FOR GOD SO LOVED...WHO? (part 9)
Salvation is only according to grace, for there is no other means whereby a man can be saved. There can be no injustice, or inequity, in grace, or mercy, for these are things which are not granted in random fashion, but are consequent to the express will of God, according to the Holiness of God, and the fulfilment of His purpose. The argument that election is unfair is a fundamentally flawed one, for those who subscribe to it fail to take into account the fact that election is by grace because man is dead in sin, does not understand God, and, by nature, does not even seek Him. Election by grace is not God saving His people according to their works, or because He foreknew they would choose Him (which is nothing but the same thing), for there is none righteous. “…in Thy sight shall no man living be justified” (Psa. 143:2 cf. Psa. 130:3). Salvation is only in accord with the will, purpose and grace of God which comes not after anything a man does, for this grace was given in Christ before God had even made the world, let alone man. God “…hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (2 Tim. 1:9). God has elected His people according to His grace by His love which could only have been engendered by His will. Neither election, nor saving grace, could exist without the will of God. So, to say election is unfair is to say God is unfair, that His will is unfair and that He has no right to love only those He has chosen to save, etc. To say election by grace is unfair, is to show that one holds to Satan’s lie that man would not die, and is, consequently, not spiritually dead, rather than to God’s truth that man would die, and, therefore, that he is spiritually dead. How can the doctrine of election based on the free will of God be unfair when we have seen that the Scriptures state clearly that, if left to himself, NO man would, or could, EVER choose God!! “…there is none that seeketh after God” (Rom. 3:11); “No man can come to Me…” (Jn. 6:44); “…Who then can be saved?...with men this is impossible…” (Matt. 19:25,26 cf. Lk. 18:27). It has been clearly and Scripturally established that no man seeks God, therefore, how can any man want, much less choose, that which he does not seek! Salvation is not about fairness, or unfairness, it’s about the mercy and grace of God saving such an undeserving, sinful wretch as man. Salvation is about what is right. Salvation is about the will of God. There is nothing unfair about it, for God is a Just God, and all He does—WHETHER WE BELIEVE IT OR NOT—IS JUST AND RIGHT AND FAIR according to His grace, mercy, purpose and will. Scripture speaks of election in terms of mercy, grace and the will and purpose of God and is, therefore, just and proper. It does not go against the grain of God’s Holiness, but is a product of it. So we see that the accusation of unfairness is really a smokescreen, which attempts to hide the glory of God’s mercy and grace in electing some to salvation based on His will, rather than allowing them to meet their just deserts. Again, the only thing unfair is that man has sinned against the God Who so lovingly created him. The only thing which is improper is that sinful man would even dare to falsely accuse God of any injustice in His loving some, and not all, in His choosing to save a portion of the human race, and not simply abandoning all to Hell, and starting over. “…the children of thy people say, The way of the Lord is not equal: but as for them, their way is not equal” (Ezek. 33:17).
There are two things which have emerged from the Fall of man: (1) the mercy and grace of God in electing some to salvation, and (2) the right and just punishment of those He has chosen not to be merciful toward, but rather has appointed to His Wrath. What insolent man’s real argument with God is, is ‘Why has He not chosen to be merciful to all?’, if He saves some, why not all, it’s just not fair?’ Like a child with no understanding, man’s whole argument against election is: ‘If God has chosen to save some, He should have chosen to save all’. It is based on nothing, and comes from a heart that is so corrupted with sin that its evil is beyond compare. If God had chosen to save all, this same line of thinking, spawned by man’s sinful nature, would no doubt have risen up in protest that God has not allowed those who do not wish to be saved, the freedom to go to Hell if they want to. The answer to the question ‘Why has God not chosen to be merciful to all?’, is: WHY SHOULD GOD HAVE CHOSEN TO BE MERCIFUL TO ANY!! Contrary to humanistic thinking, man is the lowest of the low! Man is not even worthy enough for God to cast a momentary glance toward. “… the heavens are not clean in His sight. How much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh iniquity like water?” (Job 15:15,16 cf. Psa. 8:4; 144:3; Isa. 40:17; Jer. 17:9; Eccl. 9:3). “…What is man that Thou art mindful of him?...” (Heb. 2:6 cf. Job 7:17; Psa. 8:4). “Who is like unto the Lord our God, Who dwelleth on high, Who humbleth Himself to behold the things that are in Heaven, and in the earth!” (Psa. 113:5,6). Man is a worm, who, even at his best state, is nothing but vanity (see Job 25:6; Psa. 39:5,11). From where does man summon the utter gall to find fault even with the precious mercy of God! Is there no end to the horrors of man’s sinfulness? No, none whatsoever. To even entertain the thought that God is guilty of any injustice is evidence enough of man’s accursed sinfulness, and that the only injustice is that of man’s in accusing the Holy God of any wrongdoing. “Shall mortal man be more just than God? shall a man be more pure than his Maker?” (Job 4:17 cf. Job 40:8). It is incumbent upon every man to look at the Scriptures, and face the truth that all mankind has rebelled against God, that man is a Fallen race rightly deserving of nothing more, or less, than the Wrath of God for all eternity, and that the only way anyone can escape this most dreadful of all destinies is through the will, grace and mercy of God. “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not….the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live…” (Eccl. 7:20; 9:3).
