FOR GOD SO LOVED...WHO? (part 11)
“We are told that John the Baptist ‘…came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe’ (Jn. 1:7). But to say that John's ministry afforded an opportunity for every human being to have faith in Christ would be unreasonable. John never preached to the Gentiles. His mission was to make Christ ‘…manifest to Israel…’, (see Jn. 1:31); and in the nature of the case only a limited number of Jews could be brought to hear him.” It was prophesied that the apostle Paul would be God’s “…witness unto all men…” (Acts 22:15), but the apostle did not preach unto every single individual ever born, but to Gentiles as well as Jews (see Acts 22:21). “Sometimes the term ‘world’ means only a relatively small part of the world, as when Paul wrote to the new Christian Church at Rome that their faith was ‘…spoken of throughout the whole world’ (Rom. 1:8 cf. Rom. 16:19; 2 Cor. 3:2). None, but believers would praise those Romans for their faith in Christ, and in fact the world at large did not even know that such a Church existed in Rome. Hence Paul meant only the believing world or the Christian Church, which was a comparatively insignificant part of the real world. Shortly before Jesus was born, ‘There went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed....And all went to be taxed…’ (Lk. 2:1,3); yet we know that the writer had in mind only that comparatively small part of the world which was controlled by Rome. When it was said that on the day of Pentecost, ‘…there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under Heaven’ (Acts 2:5), only those nations which were immediately known to the Jews were intended, for verses 9-11 list those which were represented: ‘… Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God’.” Jesus said “…I speak to the world those things which I have heard of Him” (Jn. 8:26), “…or ‘in (into) the world’ ‘those things which I have heard of Him’; as concerning His love, grace, and mercy to those that should believe in Him, so of the destruction of the despisers and rejecters of Him; which things He spoke not in secret, in a corner, but publicly and openly, before all the world, to Jews and Gentiles, and to as many as were in the treasury, in the temple at this time; 'Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing' (Jn. 18:20).
“Paul says that the Gospel was ‘…preached to every creature which is under Heaven…’ (Col. 1:23). This must be understood not of every individual creature, even human and rational, that was then, or had been in, the world; but that it had been, and was preached far and near, in all places all over the world, to the Gentiles as well as to the Jews; who are sometimes styled ‘every creature’, ‘the creature’, ‘the whole creation’, ‘all men’ (see Mk. 16:15; Rom. 8:19-22; Titus 2:11); and of this, the first preaching of the Gospel by Peter after our Lord's resurrection, was an emblem and pledge, (see Acts 2:14-36); and sometime after that, the sound of all the apostles went into all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. The goddess Diana of the Ephesians, was said to have been worshipped by ‘…all Asia and the world…’ (Acts 19:27). We are told that the famine which came over Egypt in Joseph's time extended to ‘all lands’, and that ‘…all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn…’ (Gen. 41:57). Verses like John 3:16, ‘For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life’, give abundant proof that the redemption which the Jews thought to monopolize is universal as to space.” “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Rom. 1:16). “God so loved the world, not a little portion of it, but the world as a whole, which He gave His only begotten Son for its redemption. And not only the extensity, but the intensity of God's love is made plain by the little adverb ‘so’—God so loved the world, in spite of its wickedness, that He gave His only begotten Son to die for it. But where is the oft-boasted proof of its universality as to individuals? John 3:16 is sometimes pressed to such an extreme that God is represented as too loving to punish anybody, and so full of mercy that He will not deal with men according to any rigid standard of justice regardless of their deserts. The attentive reader, by comparing this verse with other Scripture, will see that some restriction is to be placed on the word ‘world’. One writer has asked, ‘Did God love Pharaoh? (see Rom. 9:17). Did He love the Amalekites? (see Exod. 17:14). Did He love the Canaanites, whom He commanded to be exterminated without mercy? (see Deut. 20:16). Did He love the Ammonites and Moabites whom He commanded not to be received into the congregation forever? (see Deut. 23:3). Does He love the workers of iniquity? (see Psa. 5:5). Does He love the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction, which He endures with much long-suffering? (see Rom. 9:22). Did He love Esau? (see Rom. 9:13).” A resounding NO can be our only conclusion if we are to be found faithful to the Scriptures. These Scriptures remind us that God’s love is not, nor never has been for every individual without exception, but always an exclusive love, a discriminating love, kept specially for those chosen by Him. Therefore, the world referred to in John 3:16 cannot mean every individual without exception. God’s love does not override His demand for Justice against those He has not given unto His Son, for those whom He does not love. “The love treated in John 3:16 when it is said that ‘God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son’, cannot be universal towards each and every one, but special towards a few. 1) It treats of the supreme and intense love of God (a greater than which cannot be conceived) towards those for whom He gave His only begotten Son. This is evident both from the intensive (epitakite) particle houtos (which has great weight here) and from the thing itself. The classical use of this construction is for the purpose of stressing the reality of the result.
