FOR GOD SO LOVED...WHO? (part 22)

 

 

"Third, it is ambiguous whether Peter is speaking of the reality of a purchase, or according to the appearance of a purchase--that is, their outward appearance and profession. In other words, the verse may mean, ‘denying the Lord that [they say] bought them [but really didn't], or it may be intended to confirm that these false teachers would come from within the visible church. To speak of them as ‘bought’, then, wouldn't mean that Christ had died to save them, but that they occupied a position that is supposed to be occupied only by those who have been bought. So we have seen that there are three large ambiguities in 2 Peter 2:1. First, it is unclear whether the purchase of these false teachers is a reference to the death of Christ or not. Second, it is unclear whether the one who ‘bought’ them is even Christ, or simply the Father. Third, it is unclear whether Peter is speaking according to reality or appearance. Because of these huge ambiguities in 2 Peter 2:1, it is not a solid text against the (mountain of texts which testify to the) exclusive atonement of the sins of God’s  people. There are many things it could legitimately mean, and so it would not be wise to stand on it as an argument against the particular atonement of the particular sins of God’s chosen people.”

 

The next verse, which some venture to turn to in support of the lie that Christ has died for all without exception, is Romans 14:15: “But if thy brother be grieved with Thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.” The word for here instantly draws our attention to the fact that Christ’s death was in the stead, or in place, of another, or others. It refers to the substitutionary quality, or type, of Christ’s death Who substituted His Righteousness for the sins of all for whom He died. Thus, Christ’s death can never be spoken of, in terms of what it has gained, as being conditioned on those for whom He died, but only upon the acceptance of it by the one to Whom His sacrifice was offered. “It is not reasonable to suppose, that eternal damnation should follow upon eating things indifferent, or be caused by an offence either given or taken through them; moreover, though such as only think themselves, or profess themselves, or are only thought by others to be such, for whom Christ died, may be eternally destroyed, yet none of those can, for whom Christ really died; for they are His special people, His peculiar friends, His own sheep, His body the Church, which can never perish; and He, by dying, has procured such blessings for them, such as a justifying Righteousness, pardon of sin, peace with God, and eternal life, which will for ever secure them from destruction: besides, should anyone of them be destroyed, the death of Christ would be so far in vain, nor would it appear to be a sufficient security from condemnation, nor a full satisfaction to the justice of God; or God must be unjust, to punish twice for the same fault.” That none for whom Christ died can possibly, ultimately, perish is impossible, for Christ said He gives: “…unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, nether shall any man pluck them out of My hand” (Jn. 10:28 cf. Matt. 24:24; Jn. 6:39; 10:29; 1 Pet. 1:5). “How then is this text to be understood? The apostle doth not speak of those for whom Christ indeed did die, but of such as, that are held to be of that number.” “They went out from us, but they were not of us…” (1 Jn. 2:19).

 

A parallel passage to Romans 14:15 is 1 Corinthians 8:9-12: “But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol's temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.” The first thing we need to notice is the word if. This is a word which denotes a proceeding hypothetical situation. “Every word almost carries in it an exaggeration of this matter; it is not some slight injury that is done to the person, but even causing him to ‘perish’; and this is not said of any person, but a ‘brother’, to whom the strongest affection, and strictest regard, should be shown; and a ‘weak’ brother, of whom the greater care should be taken; and therefore it is an instance of cruelty to do damage to such an one, and that not ignorantly, which cannot be pretended, but ‘through thy knowledge’; not through the true use, but abuse of it: those that have knowledge should know better, and improve it to the edification, and not the destruction of fellow Christians; and all this done in a case of indifference, that might as well be let alone, of which there was no necessity for the doing of it: but what aggravates most of all is, that this affects a person for ‘whom Christ died’; that he had such a value for as to purchase and redeem with the price of His own blood; and yet these men made so little account of, as by so trifling a thing to risk their good and welfare. Some would from hence conclude the doctrine of universal redemption, that Christ died for all men, even for them that perish; but it should be observed, that the words are put by way of interrogation, and prove no matter of fact, even supposing they could be understood of eternal ruin and destruction; and at most only imply the danger and possibility thereof through offences given, were they not preserved by the power and grace of God through Christ, who died for them, and so will not suffer them to perish (see Heb. 6:4-6); though this is no thanks to them who lay stumblingblocks in their way, and, as much as in them lies, cause them to perish, in this sense: besides, the ‘perishing’ of this weak brother is to be understood of his peace and comfort, and is explained by ‘defiling’ his conscience, (see 1 Cor. 8:7) by wounding it, (see 1 Cor. 8:12) and making him to offend, (see 1 Cor. 8:13) through an imprudent use of Christian liberty in those who had the greater knowledge, and by a participation of things offered unto idols, in an idol's temple, and not of his eternal damnation in Hell; which could never enter into the apostle's thought, as to be brought about hereby, as appears from 1 Corinthians 8:8 and so is no proof of Christ's dying for such as perish eternally: for those for whom Christ has died, He has by His death procured such blessings for them, as a justifying Righteousness, pardon of sin, peace with God, reconciliation unto Him, and eternal salvation, which will for ever secure them from perishing in such sense.”