Man, by nature, seems to think that God is somehow obligated to show mercy to all. Apparently, man is of the view that all of sinful mankind actually warrants, is worthy of, grace and mercy! That if God shows mercy to some, then He should show mercy to all! That no man is deserving of any punishment, but only mercy, for his sin! Man acts as if he has rights with God, that he is deserving, not of God’s Wrath, but only of His mercy and grace! Only the unsaved, unregenerated mind of a lost man could possibly reach such a conclusion, the inaneness of which is exceeded only by his belief that it is a reasonable and justified rendering of God’s Holy Word. The reality is “…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…” for "...the soul that sinneth, it shall die" (Ex. 34:6,7; Ezek.18:4 cf. Num. 14:18; Nah. 1:3). It would be an injustice if God did not punish the guilty. There is absolutely nothing wrong with God not being merciful to any who deserve only His Wrath. That God is merciful to any, is a manifestation of the goodness of God, and not something to be seized upon as some gross miscarriage of justice. God’s saving some is a merciful act, while God punishing others is a Righteous act. To attempt to attach any unfairness to either action is perhaps the greatest evidence of how the warped mind of a lost man processes what the Word of God clearly states. God’s mercy in electing some is a display of His goodness, and can, in no way, be rightly deemed inequitable, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23 cf. Rom. 3:9,10). The Lord says: “…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. Ezra 3:11). THERE is the goodness of God! “To paraphrase, God is telling Moses, ‘This is the essence of Who I am (My name). My glory is displayed by My freedom to show mercy and compassion to whomever I wish. I am not obligated to show mercy to any, because all have sinned and justly deserve My judgment. But I am free to show My glory both by giving mercy to some and by withholding it from others. That is Who I am’.” God shows His mercy to whomsoever He wills to show His mercy. Grace can never be merited, and mercy is always undeserved. “As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For He saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy” (Rom. 9:13-16 cf. 2 Cor. 1:3). Paul continues this line of reasoning several verses later by asking the rhetorical question: “Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?” (Rom. 9:21 cf. Isa. 29:16; 45:9; 64:8). God Himself asks: “…cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in Mine hand…” (Jer. 18:6). Who would be so foolish as to reply, ‘No, Lord, you cannot do with us as this potter’? “By the power the potter has over the clay, to shape it in what form he pleases, and out of it to make what vessels he pleases, and for what purposes he thinks fit, which will be most to his own advantage, the apostle expresses the Sovereign and unlimited power which God has over His creatures; “But now, O Lord, Thou art our Father; we are the clay, and Thou our potter; and we are all the work of Thy hand” (Isa. 64:8). Now, if the potter has such power over the clay which he did not make, only has made a purchase of, or has it in his possession, much more has God power over the clay Who has created the clay, to appoint out of it persons to different uses and purposes, for His own glory, as He sees fit; even “…of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour” (Rom. 9:21).” There is no injustice in God having predestined some to eternal fire, for they are fully deserving of it. Sin demands punishment for the one who commits it “For the wages of sin is death…” (Rom. 6:23). God’s saving only some, far from warranting the false charge of injustice made by those who do not know God, is a display of God’s goodness (see Ex. 33:19). In teaching that God’s election by grace is in no way an unrighteous, or unfair, act—as many today believe it is—Paul immediately counters this blasphemous accusation by showing that God will have mercy upon whom He will, and that it is right and fitting that God has mercy on those whom He chooses to have mercy upon. This, far from being an unrighteous act, is the summit of God’s goodness in the midst of the depth of man’s sinfulness, for the apostle confirms that election and salvation are wholly due to the mercy and goodness of God, and not at all of man.
