Saturday, December 26, 2009

"The Fact That Not All Are Saved"

“The God of Scripture is able to save perfectly and completely all He desires to save: the fact that not all are saved leads inexorably to the truth of divine election. Therefore, CBF [“Chosen But Free” by Norman Geisler] denies this divine truth and instead replaces it with the idea of ‘determinately knowing’ already reviewed in chapter two" (James White, “The Potter’s Freedom: A Defense of the Reformation and a Rebuttal of Norman Geisler’s ‘Chosen But Free’”. Amityville, NY: Calvary Press, 2000, pages 99-100).

There are two problems with White’s quote that I desire to tackle. The first involves his quote regarding God: “The God of Scripture is able to save...all He desire to save.” Is God able to save everyone He wants to save? YES. The Bible is unwavering in its view of God as the Almighty Sovereign...

However, the Bible tells us something different about WHO God actually saves (than White and other Calvinists). While God desires ‘all’ (everyone) to be saved, He does not save everyone. Why? According to White, God doesn’t want to save everyone. To the contrary, Scripture has something different to say:

“Therefore, He is also able to save to the uttermost (completely) THOSE WHO COME TO GOD THROUGH HIM, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25, NKJV).

God will save, but He will save under ONE CONDITION: that we come to God by grace through faith in Christ. This is the way God has, in His Sovereignty, chosen to save some and not others.

In Hebrews 5:9, we are told that those who receive eternal salvation are “all who obey Him.” Obedience is the condition by which some are saved and others are not. In addition, Paul calls faith “the obedience” in Romans 1:5 (NKJV calls it “obedience to the faith”), demonstrating that to obey Christ is to have faith in Him. Jesus’ words in John chapters 3 and 5 testify to belief as the condition for eternal life:

John 3:15---“whoever believes”

John 3:16---“whoever believes”

John 3:18---“he who believes...is not condemned”

John 5:24---“he who hears My word and believes”

John 5:40---“you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life”

Further chapters in John show the same thing:

John 6:29---“this is the work of God, that you BELIEVE in Him whom He sent.”

John 6:40---“everyone who sees the Son and BELIEVES IN HIM...”

John 6:47---“he who BELIEVES in Me”

John the Baptist tells of belief in Christ (3:36), and even John’s prologue talks about those who believe being “as many as received Him...those who believe in His name” (1:12). Last but not least, John challenges his audience in chapter 20:
“But these [things] are written that you may BELIEVE that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that BELIEVING you may have life in His name” (20:31).

I picked John’s Gospel as justification because the Gospel itself tends to be the favorite of Calvinists. And yet, there is so much Scripture pertaining to hearing His Word and believing in Him. I wonder what Calvinists say about these Scriptures? Hmmm...

Next, White claims that, because all do not come to Christ, Christ does not desire everyone to be saved. According to White, general revelation shows us truth about God: that God does not desire the salvation of everyone. However, Scripture also gives us truth about ourselves as human beings (Rom. 1:18-32), and the fact that many do not come to Christ is not because Christ doesn’t want them...but rather, they do not want Christ:

“because, although THEY KNEW GOD, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful...” (Rom. 1:18ff)

The heart of the matter is that, while man knows the truth, he refuses to live according to it. Instead, he “suppresses the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18). He chooses to live his life as though he were ignorant. As a result, God gives him over to his desire---if he wants to live as though he is depraved (1:28) in mind, then so be it; he will act as such.

James White and fellow Calvinists desire to place responsibility on God. But if God truly does desire the gospel to be preached to “every creature” (Mark 16:15), not just a select few, then doesn’t this imply universal opportunity for salvation? Surely it does! And it is this, coupled with the world-wide voice of creation (Rom. 10:17-18, Ps. 19:4) that testifies to a God who calls all people, every person, to Himself---while refusing to make them come...

2 comments:

Anders Branderud said...

Hello Deidre Richardsson,

You wrote about foregiveness and I want to comment on that.
(le-havdil) How to live in order to enable the Creator in His loving kindness to provide His foregivness is outlined in Tan’’kh ( the Jewish Bible) ; and was also taught by the first century Ribi Yehoshua from Nazareth (the Mashiakh; the Messiah) (His teachings are found here: Netzarim.)

Tan’’kh – for example Yekhëzqeil (Hezekiel) 18 – promises foregivness to those who do their sincerest to keep the mitzwot (commandments) in Torah. The Creator cannot lie and He does not change (Malakhi 3:6)! According to Tehilim (“Psalms”) 103 the Creator gives His foregivness to those who do their sincerest to keep His berit (“covenant”; the pre-conditions to be included in the berit is according to the Jewish Bible to do ones sincerest to keep Torah). No human can keep Torah perfectly. There is a provision.

Ribi Yehoshua ha-Mashiakh lived and kept Torah with the sincerest of his heart, died innocently and became a sacrifice. Because of that the Creator can give His foregiveness for the short comings (in keeping Torah) to everyone doing his/her sincerest to keep His instructions found in Torah, and to everyone turning away from their Torah-breaches to instead starting to do their sincerest to keep the instructions in Torah.

All the best, Anders Branderud

Deidre Richardson said...

Anders,

Thanks for your comment.

I have great respect for the Jewish way of life. However, while I appreciate Jewish culture, I do not think that attempting to keep the commandments is the way to receive forgiveness from God. The way to receive forgiveness is by grace through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. Without Christ's crucifixion and resurrection, there is no forgiveness of sins.

Paul tackled this issue in Romans 4 when he writes about Abraham. Paul points out that Abraham was justified by faith before he was ever circumcised-- which tells us that salvation is through faith and not through works (like circumcision). I suggest that you read all of Romans 4 to get Paul's entire argument.

Regarding keeping the Torah, this is what Paul had to say:

"1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel[a] is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes" (Romans 10:1-4, NKJV)

The righteousness of God and the forgiveness of sins comes through faith in the work of Christ, the Son of God. Paul's heart was in anguish over the Jews bc he felt as though they were still trying to keep the Law, including the Torah. Try as you may, you cannot keep the Law perfectly. This is why grace is needed. Grace is unmerited favor, which tells us that we can't keep every little "jot and tittle" of the Law. According to James, if you've broken one little tiny portion of the Law, you have transgressed against all of the Law (James 2:10).

Romans 10 tells us that faith has always been the message of the Old Testament. I suggest you read Romans 10 as well and note the references Paul brings in (some are from the Torah).

Finally, think about this: if we need to be forgiven for things that we have done wrong from the beginning (our sin in Adam, Romans 5), then how could "our deeds" be the grounding reason for God's forgiveness? This would be the equivalent of God saying, "You are to die for your deeds...but then, you will live because you have made up for your bad deeds." If that were the case, then Jesus' death serves no purpose.

I'm glad you commented on forgiveness. But i want it to be known to you that Romans as well as the rest of the Old and New Testament canon agree that Jesus is the only way to the Father. Jesus Himself says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by Me" (John 14:6). I say this because I, like Paul, greatly desire the salvation of the Jews. Jesus wants to save every single Jew on the face of the earth. But they, like the Gentiles, must come to God by faith in Christ. Otherwise, they will never receive the saving grace that Christ has to give.