“There are passages, which teach that Christ died for ‘the world’, such as, Jn. 1:29; 3:16; 6:33,51; Rom. 11:12,15; 2 Cor. 5:19; 1 Jn. 2:2. The objection to Limited Atonement based on these passages proceeds on the unwarranted assumption that the word ‘world’ as used in them means ‘all individuals that constitute the human race’. If this were not so, the objection based on them would have no point. But it is perfectly evident from Scripture that the term ‘world’ has a variety of meanings, as a mere reading of the following passages will prove conclusively, Lk. 2:2; Jn. 1:10; Acts 11:28; 19:27; 24:5; Rom. 1:8; Col. 1:6. It also appears that, when it is used of men, the word ‘world’ does not always include all men, Jn. 7:4; 12:19; 14:22; 18:20; Rom. 11:12,15; in some of these passages it cannot possibly denote all men. If it had that meaning in Jn. 6:33,51, it would follow that Christ actually gives life to all men, that is, saves them all. This is more than the opponents themselves believe. In Romans 11:12,15 the word ‘world’ cannot be all-inclusive, since the context clearly excludes Israel; and because on that supposition these passages too would prove more than is intended, namely, that the fruits of the atoning work of Christ are actually applied to all. We do find in these passages, however, an indication of the fact that the word ‘world’ is sometimes used to indicate that the Old Testament particularism belongs to the past, and made way for New Testament universalism. The blessings of the Gospel were extended to all nations, Matt. 23:14; Mk. 16:16; Rom. 1:5; 10:18" but not every individual of every nation (see John 11:51,52). "This is probably the key to the interpretation of the word ‘world’ in such passages as Jn. 1:29; 6:33,51; 2 Cor. 5:19; 1 Jn. 2:2. One writer assumes that the word ‘world’ means ‘all nations’ in such passages as Matt. 26:13; Jn. 3:16; 1 Cor. 1:21; 2 Cor. 5:19; and 1 Jn. 2:2; but holds that in other passages it denotes the world of believers, or the Church, (see Jn. 6:33,51; Rom. 4:13; 11:12,15).
"In 2 Corinthians 5:19 we read, ‘To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself…’ What it is meant by this is clearly defined in the words immediately following, ‘…not imputing their trespasses unto them…’ Here again, ‘the world’ cannot mean ‘the world of the ungodly’, for their ‘trespasses’ ARE ‘imputed’ unto them, as the judgment of the Great White Throne will yet show.” This clearly demonstrates that Christ did not become a curse for all without exception, for His Righteousness is not imputed unto those He did not die for, thus their trespasses remain charged to them. This is also made clear in several verses which precede verse 19: “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if One died for all, then were all dead: And that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again” (2 Cor. 5:14,15). “The doctrine of Christ's dying for men was well known, so that there was no need to mention His name; He is called ‘one’, in distinction to the ‘all’ He died for, and as exclusive of all others, He being sufficient of Himself to answer the ends of His death; and therefore is to be looked unto, and believed on, alone for salvation, and to have all the glory of it. The manner of His dying is for, or in the room and stead of all; so that He died not merely as a martyr, or by way of example, or only for their good, but as their Substitute, in their room and stead, having all the sins of His people upon Him, for which He made satisfaction; and this the nature of His death shows, which was a sacrifice, a ransom, a propitiation and atonement. The persons for whom Christ died are all, not every individual of mankind, but all His people, all His sheep, all the members of His Church, or all the sons He, as the great '…Captain of their salvation…' (Heb. 2:10), brings to glory. Wherefore this text does not make for the doctrine of general redemption; for it should be observed, that it does not say that Christ died for ‘all men’, but for ‘all’; and so, agreeably to the Scriptures, may be understood of all the persons mentioned. Moreover, in the latter part of the text it is said, that those for whom Christ died, for them He rose again; He died for no more, nor for others, than those for whom He ‘rose again’: now those for whom He rose again, He rose for their justification.” Writing to those whom God loved and called to be saints, the apostle Paul stated that Christ: “..was delivered for OUR offences, and was raised again for OUR justification” (Rom. 4:25). Notice the distinct and inseparable connection, as well as the absolute assurance, that those for whom Jesus died, He was also raised again, notably, for THEIR justification. All those whose offences Christ was delivered for, and was raised again for their justification are “…now justified by His blood” (death), and will be the only ones saved from Wrath through Him (see Rom. 5:9,10; 1 Thess. 