Oct 5, 2008

God Wants All Saved? (cont.)

"This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief...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. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." (I Timothy 1:15; 2: 1-6 KJV)

If you recall from my initial posting, Spurgeon said this on the above passage:

Spurgeon said:

"You must, most of you, be acquainted with the general method in which our older Calvinistic friends deal with this text. "All men," say they, - "that is, some men": as if the Holy Ghost could not have said "some men" if he had meant some men. "All men," say they; "that is, some of all sorts of men": as if the Lord could not have said "all sorts of men" if he had meant that. The Holy Ghost by the apostle has written "all men," and unquestionably he means all men. I know how to get rid of the force of the "alls" according to that critical method which some time ago was very current, but I do not see how it can be applied here with due regard to truth. I was reading just now the exposition of a very able doctor who explains the text so as to explain it away; he applies grammatical gunpowder to it, and explodes it by way of expounding it. I thought when I read his exposition that it would have been a very capital comment upon the text if it had read, "Who will not have all men to be saved, nor come to a knowledge of the truth." Had such been the inspired language every remark of the learned doctor would have been exactly in keeping, but as it happens to say, "who will have all men to be saved," his observations are more than a little out of place. My love of consistency with my own doctrinal views is not great enough to allow me knowingly to alter a single text of Scripture. I have great respect for orthodoxy, but my reverence for inspiration is far greater. I would sooner a hundred times over appear to be inconsistent with myself than be inconsistent with the Word of God. I never thought it to be any very great crime to seem to be inconsistent with myself, for whom am I that I should everlastingly be consistent? But I do think it a great crime to be so inconsistent with the Word of God that I should want to lop away a bough or even a twig from so much as a single tree of the forest of Scripture. God forbid that I should cut or shape, even in the least degree, any divine expression. So runs the text, and so we must read it, "God our Savior; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." (Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Vol. 26, Pilgrim Publications, p.50.)

I agree with Spurgeon. These words have respect to every man. The "all men" in chapter two is the same as in chapter one. If the gospel is "worthy of acceptation by all men," then it is the same all men for whom God has willed or desired salvation. If we say "all men" in chapter two means "all kinds" of men, that is, merely "some" men, then is the gospel worthy of acceptation by simply "all kinds" of men, by only some men?

We know that Spurgeon felt like the "all men" meant every sinner, at least in relation to God's willing that each come to salvation and to a belief of truth. We know that he did not favor the interpretation that made "all men" to mean, in the end, only "some" men. The big question, one he did not address in the sermon from which his words are cited, is however - "did he also believe it was wrong to interpret 'all men' in the words 'gave himself a ransom for all' as 'all sorts' or 'all kinds' of men?"

In other sermons of Spurgeon, on this particular verse, Spurgeon had no qualms about making "all men" to mean "all sorts" or "all kinds" of men, meaning, in effect, only believers, or only the elect, or only "some" men. Was he inconsistent? Am I?

When the apostle says that there is one meditor between God and "men," does he mean "all men"? Secondly, when he says "there IS" such a mediator and savior, does he mean that Christ is ACTUALLY the mediator and savior of all men? Equally so in every respect? Or, does he simply say that there is one mediator and savior named and appointed of God? One mediator provided?

Two "ends" are mentioned in the passage.

1. Salvation (being ransomed, being reconciled)
2. Belief of the truth.

Christ is seen as:

1. Savior
2. Mediator
3. Ransomer/Redeemer

"For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe." (II Timothy 4: 10 KJV)

This is a key verse that helps to understand how Christ can be the savior, lord, mediator, redeemer, etc., of all men, in one sense, and yet not so in another sense. He can be all these things narrowly for some, but more broadly so for others. That is, Christ is savior, lord, mediator, redeemer, etc., of all men, but specially, chiefly, or particularly, of believers, of the foreknown, chosen, and predestined. Thus too,

Christ is the "head of every man" (I Cor. 11: 3) but specially the "head" of those who believe, or of the elect, of the church. And,

Christ is the "lord" of every man (Phil. 2: 11), but specially of the elect. And,

Christ is the "mediator" and "savior" of every man, but specially of the elect.

We might add: He is the Lover, benefactor, maker, teacher, and caretaker of every man, but specially of the elect.

