For Whom Did Christ Die?

October 2, 2014

John Mann | Pastor
LaJunta Baptist Church, Springtown, TX

John is also Adjunct Professor of, and Ph.D. student in, Systematic Theology (SWBTS)

*This post was originally written for the church I currently pastor. As such, it is intentionally pastoral in nature. I have sought to avoid overly technical language and am speaking within the framework of a particular conversation.*

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.  2 Peter 3:9

The ebb and flow of church life coupled with the natural imbalance that accompanies human nature often leads well-meaning believers in Jesus Christ to emphasize various doctrines and neglect others.

In the past couple of decades, the controversy that often swirled within church walls had to do with end times. Church hallways echoed the sounds of people reading from their Scofield reference Bible about the hidden meaning of the rider upon the red horse while others shared coffee in the living room and tried to determine which of the broken seals the news headlines of the day pointed toward.

In other areas the church was captured by political eccentricities that were of no value to the spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Both conversations can be entertaining, but when they lead to human speculation rather than Godly revelation (what people think rather than what God has said) they are quite unfruitful.

Today is no different than those days in that humanity is no different. Though our areas of imbalance may shift from one generation to the next, we are always in need of correcting this lack of balance in our understanding.

When I first entered the pastorate nearly 15 years ago, there was rarely a week that went by that a person did not have some biblical question about a vague reference to an end time event that defied the understanding of many conversations over numerous cups of coffee.

I discovered rather quickly that, though the end times discussion may interest a lot of people, they have rarely been helpful to the work of the Gospel. Not because the end times are unimportant, (for their presence in Scripture indicate that they are important) but because humanities tendency to become imbalanced creates motives for discussion that are damaging to the ministry.

Today, the question has shifted from “What does the blowing of the third trumpet symbolize” to “Did Christ only die for a few, or did He die for everyone?” This debate has been present within the lives of believers for almost 2,000 years. Good men have fought unwise battles with impure motives for all of human history, to our shame.

Though the debate is often confusing, I will offer my simplified explanation and personal conclusion in a brief manner, supported by four reasons.

First, the Bible tells us that Man was created in the “image of God” (Genesis 1:16-30). To be created in the image of God is, in and of itself, a difficult doctrine to understand. But at a minimum, it teaches

  1. That mankind is relational. Mankind is created with a need for relationship, for the essence of God is triune, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit living in eternal love for one another. Therefore, to be human means to be relational.
  2. That mankind is responsible. Man has been granted extensive responsibilities for the manner in which he conducts his life within Creation. In the Creation account of Genesis 1:26-30, God has deposited within mankind “dominion” by which he is to populate the earth, steward the earth, and carry limited dominion over the earth. That means that to be an image bearer of God brings with it the ability to be responsible for the decisions that are made.

Sometimes it is argued that God has decreed everything. He has irresistibly determined who goes to Heaven and who goes to Hell. Therefore, each person bears only a secondary responsibility for His own destination. However, among other things, this totally ignores the responsibility every person has been given for how they respond to the gracious offer of God in Christ.

The second reason I draw the conclusion I do is because it is the clearest meaning of Scripture. There are admittedly numerous Bible passages that are utilized to support one’s position, but the Scripture quoted above is irrefutably clear. “God is willing for none to perish.”

Often, a person who would disagree with my conclusion would say that God has two wills. That is, He has a revealed will that He has given in Scripture, and then He has a secret will that He has not shown us. Therefore, some would conclude, God’s revealed will is for all people to be saved, but His secret will is for some to be condemned.

Let me simply say that if God has two wills, then none of us can have any confidence whatsoever in what God has said, for we would never know when His revealed will might be contradicted by His secret will.

The third reason I come to the conclusion that I do is because of the nature of God. The nature of God is love. Though God will judge those who are sinners, His love precedes His wrath. The Bible says that “God IS love” (1 John 4:8), but it never says that “God IS wrath.” Indeed, God’s love is eternal — it existed before Creation. His wrath was not necessary until sin entered the world. So, let us not be confused. The wrath of God is real, but only after the love of God is given.

The fourth reason I come to this conclusion is because the person who says that God decreed some people would be irresistibly saved and some would be irresistibly damned means that God decreed (or caused) the sin of mankind so that His nature of love could allow His action of condemnation. However, this is in direct contradiction to James 1:13 that says

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He himself does not tempt anyone. 

It also contradicts 1 John 2:16 which says

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 

It is clear that sin is not a product of the Father.

So, to sum all of this up:

  1. The image of God is borne by every person, and therefore that person has a relational need for God and the capability to exercise a choice when presented with the Gospel.
  2. The will of God is contained within Scripture and we need not fear some hidden will of God that contradicts what He has revealed to us.
  3. The love of God is prior to the wrath of God for all of humanity, therefore, one is condemned not by God’s decree, but by ignoring God’s patient extension of love.
  4. The holiness of God means that God did not decree evil, but rather has moved to defeat evil in the Cross of Christ.

How should you and I respond?

  1. Worship: you are a sinner who God has loved in spite of your sin.
  2. Witness: the Gospel is for every person.

So for whom did Christ die? Me. You. Them. Everyone.

 

This article was used by permission and can be found HERE.

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Christian

This is an excellent post. Thank you.

doug sayers

Thanks, John, for this God centered explanation and the spirit in which it was written.

Sean

Thanks for the post. May I respond to your four points.

1. In the fall of Adam we inherited his sin and guilt which makes us powerless to come to Christ because our will is in bondage to sin. John 6:44 states we lack the capacity or ability to come to Christ without a special drawing by the Father. Yes we are still image bearers but are fallen in Adam and thus unable to choose positively for Christ.

2. Deuteronomy 29:29 says there are secret things God has chosen not to reveal to us. In the Peter passage, contextually and grammatically it is speaking about God’s patience with his elect. Trace the introduction and all the personal pronouns and it is clear he is not willing that any of his people should perish. True believers don’t fear that God has a secret will. It just means we are the creature and he alone is the creator

3.i don’t think you can prioritize the attributes of God as He is holy in all of his ineffable glory. Please show from scripture how God’s love is before his wrath. Wrath is not an attribute of God. He is just. Wrath is how God expresses his attribute of being just. You are doing something the bible doesn’t do which is elevating on attribute of God over another. Also are you saying God did not decree the punishment of the lost or are you saying God did not predestine a great number of fallen sinners to be saved? This definition you have provided is very man centered and one sided in relationship to God’s many attributes.

4. There is a difference between decreeing evil and actually committing evil. God does no evil Himself but how do you reconcile Acts 4:27-28 where God decreed the evil of the cross but yet those who put Jesus to death are still accountable and guilty. You cannot say that God does not decree evil when this is taught throughout the Bible.

I’m concerned that in a an attempt to interact with Calvinism you have jettisoned some clear Biblical teachings about the nature of God and the sinfulness of man.

    Robert

    Sean presents some typical Calvinistic beliefs. I will not address them all let’s just respond to a few of them:

    Sean wrote:.

    “1. In the fall of Adam we inherited his sin and guilt which makes us powerless to come to Christ because our will is in bondage to sin. John 6:44 states we lack the capacity or ability to come to Christ without a special drawing by the Father. Yes we are still image bearers but are fallen in Adam and thus unable to choose positively for Christ.”

    We did not inherit the guilt of Adam, that goes beyond the text of scripture and is merely a Calvinist belief.

    Regarding the drawing that is needed to come to Christ, it is true that we cannot come to Christ without this drawing (as per John 6:44) however the same gospel writer John in John 12:32 presents that all will be drawn via the cross of Christ. And we are also told that the Holy Spirit convicts THE WORLD of sin and righteousness, and judgement (cf. John 16:8 = “world” is a bigger set of people then just those who eventually become believers).

    Regarding our ability to “choose positively for Christ” it is true that on our own we cannot. But we are not left to be on our own, the Holy Spirit who is God does a preconversion work in us that enables but does not necessitate a faith response. The Spirit reveals Christ to us, reveals our sinfulness to us, reveals that Jesus is the only way, He helps us to understand scripture and gospel preaching, etc. etc. With this powerful work of the Spirit who is God we are then enabled to “choose positively for Christ”. Calvinists emphasize depravity but seem to not emphasize the preconversion work of the Holy Spirit at all.

    “4. There is a difference between decreeing evil and actually committing evil. God does no evil Himself but how do you reconcile Acts 4:27-28 where God decreed the evil of the cross but yet those who put Jesus to death are still accountable and guilty. You cannot say that God does not decree evil when this is taught throughout the Bible.”

    The non-Calvinist believes that God has foreknowledge (i.e. he knows how we will in fact choose in the future).With this ability he can plan future events that involve people’s choices and simultaneously accomplish something that he wants to occur. By foreknowing events and allowing them, God can make sure an outcome occurs even when it involves the sinful choices of people. For example = God foreknew all of Josephs’ experiences and allowed them knowing that the outcome would be to spare his people from a worldwide famine. God foreknew that if Jesus came in the flesh and did and said what he did, then others would respond by plotting for and having him crucified. God in this way can use sinful actions by men to accomplish a good purpose. People remain “accountable and guilty” because while God knows what they will in fact choose to do, they could have chosen (and should have chosen) to do otherwise. God knew they could have done otherwise, but he also knew what they would in fact choose to do. His foreknowledge is always based upon what people will in fact choose to do. So via his foreknowledge and allowance of events, he gets things accomplished that he wants accomplished and men remain accountable for their freely made actions (cf. Peter says precisely this when he says in Acts 2:23; “this man, delivered up by the predetermined plan [i.e. God planned the crucifixion beforehand as part of His plan of salvation] and foreknowledge of God [explicit reference to the fact that the planning of the crucifixion of Jesus was tied to God’s foreknowledge], you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death”). This has always been the perspective of non-Calvinists.

    Robert

      Sean

      Thanks for the reply with some well thought out responses. I am going to respond by asking you to look deeper into these texts.

      You wrote: Regarding our ability to “choose positively for Christ” it is true that on our own we cannot. But we are not left to be on our own, the Holy Spirit who is God does a preconversion work in us that enables but does not necessitate a faith response.

      My question is thi: Does He do this work for EVERYONE? If so, then would not everyone come to Christ? Or if everyone does not come, then does not the Holy Spirit fail in His preconversion work.
      Jesus answer the question on who the Holy Spirit actually draws and who will most definitely come to HIm in faith:

      John 6:37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.

      Before the foundation of the world, (Ephesians 1:3-5, 11) God gave a certain group of people (the elect) to the Son. He chose them for salvation. In time, when the Holy Spirit does His work of effectual calling and regeneration, He draws only those whom were given to Jesus and they will most definitely come to Christ.

      Yes, the Holy Spirit convicts the world, but there is a huge difference between conviction and drawing. All men who hear the gospel are accountable to respond and may hear the convicting words and be affected by the Holy Spirit, but only the elect will actually be called to salvation and sovereignly regenerated.

      I agree with what you said here: “With this powerful work of the Spirit who is God we are then enabled to “choose positively for Christ”. I just limit that to the elect only. If everyone is enabled to come, then why don’t they come?

      I disagree with this statement: “Calvinists emphasize depravity but seem to not emphasize the preconversion work of the Holy Spirit at all.”–We most defnitely do rely heavily on the sovereign Spirit to bring new life and His preconversion work. But we believe that only those whom were chosen before the foundation of the world will be those who actually come and whom the Holy Spirit acutally regenerates.

      Also, I do not disagree that God foreknows events like you say. You said, “By foreknowing events and allowing them, God can make sure an outcome occurs even when it involves the sinful choices of people” Does not your wording that God can make sure the outcome occurs mean “ordain” or are you saying that God responds in time to the actions of people and makes adjustments according to their free choices and then makes it all work out for His plan in the end?

      Or does not the text say in Acts 4:27–28
      ” for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel,  to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.