1:10); These are the people which God has given Him. “Wherefore, if Christ rose for the justification of all men, all would be justified, or the end of Christ's resurrection would not be answered; but all men are not, nor will they be justified, some will be condemned; hence it follows, that Christ did not rise from the dead for all men, and consequently did not die for all men: besides, the ‘all’ for whom Christ died, died with Him, and through His death are dead both to the law and sin; and He died for them, that they might live, not to themselves, but to Him; neither of which are true of all the individuals of mankind: to which may be added, that the context explains the all of such who are in Christ, are new creatures, are reconciled to God, whose trespasses are not imputed to them, for whom Christ was made sin, and who are made the Righteousness of God in Him; which cannot be said of all men. ‘…but unto Him which died for them, and rose again’; that is, for them, for their justification; for all those for whom Christ died, for them He rose again; and who were justified, acquitted, and discharged when He was; which cannot be said of all mankind; and which is an obligation on such persons to live to Christ, to ascribe the whole of their salvation to Him, and to make His glory the end of all their actions.
“2 Corinthians 5:19 plainly teaches there is a ‘world’ which are ‘reconciled’, reconciled unto God, because THEIR trespasses are NOT reckoned to their account, having been borne by their Substitute. Who then are they? Only one answer is fairly possible—the world of God's people!” It stands to Biblical reason that if there is a world of the ungodly, there must also be a world of the godly i.e., God’s people, made so by God. This is one of the clearest verses in the whole of Scripture which testifies unreservedly concerning the existence of two worlds of people—the world of the godly as distinct and separate from the world of the ungodly. Confirmatory of this is 1 Peter 4:17,18 where we are told “…the time is come that judgment must begin at the House of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the Gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” Obviously, the us here is a direct reference to those who are of the House of God, who do believe the Gospel of God. These are contrasted with those who do not obey the Gospel of God, and who are, therefore, not of the House of God. The world of the Righteous is distinctly separate from the world of the ungodly and the sinner. Addressing believers, the apostle Paul wrote, “For God hath not appointed us to Wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us…” (1 Thess. 5:9,10 cf. Rev. 3:9,10). With doubtless assurance this Scripture reveals that Christ died only for those who were not appointed to the Wrath of God, but to obtain salvation. This verse grants us clear insight into just who it was that the Father gave to His Son, and for whom He was given, and the purpose of it. The apostle also stated the following: “…being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from Wrath through Him” (Rom. 5:9). It is Christ’s death, and no mere man’s ‘response’ to it, which determines and distinguishes the saved from the lost. Two distinct peoples are spoken of in the above verses: those who will not have their trespasses imputed to them, and those who will; the Righteous, and the ungodly; those who have been appointed to Wrath, and those who have been appointed to obtain salvation by the Lord Jesus Christ Who died for them. Clearly, the Lord Jesus did not die for those whom God has appointed to His Wrath, for He will take vengeance on them “…that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 1:8). How could Christ have, on the one hand, loved these people enough to die for them, become a curse for them, and on the other hand take vengeance on them in the day of His Wrath? Those for whom Christ died were all appointed to obtain salvation, so how could they ever be the recipients of His Wrath. Likewise, how could those who have been appointed by God to His Wrath possibly be among those for whom Jesus Christ died? Yes, although the word ‘world’ is used in 2 Cor. 5:19, a fact we do not shy away from, but rather embrace, it is with the utmost clarity not referring to all people without exception, for not all people shall have their account wiped clean of sin, and replaced with the Righteousness of Christ. The only people whose sins are not imputed to them are those for whom Christ died, those for whom He became a curse, those whom He has charged with, or has reckoned, His Righteousness, those for whom He rose again. “For He hath made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the Righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21cf. Isa. 61:10; Zech. 3:4; 2 Cor. 4:11,22-24; 5:13; Jas. 2:23). “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His Righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time His Righteousness: that He might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith” (Rom. 3:25-27). The sins of those for whom Christ died will not be imputed to them, they will not be charged with their sin, for their sins have been fully charged to Christ’s account—and paid for—and exchanged for His Righteousness.
