01 October, 2017

Proverbs 1:28—“Then shall they call upon me … they shall seek me early …”


Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me (Prov. 1:28 KJV).


COMMON GRACE ARGUMENT:
This text is sometimes used to prove that a man apart from saving grace and regeneration is able truly to pray to God; hence, to do good.


(I)

Prof. Herman C. Hanko


[Source: Covenant Reformed News, August 2017—vol. XVI, issue 16]

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Q. “Does not Proverbs 1:28 (‘Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me.’) imply that wicked reprobate individuals can truly express a desire for salvation and for God’s mercy?”
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This question appeals to Proverbs 1:28 in an attempt to prove that a man apart from saving grace is able truly to pray to God; hence, to do good. However, the Bible teaches that it is not possible for the unregenerated person to do good (Rom. 3:12—“They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one”), not even to pray rightly (Prov. 28:9—“He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination”). Though the wicked despise God’s law, walk in their own lusts and mock the truth of Scripture, they do know that God is God, and that He is almighty and able to do all things. They also know that when they die they will have to face the Judge of all men. So it is that these same wicked people, when they are in extreme danger or distress, often cry out to God to rescue them. In World War II, the saying was common: “There are no atheists in foxholes.” The meaning was that, in the front line of combat, the danger of being killed was so great that soldiers prayed that they might be spared. These were the same men who cursed and swore, and visited prostitutes when they could. So, after the danger was over, they went back to their wicked ways.

We are told in Scripture that, when our Lord returns, the wicked will cry for the mountains to cover them to hide them from the face of Christ (Rev. 6:16-17).

I recall that, when I was a child and a spectacular display of northern lights ignited the whole sky, the emergency facilities and newspaper offices were swamped with terrified people who thought that the end of the world had come. When they were assured that it was only filled with northern lights, they went back to their evil ways.

But God will not hear such cries, for their motive in praying was only to save, if possible, their own hides, while they hate Him and His sovereign rule in all their life, and use Him as if He were some sort of magician who will deliver them by His magic.

I think that at this point the real question should be asked: “If God truly loves them with a divine love, why does He not hear their frightened cries? If He really loves them and they cry to him, is it not cruel to ignore them?”


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(II)


More to come! (DV)




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