      The text does not say that God simply foreknew what Pilate, Herod, etc, would actually do but that He predestined it to take place. God does more than just “allow” things to happen. Before creation, He ordains for them to happen while at the same time allowing the free choices of sinners to work in conjunction with His will. This is sometimes called “combatibilism”

      Also, when speaking of God’s foreknowledge of individuals, it doesn’t mean that God knows in advance “what” sinners will do–ie: make a choice. It actually states that God personally foreknows “them” (always with a direct object of a personal pronoun). God foreknows people in the sense that He sets His electing love on them before creatoin and then predestines them to be saved.

      Romans 8:29–30 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

      Is Paul saying that God foreknew the decisions that people would make? The text does not say that. It clearly says, “For those”–this means actual people, not their decisions.

      Yes, I am obviously a 5 point Calvinist and appreciate what the Traditionalist movement is trying to do in clearly articulating its beliefs with this blog and the connect316. Posts like these just clearly show the great divide we have in the SBC on key issues of God’s character, the nature of man, the effect of sin, and how God saves sinners.

      Let us not allow these intramural debates get us off the task of preaching the gospel to all creatoin and commanding all people everywhere to repent and believe in Christ alone for salvation.

      Calvinisim is NOT the gospel (contrary to Spurgeon) but it does provide a solid foundation for the gospel. The gospel is the glorious announcement of the historical events of the sinless life, substitutionary death, and victorious resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave and the command to repent of sin and believe wholeheartedly in Jesus.

      Election, regeneration, calling, etc–are secondary doctrines to the gospel that provide solid footing to the gospel, but they are not the gospel. I pray that both Calvinists and Traditionalist remember this.

        Robert

        Sean,

        I am sending in two separate posts to make sure they get in, this is part 1.

        “Thanks for the reply with some well thought out responses. I am going to respond by asking you to look deeper into these texts.”

        I don’t need to “look deeper” into these texts, fact is we interpret them differently. There is no deeper meaning available that you as a Calvinist have access to: this is not Gnosticism!

        “My question is thi: Does He do this work for EVERYONE? If so, then would not everyone come to Christ? Or if everyone does not come, then does not the Holy Spirit fail in His preconversion work.”

        In my opinion everyone receives at least one chance. The scripture says the Spirit convicts the World and “world” means more than just the elect (cf. in the gospel of John “world” never refers exclusively to those who end up becoming believers). So the text in John speaks of the Spirit doing a convicting work on the World, and yet not all come to faith in Christ (we know this from other biblical texts).

        I would not frame it as the Holy Spirit “failing” in His preconversion work as people can and do resist the work of the Spirit. I don’t know how much evangelism you do Sean, but I do a lot. And I see people respond in all sorts of ways and they are in sorts of conditions. Some hear the gospel once and believe, others hear it multiple times and then believe, others hear it multiple times and they do not believe and may never believe. Jesus said in the parable of the sower for example that the seed went out and there were different responses (three of the four were nonbelief: did Jesus call this “failure” on the part of the Spirit? No.) In scripture the blameworthiness of unbelief is always put on those who do not believe (God is never responsible for this and the fact that some resist the Spirit is never described as “failure” in the Bible). In the OT God kept reaching out to Israel and they as a whole kept rejecting him and being disobedient: was God failing there in his efforts to get Israel to repent and follow him faithfully? Or was the problem not God’s “failure” but theirs?

        “Jesus answer the question on who the Holy Spirit actually draws and who will most definitely come to HIm in faith:
        John 6:37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.
        Before the foundation of the world, (Ephesians 1:3-5, 11) God gave a certain group of people (the elect) to the Son. He chose them for salvation. In time, when the Holy Spirit does His work of effectual calling and regeneration, He draws only those whom were given to Jesus and they will most definitely come to Christ.”

        These are Calvinistic beliefs that you merely assert.

        The Bible never speaks of “effectual calling” for instance, that is a category invented by Calvinists. The Bible contradicts your statement that “He draws only those whom were given to Jesus” (again John 12:32 says the world will be drawn via the cross and “world” in that passage is a group larger than those who will eventually believe, so scripture says that the world will be drawn YOU say “only those given to Jesus” will be drawn, those are contradictory claims and I will take scripture over you false claim).

        “Yes, the Holy Spirit convicts the world, but there is a huge difference between conviction and drawing.”

        No there is not, the preconversion work of the Spirit **is** the drawing of people to Christ.

        “All men who hear the gospel are accountable to respond and may hear the convicting words and be affected by the Holy Spirit, but only the elect will actually be called to salvation and sovereignly regenerated.”

        Again you merely state your Calvinistic beliefs here. Where in the Bible for example does it say that **only the elect** are called to salvation? It doesn’t say that anywhere.

        “I agree with what you said here: “With this powerful work of the Spirit who is God we are then enabled to “choose positively for Christ”. I just limit that to the elect only.”

        Of course you are a Calvinist! :-)

        You guys believe that God is a grace-restrictor, he only gives grace to the elect (the others he ordains for damnation and so does not desire to save them and does not attempt to save them).

        My Bible presents God as a grace extender, not a grace restrictor as you folks wrongly claim.

        “If everyone is enabled to come, then why don’t they come?”

        The Bible does not give one cookie cutter single answer to that question; it never says “all do not come because of factor X.” If you evangelize and talk to people you will hear differing reasons for their rejection. Some have had painful experiences in their lives and cannot accept that a loving and good God would allow those things to happen to them. Others have taken in false ideas like Darwinism and so they reject Christianity. Some are part of a false belief system like Islam so they reject the Trinity and Christianity. Some are part of non-Christian cults like Mormonism and reject Christianity believing mistakenly that their works will save them. I have heard lots of reasons for non-belief so there is no one pat answer.

        Robert

          Robert

          part 2

          “‘I disagree with this statement: “Calvinists emphasize depravity but seem to not emphasize the preconversion work of the Holy Spirit at all.”–We most definitely do rely heavily on the sovereign Spirit to bring new life and His preconversion work.”

          You **do** deemphasize the preconversion work of the Spirit because you make these absolute blanket statements that the nonbeliever cannot have a positive response to the gospel or spiritual things. It is true that left to their own the nonbelievers cannot have a positive response to the gospel or spiritual things: but again they are not left to their own. The statement that the nonbeliever cannot have a positive response must be balanced with and clarified with the reality that the preconversion work of the Spirit can enable a nonbeliever to have a positive response. The disagreement between Calvinists and non-Calvinists is not at the point of the nonbeliever apart from the work of the Spirit: No, the disagreement is about whom the Spirit enables with the Calvinist claiming He does so only with those who will eventually become believers (while non-Calvinists will claim that he also enables people who never end up becoming believers).

          The Bible never says that the preconversion work of the Spirit is limited to only nonbelievers.

          And any of us who have actually done evangelism in the real world have seen that some most definitely receive all sorts of revelation from the Spirit and yet they do not believe (so they must be resisting the preconversion work of the Spirit or they would believe).

          “Also, I do not disagree that God foreknows events like you say. You said, “By foreknowing events and allowing them, God can make sure an outcome occurs even when it involves the sinful choices of people” Does not your wording that God can make sure the outcome occurs mean “ordain” or are you saying that God responds in time to the actions of people and makes adjustments according to their free choices and then makes it all work out for His plan in the end?”

          I would say that for some outcomes that God uses his foreknowledge to ensure some things occur as preplanned. But not every event. For example I do not believe that God preplans for the sins of believers and desires for these sins to occur.

          “Or does not the text say in Acts 4:27–28
          ” for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.”

          What was preplanned was that Jesus be crucified. It does not follow that therefore every event that occurred at that time in Jerusalem was preplanned by God.

          “The text does not say that God simply foreknew what Pilate, Herod, etc, would actually do but that He predestined it to take place.”

          The text of Acts 2:23 says that it was by the preplan and FOREKNOWLEDGE of God that Jesus was crucified (you need to compare Acts 2:23 with Acts 4:27-28).

          “God does more than just “allow” things to happen.”

          According to you a Calvinist. But the problem is if you claim that God directly ordains everything then you end up making God the author of sin (i.e. he preplans them all, wants them all to happen, that leads to all sorts of problem, problems you Calvinists have failed to deal with for centuries, the charge by non-Calvinists that consistent Calvinism makes God the author of sin has never been adequately dealt with for centuries).

          “Before creation, He ordains for them to happen while at the same time allowing the free choices of sinners to work in conjunction with His will. This is sometimes called “combatibilism”’

          I am fully aware of compatibilism and for the consistent Calvinist they are determinists, they believe in exhaustive determinism.

          Also Sean why are you contradicting yourself here? Earlier you had written that:

          ““God does more than just “allow” things to happen.”

          Now you completely contradict yourself and write:

          “He ordains for them to happen while at the same time allowing the free choices of sinners”

          You tell me that “God does more than just ‘allow’ things to happen” but then you yourself say “while at the same time allowing the free choices of sinners.”

          Why do you contradict yourself in this way????

          “Also, when speaking of God’s foreknowledge of individuals, it doesn’t mean that God knows in advance “what” sinners will do–ie: make a choice.”

          Actually that is exactly what it means and is the way the vast majority of Christians (including Catholics and Eastern Orthodox) have taken it to mean. It is only the minority, Calvinists, who come along and redefine what proginosko/foreknowledge means.

          “It actually states that God personally foreknows “them” (always with a direct object of a personal pronoun). God foreknows people in the sense that He sets His electing love on them before creation and then predestines them to be saved.”

          That is a Calvinistic claim but it breaks down, for example in Acts 2:23 when speaking of God’s foreknowledge it is speaking of NONBELIEVERS: “Acts 2:23; “this man, delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God [explicit reference to the fact that the planning of the crucifixion of Jesus was tied to God’s foreknowledge], you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death”

          Notice the “yous” here are nonbelievers and foreknowledge here does not mean “God foreknows people in the sense that He sets His electing love on them before creation and then predestines them to be saved”.

          “Let us not allow these intramural debates get us off the task of preaching the gospel to all creatoin and commanding all people everywhere to repent and believe in Christ alone for salvation.”

          Agreed.

          “Calvinisim is NOT the gospel (contrary to Spurgeon) but it does provide a solid foundation for the gospel.”

          Now wait a minute, if Spurgeon was wrong then why do so many of your calvinist brothers and sisters often claim that Calvinism is the gospel?

          Why do they claim that non-Calvinists do not have the gospel?

          Or that noncalvinists have only part of the gospel? Etc. Etc.??

          That is why modern calvinism is so divisive and always will be because many calvinists do equate calvinism with the gospel.

          “The gospel is the glorious announcement of the historical events of the sinless life, substitutionary death, and victorious resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave and the command to repent of sin and believe wholeheartedly in Jesus.’”

          Right, so again if that is what the gospel is, then why do so many calvinists here and in other blogs, virtually everywhere claim that they have the gospel while Traditionalists do not???

          Robert

            Sean

            “The disagreement between Calvinists and non-Calvinists is not at the point of the nonbeliever apart from the work of the Spirit: No, the disagreement is about whom the Spirit enables with the Calvinist claiming He does so only with those who will eventually become believers (while non-Calvinists will claim that he also enables people who never end up becoming believers).

            Agreed!

            Also Sean why are you contradicting yourself here? Earlier you had written that:

            ““God does more than just “allow” things to happen.”

            Now you completely contradict yourself and write:

            “He ordains for them to happen while at the same time allowing the free choices of sinners”

            This is not a contradiction. I believe God allows things to happen but I take it further that He also makes a sovereign decree before time that these things will happen. Maybe my wording was confusing.

            How about this: God allows what He hates to accomplish what he loves.

            Right, so again if that is what the gospel is, then why do so many calvinists here and in other blogs, virtually everywhere claim that they have the gospel while Traditionalists do not???

            I cannot answer for other blogs, but I don’t see these blogs, etc, saying that you as Traditionalist don’t have the gospel right. They may say that we disagree on issues related to the gospel in how God saves sinners, but I think we all agree on the centrality of the gospel. Could you please name these blogs, etc, so I can thoroughly check to see what they are saying.

            Here is a great summary from the Calvinism Advisory Committee on what we all can agree upon as Southern Baptists (both traditional and Calvinists and all in-between who don’t like labels)

            http://www.sbclife.net/Articles/2013/06/sla5

            The Power of the Gospel
            We affirm that our Lord is mighty to save and that He saves to the uttermost. We affirm the power of the Gospel to redeem every single human being through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, whom the Father has now declared to be both Lord and Christ, the Savior of the world.