 

John 1:9 speaks of the Lord Jesus as being “…the true Light, which lightest every man that cometh into the world”. This is another Scripture, which, on the surface, appears to be saying that everyone without exception is enlightened by the Lord Jesus, or by the truth of Him. Reality tells us that this could not possibly be what this verse was written to convey. “The sense is, either that every man that is enlightened in a spiritual manner, is enlightened by Him, which is true of Christ, as the Son of God, existing from the beginning; but not in the Socinian sense, as if they were enlightened by His human ministry and example; for the Old Testament saints were not enlightened by His preaching; and many were enlightened by the ministry of John the Baptist; and multitudes afterwards, through the ministry of the apostles; and very few, comparatively, were enlightened under the ministry of Christ; and none we read of, in this sense, enlightened by Him, when, and as soon as they came into, the world: or, the meaning is, that He is that Light which lighteth all sorts of men; which is true in, a spiritual sense: some connect the phrase, ‘that cometh into the world’, not with ‘every man’, but with ‘the true light’; and the Arabic version so reads, and joins it to the following verse; but this reading is not so natural and the order of the words requires the common reading; nor is the difficulty removed hereby; for still it is every man that is enlightened: it is best therefore to understand these words of the light of nature, and reason, which Christ, as the Word, and Creator and Light of men, gives to every man that is born into the world; and which serves to detect the Quakers' notion of the light within, which every man has, and is no other than the light of a natural conscience; and shows how much men, even natural men, are obliged to Christ, and how great a person He is, and how deserving of praise, honour, and glory. The phrase, ‘every man that cometh into the world’, is Jewish, and often to be met with in Rabbinical writings, and signifies all men that are born into the world; the instances are almost innumerable; take one or two: on those words in Job 25:3 ‘…upon whom doth not His light arise?’ it is asked {a}, who is He that cometh, (‘Mlwe yab lkm’), ‘of all that come into the world’; and says, the sun hath not lightened me by day, nor hath the moon lightened me by night! Thou enlightenest those above, and those below, and ‘all that come into the world’. Again, God is introduced thus speaking, ‘I am the God, (Mlwe yab lkl), of all that come into the world’; and ‘I have not united My name, but to the people of Israel’.''

 

 

Another similar verse to John 1:9, is John 8:12, where the Lord Jesus says “…I am the Light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (see also Jn. 9:5). “…with a view to some passages in the Old Testament, which speak of Him under the metaphor of the sun, such as Psalm 84:11; Malachi. 4:2, and represent Him as the light; and the Jews themselves say, that light is one of the names of the Messiah; and God Himself is called by them, the light of the world…By the ‘world’ here is meant, not the whole world, and all the individuals of it; for though Christ, as the Creator of all things, is the Light of men, and does lighten every individual man with the light of nature and reason, yet not in a spiritual and saving manner, as is here intended; nor the whole body of the elect of God, though they are sometimes called the world…and are made light in the Lord, in a special sense; nor the Jews only, and the chosen of God, among them, though Christ was a great light to many of them, that sat in darkness, and in the shadow of death; but the Gentiles are here designed, who were usually called by the Jews, the world. And these were in gross darkness before the coming of Christ, about the Divine Being, concerning the object, nature, and manner of worship; the Scriptures, the law, and Gospel; the Messiah, and His office and work; the Spirit of God, and His operations of grace; the resurrection of the dead, and a future state; now Christ came to be a light of the Gentiles, as well as the glory of His people Israel: our Lord seems to have respect to the prophecy of Him, in Isaiah 42:6: “I the LORD have called Thee in Righteousness, and will hold Thine hand, and will keep Thee, and give Thee for a Covenant of the people, for a Light of the Gentiles”; as well as alludes to the sun in the firmament; whose light is diffused to all the nations of the earth, and not confined to one spot of land only: but since Christ was the minister of the circumcision, and was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, it may be asked, how could He be the light of the Gentiles? to which it may be replied, that He was so by His apostles, who were sent by Him with the Light of the Gospel, into all the world; and by His Spirit, Who enlightens the minds of men, who were darkness itself (see Eph. 5:8), with the light of Christ: for He is not only the Author and Giver of the light of nature to all men, but also of the Light of grace to all His chosen ones, Gentiles as well as Jews; who, in His Light, see light; see themselves lost and undone, and Him to be the only willing, able, suitable, and complete Saviour; and behold wondrous things in the doctrines of the Gospel, and have some glimpse of glory; and He is likewise the Author of all the light of glory the saints enjoy in the other world; the Lamb is the Light of that state; He is their everlasting Light, and their glory…”