One of the many Scriptural roadblocks into which Arminianism runs headlong is the fact that one cannot have a death for sin, without the imputation of Righteousness. Atonement is a two-sided coin: Christ was made a curse for His people, so that they would be made the Righteousness of God in Him (see 2 Cor. 5:21). You cannot have one without the other. This all hinged, not on man’s decision to accept what Christ has done, for His sacrifice was offered to God, and not to those He died for. Christ’s work of atonement was ordered by God for His people, as was the imputation of His Righteousness to them. Christ’s atonement for sin is not dependent on an individual’s acceptance of what He has done, but on God’s acceptance evidenced in Christ’s resurrection. The cross of Christ is the power of God unto salvation (see 1 Cor. 1:18). The transaction of Righteousness for sin was wholly successful and fully completed on the cross, for whilst on the cross the Lord Jesus said, “It is finished” (Jn. 19:30 cf. Jn. 4:34), meaning it is paid, or paid in full. The word finished here means “To make an end or to accomplish, to complete something, not merely to end it, but to bring it to perfection or its destined goal…meaning the whole work of salvation, the purpose for which Jesus came into the world”. What was the purpose for Jesus coming into the world? To “…save HIS people from THEIR sins” (Matt. 1:21 cf. Psa. 80:2; Isa. 53:6; Lk. 1:77; Gal. 1:4; 1 Jn. 3:23,25). For whom did Christ die? All those whose sins will not be imputed unto them. For whom did Christ die? All those who will be charged with His Righteousness. For whom did Christ die? All those He became a sin offering for. For whom did Christ die? All those who were appointed to obtain salvation. For whom did Christ die? All those whom the Father chose before the foundation of the world, and gave to Him. “David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth Righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin” (Rom. 4:6-8). Who else can the writer be describing other than those for whom Christ died and rose again, all those to whom will be imputed the very Rghteousness of Christ. The blessed, the loved of God, are they to whom God imputes the Righteousness of Christ, those whose iniquities are forgiven, whose sins are covered. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psa. 103:12). The Lord will not impute sin to those His Son became a curse for, having taken their sins upon Himself and imputed His Righteousness unto them.