Those who believe that election shuts out many from Heaven fail to realise, or have conveniently forgotten about, man’s sinful nature being that which keeps a man out of Heaven. Election based on mercy and grace is the only thing that opens Heaven’s gates of pearl to an undeserving sinner. Election is an act of mercy, and can in no way be rightly judged as an unrighteous edict. This is now getting to the heart of the matter, the real nitty gritty of the issue of salvation and election. As we have seen, the opposition to God’s Sovereignly electing some for Heaven is found in Romans 9:19: “…Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?" The answer will not be provided by the words of this author, but by the very Word of God. Listen to the Holy Spirit-inspired words of the apostle Paul as he makes his reply: "Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor and another unto dishonor?" (Rom. 9:20,21). Let us pause here and look closely at Paul’s response, to reflect on what God has said through him. The first thing we need to notice is that Paul does not correct his complainant. He does not say to him, ‘Now wait just a minute friend, you have completely misunderstood what I am saying. I am not saying that election is all up to God, and that the man He does not choose to be merciful to goes to Hell without a hope of being saved. I am not saying that God chooses those He will love and those He will hate solely based on His will before the people have even been born. I am not saying that salvation is solely of God’s will and not man’s.’ Notice that Paul says nothing of the kind. His immediate answer shows that the one who is remonstrating with him is quite correct in his understanding that God chooses those who are to be saved based on His will and mercy and not their will or deeds, and that indeed none can resist God’s will. There is nothing wrong, strange or unfair about the Absolute Sovereignty of God in Paul’s eyes! As we shall see, God’s basis for election, far from being something unfair, is proper and right and the only way any could be saved. It is proper and right for God to choose those He will have mercy towards and appoint others to His wrath, for there is nothing a man can do to attract God’s mercy.
No man by nature attracts anything from God other than His Wrath. Speaking to believers Paul said, "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. Rom. 5:9). Clearly, and based on His will and mercy, God has appointed, or predestinated, some to obtain salvation, and others to His Wrath. None can justly shake a fist at God and say, ‘I wanted you but you would not have me’. Have we not seen the Scriptures state clearly that there is none righteous and that none seek after God, therefore, those found by Him were not in the process of seeking Him? (see Rom. 10:20 cf. Isa. 65:1). If the Lord could only choose those who chose Him, how could it be possible that any would come to Him seeing that all by nature are dead in sins? (see Eph. 2:1-5). In the day of whose power then would a man be made willing to come to the true God? If man can choose God by his own free will, then it would be in the day of man’s own power, his own innate ability, to will to come to God, that would save him. Since Scripture teaches clearly that none do seek the true God, none can come to Him unless they are made willing by Him in the day of His power (see Psa. 110:3). This punches a massive hole in the laughable ‘defenses’ of the free willer, who insists that God chooses those who first choose Him, that a man’s election is based not solely on God’s will, but inspired by man’s free will decision for Him. Paul’s first words of reply in Romans 9 are a direct assault on the one opposing his doctrine, and all those who would dare come with the same mind-set. They are the very words God inspired Paul to write, and what God would say to any man today who approached Him with such a lost man’s attitude: "O man, Who art thou?" In other words, ‘WHO ARE YOU, mere sinful wretch, to complain against God, to dare dispute with the Sovereign King of kings and Lord of lords?’ Away with such a mind-set born of the insolence and horror of man’s original sin against God! Paul shows here that man in his natural state is unqualified to understand the matter of election, and so he castigates the man for such a blasphemous attitude against God for what He has done, and how He has chosen to do it. "Who gave man the authority, or invested him with the prerogatives of judge over his Maker’s doings? Nowhere is there to be found a more cutting or humbling reply to the pride of man than this." This is precisely why the doctrine of Sovereign election is so hated by the natural mind of fallen man: it cuts right through man’s pride and leaves no room for him to boast. According to Paul’s reply it is not the doctrine of election by grace that should be in question here, for there is nothing strange, wrong or unfair about it. The only thing which is odd, strange, wrong, unfair and out of place in this passage from Romans 9 IS THE ATTITUDE OF THE MAN WHO IS OBJECTING TO IT! What right has any man to dispute with God over what God has done, and the way He has chosen to do it? "...Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Gen. 18:25); “Yea, surely God will not do wickedly, neither will the Almighty pervert judgement” (Job. 34:12); "...wilt thou condemn Him that is most Just? Is it fit to say to a king, Thou art wicked? And to princes, ye are ungodly? How much less to HIM that accepteth not the persons of princes, nor regardeth the rich more than the poor? For they are all the work of His hands" (Job. 34:17-19). Even a lost man like king Nebuchadnezzar knew that God is Sovereign and does whatsoever He wills, and that no man has any right to judge what He does and dispute His Will, or object in any way: "...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. Job 42:2; Isa. 29:16; Dan. 4:32). Has God ever done anything wrong, unjust or unfair? Of course not. Shall not God do right! saith the Scriptures.