 

Writing to Timothy, the apostle stated “…that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…” (1 Tim. 1:15). By this he meant not all sinners, for then all would be saved, but rather a variety of sinners (see 1 Tim. 2). These sinners are identified in Matthew 1:21: “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins.” As we have seen in the second chapter of Paul’s first Letter to Timothy, the apostle explains what is meant by “…supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men” (1 Tim. 2:1), in the very next verse showing that their prayers should be “For kings, and for all that are in authority…” (1 Tim. 2:2). Verses 4 and 6 tell of God wanting “…all men to be saved…”, and of Christ being “…a ransom for all…”. If the word all in these two verses is to be understood as meaning all without exception, as most have wrongly interpreted these Scriptures to be saying, then the will of God is not always done, for not all are saved, and Christ’s sacrifice was filled with disappointment and failure, for not all without exception are ransomed. Such a god is not Almighty, he is no more Almighty than any man is who does not always get what he wants. The glaring fact that not all are saved, shows that it could not possibly be the will of the Almighty Sovereign God that all without exception be saved. We have seen how God describes Himself in the Scriptures as the God Who does whatsoever He wills (see Isa. 46:9,10). The intrinsic and unique quality of God’s Omnipotence provides an immediate denial, a frustration, to any teaching which conspires to deny His Sovereignty by trying to affix a love to God which would have Him desire the salvation of all, but at once denies His ability to save all. Ephesians 1 immediately shows that this could not be at all possible due to the fact that it is GOD HIMSELF Who predestinates all whom He wills to be saved: “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….In Whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being PREDESTINATED ACCORDING TO THE PURPOSE OF HIM Who WORKETH ALL THINGS AFTER THE COUNSEL OF HIS OWN WILL: That we should be to the praise of HIS GLORY, who first trusted in Christ” (Eph. 1:4,5,11,12). Such verses leave no doubt as to the Sovereignty, the Absolute rule, of the Almighty God in the salvation of any man. Not only does God choose a people unto Himself, but He also ordains what they should be like. God has chosen those whom He wills to be saved, and saves all those whom He has chosen. The fact that a person must be chosen, predestinated, in order to be saved, instantly begs the question, ‘If God wants all to be saved, and predestination according to His will is the only way they can be saved, why has He not then predestinated everyone without exception to salvation? Salvation is according to grace, which means all of salvation is according to God meaning it is all according to the will of God. Salvation is of the Lord, therefore, it is the Lord Who is in complete control of who exactly are to be saved. God has predestinated HIS chosen people according to the good pleasure of HIS will, according to HIS purpose Who does all things according to HIS will. No other’s will is involved in salvation but God’s will, and this to the praise of His glory alone. All the saved are “…born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (Jn. 1:13). No man can come to God, but by the will of God. No man can love God, but by God’s loving them first. Again, it is God’s will which is pre-eminent. How then can any man whom God wills to be saved possibly not be saved? If a man is born again not by his own will, but solely by the will of God, then how pray tell can any man refuse, or resist, God’s Will? How can any man not be saved whom God wills to save? This proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that salvation is of the will of God, and is not something which is conditioned on, awaits the nod of approval, or consent, of an individual. Who can stop the will of God? Who can interfere, much less prevent, that which He has predestinated? None can stop, or even interfere with, the steady, and relentless, turning of the wheels of predestination, for to do so would be to stop the very will of the Omnipotent God. “And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and He doeth according to His will in the army of Heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest Thou?” (Dan. 4:35 cf. Isa. 29:16). “There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the Lord” (Prov. 21:30). “Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which He hath made crooked?” (Eccl. 7:13). “For the LORD of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and His hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?” (Isa. 14:27).

