Christ, who is the only Savior of sinners. God judges them with justice and wrath, in a demonstration of great power (Rom 9:22). At the appointed time, God throws down the prideful nations, pulling down kings, and every reprobate person.
God is gathering into one, all things ordained unto eternal life (Eph 1:9–10). This is according to His eternal good pleasure, decreed so that all things will come to pass. The story is one story, which God has been unfolding from the beginning. Election and reprobation were there with Cain and Abel (Gen 4), and these will be with us until the day of God’s judgment, when the final separation occurs for the living and the dead in the resurrection.
God is glorified in both election and reprobation. All things, eternal and temporary, will be preserved or discarded, respectively. The reprobate will have served their purpose as Canaan did in its antithetical role to Israel. As God’s love can only be understood against the foil of reprobation, we thus understand the role of reprobation.
Spokane Valley, Washington
September 3, 2021