“God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself” (2 Cor. 5:19), “…by whom are meant, not all the individuals of mankind, for these are not all in Christ, nor all reconciled to God, multitudes dying in enmity to Him, nor are all interested in the blessing of non-imputation of sin; whereas each of these is said of the world: but the elect of God, who are chosen in Christ, whose peace Christ is, whose sins are not imputed to them, and against whom no charge of any avail can be laid (see Rom. 8:33,34); and particularly the people of God among the Gentiles are here designed, who are frequently called ‘the world’ in Scripture; being the world which God loved, for whose sins Christ is the propitiation, and of the reconciling of which mention is particularly made, (see Jn. 3:16; 1 Jn. 2:2; Rom.11:12, 15). In like manner, the ‘world’ in John 3:16 must, in the final analysis, refer to the world of God's people.” There is simply no alternative conclusion which makes any Scriptural sense, or fits the context of God’s Sovereign grace in the salvation of His people. “For God so loved the world” “…cannot mean the whole human race, for (at the very least) one half of the race was already in Hell when Christ came to the earth. Now it would both impeach the wisdom, and affront the dignity of Christ, as well as infinitely depreciate the value of His sacrifice to suppose that He could possibly shed His blood on the cross, for those very souls which were, at that very time, suffering for their own sins in Hell.” Whoever heard of anyone being extricated from that place of eternal misery and torment? What those who advocate a universal atonement for every individual without exception have failed to grasp is the fact that if Christ died for all without exception, then He not only died for those who were alive during His life on earth, and those that were to be born thereafter, but also all those who had lived prior to His coming into the world. So if Christ’s death was for all without exception, even those already suffering in Hell, it would mean that they, too, would have been given a choice to believe in Christ, and be released from their torment, or to reject Him and remain in Hell. No person in Hell, given the opportunity to escape eternal torment, would ever refute such a golden opportunity as this, so no doubt all who were in Hell prior to Christ’s death would have all been released! Scripture refutes such a ridiculous scenario by describing Hell as a place whose residents’ “…worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mk. 9:48 cf. Lk. 16:23,24). “…they that go down into the pit cannot hope for Thy truth” (Isa. 38:18). “Hell has no exits.” Those of Sodom and Gomorrah, as well as those in Hell with them, are currently “…suffering the vengeance of eternal fire” (Jd. 7 cf. v. 13; Matt. 3:12). Christ’s death was to keep those He died for out of Hell, from ever entering into Hell, not in order to get people out of Hell. Christ’s dying for all without exception, past, present and future would mean that whilst Christ was suffering on the cross for the sins of all those the Father had given Him, He was also, allegedly, paying the price for the sins of those already in Hell who were simultaneously suffering the torments their sin had incurred. The contagion of Arminianism is nothing less than the senseless logic of the lost. It is of the lost, for the lost, and embraced only by the lost!
“It is unfair to insist that ‘world’ in John 3:16 means every human being now living, for every other passage in the New Testament where God's love is mentioned LIMITS IT TO HIS OWN PEOPLE—search and see! God’s love is experienced by His chosen in the person of Christ…the first recipient subject of all that Divine love which extends itself unto the Church. It is all, the whole of it, in the first place fixed upon Him, and by and through Him is communicated unto the Church.” For some strange reason, many recoil at what they interpret as a limitation to, or minimizing of, God’s love. That God’s love being exclusively for His chosen people is somehow inferior to that which, the majority believe, is for all humanity. But God’s love does not gain its value, or increase in its greatness, according to how many He loves, for God’s love is not validated by the number He loves, but purely because it is His love. God’s love could be no greater than it is, ever has been, or ever will be, whether He loved one person with it, or all without exception. Arminians see God’s love being exclusively for His people, and not for all, as a negative teaching. They have been trained and programmed to think that there is something wrong with God if He does not love everyone. Such thinking fails to take in the enormity of original sin, and how it cursed and condemned all mankind forever. Without God’s mercy all would have remained in that cursed state. “It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed…” (Lam. 3:22). The clearest indication, or manifestation, of God’s love is that He has given His people to His Son so that they would not remain in that cursed state, but be given eternal life (see Jn. 17:2). In light of such truth, God’s love, be it for one person alone, or one million people alone, can in no way be seen to be a negative thing, according to the Scriptures, but something which is irrefutable in its breathtaking positiveness. The greatness of God’s love, the fact that God is love, is not measured, or defined, by how many He loves, but that He loves any at all. Everyone without exception was cursed and condemned in Adam, deserving nothing but the Wrath of God. God’s love is in His Saviour Who was sent to save His people from their sins, for “GOD’S LOVE ALWAYS SAVES”.