Paul continues his discourse showing that man is merely a creature, a creation given birth to by the will of God with no influence over its Maker. Man has as much right to dispute with God over His election based on grace as a lump of clay has to dispute with the potter for having made part of it into an ash tray and the other into an ornamental object to be admired. This sentiment is found in Isaiah 29:16 which says in part: "...shall the thing framed (formed) say of him that framed it, He had no understanding?" In other words, "Shall the potter be considered of no more account than the clay?" "WOE UNTO HIM THAT STRIVETH WITH HIS MAKER! Let the potsherd (a broken pottery fragment) strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioned it, What makest thou?..." (Isa. 45:9). This whole discourse about the potter and the clay was designed by God to teach the glory of God’s Sovereignty and election based on His will. Make no mistake about it, the hater of Sovereign election is one who strives with his Maker, and "woe unto him" saith the Scriptures. "...God is greater than man. Why dost thou strive against Him? For He giveth not account of any of His matters....Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct Him?..." (Job 33:12,13; 40:2). "(God) is not only more wise and powerful than we are, but Holy, Just and Good, for these are the transcendent glories and excellencies of the Divine nature; in these God is greater than man, and therefore it is absurd and unreasonable to find fault with Him. God is not accountable to us. It is an unreasonable thing for us, weak, foolish, sinful, creatures, to strive with a God of infinite wisdom, power and goodness. He reveals as much as it is fit for us to know: "The secret things belong unto the Lord our God..." (Deut. 29:29)...Those who quarrel with God do, in effect, go about to teach Him how to mend His work. Shall the clay say to him that forms it, ‘What makest thou? Why dost thou make me of this shape and not that?’ Shall we impeach God’s wisdom, or question His power, who are ourselves so wonderfully made? Shall we say, He has no hands, Whose hands made us and in Whose hands we are? It is as unnatural as for the child to find fault with the parents, to say to the father, ‘What begetest thou?’ Or to the mother, ‘What hast thou brought forth; Why was I not begotten and born an angel, exempt from the infirmities of human nature and the calamities of human life?’ Any being has a right to fashion his own work according to his own views of what is best; and as this right is not denied to men, man ought not to contend with the infinitely wise God, for what God does is always right.”
“No human being deserves God’s mercy. The choice of Isaac over Ishmael and Jacob over Esau must be construed as a merciful one. In other words, the stunning thing for Paul was not that God rejected Ishmael and Esau, but that He chose Isaac and Jacob, for they did not deserve to be included in His merciful and gracious purposes. Human beings are apt to criticize God for excluding anyone, but this betrays a theology that views salvation as something God ‘ought’ to bestow on all equally…What is fundamental for God is the revelation of His glory and the proclamation of His name, and He accomplishes this by showing mercy and by withholding it. 'Therefore hath He mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth' (Rom. 9:18 cf. Ex. 33:19; Rom. 11:7). God’s Righteousness is upheld because He manifests it by revealing His glory both in saving and in judging.” Importantly, there is nothing arbitrary in God’s hatred for some, for all are only deserving of God’s Wrath because of sin. Again, man is not some innocent victim of a megalomaniacal God Who randomly chooses to hate, or love, whomever, and whenever He feels like loving, or hating, at the time. God’s Wrath is justifiably directed toward those who have sinned against Him. Man has incurred God’s Wrath. Coupled with the fact that God is a Just God, man is in the dilemma he now faces because he is a sinner “For the wages of sin is death…” (Rom. 6:23). Those who are elected unto salvation, have been chosen by a Righteous and Benevolent God, Who, by His will, love, purpose and grace, has chosen to reveal His Goodness by showing His mercy to some. Those whom God has not elected unto salvation have been appointed by God the Righteous Judge, according to His inflexible Justice, to His eternal Wrath. Anyone who still insists that election is unfair, that, somehow, God rightly punishing the guilty, and choosing by grace to show mercy to others is just not right, evidences the clear fact that they remain in bondage to their carnal reasoning, and are the servants of sin. To be a servant of sin involves not only acting and speaking sinfully, but also thinking sinfully.