How could we possibly deny that it is the will of God for all men to believe the truth about Christ?

God desires that all be saved, but specially desires the elect to be saved. God wills for all to believe and obey the gospel, but specially desires the elect to believe and obey. God has generally provided Christ as a Savior, but particulary for the elect.

He "draws" all men ordinarily, but the elect he draws extraordinarily. He invites all, but specially invites the elect. He is gracious to all, but especially gracious to the elect.

We can see this "specialness" illustrated in the benevolence of Boaz towards the poor. For the poor in general he left, in his fields, "common portions," but for his specially loved, for Ruth, Boaz dispensed or provided a "worthy portion," a greater blessing and favor.

But, all this being said, how can Christ have given himself a "ransom for all"? How does this square with his words about giving his life "a ransom for many"? How can "all" mean "many"? How can "many" mean "all"?

Also, is there a sense in which Christ, even in a limited way, may be said to have been "given a ransom for" even the unbeliever?

Is there a sense in which Christ may be said to have redeemed the race, as a race, yet without intending that every single member of the race is redeemed?

Consider also the possibility that Christ could have actually ransomed every man from original sin merely, but for the elect, he included their personal sins. In such a case, we could well say - "he ransomed all, specially the elect."

Another way in which Christ may be said to ransom all men, in an inferior and limited manner, is in his being made "sufficient" for the redemption of all.

Besides, as Spurgeon and many other Calvinists have pointed out, the point in this, and similar passages, is to affirm that God has not "discriminated" in his provision of Christ, not restricting such provision to any particular class of men, nor basing it upon natural distinctions. It is not denying that God has especially willed the salvation of some, only that he has generally willed the salvation of the world. Even Arminians agree with this. Do they not say that Christ is especially the Savior, Redeemer, and Mediator of believers? Do they not believe that God wills and desires their salvation in a way he does not the unbeliever?

Did God provide the Passover lamb for every member of Israel? Yea, even for Egyptians? Did all make use of the provision by applying the blood to the doors of their houses and avoid being destroyed? Was the blood of the Passover lamb a "ransom" for all or not? Provisionally, yes, but effectively no.

Now let us take the word "purchase" and use it instead of the words "ransom" or "redeem."

"But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction." (II Peter 2:1 KJV)

On this verse John Gill wrote:

"...just as Moses aggravates the ingratitude of the Jews in De 32:6 from whence this phrase is borrowed, and to which it manifestly refers: "do ye thus requite the Lord, O foolish people and unwise! is not he thy Father that hath bought thee? hath he not made thee, and established thee?" nor is this the only place the apostle refers to in this chapter, see 2 Pe 2:12 compared with De 32:5 and it is to be observed, that the persons he writes to were Jews, who were called the people the Lord had redeemed and purchased, Ex 15:13 and so were the first false teachers that rose up among them; and therefore this phrase is very applicable to them." (Commentary)

He also wrote, in regard to whom is meant by the "Lord" that bought them:

"...not the Lord Jesus Christ, but God the Father; for the word kuriov is not here used, which always is where Christ is spoken of as the Lord, but despothv; and which is expressive of the power which masters have over their servants, and which God has over all mankind; and wherever this word is elsewhere used, it is spoken of God the Father, whenever applied to a divine person, as in Lu 2:29 and especially this appears to be the sense, from the parallel text in Jude 1:4 where the Lord God denied by those men is manifestly distinguished from our Lord Jesus Christ, and by whom these persons are said to be bought: the meaning is not that they were redeemed by the blood of Christ, for Christ is not intended; and besides, whenever redemption by Christ is spoken of, the price is usually mentioned, or some circumstance or another which fully determines the sense." (ibid)

So, this verse, though used by the universal atonement advocates, in an attempt to prove that Christ died equally for the reprobate as well as for the elect, does not even refer to the death of Christ or to his atonement. It rather is referring to the "purchase" of the Jews from Egyptian bondage. Every Jew was "purchased" and "owned" by Jehovah.

"For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be LORD both of the dead and living." (Romans 14: 7-9 KJV)

This is a better verse to show that Christ, in some sense, bought or purchased all men. By his purchase of them, through his victorious death, he became "Lord" and "Christ," what he was not before, as respects his humanity.