God’s love is not an indiscriminate love. It is not a love which is at the beck and call of those who desire it, but is an elective love specifically sent out by God to all His chosen ones. God’s love is a selective love “…Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated” (Rom. 9:13 cf. Mal. 1:2,3). The fact that God has chosen some to be His people from before the foundation of the world, and the fact that God has given them to His Son, provides conclusive evidence which points to the fact that God’s love is elective, therefore, selective and consequently could not possibly be an all-encompassing love for all without exception, a love which others can choose to be loved by. Man does not elect himself to be loved by God, for election is solely of God, and He chooses to show His mercy to whomever He has elected. God loves those whom He has elected, and He hates those whom He has rejected. God loves whom He wills to love, and it is God’s love which determines who will love Him. “We love Him, because He first loved us” (1 Jn. 4:19). As with God’s mercy so it is with God’s love: “MERCY IS ABUNDANT, BUT BESTOWED AT GOD’S DISCRETION". “The Lord is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty…” (Num. 14:18 cf. Ex. 34:6,7; Psa. 103:8,11; Jn. 3:36; Rom. 1:18; Eph. 5:6; Col. 3:6; 2 Thess. 1:7-9; Rev. 14:10,19; 15:1,7; 16:1). “…though mercy is God’s nature, yet the display and exertion of it towards any object, is the act of His will; and special mercy, with all the blessings and benefits of it, is only exhibited in Christ Jesus.” The same is true for God’s love. Though God is love, His love is the act of His will, and only exhibited in Christ Jesus. Writing to the saints at Ephesus, the apostle Paul stated: “But God, Who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)” (Eph. 2:4,5). Simply because God’s love is endless and inexhaustible, does not in any way mean that it must then be for every individual without exception, for God’s love is to be found only in Christ Jesus, and exhibited in His giving those whom He has chosen to love, to His Son, and in His Son’s dying for them. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?...For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:35,38,39 cf. Ex. 20:6; Deut. 5:10; 7:9; Neh. 1:5; Dan. 9:4).
God did not need to love any man. God was in no way obliged to love anyone, let alone all. There is nothing in any man, nor about any man which has ever attracted God’s love. God’s love cannot be held captive by man’s idea of who, or how many, God should love. The only limitation Scripture speaks of concerning God’s love is a quantitative limitation, and not a qualitative limitation. The fact that God does not love all without exception, but only His chosen, does not in any way diminish the greatness of His love one iota. All is according to God’s will and purpose. If one insists on God’s elective love being a limitation of His love, a restriction on His character—something which impedes His very nature—one must also accept that this so-called limitation is according to God’s will, purpose, grace and mercy. Seeing the true God’s elective love as a restricted love, and, therefore, an inferior love compared to the all-inclusive love of the false god of Arminianism is a concept which exists only in the minds of those who cannot see that God’s choosing whom He will be merciful and loving towards, is not a restriction of His love, but in, and through Christ, it is the greatest revelation and expression of His love and goodness. And God said: “I will make all My goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy” (Ex. 33:19 cf. Rom. 10:12). “According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved” (Eph.1:4-6). Writing to fellow believers the apostle Paul states: “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8 cf. Eph. 2:4,5; 1 Cor. 15:3). Election and predestination are things which are according to the good pleasure of the will of God, and all this is to show His goodness, and is to the praise of His glory. Election, predestination and the death of Christ for those who are elected and predestinated to obtain salvation are not detrimental to God’s love, they do not depreciate the value, or power of God’s love, but are a full expression of that love. Those who protest against the elective love of God, fail to appreciate the fact that God’s elective and predestinating love is according to the good pleasure of His will, and to the glory of His grace.
Those whom God does love He loves with an everlasting love, an unfathomable love, because it is an elective love. “…God is love” (1 Jn. 4:8). God’s love is defined by Who He is: a God Who has mercy only toward those He wills to be merciful to. “God is love. God also punishes the sinner and hates all who do iniquity. God is not one-sided. He is not simply an infinitely loving God. He is also infinitely just. He must deal with sin. He must punish the sinner.” A favorite catchphrase for many is: ‘God hates the sin, but loves the sinner’. If God hates only sin, but not the sinner, then what are sinners doing in Hell! Are they experiencing God’s love in Hell? How can God love those who only experience His full-scale and eternal Wrath! God is not defined by His love, but rather it is He Who defines what His love is. God is not ruled by His love, for it is under the strict directive of His will to love only those whom He has chosen. Love is not God, but God is love. You cannot separate God’s love from God’s Character, nor can you separate God’s Character from His Justice and Holiness. If you change God’s love from being a discriminatory love, a particular love, to one