            We deny that the Gospel is without power to save anyone who repents and believes in Jesus Christ. We also deny that the Gospel as revealed in Scripture lacks anything needful for our salvation.

            The Offer of the Gospel
            We affirm that the Gospel is to be made known freely to all in the good faith offer that if anyone confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord and believes in his heart that God has raised Christ from the dead, he will be saved.

            We deny that the Gospel lacks any power to save anyone who believes in Christ and receives Him as Savior and Lord. Anyone who understands the Gospel through the power of the Holy Spirit may, in prayer and petition, trust Christ through repentance and faith, and we should plead with all sinners to do so.

            The Exclusivity of the Gospel
            We affirm that salvation is found in the name of Christ and in no other name. We affirm that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and that no one can come to the Father but by Him. We affirm the exclusivity of the Gospel of Christ as the only message of salvation.

            We deny that salvation can come to any sinner by any other gospel, any other system of faith and practice, or by any name other than Jesus Christ.

          Sean

          Thanks Robert for the exchange.

          You said: In my opinion everyone receives at least one chance. What about those living in unreached places who have never heard the gospel and will die today and go to hell without ever having a chance? Does every single person in the world get a chance to hear the gospel? That hasn’t happened in the history of the world and that is why we are doing so much at the IMB to get to unreached unengaged people groups so that they will have a chance, but God does not owe anyone a chance to hear.

          Secondly, I have attempted numerous times on this blog and others that are more on the Traditionalist side to do a thorough exegeis of John 6 and no one wants to touch it.

          I am not making Calvinistic assertions (maybe using theological terms to explain what the Bible says) but what exactly does Jesus teach in John 6?

          John 6:37–39
          37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.
          The Father has given an “all” to Jesus. And Jesus says that they “WILL” not might come to Him. And those who come/beleive will never be cast out.

          Who is this “ALL” referring to? Does it refer to the entire world or to EVERY single person on planet earth? Logically, if the Father gives a group of people to Jesus and they will come, then obviously there is another group of people that the Father has not given to Jesus and they will not come. Why do they not come to Jesus? Because they were not given to Jesus.

          Another question: When did this giving occur? When did God give these people to Jesus?

          Paul says that they were chosen or predestined before the foundation of the world.

          Acts says it this way: Acts 13:48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.

          Which comes first the believing or being appointed? The reason they believed becasue they were appointed to eternal life. Or as Jesus would say, The Father gave them to him.

          Yet in the same flow of thought Jesus says that no one is able to come to him. The word “dunamis” means “has the power’ No one has the inherent power to come. That is why God must draw. And what is the result of God’s drawing? They will come and they will be raised on the last day. Nowhere does Jesus say that the Father will try to draw people and they will resist. He says that those whom were given to Him will come because they have been drawn.

          In response to John 12:32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

          This simply means that Jesus will draw all types of people to Himself–not just Jews, but Gentiles as well. Which is John’s recurring theme in the Fourth Gospel.

          This does not say that Jesus will draw and some will not come or resist. I don’t disagree with you that people resist the Holy Spriit all the time, but there does come a point in time when the sovereign God overcomes their resistance and replaces their heart of stone with a heart of flesh and opens their hearts to believe. But He only does this for the elect.

          It seems you define the preconversion work of drawing as only going part way to regeneration where the Spirit does a work, but then it depends upon man’s choice to be the final arbiter of if he will come to faith in Christ.

          I believe Jesus links the drawing with the raising up on the last day. In other words, only those who are drawn will be raised up. Or only those whom the Holy Spirit has fully brought to faith in Christ through regeneration. There is no room for a person to be drawn and never come or never be raised up. Jesus promises that they will come when drawn and they will be raised up on the last day. Which means that not everyone is drawn or everyone would come and everyone would be raised up (ie: universalism). The text teaches that only those whom the Father has given to Jesus will infallibly come to HIm because they have been drawn by Him and will be raised up. Nowhere in Jesus’ teaching here in John 6 does he mention resisting or not coming when drawn.

          You said, “You guys believe that God is a grace-restrictor, he only gives grace to the elect (the others he ordains for damnation and so does not desire to save them and does not attempt to save them). My Bible presents God as a grace extender, not a grace restrictor as you folks wrongly claim.

          We have a very different definiton of grace. Grace is not something God extends, but something He actually accomplishes and gives. Grace is not God holding out something to a sinner in hopes that they will receive it. Grace is God acting in His sovereignty to bring about the full salvation of sinners.

          Unless you hold to some form of universalism, God’s grace is restricted to those in hell.

          I believe the Bible teaches that we are all fallen in Adam, dead in sins and trespasses, at war with God as His enemies, and under His wrath and that God is in no way obligated to extend or show grace to anyone. Grace ceases to be grace if God is obligated to show it. For Him to “extend” it or show it to a great multitude that no one can count from every tribe, tongue, language, and people, and the rest leave in their state of rebellion does not mean that He is in any way unjust or unloving. You are starting from the premise that God has to extend grace to everyone, while I believe the Bible teaches that God owes no one grace and can sovereignly choose who He wants to give it to. And once He does grant grace, it is complete.

          Romans 9:15–16 (ESV)
          15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.

          I appreciate your willingness to interact, but I am not particularly fond of you saying “That’s the Calvinist response”. I’m giving a Biblical response and trying to interact to texts with consistency.

          You also said, The Bible does not give one cookie cutter single answer to that question; (of why all do not come)

          The answer is sinners don’t come to Christ because they are dead in sin and unable to come unless God does a work of making them alive in Christ. This He only does to those whom He has chosen.

          Jesus said it this way in John 10 when speaking to the Pharisees

          John 10:25–27
          25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

          Why did they not believe or come to Jesus? Because they were not His sheep. One might except Jesus to say it the other way around. The reason the Pharisees or any other lost person does not believe is because they are not CHrist’s sheep. They have not been given to Him by the Father. On the other hand, the sheep do hear His voice and come to him and follow him and believe. Why? Because they are His sheep.

          Which comes first? Does one believe in order to be a sheep? Or is one a sheep (elect before the foundation of the world/appointed to eternal life/given by the Father) and because of that they do in fact believe and come to Christ?

          Thanks for the interaction. I have many ministry responsibilities this week and this is becoming draining on me so if I bow out of the conversation, please dont’ take offense. We will probably never agree on these issues, but blogs like this do show the stark differences in our theology.

            Robert

            SeYou said: In my opinion everyone receives at least one chance. What about those living in unreached places who have never heard the gospel and will die today and go to hell without ever having a chance? Does every single person in the world get a chance to hear the gospel? That hasn’t happened in the history of the world and that is why we are doing so much at the IMB to get to unreached unengaged people groups so that they will have a chance, but God does not owe anyone a chance to hear.”

            I deal with you concern here in a few posts in response to Nate, who like you appears to believe that some folks never even get a chance to be saved despite the fact that God desires for all to be saved and provides an atonement in Christ that is sufficient to save anyone that God wants to apply it to. Regarding God owing people a chance, it seems to me that if He says he desires for all to be saved then he will at least give everyone an opportunity to be saved.

            And you wrote:
            “Secondly, I have attempted numerous times on this blog and others that are more on the Traditionalist side to do a thorough exegeis of John 6 and no one wants to touch it. ”

            I don’t have the time to deal with John 6 right now but I recommend that anyone interested in a very good non-calvinist exegesis of John 6 and the issues connected to it read Robert Hamilton called “The Order of Faith and Election in John’s Gospel: You Do Not Believe Because You Are Not My Sheep” Just do a Google search and it will come up easily. Hamilton provides a very good explanation so all interested should check it out for themselves.

            Robert

              Sean

              Just curious would you consider yourself an Arminian?

                Robert

                Sean asked:

                “Just curious would you consider yourself an Arminian?”

                And I am also curious as to: why, what difference does it make?

                Robert

        phillip

        Blessings, Sean.

        If you are a professed 5 point Calvinist then any responses are probably futile.

        That said, please consider the following……

        In response to Romans 8:29-30, Paul is referring to Israel.

        Was not the promised Messiah a product of Judah? Was not Israel called out of Egypt? Was not Israel glorified when God proclaimed Himself as “the God of Israel”? Does not Paul confirm this in Romans 11:2 when he writes……

        “God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel?”

        Now how plain is that?

        Also, I disagree with my Calvinist and Arminian brothers in Christ who both adhere to the Calvinistic teaching of total depravity. I do not find in scripture any “pre-conversion” work of the Holy Spirit, if by “pre-conversion” you mean regeneration or being released from the bondage of sin.

        Yes, the Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin, but that in itself proves that depraved, dead in sin, sinners are convict-able. This alone refutes total inability.

        In regards to how we “come to Christ”…..

        Romans 10:14, 17……
        “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed (they won’t)? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard (they can’t)? And how shall they hear without a preacher (again, they can’t, but it has absolutely nothing to do with depravity)?…….. So then faith comes by hearing (not by regeneration or being released from the bondage of sin), and hearing by the word of God.”

        Depravity doesn’t prevent someone from believing.

        In Him.

          Sean

          I’m a little taken back by these statements. Hear me. I’m not labeling you a semi-Pelagian, but your comments are very close to semi-Pelagian.
          How do you contextually and grammatically see that Romans 8:29-30 is referring to Israel? Paul is addressing Roman Christians who are Gentiles and then he shifts gears in Chapter 9-11 to address the Jews (as there was a mixed congregation in Rome of both Jews and Gentiles)

          If you do not believe in total depravity, then what do you believe? Many Traditionalist will agree with total depravity, but will reject total inability? Are you objecting to total inability or total depravity, because the only other option you have is either Pelagianism or semi-Pelagianism if you reject total depravity.

          Total inability does not mean that a sinner can’t experience conviction. It simply means that in their natural state of deadness and rebellion, they cannot come to Christ. They are spiritually unable to come besause they are spiritually dead.

          Calvinists believe that God overcomes their deadness, grants them new life, and simultaneoulsy gives them the abilty to repent and believe as a grace gift. They are “enabled” to believe once regenerated and when God overcomes their deadness and makes them alive. Yes, I believe regeneration precedes faith.

          Your final statement reveals your stance: “Depravity doesn’t prevent someone from believing.” This is semi-Pelagianism. What do you believe about sin and guilt?

            phillip

            Sean,

            Well, you definitely have your Calvinism down. Nothing new. Same definitions, terms, and interpretations I have come across time and time again.

            So in regards to your question about Romans 8:29-30, Romans 11:2 tells you nothing? Especially being so clear? It’s in plain English.

            “Foreknew”, in the context of Romans 8:29-30, means “having a prior intimate relationship with”. This doesn’t mean a prior relationship from eternity past as Calvinism would have us believe, but rather a prior relationship in time. Who did God have a prior intimate relationship with in the OT? Israel.

            I understand why you would see my stance on total depravity/total inability as semi-pelagian, because that is what you have been taught. Calvinists, and their Arminian brothers, make this common mistake. However, many Traditionalists, despite your claim, as this website can attest to, reject total depravity/total inability. And yet we are not SP. I know this baffles you, but it is what it is.

            Finally, I know you believe “regeneration precedes faith”. However, there is not one biblical example to support it. Not one. But, you can believe what you want to believe. It’s ironic, but Calvinism actually proves “free will”. People can believe what they want to believe.

            God bless.

              rhutchin

              We read in Romans 8: “…we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 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:…” (v28-30)

              Phillip writes, ““Foreknew”, in the context of Romans 8:29-30, means “having a prior intimate relationship with”. This doesn’t mean a prior relationship from eternity past as Calvinism would have us believe, but rather a prior relationship in time. Who did God have a prior intimate relationship with in the OT? Israel.”

