Friday, May 20, 2005what does God want...
Another popular objection to the doctrine of predestination/election is that it is in contradiction with God's desire for ALL MEN to be saved. The argument isn't based on one, but these two Scriptures:
"Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." (1 Timothy 2:4)
"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9)
So, is the Doctrines of Grace toast? I mean, look at these verses! How could God predestine some to condemnation if He isn't willing that any should perish? How could God keep salvation from some, if He wills to have all men to be saved?
CONTEXT!!! CONTEXT!!! CONTEXT!!! (you're so going to get sick of me saying that...LOL)
First, let's deal with 1 Timothy 2:4, and let's pick up the context in verse 1 and 2:
"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty."
So, in these verses, Paul explains to Timothy that supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving should be made for 'all kinds' of men. Now you may say: "wait a minute Rand, you just added to Scripture! it isn't 'all kinds' but 'all'!" My answer is: "Nope, it's 'all kinds', really!" Turn to 1 Timothy 6:10. Read the verse in the King James version, then read it in the NIV or the NKJV. You'll notice that in the KJV, it's "the root of all evil", and in the modern versions, it's "the root of all kinds of evil". So which one is right? Well, they both are...LOL! You see the Greek word for "all" allows for it to be translated simply "all", or "all kinds". How do we know which one is more appropriate?
CONTEXT!!! CONTEXT!!! CONTEXT!!!
In 1 Timothy 6:10, it is clear that "the root of all evil" isn't money, it is indeed, "the root of all kinds of evil". And in 1 Timothy 2:1-2, it is also clear that Paul wasn't charging Timothy to pray for "all men" (could you imagine the task!), but rather "all kinds" of men, not just for the peasants, but for kings and those who are in authority too!
So, how does this context influence verse 4? Well, there is a very simple hermeneutical rule (Bible interpretation rule) that says, when you interpret a word a certain way in one verse, then you must remain consistent with your interpretation throughout the remaining passage (remaining context). By following this rule 1 Timothy 2:4 now reads like this:
"Who will have all kinds of men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth."
Clearly, this verse is not saying that God wants all men to be saved. In context, it is saying that God will not save only the poor and common, but will also save kings and those who have authority. You have to understand the importance of this charge in the day that Paul wrote it. Most of the civilized world in his day was ruled by the Roman empire, and the Roman army, for the most part was despised. Paul was making it clear that God could and would save even in those who were part, or supported the Romans.
Secondly 2 Peter 3:9. Now this one is much simpler to explain. Actually this is a common way to see how careful a Christian is about respecting the context of a verse. This is actually an easy test.
CONTEXT!!! CONTEXT!!! CONTEXT!!!
Ask yourself, what is the theme or context surrounding verse 9? Hint...hint...what is this "promise" that Peter is referring to? Ok...look at verse 4, 7, and 10. It's the Second Coming!!! Alright, now ask yourself this: "who is the us-ward?" Look at 2 Peter 1:1. "To them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ"! Christians! my friends, Christians! God's elect!
So what is Peter saying in 2 Peter 3:9? Simple! God isn't slack concerning His promise to return, but is longsuffering towards His elect, not willing that any of His elect should perish, but that all His elect should come to repentance. If the Lord Jesus Christ had not been longsuffering and had returned 1000 years ago, Rand would never have come to repentance, because Rand wasn't around 1000 years ago. This verse fits well with Romans 11:25 where Paul reminds us that "blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in." This is why the church age continues...it continues because there are still Gentiles to be saved.
Let us be clear dear readers, if God wanted all men to be saved, all men would be saved. We do not serve an impotent God, rather, we serve an omnipotent God! And the Scriptures make it quite clear that God uses his omnipotence and sovereignty in the salvation, and condemnation of man:
"The LORD hath MADE all things for himself: yea, EVEN THE WICKED FOR THE DAY OF EVIL." (Proverbs 16:4)
"For whom HE did FOREKNOW, HE also did PREDESTINATE to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom HE did PREDESTINATE, them HE also CALLED: and whom HE CALLED, them HE also JUSTIFIED: and whom HE JUSTIFIED, them HE also GLORIFIED." (Romans 8:29-30)
"Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: WHEREUNTO ALSO THEY WERE APPOINTED. BUT YE ARE A CHOSEN GENERATION, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light." (1 Peter 2:7-9)
Think about it, dear saints,