Q. 13. What hath God especially decreed concerning angels and men?
A. God, by an eternal and immutable decree, out of his mere love, for the praise of his glorious grace, to be manifested in due time, hath elected some angels to glory; and in Christ hath chosen some men to eternal life, and the means thereof: and also, according to his sovereign power, and the unsearchable counsel of his own will (whereby he extendeth or withholdeth favor as he pleaseth), hath passed by and foreordained the rest to dishonor and wrath, to be for their sin inflicted, to the praise of the glory of his justice.
It’s interesting the Westminster choice to include reference to angels not just men (and women).
Also in the 21st century it’s not politically correct to speak of this last portion. “hath passed by and foreordained the rest to dishonor and wrath, to be for their sin inflicted, to the praise of the glory of his justice.”
Of course we have assurance that God does not desire this final result of judgment, nor cause them to sin. But he does for his own reasons save some, by election and providing the means “thereof”.
Romans 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
Psalms 14:1 To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.
Vos adds these comments.
5. What is the difference between God’s election of angels to glory and his election of men to eternal life? In the case oft men God elected them “in Christ”; that is, to be redeemed from sin through the atonement of Jesus Christ, and to be clothed with Christ’s righteousness. But in the case of the angels salvation had nothing to do with it. God simply elected them to glory and then prevented them from ever falling into sin.
6. Besides electing men to eternal life, what has God elected them to? He has also elected them to “the means thereof’; those whom he has chosen for eternal life he has also chosen to receive the means of obtaining eternal life. That is, if God has foreordained that a certain person shall receive eternal life, then he has also foreordained that that person shall hear the gospel, repent of sin, believe in Jesus Christ, etc., so as to make sure of that person’s receiving eternal life without fail.
And to add more on the last point he writes: 9. In the case of those whom God has sovereignly “passed by,” what is the reason for also ordaining them to dishonor and wrath? The reason for ordaining thenl to dishonor and wrath is their own sin. Note the words “to he for their sin inflicted.” Therefore God’s foreordaining some item to eternal punishment is not based on the pure sovereignty of God (as is his act of “passing by” these same persons), but proceeds from God’s attribute of perfect justice. They are punished because as sinners they deserve to be punished, not because God has passed them by. In hell the wicked will recognize that they are suffering a deserved punishment and that God has dealt with them strictly according to justice.
13. How should we answer the objection “Is it not unfair for God to elect one person to eternal life, while he passes by another?” This objection is based on the assumption that God is under an obligation to treat all men with equal favor, and to do for all whatever he does for any. The Bible’s answer to this objection is found in Romans 9:20-21. The objection really involves a denial of the sovereignty of God, for it assumes that God is responsible to the human race for his decisions, or else that there is some higher law or power to which God is responsible and by which he must be judged. The truth is that (a) God is sovereign and is responsible to no one but himself for his actions; (b) God is under no obligation to elect anyone to eternal life; it would have been perfectly just for him to leave all mankind to perish in their sins; (c) if God elects some to eternal life, he is under no obligation to elect all; for his electing of some is a matter of grace, and therefore cannot be claimed as a right by any that are “passed by.” It is quite true that the Bible represents God as dealing with men unequally, that is, giving to somme what he withholds from others; but this is not “unfair” because there is no injustice involved. No one has any basis for a claim that God has treated him unjustly.
Sorry for the long post but these are important points. Let’s close with this:
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I am found
Was blind, but now I see
It is only by his Amazing Grace and all to His Glory.