As man’s traditional, carnal, understanding of the phrase “For God so loved the world” contrasts sharply with many other portions, passages and entire themes of God’s Word, as well as the Gospel of God itself, we shall now pay particular attention to the word world, with the aim of bringing the reader in touch with the Scriptural reality that the word world in the Word of God has, not one, but several meanings. Because of its seemingly simple and ‘obvious’ reading in the English translation “Many people suppose they already know the meaning of John 3:16, and, therefore, they conclude that no diligent study is required of them to discover the precise teaching of this verse. Needless to say, such an attitude shuts out any further light which they otherwise might obtain on the passage. Yet, if anyone will take a concordance and read carefully the various passages in which the term ‘world’ (as a translation of ‘kosmos’) occurs, they will quickly perceive that to ascertain the precise meaning of the word ‘world’ in any given passage is not nearly so easy as is popularly supposed. The word ‘kosmos’, and its English equivalent ‘world’, is not used with a uniform significance in the New Testament. Very far from it. It is used in quite a number of different ways. It may be asked: Has then God used a word thus to confuse and confound those who read the Scriptures? We answer, No. Nor has He written His Word for lazy people who are too dilatory, or too busy with the things of this world, or, like Martha, so much occupied with ‘serving’, they have no time and no heart to ‘search’ and ‘study’ Holy Writ. Should it be asked further, ‘But how is a searcher of the Scriptures to know which meaning the term ‘world’ has in any given passage?’ The answer is: This may be ascertained by a careful study of the context, by diligently noting what is predicated of ‘the ‘world’ in each passage, and by fully consulting other parallel passages to the one being studied.”
The word world in John 3:16 is kosmos in the original Greek, and carries with it several various meanings: “An apt and harmonious arrangement or constitution, order, government. The inhabitants of the earth, men, the human race. The ungodly multitude; the whole mass of men alienated from God, and therefore hostile to the cause of Christ. World affairs, the aggregate of things earthly. The whole circle of earthly goods, endowments, riches, advantages, pleasures, etc., which although hollow and frail and fleeting, stir desire, seduce from God and are obstacles to the cause of Christ. The word kosmos has a root word, from which it probably comes. It is komizo, which means, amongst other things, to take back what belongs to one. We can see how this can pertain to predestination, in which God calls His people to be His own”, by their believing only in Him.
The word “Kosmos is also used of the world-system: Jn. 12:31 etc. 'Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.' (compare Matt. 4:8 & 1Jn. 5:19). ‘Kosmos’ is used of the whole human race: Romans 3:19, 'Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.' ‘Kosmos’ is used of humanity minus believers (the world of the ungodly) in John 15:18: 'If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you' (cf. 1 Jn. 3:13). Believers do not ‘hate’ Christ, so ‘the world’ here must signify the world of un-believers in contrast from believers who love Christ (see also Matt. 10:22). Romans 3:6: 'God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?'" (see also Rev. 20:13). Again, this is not a reference to everyone without exception, for believers will not be judged in a condemnatory fashion. “Here is another passage where ‘the world’ cannot mean ‘you, me, and everybody,’ for believers will not be ‘judged’ by God, (see Jn. 5:24). So that here, too, it must be the world of un-believers which is in view. Also ‘There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus…’ (Rom. 8:1).” But there is condemnation for those not in Christ. Christians’ sins have been imputed to their Saviour, they have already been judged in Christ. The only judgement Christians will face will be at the Judgement Seat of Christ. Writing to Christians Paul states “…we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ" (Rom.14:10); “…we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ…” (2 Cor. 5:10). “This judgment cannot be confused with either of the other judgments”, such as the Great White Throne Judgement which is the final judgement of the lost prior to their being thrown into the Lake of fire (see Rev. 20:11-15), “because the Holy Spirit used a Greek word to describe the Judgment Seat of Christ that is peculiar and different from the Greek words used in connection with other judgments. Here the word used is ‘bema’. It appears in classical Greek to identify the judge’s seat in the arena of the Olympic games. The bema was the seat whereon the judge sat, not to punish contestants, but to present awards to the victors. When Christians stand before the bema of Christ, it will be for the express purpose of being rewarded according to their works. There is no idea of inflicting punishment.