which indiscriminately loves all, then you change the very Character of God, leaving one with a different god altogether. God is love, but God cannot be God without His Wrath. God is a merciful God, but He cannot be God without His Justice: “…The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty…” (Ex. 34:6,7). God’s love is vividly expressed in His sending His Son to die for His people. Christ praying only for those whom the Father gave Him, and the Holy Spirit interceding only for those people is the manifestation of God’s electing love. Both God the Holy Spirit, and God the Son intercede in prayer exclusively for the elect of God, the ones He loves: “And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He (the Spirit of God) maketh intercession FOR THE SAINTS according to the will of God” (Rom. 8:27). And who are these saints? The next verse informs us that His saints are “…them that love God…them who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28). And why do these saints love God? “…because He first loved (them)” (1 Jn. 4:19). What makes the difference between a saved man and a lost man is not attributable to the saved man’s love for God, but God’s love for the saved man. Those who love God are the called of God. Those who love God are the chosen of God. They love Him because He first loved them; they love Him because He has chosen them (see 1 Jn. 4:19 & Jn. 15:16). Only those who are called by God love God, for “…them that love God…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…” (Rom. 8:28,29). Writing to these saints, the apostle Paul says: “…It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, Who is even at the right hand of God, Who also maketh intercession FOR US” (Rom. 8:34). Romans 8:33,34 show the inseparable connection between those who are prayed for by the Son and Spirit of God, with those for whom Christ loved and died: “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, Who is even at the right hand of God, Who also maketh intercession for us.” It is the elect of God that are spoken of here, those who are justified. Christ’s death and resurrection are shown to have been for the elect, and it is unquestionably these ones for whom the Lord intercedes (cf. Rom. 4:25). It is the elect who are “…more than conquerors through Him that loved (them)”, and the love of God for His people is “in Christ Jesus (their) Lord” (Rom. 8:37,39). It is the elect of God for whom Christ was delivered up: “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all…” (Rom. 8:32). God is for His people, and “…if God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31). God’s people are the ones He “…foreknew…predestinated…called…justified…glorified” (Rom. 8:29,30).
There is no such thing as universal intercession for every individual without exception in all of Scripture, so how can there possibly be such a thing as universal love and atonement! Christ’s Atonement goes hand-in-hand with His Intercession, for both are done and accomplished for the people whom the Father has loved and given Him. “Because Christ paid the debt as His people’s Surety, He was fit to plead the payment as our attorney; what He finished on earth, He continually presents in Heaven. By shedding His blood, He makes expiation; by presenting His blood, He makes intercession; in the one He prepares the remedy, and in the other He applies it. They are not the same acts, but the first act is the foundation of the second, and the second hath a connection with the first.” Christ was manifest in these last days for those for whom He died, and now prays for: “Who (Jesus) verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you” (1 Pet. 1:20). The apostle here was writing to the elect (see 1 Pet. 1:1,2). Christ’s praying only for those whom the Father gave Him is eternally linked to His suffering for them, and none else. “The most obvious consequence to construing the atonement-intercession relation as an accomplishment-application relation is that the two become very tightly related, such that the significance of intercession becomes impossible to conceive of apart from the atonement. Perfect atonement entails effectual intercession…the efficacy of Christ’s plea depends on the value and purity of His sacrifice…He could not have been a prevailing pleader if He had not first been an appeasing propitiator. His standing up as a solicitor for His people had been of little efficacy, if the atonement He made on the cross had not been first judged sufficient. Nor is it sufficient to say that atonement makes intercession merely possible…atonement ensures the reality and success of intercession. Christ must intercede for His people, for His blood is by its very nature a speaking blood. His intercession must be as powerful as His satisfaction. If His blood be incorruptible, as being precious in the eyes of God, His intercessions are undeniable, as having an equal value in God’s account. There is a necessary connection between the perfection of the one and the prevalency of the other…His merit must be deficient before His intercession can be successless; and His blood will not want a voice while His death retains a satisfactory sufficiency.” The very foundation of Christ’s intercession for His people is His atonement for them, His shedding His precious blood for them. Christ prays not for the world, but for those whom the Father has given Him (see Jn. 17:9), and so, it does not take a scholarly mind to appreciate, accept, and believe the fact that the work of atonement performed by Christ was, not on behalf of the world, but exclusively for those whom the Father had given unto Him (see Eph. 5:25; John 10).