              Context says that those “whom” God foreknew are those identified earlier (we look for the antecedent of whom) and the nearest possibility is “…them who are the called according to his purpose.” While it is true that God called Israel to be His people, it is also true that Paul spends a lot of time making a distinction between physical Israel and “His people” who are those within Israel who serve Him. It is these whom God predestinates, calls, justifies, glorifies. Paul will be more adamant about this in Chap 9 where he says, “they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:” which carries his theme from chap 2, “he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart,…”

              If one does not understand Paul when he says, “they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:,” then he will read Romans thinking that the physical nation of Israel is the subject when it is not – Paul focus is on God’s elect within Israel.

                phillip

                Romans 8:29-30…..
                “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.”

                The language here is past tense, not present or future. The nation of Israel is biblically whom God foreknew, had a prior intimate relationship with, in the OT and no one else. Compare that with the following….

                Romans 9:3-5….
                “For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is (not was, but is) the adoption to sonship; theirs (is still) the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises (promises made to the people of Israel yet to be fulfilled, but someday will be). Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised!”

                Romans 11:1-2….
                “I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew.”

                It’s clear from the verse above that it was Israel whom God foreknew. This is clearly a physical lineage. You can’t twist this to mean anything else, though obviously some will try. God had entered into an intimate relationship with his elect people of Israel (Isaiah 45:4). He was a husband to them (Jeremiah 3:20) and ultimately gave her a bill of divorce (Jeremiah 3:8).

                Romans 11:28…..
                Concerning the gospel (Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection) they (the Jews) are enemies for your (the Gentiles’) sake, but concerning the election they (the Jews) are beloved for the sake of the fathers (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob).

                This, too, is a physical lineage.

                If rhutchin is anything he’s consistent. Consistently wrong that is. Apparently he is not only infected with reformed theology, but replacement theology as well.

      rhutchin

      Robert writes, “But we are not left to be on our own, the Holy Spirit who is God does a preconversion work in us that enables but does not necessitate a faith response. The Spirit reveals Christ to us, reveals our sinfulness to us, reveals that Jesus is the only way, He helps us to understand scripture and gospel preaching, etc. etc. With this powerful work of the Spirit who is God we are then enabled to “choose positively for Christ”. Calvinists emphasize depravity but seem to not emphasize the preconversion work of the Holy Spirit at all.”

      It is the Calvinist emphasis on depravity that makes the preconversion work of the Holy Spirit necessary. Without the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the depraved person, that person cannot be saved. So, you seem to agree with the Calvinists on this critical point – the depravity of a person makes necessary the work of the Holy Spirit. Absent the work of the Holy Spirit none could be saved.

      The issue, then, is whether the preconversion work of the Holy Spirit can be ineffective in getting the conclusion sought – the salvation of the person. Some say it can suggesting that a person can reject all that the Holy Spirit does – revealing Christ to the depraved person, revealing his sinfulness to the depraved person, revealing that Jesus is the only way, helping the depraved person to understand scripture and gospel preaching, etc. etc. Could a person reject these efforts by the Holy Spirit? That seems an impossibility as it would deny the effectiveness of the Holy Spirit to reveal Christ or to bring the depraved person to an understanding of the Scriptures. We must grant that the Holy Spirit/God can work effectively in the life of the depraved and that effectiveness results in salvation when that is His intent. If the final result is that the person is not saved, then it cannot be that God intended any other result.

        Robert

        Rhutchin quotes my statements about depravity and the preconversion work of the Spirit:

        “Robert writes, “But we are not left to be on our own, the Holy Spirit who is God does a preconversion work in us that enables but does not necessitate a faith response. The Spirit reveals Christ to us, reveals our sinfulness to us, reveals that Jesus is the only way, He helps us to understand scripture and gospel preaching, etc. etc. With this powerful work of the Spirit who is God we are then enabled to “choose positively for Christ”. Calvinists emphasize depravity but seem to not emphasize the preconversion work of the Holy Spirit at all.”

        Rthutchin then responds with:

        “It is the Calvinist emphasis on depravity that makes the preconversion work of the Holy Spirit necessary. Without the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the depraved person, that person cannot be saved. So, you seem to agree with the Calvinists on this critical point – the depravity of a person makes necessary the work of the Holy Spirit. Absent the work of the Holy Spirit none could be saved.”

        It is true that “without the work of the Holy Spirit . . . that person cannot be saved”. This is true partly because of our sinful condition prior to conversion and partly due to the fact the persons of the trinity work together in our salvation (i.e. the Father sends the Son to die for the sins of the whole world, the Son comes to die on the cross and rise from the dead and the Spirit then reveals these things to the sinner so that they may be saved).

        “The issue, then, is whether the preconversion work of the Holy Spirit can be ineffective in getting the conclusion sought – the salvation of the person.”

        Calvinists believe that the Spirit only seeks to save the preselected lucky few (lucky because it has nothing to do with them, they are winners of the divine lottery while the others are losers in the divine lottery): non-Calvinists believe that the Spirit seeks to save all but that His work may be resisted and even rejected. The Calvinistic belief is called “irresistible grace” because it cannot be resisted. Non-Calvinists reject this doctrine as it is never taught in scripture and in our actual evangelistic experiences we see people at times who have experienced the work of the Spirit and yet reject God anyway.

        “Some say it can suggesting that a person can reject all that the Holy Spirit does – revealing Christ to the depraved person, revealing his sinfulness to the depraved person, revealing that Jesus is the only way, helping the depraved person to understand scripture and gospel preaching, etc. etc.”

        Actually it is more than “some” it is the vast majority of Christians throughout church history including Protestants, Catholics, and the Eastern Orthodox. The theological determinist view of irresistible grace is the minority view among Christians and always has been.

        “Could a person reject these efforts by the Holy Spirit?”

        Most definitely, I have seen it many times myself with my own eyes and ears.

        “That seems an impossibility as it would deny the effectiveness of the Holy Spirit to reveal Christ or to bring the depraved person to an understanding of the Scriptures.’

        Rhutchin your statement here is confused because you are failing to distinguish between “the effectiveness of the Holy Spirit to reveal Christ or bring the depraved person to an understanding of the Scriptures” and the person’s rejection of this preconversion work of the Spirit. The Spirit is perfectly effective in revealing Christ to people, revealing their sinfulness, revealing their need for Christ, that Christ is the only way of salvation, giving them understanding of scripture, etc. etc. The problem is that a person can experience those things and still not be a believer, still refuse to bow to the authority of Jesus as Lord and Savior.

        I can share lots of examples of this (as can anyone else who regularly engages in actual evangelism of actual people in the real world). I know of one situation where a guy was at a Billy Graham crusade, he understood the message, believed that he was being led to go forward and yet he did not while his friend did so. In order for them to understand their need to go forward, for them to understand the gospel message the Spirit had to have been working on them and revealing things to both. And yet he resisted. He also told me that the manager in the next office to him was a Christian and witnessed to him for years. And when I spoke to him he understood all kinds of things, He knew he was a sinner and needed to be forgiven, He knew that Jesus was God in the flesh, and that Jesus had died for him, he knew scriptures on salvation, he could only have known and understood these things if he had experienced the work of the Spirit. And yet despite all of that knowledge and understanding accumulated over years’ time he still refused to become a Christian. He was resisting the Spirit and he even knew it. Was the Spirit “effective” in revealing things to him? Yes, again he could not have known those things and understood them without the Spirit. And yet he was not saved.

        Now this is just one example I can share many, many more. So your claim that the preconversion work of the Spirit cannot be resisted is false. And this can be verified in any person’s experience if they do enough evangelism.

        If you want a clear Biblical illustration of this consider the “Lord, Lord people of Matt 7”. These were not atheists denying the existence of God or bad people that were obvious sinners. No, these are people in the churches who know all sorts of things, understand all sorts of things, did things and know these things through the work of the Spirit and yet they are not saved and at the final judgment Jesus will tell them that he never knew them. He does not mean that he did not know about them, he means he never had a personal relationship with them. You ask pastors who have dealt with church splits and they will tell you of folks who were longstanding members of churches who knew the Bible, understood all sorts of things and yet they probably are not saved.

        Another clear biblical example is Romans 1 where the text tells us that God himself shows things to people and yet they reject it and instead end up worshipping the creature rather than the creator (but note God was perfectly “effective” in revealing Himself to them, according to Romans 1 the problem was not with God failing to reveal himself but with the people who resisted the revelation that he gave to them and instead chose to be idolaters).

        “We must grant that the Holy Spirit/God can work effectively in the life of the depraved and that effectiveness results in salvation when that is His intent.”

        No we must not grant that because this claim is false.

        The Spirit is effective in revealing things to sinners, but sinners can still resist, still say No to God and his offer of salvation in Christ (again God did not “fail” in Romans 1 the people who resisted Him did).

        “If the final result is that the person is not saved, then it cannot be that God intended any other result.”

        No, this simply assumes Calvinism: that a person who is not saved did not experience the work of the Spirit, God did not intend to save him. Again my experience and many, many other people attests to the fact that people sometimes do experience the preconversion work of the Spirit and yet they still do not become believers.

        Robert

    Doug Sayers

    Sean, I have a standing offer of $50 to the first person who can show any biblical texts which teach explicitly, or by necessary inference, that the guilt of Adam’s sin is imputed to his posterity. Neither Romans 5 or Ps 51 teach explicitly, or by necessary inference, that we inherited Adam’s guilt. It is a bizarre assertion that Esau would be born with no hope in God based upon a sin that he did not commit.

    Remember, sin is not imputed when there is no law. Rom 5:13; 4:15.

    How can anyone be born already guilty of breaking God’s law? What law could Esau have broken before he was born?

      Sean

      Before I answer your question, how do you interpret the word “condemnation” in Romans 5:18

      Romans 5:18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.

      Also, I’m not sure I understand your question about Esau. The reason he “had no hope” is based upon God’s election, not on any foreseen faith or any works good or bad on his part.

      Also, how can anyone be born already guilty of breaking God’s law? Does breaking God’s law all that makes a person guilty? Cannot we be guilty as a result of our sin nature being under God’s wrath and spiritually dead before we are old enough to conscioulsy break God’s law? It seems you are limiting guilt to simply an action (breaking God’s law) as opposed to a condition (spiritual deadness) which actually is the root cause of breaking God’s law.

        Doug Sayers

        Sean, the condemnation of vs 18 is physical death and by implication eternal death to the impenitent. see 15, and 17. Everyone dies – elect and non elect alike.
        We are born in sin/corrupt in nature thanks to Adam. He opened the door that leads to hell but he did not push anyone in! We each suffer the consequences of his transgression but not the culpability. We are each like the blind man in John 9. Jesus said that it was not his sin or his parents’ sin that caused him to be born blind. He was born that way so that the works of God could be revealed in him. Likewise, we are each born in sin so that the works of God can be revealed in us.

        You assert: “The reason Esau “had no hope” is based upon God’s election, not on any foreseen faith or any works good or bad on his part.” This would mean that Esau went to hell for nothing and you can’t have a judgment over nothing. This would make God out to be a sovereign sinner. This is why historical Calvinism has had to conjure up the imputation of Adam’s guilt or some kind of theory to spread the blame for Adam’s sin to everyone, even though Scripture teaches that sin entered the world through ONE man. Not all men. “We” did not sin in the Garden. “We” did not name the animals and Eve was not our wife, in Adam. This is very clear in Rom 5.

        I am not saying that “where there is no law there is no transgression” and “sin is not imputed where there is no law”. Scripture is saying it. Both Scripture and historical Calvinistic creeds assert that sin is transgression of the law. There is nothing in Scripture about sin being imputed by ordinary generation or arbitrary imputation.

        You are saying that the biblical God decrees the eternal damnation of Esau (and anyone who would be reprobate in the Calvinistic schema) based on a sin they did not actually commit! A pretty bizarre inference, I hope you can agree. I will need an explicit text before I tell people that the LORD God would be just to damn someone to hell even if they never actually sinned once in their lifetime. (Like George Whitefield in “Method of Grace.”)

        Anyway, my apologies to Pastor Mann and SBC Today for getting off topic. To make amends, I will extend a $50 offer to the first person who can produce a biblical text which teaches explicitly, or by necessary inference, that Jesus did NOT die for someone (or some group of people).