 

More now on the issue of Jews and Gentiles in the Scriptures.“The following passage of Paul the apostle’s must be explained when he says that ‘God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all’ (Rom. 11:32 cf. Rom. 11:26,32). This ought not to be referred to each and every one, but only to the peoples of whom he treats—to teach that the Jews as well as Gentiles were concluded in unbelief that the mercy of God might be exercised towards both distributively, Jews as well as Gentiles. This is evident from the very connection of the words (see Rom. 11:30,31). Thus we understand his words, ‘…Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him’ (Rom. 10:11,12 cf. Rom. 2:10,11).” 1 Corinthians 1:24 speaks of: “…them which are called, both Jews and Greeks…” “Here also belongs the passage: ‘…Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him’ (Acts 10:34,35). (2) Sometimes the universality of conditions and states is designated in opposition to worldly polities. Thus distinctions are made between slaves and the free, the poor and the rich, men and women, the noble and the ignoble. But in the dispensation of grace, God attends to no such thing, nor accepts the person, but calls to communion with Him indiscriminately all of whatever state and condition and sex, 'Even the Righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference' (Rom. 3:22). Thus we understand the place where ‘…the grace that bringeth salvation…’ is said to have ‘appeared to all men’ (Titus 2:11,12), i.e., to everyone of whatever condition they may be, whether masters or servants. For of these he was speaking in the preceding verse, and after having exhorted masters to treat their servants kindly, he immediately adds 'For the grace that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all...’, i.e., to them as well as to you. 'There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus' (Gal. 3:28). Also (in Christ) there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all’ (Col. 3:11)—not in each and every individual, but in all indiscriminately of whatever order, sex, nation and condition. He is ‘all’ efficiently; He is the first cause of all things, the beginning of the creation of God, the author of the old, and of the new creation, of the regeneration of His people, and of their whole salvation: He is all comprehensively; has all the fulness of the Godhead, all the perfections of Deity in Him; He is possessed of all spiritual blessings for His people; and has all the promises of the covenant of grace in His hands for them; yea, all fulness of grace dwells in Him, in order to be communicated to them: and He is all communicatively; He is their light and life, their wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, their food and clothing, their strength and riches, their joy, peace, and comfort, Who gives them grace here, and glory hereafter. ‘Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by Him were all things created, that are in Heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him: And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist. And He is the Head of the body, the Church: Who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence’ (Col.1:15-18). So, with the Jews, the Shekinah is called (lk), ‘all’ and is one of the names of the living God, and well agrees with Christ, Who has all things in Him; and is the reason they give for this Divine appellation: and Christ is ‘in all’; in all places, being infinite, immense, and incomprehensible, as God, and so is everywhere by His power, upholding all things by it; and in all His churches, by His gracious Presence, and in the hearts of all His regenerate ones, of whatsoever nation, state, and condition they be: He is revealed in them, formed within them, and dwells in their hearts by faith; and is all in all to them, exceeding precious, altogether lovely, the chiefest among ten thousands, and Whom they esteem above all creatures and things. The Arabic version reads, ‘Christ is above all, and in all’. (3) Sometimes the whole of believers and the world of the elect (as opposed to the world of the reprobate and unbelievers) is understood. Thus all are said ‘…as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive’ (1 Cor. 15:22). Not that there is the same latitude of those living as those dying, for many more die in Adam than are saved in Christ. With regard to the whole of believers, as many as perish and die, die in Adam; so as many as are made alive, are made alive in Christ. For these two heads are compared with each other, not as co amplitude of object, but as to analogy of the mode of communication. As Adam communicates sin to all his posterity and death through sin, so Christ bestows Righteousness upon all His members and life through Righteousness. So Romans 5:18,19 is to be explained where a comparison is made between Adam and Christ, not as to extent, but as to similarity of operation. Thus the world is taken for the whole of the elect and believers (see 2 Cor. 5:19). In this sense, one may place two words in the world. The whole world is the Church, and the whole world hates the Church: the world therefore hates the world, the enemy the reconciled, the damned the saved.” 