"Kosmos is used of Gentiles in contrast from Jews in Romans 11:12 etc. 'Now if the fall of them (Israel) be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them (Israel) the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their (Israel’s) fulness?' Note how the first clause in italics is defined by the latter clause placed in italics. Here, again, ‘the world’ cannot signify all humanity for it excludes Israel. ‘Kosmos’ is sometimes used of believers only: (see Jn. 1:29; 3:16,17; 6:33; 12:47; 1 Cor. 4:9). For the world of believers when Christ says, ‘…the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world’ (Jn. 6:51), not indeed of the world of the reprobate (who remain always in death), but of the elect (who are made alive through Christ). Thus ‘kosmos’ has at least seven clearly defined different meanings in the New Testament.” What we learn from all this is that the word world in the Word of God has several different meanings attached to it depending on which Scripture it appears in. Often, the context of a verse will be enough to reveal how the word world is being used, and to what it is referring, revealing also what it could not possibly be alluding to. As well as context within a verse, or a chapter, the meaning of the word world must also be viewed in the context of the Gospel of God’s Sovereign will and grace. Importantly, no one can be brought to a proper understanding of Who God is and how God saves, if they are without a Biblical acknowledgement of the Fall of man—his spiritual death—and his subsequent sinful existence without Christ, without God, and without hope in the world.
“The term ‘world’ in the New Testament is translated from three different Greeks words. 15 times from the Greek word #3625, oikoumene which refers to the first century Roman Empire (see Lk. 2:1; 4:5; 21:26). 128 times from the Greek word #165, aion, which means ‘an age’ (see Matt. 12:32), and 187 times from the Greek word #2889, kosmos, which refers to the ‘ungodly’ most of the time (see 1 Jn. 2:15-16). Occasionally, it can refer to the material universe or the earth (see Act 17:24), and sometimes it refers to all men.” So we immediately see that well over 50% of the usage of the word world in the New Testament, is clearly not as a reference to everyone without exception. The remaining Scriptures where the word world occurs which seem to imply all without exception, are most often references to the world of the ungodly. Pause here, friend, and allow yourself to digest these unchallengeable facts. Let them sink deep within your heart and mind, and realise just what all this means. Arminians and Universalists who turn to John 3:16 in support of their distorted image, and flawed ideas of the true God, His love and saving power, open a veritable Pandora’s Box of doctrinal dilemmas which they could never have anticipated, and have no answer for which is in accordance with the Scriptures.
As we have just learned, the word world has various shades of meaning. Kosmos can be used to denote “…the order of the world, the ordered universe, the ordered entirety of God's creation, but considered as separated from God. The abode of humanity. That order of things in which humanity moves, or of which man is the centre…it additionally means, ‘alienation from and opposition to God’…kosmos can also mean, ‘The order of things which is alienated from God, as manifested in and by the human race: humanity as alienated from God, and acting in opposition to Him. The sum-total of human life in the ordered universe, considered apart from, and alienated from, and hostile to God, and of the earthly things which seduce from God’…it also means, ‘any sphere of human activity;...the inhabitants of the earth in general; humanity; mankind; the human race; that which pertains to the earth or to the present state of existence only; the concerns of this life as distinguished from those of the life to come; that portion of mankind which is devoted to worldly or secular affairs….if there is anything that is certain from a somewhat more attentive reading of Holy Scripture, and that may be held as firmly established, it is, really, the irrefutable fact, that the word, world, in Holy Scripture, means ‘all men’ only as a very rare exception and almost always means something entirely different. In explanation, specifically, of the ‘world’ of John 3:16, the reference is to the ‘proper kernal’ of the creation, the elect people of God…’ Out of this kernal, out of this congregation, out of this people, a ‘new world’, a ‘new earth and new Heaven’, shall one day appear, by a wonder-work of God. Some say that stating God’s love here is towards the ‘elect’ ruins the force of the sentence. Yet, it seems that the construction in the Greek not only does not ruin it for the elect, but amply strengthens it.”