        Not enough? OK. I will offer another $50 for the first person who can produce a biblical text which teaches explicitly, or by necessary inference, that Jesus ONLY died for the church.

          rhutchin

          Doug Sayers writes, ‘”I will offer another $50 for the first person who can produce a biblical text which teaches explicitly, or by necessary inference, that Jesus ONLY died for the church.”

          “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;” (Ephesians 5:25)

          Here it says Christ (1) loved the church and (2) gave himself for it. The question is whether we can say Christ ONLY loved the church and gave Himself (died) for it. As husbands are to love their wives in the same manner as Christ loved the church, we can ask, Must husbands love their wives as Christ loved the church and take this to mean husbands love ONLY their wives as Christ loved ONLY the church (such that he died for ONLY it). Or do we understand that a husband is to love his wife and others as Christ loved His church and others. One aspect of the love of husbands for their wives is that of an intimacy not to be shared with others; thus husbands are to love ONLY their wives. That would make it impossible for husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church if Christ’s love in not similarly limited ONLY to His church.

          By necessary inference, Christ ONLY loved His church and out of that love for His church, ONLY died for her. If Christ also died for those not of His church, then He loved them also and not ONLY His church.

            Robert

            Rhutchin how desperate can you be?

            The issue is limited atonement, the false Calvinistic doctrine that Jesus died only for those who will eventually believe. This doctrine is false because it is directly contradicted by Bible verses that teach that God so loved the WORLD that he gave Jesus as an atonement for that world (and that Jesus died for the *****whole***** world cf. 1 John 2:2).

            There is also no Bible verse that says that Jesus died **only** for the elect.

            Those are the facts.

            Now in your desperation you appeal to this really bad argument from Ephesians 5. Ephesians 5 is not discussing the atonement of Christ at all. Instead it is teaching Christian husbands how they ought to love their wives (i.e. as Christ did, with a willingness to sacrifice himself for her). The passage says nothing about whether or not Jesus died for the non-elect, in fact the passages says nothing about the non-elect at all. It is in fact not talking about the exclusivity of the atonement at all.

            To go from that passage to an argument for limited atonement is just a total abuse of the passage and of logic. rhutchin if you are going to engage in this kind of eisegesis then any false idea can be proved using it. Cults engage in this kind of “interpretation” all the time. If you are a believer then you can do better than this when interpreting God’s Word. And if you choose to abuse God’s Word with these kinds of twisted interpretations God will hold you responsible for this.

            Robert

      rhutchin

      “Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” Genesis 3:23-24}

      So, none are to be allowed back into the garden. On what grounds are Adam’s children to be denied entrance unless they also sin? Should not God have commanded that they be allowed to enter the garden unless they have sinned? Instead, God commands that none be allowed to enter the garden anymore. The only reason must be that Adam’s children are tainted by his sin as that sin is imputed to them, and on this basis, they are to be denied access to the garden.

      Now, this may not be seen as an “explicit” teaching of the imputation of Adam;s guilt to his children, but it clearly teaches this.

        Robert

        Rhutchin quotes from Genesis 3:

        “Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” Genesis 3:23-24}”

        He then asks:

        “So, none are to be allowed back into the garden. On what grounds are Adam’s children to be denied entrance unless they also sin? Should not God have commanded that they be allowed to enter the garden unless they have sinned? Instead, God commands that none be allowed to enter the garden anymore. The only reason must be that Adam’s children are tainted by his sin as that sin is imputed to them, and on this basis, they are to be denied access to the garden.”

        This is a bit bizarre, as rhutchin claims that “the only reason” that they were not allowed to enter the garden anymore” was that “Adam’s children are tainted by his sin as that sin is imputed to them.”

        First of all **nowhere** does the text say that the sin of Adam was imputed to his children.

        Second, why not go by the reason that the text says “to keep the way of the tree of life” (i.e. to keep them away from the tree of life). That is why they are prohibited from the garden to keep them from the tree of life.

        “Now, this may not be seen as an “explicit” teaching of the imputation of Adam;s guilt to his children, but it clearly teaches this.”
        This makes no sense as it is neither explicit nor clear.

        Generally speaking if something is “clear” it is also explicit. The imputation of sin is never mentioned in Genesis 3 so it is neither explicit nor clear. Rhutchin is just reading his desired theology into the text but it is not there!

        Robert

          rhutchin

          Robert writes, “Second, why not go by the reason that the text says “to keep the way of the tree of life” (i.e. to keep them away from the tree of life). That is why they are prohibited from the garden to keep them from the tree of life.”

          We understand that Adam/Eve are prohibited from entering the garden again – they sinned. But what of their children? They are also prohibited from entering the garden and this even before they are born or have done good or evil. On what basis are they excluded? The only available reason is that God considers them tainted by Adam/Eve’s sin.

            Jonathan Carter

            Good morning rhutchin,

            I would just like to point out one thing. Just because the descendants of Adam and Eve were kept out of the garden does not mean that they are guilty of Adam’s sin–but they are suffering the consequences of his sin. It’s like when I was a child in school. One kid would act out and get the whole class in trouble. The whole class wasn’t guilty of anything–just one kid was. But because of his behavior all of us suffered the consequences. There is not a single verse in all of scripture that tells us we are guilty of Adam’s sin–but there are many that show we still suffer the consequences (death).

            Thanks for all of the interaction! Have a blessed day.

              volfan007

              Jonathan,

              Amen. I was about to say the same thing.

              David

              rhutchin

              Not the best analogy. This is better. One kid in class acts up and gets detention after school. The rest of the kids go home untainted by the bad behavior of the one kid.

              in the case of the garden, Adam/Eve could have been excluded without anyone else incurring the same penalty. Yet, both A/E and their children were excluded. The question is, How can the children be excluded if they have no guilt?

              What is Adam’s punishment for his sin: “Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden.”

              Denying access to the tree of life is linked directly to his sin. As the children had not sinned, they could not be denied access on the basis of sin. On what basis, then? One answer is that Adam’s sin is imputed to them. Is there another answer?

Max

Amen, Brother Mann! We certainly need to maintain a balanced teaching within the 21st century church as we move closer to the Lord’s return. I think of Paul’s exhortation to Timothy after he had noted end-time signs in 2 Timothy 4; Paul particularly emphasized doctrinal confusion. He essentially told Timothy that if he saw these things coming upon the earth to drop everything else and “Do the work of an evangelist!” We certainly live at a time when the teachings and traditions of men compete with the commandments of God … and Jesus warned us not to do that! So, what should we do? Do the work of an evangelist. The fields are white unto harvest.

Nate

The difficulty of building doctrine on one passage is that often, as is the case with the text from Peter’s epistle, other Scripture contradicts it. In this particular case, IF John (blog post author) is arguing from Peter’s Epistle that God desires that ALL will be saved, then Paul’s letter to the Romans is insufficient and contradictory, because Paul writes in it that one can only be saved by hearing the gospel, repenting, and believing in Christ. “How will they call out [to be saved] on Him they don’t believe….” “How will they believe unless they hear…” “How will they hear unless someone preaches…”

Therefore only those who hear the gospel (be it from man or from angels, or dreams [from the Spirit], or the Lord Jesus personally) will have the opportunity to repent and believe. Please don’t get caught up in a debate over angels, dreams, or direct revelations from Christ, my point is that Scripture says the gospel must be proclaimed, heard, confessed by the believer and believed in their heart–this then brings salvation.

If we honestly evaluate the history of the world (since the Ascension of Christ) untold millions have been born, lived, and died without every hearing the gospel or even hearing the name of Jesus. If this is the case (and it is) then there is a great connudrum if Peter’s epistle is really speaking about ALL People. Since it is clear that ALL people Have Not heard the gospel, thereby they have died apart from faith in Christ, did God not want them to perish? If God is not willing that any should perish, then why did He allow untold millions to be born, to live, and to die without ever having the opportunity to repent and believe in the gospel? This is a huge connundrum if one takes Peter’s epistle to mean ALL People. Versus say John 3:16, which says that ALL who Believe will saved, not ALL People will be saved.

For those of us who have had the privilege of hearing the gospel and believing in Christ, this makes missionary endeavours all the more important. Go therefore and make disciples…

Scripture is clear that God is a missionary God who desires people to be saved, but we need to careful anytime the word ALL is used, because All have not heard the gospel.

    Robert

    Part 1

    The Bible is absolutely clear and explicit:

    God desires that all be saved.

    I find it interesting that rather than accepting this biblical teaching, Calvinists, because of their commitment to their system of theology feel the need to question God’s Word on this and even go so far as to ****develop arguments**** against it!

    Nate provides a common one that I have heard, it an argument from “those who have never heard the gospel”. But this argument contains some dubious assumptions. One assumption is that every person who is saved must be saved by hearing explicitly about Jesus, explicitly hearing the gospel referred to in 1 Cor. 15. Is that assumption true? No, unless you are willing to argue that babies, small children without the mental capacity and even the developmentally disabled who lack the mental capacity to hear, understand and accept the gospel all automatically go to hell. But very few take that tack, even Calvinists argue that babies may be saved apart from hearing with understanding the gospel. But admitting that some like babies and the mentally disabled may be saved apart from hearing with understanding and accepting the gospel makes that claim that “every person must be saved by hearing explicitly about Jesus” false. We also have people in the OT era who never heard of Jesus and yet were saved. Now what we do know for sure is that those who hear with understanding the gospel must believe it in order to be saved (if they do not they will not be saved). Let’s call these folks the mentally able. The pronouncements in the Bible about people being saved through the gospel are always in reference to the mentally able (they are not in reference to babies, small children, the mentally disabled who lack the mental capacity to hear the gospel with understanding and believer it) so why don’t we limit them to the mentally able persons?
    Nate begins his argument from those who have never heard appealing to some passages in Romans 10:

    “then Paul’s letter to the Romans is insufficient and contradictory, because Paul writes in it that one can only be saved by hearing the gospel, repenting, and believing in Christ. “How will they call out [to be saved] on Him they don’t believe….” “How will they believe unless they hear…” “How will they hear unless someone preaches…”

    Note every one of these references is in a section (Romans 9-11) whose context is Paul’s explanation as to why if the gospel he is preaching is true, then why are so many Jews in his time not believing it? Paul talks about the history of election in Israel’s history in the early verses of Romans 9. Then in Romans 10 he talks about the necessity of faith for salvation and again discusses the Jewish people and argues that they are without excuse that Jesus incarnation has brought the gospel message directly to them and they must believe it in order to be saved (as is also true with Gentiles). But here is the key, throughout Romans 10 Paul’s discussion of faith presumes these are able minded persons, he makes no mention of babies or the mentally disabled, that is not his concern. His concern is with able minded Jews in the first century.

    Nate continues:

    “Therefore only those who hear the gospel (be it from man or from angels, or dreams [from the Spirit], or the Lord Jesus personally) will have the opportunity to repent and believe.”

    This may be true of the mentally able but this cannot apply to babies, small children and the mentally disabled.

    “Please don’t get caught up in a debate over angels, dreams, or direct revelations from Christ, my point is that Scripture says the gospel must be proclaimed, heard, confessed by the believer and believed in their heart–this then brings salvation.’

    Right in reference to those who are mentally capable of hearing the gospel with understanding.

    Now comes the argument from those who have never heard full bore:

    “If we honestly evaluate the history of the world (since the Ascension of Christ) untold millions have been born, lived, and died without every hearing the gospel or even hearing the name of Jesus.”

    And all those “untold millions [who] have been born, lived and died without ever hearing the gospel or even hearing the name of Jesus” THAT includes millions of babies and small children and mentally disabled persons throughout history: have they all gone to hell???

    “If this is the case (and it is) then there is a great connudrum if Peter’s epistle is really speaking about ALL People.”

    There is no “conundrum” because Peter’s epistle as is Paul in Romans 10 presumes that the people being discussed are mentally able persons. In regards to mentally able persons who hear the gospel they must believe it in order to be saved.

    Robert

      Nate

      Robert, you dance completely around the point. If you are saying cognitive sinners who have never heard the gospel will be saved, then there is absolutely no reason to take the gospel anywhere. God will save everyone.