 

A critically important question which needs to be asked of those who hold to a false understanding of John 3:16, is ‘How is this verse, in particular, to be reconciled with John 17:23 where Jesus, praying to the Father concerning those that were given to Him, says:' “I in THEM, and Thou in Me, that THEY may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast LOVED THEM, as Thou hast loved Me.” Here, Jesus is saying that the unity of love between the Father and the Son, and all those who are of the Father and the Son, would be evidence to the world that the Father has loved all those whom He has given to the Son—those who believed, and those who would believe, in Jesus (see Jn. 17:20). Again, we see a distinction made between those that are of the world, and those whom the Father has loved. If world did mean every individual in John 3:16, this verse in John 17 would have been a prime opportunity for Jesus to re-affirm that popular assumption. Yet Christ says NOTHING in John 17:23 of the Father’s alleged love for the world, but rather distinguishes those He does love from the world! This reaffirms the fact that Christ said nothing in John 3:16 pertaining to any universal love of God for all humanity. There is no explicit reference to any universal love of God, nor can any rightly infer such a love from that verse, or any other Scripture. The truth of God aligns with all Scripture, for all Scripture is the truth of God. The Lord Jesus only speaks of God’s love being FOR THOSE WHOM HE HAS GIVEN TO HIS SON. The Lord speaks voluminously of those whom the Father had given Him throughout the seventeenth chapter of the Gospel of John (see Jn. 17:2,6,9,11,12,24), but never a word about any alleged love for all individuals without exception is in the least bit traceable.

 

Those who are serious in their search for truth must also face another pressing question: ‘If God had loved every individual in the world, why would He then not have given every one of them to His Son to die for?’ How can a love which is said to be universal, and which is not willing that anyone at all perish, demonstrate its all inclusiveness by its exclusively giving only some, and not all, whom it loves to the Son of God? It is clear that all those who come to Christ are those, and only those, whom the Father has given to Him (see Jn. 6:37). So what point would there be to God’s alleged universal love for all if God’s purpose, His intention, was always to give only a relatively select few to His Son for the purpose of having their sins atoned for? For what possible, logical, rational reason would the Father not have entrusted everyone in the world to His Son if He loved everyone without exception? Why does the Son of God only pray for some, and not all, if in fact He died for everyone, and why does God the Holy Spirit only intercede for the chosen of God, and not for all? Why would God not save everyone without exception if He loves them all!! Does it not make perfect sense that just as Christ prays for those the Father has given Him, and not all without exception, that Christ also died for those He prays because they are the Father’s chosen ones entrusted to Him. If God loves everyone, and wants everyone saved, and Christ died for everyone without exception, what in the world could it be that has prevented the will of God from being accomplished in full? People immediately respond, ‘It’s man’s decision not to choose God that prevents God from saving them’. But how can this be when man’s will is nowhere in sight in a verse like John 6:37 which plainly states that all those who come to Christ do so ONLY because of the fact that God has given them to His Son. Or, in light of the fact that anyone’s genuine love for the true and only God is solely because God loved them first. As with all things, man, and what he does, is always the shadow of the body of God’s will.

 

Surely the love of God, and to whom that love is directed, is seen in God’s giving His loved ones to His Son. And how does one explain away the Scriptural fact that a man’s loving God is only due to God loving the man first? God’s loving a man first absolutely strips away even the remotest possibility that man ‘has a say’ in whether he will come to God, or not. God has chosen those He has willed to love. God’s love saves, God’s grace saves, and the saved are merely the saved. The saved are merely the result, the outcome, the end product of God’s will, love and grace. Moreover, election is performed not according to the works of men, not according to their decision for Christ, but solely according to the will, purpose and love of a Sovereign God before any good, or evil, is done, indeed before the foundation of the world (see Rom. 9:11). God is not a chooseable God, for He is not knowable outside of His will to reveal Himself to whomsoever He wills. “…no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him (Matt. 11:27). As with the Gospel of God, the Father is revealed by the Son to the people chosen by God: “Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints” (Col. 1:26). God cannot be chosen, for it is He Who does the choosing before the foundation of the world. No one can choose Him, for no one, by nature, knows Him, or seeks Him (see Rom. 3:10-12). Man in his natural fallen state is dead in his sins. The Scriptures say that no man seeks the true God, therefore, the only gods man does, or can, choose are those of his own making, and, therefore, those which appeal only to his flesh, for they are the only ones to which they are spiritually alive. Evidently writing to fellow believers, and dealing only with matters which concern them, the apostle John says: “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life FOR US: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 Jn. 4:16). This verse clearly talks about God’s love, but solely in the context of His loving believers, made manifest by His Son laying down His life for those whom the Father had appointed/ordained to believe. God proves His love for them by giving them to His Son and His Son for them. The inextricable connection between God’s love, and those for whom Christ laid down His life is unequivocal. We see in 1 John 4:14 “…the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.” The very next verse talks of “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God…” (1 Jn. 4:15), and the verse following shows for whom the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of, and who the whosoever are: “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to US…” (1 Jn. 4:16).