Christ "bought" even the wicked, unbelieving, non elect. That is what these verses say. But, do we say that this "purchasing" of the non elect was in every way equal to the "purchasing" of believers, of the elect?

Is this "purchasing" in relation to salvation? Did Christ not purchase not only "all men" but "all things" by his victory?

"Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ." (Acts 2: 36 KJV)

"The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all)." (Acts 10: 36 KJV)

"I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom." (II Timothy 4: 1 KJV)

"For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake." (II Corinthians 4: 5 NIV)

"Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2: 9-11 NIV)

"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him." (Colossians 2: 6 NIV)

All these verses demonstrate that Christ became "Lord," that is, he became the owner, possessor, ruler, judge, and disposer of all men and all things. All things, and all men, thus "belong" to the Mediator, to "the man Christ Jesus." They also demonstrate how Christ, as I said, can be the "Lord of all men, specially of those who believe."

"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." (II Peter 3: 9 KJV)

This is similar to the words of Paul in I Timothy 2.

In the words of Paul we have it positively stated - God desires the salvation of all men. Peter states the same thing, but in a negative form as well as the positive, saying not only that God is "willing" that all come to repentance, but that God is "not willing that any should perish."

And, both Paul's and Peter's words echo the words of God to Ezekiel.

"For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye." (Ezekiel 18: 32 KJV)

"Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?" (Ezekiel 33: 11 KJV)

All these verses are supposed to deny the bible doctrine of sovereign, gracious, and unconditional election of some to salvation. Do they? If they do not, how can they be shown to accord with the bible doctrine?

To speak as succinct as possible, the verses simply state that God is not an evil God who enjoys damning and destroying souls. Among the Pagan pantheon of "gods" and "goddesses," there were "evil" gods and goddesses, and "good" and benevolent ones, at least in their attitudes towards mankind. Some were so evil and malignant that they were unmerciful and without forgiveness.

Yes, Lord God does damn and destroy souls. The bible is clear about that. But, does he enjoy it? It is in accord with his benevolence? Does God delight in the death, destruction, and eternal damnation of the sinner, as an end in itself? Does the event itself please God? Does it make him rejoice? Absolutely not! However, this does not mean that God is not pleased, in any sense, with the sinner's destruction.

God wills the salvation of all men generally and commonly, or ordinarily, but especially wills the salvation of the elect.

Will means much the same thing as desire, pleasure, want, but also may mean purpose or intention; it may also denote what is hidden or what is private, or what is open and stated, or that which is ulterior, or unstated and unrevealed.

"Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." (Matthew 20: 28 & Mark 10: 45 KJV)

How do we reconcile "ransom for all" versus "ransom for many"?

Besides, "all men" means not all men absolutely, but simply all men "without distinction," or "without partiality" or "without discrimination" or without respect to ethnicity, nationality, race, or culture. If it meant all men absolutely, then Christ would be dying for Pharoah and Esau, men who had already died and gone to Hell, which would be a reductio ad absurdum.

Add to this consideration, applicable to Arminians, both to those who accept, and to those who deny, the doctrine of original sin.

If "all men" = "every single human being," then this must include the following peoples:

1. Infants

A. If we say that they were "ransomed" from sin by the death of Christ, then we are affirming that they are sinners.

B. If we say that they were ransomed and yet are not sinners, then we have a problem. Many Arminians will revise their definition of "all men" and make it to equal to, not every single human, but every sinner. But, is the whole world sinful? Not to those Arminians who believe in "infantile purity."

2. The damned in Hell at the time of Christ's death.

3. Judas, whom the Lord foreknew would betray him, commit suicide, and die lost.

4. Those who never had the means of salvation (the gospel or word of God).

Here are some deeper questions.

1. Is God conflicted in his will?

2. Was Christ in his human nature conflicted between his will as a man and his will as God?

3. Did Christ will for more to be saved than the Father willed?

4. Does God discriminate in salvation?


Besides, both Arminians and Calvinists both agree that "for all" means "for all who believe." It is "for all" potentially, but only "for believers" actually.

1 comment:

Dr. Trader said...

Stephen,

I enjoyed the whole article.
The quote from Spurgeon was
right on target. Thanks for
posting this article. It
corrects some serious errors.