      If, you want to actually address my point, there are people who lived and died (and weren’t mentally disabled) who never heard the gospel, and you believe they can save themselves apart from the preaching of the gospel and repenting and trusting in Christ, then you stand opposed to historical Christianity.

      So answer the question without dancing around it. Can mentally cognitive people who live and die without ever hearing the name of Christ be saved? That is the question.

        Robert

        Nate you apparently did not understand my argument. You are trying to argue against the explicit scripture that says that God desires the salvation of all by appealing to those who have never heard the gospel.

        I brought out problems with your argument which you have basically completely ignored.

        “Robert, you dance completely around the point.”

        I am not the one who is arguing against explicit and clear scripture, you are. Scripture does not contain your argument about those who have never heard all automatically going to hell. And Christians have different views on this issue.

        “If you are saying cognitive sinners who have never heard the gospel will be saved, then there is absolutely no reason to take the gospel anywhere. God will save everyone.”

        I have to say that is really a ridiculous comment, a purely emotional reaction. We take the gospel to the world because we are commanded to do so, and because we, like God, love sinners and want to see them come to Christ. Apparently you must lack this love for sinners which explains why it is easy for you to automatically consign millions of people to hell. And you also confuse the idea that God desires for all to be saved with universalism (“God will save everyone.”) Don’t you know the scripture that says that some will be eternally separated from God (e.g. the sheep/goats in Matthew 25)??

        “If, you want to actually address my point, there are people who lived and died (and weren’t mentally disabled) who never heard the gospel, and you believe they can save themselves apart from the preaching of the gospel and repenting and trusting in Christ, then you stand opposed to historical Christianity.”

        No, I did not say “they can save themselves” (no one can save themselves, God alone saves us if we are saved). I do maintain that God can choose to save them. It is his right to have mercy on whomever he wants to have mercy upon right????

        I don’t stand opposed to “historical Christianity” this is an absolutely ridiculous charge. Nate you are getting very desperate here and pulling out all of the stops. All for the sake of your false theology of Calvinism, how sad, and how unnecessary. You did not deal with my points at all instead you just resort to ad hominem attacks. Typical of many Calvinists and completely to be expected.

        I maintain that anyone who is saved will be saved through the atonement of Christ and the mercy of God. That is true of OT saints, NT saints, babies, small children, the mentally disabled and even those who never hear the name of Jesus or the gospel message. You apparently are ignorant of what Christians have said regarding those who have never heard.

        “So answer the question without dancing around it. Can mentally cognitive people who live and die without ever hearing the name of Christ be saved? That is the question.’

        I would say Yes. Many saints in the OT era were mentally cognitive people who lived and died without ever hearing the name of Christ and yet they were saved. Or do you claim that every OT saint heard the name of Jesus???

        And regarding “dancing around” when will you stop arguing against God’s word that He desires for all to be saved? When will you stop acting like the serpent and saying did God really say that He desires for all to be saved? No. He really said that he only wants to save some.

        Robert

      Sean

      You said, ” We also have people in the OT era who never heard of Jesus and yet were saved”
      This is a rather weak argument. They believed in the promised Messiah that was prophecied in Genesis 3:15, and Genesis 12:3 and demonstrated in all the types and shadows of the OT sacrificial system and temple worship. They were saved by grace in the promise of a coming Messiah. I wonder if by this statement, you may be a dispensationalist?

      I don’t have anything to add to Nate’s response as he asked some great questions.

Robert

Part 2 =

But this is where it gets a bit more tricky. We already know that some people will be saved without hearing the gospel with understanding (i.e. the babies, the small children, the mentally disabled): so if this is true can this exception in some way apply to those who are mentally able but due to circumstances out of their control never had the opportunity to hear about Jesus and the good news/gospel concerning him? Now I understand that Christians take different positions on this, which is another reason this argument should not be used to negate the clear and explicit teaching of scripture that God desires the salvation of all.

Seems to me that God could save some of these folks based upon the following principles. One is the principle from the OT that God says whoever seeks him will find him. So say someone from a place where the gospel never was presented looks at the world (cf. Romans 1) knows that God must exist and prays that the true God would reveal himself to them. Would it be impossible for God to answer this prayer? I have heard missionaries tell stories of just this type of thing happening. Someone prayed and then God sent a missionary (or for an individual a dream or some other revelation leading them to Christ: note Nate made reference to this possibility himself: ““Please don’t get caught up in a debate over angels, dreams, or direct revelations from Christ,”). Another principle is that all who are saved are saved through the atonement of Christ (this would apply to those who have never heard who come to faith). Another principle is that if God desires that all be saved does he have the right to save those who never hear the gospel through the atonement of Christ? Does he have the right to have mercy on those who have never heard of Jesus? The point is that we don’t absolutely know about those who have never heard. We know about those who are mentally able and hear and either believer or reject, but we really don’t know the fate of those who never hear.

“Since it is clear that ALL people Have Not heard the gospel, thereby they have died apart from faith in Christ, did God not want them to perish?”

We don’t know for sure about their fate, again there are differing positions among Bible believing Christians regarding those who have never heard. None of these positions is explicitly stated in the Bible.

“If God is not willing that any should perish, then why did He allow untold millions to be born, to live, and to die without ever having the opportunity to repent and believe in the gospel?”

And how do we know that he did not give them dreams, or give them direct revelation of some kind? We don’t know, so we cannot automatically assume as Nate appears to be doing that they all went to hell.

And I should point out that it is **extremely inconsistent** that the same Calvinists who argue from those who have never heard against the biblical teaching that God desires for all to be saved: simultaneously argue that babies, small children and the mentally disabled can be saved without hearing about Jesus with understanding. You can’t have it both ways, if the babies and the small children and the mentally disabled can be saved without hearing the gospel with understanding then so can those who have never heard.

“This is a huge connundrum if one takes Peter’s epistle to mean ALL People.”

I don’t see this as a “huge conundrum” because I believe that God does save babies, small children and the mentally disabled without them hearing the gospel with understanding. And if he can and chooses to do it with them, then doesn’t he also have the right to do so with some of those who have never heard?

“Versus say John 3:16, which says that ALL who Believe will saved, not ALL People will be saved.”

And John 3:16 presumes the subject is able minded persons. John 3:16 does not apply to babies, small children or the mentally disabled who are incapable of believing with understanding.

“For those of us who have had the privilege of hearing the gospel and believing in Christ, this makes missionary endeavors all the more important. Go therefore and make disciples…”

Missionary endeavors are important because God loves the world and desires for all to be saved.

“Scripture is clear that God is a missionary God who desires people to be saved, but we need to careful anytime the word ALL is used, because All have not heard the gospel.”

No, this statement is false: because Nate intentionally leaves out what the Bible teaches, that God desires for a ALL to be saved. If the statement was accurate it would be amended to read:

“Scripture is clear that God is a missionary God who desires ALL people to be saved” PERIOD!!!

We don’t need the additional words “but we need to [be] careful anytime the word ALL is used, because ALL have not heard the gospel.”
These additional words remind me of the Garden where the serpent said “Did God really say?” Did God really say that He desires that all be saved? Yes, he says so clearly and explicitly in His Word.

Robert

Robert

I was thinking some more about Nate’s post and I want to make some more comments in response to it.

Nate wrote:

“Robert, you dance completely around the point. If you are saying cognitive sinners who have never heard the gospel will be saved, then there is absolutely no reason to take the gospel anywhere. God will save everyone.”

How do we go from my belief that God can and does save **some** of those who never actually hear Jesus’ name to Nate’s conclusion of universalism (“God will save everyone”). That makes no sense at all. Now if I had claimed that ALL of those who never hear Jesus’ name are ALL going to be saved then Nate could claim I am espousing universalism. But that is not what I am saying. Even today missionaries to Muslim countries tell me of people being converted by dreams and visions when no one witnessed to them, they never heard the name of Jesus. Now how can that be happening now but never happened previously in history? Seems to me that if it SOMETIMES happens now then it also sometimes happened in the past.

“If, you want to actually address my point, there are people who lived and died (and weren’t mentally disabled) who never heard the gospel, and you believe they can save themselves apart from the preaching of the gospel and repenting and trusting in Christ, then you stand opposed to historical Christianity.”

I have to reiterate here, the Bible is absolutely clear that no one is saved through their doing of good works. I used to work in counter cult ministry with Walter Martin and so I have run into this mentality that our own works save us, many, many times. And it is a false belief.

We are only saved when God has mercy on us through the cross of Christ. We cannot earn this mercy, work for it, God simply does it with people when He saves them.

First Nate tried to claim that my belief that some of those who never hear the name of Jesus will be saved entails **universalism** (that is false). Here he claims my belief that some of those who never hear the name of Jesus will be saved entails **works salvation** (that is also false). In both instances Nate adds things to my position which I do not claim and never said. I really do not appreciate this at all. If someone can put words in my mouth they can make it appear that I am teaching all sorts of false things.

I believe that if some of these people who have never heard of Jesus are saved then it will be very similar to how God saves babies and the mentally disabled. With the babies and the mentally saved, if they are saved it is definitely because they did some sort of works to save themselves. If babies and the mentally disabled are saved it has to be based upon God choosing to have mercy on them and saving them through the atonement of Christ. Now if babies and the mentally disabled can be saved through mercy and the cross alone why not some of those who have never heard the gospel?

I have noticed a major inconsistency among Calvinists on this. The same people who will argue that all of those who never hear about Jesus are all going to hell: do not take the same tack with babies and the mentally disabled. With the babies and the mentally disabled they will argue that they are all saved through the mercy of God and the cross of Christ. Seems to me their argument here is purely based on emotion and not logic. If they were consistent with their doctrine of unconditional election (God chooses to save some and damn the rest, completely independent of anything the person does): then they would argue that with babies, the mentally disabled and those who have never heard , that God chooses some of them to be saved and some to be damned (just like with everybody else). But that is not what you will hear from Calvinists.

The other blatant inconsistency is that they will argue that a person must believe in Jesus, hear his name and believe in Him in order to be saved. But if that is absolutely true with no qualifications whatsoever, then every baby who dies, every small child who dies, every mentally disabled person who dies, every person who never hears the name of Jesus: they all go to hell. I have yet to see someone take this hard line position: instead what I usually see is that all the babies and the mentally disabled are saved by the mercy of God through the cross but all those who have never heard the name of Jesus go to hell. This is not consistent at all.

I also find it a bit disturbing that those who argue that it is impossible for those who have never heard to be saved appear to take glee in this position. It really does not seem to bother them at all that untold millions are automatically going to hell and never ever had a chance to be saved.

When I look at the Bible I see a God who says that he loves the world, desires for the whole world to be saved, delights in having mercy and saving people, dies for people while they are yet sinners before they have repented of their sin, invites everyone to the banquet/kingdom of God, convicts the whole world of sin, righteousness and judgment, who goes after the one sheep and leaves the other 99, etc. etc. A person like that with that character seems to me to be the person we can trust when it comes to the fate of the unevangelized who have never heard.

But not only does his character suggest he will be merciful to some of them and save some of them there is also Paul’s statement in Acts 17 that suggests He is that kind of person. Many apologists like to cite Acts 17 because we find Paul engaging the intellectuals of his time at the city of Athens. What seldom ever gets mentioned, though it is explicit is what Paul says about God in Acts 17:26-27 while talking to these intellectuals:
“and He made from one every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, THAT they should seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.”

Note that Paul speaks of God’s sovereignty his determining the appointed times and the boundaries of nations. But the striking thing is that Paul also says this is done for a purpose, it is done in order that “they should seek God”. This is explicitly saying that God has set things up so that universally people will seek Him. Now that does not at all fit the claim and belief that all who never hear the gospel are all going to hell and that is exactly what God wants. To further bolster that this is Paul talking about the whole world he also says in verse 30: “therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent.” This call for repentance is a universal one, it is not meant just for a small number of preselected folks but is for “all everywhere”. Now when I consider the character of God, that He says he desires the salvation of all, that he can save anyone he wants via mercy and the cross I am confident based on these realities that he will save some who have never heard the name of Jesus.

Robert

    Nate

    Robert said of me (since he is replying to my post), “I also find it a bit disturbing that those who argue that it is impossible for those who have never heard to be saved appear to take glee in this position.”