 

Also undeniable, and, therefore, unavoidable, is the enormously significant connection between God’s giving, and God’s loving. The Lord gives to those whom He loves, and He loves those to whom He gives. The apostle Paul speaks of the Son of God “…Who loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). He also writes of the Saviour to the saints at Ephesus “…Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God…” (Eph. 5:2). Further on in his Letter to the Ephesian believers, Paul writes: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it” (Eph.5:25; see also vv 25-27). The apostle, writing to the church of the Thessalonians says: “Now our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work” (2 Thess. 2:16). John writes: “Hereby perceive we the LOVE of God, because He LAID DOWN HIS LIFE for us…” (1 Jn. 3:16 cf. 1 Jn. 4:10; Rev. 1:5). “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that…Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8 cf. Jn. 15:13; 1 Jn. 4:9,10). There is no escaping the fact that Christ died for the people God loved. These are the people God gave unto His Son. They are not all without exception, but all whom the Father loved. “But God, Who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us…hath quickened us together with Christ…” (Eph. 2:4,5). Christ gave His life for those whom His Father loved. The love of God is expressed in, and manifested by, Christ's laying down His life, giving Himself a ransom, for all those whom the Father loved—the Church, the ones He has called out of the world—and given to Him. The world, everyone without exception, is nowhere here mentioned. Therefore, we see that God’s love, in John 3:16 was manifested in His giving His Son to those who made up the world of His elect, His Church. God gives to the people He loves, and He loves the people He has chosen to give to His Son.

 

1 John 3:1, is yet another powerful Scripture which stands in contrast to the false doctrine of God’s loving everyone without exception. Writing to fellow believers the apostle John states, “Behold, WHAT MANNER of love the Father hath bestowed upon US, that WE should be called the Sons of God: therefore THE WORLD KNOWETH US NOT, because it knew Him not.” “The term ‘world’ here in 1 John 3:1 is in no way within the range of God’s love as pertaining to salvation.” God’s love is bestowed upon, given to, His elect—those who would be called the sons of God who would be led by the Spirit of God: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:14). Again, we remind the reader that the apostle John in his first Letter is writing to “…you that believe on the name of the Son of God…” (1 Jn. 5:13 cf. 1 Jn. 2:1). God’s love is bestowed upon believers only. His love is not bestowed upon a person because they believe, for a person’s believing can only be a manifestation of God’s having bestowed His love upon them seeing that all His people love Him only because God loved them first. This love is given by grace, and does not come as a reward. God’s love is not consequent to anything a man does, but only according to, and enacted by, His will and purpose. There is no preceding action on the part of a man which entices God to act in love toward him, for God’s love is solely due to the will, purpose, and grace of God. God’s grace and love come first. “We love Him, because He first loved us” (1 Jn. 4:19 cf. Eph. 2:4). No act on the part of man can persuade, or dissuade, the love of God, for He chose His people before the foundation of the world (see Rom. 9:11; Eph. 1:4). Obviously 1 John 4:19 shows that the principle behind a person’s loving God is: God’s having loved them first. A man’s loving God is not principally an act of man, but the grace of God in action. A man’s love for God can only come from God’s love for the man. There can be no love in a man for the true God, without God having loved the man first, and this love cannot be subordinate to anyone, or anything, but the will of God. God’s love is not a reward for a man’s choice, it does not follow a man’s love for God, for God’s love for a man is always prerequisite to a man loving God. No man can love the true God without God loving the man. God’s love is a prerequisite love, for it always comes first, and no man can love God without it. Nothing can motivate God’s love but His will. Prior to God’s love, even believers “…were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another” (Titus 3:3). It is only after God’s love is given that a man loves God: “But AFTER that the kindness and LOVE of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us…which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour” (Titus 3:4-6). Clearly the man toward whom the kindness and love of God appeared are the saved. This love of God’s is manifested in His giving those He loves to His Son, His Son dying for them, and the gift of faith being given to these chosen ones in order that they believe these things which are all encapsulated in the Gospel of Christ. Thus, it is a given that whomsoever God loves WILL also love Him, and be saved. “All that the Father giveth Me SHALL come to Me…” (Jn. 6:37 cf. Psa. 110:3). There is no stopping this, for it is the Lord Who has ordained it. Salvation is all about whom God loves, not who loves God.

