Saturday, February 21, 2015

Deniers of God's Universal Love

Hyper Calvinists deny God's universal love to all men. They affirm that "God loves only his elect." This is a fundamental tenet. But, if this is so, then we can state the same proposition in negative form, i.e., "God does not love the non-elect." Or, "God has no love for the non-elect."

Further, if such a proposition be true, then other facts can be deduced from it. For instance, these negative propositions:

"God does not desire the salvation of the non-elect," And,
"God does not call the non-elect to salvation."

The cure for this serious error of Hyper Calvinism and Hardshellism is to first administer a dose of Scripture which overthrows the proposition assumed to be true. Next in the treatment, is to show how God's universal love for all men does not negate the fact of his unconditional love and choice of but a small portion of men.

God's Universal Love for All

This is positively stated in Scripture, and absolutely inferred or implied in others. For instance:

"God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son" (John 3: 16)

What "world" is this? Is it not a reference to the entire race of men? Is it not the same world that is condemned and in need of salvation? (vs. 17) The same world of men into which Christ entered?

Further, God is said to be "good" and "kind" to all (Psa. 145: 9), and this cannot be said to be void of love, that is, that they are not acts of love.  In fact, the Scriptures affirm that God's goodness towards all is an intended incentive to bring men to repentance and salvation.  (Rom. 2: 4)  The testimony of Scripture is:

"Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness." (Acts 14: 17)

This "witness" is God's goodness and kindness to men. And, to what does it bear witness? Is it not to the person and character of God? Further, creation may witness to God's power and essential divinity (Rom. 1: 17), but his goodness to men is a particular witness to the moral character of God, showing him to be Omni benevolent, merciful, and gracious.

Paul, in preaching to fallen unregenerate sinners, in Athens, bore witness to God's general love for men. Paul not only affirmed that God was the Creator of all men, but the benefactor of all and this in spite of their enmity towards him. All along God has been a giving God, giving to all "life and breath and all things." Surely these gifts are from divine grace, love, and mercy. And, again, what is the purpose of showing such love to his fallen creatures? "That they might seek the Lord and find him." (Acts 17: 24-28) In this God shows himself to be "a faithful Creator" (I Peter 4: 19).

"Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead." (Acts 17: 31)

According to Paul, God has given man "all things," so that no man can say that what he has was not a gift of God. Now, God either gives these things in love or in hate. But, the Hyper Calvinist cannot confess that God gives "all things" to men from a principle of love, nor of grace and mercy. Further, he must even deny that God's showing temporal mercies to the lost are acts of love.

Further, Paul looks at a special and particular gift that God has "given" to all men in addition to "life, and breath, and all things." What is that gift? "He has given assurance to all men" by his raising up Christ from the dead.

The word "assurance."

It is interesting that the Greek word translated "assurance" is translated "faith" or "belief" elsewhere.  Thus, the passage says that God has given faith to all men.

"If the gift be the nature of a proof or ground for faith, then it is a kind of witness, and greater than the witness of God's goodness in giving rain and fruitful seasons. But, a witness or testimonial is given in order that men might be persuaded of a truth. Thus, since "all men," and not merely the elect or regenerated, have been "given" evidence to believe, then it must be the duty of all men to receive the proof. Thus, those who deny it to be the duty of all the believe the Gospel must face these facts."

General vs. Special Love

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

God is the Savior of all men generally speaking. The question must be asked - "Is saving men an act of love?" Is God's deliverance and preservation of men gracious or not? Solomon said that "safety is of the LORD" (Prov. 21: 31). All the safety and escape from danger is of the Lord. Are these daily deliverances not acts of goodness and love towards all? Who can deny it? Will the deniers of God's universal love say that all the good men receive from God originate in God's hatred and wrath?

But notice that God is "specially" the Savior of "those that believe." Thus, it is Paul who taught a general salvation for all and a special salvation for believers, or for the elect.

Further, the sentiment expressed by the Apostle is not altered in the least if we substitute the word "Savior" with other words, such as Benefactor. In other words, "He is the Benefactor of all men, specially of those who believe." Though God is good to all, he is specially good to his own. We could substitute the word "Lover" for "Savior" and read "He is the Lover of all men, specially of those who believe."

Even though God "hated" Esau, this does not eliminate God from having any love for him.

In Deuteronomy 23:5 we are told that because God loved Israel, he refused to curse them. In this context, God's love was for his covenant people. The covenant people certainly contained both elect (e.g. Moses, Joshua, etc.) and reprobate individuals (cf. Deut. 29:4).

In Matthew 5:44-46 Jesus taught that we are to love our enemies in order to be sons of the Father. That is, by loving our enemies we emulate God. The example Jesus provided for God's love of even the unrighteous was that God sends rain on the crops of the unrighteous.

Common vs. Special Grace

The discussion over the issue of general versus special love is about the same as that concerning common grace versus special grace and over common operations of the Spirit versus special operations.

Did Christ Love All Men?

It is said in the law that men are to love their neighbors, that is, they are to love all men. Further, Jesus taught his followers to love their enemies. Is God commanding men to do what he himself does not do?

Did Christ Love His Enemies?

Further, to deny that Christ loved all men is to deny that he fulfilled the law. Yet, Christ kept the law, which means that he loved his neighbor as himself, and loved his enemies. But, these are facts which the deniers of God's universal love must deny. Is what is true of Christ the Son not true of God the Father?

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