    Robert, that is the most ridiculous and indefensible statement I have read from you yet. Quote me where I take glee in the damnation of anyone. Disagree with my exegesis of the text all you want, however you are slandering my character by assuming I would take glee in the damnation of anyone. On the contrary, it breaks my heart and I have friends who I constantly share with, and pray for that haven’t placed their faith in Christ.

    I also see a God who loves the world, and sent His Son to die for the sins of all who will believe in His name – John 3:16ff, which I have previously stated. What is heartbreaking is that reality is that all don’t believe, and many of those never even heard the gospel. This is why missions is important. This is where you and I disagree. You believe people can be saved without hearing the gospel, repenting and trusting in Christ by their own comprehension of their circumstances.

    I think your exegesis of Acts is over-expanding what Paul is speaking to the Athenians about, but that is your opinion. To believe that people can recognize they need Christ on their own, apart from anyone sharing about Christ is not something that has been an orthodox belief in the church. Leave your Old Testament exegesis out of the discussion and deal with history since the Ascension of Christ.

      Robert

      I have unfortunately run into many calvinists who seem to take glee in the fact that many will be “reprobates” (a term not found in the Bible referring to those whom God decided in eternity to create for damnation): John Calvin himself spoke of how God takes pleasure in damning the “reprobates.” Glad to see nate that you do not share this glee, that you actually have compassion for the lost.

      You wrote; “I also see a God who loves the world, and sent His Son to die for the sins of all who will believe in His name – John 3:16ff”

      This does not go far enough for John 3:16 does not merely say that God demonstrates his love for those who will believe in His Name: it says he demonstrates his love for the world by giving His Son. The same writer of this gospel, John, also wrote in 1 John 3:2 that the atonement of Christ was for the whole world (which is again more than just those who will eventually believe.

      Nate you also wrote:
      “You believe people can be saved without hearing the gospel, repenting and trusting in Christ by their own comprehension of their circumstances.” You have made it clear that you do not believe this is possible. So do you believe that babiess, small children and the mentally disabled are all going to hell (as they cannot hear the gospel with understanding, repent and trust in Christ)? And if you believe they can be saved: then on what basis are they saved?

      I commented on Acts 17 and you responded that “I think your exegesis of Acts is over-expanding what Paul is speaking to the Athenians about, but that is your opinion”

      Well that is a convenient way to escape a point: you just respond well that is just your opinion. You did not show where I was mistaken, you just ignore my points and say it is just opinion. We can all play that game. Fact is the text is pretty clear, God determined the boundaries of nations for the purpose that they would all seek after Him. Now that contradicts your theology, what you want to believe, so you just dismiss it as opinion.

      Nate you also made the following claim: “To believe that people can recognize they need Christ on their own, apart from anyone sharing about Christ is not something that has been an orthodox belief in the church.”

      Hmm, your claim is completely contradicted by the facts, let’s look at some:

      “God can illuminate whom and when he will, even without the external ministry, which is a thing appertaining to his power.” Second Helvetic Confession, Chapter 1 (1566). Nate do you believe that this confession is not an orthodox statement of Christian belief?

      “elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit, who worketh when, and where, and how he pleaseth. So also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the word.” Westminster Confession 10.3 (1647). Nate do you believe that the Westminster Confession is unorthodox and does not represent historic Christian belief? Of does the Westminster Confession represent historic and orthodox Christian belief and your claim is false??

      “That some unevangelized men are saved, in the present life, by and extraordinary exercise of redeeming grace in Christ, has been the hope and belief of Christendom. It was the hope and belief of the elder Calvinists, as of the later.” William G. T. Shedd, 1888 Dogmatic Theology 2:706. Nate did you catch what Shedd said :has been the hope and belief of Christendom”. Is Shedd correct or is your claim correct?

      And how about a modern example:

      “We can safely say (i) if any good pagan reached the point of throwing himself on His maker’s mercy for pardon, it was grace that brought him there; (ii) God will surely save anyone he brings thus far; (iii) anyone thus saved would learn in the next world that he was saved through Christ” J. I. Packer God’s Words, pa. 210. Is Packer an unorthodox person who does not represent historic Christianity?

      The fact is the belief that some who never hear the name of Jesus will be saved is a belief held by both calvinists (cf. Westminister Confession, Shedd, Packer, etc. etc. etc.) and non-calvinists throughout church history. Some others who held this view may be familiar to you also, including Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, John Wesley, John Stott, and Billy Graham. Nate your claim about this belief not being the belief of historic Christiantity is both outright false and shows your ignorance of church history (including calvinists who held the view as well).

      Lastly you wrote: ” Leave your Old Testament exegesis out of the discussion and deal with history since the Ascension of Christ”

      Sorry that is not the way I was taught to examine an issue. I was taught to look at all of the bible verses on an issue, both OT and NT. That is called “comparing scripture with scripture”. I was also taught that when examining an issue we should also look at what the church has said about it. When we do this we find that throughout church history Christians have held that some may be saved though they never hear the name of Jesus: whether they be babies, small children, the mentally disabled or even those who never hear the gospel in their lifetime. Nate your statements suggest that you have not carefully considered what scriptures say on this issue, nor have you studied what the church has said about it. It is actually pretty funny to hear a twenty first century calvinist claim that this is not the orthodox Christian belief when in fact the most famous calvinistic confession the Westminster confession says otherwise!!

      Robert

        Nate

        Robert,, you are completely out of touch with reality. Once again you accuse me of something I never stated (being a Calvinist, which I am not) and you never showed where I took glee in the damnation of those who don’t come to faith in Christ.

          Robert

          Wow Nate when your points are refuted with facts you really must enjoy retaliating with personal attacks since you wrote:

          “Robert,, you are completely out of touch with reality.”

          So now are saying that I am **insane** (that is what “completely out of touch with reality” means).

          You made the claim a couple times that my position is not the historic Christian position that it is unorthodox (e.g. in your previous post you wrote: “To believe that people can recognize they need Christ on their own, apart from anyone sharing about Christ is not something that has been an orthodox belief in the church.”)

          I took the time to provide facts, historical examples showing that my view has been an orthodox and historic view in the church (including the Westminster Confession, the Helvetic confession, and even modern theologians like J. I. Packer).

          Your response to these facts????

          No response at all, no attempt to deal with or incorporate the facts at all: just an ad hominem attack that I am insane.

          You went on to say:

          “Once again you accuse me of something I never stated (being a Calvinist, which I am not)”

          It is nice to hear that you are not a Calvinist and thanks for that clarification.

          And consider your words:

          “and you never showed where I took glee in the damnation of those who don’t come to faith in Christ.”

          I said in my previous post that some Calvinists tend to have glee concerning the “reprobates” those they believe that God damns from eternity for eternity.

          I also wrote the following words **directly** about you:

          “Glad to see nate that you do not share this glee, that you actually have compassion for the lost.”

          Hmm, I wrote your name, “nate” and I said as clearly as it can be said: “Glad to see nate that YOU do NOT share this glee”. I also added “that YOU actually have compassion for the lost”.

          Nate did you not read my words here?

          If I write something this clearly and yet you still come back and claim that I am saying you take glee in those who are lost, then effective communication is impossible.

          Seems to me that you must have been so furious that I refuted your point about the historic and orthodox view of the church, that you ignored what I said about you not taking glee in people being lost.

          Contrary to your claim, I am not insane, and contrary to your claim, the facts show that the belief that some who never hear the gospel may be saved through the mercy of God has been a belief in the church throughout its history and this belief is present even in famous historic Christian confessions such as the Westminster confession.

          Robert

Nate

Robert,

I apologize. I do see where you did say that. To be honest, your responses are so elaborate and (in my opinion) evasive of my original statements that it becomes difficult to stay with your thought. I made the mistake (which I accused you of) of not reading thoroughly enough to see where you did not accuse me of taking glee in the damnation of sinners. Again, I apologize.

I will say only this and give you the last word. I don’t believe it is orthodox to state that sinners can save themselves apart from hearing the gospel message, repenting and believing in Christ. Laying aside the mentally incapcitated and infants/young who have no cognitive understanding of commiting sin, I find no scriptural warrant for self-realization of sin and crying out to God apart from the sharing of the gospel. From an Old Testament standpoint the patriarchs/nation of Israel were looking forward to the coming Messiah. The pagan nations would have stood condemned apart from God revealing Himself to them, and they would have been judged by their works, and not by faith – Heb. 11.

If I missed a direct quote of yours where Historic Orthodoxy stated that Cognitive Adults can procure salvation apart from a gospel presentation (either by man, by vision, or by God Himself), then please reply and I will look at it.

Again, I apologize for overreacting and not reading your comments thoroughly…

    Robert

    “I apologize. I do see where you did say that.”

    Good to see that I do not believe that you are one of those folks who takes glee in the damnation of the lost in eternity for eternity. And that you missed it when I clearly said so.

    “To be honest, your responses are so elaborate and (in my opinion) evasive of my original statements that it becomes difficult to stay with your thought. I made the mistake (which I accused you of) of not reading thoroughly enough to see where you did not accuse me of taking glee in the damnation of sinners. Again, I apologize.”

    It will help if you read through things more carefully. Regarding your original statements I have not evaded them at all, but gone point by point refuting them (hence the “elaborate” responses).

    “I will say only this and give you the last word. I don’t believe it is orthodox to state that sinners can save themselves apart from hearing the gospel message, repenting and believing in Christ.”

    And again I will say that the view that some who never hear the gospel may nevertheless be saved through the mercy of God and cross of Christ does not declare that “sinners can save themselves”.

    Fact is no one can save themselves by their own efforts, God alone can save.

    You might want to seriously ask yourself why Martin Luther (who certainly did not believe that sinners save themselves) also held my position. As Luther held this view would you claim that he held an unorthodox position? Or are you willing to adjust your claims in light of the facts?

    By the facts I mean that if you examine church history you will find that when it comes to fate of the unevangelized able minded persons: Christians have held differing views.

    This is reflected in the comments of early church Fathers, the confessional creeds (such as the Westminster Confession, the Helvetic confession). And some “big guns” like Martin Luther, John Wesley in the past and John Stott, J. I. Packer and Billy Graham (who certainly evangelized some people!) in contemporary times have held my view which you keep declaring to be unorthodox.

    “Laying aside the mentally incapcitated and infants/young who have no cognitive understanding of commiting sin, I find no scriptural warrant for self-realization of sin and crying out to God apart from the sharing of the gospel.”

    There is neither a scriptural warrant for claiming that the unevangelized will be saved or that they will not be saved. THAT is precisely why different Christians have come to differing positions on this subject. If there were one verse that said for example: “Any who do not hear the gospel will all go to hell” then I would hold your view that none of them can be saved and I would have explicit scriptural warrant for doing so.
    But there is no such verse.

    So Christians have done what they always do when there is no explicit scripture, they look at scriptures that provide principles that have a bearing on the issue.

    When we do this some of the principles include: that God says He desires the salvation of all people; that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, that God has mercy on whomever He desires to have mercy on, that no one saves themselves by their own efforts that all who are saved are saved by the mercy of God through the atonement of Christ, that God set up nations and boundaries of nations so that all would seek him; that God promises that all who seek Him will find him, that the work of the Holy Spirit in convicting people of sin, righteousness and judgment is aimed at the world; God holds people responsible for the amount of light they are given (if given more they are more responsible if given less they are less responsible), etc. etc. Based on these principles combined, God has the right to save the unevangelized by saving them the same way he saves the babies and the mentally disabled (if He saves them): namely through mercy and through the cross of Christ just like NT saints are saved and OT saints are saved.

    I keep asking you whether or not babies and the mentally disabled can be saved?

    And you keep evading this question over and over again.