Continuing his Letter to God’s elect, Peter states “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps” (1 Pet. 2:21). The fact that God has the authority, which is according to His will, to love only those whom He chooses, confirmed by His giving only them to His Son, is, sad to say, a reality which carnal man has always not only failed to come to terms with, but, to his eternal detriment, stubbornly resisted. Lost man’s peremptory defiance of the truth insists that when it comes to God, His love must be for all if it is to be a fair and equitable love. If God is love, they say, then His love must be all inclusive. If God is love, then He must love all. Such Biblically groundless reasoning is based upon nothing but lost man’s unfounded, worthless and meaningless opinion, his image, of what God is like. Rather than bringing glory to God, such a teaching takes away from the Awesomeness of God, for it deprives the God Who loves from being the one Who makes the difference between saved and lost, and makes the man who ‘accepts’ His love as the difference maker. “For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive?...” (1 Cor. 4:7). “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase” (1 Cor. 3:6,7 cf. Rom. 11:35; Job 41:11). God makes the saved man to differ from the lost, and He makes the lost man to differ from the saved. Just as God has made some vessels unto honor, He has also made others vessels unto dishonour. God applies His mercy to some, and to others He does not. God says of His people: “This people have I formed for Myself; they shall shew forth My praise” (Isa. 43:21).
Love is not the only attribute of God. Few would disagree with the fact that God is also Holy, but most fail to take into account that God never sacrifices His Holiness to His love, evidenced by the fact that He does not, and, therefore, will not by any means clear the guilty. “Behold, all souls are Mine…the soul that sinneth it shall die” (Ezek. 18:4). God is also a Just God, a God of inflexible Justice, and a God of unstoppable Vengeance: “God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserveth Wrath for His enemies. The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked” (Nah. 1:2,3 cf. Rom. 3:5,6; 12:19; 1 Thess. 1:8,9; Heb. 10:30). To say that God is only love is to deny the Justness and Holiness of God Who sent His Son to die on a cross for the sins of His people. To say that God is only love, and that He will excuse sin, is to pour contempt upon Christ’s having suffered and laid down His life as payment for the sins of His people. God’s love for His people was expressed through His Son in His taking the punishment His people deserved. Sin, as well as the sinner, is a personal affront to the Holiness of God. The demands of God’s Holiness and Justice, are never overlooked for the sake of His love, for His love is expressed through His Holiness and Justice. The Son of God is proof of this. “…He…spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all…” (Rom. 8:32 cf. Gen. 22:12; Isa. 53:10). Christ satisfied the demands of God’s Justice, for the people God loved and gave to Him. The Love and Justice of God were simultaneously unveiled upon the cross at Calvary’s hill. God did not even spare His own Son to whom was imputed the sins of His people, so what makes anyone think that God will allow those who remain guilty to escape His eternal Wrath (see Rom. 8:32; Isa. 53). Not only is “God’s love always an expression of God’s Holiness”, so too, God’s Wrath is an expression of His unwillingness to love at the expense of His Holiness. Love for some not only implies, but necessitates, Wrath for others. “Wrath is Love’s response to sin.” Wrath can be God’s only response to sin, whether it be toward His people in Christ, or to those outside of Christ. While it is true that God is a God of love and mercy, it is equally true, and vitally important to note, that He is also a Just God, a Just Judge, and a God of Vengeance (see Deut. 32:35; Pa. 94:1; Isa. 35:4; Rom. 12:19; 2 Thess. 1:7-9). “Justice and judgment are the habitation of Thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before Thy face” (Psa. 89:14). “The Seat and Throne on which God sits; all the administrations of His Kingly power in the government of the world, in the salvation of His people, and in the punishment of His enemies, being according to the strict rules of justice and judgment….mercy in pardoning and saving sinners that come unto Him by Christ; and truth in performing all His purposes and promises…” God never sacrifices His Holiness to His love and mercy. God never shows mercy at the expense of His Justice, otherwise the death of Christ would be made a mockery. God did not even spare His own Son from being delivered up unto death when the sins of His elect were charged to Him (see Rom. 8:32), so what makes anyone assume that God will spare unrepentant sinners from His vengeance? “…the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from Heaven with His mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power” (2 Thess. 1:7-9 cf. Prov. 29:26; Rom. 1:18).