The following is an exhaustive presentation of the word world as found throughout Holy Scripture, in order to show the reader how the word world is used and the contexts in which it is found. A more detailed look at the word world will follow. The word world appears a total of 287 times in 248 verses—46 times in the Old Testament, and 241 times in the New Testament. The first verse in which the word world is found is 1 Samuel 2:8: "…for the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and He hath set the world upon them”, its meaning here is the habitable globe. Next is 2 Samuel 22:16: “And the channels of the sea appeared, the foundations of the world were discovered…”, the world here carries with it the same meaning as 1 Sam. 2:8. 1 Chronicles 16:30 says: “Fear before Him, all the earth: the world also shall be stable, that it be not moved”, again by the word world is meant the habitable globe. The word world appears 3 times in the Book of Job: “He shall be driven from light into darkness, and chased out of the world” (Job18:18); “Who hath given him a charge over the earth? Or who hath disposed the whole world” (Job 34:13); “…that they may do whatsoever He commandeth them upon the face of the world in the earth” (Job 37:12). In each instance the word world again refers to the habitable globe. The word world appears 19 times in the Psalms. “And He shall judge the world in Righteousness…” (Psa. 9:8). “The word rendered ‘world’, in this verse is a general name for all the countries of the habitable world; and so shows that it is the universal judgment that is here spoken of.” “From men which are Thy hand, O LORD, from men of the world, which have their portion in this life…” (Psa. 17:14). The world here spoken of is clearly the world of the ungodly “…who are…in sin, in darkness, and in a carnal and unregenerate state; who are not only in the world, but of it, and belong to it, and to it only; and are under the influence of the god of the world, and are taken with the lusts and pleasures of it, and live in them and serve them: and are of worldly spirits, inordinately love the things of the world, mind earth and earthly things, and are unconcerned about the things of another world (see Lk. 16:8)". “Then the channels of waters were seen, and the foundations of the world was discovered…” (Psa. 18:15), world here again meaning the habitable world, as it does in the following verse: “Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world…” (Psa. 19:4); “All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before Thee” (Psa. 22:27). Obviously it is not all without exception that is meant here, for not all have turned unto the Lord and worship Him. As is demonstrated in the prophecy of Caiaphas in John 11:51,52 only the children of God, all His elect, that are scattered throughout the nations, shall turn to the Lord and worship Him.
“The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world and they that dwell therein” (Psa. 24:1). Again, the habitable world is spoken of here. All is God’s creation, all is under God’s ownership, and subject to His Sovereign Reign. “Let all the earth fear the Lord: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him” (Psa. 33:8). Thus far we have seen that the only time the world means all the inhabitants of it is never to do with God’s love for them, but involves only His judgement of them. “Hear this, all ye people; give ear, all ye inhabitants of the world” (Psa. 49:1). The word world here specifically means, of time, or age. “Under the Gospel dispensation there is no distinction of places; the Gospel is not confined to the land of Judea; the sound of it is gone into all the world, and men may worship God…” The following verse is another example of the world meaning everything and everyone in it being the Lord’s: “If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is Mine, and the fulness thereof” (Psa. 50:12). “Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches” (Psa. 73:12). World here mans “worldly and temporal things, eon, eternity, long duration”. “…the lightnings lightened the world…” (Psa. 77:18), refers again to the habitable globe, and again in Psalm 89:11: “The heavens are thine, the earth also is Thine: as for the world and the fulness thereof, Thou hast founded them”. “…or ever Thou hadst formed the earth and the world…” (Psa. 90:2), is yet another verse referring to the habitable world, as do the following seven verses: “…the world also is stablished, that it cannot be moved” (Psa. 93:1); “…the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved…” (Psa. 96:10); “…He shall judge the world with Righteousness…” (Psa. 96:13); “His lightnings lightened the world…” (Psa. 97:4); “Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Psa. 98:7); “…with Righteousness shall He judge the world…” (Psa. 98:9); “While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world” (Prov. 8:26).