    I believe the explanation for this evasion is simple: if you admit that they can be saved apart from hearing the gospel and believing it, then you cannot arbitrarily claim that it would not work for the unevangelized the same way. It would be completely inconsistent and completely arbitrary to claim on the one hand that babies and the mentally disabled can be saved without being evangelized: while simultaneously claiming that the unevangelized cannot be saved without being evangelized. And to be blunt if God desires for all to be saved and he does have mercy on whomever he saves, then it would seem that saving some who never are evangelized due to circumstances completely out of their control would be just the kind of thing a merciful God like him would do. In contrast he would be arbitrary and unmerciful if he saved some like babies and the mentally disabled through mercy alone while not doing so with others who never had a chance to hear the gospel either. God is not arbitrary but is very consistent with His character.

    “From an Old Testament standpoint the patriarchs/nation of Israel were looking forward to the coming Messiah.’”

    True, but many never heard the name Jesus and never heard the gospel about him. The OT was preparing God’s people for the coming of Jesus and the sacrifice of Jesus for all people. But that preparation did not mean they knew His name or knew he would die on a cross and be raised from the dead.

    “The pagan nations would have stood condemned apart from God revealing Himself to them, and they would have been judged by their works, and not by faith – Heb. 11.”

    How do you know that every individual within those “pagan nations” was a person who never was seeking God? You don’t’ know that, you merely assume that.

    Nate you also wrote:

    “If I missed a direct quote of yours where Historic Orthodoxy stated that Cognitive Adults can procure salvation apart from a gospel presentation (either by man, by vision, or by God Himself), then please reply and I will look at it.”

    Ok, I will take some of my earlier citations and explain them further for you in another post.

    Robert

      Robert

      Alright let’s look at some of my citations more carefully, to make them crystal clear for you Nate.

      “God can illuminate whom and when he will, even without the external ministry, which is a thing appertaining to his power.” Second Helvetic Confession, Chapter 1 (1566). Nate do you believe that this confession is not an orthodox statement of Christian belief?”

      This was an orthodox creed and note the comment about God illuminating “whom and when he will even without external ministry”. That term “external ministry” refers to gospel preaching. So the confession is saying even without gospel preaching God can illuminate people.

      “elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit, who worketh when, and where, and how he pleaseth. So also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the word.” Westminster Confession 10.3 (1647). Nate do you believe that the Westminster Confession is unorthodox and does not represent historic Christian belief? Of does the Westminster Confession represent historic and orthodox Christian belief and your claim is false??”

      The Westminster confession is one of the most famous and orthodox confessions in church history. Note it speaks of infants who are saved by Christ through the Spirit (that is without gospel preaching. It continues and says that “So also” are saved “other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the word”. Put simply so also are those who are saved who are “incapable of being outwardly called”. The “ministry of the word” is gospel preaching. So this famous confession which certainly represents historic and orthodox Christian belief says that some will be saved directly like infants, and these are those incapable of being outwardly called by gospel preaching. These folks according to the Westminster confession will be saved without being evangelized. And it should be pointed out that the Westminster confession takes a strong stand that no one can save themselves by their own efforts or works.

      “That some unevangelized men are saved, in the present life, by an extraordinary exercise of redeeming grace in Christ, has been the hope and belief of Christendom. It was the hope and belief of the elder Calvinists, as of the later.” William G. T. Shedd, 1888 Dogmatic Theology 2:706. Nate did you catch what Shedd said :has been the hope and belief of Christendom”. Is Shedd correct or is your claim correct?”

      Shedd is a famous theologian, especially among Baptists and note that he says that this hope that “some unevangelized men are saved . . . by an extraordinary exercise of redeeming grace” is not just my invention but “the hope and belief of Christendom” (i.e. it has been a historic belief of the Christian church). Shedd says this belief **is** the historic belief of the church, you deny this, should we believe you on this or Shedd??

      “And how about a modern example:
      “We can safely say (i) if any good pagan reached the point of throwing himself on His maker’s mercy for pardon, it was grace that brought him there; (ii) God will surely save anyone he brings thus far; (iii) anyone thus saved would learn in the next world that he was saved through Christ” J. I. Packer God’s Words, pa. 210. Is Packer an unorthodox person who does not represent historic Christianity?”

      Packer is a famous theologian (he also wrote a classic book titled Knowing God) and note he says that some will be saved in this life but that “anyone thus saved would learn in the next world that he was saved through Christ”. In other words they will be saved in this life without being evangelized and in the next they will find out that they were saved through Christ. I believe this will be the experience of many OT saints as well. They trusted God in this life went faithfully with the light they had received and in the next will receive more light including finding out about Jesus and his death and resurrection.

      “The fact is the belief that some who never hear the name of Jesus will be saved is a belief held by both Calvinists (cf. Westminster Confession, Shedd, Packer, etc. etc. etc.) and non-Calvinists throughout church history. Some others who held this view may be familiar to you also, including Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, John Wesley, John Stott, and Billy Graham. Nate your claim about this belief not being the belief of historic Christianity is both outright false and shows your ignorance of church history (including Calvinists who held the view as well).”

      Nate you made the claim that my belief is not orthodox and does not represent historic Christian doctrine. You are wrong about that and the citations of confessions (such as the Westminster) and individuals (such as Shedd and Packer) establishes the falseness of your claim.

      Robert

rhutchin

Robert writes, “The issue is limited atonement, the false Calvinistic doctrine that Jesus died only for those who will eventually believe. ”
All agree that Christ died for God’s elect. The issue is how the atonement applies to the non-elect, those whom God knew from the foundation of the world would not be saved (regardless how God knew it) and whom God would not intervene to save to counteract His knowledge of the elect and non-elect.

Most people differentiate between the sufficiency of the atonement (its extent) and the efficiency of the atonement (God’s intent for the elect). Limited atonement is not a false doctrine as no one has yet to argue against the conclusion that God’s intent was only to save the elect. All arguments by non-Calvinists against limited atonement deal with “extent” and there is no issue on this between Calvinists and non-Calvinists.

    Robert

    Rhutchin is a Calvinist who has been posting repeatedly at SBC today. He knows what Traditionalists believe (i.e. commonly referred to as “unlimited atonement” that Jesus died for all people not just for the elect) and he knows what five point Calvinists believe (i.e. commonly referred to as “limited atonement” that Jesus died only for the elect). He has seen Dr. Allen’s well written articles on the atonement here at SBC today and even been involved in some of the comment threads which discussed atonement.

    So He knows that “limited atonement” refers to the five point Calvinist’s beliefs regarding the atonement (i.e. that it is only intended for the elect, not for the whole world). He also knows that Traditionalists reject five point Calvinism and their “limited atonement” doctrine.

    Despite all of this rhutchin writes:

    “All agree that Christ died for God’s elect. The issue is how the atonement applies to the non-elect, those whom God knew from the foundation of the world would not be saved (regardless how God knew it) and whom God would not intervene to save to counteract His knowledge of the elect and non-elect.”

    The issue is whether or not the atonement was intended for, provided for, everyone (Traditionalists, those who advocate “unlimited atonement” say Yes: five point Calvinists, those who advocate “limited atonement” say No).

    “Most people differentiate between the sufficiency of the atonement (its extent) and the efficiency of the atonement (God’s intent for the elect).”

    No, this statement is a misrepresentation and not true at all. Everybody agrees as to the sufficiency of the atonement (i.e. it is sufficient to save all). This is agreed to by both five point Calvinists and Traditionalists.

    And Traditionalists and five point Calvinists also agree on its efficiency (i.e. whomever the atonement is applied to will be saved).
    Many people do differentiate between its sufficiency (sufficient for all) and its efficiency (applied to and only saves believers).
    But rhutchin sneaks in when referring to the efficiency of the atonement “God’s intent for the elect”. Sufficiency versus efficiency is not the point of disagreement between five point Calvinists and Traditionalists.

    No, the disagreement is in regards the intent of the atonement (with Traditionalists saying it is intended for all, with five pointers saying it is intended only for the elect).

    One of the differences between five pointers and Traditionalists is that Traditionalists believe that God intended the atonement for all (while five pointers in contrast believe it is intended only for the elect). Traditionalists distinguish between the provision of the atonement (i.e. it is provided for all, intended for all because God desires to save all) and the application of the atonement (i.e. it is applied only to people God saves, if it were applied to all then universalism would be true, but universalism is false). Five pointers tend to conflate the provision and application so in their thinking the atonement is only provided for those to whom it will in fact be applied.

    “Limited atonement is not a false doctrine as no one has yet to argue against the conclusion that God’s intent was only to save the elect.”

    Limited atonement as conceived by five point Calvinists is considered to be wrong by Traditionalists (i.e. so it ******is***** false doctrine).
    The contrary is also true, five pointers believe that Traditionalists and their doctrine of unlimited atonement is wrong and so it is false doctrine according to five pointers.

    “All arguments by non-Calvinists against limited atonement deal with “extent” and there is no issue on this between Calvinists and non-Calvinists.”

    This is another false claim and misrepresentation by rhutchin. The arguments of non-Calvinists against limited atonement do in fact deal with the intent of the atonement. God says that Jesus died for the whole world (cf. 1 John 2:2). God says that he gave His son Jesus for the world (cf. John 3:16): Jesus’ atonement was intended for the whole world. God has made his intent perfectly clear in scripture, the atonement of Christ was intended for every person. While it is intended for every person it is only applied to those who believe (Traditionalists distinguish between the provision of atonement which is for all and application of the atonement which is only for those who are believers). By “extent” of the atonement one of the things meant is **for whom is the atonement of Jesus intended**? With Traditionalists answering everyone: and five pointers answering only for the elect.

    For rhutchin to now make the statements he makes here is extremely disingenuous and misleading. If rhutchin were a first time poster it would be one thing, but he has seen the articles by Dr. Allen and others here arguing for unlimited atonement and against the false Calvinistic doctrine of limited atonement.

    Robert

      rhutchin

      Robert writes, “No, the disagreement is in regards the intent of the atonement (with Traditionalists saying it is intended for all, with five pointers saying it is intended only for the elect).”

      You may be right but it is a little more complicated. John Owen in Death of Death argued for limited atonement on the basis of efficiency – God’s intent – in Book 1 of that work.

      David Allen, as an example, in his book with Lemke, Whosoever Will, notes in his article on limited atonement that he is addressing “extent.” There is no disagreement on extent as Owen (in Book 4) argues the same as Allen argues in his chapter in Whosoever Will. Even though Allen then argues against Owen in that chapter, he does so on the basis of “extent” and not “intent” as Owen argues. Allen does not argue on the basis of intent and does not take on Owen on this issue.

      Despite the confusion by Allen, it is clear that “extent” is not an issue in the limited atonement discussions (as you seem to agree). The real issue is intent (which you seem to be saying) and no one has yet devised an argument against Owen on intent (from what I have read – certainly not Allen in Whosoever Will). If you are aware of a non-Calvinist who has actually taken on Owen on the “intent” issue, I would love to read it. Can you give me a citation? (I would like a citation to a book/article that you – anyone else – have actually read and could summarize key points). Don’t just give me a reading list that you have not read and can not verify personally as dealing with intent.

      rhutchin

      Robert writes, “The arguments of non-Calvinists against limited atonement do in fact deal with the intent of the atonement. God says that Jesus died for the whole world (cf. 1 John 2:2). God says that he gave His son Jesus for the world (cf. John 3:16): Jesus’ atonement was intended for the whole world.”

      This issue has come up before. The term, “world,” can have different meanings. The two most popular are that world means “Not the Jew only, but the gentile also,” (The Calvinist position) and that world means “each and every person who has lived,” (the non-Calvinist position).

      The Calvinist position is based on Paul’s revealing of the mystery in Ephesians 3 – “How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery…Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:” So, as far as Paul’s writings, Paul, in speaking of “all men,” should be taken to mean “Not the Jew only, but the gentile also” unless context dictates otherwise.

      When we read of the world or whole world in John 3:16 or 1 John 2, there is no reason not to divert from Paul’s understanding of the “mystery” hidden but now revealed.

      Nowhere is there a specific verse that would lead us to believe that “each and every person” is ever in view, and I am confident that even you cannot (or anyone else) cite a verse/passage similar to Ephesians 3, that points us to “each and every person” as the intended meaning of words like all or world.

      I will grant that in some instances the word “all” does mean each and every person but this is made clear by by context – which is not the case for John 3:16 or 1 John 2.

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