“A Great Gulf Fixed”


And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.” (Luke 16:26)


There are many distinctions among men that will soon be blotted out; but this is an eternal distinction. It is a distinction made by God himself before the foundation of the world. In the eternal covenant our great Jehovah wrote our names in the book of life. God’s dear Son, our eternal Christ, became our Surety and Substitute, entering into covenant engagements made for us, and for us only, with the Father. Our names were inscribed in the book of God from everlasting, and engraved upon the precious stones of our great High Priest’s breastplate. We were set apart by our God from all others in the covenant. — “The Lord hath set apart him that his godly for himself.”


            Though God’s elect are no different from the rest of mankind by nature, divine sovereignty, linked arm in arm with eternal grace, chose some to be the vessels of mercy, who would be fitted for the Master’s use, in whom the Triune God would show forth the riches and glory of his mercy, grace, and love in Christ. Other distinctions are only temporary. This is everlasting. Before the foundations of the earth were laid, the Lord our God had made a difference between Israel and Egypt.


Irreversible Distinction


The whole human race is divided by God into two categories: Those who are God’s people and those who are not his people, those who are elect and those who are reprobate, sheep and goats. This distinction between men was made by God in eternity; and it is an irreversible distinction. Sheep shall never become goats, and goats shall never become sheep. The elect of God will never become reprobates, and reprobates will never become the elect of God. Between the two there is a great gulf fixed. If any of Adam’s fallen race is so infinitely blessed of God as to be numbered among God’s people, his elect, his sheep, surely a soul to whom God has been so gracious will gladly acknowledge that the only thing distinguishing between him and those who are damned is the distinguishing grace of God (1 Cor. 4:7). “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake,” is the cry of every saved sinner. All who are saved by grace fully recognize, and rejoice in the fact that grace alone has distinguished them from the rest of Adam’s fallen race.


Distinguishing Grace


All who believe belong to God. We are Christ’s sheep by a distinguishing election. We became the Lord’s sheep by the choice of his love. In the covenant of grace God branded us as his sheep, set a hedge about us, and secured our eternal salvation in Christ (John 10:16). The Lord says o f his sheep, “I know them” (John 10:27). And his knowledge of his sheep is that peculiar knowledge of his own elective purpose and omniscient love.


            We are his, too, by distinguishing purchase. Christ laid down his life for his sheep, in the place of his sheep. Christ died as a Substitute for his sheep to redeem them, all of them, and only them. He died instead of his sheep dying. Because he died for us, we shall not die (John 10:11, 15).


            And we belong to him by a distinguishing call. “He calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.” His gracious call is personal, particular, and powerful. When he calls, his call causes his sheep to follow. This call of grace always results in eternal life.


No Middle Ground


There is no middle ground. There is a great gulf fixed between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. There is no intermediate spot. Every person is either God’s elect, one of his peculiar people, ordained to eternal glory, or reprobate, of old foreordained to everlasting perdition. Each is either redeemed, or reprobate. Each is either among the called, or among the reprobate. Each is either loved, or hated. Each is either an heir of God and joint heir with Christ, or an heir of everlasting damnation. Each is wrapped up in Christ’s righteousness and washed in His blood, or is to howl in the torments of the damned through endless ages. Each is either complete in Christ, or without God, without Christ, and without hope. Each will either be carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom, or cast down into hell, there to suffer everlasting destruction. Each will either be eternally blessed and happy, or eternally damned and tormented. — “Make your calling and election sure!