 

The world does not know God, it does not love God because God does not love the world. If He did, then all the world would love Him. The world, in 1 John 3:1, that does not know God is obviously the world of the ungodly, those upon whom God has not bestowed His life-changing love. The world of the ungodly, be they secular or religious, do not know, or recognize the true God, nor His people. Thus, they are blind to His truth, and to what true Christianity really is. God has no intimate relationship with those whom He does not love. Christ said of those whom He did not love, who were not His people, but who claimed to know Him and love Him: “…I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity” (Matt. 7:23 cf. Psa. 94:4; Matt. 25:41; Lk. 13:24-27). This is such a powerful Bible verse, and one which utterly obliterates the myth of a god who loves all without exception, but is powerless to do anything about it, for in it the Lord Jesus shows clearly that those He speaks of were never known, and, therefore, they had at no time ever been loved, by Him. They had never been among His beloved, and then chosen to reject that love, for they NEVER were loved by Him at all, and so, in light of the absence of that love they could never have known the true God despite their obviously being very religious and devout people. ‘I never knew you’—What they claimed—intimacy with Christ—is just what He repudiates, and with a certain scornful dignity. ‘Our acquaintance was not broken off—there never was any’.” Jesus never knew them as what they claimed to be—His people, or the people who loved Him. Those who came to the Lord in Matthew 7:21-23 boasted in what they did, and were promptly told by the Lord that He did not know them (see also Jn. 7:7). In fact, it is revealed by the following Scripture that these people did not love the True God at all, for “…if any man love God, the same is known of Him” (1 Cor. 8:3). God’s knowing a person is tantamount to God’s loving that person. Ginōskō, the Greek word for known “…frequently indicates a relation between the person ‘knowing’ and the object known; in this respect, what is ‘known’ is of value or importance to the one  who knows, and hence the establishment of the relationship”. One who is “known of Him” is one who is “…highly approved of, esteemed, and beloved by God: He takes a special and particular notice of him, manifests His love to him, and will own and acknowledge him”.  “…The Lord knoweth them that are His. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (2 Tim. 2:19). “…their election is according to God's foreknowledge of them; which designs not a foresight of their faith, holiness, and good works, as the motives of His choosing them; nor a bare prescience of their persons; but such a foreknowledge as includes special love to them, which is distinguishing, unchangeable, and everlasting; and this being a seal affixed to all the elect, shows the distinguishing grace of God in their election…” Christ’s not knowing those of Matthew 7:21-23 was a sure sign that He did not love them, and, consequently, of the impossibility that they loved Him. They clearly loved a jesus, but it was not the Jesus. They did not love the Jesus, but only one of their own imagination. They loved the one they thought He was, but not Who He actually is. Christ says: “Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven…” (Matt. 7:21). And who are they who shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven? Christ provides the answer in John 3:3: “…Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” Clearly, and without any doubt, those Christ addressed in Matthew 7 were those who were religious people, even believing they were Christian, even calling the jesus they knew ‘Lord’, but to their shock and dismay they will all one day discover that they had never even been born again. That they had never loved the true Jesus, evidencing the terrifying fact that they were never loved by Him.