The next verse in which the word world appears, is Ecclesiastes 3:11: “He hath made everything beautiful in His time: also He hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end”. The word world here is a reference to eternity, long duration. “And I will punish the world for their evil…” (Isa. 13:11), again refers to the habitable world, as do the next three verses: “That made the world as a wilderness…” (Isa. 14:17); “…nor fill the face of the world with cities” (Isa. 14:21); “All ye inhabitants of the world…” (Isa. 18:3). “…the LORD will visit Tyre, and she shall turn to her hire, and shall commit fornication with all the kingdoms of the world upon the face of the earth” (Isa. 23:17). The word world here means, ‘the earth’, or ‘nations of the earth’. “…the world languisheth and fadeth away…” (Isa. 24:4), this is referring to the habitable world, as are the following four verses: “…when Thy judgements are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness” (Isa. 26:9), “Not the wicked inhabitants of the world, for the contrary is suggested in the following verses of Isaiah 26, “Let favour be shewed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness…” (Isa. 26:10); but the saints that are in the world, the upright ones, the righteous before mentioned, the Church and her members; these, by the judgments of God in the world, learn what a Righteous Being He is…” “…we have not wrought any deliverance in the earth; neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen” (Isa. 26:18); “Worldly men, the great men, the kings of the earth; particularly such as commit fornication with the whore of Rome, Popish persecuting princes; these as yet are not fallen, though they shall in the battle of Armageddon”. “…and fill the face of the world with fruit” (Isa. 27:6); “…let the earth hear, and all that is therein; the world, and all things that come forth of it” (Isa. 34:1). “…I shall behold man no more with the inhabitants of the world” (Isa. 38:11), “the fading transitory world”. The Gesenius Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon has it “I shall behold man no more; with (i.e. when I am with) the inhabitants of Hades”. “…world without end” (Isa. 45:17), carries the meaning “unto the ages of eternity”. "Behold, the Lord hath proclaimed unto the end of the world…” (Isa. 62:11), speaks of “…the proclamation of the Gospel, which, as when first published, the sound of it went into all the earth, and the words of it to the ends of the world, (see Rom.10:18). So it will be in the latter day, when it shall be preached to all nations, from one end of the world to the other, (see Rev.14:6)”. “For since the beginning of the world…” (Isa. 64:4), world here means eon, or eternity, long duration. “…He hath established the world by His wisdom…” (Jer. 10:12), again the habitable world is spoken of here. “…all the kingdoms of the world, which are upon the face of the earth…” (Jer. 25:26), the world here is a reference to “…the whole Babylonian monarchy, called the whole world; as the Roman empire afterwards was, (see Lk. 2:1)”. “…He hath established the world by His wisdom…” (Jer. 51:15) speaks of the habitable world, as does Lamentations 4:12 “The kings of the earth, and all the inhabitants of the world, would not have believed that the adversary and the enemy should have entered into the gates of Jerusalem”; and Nahum 1:5 “…yea, the world, and all that dwell therein”.
We shall now proceed to look at every instance in which the word world appears in the New Testament. Firstly to Matthew 4:8: “…and sheweth Him all the kingdoms of the world…” World here means “An apt and harmonious arrangement or constitution, order, government. The inhabitants of the earth, men, the human race. The ungodly multitude; the whole mass of men alienated from God, and therefore hostile to the cause of Christ. World affairs, the aggregate of things earthly. The whole circle of earthly goods, endowments, riches, advantages, pleasures, etc., which although hollow and frail and fleeting, stir desire, seduce from God and are obstacles to the cause of Christ.” The same is true of its use in the next verse: “Ye are the light of the world…” (Matt.5:14). “…it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come” (Matt. 12:32), both instances of the word world in this verse mean eon, or “an unbroken age”, and is so rendered also in this next verse: “…the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches…” (Matt. 13:22), “…not the care of another world, nor a care about spiritual things in this world, nor even a proper, laudable care of the things of this present life, but an anxious and immoderate care of them; which, as thorns, is very perplexing and distressing to the persons themselves, and is what is vain and fruitless”. For the following 2 verses: “…I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 13:35), and “The field is the world…” (Matt. 13:38), please refer back to the description given for Matt. 4:8. “…the harvest is the end of the world…” (Matt. 13:39), means eon, or “an unbroken age”. “…so shall it be in the end of this world” (Matt. 13:40), world here means eon, or “an unbroken age” as it does in the next verse “So shall it be at the end of the world…” (Matt. 13:49). “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world…” (Matt. 16:26), for this, and the following verse please refer to the description of world given for Matt. 4:8, “Woe unto the world…” (Matt. 18:7). “…what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world” (Matt. 24:3), means eon, or “an unbroken age”. “And the Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world…” (Matt. 24:14), world here means: “the inhabited earth”, or “often the portion of the earth inhabited by Greeks, in distinction from the lands of the Barbarians…not only in Judea, where it was now confined, and that by the express orders of Christ Himself; but in all the nations of the world, for which the apostles had their commission enlarged, after our Lord's resurrection; when they were bid to go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature” (see Mk. 16:15). “…since the beginning of the world to this time…” (Matt. 24:21), for this and the following two verses, please refer to the description given for Matt. 4:8; “…inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:34); "...wheresoever this Gospel shall be preached in the whole world..." (Matt. 26:13).