 

The only mention of the word world in 1 John 3:1 is to show that ‘the world knoweth us not’. Knoweth who not? Those to whom the Father has bestowed His love! What would have been the point of God’s loving everyone if not everyone would in turn know and love Him? 1 John 3:1 shows, with outstanding clarity, that those whom God loves do know Him, and that “…the Lord knoweth them that are His” (2 Tim. 2:19 cf. 2 Tim. 1:12). Those who do not recognize true Christians, who do not know the true God, are those to whom God has never bestowed His precious love. They never were the objects of God’s love (see 1 Cor. 8:3; Jn. 10:14,27), they never were His. Such ones were never vessels made unto honour, but only dishonour, and ordained to condemnation. Once again, the word world in 1 John 3:1 cannot be referring to everyone without exception, but cites only those who know not whom the Father has lovedThe elect are those whom God has loved out of the world, a world which He obviously has not loved, for if God had loved the world—everyone without exception—why would He have separated some of those whom He loved from others? Why would God have called them out of the world, if He indeed loved the world? Why would they not all be of one group? Why would they not all be sheep instead of some being goats whom the Lord will separate from His sheepfold? “And He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left…Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:33,41). They are not all of one group, for they are not all His sheep because God does not, has not, ever loved all—His sheep, and the goats—but has only, does only, and will only ever love His sheep.

 

“God’s love is upon ‘the called’. Their calling is the certain and infallible consequence of a Sovereign, eternal, and immutable love.” God’s love is an everlasting love. Motivated by His will, God has chosen the called, and given them to His Son for their eternal safekeeping. They are all “…sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called” (Jd. 1:1 cf. Col. 3:3). They are all “…called, and chosen, and faithful” (Rev. 17:14). Arminians teach that God loves everyone and sent His Son to die for everyone, yet despite this, their assertion is that many whom God loved will be separated, cut off, from that love because they did not accept and believe what was done by Christ for them. Arminianism, like Humanism, and Satanism always has man in control, and God a virtual bystander. The Arminian god is no more powerful than a man, in that he cannot do all that he wants, and whose love is meaningless and powerless. The apostle Paul, writing to believers, says that NOTHING can separate those whom God loves from His love: “...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. 8:38,39; cf. Jn. 10:27-29). If God loves you, He loves you forever. If God does not love you He will never love you. God’s love is an everlasting love and by it He draws all those whom He loves to Him (see Jer. 31:3). If God loves you, He loves you forever—from eternity past to eternity future—and will not condemn you, or cause you to experience His Wrath, for it is His love which ensures His chosen are entrusted to His Son Who has fully atoned for their sins, and, therefore, fully satiated the Wrath of God forever.

 

God grants eternal life to those He eternally loves. God does not say ‘I will love you’, but “…I have loved thee with an everlasting love…” (Jer. 31:3), and based on this everlasting love, God continues His declaration, by adding “…THEREFORE with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” This simple verse shows that God’s love can in no way be conditioned on anything, or anyone, for it is everlasting. It is from eternity past to eternity future.—it has no beginning and no end. Like God, His love for His people has always been, therefore, it cannot be conditioned, or reliant, upon any man’s character,  conduct, or conviction of belief. God’s love has no beginning and no end, hence the fact that nothing shall be able to separate God’s people from God’s eternal love for them. No saved man can ever become lost, for He is saved based on God’s everlasting love, and kept saved by the power of His everlasting grace. The other side of that coin reveals the fact that outside of God nothing could have possibly drawn Him to any man. It is with His love that any are drawn to Him. It is God’s love in Christ Jesus that channels His chosen to His Son. Therefore, if God loves a person they WILL come to Christ. Christ said: “All that the Father giveth Me SHALL come to Me…” (Jn. 6:37). A man’s coming to Christ is conditioned on nothing but the Father having giving them to His Son, the details of which are all encompassed in the Gospel of Christ. The ultimate purpose for God’s love is the salvation of all those whom He loves. Therefore, there is no doubt that this will happen, for salvation is determined by God’s will, and conditioned solely on, God’s Sovereign, and, therefore, unconditional and eternal, love. “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32). Who are the us to which the apostle here refers? The context reveals all: “…them who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28 cf. 1 Cor. 1:21 & 24). Who are the called according to His purpose? Those whom He did foreknow, “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” (Rom. 8:29,30 cf. Eph. 2:10; Phil. 2:13; Col. 1:12). This “purpose of God” is “according to election”, it is not based on the works of a man, but is wholly “of Him that calleth” (see Rom. 8:28; 9:11). God’s people are the ones whom He has predestinated, called, justified and glorified: the elect of God (see Rom. 8:33), therefore, they had to be predestinated, they had to be the children of God’s will; they had to be called, justified and glorified by God. They are the ones for whom Jesus the Lord intercedes (see Rom. 8:34). These are the ones whom the Lord loves. God loves those whom He has called, and predestinated and chosen to be His, “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us” (Rom. 8:37 cf. Rom. 8:39).